Tour: Realm Walker Series by Kathleen Collins

Realm Walker Series Banner 851 x 315 realm walker coverRealm Walker
Realm Walker Series

Book One
Kathleen Collins

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication:  October 28, 2013

ISBN: 9781426896545
ASIN: B00E1V5S3S

Word Count: 76,000

Book Description:

An estranged mate, a mangled body and a powerful demon who calls her by name…

As a Realm Walker for the Agency, Juliana Norris tracks deadly paranormal quarry using her unique ability to see magical signatures. She excels at her job, but her friends worry about her mysterious habit of dying in the line of duty without staying dead. That’s only the first of her secrets.

Most people don’t know Juliana became the mate of master vampire Thomas Kendrick before he abandoned her seven years ago. Most people don’t know the horrors she endured at the hands of the vampire he left in command. Most people don’t know her true parentage, or why a demon on a world-threatening rampage has taken a personal interest in her…

Even as Juliana pursues the demon, it goes after all she holds dear—including Thomas, who is back to claim her for his own. But if she can’t reconcile her past and learn to trust herself again, she will lose him forever.

Available at  Amazon   BN  Harlequin Print

Excerpt:

The troll picked her up with nothing more than his teeth in her shoulder and shook her like a hellhound with a chew toy. She clenched her jaw in pain and let out a terrible keening groan as muscle and tendon ripped. She fought her base instinct to struggle, to squirm away from the source of the pain. If she did, she’d only injure herself further. Blood poured from the wound, staining the ground a horrible, vibrant crimson.

A growl tore through the clearing seconds before a brown blur flew through the air and landed on the troll’s back. Nathaniel. They all rocked forward with the impact and fresh pain lanced through her shoulder. The troll roared in anger, releasing Juliana’s shoulder by default and she dropped to the ground. She backed away, eyeing the two of them warily. The troll reached over his back, trying to grab Nathaniel who still had his teeth and claws dug deep into the beast. The wolf snarled, growled and shook his head as the troll danced around the clearing trying to get a grip on his attacker.

Juliana’s arm hung limp and worthless by her side. Pain burned through the wound and nausea rose in waves. Her head swam. She swallowed the acid down, sucked in crisp, cool air. She used her right hand to wrap her left arm around her waist in an effort to keep the shoulder from moving any more than necessary.

“Nathaniel,” she yelled as the troll ran backward into the trees.

He slammed his back with Nathaniel still attached into the trunk of a large oak tree once, twice, three times. The blows stunned Nathaniel enough that the troll was finally able to snatch the wolf and hurl him across the clearing. Her friend lay unmoving on the ground.

The troll locked crimson eyes on her and stalked across the clearing. She fought every impulse inside of her that told her to run and waited for him to come. One taloned hand wrapped around her throat and picked her up. Pulling her close, the troll roared in fury once they were almost nose to nose. She wrapped her legs around his waist to take the pressure off her throat. Juliana raised the Taser and jammed it into his ear. Not caring anymore if she fried his brain, she squeezed and held the trigger. His roar changed to one of agony.

He released her throat and raised both hands to his head. He stumbled backward in an effort to get away from her but her legs stayed clamped around his waist. She continued to pour electricity into him until he dropped to his knees. Only then did she put her feet on the ground and back away.

Her opponent stayed on all fours, shaking his head, trying to clear it. The air hung heavy with the scent of burnt fur and troll. As he rose to a kneeling position, she adjusted her grip on the weapon. From the corner of her eye she saw Nathaniel stagger to his feet.

The troll held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “No more, Walker. I will go where you ask. Wherever you ask.”

Relief eased the tightness in her chest. She wasn’t sure she was up for another round of Taze the Troll. She ran her thumb along the side of her ring preparing to use it to call the portal tied to it. Then the troll began to laugh. A low sound at first, it quickly grew to a volume that made her ears ache. Great. She had fried his brain and now she had a crazy troll to deal with.

After putting more distance between them, she put her Taser away and drew her sword. It left the sheath with a ring of steel. She adjusted her hand on the grip. Nathaniel came to stand beside her, leaning his weight into her leg to let her know he was near. “You okay there, Mr. Troll?”

He opened his blazing red eyes and looked at her. “I’ve had your blood, Juliana Norris. It tells me things.” Apparently it told him her name, because she’d never given it.


deaths daughter coverDeath’s Daughter        
Realm Walker Series
Book 2
Kathleen Collins

Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance

Publisher: Carina press

ISBN: 9781426898112
ASIN: B00GKBIR80

Word Count:  68,000

Book Description:

Juliana Norris, Realm Walker with the Agency, is an Altered. A fact that she runs up against every time she’s forced to work with human police officers, and their species-ist commissioner, on cases they can’t solve themselves. Which happens more than they would like to admit.

Her gift—the quality that makes her the best Realm Walker in the business, without boast—is the ability to read magical signatures. Whether the gift came from her father, the dark fae god of death, or the mage mother she can’t remember, is anyone’s guess. And when Altered children start going missing with only wild magical signatures as clues, her heritage is the last thing on her mind.

She can’t afford such distractions, and she definitely can’t afford to worry about the fact that her mate, master vampire Thomas Kendrick, hasn’t spoken to her since she saved him from a demon—maybe it’s because she had to stab him to do so. Because whoever is kidnapping these children must be very powerful to wield wild magic. Very powerful, and very dangerous indeed.

Available at Amazon  BN  Harlequin Print

Excerpt:

In the warm afternoon light, a lone swing rocked back and forth in a steady rhythm, its chains groaning a mournful dirge despite the fact no one sat upon it. It hadn’t faltered once in the hour since the child vanished. The fifth to disappear in three weeks. Each one taken in front of at least a dozen witnesses who couldn’t recall a single thing later—no details of when they’d last seen the child, nothing about any strangers hanging around. They didn’t even recollect hearing a scream of protest. In this case, every student and teacher on the playground had been distracted at the same exact moment, but no one could remember by what when asked.

Police and technicians swarmed the steps of New Hope Elementary and the courtyard in front. All of them instinctively avoided the playground and the magic at work there. All except the figure that stood in the far corner by the rusty swing set, hands in her pockets as the late-October wind whipped around her, snatching at her clothes and carrying the scent of burning leaves. Her hair was short but still long enough for her to catch an occasional glimpse of the royal-blue streaks among the black as it blew into her face. She tucked an errant strand behind one ear, but doubted it would stay put for long.

A Realm Walker, an officer for the Agency, Juliana Norris was here because the first policeman on the scene had called her directly. This wasn’t the Agency’s investigation. Not yet, anyway. Her involvement was strictly advisory until the commissioner climbed down from his shiny pedestal long enough to admit local law enforcement wasn’t up to doing the job on their own. While the victims thus far had been Altered, the perp hadn’t been identified. Since it was possible a human was behind this, Commissioner Phipps claimed jurisdiction. No one high enough at the Agency cared enough to contradict him. Yet.

Her phone vibrated at her hip. She glanced at the screen as she pulled it out—Ben Nichols, her boss. The initial kidnappings had garnered so much attention in the Altered community he’d been forced to cut her suspension short by a week—an action he hadn’t been happy to take at all. A fact he reminded her of every day.

“Norris,” she answered and braced herself for another reprimand.

“You haven’t filed a report. What’s your status?”

The clipped tone of his voice exhausted her. She was tired of the daily conflict. “I haven’t filed a report because there is nothing to report. We know nothing further than we did before.”

“I took you off suspension to get results, Norris. So far I’m not impressed.”

“No, you took me off suspension because you didn’t want to get shredded by the press for keeping the Walker with the best record out of the game while the Thief does his hunting. You know I’m the most likely to find him.”
There was a stretch of silence. “I know you are. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

He hung up and she slipped her phone back into her pocket. Her insistence she was the best Walker for the job had nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with her particular blend of talents.

She possessed a gift that enabled her to see the unique signature of any living being. A signature was a spectrum of colors that told her exactly what type of creature an individual was, no matter how artfully they might try to hide it. She could also see the signature of a spell cast on anyone, or anything, other than herself. Whether the gift came from her father, the dark fae god of death, or the mage mother she couldn’t remember, was anyone’s guess.

Activating her gift made her eyes glow several shades brighter than their normal emerald, so she kept them hidden behind a pair of dark glasses. She studied the muddy brown of the stasis spell used on the swing. This particular shade of brown marked it wild magic. Dangerous magic. It also meant that whatever cast the spell wasn’t using his own power. Wild magic belonged to no one; it simply existed. And its signature was strong enough she hadn’t been able to get a read yet on what was doing the casting. It could be a mage, a fae, a god or anything else with any kind of magic ability. Which narrowed the suspect list down to about nine-tenths of the Altered community.

What she did know was the magic took great power or skill to wield. While it was better for everyone if they did, power and skill didn’t necessarily go hand in hand. Maybe luck would be with them for once and one of the bastard’s spells would backfire and fry him.


michael bishop coverThe Making of Michael Bishop
A Realm Walker Short Story
Kathleen Collins

Genre: urban fantasy, dark fantasy

Date of Publication: August 30, 2014

ASIN: B00N5YWPCE

Number of pages: 20

Book Description:

Keep your distance. Don’t look him in the eye. Feed him and leave.

Michael D’Augustino is a priest in the time of the Inquisition. Marked as weak for his refusal to torture those charged with sorcery, heresy, devil worship or worse, he’s given another task. Feed the prisoner in the cell in the darkest corner of the dungeon. With the edict comes a set of instructions.

Ever obedient, Michael does exactly as he is told. Until the night his charge doesn’t eat and Michael has to enter the cell to find out why. Instead of the beast he believes to be imprisoned there, he finds a man. A broken, tormented man who asks for help.

But all is not as it seems and, before the night is through, Michael will be changed forever.

Available at Amazon and BN

Excerpt:

An unlit torch hung on the wall beside the cell and Michael took the flint from the table beneath it. His hands shook as he tried in vain to light the torch. Finally, it sparked and flared to life. With trembling fingers, he pulled it from the wall and reopened the door. Stepping quickly inside, he shut the door behind him and pressed his back to it. He could not risk anything escaping, animal or otherwise.

Darkness recoiled from the flickering flame and receded before him. There along the back wall a huddled form. Michael’s pulse raced and his palms grew slick with moisture. He adjusted his grip on the torch. He both anticipated and feared the moment the creature revealed itself.

“I can smell you, priest,” it said, without lifting its head. When Michael didn’t respond, it looked up, squinting its eyes against the light. Michael was careful not to meet its gaze directly. His father told him the creature could ensnare with a look.

He was struck by how normal the man—the vampyr, he corrected himself—looked. Emaciated from his captivity perhaps, but otherwise his blond hair and dark eyes could have belonged to anyone. Any human. This was not the beast Michael had been led to believe was imprisoned here. Was this another innocent falsely accused? No, Michael had heard it kill and eat the animals he brought to it. Whatever it was, it was not purely human. He needed to remember that.

“You’re the timid one. If they sent you, they must intend for me to live another day yet,” its abused voice croaked.

The creature’s words had an echo of the bishop in them. Pointing out Michael’s flaws, his inability to hurt another as if it was something to be ashamed of. “Why do you say that?”

“You feed me, heal me. You have never injured me.” The voice sounded so pained, Michael cringed in sympathy. The creature detected it, though it misinterpreted the cause. “You have no reason to fear me. You have done me no wrong.”

“I am uncertain of that,” Michael said. “If I were a merciful man, I would not continue to bring you food.”

The vampyr’s dark eyes studied him, the flickering flame of the torch reflected in their depths. “Why do you say that?”

“They only heal you so they can torture you afresh on the morrow. If I did not feed you, you would not heal and perhaps they would leave you be. For a day at least.”

“Do you honestly believe that?”

Michael shook his head. If it didn’t heal, the bishop would only torture it further to find out why. “Abomination you may be, but no one deserves an existence of endless torture.”

The vampyr chuckled, a low sound, halting as if he’d forgotten how to laugh. “Don’t be so sure of that, timid one. I can think of many who deserve the punishment I have been given, even if I am not one of them.”


BloodSlaveBlood Slave
Realm Walker Series
Book 3
Kathleen Collins

Book Description:

Can she find a killer in a town where the basest desires are allowed to run free?

There are zombies in the Dead Zone and Juliana Norris is sent to take care of the problem. And for there to be zombies, there had to be bodies. When vampires are found to be the culprits, Juliana is sent undercover in the red light district of Kansas City. Lying to her mate, Thomas Kendrick, isn’t something she wants to do, but she’s in another vampire’s territory and Thomas would not be pleased. Besides, she’s more than capable of doing the job and she needs to prove it to everyone. Most of all herself.

Charles Morgan is in control of the Kansas City area, making a rich living off his various enterprises. Juliana goes undercover at the strip club Lust and gets sucked into his dark, decadent world. More victims turn up and the Agency is positive they’ve got their man, but Juliana is not so sure. When the Agency refuses to listen, she reluctantly turns to Thomas for help. He intervenes but finds Juliana unaware of the danger she is in and discovers she may just be too deep for him to save.

Available at Amazon    BN    iTunes

Excerpt:

Juliana pulled her coat tighter around her body as a cold wind whipped in a frenzy sending a chill through her. She hated the weather in this city, constantly changing without even a weather mage to blame. Maybe she should try to convince Morgan to bring one in just to regulate things. At least until she left town. Scanning the area again, she shook her head. How was she supposed to find a killer in the midst of so much depravation?

The scene around her seemed as if it was pulled straight from a public service announcement about the dangers of prostitution. Hookers and blood slaves staked out their territory, chasing off those that dared encroach. Flyers littered the fronts of buildings, and loose ones skittered along the pavement as they raced to freedom. While several of the men and women plying their trade made eye contact with her, it was evident that she was poor and not a vampire. Their interest quickly waned and moved on to the next target. The unclean taint in the air was familiar from the time she’d spent in Devil’s End in New Hope. Desperation had the same stink no matter where you were.

Juliana had opted to walk to work, hoping that immersing herself in the city would help her find a clue, a suspect. So far it wasn’t working. But it wasn’t as if she thought someone was go-ing to hop up and down in front of her screaming, “I did it!” It would be lovely if that was the way things worked, but nothing ever happened the easy way.

Walking through a neighborhood like this without her sword or her gun was not high on her list of experiences she cared to ever repeat. Even though she knew Nathaniel was following dis-cretely not far behind, it did little to ease her nerves. She trusted the wolf more than most, but a lot could happen in the time it would take him to get to her.


authorAbout the Author:

Kathleen Collins lives and works in Missouri. By day, she labors in the local prosecutor’s office. At night she writes while surrounded by her husband, two boys and two loveable mutts. She is constantly thinking of her next project and loves to connect with her readers. You can find her most often on Facebook or on her website.

www.Kathleencollins.net

@kathy_collins

www.facebook.com/kathleencollinsauthor

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7191208.Kathleen_Collins

Realm Walker Series Button 300 x 225

bewitching tours

Tour: Dragon Lore by Ann Gimple

Dragon Lore Series Banner 851 x 315

dragon maid coverDragon Maid
Dragon Lore
Book Two
Ann Gimpel

Dream Shadow Press

64K words

Release Date: 10/5/15

Genre: Paranormal romance

 

Tumble off reality’s edge into myth, magic,
and Scottish dragon shifters

 

Book Description:

When pressed, Jonathan Shea admits magic runs through his blood, but he’s always been ambivalent about it—until a dragon and her mage show up in the Scottish Highlands, and then all bets are off. Jonathan’s charmed and captivated by the dragon—a creature fresh out of myth and legend—but the woman bonded to it is so enticing, he tosses caution aside and catapults into the magical power he’s avoided for so long.

Britta and her dragon prepare for a battle to save Earth. Freshly transplanted from a much earlier time, she feels awkward, out of place. The first person she lays eyes on is Jonathan. There’s something about him. She can’t quite pinpoint it, but he has way more magic than he lets on. Magic aside, it runs deeper than that. For the first time ever, she questions the wisdom of remaining a maid. If she doesn’t make up her mind damned fast, though, her choices will fritter away. Beset from every side, she’s never needed her magical ability more.

Surrounded by dragon shifters, Celtic gods, Selkies, time travel, and a heaping portion of magic, Jonathan comes into his own fast. Fell creatures target him, Britta, and her dragon. In the midst of chaos, he and Britta find scorching passion and love so heartbreakingly tender, it will change their lives forever.

 

Amazon    Barnes and Noble    iTunes    Kobo

 

Excerpt:

…Jonathan tried not to stare, but it was a losing battle. The woman—no, the dragon shifter—was the most perfect, the most alluring, creature he’d ever laid eyes on. Tall, with high, rounded breasts, a slender waist, and curvy hips, she looked like a goddess. Who knew? Maybe she was. The Celts had many deities. He fumbled with his rucksack and pulled out a turkey sandwich on rye bread, which he handed to her.

She yanked the wrappings aside, dropping them onto the floor while she stuffed food into her mouth, chewing and swallowing quickly. “Ye said there were two of these meat and bread things.” Britta surveyed him, her golden eyes alight with interest.

“Yes, I did. If I give you both, I’ll be hungry.”

She shrugged. “Not my problem. Also, I requested mead.”

Jonathan’s lips twitched. He corralled the smile that wanted out. Britta was an imperious bitch, yet there was something so undeniably appealing about her straightforward nature, it was impossible to feel offended. “No mead. At least I don’t have any. We could ask the other witches, or if we found you some clothes, we could go into the city and buy a proper meal, and as much to drink as you wanted.”

She cocked her head to one side and popped the last bite of sandwich into her mouth. “I can go as I am. Shall we walk or use magic, witch?”

“Um, no, you can’t go as you are. You’d be arrested.”

She tilted her chin up. “Why? I can see where I might freeze to death, but who would give a jolly fuck whether I’m dressed or not?”

Before he could craft an explanation, Kheladin stalked over, trailed by three female witches stroking the scales on his lower body. “Lachlan kept a clothes chest against the far wall.” He pointed with a talon. “I’m certain some of his shirts and tights would work, though there’s little to be done by way of shoes.”

Britta’s gaze landed on a particularly large heap of gold jewelry and coins. “I could borrow a bit of money from your hoard, just a coin or two, and—”

Kheladin’s eyes whirled faster, glittering dangerously. “I doona think so. Unless your First Born bondmate orders me.”

“No need to disturb Tarika.” Britta turned a brilliant smile on Jonathan and tapped his chest with her index finger. “He can buy me what I need.” Magic shimmered around her. “Come close, witch. We’re leaving.”

Kheladin stumped to Britta’s side. The counter spell he summoned to dampen her power sparkled, and multi-hued strands wrapped around her. Her lips curled in fury, and she raised her hands to call magic of her own.

“Not so fast,” Kheladin snapped. “First, ye’ve forgotten ye need clothes. Second, Tarika was in an all-fired hurry to find me. Such a big hurry, ye went without food or rest. Why?”

Britta shook her head so hard, her hair danced about her body. She swept the heels of her hands down her cheeks, distorting her perfect features. “Och aye, whatever is wrong with me? Nay, I know the answer. The Morrigan is furious because Lachlan triumphed over the black and red wyverns, and their dragon shifter mages.”

“Good the old Battle Crow even noticed,” Kheladin growled and breathed a fiery gout of flames.

“She did more than notice. She cast a spell to disrupt our memories out of sheer meanness. If ye wouldna have reminded me… Hell, ’tis surprised I am we got here at all. The Celtic gods, Gwydion and Arawn, sent us to warn you and Lachlan. They told us their magic would trump the Morrigan’s, but not forever.” One corner of her mouth turned down. “’Twould appear I just ran up against forever. Or mayhap their magic got subverted by your wards.”

“What impact has the Morrigan’s mischief had on the rest of our kind?”

“Those in Fire Mountain are safe so long as they remain there. The memory-altering spell only snares them when they set foot on Earth.”

“We just saw Gwydion, Arawn, and Ceridwen, and they dinna tell us aught of any such casting. Did they try to neutralize it?”

She cast a look Kheladin’s way that said he should ask something worth her time answering.

Jonathan watched the exchange, chest tight with excitement, feeling he’d fallen into one of the old tales where heroes and heroines walked among humans.

“Let me try again.” Kheladin sounded exasperated. “Did the Morrigan wake the black wyvern’s mage, Rhukon?”

“’Twas the first thing she did.”

“So all our effort was for naught.” The dragon clanked his jaws together. “I must alert Lachlan. Where’d the Celts find you? And how long ago?”

Britta rolled her eyes. “Not in Fire Mountain, though I admit Tarika and I retreated there after Rhukon, Connor, and their dragons teamed with the Morrigan, and things werena looking good. Nay, the Celts plucked us out of the sixteen hundreds. They told us enough about what the future holds to alarm us and sent us on our way.”

“Aye, and how long ago was that,” Kheladin prodded.”

“Mayhap a week. Tarika had things to attend to afore we could come. Why is that important?”

“Because Lachlan and I just sought them out, and they reminded us they doona censure their own, meaning they have no plans to clip the Battle Crow’s wings.”

“I believe I understand.” Tarika forced her voice through Britta’s vocal chords. “They rousted us out to excuse themselves from action. Craven bastards, the lot of them.” Fire rolled from Britta’s mouth.

“For the love of the goddess,” she sputtered from around flames. “Stop that.”

Kheladin inclined his head. “Though the circumstances leave much to be desired, thank you for coming.”

A warm smile lit Britta’s face. It softened her features and made her look barely more than a girl. Jonathan’s cock stiffened where it pressed against his jeans. Breath caught in his throat, and he fought against touching her, running his hands down her golden skin. He drew magic around himself to mask his lust, make it unobtrusive, but she noticed anyway.

Britta turned an appraising glance his way. “Aye, ye’d do well to hide your rut from me.”

Embarrassed at being caught out but curious too, he asked, “Why?”

She tossed her head at Kheladin. “Tell him, dragon. Mayhap he’ll believe it if he hears it from another, ahem, male.” Her last word dripped sarcasm…


dragons dareDragon’s Dare
Dragon Lore
Book Three
Ann Gimpel

Dream Shadow Press

85K words

Release Date: 10/19/15

Genre: Paranormal romance

 

Tumble off reality’s edge into myth, magic,
and Scottish dragon shifters

 
Book Description:

Bloated on chaos, the Morrigan leaves the Scottish Highlands to gather power. A trip through Hell yields quite the assortment of allies tagging along behind her. Fell creatures straight out of myth and nightmare that haven’t darkened Earth’s boundaries for centuries heed her call.

Heartily sick of the Morrigan’s maneuvering, the dragons are close to shutting their world off from everywhere, Earth included. If they do, every dragon shifter bond will be broken. Horrified, Lachlan and Britta launch a desperate campaign to hang onto their dragons.

Magic may bite back, but if the dragons take their magic ball and go home, Earth will fade, along with all other worlds. That suits the Morrigan fine. War and anarchy are her favorite companions, and she collects misery like children gather beloved toys.

Arianrhod’s fellow Celts found out about her fall from grace and her half-Druid son, Jonathan. With nothing further to hide, she goes back in time hunting Angus, Jonathan’s father. Forty years apart was a steep price to pay. The world needs Angus’s magic. And Jonathan needs all the help he can get. Late to accept the power thrumming through him, he holds a key role in keeping the world from spinning off its axis. Reluctant at first, Jonathan finally gets it.

Absolute focus.

Absolute commitment.

Anything less and everyone he loves will pay an unthinkable price.

 

Amazon    Barnes and Noble   iTunes    Kobo

 

Excerpt:

…Jonathan Shea cradled Britta in his arms. She was asleep, the rhythm and cadence of her breathing revealed her exhaustion. He still couldn’t believe he’d found a mate, and a woman linked to a dragon at that. Britta KilKerran was actually the Countess of Cumbria, or she had been a few hundred years back. He wasn’t certain such a title still existed.

It didn’t matter. He’d offer up his life to protect the woman slumbering against his chest. He loved her dragon too, but Tarika scarcely needed his protection. When he thought of the scarlet-scaled dragon, one of the First Born, the place on his neck where she’d marked him with a mating bite tingled. It was her contribution to his bond with Britta.

She stirred in his arms. He stroked strands of long, red-gold hair away from her face and spun a small spell to keep her asleep. They’d just come from a major battle to free Tarika and Kheladin, another dragon, from the Morrigan’s clutches. Both of them needed rest, but his heart and mind were too full to let go quite yet.

After years of never believing the rumor about his mother being a Celtic deity, he’d finally met her. He brought it on himself by calling for her when they desperately needed help, but he never believed she’d actually show up. Regardless, he couldn’t deny her existence anymore—no matter how much he might want to. Arianrhod had abandoned him when he was so young he had no memories of her, and when he cut to the bone of things, he resented the crap out of her neglect.

Jonathan shut his eyes for a moment and summoned an image of his father. Tall and rangy with shaggy, rich brown hair and amber eyes, Angus had been a dreamer. He did his best for Jonathan, but often as not, he’d been caught up in some trance state or another. Though Angus hadn’t said so, Jonathan understood his father was relieved when he grew old enough to be on his own. Once Jonathan left Ireland, Angus vanished. Their modest cabin near Inishowen remained, but Jonathan knew better than to waste time hunting for a man who didn’t wish to be found.

Had Arianrhod seen Angus all these years he’d been missing? Jonathan could ask her, but she might just stare him down with those inscrutable eyes—one gold, the other silver—and not bother to answer.

He tightened his hold on Britta, and she nestled closer. She was more comfortable about Arianrhod being his mother than he was, but then she was far more comfortable with magic in general. He blew out a breath, recognizing his life would never be the same.

Not that he wanted it to be, but he would’ve preferred finding the love of his life without having to deal with a long-lost parent. Particularly one who stirred up a welter of prickly feelings. Now if Angus were to show back up, it would be a different story…

Britta wriggled against him, and her golden eyes flickered open. She regarded him sleepily through thick red lashes. “Ye canna rest, my love?”

Jonathan shrugged and offered a sheepish smile. “Lots to think about.”

She cupped the side of his face in one hand. “Do ye wish to talk about anything?”

He shrugged again, feeling uncomfortable. What was there to say, really? He was a little old to be struggling with parent issues. Besides he’d long since come to terms with his father’s magic being too pervasive for him to spend much time around normal humans. Jonathan dealt with some level of that as well, but his job as a software engineer who designed games let him keep to himself.

Britta brushed her hand across his lips. “Whenever ye wish, I’ll be here. Tarika too. She’s verra old and much wiser than either of us. If ye canna get the information elsewhere, mayhap we can figure out what sort of hold the Celtic gods had on your da.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep it in mind.” Jonathan reached around her and snagged a bottle of Irish whiskey off the nightstand. “Would you like some? I can get us glasses.”

“Och, and I can drink from the bottle. No need to get fancy.”

She smiled, and it transformed her into something so striking he couldn’t look away. A high forehead gave way to sculpted cheekbones and a defined chin. One of his old T-shirts covered her from chest to knees, but the outline of her breasts was clearly visible through the well-aged beige fabric.

His cock stirred, and he rolled his eyes. “We made love twice after we got here. I don’t understand why I can’t get enough of you.”

“Are ye complaining?” She quirked an arched red brow.

He shook his head and drew both of them to a half sitting position against the carved oak headboard. He uncorked the bottle and handed it to her. She drank deep before handing it back.

Britta narrowed her eyes and watched him drink. “We’re far from home free,” she blurted without preamble.

“Which problem are you referring to?” He placed the bottle on a side table not bothering to cork it. He wasn’t done yet, and likely neither was Britta.

She moved away and sat cross-legged facing him, her lovely face creased with concern. “We may have permanently removed Connor and Rhukon and their dragons from the action, but there have to be other corrupt dragon shifters. We must seek them out and destroy them too.”

Jonathan shook his head. “It won’t matter unless we get to the heart of things.”

“Aye, ye’re correct. We must find a way to corral the Morrigan, or she’ll just entice more mages and dragons with promises of limitless power.” Britta caught her lower lip between her teeth. “Tarika plans to warn the dragons. She believes the dark mages want to drain their dragon bondmates’ power.”

Jonathan straightened and recaptured the whiskey bottle, taking another swallow. “I thought mages became dragon shifters because they loved dragons and wished to share their lives with them.”

“Aye and that would be true—for most of us. Power lures dark mages, though. Far more power than can be had through the normal dragon shifter bond.”

“How do you know?”

“I saw it in Connor and Rhukon’s minds afore we thrashed them.”

“You didn’t say anything.” He handed her the bottle. Maybe they should eat something, if they were going to drink much more.

“I would have. Eventually. Tarika and I needed to determine just what it meant. And if ’tis really true, or just conjecture on our part.”

He kissed her forehead before swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “I’m going to cut up a bit of cheese for us and get some crackers.” He pulled on a pair of black sweat pants, securing the waist string to keep them from falling down, and got to his feet.

“Excellent.” She grinned. “Plotting revenge is hungry business, but ye dinna have to cover that amazing cock.”

He bit back a laugh, enjoying the compliment, and made his way to the kitchen. His apartment was small enough to keep talking. “Did you discuss this with Lachlan?” he asked as he chopped cheese off a block and opened a box of biscuits.

“Nay, but Tarika and Kheladin figured out what was going on while they were held prisoner.”

Jonathan returned to the bedroom and plopped the snacks on the bed next to Britta. “How does this bondmate thing work? Would Lachlan be privy to the dark mage problem, if it’s in his dragon’s mind?”…


 

authorAbout the Author:

Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients, now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over 30 books to date, with several more planned for 2015 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

 

Find Ann At:

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel

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