Desired by the Fae Prince – Excerpt

Okay folks, so this month I intend to release two books. One of them is a fae novella, Desired by the Fae Prince, and the second one is the third installment of my dragon shifter series, Dragon Chronicles, a book titled The Dragon’s Game. While The Dragon’s Game might take until the beginning of February to hit the Zon, Desired by the Fae Prince is going to come out at the end of this coming week! Here is the opening excerpt. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

***

Runar Hauldron is a fae prince in glimmering armor, but behind all that, he’s nothing but a monster. Yes, he’s a starlight fae, outrageously handsome, and he’s the ruler of this kingdom. And yes, he’s the one who made Fort Solar into what it is today, namely one of the most vibrant kingdoms in the realm. But he built all that on a pile of bodies.

Including the bodies of my family, and it probably won’t be long until I disappear down that deep black hole, too. Still, the ‘Why’ needs a bit of a backstory.

Perched on the highest mountain and overlooking the ocean, Fort Solar is one of those gems crisscrossed by winding streets that brim with magic, and bustle with business. There are stands overflowing with precious silks and gems along the roads, while special shops hold the rarest magic items. If you’re after something rare and valuable, you’re sure to find it here, which is why people travel to Fort Solar from all over the world.

The dark side to all of this abundance is that it’s procured by the blood and sweat of those like my family. Of metahumans, namely humans born with some magical abilities that we’d be better off without because all they’re doing for us is make us useful to oppressive royalty like Runar Hauldron. In Fort Solar, and all over the realm, really, we’re the lowest class. Only fit to be servants, and even slaves. No task is too low and no work too hard. Half of us die in the colonies, extracting magical gems and metals from the rock. Being traded among the rich and powerful is what happens on a good day. Surely it’s obvious there’s no breaking from that social class, no chance at higher education, no opportunities.

Which is why I am here now, at the old wine cellars that have been closed to the public for decades, meeting with the closest thing we metahumans have to a secret society. One that’s been built to break the social order, and bring down evil princes like Runar.

“We’re not nearly strong enough to strike now,” Cary blurts out—one of the prince’s servants, and my closest friend. He jumps up from his chair with wide eyes and a scared pale face. “It’s a handful of us, against one of the most powerful men in the realm!”

“It’s now or never, Cary,” the old sage replies. He’s the leader of our group and the person who made the proposition. When he speaks the rest of us hardly dare breathe, but this is a hard pill to swallow for all of us, which is why Cary grows hysterical.

“I work for the prince’s inner circle, I know what we’re up against,” he argues. “You can’t imagine the kind of security the man has around him at all times. And even if, by some absurd chance, anyone got close enough to assassinate him, he’s fucking Runar Hauldron! The slayer of the Great Unseelie King, he’s the man who defeated the Unseelie armies. Some say he’s the best swordsman in the entire realm, and I’ve seen him in close combat. Trust me, the guy is a weapon!”

“And yet we must find a way to kill him!” voices rise from the other side of the table.

“Before his dark mist kills every single metahuman outside his castle,” someone else chimes in desperately, murmurs of approval rising.

The old sage remains quiet.

“We don’t stand a chance,” Cary insists, exasperated. “Not like this. We need a plan, and we need someone strong to do it. It needs to be a supernatural, a powerful one, like him.”

“The boy is right,” a plump maid says, wringing her hands over her apron. “I work close circle, too. And we’re not ready to attempt an assassination, we might never be, not during our lifetimes. It’s just a handful of us, while there’s an entire world of them. I am fully committed to our cause but, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think any of us can do it. I don’t think we can do it even if we all attack as one, together. This kind of mission needs a few generations’ preparation.”

“And it needs military training, years of it,” another man puts in.

“Or a skilled, experienced mercenary,” another one cries from the back.

“I will do it,” I say.

All faces at the table turn toward me, surprise slapped onto them.

But the old sage doesn’t seem thrown off at all. He opens his mouth like a man with a vision, his white eyes seeming to stare at something compelling.

“The high spirits have spoken,” he muses. “It will be Sandra of the Ray.”

“What do you mean? She’s just a girl, an orphan you took under your roof. She doesn’t look like she can survive a storm, let alone the prince,” the man next to the maid says. I strain to remember his name. Oh yes, Goran Dukovnic. He and the maid—his wife—keep to themselves a lot. Her name is Lativia, if I remember correctly. Goran is a reserved guy who looks like a dependable handyman, complete with a square jaw, scruffy stubble, and a grey shirt with rolled-up sleeves that reveal strong forearms.

“You have to give us more than that, oh Wise One,” Lativia adds, giving me an appraising side-look. “Because the only idea that seems crazier than attempting assassination at this point is to send a child to do it, because that’s what she is, basically.”

“I stopped being a child the day that bastard took my family away from me,” I spit out through gritted teeth, reliving in my mind the dark mist seeping into our home and taking them away, cold and indifferent to my desperate screams. I kept trying to claw at it, but there was nothing I could grab onto, only black air. My knuckles show white as I tighten my fists on the table. “He made me an orphan! Prince Runar sent that mist, as he always does when he needs to feed the dark power that fuels him. I will stop him, or die trying.”

“Pace yourself, my child,” the old sage says in his raspy and yet soothing voice. “That you would offer yourself tonight was foretold by the high spirits. I was waiting for you to say the words. And now that you have, destiny is sealed. Still, it won’t be easy.”

“The high spirits spoke to you about this? They announced it should be me? Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because it had to come from you. What you did is a willing offering to the high spirits. Your intention sends precious scents towards the sky, like burning incense.”

“But why would the high spirits want it to be me?” I look up at the sky, holding up my palms. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful. I’ve dreamt about this for many years, ever since—” Since the only people who ever loved me were sucked away by that dark mist as if they’d never existed, and I had to go live with my uncle. But I clench my jaw before the words leave my mouth. After all these years, I still can’t talk about it. My uncle was the best baker in Fort Solar, and a kind man, yet his wife was another story. She beat me daily, bruised me, her bestiality growing until she broke my ribs. Even then, she had me keep wiping the floor, while she kept kicking me.

That’s when I ran away, hunched over and holding to my side until I collapsed at the old sage’s door. He took me in, as he often took orphans. Still, he probably saw my arrival as sent by the high spirits, because he always treated me as if I was something special, even though I’m not.  I’m just a twenty-one year old wretch, without any special magical abilities except my relationship to plants. I can feel their roots, and their magical powers. Also, I’m not particularly pretty, despite Cary’s insistences on the contrary. I’m too skinny, with high cheekbones that used to look skeletal when the old sage first took me in, and small grey eyes. My hair is a heap of sand-colored hay, and my lips are thin because I made a habit of keeping them tight, giving my face a forever tense look. Still, that didn’t stop unwanted advances from men, especially when the old sage sent me to get herbs from the market or get water from the well. They’d never marry a wretch like me, but they’d sure fuck me on the edge of the well, or behind a market stand. Cary says they’re attracted to my vulnerability and femininity, but I think that’s bull. They’re attracted to how easy it is to prey on me and then dump me. The only man who ever truly cared about me that way is Cary. But no matter how badly I wish I could return his feelings, I just can’t.

Cary is also an orphan who grew up in the old sage’s house, and he’s the closest thing I have to a brother. We grew up as family. But then he started opening up to me about his true feelings since he got that job at the castle, arguing he’s got enough money now to feed another mouth, but I can’t do this to him. Not with the bitterness and anger that have been living inside me for ten years like coiling serpents.

“Who can say they can decipher the mind of the high spirits,” the old sage says. “There’s not a wise one in the world who can claim they’ve had more than mere glimpses of its divine essence. But those glimpses are priceless, and they reveal a whole world of meaning. They foretold it could only be you, my child. Only you can discover Prince Runar’s weak spot. And only you can bring him down.”

“What if he doesn’t have a weak spot?” the maid inquires. “I’ve been at the castle for a long time, and I didn’t discover any.”

“Neither have I,” Cary says.

“The high spirits have a plan, and it will be revealed to us as we go,” the old sage muses, his sightless white eyes directed at the sky, as if he were receiving answers from the high spirits as we speak. We can all feel his connection to the higher planes, to something divine and timeless that yet needs us, creatures made of flesh, to put its divine plans into action.

“We would be risking Sandra’s life,” Cary argues, shaking his head in refusal. “I can’t let that happen.”

“Then help me,” I reply, making eye contact, which gives him pause. I’ve been avoiding looking at him directly for weeks. “Help me get in. Help me get close to him. And when the time comes, help me end the bastard.”

***

Sandra

I can’t remember the last time I felt as light in my chest as I do now, emerging from the old wine cellars. I pull my hood over my head, making sure to stay inconspicuous as I round the corner into a side alley, and then weave my way through the crowded market. Right in the middle of it there’s a statue of the starlight prince that a secret society has just agreed—however reluctantly—that I’m going to kill.

I shield my eyes against the sun to stare up at a prince Runar made of gold and precious gems. The statue depicts him in motion on a mighty stallion, sword raised high above his head, his long golden hair blowing in the wind. His armor, encrusted with precious stones, is built specifically to showcase his athletic body which is, at least in this statuesque depiction, a fantastically beautiful thing. I scoff to myself. Pretty sure he doesn’t look like that in reality. I mean, he is fae and all, but this is fucking perfection, and I’m not buying it.

Needless to say I’ve never seen the fae prince up close. But in only a few days, Cary hooks me up with a job at his court. On Wednesday, I finally get to lay eyes on him.

The first sight is from afar, of course, since the castle is humungous, and filled with nobility and military all day long. There’s less activity at night, but the corridors are never empty. The prince is always surrounded by a bunch of generals and advisors, and he seems to be working a lot, from early morning until late at night. If he’s ever alone, one can’t know when and where, yet Cary says he often spends his nights in the castle library.

But the doors are never open, and I can’t roam the castle too much at night. I might get lost if I do anyway, not only because of the winding corridors, but because of all the magic this place is imbued with. Magic meant to protect and to kill. So I have to work my way closer and closer to the prince, which I finally succeed at a Friday dinner that he throws for his closest staff. Cary made sure that I got a serving slot here, and it wasn’t easy. When I finally approach enough to get a good look at the prince’s face, I freeze with the tray of starters in my hands.

In person, Runar Hauldron is even more majestic that the statue I saw of him days ago. He’s so large that that statue of him might as well have been real-size, even though I know that’s just an illusion. He’s big, yes, as all fae are, especially the warrior types, but the larger-than-life impression he makes is something that comes from the inside. His face is milky white, his features so beautiful he’s compelling to look at, and his blonde hair falls in flowing waves down to his waist. I never thought I’d find a pretty boy so attractive, but there’s an inherent masculinity about Runar despite his ethereal beauty. He’s not wearing his armor, but a white linen shirt that’s almost see-through, and that reveals contours of his powerfully built body. He sure looks like a prince descended from the stars, which is what starlight fae are. Compared to him, I’m a blade of grass with eyes.

“Close your mouth, your jaw dropped,” Cary says as he brushes by me. I stir from the enchantment of prince Runar and make eye contact with Cary long enough to catch the jealousy in his gaze. He walks away, placing a tray of steak and one of side-dishes on the table. I manage to make my way close to the prince so that I have to lean in and place my own tray on the table right next to him. My arm brushes over his in the process.

Current runs through me when it happens, sending a shudder all through my body. And when the prince’s ocean-blue gaze meets mine, I freeze in place. The world seems to tilt around me. Is this a special power of his, making humans feel dizzy in the head just from looking at him?

“How dare you touch the prince?” one of the men at his table reacts. The hostility of his voice tears me from the enthrallment of the prince’s gaze, and my head snaps to him in time to see one of the generals reach out and grab my wrist with the look of a mad dog on his face. “So typical of metahuman filth, to think you can rub yourself in the face of royalty just because you serve at their table.”

The fae general has already started to drag me towards the exit before I even realize what’s happening. My feet skid on the polished floor, making a squeaking sound, and my face heats up as the general’s grip tightens around  my neck. It’s like an iron vise, inescapable. It’s like I’ve been literally grabbed by a machine.  I claw at his hand, desperate to free my windpipes, but he’s too strong. The last thing I see before squeezed-out tears blur my vision is Cary’s stricken face as we pass him by. He’s unable to react because, I realize, this must all be happening too fast for him, but a voice as strong as thunder stops the general in his tracks.

“Harthuil, let her go!”

The man stops abruptly, but it’s seconds before he drops me. I hit the floor, coughing, not even trying to come up to my feet. I know it would be a futile attempt. I take my hand to my throat to make sure nothing is broken, since part of me wonders how come I’m still alive. There’s an exchange of lines around me, two men talking, the thundering voice giving orders, while the other accepts them meekly. It takes some time until enough oxygen finds its way back into my head so I can make any sense of it. When I do, I understand the kind of trouble I’m in, and my eyes pop out of my head.

***

Enjoyed this? Plenty more where it came from. Check out some of my other fae books here and here, so you have something you can binge until this one comes out. I love to hear from you. so leave me a comment and tell me how you liked this excerpt, and what you’d like to see in this new book. I always take your suggestions to heart.

The Messenger – Ep. 24 of “The Marquis”

I sit frozen in my black dress with palms joined on my lap. The funeral unfolds before my blank eyes, and so do the days after. I count them by the number of times Jeanie Simmons – Jeremy’s curly-haired, rosy-cheeked, fluffy younger sister and my dearest friend – enters with food. I nibble just enough of it to keep me alive, but my appetite is as dead as the monster who fathered me, and who now lays two meters beneath ground level.

“Are you still seeing Joyous?”

Her hazel eyes dart around, as if the walls have ears. “You know I can’t answer that, Saph.”

Of course, he’s the Marquis’ ‘cousin’ – in truth one of his fellow seprpent-killers. I lower my voice and grab her elbow. “If you are, you need to help me, Jeanie. I need to get back with the Marquis.”

Jeanie’s hand covers mine that I now realize is so clenched around her fluffy elbow that my knuckles show.

“Something must be terribly wrong with you, Saph,” she whispers.  She looks me in the eye with a curious expression. “You haven’t spoken at all since you saw Mr Lothar dead in the study, and now that you do open your mouth it’s to talk about the Marquis. Is that a way of dealing with your grief? I mean, Gunnar Lothar is dead, your own –”

“Don’t even say it,” I cut her off. “That man was a monster, a . . . Whenever I think about him I want to rip the flesh off my bones for being his child.” On a second thought I shrug. “I suppose I must be grieving, and anger makes it all more bearable.”

Stomping up the stairs makes Jeanie’s mouth close before she can say another word. The door opens and Jeremy enters the attic in a confident prance, his muscular physique barely making it through the doorframe. The police officers who came with him remain outside the open door. He walks straight to the window with a triumphant attitude.

“I’ll make this short, Saphira,” he says, staring proud out the window. “The coroner called. They established Mr Lothar’s death was not suicide.” He turns to assess my expression as he gives me the news, cocking an eyebrow. “He was murdered.”

He lets moments pass to allow the information to settle in.

“Do you happen to know anybody who had a reason to kill him?” He continues mockingly. “Someone who wanted revenge, maybe?”

The Marquis’ words from the day we went to the asylum come back to me. “Would you consider that I hurt you, if I took revenge on your father?” And yet he wasn’t the only one with a motive.

“I also know of someone who goes to terrible lengths to keep his real identity secret,” I retort. “Someone who set Vivien Grant’s house on fire to kill her. Someone who’s put her mother in the lunatic asylum and has the poor woman so terrified that she won’t talk. I’m sure the same person hung Gunnar by the chandelier too – Ivan Basarab. Gunnar knew his true identiy. Ivan Basarab is terribly dangerous Jeremy, and despite what you might think, you can’t control him.”

Jeremy’s cocky attitude turns to anger. His face goes red.

“The whole town will believe it was the Marquis, Saphira,” he barks. “They’ll burn down his manor like peasants did haunted castles back in the Dark Ages eventually.”

Jeremy’s hatred of the Marquis fills the room like floating poison. I remember how the Marquis twisted his arm behind his back at the asylum, keeping him in check despite Jeremy’s big muscles and violent struggles, forcing down his ears the information that his own father had been a rapist, a monster.

“You hate him for having told you the truth.” I hold Jeremy’s gaze, defiant.

“Maybe, a little. But, most of all, I hate him for having taken you away from me.”

***

Next episode.

Previous episode.

All previous episodes.

Enjoyed this? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment, I’m always ecstatic to read from you. Stay tuned for a new episode on Tuesday and check out the story from the start available here (Part I – Saphira), and here (Part II – The Marquis.) Enjoy!

 

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The Punishment of an Evil Man – Ep. 23 of “The Marquis”

Jeremy wraps the place up, giving his men curt orders and telling Lord Barkley to shut up each time the man opens his mouth.

“Anything you say can and will be used against you, sir, I must remind you,” he says coldly.

His men scurry around taking “prints” of the Marquis. They’re still in shock, but Jeremy managed to get them working despite that.

He moves his bulky frame around, doing what he must as head of the team, but he’s obviously distressed from what he’s found out. There’s something wild in his eyes, and the expression of his steroid- and testosterone-transformed features, square and shadowed by his three-day beard, make him look as deranged as the lunatics that inhabit this asylum. I’d like to remind him about the sewers, but I don’t dare to, he looks so angry.

Not even outside do I dare address him. We’re riding in a police van. I’m in the back holding my crying mother’s hand, her sobbing and nose-blowing accompanying the humming of the engine. Jeremy sits across from me in silence. He doesn’t even look at me. When we stop in front of my parental home I realize what’s happening, and I shake my head violently.

“No, I’m not going in there.”

“Yes you are. Your father has been worried sick about you,” Jeremy says. He sounds as cold as he had with Lord Barkley, and also a shade spiteful. As if it were in any way my fault that his father had been part of the group that had raped Catherine Lancaster. As if it were my fault that his father had been as much of a monster as mine.

“He pushed me in the Marquis’ arms himself, you know this,” I retort in a biting tone. “He was happy to see us depart together on the night he announced our engagement. But maybe it’s you who should have a word with Gunnar. In the end, the Marquis is right – Gunnar and his group perpetrated a terrible crime, and they should have to answer for it.”

“We have no proof for that crime, Saphira,” Jeremy says, keeping his glare out the side window. “I can’t corner people based on allegations alone, I’m sure you understand.”

My mouth curls in a sour expression. “You only pretended to believe me when I told you the story? Is that it?” Now that I come to think about it – indeed, why hadn’t he investigated as soon as he’d heard about Gunnar’s crime?

“No, it’s not. But I still need proof in order to take action.”

“If you only investigated Catherine Lancaster’s case, maybe you’d get your evidence,” I say through my teeth.

“If you only let me do my job without acting all smart-ass, things would be different.”

“Different how, Jeremy? Based on how you’re doing your job, these people’s crimes will remain unheard of.”

I’m aware of the poison in my tone, but I can’t help it. Jeremy springs forward and grabs my jaw in his huge rough hand.

“The Marquis of Vandenesse is London’s priority, and with good reason. London sent me back here for him. He’s the most dangerous of all killers I’ve ever investigated, Saphira, and you know his vile nature better than anyone. What changed? Why do you try to redirect me to your father Gunnar and his group of bastards? Why aren’t you vehement against the Marquis anymore?”

“Jeremy, please listen to me.” My jaw hurts from his grip and I speak with difficulty. He notices and lets go. I rub my cheek to sooth the pain as I talk. “The Marquis isn’t the evil creature you and I believed him to be. He talked to me, he told me things . . . Listen, Jeremy,” I take a deep breath and say the next sentence with a heavy heart. “I have reason to believe that my father is Ivan Basarab, the faceless Slayer. This is your chance to find out so much, Jeremy.”

“No, Gunnar is not the Slayer,” Mum reacts as if from a dream. She’s still pale from shock,  but apparently she’s coming back to herself. “But I’ve heard that name many times from him. Even a few days ago he talked on the phone with this Ivan Basarab.”

I’m completely surprised, and Jeremy too. His small dark eyes narrow. “Okay, all right. I’ll have a word with your father, even though I don’t believe this is the right time.”

“Wonderful. And then please let me return to the Marquis’ manor.”

He grins. “No, can’t do, Saphira. You’ll be interested to hear we found witnesses of the Marquis’ murder on Vladimir Pukov. His manor is surrounded, and we’ll arrest him on sight. You and the Marquis will never come together again.”

Another flash of despair goes through my heart. “But . . . There were no witnesses to what happened with Pukov. You must have ‘produced’ them.”

Jeremy’s eyes narrow into bitter slits. “Just a short while ago you were ready to testify against the Marquis yourself. Come on tell me, Saphira, what swayed you? Was it his declarations of love? Was it his hypnotic powers? Or did you actually fall for him?”

My lips freeze, but the truth must be clear in my eyes, which Jeremy stares into closely.

“If you switched sides, things will end up badly for you, Saphira,” are his last words before he looks me up and down in disgust. He opens the door, inviting both Mum and me out of the van. I’d like to resent him for his abusive attitude, but I can’t. It’s not every day you discover your father was a rapist and maybe even a killer, so he has mitigating circumstances.

My heart drums in anxiety as we head toward the house, and I’m sure so does Mum’s. The hand that squeezes mine is sweaty, and a look at her reveals wide scared eyes and stiff features. She’s still in shock, which is probably why she didn’t react to Jeremy’s treatment of me in the van. I feel lonely, naked and lost, and I long for the Marquis’ protective arms around me, for the reassuring sound of his rich voice in my ear. It’s incredible how my tormentor of yore has become my only haven.

The house looms bigger before us as we approach it. With its grey walls damp from bad weather it resembles a huge beast rising from the ocean, spreading out its jaws to swallow me. My throat clogs with panic. I don’t want to go in there, and I don’t want to face the monster who fathered me.

The door screeches open like the entrance to an abandoned, haunted house, but inside the dim corridor everything is in place, just like the last time I saw it. The stairs leading to the upper floor and the attic, the entrance to the drawing room on the right and the one to Gunnar’s study on the left, all appear imbued with an air of morbidity.

I look around, unable to move as I hear the door closing behind me. I’m trapped inside with Mum and Jeremy, and a knot moves up my throat. I’m growing sick.

“Please announce your husband you’re back, along with Saphira, and tell him I’d like a word,” Jeremy commands Mum.

She swallows and proceeds towards the study hunchbacked, her hands trembling on the knobs as she pushes the doors open. She stiffens in place, and her mouth falls open.

“Mrs Lothar,” Jeremy nudges her, at first only verbally, and then physically as he approaches. But as he raises his gaze from Mum to whatever greets them from that study, he bursts inside. Alarmed, I follow. A second after my eyes fall on Gunnar I scream until the veins in my neck swell.

He hangs from a rope tied to the chandelier, his feet dangling over a fallen stool. His shirt is open to reveal his hairless white stomach, and his mouth sticks thick and black out of his mouth. His fleshy cheeks are bluish-yellow, and he’s already started to smell. I breathe in the stench of death and scream long and hard until I fall exhausted on the floor.

 

***

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Enjoyed this? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment, I’m always ecstatic to read from you. Stay tuned for a new episode on Friday and check out the prequel, Saphira, in available here: ) Enjoy!

 

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Bad Blood – Ep. 22 of “The Marquis”

“That’s enough, Saphira,” Jeremy cuts in. He walks to me and extends a hand, but the Marquis grabs and twists it behind his back. As big and muscular as Inspector Jeremy Simmons is, he groans and bares his teeth as he leans backwards into the Marquis’ clasp.

“If you ever try to touch her again, I’ll break every bone in your body,” the Marquis threatens. He’s taller and leaner than Jeremy, therefore more agile even without his engineered powers, but he’s also so much stronger. His ivory features are locked, and his black eyes angry coals.

“Please, Kieran, don’t hurt him,” I plead. “He’s innocent.”

The Marquis keeps his glare on Jeremy, his sweet lips drawing in a hiss. “I’m not so sure.”

“Better tell him the truth. That he should be on our side.”

“What the hell is this?” Jeremy groans and tries to struggle from the Marquis’ grip, but without success.

“Please, just listen to him, Jeremy.”

“Saphira, what is happening?” Mum is puzzled, her hand gently touching mine.

I look straight into her eyes and tell her the story in a few short sentences – that Catherine Lancaster, Lord Lancaster’s daughter, had been raped by a group of men from this town, and that my father, Gunnar Lothar, killed her in the end. Mum gasps and takes a few steps back, gripping the rest of the chair where she sat as we walked in.

“Your father was one of them too, Inspector Boy,” the Marquis hisses in Jeremy’s ear. “The lucky bastard died before I got my hands on him, so don’t give me reason to take it out on you, his son.”

Jeremy struggles like a wounded animal, kicking the air in front of him, but unable to release himself from the Marquis’ hold. “You fucking bastard!”

The Marquis is inhumanly strong, and Jeremy’s struggles don’t move him an inch. He turns his vicious black glare to Lord Barkley.

“What about you, filth bag? Could it be, that you were one of them as well?”

Lord Barkley is still sitting in his chair, the cigarette burning his fingers but he doesn’t seem aware of that. He looks stunned at Kieran, unable to utter one word.

Mum presses her fingers on her temples, shaking her head. “This can’t be. This can’t be happening.”

I approach her carefully, searching her gaze but she looks down, then sideways, then upwards, avoiding my gaze.

“It is, Mum,” I say gently. “If you’re honest to yourself, you’ve always known. But you’ve tried to silence your sixth sense.” As I did through compulsive painting, but this is not about me, so I keep the remark to myself. The Marquis’ voice cuts in, making me look at him and Jeremy again.

“And you, stupid shit,” he addresses Jeremy, “you find out all sorts of stuff but not the essential. You spoiled, superficial and incompetent brat. Didn’t you ever at least suspect of all the bastards in this cursed place? Or, what, are you covering their arses?”

“Wait a second,” Mum says, her voice faint, her eyes wide on the Marquis. “What happened with Catherine Lancaster was decades ago. What have you got to do with it?”

I clear my voice and hold her shoulders as I speak, so I can support her if she falls. “Kieran was Lord Lancaster’s stable boy, Mum. He and Catherine were secretly in love, and the night she was raped he was beaten almost to death by Vladimir Pukov’s people – Pukov was part of the group as well, and Dad wanted me to marry him even though he knew this.”

Mum looks stunned from me to the Marquis, then to Lord Barkley, who sits silent in his chair.

“But,” she whispers, “I knew Catherine. We were friends. We grew up together, just like you and Vivien, Lauren and Jeanie. Lord Lancaster said she had run away with the stable boy. It came as a shock to the rest of us, we knew nothing, I . . .”

“Lord Lancaster couldn’t take the pain, Mum,” I say. “He spread a story he could at least try to live with.”

Mum slumps into the chair behind her, and I support her by the shoulders as she does. Her eyes are fixed in awe on the Marquis. “But that means . . . How old are you?”

The Marquis looks at her, but doesn’t answer.

“My God,” she whispers. “And Saphira? What role did she play in your plot?”

Pain cuts through my chest, and I sink my head.

“At first I wanted to use her in my revenge on Catherine’s tormentors,” the Marquis explains. “I wanted to have her lure them to places where I could kill them right before her eyes, torment her mind and soul in the process, and in the end have her father find her mad from everything she’s witnessed in the same place Catherine was found. I considered it an act of kindness – to her, not Gunnar – not having her sleep with all those men too. I took the decision to go easier on her than initially planned after I got to know her. She made a painting of me, and she . . . I fell in love with your daughter, Mrs Lothar. It sounds impossible, coming from a monster like me, whose soul has been frozen for decades, but it’s the pure truth. I don’t expect you to give us your blessing, but I’d like you to know that for her sake I decided to drop all thoughts of revenge. But unfortunately, this town’s troubles won’t end with that.”

Jeremy has another fit of struggling, and this time he makes it out of the Marquis’ arms – or the Marquis let him go, since he doesn’t look surprised. He and Jeremy now face each other. The Marquis arranges the collar of his suit jacket, while Jeremy flexes and glares.

“This town’s biggest problem is you, devil,” Jeremy growls. The Marquis smiles at him like a prince at a powerless angry peasant.

“I’m not the one who set the Grants’ house on fire and tried to kill Vivien. That was Ivan Basarab – the Slayer – whose true name you should be busy finding out. He’s one of this town’s honourable citizens, killers, filth bags that you now have no more excuse to ignore.”

“You need proof for all these allegations, de Vandenesse and, right now, all I truly got is proof that you’re a killer. Guards!” Jeremy calls.

Quick steps stomp closer and louder from the corridor, and policemen burst in. They take out their guns and focus on Kieran as if they’ve been waiting for this command all along. I scream and want to run to Kieran, but one of the policemen stops me and keeps me away from the scene as more men pour in. This is indeed a trap they set up for Kieran.

Kieran looks left, right and relaxes. A smile pulls one corner of his sweet mouth, and that is the last sight I get of his human self before his skin starts losing it’s opaque consistence, turning into something jelly-like and transparent, then into increasingly metallic scales. His eyes spring into slits, and his serpent tongue shoots out of his mouth as he gives out a piping hiss that sends an unbearable buzz through all our ears.

I squeeze my eyes shut and press my hands to my ears, but the buzz still pierces through. Only when it stops I dare look up again to see all policemen scrambling up from the floor, the terrified looks in their eyes and the confusion as they grope around testimony that the Marquis had been right – nothing of the security here has anything on him.

The door is open, with no trace of the Marquis, while Jeremy is the only person standing, however stunned with a gun in his hand in the middle of his sprawled men.

Someone breathes hoarsely behind me. I turn to see Ronald Lord Barkley, and realize his knotty hands are clamped around my shoulders. He shakes and can’t take his eyes off the door.

“I didn’t have anything to do with it,” he whispers.

“Excuse me?” I try to get away from him, but his fingers sink into my shoulders, keeping me in place as a human shield.

“I didn’t have anything to do with their dark practices. I was part of their group of friends all those years ago, but I never participated in the terrible things they did.”

I shake myself from his grip and hurry to help my Mum up from the floor.

“What in all Saints’ names was that?” She exclaims, looking desperate and brushing invisible cockroaches off her body. She’s horrified, hysterical, making it hard to help her up. “He’s a monster! A monster!”

I struggle with her to help her calm down, and it’s a real fight until she manages to get a grip.

***

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Full Moon and the Serpent – Ep. 12 of The Marquis

Saphira doesn’t fully trust the Marquis, yet she can’t resist his pull. She finds herself giving in to his advances, but this is no ordinary night in which they can just be together. Full moon sheds light on another one of the Marquis’ secrets, which proves perilous for the young woman.

***

The Marquis’ mouth closes on mine, soft and warm, while his arm curls around my waist, pressing me gently to him. His body feels stone hard under his shirt, and he smells young and manly and alluring. I turn to jelly in his arms, allowing him to stretch me on the bed under him with no resistance. His kiss makes me dizzy, and small stars seem to circle my head.

This feels very different from what happened last night, even though his passion grows in the same possessive way. His hands explore my body greedily as his tongue consumes me in deep kisses. My mind empties and I part my legs, ready to accept him, but he breaks the intimacy, bridging to distance with thirsty pecks on my lips.

He pulls away and stands, yet the expression in his face shows it’s not easy. His neckline is open, his hair a bit ruffled and his face so youthful and handsome that it hurts. He retreats as I scramble out of bed and advance toward him, wanting him so badly that I lose control and all sense of shame.

“Please,” I beg, losing my bra and letting my panties fall to the floor. I now stand completely naked before him, smeared with soot, my hair a messy blonde broom, hoping that I look depraved enough to stir the animal in him. I want him inside of me so much I barely refrain from touching myself.

His dark, hypnotic eyes wander all over me with a hunger that makes me moisten and lose a sigh.

“Please,” I repeat, but manage to keep in place.

“It can’t be, Saphira, not now,” he says, his voice low and husky. “Not tonight.”

“Why?”

“I can’t explain.” He retreats further, his white hand now on the doorknob. I see the skin patching into alligator leather, then fading into white human flesh, then pulsing into faint spots of leather again, and I realize he’s fighting to keep back the serpent.

My eyes find his just in time to see them narrowing, his black irises turning to slits. He makes a pained grimace and pulls the door open. The fight between human and serpent makes him bare his teeth, a pointy tongue slithering out and licking his upper lip. When he speaks, his slivery voice makes my hair stand on end.

“Trust me, Saphira. Please, trust me,” he hisses and throws the door open, lunging into the obscurity.

For moments I stand there, naked, stunned and with my heart pounding until Zed appears in the doorframe. His stony features are locked in urgency. He can’t help looking me up and down –I’m a naked person dirty with soot. I snatch the duvet from the bed and wrap it fast around me.

“What’s with the Marquis?” I inquire.

“It’s a bad night,” Zed says and throws a glance out the window. I do the same.

“Full moon? But, is that –”

“It has nothing to do with the occult or cheesy magic,” Zed explains in an even tone. “The moon has power on the inner workings of the Serpent as it does over the tide.”

He turns to leave, but then turns to me again on a second thought. “We have strong reason to believe your friend Vivien Grant is alive. The Marquis ordered us to find her and protect her. For your sake. Believe it or not, you’re high up on his list of priorities, and in a good way. You have every reason to trust him.”

“Have you been eavesdropping?” I breathe, getting the goosebumps at his words.

He looks me up and down coldly, but not without interest – more like curiosity – and he leaves without replying.

***

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The Mysterious Man – Ep. 11 of The Marquis

Forced to face the dangerous Marquis in the dark tower, fear took hold of Saphira. But it turned out the Marquis wasn’t there to hurt her, but to disclaim any fault in her best friend’s supposed death. And he doesn’t stop there. He has truths for Saphira that will shake everything she thought she knew, including information about a mysterious enemy.

***

 

I measure him up and down. Tall and strong, dark eyes intense and sovereign in his ivory face, he looks honest and confident, and even a shade respectable. I decide to at least assume he’s telling the truth.

“Say I take that for a fact. What do you suppose the ‘mysterious man’ was after? Why did he need to get inside the asylum?”

“The sewers underneath the asylum link to the catacombs under this manor. He wanted access to those sewers and therefore to me. He wants my head.”

A revelation hits me. “You think the mysterious man is Ivan Basarab. The Slayer.”

The Marquis snorts as if insulted. “The Slayer. Undeserved distinction for a coward who fights from the shadow. He’s afraid to face me for real.”

“You think he succeeded in breaching the sewers?”

“If he did, it’s irrelevant. I secured them from halfway to here. But I do have something more on Basarab’s true identity. I think he’s a Northville local.”

A shock. “Say what?”

The Marquis continues. “Your friend Vivien Grant clearly knew him. Her mother too. I also think that he was a member of the group that raped and killed Catherine, and that gave me over to the people who turned me into what I am today.”

The pathos with which he speaks the words, the fearlessness in “rape” and “kill” and “what I am today” emphasize his entitlement to revenge. I surprise myself indulging him. And accepting his theory. Tension dissolves from my body as I begin to understand things. I let go of my knees.

“When you proved to be stronger and deadlier than the other serpents, you became dangerous to your makers,” I draw the conclusion. “Then you went independent. That’s when they must’ve activated Basarab, the Slayer. He’s always been one of them.”

The Marquis smiles a disturbingly charming smile. “You’re very bright, Saphira.”

“So Ivan Basarab is a false name for a man we already know.” I attempt to ignore how his praise makes me feel.

“That’s right.”

He looks hard at me with those impossibly black eyes that seem to hypnotize me, only that this time I’m sure he’s not trying. Silence settles between us for moments in which I just stare, unable to rip my eyes from him.

“What are you thinking?” He whispers, lowering himself so close that his bitter-sweet breath touches my face, the mattress and the pillows giving in under his weight as he leans on his hands. I feel lost.

“I’m wondering why I find it so easy to take your word for everything,” I whisper.

His expression deepens, his eyes now flooding mine. It’s hard to breathe, they seem to weigh on me.

“Because I may be a villain, but I’m the only person without a reason to lie to you. All you ever got from me was the truth. You’re beginning to trust me.”

I let my gaze wander all over his marble face.

“I must be really stupid.”

“By no means. You’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, actually. And I wish to win  your complete trust.”

“What use do you have for it?”

“It’s the key to your affection.”

My heart flutters. “You desire my affection?”

“Ardently,” he says, his eyes lowering to my lips.

 

***

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Hyperion Episode 8 – In the Moonlight

BLURB:

Hyperion is on a mission to slay the Swine, a powerful Night Wraith. Yet in the last episode he found himself compelled to save his target’s wife, Ligia, from rape by one of her husband’s men. Hyperion killed the attacker, and now he has to dispose of the body, which he takes deep in the woods. Yet in the moonlight there’s more than Hyperion’s wraith that comes to life. Enjoy the story as secrets even Hyperion doesn’t expect reveal themselves “In the Moonlight.”

***

The Weasel’s body now lifeless at my feet, I hide my face deeper under the hood. This is the part where I become a real monster, and I don’t want Ligia seeing it in my eyes. I don’t want her to know I’m no better than her husband.

Without a glance at her or the widow, I grab the Weasel by his ankles and drag him over the sill. The adrenaline is still alive in my blood, and I must take advantage of it while it lasts. I jump over and sling the body over my shoulder, but as I advance into the darkness my feet begin to sink in the thick snow, the cold and the strain catching up with me. It’s been a draining night.

By the time I reach the heart of the woods I can’t feel my toes or my fingers. My lips are split and start to hurt. The ground is too frozen and too hard to dig anything resembling a tomb, so I give in to my other monster impulses. I take the Weasel’s knife – dented and blunt – and start around his face, applying more strength than I would with a good blade, and more skill.

He’s already rigid and barely bleeds as I cut around his forehead and cheeks, making sure he’s unrecognizable. I rip his shirt open with the same bad temper he ripped Ligia’s, shred his pants and underwear, and I chop him open. The cold neutralized his smell, but the warm insides of his body are an odor bomb.

I wait for a while in the frosty shrubbery to see if wild animals take a chance on him. They don’t – they prefer their prey wounded but fresh. They will devour him eventually nevertheless. Food in the winter woods is scarce. Still, if he doesn’t fall prey to fangs, by the time anyone finds him he’ll be long forgotten anyway.

The break helps refill my tanks just enough to start back towards the old widow’s house. I remember the story about the orphans in the widow’s barn, and I decide to seek shelter there. For that, I have to take a path through the village to cross to the other side of the woods, and so I have to pass by the well. When I do, my heart leaps in a way no wraith could ever cause it to.

Ligia stands in the moonlight with her back at me, her blond locks falling free down to her waist. I approach, the snow crunching under my feet. Apart from the sound of it there’s an unfamiliar pounding in my ears. Maybe I’m worried about the consequences of her leaving her house. What I know for a fact is that I can’t believe she honors the midnight meeting she suggested even under the circumstances.

“What if your husband returns and doesn’t find you?” I admonish when I’m close enough. Not too close, I don’t want her feeling the stench of death on me.

Her frame straightens and stiffens at the sound of my voice. She spins round, and her bright blue eyes meet mine, the blush in her cheeks like roses on porcelain. The sight stirs me, and I feel the urge to shield against it. I square my shoulders, putting on a forbidding face.

“He’s –,” she babbles a bit and gathers the afghan around her like a shy child. “He’s not coming back until morning. It’s not the first time he goes out like this.”

I give a stiff nod.

“I mean he’s at –”

“No need for explanations,” I interrupt, doing my best to sound unfriendly. It makes her feel embarrassed, and my stomach clenches. Not what I aimed for. “He’s seeing other women, I understand. You don’t have to give me the details if they hurt you,” I add a little softer. This encourages her.

“Hurt me? No, they don’t hurt me. I’m happy to have him away.”

She walks closer and looks me right in the face. I take a step back and she stops.

“I’m sorry about the first night at the citadel,” she says. “I didn’t realize you were . . . You’re not going to tell him, are you?”

“I just killed a man in his house, right before your eyes. Do you think I’m in any position to expose you?”

Her eyes wander all over my face, greedy and relentless, and I realize my hood is off. I want to pull it back on, but it seems awkward and pointless. It’s too late.

“Then we keep each other’s secret.”

I don’t reply, and keep my gaze fixed between her eyes. It helps me look distant, but something very strange happens inside of me.

“The widow’s lips are sealed as well,” she whispers. “She said she prepared the old Father’s chamber at church for you, it’s warm and cozy now, and she will be attending to you. I will as well, if you wish.” Her cheeks go even redder and hotter despite her breath turning to steam in the cold. I’d like to breathe in that steam.

“No. It would cause trouble for the both of us.”

Now she feels embarrassed again. She sinks her head.

“No it is, then. But if I may ask – why did you do it? Why did you save me?”

“Just an impulse. I came to see your husband, and –”

“You came to kill him,” she cuts off. It doesn’t really surprise me, the widow must’ve told her. I decide to restrict the answer though.

“It’s not that simple.”

“I understand. No need for explanation on my side either. Just know that whoever seeks to free this place of the Swine – freeing me of him in stride – has my complete and purest loyalty.”

She walks by me and stops by my side. She’s too close.

“Father Jacob. Is that your real name?”

“It’s the name they gave me in the monastery.”

“But not the name your mother gave you?”

The words make my jaw lock, but Ligia is patient. She doesn’t move until I speak again. “My mother was young. She had big dreams and daring ideas. She picked a more pretentious name.”

“Tell me. Even if it’s the last word you ever address me,” she pleads, her voice sweet and broken. It blows my shield into pieces.

“Hyperion,” I hear myself before I think it.

“Hyperion,” she repeats. There’s a kind of reverence in her voice. She seems to take my name with her as she departs, while I remain motionless by the well under the moonlight, my heart pounding, my face burning. The adrenaline races through me, but this time it isn’t anger or bloodlust. It’s something different. Something new to me. And strangely pleasant.

To be continued.

***

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Saphira Episode 4 – Bewitched

BLURB:

At the Marquis’ ball Saphira has learned that, apart from being a murderer, the young man is slowly taking control over the entire region. Soon there will be no place for her to hide. She attempted to leave the ball when her way was blocked by one of her overly insisting admirers. Then something that happened behind the man drew her alarm, and now she finds herself in a very perilous situation.

***

The young Marquis walks close behind the piranha Vladimir Pukov and stops him with a hand on the piranha’s shoulder. Something flashes in his other hand –metal. I only see it for a second or two, but it’s enough to make things clear – he can kill the piranha in cold blood, same as he did the man at the Royale.

“I have to step in,” he says. “You’re heading too confidently towards my date.”

At that word both the piranha and I look puzzled from one to the other, then to the Marquis.

“My apologies,” the piranha says, his shoulders slumping, his baldhead glistening with sweat under the chandelier. He has no idea that he’s facing a murderer, but he’s intimidated nonetheless. It’s the first time I see the bastard humbled, and it feels good. “I didn’t realize you and Miss Lothar –”

“Apologies accepted,” the Marquis replies before the piranha finishes, then offers me his arm. I’m afraid of the consequences of a refusal to take it, so I do without a thought.

He sweeps me with elegance away from the staring piranha. Surprised faces and Venetian masks draw from our path as we glide among them, and I become ashamed of my appearance. Most women look glittery and flamboyant but decent, their dresses long, so I feel more like an escort than a lady in my short golden cocktail dress, my hair unrestrained down my back. It’s too much, maybe even ostentatious. Inside I’m shooting reproof at my mom, who I now notice on the side, a happy smile on her face. Dad must be ecstatic at the sight of the Marquis and me together too.

In order to sheathe our heading for the exit, the Marquis stops here and there and introduces me to people I know already. They’ve been spending their holidays in this town for years, but one fact is indeed new and shocking to them as it is to me – I’m the Marquis’ girlfriend. Some of them would’ve considered their own daughters, sisters or themselves a far better pick, especially since they’re leading rich sharks in London and Paris. They have some difficulty swallowing the info that a bankrupt artist from the province has won the freaking lottery with the Marquis’ interest.

I have even more difficulty. I stare up at the Marquis’ face as he speaks, and find myself compelled by those dark, murky eyes. The way his hair frames his head, rich and glossy, it enhances the youthfulness of his features and the menacing feel of his gaze. I’m all too aware that he was ready to kill a man just minutes before. The scene of him removing his gloves after taking that man’s life at the Royale comes back like a stinging warning, and fear makes my muscles clench.

It’s baffling how he manages to lead the way amidst the crowd and then out of the banquet hall without anybody noticing. A line of people who look like guests but must actually be the Marquis’ staff close behind us like a human wall as we leave through a narrow – and secret – exit. My heart pounds in my throat as he takes me up dark stairs to the tower, an architectural ghost.

“Why are we going there?” I manage, breathless with anxiety.

“Don’t be afraid,” his voice resounds close. It makes me feel drunk, and I know he’s got a grip on my senses again. The fear subsides, and my hand relaxes as he takes it in his. The touch of his skin electrifies me.

I’m little more than a zombie with a crush by the time we reach the room at the top, the door creaking open like an old cell grate. The place looks a dungeon, the walls black and foreboding. The Marquis leads me slowly to a niche to the side, lights a candle, and holds it up to illuminate what I expect to be a wall. But when the painting I made of him reveals itself in the candlelight my senses shudder out of the trance, and I reawaken to reality.

I’m standing in the manor’s oldest tower with a murderer, looking at my best-kept secret. The Marquis seems to read my mind.

“You took mine, I took yours.”

“How did you even know about it?” I whisper, trying to hide my fear. I’ve painted it in repeated fits of nightly obsessions after the day he visited at my parents’ house, he shouldn’t even know of its existence.

“Your father. I suppose he wanted to make it clear to me that the chances stood high for the two of us.”

I’m embarrassed and enraged. “He had no right.”

“He had a reason.”

“He just wants to see me married to someone wealthy,” I spit. “I understand you’re as filthy rich as they come, so he’s doing his best to bring us together. That’s as noble as his reasons get.”

I can feel the warmth of him close behind me, and my knees threaten to melt. I struggle to keep control. My jaw tightens as my thoughts run in errant circles. The Marquis bends his head so that his lips touch my ear, sending a thrill all through my skin.

“You think it’s a good idea to put your father in that light? I understand tonight you learned what I do with greedy bastards.”

My head snaps to the side, and I stare at him baffled. A smile draws his young lips, and I feel an urge to kiss him. I bite the inside of my cheek until I taste blood.

“Yes,” he says, “I know what was discussed at your table.”

“How?”

“In my business I have to keep spies everywhere.”

“You mentioned your business before. What is it exactly?”

“Direct again.” He looks up at the painting and raises the candle. “Let’s talk some art first.”

I decide on direct once more. “You want to know why I painted you?”

“Oh, I know why you painted me. It’s how you did that I find intriguing.”

I look up at the portrait too. It shows him in his full beauty. I’ve been waking up at night with the urge of plunging into the oily colors, forgetting the brush and working on it with my fingers, wishing to feel him, to become one with him so I can understand him. I felt possessed, pushed into it by some evil force, moving like a nut case until I fell exhausted and smeared with pasty color all over, my eyes puffy and heavy.

“How did it get here?” I whisper.

“Your father helped. After you left for the banquet tonight, your maid opened the door to my people, who packed it and brought it here.”

“They were fast.”

“They always are.”

“What’s your name, Marquis?”

That smile again. “I can’t tell you that.”

“Why not?”

He looks me in the face, and I’m lost in the depths of his eyes, glittering dangerous in the candlelight. “Because it would give you power over me.”

“Are you a demon, then?”

“Yes.”

“You’re mocking.”

“You’re shaking.”

I haven’t realized that he walked to me while I retreated, and now I bump into the wall opposite from his portrait. I’m hot and start sweating, yet I can’t control my shivering.

“Why do you do this?” I whisper. “Why do you tell people I’m your girlfriend?”

“I’m making this serious. Otherwise you’d think I’m playing with you.”

“I don’t want us to be serious.” The words hurt as they leave my mouth, because in truth I desperately want him to kiss me.

“What do you want?”

“I want you to leave here and never come back,” I lie blatantly.

“I can’t do that, Saphira. Not after everything you saw.”

“I saw the end of a murder, yes. But not exactly what happened. I’ll keep my mouth shut, I assure you.”

“It’s not only what you saw at the Royale.” He’s now too close, and I feel high again. “It’s what you see in me. What you put in that portrait. And what you might reveal in other works too.”

“That is the portrait of a young man, nothing more.”

“That portrait is a confession. You don’t realize this, but it talks too much. You won’t be able to hold back, you’ll reveal more in time.”

I want to keep the line of replies open, but the Marquis’ next move stuns me. His arm winds around me and presses me to him, his other hand stroking its way up the halter under my dress. My heart jumps and my breath catches as his lips, warm and soft, take over mine. My head spins, and I can’t help touching him, letting my hands knot in his hair. He retreats before my passion breaks out of control, a satisfied smile on his face. I know immediately that he’s aware of his power over me, that he’s aware I’d go all the way.

“Not yet, Saphira. Not yet.”

He withdraws in the dark, leaving me shaking with desire. I’m under his spell, and I barely realize where I am until the door creaks sharply, bursting open. My head turns in its direction, and I see the last person I expect to see.

To be continued.

***

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Hyperion Episode 7 – Bloodlust

BLURB:

Hyperion has been feared in battle. The creature he turns into in his fights is fierce, draining, and impossible to tame when provoked. In this scene Hyperion returns to his target’s house to save the man’s young wife, Ligia, whom he might’ve put in danger. The situation he encounters surpasses his expectations and he is no longer capable or willing to control the wraith inside.

***

The Weasel has Ligia pinned against the wall, one hand ripping her shirt open and grabbing her breast. I can see it all through the window – it’s the only one lit. My senses spike free, my hearing now sharp enough to pick up every sound in and around the house – only some old furniture creaking in the main room, and two guards outside the front door. Not wraiths. The Swine took the heavy weight with him when he left. The Weasel must’ve stayed behind as indoor guard, and does the hell of a job attacking the boss’ wife. Ligia struggles and screams, her blond ringlets whipping the air around her.

“You’re doing this, you little bitch,” the guy spittles through his rodent front teeth, “unless you want your husband to hear more of you and your lover-boy the priest.”

“Nothing happened with the priest.” The despair in Ligia’s voice makes my blood surge. But it doesn’t seem to touch the Weasel at all. On the contrary, it makes him want more. He looks her in the face and grins.

“And who’s the Swine going to believe? He’s sort of lost interest in you anyway, he’s at the brothel as we speak.”

Ligia scratches him with a cry, and he slaps her hard in return. She covers her cheek with her palm, and I zoom in on her teary eyes in an impulse.

“I’ll fight all the way,” she tries to defend herself. “How will you explain the bruises to your boss?”

“I doubt he’ll tell the difference between mine and his own.”

That second I spring forward from the shrubbery toward the window, but a new element stops me in my tracks. I see the old widow launch into the room and push the Weasel with all her strength. He’s short, skinny and a bit hunch-backed, but the women are still no match for him. He sweeps the widow with one arm, sending her sprawled on the floor, and returns his attention to Ligia.

I can’t take any more of this. All pain and discomfort from the last hour is forgotten, my blood now hot with adrenaline. All I need is minimal input from my wraith to unhinge the window frame soundlessly and slither inside without the Weasel noticing. The moment he faces me I’m already close enough to squeeze his balls, the other hand covering his mouth and pushing him against the wall.

“Hello there,” I hiss, relishing the wide fear in his eyes. He stinks badly of alcohol and excrement, and his clothes are dirty. My nose creases as I look him up and down. “You and water are mortal enemies or what?”

He mumbles something behind my fingers, and I can’t resist the temptation to hear his fear too. I want to take it in through all my senses before I kill him, letting it recharge me.

“If you scream I’ll kill you slowly and painfully,” I say as I free his mouth. He’s surprised at the sudden freedom and stares dumbly at me before he gathers himself.

“What are you doing here? How come –,” his voice cracks. He clears his throat and tries again. “What are you doing here?”

“You presumed to know already.” I give him my evil grin. “I’m lover-boy.”

The Weasel’s jaw drops. “But you’re a priest. You said Catholic priests –”

“What does it matter what I said? You accused this woman of having an affair with me. So why are you surprised to see me here on a night her husband is away?”

“I –”

I don’t give him a chance to find his words, and punch him hard in the face. I hear his jaw split, so I grab his nape and press my hand on his mouth again before he can howl. The pain and inability to let it out makes powerless dread expand his pupils like a drug addict’s. Now I have a grip on the back of his head and the front of it, as well as on his full attention. I bring my face real close to his, so that he can get a good look at the creature under the priestly hood.

“This is what this woman felt as you prepared to rape her.” I give him a few seconds to feel it. Then I pull the arm behind his neck to the right, and the one on his mouth to the left. His head fires to the side, his spinal cord snaps, and he falls dead on the floor.

To be continued.

***

Liked this? Share your thoughts and feelings in a comment. Hyperion’s whole story will be published in a Christmas Story Book for Adults, so stay tuned for Gift Promotions and other goodies. This Story Book for Adults will also be quite fit for a Christmas present – stay tuned for the reveal of the cover versions on the 1st week of December, and you’ll see how come.

The picture featured in this article is considered for the cover, so let us know your thoughts about it.

Enjoy Hyperion’s former episodes on this site 1, and my muse for Hyperion’s fabulous works here.

Buy Hyperion’s whole story here.

Discover Your Calling – Part II

A few days ago I started a promotion campaign for people like you and me, who decided to have a go and turn their hobbies into business. Leave a comment at the end of this article with your own passions and hobbies that you’d like to make a living out of, and I’ll get back at you. The next article could be featuring you and promoting your self-made products or services. Another important set of news is that, together with my partners, I’ll launch a presentation campaign for these products and services on the German market on the 15th of September, with me translating your promotional material into German at no cost. Keep on reading for more details and seize the chance.

In only a few days since I’ve started this project I’ve encountered a number of interesting people who offer unique products and services that could inspire you too, if you only ever thought of becoming your own boss. The first two – a graphic designer and a jewlery maker – have been presented in the first article, available here.  Now let me mention one very important aspect – I DO NOT charge for advertising presently, these are people whose work and mindset I simply appreciate. And this post features another person in whose story and work I find inspiration – Elena N., a fashion designer based in Berlin.

Elena N., a painter who worked with Beuys-scholar Heinrich Koch, and a fashion designer trained in Düsseldorf, Germany, focuses on unique creations that aren’t your every day on the block. Her clothes are for the elegant and refined, for the woman who wants to be unique and not just another brand display doll among hundreds and thousands. Her design process is inspired by historical and conceptual research, while her subtle style features clear cuts and quality materials at – and I have no freaking idea how she manages this – more than reasonable prices. All of it Made in Germany. Check out her clothes at http://www.elenanancu.com and let us know if you’d like an outfit made especially for you. Here is a taste of Elena’s upcoming collection:

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And this is the person behind the creation:

Elena N

Take the chance and leave a comment with your own passions and hobbies, tell me what you think your calling is and I’ll get back at you. If you feel you’re destined for something bigger than what you have now but can’t put your finger exactly on what it is, let me help you with a free personal profile and check out this post.

And now, as I promised as present at the end of each article, here are your free reads for relaxation: “The Executioner” Part I, first 50 pages. The book will be relesed on the 4th of September on Amazon, and you can get the Kinde format for free on the first week.

Looking forward to your input!

Discover Your Calling

If at all, Freud was right about one thing: All of it starts in early childhood. Especially the labeling and filing into categories. Flash some decades later, and we find ourselves as plumbers, teachers, lawyers or jobless. But, despite the illusion of diversity, social and professional categories are narrow. Our profession or situation rarely tells who we are. It’s mostly the things we do in our spare time for fun, pleasure and relaxation that actually define us. The things that, even though often achieved with as much hard work as our job tasks, give us a sense of fulfillment.

I’m a teacher and writer, with special interest in people’s core personalities, in what’s unique about them and what they and only they can offer. Predispositions, talents, the passion and dedication people are capable of when doing what they love fascinate me, and I decided to do everything in my power to foster that. My goal is to help you bring forth what you have to offer, the products you make or the services you render. I’ll start by presenting two very special people and their work, that I appreciate profoundly:

Elisabeta S. is my cover designer. She’s a trained painter and actress, but her passion lies with epic graphics.  It was her talent and hard work that I have to thank for that my first two novels received exactly the covers I dreamt of (Still not decided on the cover for Part II). She put up with me day and night – And I thought I was an easy customer; as if!

final cover Ifinal cover 2final cover II

And then there’s a person whose story and work have touched many lives, not only mine. Corina A. A cancer survivor. The day she found out about the disease – about sixteen years ago – she went ahead and . . . founded her own company! She decided to spend the rest of her life doing what she loves, and guess what – It freaking kept her alive to this day. She not only beat the disease but lost so many pounds she forgot the count – she went from overweight to virtually skinny. A wise mind spoken through a bold mouth, adventurous and so funny that you could get a six pack only from spending a few days with her. She makes beautiful and unique jewlery and objects of decoration. Here she is:

Corina

And here is some of her work:

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If you’re interested in more of Elisabeta S.’s and Corina A.’s products just let me know in a comment and I’ll put you in contact. I have great appreciation for both of these persons and their crafts.

As for me, I do in-depth profiling and I write. The first fifty pages of my upcoming novel “The Executioner” Part 1 are available here, and more chapters here. Part I is due on the 4th of September and will be up for a big givaway on the first week, maybe even longer. My characters are based on in-depth observation and research, since I’m a lover of human nature and character. This is also why I specialized in profiling based on psychology and medical astrology. For a free personal profile see this post.

Conclusion is, all good things started with a passion that couldn’t be boxed into a category. Let’s see some examples:

  • Toothpaste was invented long before the first dentist walked the Earth. More info here.
  • The best addiction counselors are experienced former addicts, not trained therapists. Allen Carr is a wonderful example.
  • The most successful mentors and life coaches aren’t teachers or professors, but people with a calling, with a passion. Take Marie Forleo, for example.

These people don’t fit in a category. They shape categories. They coin. They’re ice-breakers and pathfinders. And you can be one of them.

Leave a comment with your own passions. What do you enjoy doing? Is it writing, cooking, building, sewing, or something so new that it cannot be defined in a few words? Fell free to use as many as you like. VERY IMPORTANT! Feel just as free to advertise for yourself, if you already have a product or services. Tell us about it in your comment. Next time it could be your special products or services that are featured on this site. Looking forward!