Tuesday Catch Up – Who’s Doing Nano?

Hi all,

Hope you’ve all had a fab Halloween, lots of spooks and candy ๐Ÿ˜‰ I managed to get to some fun story-telling sessions, plus it’s an excuse to watch all my favourite Halloween movies. Anyway, we’re back to reality and into November now (eek, no one mention Christmas yet!) and November for a lot of us means Nano. In case you don’t know, Nano stands for National Novel Writing Month, where thousands of writers, both brand new and established, attempt to write a novel (well, 50,000 words at least) in the month of November. It’s fun, exciting, stressful and a little bit mad!

111411_nanowrimo-702x1024-670x977So, who’s joining in this year? Are you off to a flying start or (like me) still trying to catch up on all the prep things you should have done last week. Please make me feel better and say it’s the latter ๐Ÿ™‚ I do have slightly mixed feelings about Nano, for some people it’s a lot of pressure and that mad rush can be stressful, but I do find it useful for a bit of a kickstart and to get back into the habit of writing every day – especially if life has rather been getting in the way lately (and let’s face it, it has a nasty habit of doing that!).

Personally, I think it’s so important to use Nano for what YOU can get out of it. It’s all too easy to look at other people and feel discouraged but it’s not a competition – honest! If you miss some days – so what, you can catch up and sometimes you need a break. If you’re not going to make 50k – so what, if you have more words that you did at the start of the month then it’s still a win. If all your ‘writing buddies’ are speeding along and you feel like you’re lagging behind – so what, we all have different speeds and styles. Who’s to say your 30k might not be twice as good as someone else’s 60k? Take the good things – the motivation, the team spirit, the community support – and use it to help you (and of course, don’t forget to give a bit of that support back again!).

2016-05-11-1462971004-479389-writer

I also think the main thing – and the thing I see so many enthusiastic Nano-ers seeming to slip up at. At the end of November make sure you DO SOMETHING with all these lovely, shiny new words you have ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m winterdusk on the Nano site, so do feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you are joining in – and the best of luck with it!

 

Take care x

Wednesday Snippet – Wolf Shifter Romance

Hi all,

Hope you’re all having a fun week (and of course, a spooky Halloween-themed one!). I’m very excited as off to see Doctor Strange this afternoon – I do love me some Cumberbatch ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hopefully it will be good, or I’ll only end up seeing it half a dozen times instead of the usual full dozen lol.

In the meantime though… I’m sharing an excerpt from my upcoming release. This is the next in my wolves series and should be coming out next month, so I really hope you’ll all like it!

bfsgraywolf1Katya stood there for a long moment. She should head back to the high street, she really should. She had no business staying here with a man she’d never even met and knew nothing about. But he’d apparently saved her niece’s life. That was what she told herself as she slowly crossed back to the bed. There was a chair by the wall and she carefully pulled it up to the bed, and taking a seat gently reached out to take the man’s hand in hers. What the hell was she doing? Yet there was an odd rightness to it and she didn’t pull her hand back.

She studied his face, calm and relaxed as though he was merely sleeping, yet she had the feeling that when awake calm was not a word that would describe him.

“Where have you gone?” She whispered softly. “And why don’t you want to come back?”

With an odd sense of clarity, she suddenly knew that was the case. He didn’t want to come back from wherever his mind has taken him.

“It can’t be so bad here,” she told him. “You obviously have people who care about you.” To her shock tears stung her eyes. “It’s more than I have.”

The wave of loneliness washed over her. She had grown comfortable in the last few days but this was just a stop gap. Natalia had her own life, and while she might be welcome for a visit then she really had no proper place in it. Soon she would

have to leave, get back to her own task, and she would alone again. The way she always was. Blood was rushing in her ears and her eyes burned with tears. Abruptly the walls seemed to be closing in on her and she frantically tried to get up, tugging her hand back from the heavy weight of the man’s hand on top of it.

cottageTo her shock and horror it wouldnโ€™t release her. Panic ran through her as she tugged harder. A small part of her knew she was being irrational, it was probably an automatic reflex in him that he had gripped on to her, but she was pretty sure a full blown anxiety attack was coming on and she needed to get the hell out of here.

“Let go of me!” She half sobbed, half shouted.

Two things happened almost at once. A wiry man in a white coat appeared in the doorway. Glancing from her tear-streaked face to their clasped hands his face drew into a frown.

“What on earth is going on here?”

Just as she was trying to answer, the grip on her hand increased even more and her attention swung to the man on the bed, who was gazing at her with deep amber eyes.

“Iyana?”

 

Don’t forget, I’m running a Halloween giveaway. Just leave a comment and sign up for my newsletter to get a free copy of my zombie-theme paranormal romance, Love Reawakened – perfect Halloween reading ๐Ÿ™‚

Free Paranormal Romance Ebook for Halloween

Take care x

Monday Catch Up

Hi all,

Monday rolls round again – hope you’ve got a fun week planned. I think a bit of spookiness and a lot of candy is probably mandatory ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m spending my day trying to avoid facebook and twitter so no one spoils The Walking Dead for me – unfortunately it’s on too late here for me to stay up and watch so have to wait until I get home tonight. Am very nervous about who dies – I may be crying into my Halloween candy later lol.

Who else is a fan? Have you seen it yet? If you’re still in a zombie mood then check out my giveaway from yesterday – I’ve giving away free ebook copies of my zombie-themed paranormal romance (I promise it’s not as scary as TWD!) Link is here: http://shellirosewarne.com/free-paranormal-romance-ebook-halloween/

promo-3

Anyway, lots to do – really need to get some writing in inbetween being traumatised by a tv show ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you have an equally fun day planned!

Take care x

Free Paranormal Romance Ebook for Halloween

Hi all,

Hope you’re all having a fab weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re just a week away from Halloween – one of my favourite times of year. As you may have guessed from my writing I love all things paranormal, so what better than a holiday that celebrates all the fun of spookiness and magic? And let’s not forget some spooky Halloween reading (though I must admit I like a bit of romance mixed in).

Love Reawakened 3My novella, Love Reawakened features a sassy witch, a rather yummy necromancer, an escaped zombie, and of course, the obligatory dash of magic and romance ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think it’s perfect for Halloween (okay, so I may be a wee bit biased!) so would love to share it with you. All you need to do at get a shiny FREE copy is to comment on this post telling me what you like best about Halloween and then signup for my newsletter (you should be able to do this at the bottom of your comment anyway but if not just hop over to the newsletter page of the site, it’s painless, I promise!).

In case you’re not convinced yet (and really, it’s free lol!), here’s a wee excerpt:

Shocked gasps came from behind her, but the vibrations were already running through the ground. Quickly, she smeared the blood around the edges of the circle. The energy was rising now, waves spreading out as the hairs on her arms stood up, and tiny tremors ran through the soles of her shoes. She drew a final symbol in the blood on the gravestone itself, the rough stone grazing her fingers and making the lines awkward.

“Patrick Connell, rise. Come from your grave at my command. Rise from your sleep at my bidding.”

nightThe earth in front of her practically bubbled now, and then it parted, and a tall figure emerged. Neil almost shrieked behind her, but her attention stayed focused on the corpse in front of her. He was newly dead and perfectly preserved. In fact, gazing at him, you would barely know the difference if you saw him walking down the street. She was quite proud. She didn’t do this spell much, but this was a damn good raising!

“Patrick Connell, you have been raised at my command. You will do as I say and nothing more, bound to me by blood and magic. Do you understand and obey?”

The corpse looked at her, surprising clarity in his deep blue eyes. She didn’t think she’d ever raised one this ‘new’ before, and it was actually a little disconcerting how alive he appeared. He’d obviously been a handsome man, tall with broad shoulders, thick dark hair, strong jaw, and quite startling eyes. Then he opened his mouth and said a single word.

“No.”

Hooked yet? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Don’t forget, just leave a comment and then sign up for the newsletter and you get it completely free!

Have a great weekend. Take care x

Guest Author Sheri Velarde with Our Last Salvation

Hi all,

Apologies for being a bit missing in action this week – have had a few website issues, technology definitely hates me lol! Anyway, we seem to be running again at least, so please excuse any minor blips while the site gets tweaked a bit. Still, moving on, it’s October, time for dark nights and scary stories – and I have the fab Sheri Velarde dropping by to chat about her new zombie-themed romance, Our Last Salvation. Scary and steamy, what more can you ask for? ๐Ÿ™‚

 

So, let’s start with you telling us a bit about yourself (bio).

I live in New Mexico, US, with my husband and my two dogs Eowyn and Charlie. In addition to being an author I also make jewelry, paint, and craft. However I am happiest when I am either curled up with my dogs reading a book or snuggling with the hubby and watching a movie.

I have been writing professionally for a little over five years. People often ask why I write, the answer is simple, my mind wonโ€™t let me not write. I always have stories in my head and I have to get them out or go crazy. Writing is my therapy and I canโ€™t imagine my life without it.

People can keep up with my writing and other shenanigans on my website: sherivelarde.weebly.com.

Ooh, another multi-talented person ๐Ÿ™‚ Was there a specific moment where you first knew that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was little I loved to read. I think the idea of telling stories, especially paranormal stories, was after I fell in love with Bunnicula. I started making up my own stories then. I probably started actually writing stories when I was in fourth or fifth grade.

I seem to have missed out on Bunnicula, I’ve heard a few people mention it but don’t think it made it over the pond ๐Ÿ™ Do you have a particular writing routine, or any special rituals?

Well I am not a get straight out of bed and start writing writer. My husband works late and we sleep in, mornings are dedicated to errands and household stuff. I do my freelance work after my husband leaves and then sit down to work on my writing after a late lunch. I work then until a late dinner. After dinner I usually try to do some edits and then start writing again until my husband gets home from work. I just feel more creative at night. I also always have either music or a tv show that I know well. I live in an apartment complex and I need noise that I like to block out the noise I donโ€™t want. Other than that, I try to write every day. Thatโ€™s the most important ritual.

I’m a night owl as well, always annoying when EDJ makes me have to get up early *sighs* Tell us about the genre you write in, and what drew you to it.

I primarily write a lot of paranormal romance, though I have been moving into horror and mystery a tiny bit as well. Mostly I like things that go bump in the night, in more ways than one ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are there any particular authors or books that have really inspired you?

I would say Anne Rice and Stephen King. I know I am dating myself, but I grew up on both of them. Anne Rice in particular combined the paranormal and romance in a way that I can only wish I could.

What five things could you never do without?

My husband, my dogs, books, art and pasta! Lol

Lol, yup to the pasta! Tell us a bit about your new release.

salvationKol’s living her dream. Her gorgeous neighbor, Nick, promised to make her life brighter yet, until something from her past threatens the entire world.

Kol is trying to outrun her troubled past and start anew. She is finally living the life she always wanted in NYC, where she has met the man of her dreams, Nick. Just when her future is looking bright, an infection takes hold of the country, sending her and Nick on a race for their lives. Now Kol must face the pain she wanted to leave behind forever, in order for anyone to have a future.

Ooh, definitely sounds interesting. Where did your inspiration for it come from?

Seriously? It was while I was visiting a friend in NYC. We were on the roof of his building when some military helicopters flew over in formation. He wondered aloud what that was all about. I of course said zombie apocalypse. Seems reasonable to me. Lol That was the beginning of an idea. On a said note, we later found out it was Prince Harry being flown somewhere.

Hehe, not quite as dramatic, but yeah that would probably have been my first thought as well. What did you find most enjoyable about writing it?

I loved writing my heroine. She is fragile from past issues, but also one of the strongest characters I have ever written. Kol faces things that would make most people break, but she keeps going and going. She never loses all of her hope. I love that about her.

What was the hardest part about writing it?

For me love scenes are always the hardest to write. This one was no different. I always say that this book is going to have closed door love scenes, but that never happens. My characters are just too darn frisky.

Lol, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Who’s your favourite character in it? (I know, I know, favouritism!)

Itโ€™s a tough one, but I am going to go with Nick. Most heroes in romance are uber alpha male (and I do like that and write that) but Nick is the softer, caring and supportive hero that makes our heroine a stronger and happier woman. That can be pretty sexy too.

Aww, and yup, very sexy! Why should we run out and buy it right now? ๏Š

Itโ€™s a short and super sexy read that will be sure to heat up your weekend! Running from zombies has never been so hot!

Well, I know I’m convinced ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you want to get your hands on a copy of Our Last Salvation the link is here:

Buy Link:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2cqXyxH

Have a great weekend. Take care x

Monday Catch Up

Hi all,

12184329_10207733887255811_4364423523897114955_oYou may have noticed I’ve had a few days off from posting. While I absolutely love release days, the build up, the promo work, and all the fun and games on the day can be a little knackering so Friday was a nice chill out day to recover ๐Ÿ™‚ Then was out for Halloween festivities over the weekend (what do you think of the costume? It went a little bluer than I was aiming for, but we’ll call it artistic license). I hope you’ve all had a fun weekend as well – and you’ve still got some candy left ๐Ÿ˜‰

Back to it today though, I’ve got two novellas from my old publisher that I’m working on getting re-edited, re-formatted and re-released soon, and of course we’re heading towards Christmas! I know, I know, and trust me I’m usually cursing any mention of it this early as well but if you’re wanting heart-warming Christmas-themed stories to sit by the fire with then they need to be started early *sighs* I wonder if I can get away with Christmas cookies early to write with ๐Ÿ™‚

Cemetery in a foggy full moon nightDon’t forget, if you’re looking for a fun, spooky read for the dark nights we’re having now, my new release Love Reawakened is available here:

getBook.at/LoveReawakened

Have a great Monday (hehe, well, try at least!) x

Love Reawakened Prequel (Free Read) – Part Five

Hi all,

Happy Hump Day, as they call it ๐Ÿ™‚ Since it’s release day tomorrow I’ll be dancing round the place like a crazy person, so I thought I should get you your Thursday Free Read installment a day early. I really hope you’re enjoying the Love Reawakened prequel, I’m hoping to have it properly edited and put up as a complete story soon – but in the meantime, you get it here first! And, don’t forget Emma and Garret’s big adventure goes live tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

sexy witchEmma was rapidly starting to lose her buzz. Was it too much to ask to be able to dance on her own without half a dozen jerks insisting that she must need company? This one seemed particularly persistent.

“I’m sorry, I’m really not interested” She tried more firmly, and this time turned her back on him. Surely that would give the hint?

Instead she felt rough hands on her butt. Seriously? She whirled round, sparks flying from her fingers and singeing the air around them both. The asshat took an unsteady step back, his hands waving in the air as though trying to swat a fly.

“What the fuck?” One of the sparks caught his hand and he snatched it back to his chest, staring at it confusion and then rising anger. “Goddamn bitch burned me.”

He stepped forward again, face contorted with drunken rage. Emma took a deep breath, called up her magic, and then the guy was suddenly on his ass in the middle of the dance floor. She blinked. Okay, that hadn’t been her.

Then Garret was taking her arm and moving to the other side of the polished wooden floor. He turned her away from the small group gathered around the floored guy, and began moving them to the music. She stared up at him in surprise, unsure what to say.

“I thought you didn’t want to dance.”

He sighed. “I didn’t, but you obviously can’t stay out of trouble.”

“Me? I was only sticking up for myself, and you seem to be the one putting people on the floor.”

He grunted. “I didn’t say he deserved it, and you wereโ€ฆ inciting.”

Emma grinned. “I was what? How exactly?”

His hands waved around randomly. “Hips, twirlingโ€ฆ ness. Look, are you wanting to dance or not?”

A grin was spreading across her face, but she simply nodded and let him pull her into his arms. For someone who claimed they didn’t dance he moved well, and as the music switched to a slower song she wrapped her arms around his neck and let her body sway in time with his. The world around them seemed to drift away as she relaxed against him, resting her head on his chest, hearing his heartbeat under her ear. Breathing in, she let his scent surround her; a unique blend of sandalwood and musk, with an underlying thread that was just sweat and skin and male. Every hard muscle seemed to mould against herโ€ฆ oooh, including a certain extra hard part of his anatomy that seemed to be pressing against her stomach. Things were definitely looking up โ€“ literally! A sly grin crossed her face as she deliberately rubbed against him.

His breath exhaled on a hiss as he stiffly moved back from her. Frowning slightly, she tilted back her head to look up at him. His deep brown eyes burned into her, she could see the banked desire there. Rising up on tiptoe, she did what she’d wanted to do since pretty much the first moment she’d seen him, half-concussed in a graveyard, and kissed him.

His lips were shockingly soft, and fire seemed to spark between them at the touch. Pressing against him, she deepened it, a whimper rising up in her throat as he met her thrust with his own, their tongues tangling as she felt heat sliding over her body and pooling in her belly and lower. Fuck, she’d never got this hot off a simple kiss before, and she needed more. Moaning she tangled her hands in his hair, her leg sliding up to hook over his hip, desperately trying to rock her against his hardness. She was dimly aware of wolf whistles breaking out behind her.

“Get a fucking room!” Someone shouted.

Garret stiffened a second before he abruptly pulled back from her. She felt the loss of warmth like a physical blow. She tried to pull herself together, managing a weak smile.

“Well, I dunno about you, but that doesn’t sound like such a bad suggestion. I know I have one, am sure you do tooโ€ฆ”

He simply stared at her for a long moment, and she shivered as the warmth seemed to bleed out of his eyes.

“It’s late and you’ve had a lot to drink. I’ll drive you home.”

Lovely, talk about frostbite here.

“You’ve been drinking as well,” she mumbled. “I can just get a taxi.”

“I’ve only had two, I’ve fine to drive. Let’s get your coat.”

Emma nodded reluctantly. Had she just imagined that he’d been affected too? Either way, he definitely didn’t seem to be now. Yay for awkwardness.

ย 

penta witchGarret glanced across at the stiff form in the passenger seat. She’d barely said a word since they’d left the bar, apart from directions, and the tension in the small car was like a physical presence. What the hell had got into him back there? He liked his relationships light and casual, as far away from complicated as possible. Getting involved with someone like Emma screamed out complications at every turn. Not only was she young and currently his student, but she had a light and innocence that shone out of her. For fucks sake, she couldn’t even stand to watch a raising! Someone like that had no place anywhere near the kind of world he lived in. This awkwardness was not good though, especially when they still had to work together.

“It’s over there, on the right.” Her voice was tight.

He slowly pulled in and cut the engine. He needed to fix this somehow.

“Emmaโ€ฆ” Her bright green gaze pinned him and he suddenly lost all focus for what he’d been about to say. Concentrate.

“Look, I’m really sorry.”

“For what?” She snapped. “For kissing me back in the first place, or shoving me away like I’m fucking contagious?”

“Erm,” there was no right answer to this, was there? “Both, I guess?”

She continued to glare at him and he fumbled for something better.

“Look, you’re a great person, but you’re my student and it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between us.”

She snorted, “For fuck’s sake, it’s not like I’m a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl. We’re both adults. I can decide to sleep with whoever I like, and it’s nothing to do with anyone else.”

“I just don’t want things to be awkward between us.”

“It would have to mean something to be awkward, so don’t flatter yourself. I was horny, that’s all. Don’t worry, I’ll find someone else to deal with it.”

An image of the dickwad back at the bar with his hands all over her rose up in his head. Like hell she would. All his good intentions disappeared in a surging rage of possessiveness unlike anything he’d never known before. A growl rose up and before he’d even realized what he was doing, he was dragging her across the seat and crushing her lips with his.

Monday Catch Up

Hi all,

Blue-Moon-over-Edinburgh-Castle-e1438359642194-300x201Well, it might be Monday again (they do seem to come round quick!) but at least it’s Halloween week so we can get away with lots of fun and spookiness. Hope your Halloween costumes on coming along – I’m horribly disorganised this year, but shall be working on it this week! The clocks have gone back over here at weekend (I know you peeps over the pond are clinging on to summertime for another week lol!) so it was a bit of a shock to be coming home from work in the dark and the cold – though it was made better by the most gorgeous golden full moon. I could definitely see myself having been a moon worshipper in a former life ๐Ÿ™‚

I also have a new release on Thursday (squee!) so am getting excited now and looking forward to the Release Day Party on facebook. If you haven’t joined up yet the link is here

There’s going to be fun, games, giveaways and there’s some fab other authors getting involved.

Halloween Blog Hop LogoSpeaking of giveaways I’m joining in the Halloween Book Hop over on facebook (a big welcome to those who might be visiting here through that link) and there are prizes to be won. The link with all the details is here, and you get an additional entry for following this blog.

https://www.facebook.com/Shelli-Rosewarne-364962230246715/

Hope you’re all having a fab start to the week x

Laughing Vixen Lounge – Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway

Hi all,

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Today, I’m happy to be bringing you info on the Laughing Vixen Lounge’s fab Halloween Giveaway. There’s some awesome prize parcels so make sure you get your entries in!

Halloween is just around the corner and it’s time for the 4th annual Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway from Laughing Vixen Lounge. 7 wickedly fun shops have come together to create one spooktalcular Prize Pack ($225+) full of Jewelry, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories and more! All shops are offering Gift Cards or your choice of item(s) so there will be something for everyone. Many of the shops have items perfect for any book lover along with lots ofย other unique, handcrafted and custom designs. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below or visit the Main Giveaway Page on the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog HERE.

Join us daily on the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog during the giveaway for our Halloween Movie Marathon featuring the Guess the Movie Game and our Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt. Each event will get you daily entries in the giveaway plus a special giveaway for the Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt. Find full details for these events HERE.

October is the perfect time for watching spooky movies. The main site is having a Halloween Movie Marathon, but have asked all of us to share our favourite Halloween movies with you. I must admit it was a tough one for me. While I’m not a ‘horror’ buff, I do love movies that capture the Halloween spirit, such as Hocus Pocus or Ghostbusters. My favourite of all time though has to be, Nightmare Before Christmas. I love the characters, the songs and the dark humour. It’s my go-to-movie for both Halloween and Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚

The giveaway runs October 18th – November 1st and is open worldwide. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack and 1 winner will win the Scavenger Hunt Prize Pack. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. Please visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog
HERE to see the full prize list, participating shops and daily giveaway events.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Love Reawakened Prequel – Free Read Part One

Hi all,

Cemetery in a foggy full moon nightWell, we were going to have a new release today but unfortunately, as often happens in both life and publishing, things haven’t gone quite to plan. Some issues were picked up in final checks and rather than rushing it out when things weren’t quite right, we’ve agreed to put back a few weeks to the 29th October. While, I’m obviously a little disappointed, it does mean I have a bit longer to get things planned out and I get a Halloween-week release – so have an excuse to go overboard on the spooky stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

It did give me a bit of a dilemma on what to post here today though, as I had nothing planned apart from squeeing about my new release. So, I’ve decided since I promised you something shiny and new, then that’s what you shall get! This is the first part of a brand new, never-seen-before free read. It’s a prequel to Love Reawakened (so if you’ve read earlier versions you will hopefully recognise some of the characters), and will probably be eventually released as a free read on Amazon – but you saw it here first. Since I wasn’t planning on releasing this quite yet, you’ll have to excuse me if it’s not as well-edited as the final copy will be. Really hope you enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

nightEmma cringed as the warm stickiness covered her fingers. Urgh, did blood have to be soโ€ฆ well, icky! A shiver ran through her as the cold of the graveyard seemed to seep into her bones. Concentrate! There were five other students stood behind her, the previous three had all managed to do this, and she wasn’t going to look like an idiot by wussing out. She took a deep breath, trying to focus on the fresh scent of the grass and dirt, not the metallic smell of blood. Her fingers shook as she slowly began to trace symbols with the blood. She could do this, had done it a million times in the classroom.

A hum of power slowly began to grow, the hairs on her body rising and a soft vibration buzzing through the soles of her shoes. Her movements became more confident, the symbols automatically appearing beneath her fingers as the power rose. A sound behind her snapped her out of her trance. What theโ€ฆ ? She glanced around, there was nothing amiss, one of the other students had probably stood on a twig, but it had broken her concentration. Her brow furrowed as she stared down at the symbols, the rhythm suddenly lost. Was it a full circle or a spiral to complete this one? Think!

She looked back again, searching for May, their instructor. The tall woman was stood right at the back, laughing at something Teresa was saying. They didn’t look over. The rest of the students were starting to stare at her, and Emma could see scorn on their faces. This should be a simple spell, but already she could feel the power starting to fade. No! She could do this. It was a spiral, she was sure it was a spiral. Dipping her fingers back into the red stickiness she finished the symbols, stepped back and brought her hands down to close the circle. Power hummed along it and she breathed a sigh of relief. See, nothing to worry about.

The ground began boiling in front of her and it was an effort of will to stand her ground as the dirt parted and a smallish form rose up. Animals only at this stage, thank God, they weren’t to be trusted with humans. The dog-like shape looked a bit ragged but it was moving. Emma took a deep breath and prepared to chant the ritual words. Before she could even open her mouth it turned to face her, lips drawn back over snarling teeth and an unholy fury burning in its glassy eyes. Oh shit, something was seriously wrong here.

The creature crouched back onto strong hind legs, before leaping straight at her as though the circle didn’t exist. Emma screamed, the sound being echoed behind her as the other students started gasping and crying out. The creature’s weight slammed into her chest and she was flung to the ground. Pain shot through her head, and then it all went black.

ย 

The two men strode easily through the graveyard, keeping pace with each other with the habit of long use. Both moved silently, long strides eating up the space between the carefully kept graves.

“I still don’t think it’s a good idea. You know you can’t keep something like that to yourself forever, sooner or later the council is going to find out.” Garret ran a hand over his close-cropped hair in frustration.

The other man simply smiled back at him. “I’m aware of that, little brother. However, neither will I be a test subject for them to prod and poke, subject always to their will.”

“Come on, D, I’m sure it wouldn’t be like that. They can’t force you to do anything.”

Deacan’s smile grew grim. “No, they can’t, but it’s better if they don’t realize that for a while.”

Garret snorted. “I would have thought anyone who knew you would realize that.”

“You would think.” Deacon’s tone was light. “Anyway, this discussion grows dull, what are your plans for the rest of the night?”

A laugh escaped the younger man. “I don’t know yet. Probably head out to find something to amuse me.”

“Or someone?” Deacan asked slyly.

Garret grinned, his brother knew him so well sometimes. “Hey, it passes the time. You should come along sometime, find someone yourself. God knows, you live like a goddamn monk most of the time.”

“You have no idea how I live, little brother, but I’m afraid I must decline this time. Things to do.”

As though in synch they paused at seeing the small group on the hillside. Garret’s sharp eyes picked out the details first.

“Witches who still need the training wheels on,” he snorted disdainfully.

“Come on now, you know you’ve played teacher before.” His brother gave a mock shudder. “Don’t know how you manage it myself.”

Garret shrugged. “It pays. Doesn’t mean I have to approve of witches getting in our business though. Should stick to their pretty light shows.”

A scream suddenly rang out from the group, followed by gasps and shouts. The brothers looked at each other.

“Apparently they should.” Deacan grunted, as they both ran towards the class.

graveyard