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The Wish Giver: Cover Reveal and Teaser

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My Fairy Tale Academy series continues with the next installment:

The Wish Giver!

This is a Fairy Godmother retelling mixed with the Snake Prince.

I didn’t use any fairy tale for the Fairy Godmother. Instead I incorporated some Eastern lore for her story. Exploring that was fascinating. I had a great time writing it and I hope you love it!

 

You met the snake prince, Prince Kawbra, in The Monkey King. He’s back and still the only snake who can roll his eyes.

 

 

Here’s my inspiration photo for Nakusa. She’s from a little village that no one has heard of. No one there treats her with respect. She’s at the Academy to become a fire caster, but things don’t go quite as she planned.

 

Official release day is Wednesday, March 20th!

Because I’m so grateful for all of you, I’ll have the price at 99 cents on release day. A sort of fan appreciation day.

 

Here’s the first chapter. Enjoy!

Nakusa stood next to the other fire casters, who lined up shoulder-to-shoulder at the edge of a ring of sand. Flagstones covered the ground beneath their feet.

The trio watched as Solomon marched to the pit with his shoulders back and his nose in the air. When he reached the rim of black rocks in the ground, he stopped and peered down at the single flame coming from a coal, as if daring it to disobey him.

“Remember, Solomon,” said their instructor, Rulcan Lunaignis, “you need a will of iron to command fire.” A thick scar covered half of the older man’s face. He wore the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up to his elbows, and black pants and boots. His dark hair lay cropped against his scalp.

Solomon, a first-year student at the Academy and grandson to the most powerful fire caster in recorded history, shrugged a shoulder.

Nakusa wanted to hate him. She did hate him, but it would be easier if he wasn’t so handsome. He stood a head taller than she did, with creamy white skin and light-brown hair. His green eyes shone as he narrowed them at the flame.

The instructor continued. “Fire responds to commands, not suggestions. Yet you need it to flow, almost like water, but it will not naturally go where you want it to.”

Marianne, the oldest mermaid princess at the Academy and their premiere water caster, gave the older man a tight smile. Her long blonde braid curled around her red school jacket.

S’ula, a first-year sea witch, snorted. Despite the extra weight on her body, S’ula wore the school uniform—a white shirt with a red-and-blue plaid scarf and plaid skirt—without apology. Her dark skin and eyes shone in the firelight, and her short, spiky black hair with red tips almost looked like it was burning.

Solomon ignored the instructor and raised his hand. He uttered the word “grow” and clenched his fingers into a fist.

The flame sputtered. The blue-and-white center flared before the fire roared to life, reaching three feet into the air.

Nakusa and the other two fire spellcasters stepped back.

Marianne and S’ula held their hands up, ready.

Solomon opened his hand and lowered it. As he did so, the flame went back to the size it had been before.

“Good!” Rulcan said. “We need to work on your control, but good.”

Solomon looked down his hooked nose at the older man and sneered. “Yes, sir.” Nakusa’s breath caught in her throat as Solomon walked back to stand at the other end of the line. Sunlight caught the green in his eyes, and he almost smiled.

The instructor turned to the three remaining students. “Let’s see if you’ve all been paying as much attention. Next!”

The boy next to her gave Nakusa a little shove.

She stumbled forward and into Rulcan’s line of sight.

“Nakusa.” The instructor motioned her to the spot where Solomon had stood. “I hope you’ve been practicing.”

Nakusa walked across the sand, the ground moving beneath her feet, and stopped at the edge of the ring of flat black stones.

“Remember, you must be firm.”

She nodded and stared at the flame. Fire casters should be able to feel the flame like an extension of their bodies. Like a finger or a toe. They should be able to command the fire with the same control as an appendage.

“Go on,” the instructor said.

Nakusa sighed and held her hand out. She closed her eyes and opened her mind.

Everyone, even non-magical races like humans, left a magic imprint. Nakusa had mastered feeling that on her first day. Find the magic around her. Feel the power as it moved through the earth, the water, the air and fire. She could do all that. Unfortunately, that had been the end of her easy lessons at the Academy.

A fire caster should be able to connect with the fire, but Nakusa could not. Feel it? Yes. Connect to it? No.

That didn’t stop her from trying.

Power built inside her, like water gathering behind a dam. Her skin buzzed. Nakusa waited until she had enough magic, then released it.

The power rushed out of her, and Nakusa cracked an eye open.

The flame remained as it had ever been, brightly dancing in the middle of the stones.

“Try again,” the instructor said in a strained voice.

Nakusa closed her eyes and repeated the process. This time when she released her power, she opened her eyes and watched the flame, hoping it would help her focus.

Again, nothing happened.

Rulcan let out a frustrated snort. “Have you been doing the additional exercises I gave you?”

Nakusa lowered her hand and looked down. “Yes, sir.”

“You are a fire caster, are you not?”

“All of my people are fire casters.”

He took a step closer. “Then you need to work harder.”

Shame burned Nakusa’s brown skin, and tears gathered in her eyes.

“Get back in line.”

She nodded and walked to her place, refusing to look up.

“Next!” the instructor bellowed.

The student next to Nakusa squared his shoulders and spoke under his breath. “I wish I could beat Solomon.”

Rulcan went through the same instructions, and Nakusa blinked her tears away and forced herself to watch. To figure out what she was missing.

The student, a blond boy named Svin from the far north, held out his hand and closed his eyes.

Nakusa studied every inch of him. His feet. His stance. The way he leaned forward before he said “grow.”

A strange sensation twisted in Nakusa’s stomach.

Power poured from Svin and into the fire. The flame sputtered and almost went out, then exploded. It shot high into the sky, the apex rising above the nearby magic building.

“Control it!” Rulcan yelled.

Svin’s already light skin paled, but he kept his hands out and spoke. “Diminish!”

That should have calmed it, but instead the fire became thick, like molten rock.

“Get back!” S’ula bellowed.

“Diminish!” Svin yelled again. The geyser of magma ignored him and turned into a fountain, spewing fist-sized comets of glowing, acrid death everywhere.

Nakusa, Solomon, and the other boy scrambled away. Nakusa stumbled, suddenly dizzy.

S’ula and Marianne held their hands out and spoke a word. Water poured from their fingers, giving the glowing red magma a cool bath before it hit the ground.

Svin cried out in pain and crumpled.

Marianne left S’ula to the shield and turned toward the ring of smoking stones. She whispered something, and a single line of water sprang from the ground and wrapped the base of the flame like a rope, then tightened. The air sizzled and steam rose, but the water didn’t evaporate until it had strangled the flame back to its original size.

Rulcan waved his hand, and all the pieces of fire that had reached the sand dimmed and disappeared. Some had turned the sand to hazy glass.

Solomon shook his head. “He needs to learn some control.”

Nakusa frowned; Svin had the best control in class. Why had he suddenly lost it?

The instructor and Marianne rushed to the fallen Svin. The mermaid princess put her hands on him and closed her eyes. A moment later, she opened them.

“Healing crystal,” Marianne said to S’ula.

S’ula reached into an inside pocket, pulled out a small blue crystal, and tossed it to Marianne. Then she turned her dark, angry eyes on the rest of them. “You all okay?”

“Of course,” Solomon said.

Nakusa nodded, as did the other boy.

Solomon moved to Nakusa. His green eyes looked down at her, and for the first time, she found a bit of compassion there. “What do you think about when you cast?”

Nakusa’s mouth went dry, and she had to swallow before she spoke. “Uh, the fire.”

“Just the fire?” He stood only a few feet away. His eyes continued to study hers. His lips pressed together in concern.

His lips…

She blinked. “Sorry, what?”

“What else do you think about?”

“I, uh, I do exactly as Rulcan instructs us. I build the power, focus on the flames, then let my power out.”

His lips pulled into a frown. “So it should be working.”

Now she ducked her head. “Yes, it should.”

Solomon sighed. “Well Nakusa, perhaps you should rethink your assignment as a fire caster.”

Her head came back up. “What?”

“You’ve only had the one experience with fire casting. It might not be your calling.”

“My…my calling?”

He placed a hand on his muscled chest. “Where I come from, magic is a calling as much as it is anything else. If the magic hasn’t chosen you, it will not heed you.” His hand moved to her shoulder. The weight of his arm took her off balance. “Most fire casters are men. Perhaps this is too much for you.”

Nakusa, whose insides turned from raging hot at his touch to freezing cold at his words, looked at him in horror. Was he saying she should quit?

A groan from Svin pulled Solomon’s attention away from Nakusa. He dropped his hand. “Is he all right?” Solomon asked.

“He’ll be fine,” Marianne said as two students on the security detail appeared to haul the now awake Svin to the medical building.

Rulcan wiped sand off his pants and walked to the other students. “I’m afraid that’s all for today. We’ll have to get to you next time.”

The last student didn’t seem disappointed.

The instructor eyed Nakusa. “And we’ll give you another chance.”

“Yes, sir,” she said.

 


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The Monkey King: Cover Reveal and a Teaser

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My Fairy Tale Academy series continues with the next installment:

The Monkey King!

 

In case you’re not familiar, The Monkey King is an ancient folklore tale from China. He is a monkey born from stone who acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices. He fights the four dragon winds, rebels against heaven, is imprisoned and eventually helps a monk travel to the west and save some Buddhist texts.

My favorite retelling of The Monkey King (besides mine) is an anime called Saiyuki. I took a few tidbits from the show for my story. One of them is that Goku (the Monkey King in the show) is always hungry. Plus he’s funny. The whole show is funny. Check it out. And watch with the English dub. Trust me.

I also incorporated his three-section staff from the legends as well as the circlet/crown that keeps his powers in check.

The love interest for this story is none other than Aurora, but her story isn’t anything like the usual fairy tale, and she’s much more than a damsel in distress!

Official release day is Wednesday, March 6th!

Because I’m so grateful for all of you, I’ll have the price at 99 cents on release day. A sort of fan appreciation day.

Here’s the first chapter!

Chapter 1

A strange weight pressed down on Saru’s eyelids. He fought to keep them open, but to no avail. The droning voice of the instructor went on and on, talking about things that literally lulled him into a stupor.

“We only have tales from a few of the ancient races. Some we know originated with the oldest fey, while others don’t belong to any particular race.”

Saru’s ears shut down, and for a moment darkness snuggled in around him. Maybe just a quick nap.

Then someone poked him from behind. His chin slipped off the heel of his hand, and his face almost fell onto the desk before he recovered. His eyes shot open and he took a deep breath.

Saru found the teacher staring at him with cold green eyes. He waited for the censure.

Instead, Master Aloon—a rail-thin human with a stubby nose and long blond hair, dressed in blue robes—sniffed once and continued with his lecture.

“For instance, we have the story of the Monkey King. A powerful being born of stone and resembling a monkey. Some stories make him out to be a trickster. Others describe violent tendencies if provoked. The fey take credit for his departure, but no one knows what really happened.”

A yawn overpowered Saru’s resolve to sit quietly, and he covered his mouth.

Several students around Saru sniggered.

With another poke from behind, a paper slid between his arm and his side.

A light hiss sounded as Saru pulled it forward and set it on his desk. He mentally wondered what it would say this time.

It could be another thinly veiled suggestion that he ask her on a date. Or it could be her congratulating him for almost winning the Assassination game, which he’d rather not be reminded of. Or it could be her trying to make fun of the teacher in order to impress him. Saru bet on the last before he opened the piece of parchment.

It crackled as he smoothed it. The words had been laid out with precision, and the handwriting could have come from a book.

Do you have a group for the project?

Saru took his own pen and wrote in sloppy letters. What project?

He handed the note back while Master Aloon wasn’t looking. The guy never stopped talking. Considering this was literature class, Saru saw a sort of ridiculous irony in the situation.

“Another ancient story we have is of the predecessors of the First Fey. The accounts differ so widely that many historians believe they are nothing more than fairy tales, or stories with morals to impart on young children.”

The parchment returned to Saru. The project he’s about to assign us.

Saru glanced over his shoulder and waved his finger in a circle.

Catherine sat up straight with her shoulders back. She managed to make the school uniform look extra good with her pleasing proportions and her long, golden curls. Her ruby red lips—glossy thanks to some potion she’d put on them—spread into a smile as she took the parchment back and wrote more.

Saru returned his attention to the teacher.

“Believe it or not, the merpeople have some of the oldest stories. The Kraken in particular has a fascinating history.”

Saru put his chin in his hand again and scratched at the golden circlet around his head. His bushy brown hair almost covered it, but no matter what he did, it itched. And he couldn’t get it off.

The note came over Saru’s shoulder, and he snatched it up.

We split into groups of four, then we pick a story and make a play of it.

A play? Saru frowned.

The teacher moved to the front of the room and held up a thick book with a painting of a tree on the front cover. “Tomorrow we will split up into groups of four. As a group, you will choose a story and make a production of it.”

Half the class tittered, while the other half slumped in their chairs. Saru joined the latter.

Master Aloon continued. “You will have two weeks before you perform your play. The group with the best production will have the privilege of presenting at the annual Peach Ball.”

That brought another titter of excitement from every girl in the room, and a collective groan from the boys. Saru shook his head and vowed to find a reason not to go.

The Academy was a place for the nobles of different regions and races to meet and learn the etiquette of court. Unfortunately, the dean felt that learning how to behave in public settings was important, so they had a ball every month.

Luckily, the first two had held some excitement. During the Welcome Back Ball, the human Prince Samuel had been exposed as a liar and all-around jerk. After homecoming, a handful of students had been attacked by briars and almost died, and supposedly Prince Adem had fought a bunch of trolls to save everyone. Maybe someone would go on a rampage at this one. At least it would break up the monotony of tedious dancing and practiced conversation.

“Come tomorrow with names of who you want in your group.”

Catherine nudged him from behind.

Saru ignored her.

“Get your book as you leave, and find a story you are interested in. This presentation will be fifty percent of your grade, so choose something you feel you can represent to the class.”

Saru was the first student on his feet, the first to grab a book, and the first through the halls and back outside.

“Saru, wait.”

He gritted his teeth. When would this girl figure it out?

The slap of her high heels on the cobblestones got faster and louder. Saru sighed and stopped. “What is it, Cathy?”

Princess Catherine of Danor—one of the highest-ranking human princesses at the Academy—pursed her lips at his use of the nickname. Somehow she managed to look positively radiant, despite how hard she’d run to catch up with Saru. Her green eyes narrowed just enough to catch his notice. “Saru, I think we should be in the same group for this project.”

Saru turned and walked toward the fountain. “And why is that?”

“Because you’re going to need a good grade.”

Unfortunately, she was right: he did need a good grade on this project. Without it, he might fail literature class and have to retake it.

Catherine continued. “And because I think we would work well together.”

What she really meant to say was that she thought the two of them should be the main couple in some sort of romantic tragedy in which they would have to kiss at least once.

“Do you?” Saru asked as they joined the other students heading for the cafeteria.

Despite her tiny figure and short legs, she managed to keep up with his strides. “I do.”

He huffed. Enough of a fall breeze blew that overspray from the fountain settled on Saru’s skin. Part of him wanted to jump into the fountain and get wet all over, but he’d tried that once and then spent the next month cleaning the stupid thing.

Catherine put a delicate hand on Saru’s arm. “Think about it.”

Saru kept his eyes peeled until he found his savior.

Catherine made a face.

Saru gave her his winning smile. “I’ll think about it.” Before she could grab him, he slipped into the crowd of students.

“Hey Saru,” a human third-year student said.

“Hey.”

“Get in any fights with the pixies this week?” a centaur asked.

“Have you tried fighting them?” Saru asked with a laugh.

“Saru, are you going to try the Assassination game again?” a satyr asked.

“Of course.”

Girls smiled at him. Boys waved or nodded. Saru fought the crowd until he got to Teth.

The half-woman, half-bird, and all-siren gave him a wry smile. She stood almost as tall as Saru. The upper half of her body resembled that of a woman with creamy skin and long, inky-black hair. Dark, shining feathers covered the lower half of her body, which resembled a bird’s, complete with taloned feet and wings nestled close to her back. Her eyes, the color of the sea, regarded him. “Still using me to ditch the princess?”

Teth had been the red team’s medic in the Assassination game, and Saru had grown quite fond of the siren’s sardonic humor as well as the ease with which she frightened off other girls. “She’s terrified of you,” Saru said.

“As well she should be.”

“That girl doesn’t know when to stop,” Saru said.

“Maybe if you stopped being so dashing,” Teth said.

“I can’t help it,” Saru said. “It comes naturally.”

Teth chuckled, and all the boys within hearing distance stopped and stared.

Saru shook his head; her powers didn’t work on him. They both found it refreshing. The two of them followed the crowd into the cafeteria.

Rows of long tables filled the space, and a buzz of noise came from the students already occupying almost half of them. Food lines had formed along the far wall. The aroma of spiced meat and roasted potatoes overpowered the subtler scents of bread, vegetables, and cake.

“Are you going to sit by us?” Teth asked.

Saru made a face. “And watch you and the other sirens eat raw meat? No thanks.” Besides, he knew they preferred their privacy.

“Who will save you from the princess?”

“I’ll think of something.”

Teth chuckled again and moved off to the window where they served the races who preferred uncooked meat.

Saru moved to the end of the line and grabbed a wooden tray. He saw the number of students between him and the food, made a face, and decided to go straight for dessert.

Several of the other boys eyed him with envy. Everyone else had to go through and get the nutritious stuff before they got cake, but Saru didn’t like living by the rules. Instead, he walked to the far window and set his tray down on the counter.

“One of each,” he said as he looked over the tables, trying to find someone to sit with whom he could stand but Catherine hated.

The person behind the window scoffed. “You have to get real food first.”


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The Frog Maiden: Cover Reveal and a Teaser

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Did you like The Mermaid?

What about The Beast?

Excited for the next installment of my Fairy Tale Academy Series?

Well, I am!

Here’s the cover for Book 3: The Frog Maiden

The Frog Prince (which this tale is loosely based off of) has never been one of my go-to fairy tales. However, I wanted to steer clear of the standard Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty...so I decided I would try my hand at this one.

Guys, when the ideas started coming for this story I laughed and laughed. My inspiration came from not only The Frog Prince, but also the 80’s movie Gotcha! and the anime Ouran High School Host Club. (Which, by the way, is one of my favorite anime shows. Also, I had to watch the first episode for “inspiration”)

I use a lot of the other races from the Academy in this book, and I searched the internet for inspirational pictures. These are a few that I came up with.

(Note: I do not own these. I found them through Google searches and don’t have the info to credit them. If you know who drew them, let me know and I’ll add it!)

Bric, the Satyr

One of the Tiny Triad of Pixies

Official Release for this book is Wednesday, February 20th!

Chapter 1

The fabric of Brisa Northcott’s bag groaned as she adjusted the strap on her shoulder. A trickle of sweat rolled down the back of her neck and she cursed under her breath as she darted out of the way of a wave of second-year students headed for the cafeteria. Brisa didn’t have time to eat. She needed a place to study. Her eyes darted to the library, and then at the stream of students entering.

All of the tables on the green were taken, although with the centaurs heading up some sort of game involving a ball, there wouldn’t be a lot of quiet happening outside. Brisa passed the fountain where a gaggle of third-year girls of all races had gathered.

“Did anyone ever find out who made Belle’s dress for Homecoming?”

Homecoming had been over two weeks before, and these girls were still talking about it?

“It was Taylor. He’s almost booked through the Peach Festival. You’d better get your name in his list today.”

“Taylor, as in Prince Adem’s roommate?”

“Prince Adem is dreamy.”

“I heard he almost turned into a troll and laid an egg.”

Brisa shook her head. Trolls didn’t lay eggs.

The din from the girls faded, replaced by the clopping sound of a centaur coming up behind Brisa. Her fingers tightened around the strap of her bag.

“Brisa! Wait up!”

The cadence hastened. The boys coming toward Brisa stared behind her and up two feet.

The faint smell of a barn accompanied the centaur as she caught up.

Adosa’s back drew even with the top of Brisa’s shoulder. Her sleek, dark brown hide shimmered in the sunlight, as did her black tail and long, straight hair. Ruby red lips pulled into a mocking smile that didn’t reach her doe-like brown eyes. As usual, she wore her white uniform shirt unbuttoned almost to the point of making Brisa uncomfortable with the scarf tied around her neck. “Where are you off to?” Adosa’s gait slowed as she walked next to Brisa.

“I need to study,” Brisa said in an even voice.

“You do have a lot to learn, especially if you’re going to keep your scores high enough to stay.”

The boys passed, craning their heads at the centaur. Not only was she beautiful, but she held a small place of power among her people. Power that went straight to her head.

“The library is always a good place to study.”

Brisa slowed, forcing Adosa to walk at a snail’s pace. “Everyone else is in the library.”

“I suppose that’s true. What about your room?” Adosa put a hand on her chest. “I forgot, your roommate is a vampire. I’m guessing she’s sleeping.” She smirked. “I suppose that’s what you get when your father is a charlatan and you have no heritage.”

Brisa ground her teeth but forced a smile. “I supposed so.”

Adosa tossed her black hair. “I’m on my way to the arts building. One of the sculptors wants to use me as a model.”

Of course they did.

“You could come!” Adosa sneered. “It’s always quiet.”

The thought of sitting in a room with Adosa and her adoring fans made Brisa’s skin crawl. She glanced around and said, “That’s a very nice offer, but I’m meeting someone in the history building.”

“I thought you said you were looking for a place to study.”

Brisa ignored the question, took the next cobblestone path and waved. “See you later.”

“My offer stands!”

Brisa took the stairs two at a time and retreated into the building. Students occupied the first two rooms she passed. When she got to her history room, the instructor—Bo’ab—sat at her desk.

Bo’ab glanced up as Brisa went by. The tall, slender First Fey waved. Brisa kept moving.

The study area near the far stairs—consisting of a table, two chairs and a dusty couch—was deserted. Brisa sighed as she set her books on the table. The carved, wooden chair screeched along the stone floor as she pulled it out.

Brisa opened her bag and stared at the contents. History, science, magic, diversity of species, sculpture…she had enough work here to keep her busy for a month. In the end Brisa decided to start with her goblin report. It wasn’t due until the end of the week, but she’d been working on it a little each day, and if she continued, the report would be finished ahead of schedule.

Brisa pulled out two textbooks and her notebook. Several slips of paper poked out the top of each book, and she opened both to the latest slip. She retrieved a pencil, flipped to her report in the notebook, and began reading.

Understanding the other races was one of Brisa’s primary concerns, and she’d had to beg Dean Banli to let her into the advanced diversity of species class. If she didn’t impress the instructor with this report, he would likely kick her back to the first-year races class.

Goblins had always fascinated Brisa. They kept much of their clanish culture secret, but enough was known that Brisa had plenty of material to put in her report.

According to her research, goblins were reputed to be shy creatures. Everything Brisa had seen here at the Academy proved otherwise. Acting student body president, Rakar, was a goblin, and he was anything but shy.

Another discrepancy seemed to be that the goblins liked to steal. Brisa hadn’t found anything in the library or the school records that indicated that they’d had any issues with thefts involving goblins.

Brisa had hoped to find out more about their clans, but so far she hadn’t had much luck. Perhaps she would ask Rakar for an interview.

Several minutes passed and Brisa was in the middle of writing a long note, when the clomping of hoofs echoed from down the hall.

Adosa. Again?

Brisa gathered all of her things in her arms, hooked her bag over her shoulder and ran up the spiral stairs as fast as she could. Her shoes slapped on the stones, and her legs burned. She reached the landing and ducked behind the half-wall.

The clomping came to a stop.

Brisa held her breath.

“Did anyone see you?” a gravelly voice asked.

“No way,” a deep, alluring voice answered.

“And you’re sure she had a blue tattoo?”

“That’s what the girls said.”

Brisa adjusted the bundle in her arms so she could breathe.

More clopping. This time just two hoofs.

“Did she take the bait?” the gravelly voice asked.

A new voice snorted. “Of course. No woman can resist knowing a tiny bit of their future.”

“I still can’t believe girls buy into that,” the deep voice said.

“All too easy.”

“Is the Tiny Triad tailing her?” the gravelly voice asked.

“They were the last time I saw them.”

Brisa leaned over the rail so she could see below. As she suspected, a centaur stood with a satyr. Both faced a goblin.

The centaur’s silver hide and cropped white hair almost gleamed in the light. A tattoo ran out from under his white shirt and up his neck. He’d rolled his sleeves up, and Brisa could see the tattoo peeking out at his elbow. She’d seen the satyr before—a second year with brown fur, short horns and a disarmingly handsome smile.

The goblin, like all of his kind, stood shorter than most human men. Large, pointed ears poked out from his head. Gold earrings dangled from both in varying quantities. His skin looked extra green next to the white shirt and tie and black pants.

 “Okay,” the goblin—owner of the gravelly voice—said, “we just got lucky. If we can pull this off, we’ll have the biggest advantage in the history of this competition.”

The centaur and satyr nodded.

Brisa frowned. What competition?

The goblin continued. “You know what to do.”

“Right.”

Before either of his companions could move away, a zip of light came down the hall and halted in front of the goblin, bouncing up and down. It let out a faint trill.

“Good,” the goblin said, rubbing his hands. “I’ll be upstairs, waiting.”

“You got it, boss,” the centaur said.

Whatever this was, Brisa wanted nothing to do with it. She turned to creep away from the stairs, but let out a scream and dropped her books when she came face-to-face with a glowing pixie. The little green-skinned female wore a tiny uniform, and somehow she’d managed to find the shortest plaid uniform skirt Brisa had ever seen. Flowing red hair cascaded past her hips. Her wings—segmented like a butterflies—looked like tiny stained glass windows in shades of brown, orange and green. Burning red eyes glared at Brisa, and the pixie let out a high-pitched wail.

Brisa jumped back. “S—sorry.”

“Well, well, what have we here?”

Brisa let out a yelp and spun back toward the stairs, stepping on her books in the process. She came face to face with the goblin. His orange eyes took her in from head to foot, then he looked over her shoulder. “Assassinate her, girls.”


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The Beast: Cover Reveal and a Teaser

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Did you like The Mermaid? Excited to go back to The Academy?

Well, I am!

Here’s the cover for Book 2: The Beast

 

Beauty and the Beast is maybe my favorite fairy tale. (Don’t tell the others.) It stems from seeing Disney’s version in the theater when I was a teenager and falling in love with it. Specifically the library. I read a few of the early versions of the tale before I started writing mine.

One tidbit I incorporated was that of Belle’s lineage. You’ll have to read the story to find out more, but Belle is more than she seems, and it is important.

As you’ll read below, Adem’s curse works a bit different in my story than other versions. I hope you like it!

Official release day is next Wednesday, Feb. 6th!

Chapter 1

The carriage swayed as it trundled through the dense forest. Each rut in the road made the carriage jolt, and each jolt made Adem grit his teeth.

“Are you even listening to me?”

Adem blinked and looked back at Gilles, his advisor and pseudo-father. “Uh, no?”

Gilles sat ramrod straight in the seat across from Adem. The dark jacket over his tunic fit his slim body to precision. The buttons caught the light filtering in through the window, and despite the bouncing, Gilles’ perfect posture didn’t waver. The man’s dark eyes bored into Adem’s.

“Sorry.” Adem fought back the urge to sigh. “Please continue.”

“I said that two more people have started to turn.”

Adem curled his hands into fists. “Who?”

Gilles, who had just opened his mouth to continue, closed his lips. “Who?”

“Yes, who?” Adem asked, his voice almost a growl.

“Two of the elderly maids.”

“Ellen?”

Gilles nodded. “And Anna.”

Adem rubbed his face.

“As much as we all appreciate your concern, you have a more important task.”

Adem held up a hand. “I know why I’m going to the Academy. You don’t have to tell me—again.”

This time Gilles’ eyes flashed. “Girls can be very distracting for sixteen-year-old boys.”

“It’s not like I’ve never seen a pretty girl before,” Adem grumbled.

“I’m worried about the beast inside you.”

“What?”

Gilles shrugged. “The few adults who have begun to change have experienced some unexpected side effects.”

“Like what?”

“Like being attracted to fertile members of the opposite gender.”

Adem shifted in his seat. “I’ve got more important matters to worry about.”

“For now,” Gilles said.

An unexpected wave of anger bubbled to life, and Adem spoke through clenched teeth. “You don’t trust me?”

Giles studied him. The man’s eyes seemed to breach to Adem’s core, pushing aside his temper and going straight to the heart of the matter. Instead of censuring Adem, Gilles cleared his throat. “You need to be careful.”

“I will be,” Adem said, keeping his anger in check.

“Be especially wary of the faeries.”

“You think I’m an idiot?”

“No.”

“If someone would tell me what my parents did to end up cursed, things would probably be easier.”

For the first time, Gilles shifted in his seat. “Your parents never shared their dealings with anyone.”

Adem sat forward and stared into Gilles’ dark eyes. “Not even you?”

“Not even me.” The older man didn’t blink.

He was lying.

Gilles cleared his throat. “You know what you have to do. Stay away from the faeries and find what you need, or we will all end up like those outside the walls.”

“I know the consequences of failure.” Adem swallowed as blurry images of the first year of the curse rose in his mind. The monsters who had once been his friends had thrown themselves at the barrier around the castle until their own bodies were broken, or they found someone else to prey upon.

His friends.

His parents.

Adem’s eyes flicked to Gilles again, and he narrowed them. The man was hiding something. Adem could practically smell it as Gilles looked out the window and pretended to ignore the fur that had sprouted on his face the moment they’d cleared the barrier around the courtyard.

The coach lurched to the side and hit a bump so big that Adem lost contact with the seat, then crashed down hard. Pain stabbed his backside, awakening the anger lurking just below the surface.

“What’s going on?” Adem bellowed as he opened the window. He stuck his head out and heard the horses scream in terror, then an invisible hook grabbed the carriage and hauled it forward. Adem hit the back wall hard.

Gilles flew across the space and landed in an undignified heap next to Adem.

Their gilded cage began to vibrate as the horses sped up.

Stars danced in Adem’s vision, and he shook his head. “Are you all right?” He helped Gilles to a sitting position.

Gilles nodded, but put a hand to his head where blood ran from a cut.

The scent of iron stung the inside of Adem’s nose. It drew him in like a child to a piece of candy. He licked his lips, wondering what the hot liquid would taste like.

“See what’s happening,” Gilles said in a weak voice.

The words shattered the moment, and Adem hauled himself to the window. The outside air brushed his face and hair, dispelling the iron and bringing with it the scent of pine trees, damp dirt, and…

Adem inhaled. Something didn’t smell right. Not blood, but a musk that made the hair on the back of his neck prickle. He stuck his head out and found the horses pulling against the reins.

“Marshel, what’s going on?” Adem yelled.

A growl answered him.

Adem’s stomach turned to lead. He looked back at Gilles and found the man still groggy. No help there. “Marshel? Can you hear me?”

Another growl. Almost words, but not quite.

“Great,” Adem muttered. He unclasped his cloak, dropped it on the seat, and opened the door.

“Master Adem, what are you doing?” Gilles asked in an alarmed voice.

Adem ignored the man and moved out onto the steps. Cool wind pulled at his tunic.

“Marshel!”

No answer.

Lather covered the horses’ hindquarters. The carriage hit another bump, and Adem’s fingers tightened around the door frame. With a grunt, he heaved himself toward the driver’s bench.

“You’re going to get killed!” Gilles cried.

“Not if I can help it.” Adem stretched his hand toward the rail of the driver’s bench. The tips of his fingers brushed the rough wood. He stood on his toes and took hold of the rail just as the carriage bucked again.

Adem let out a yell and used every ounce of strength he could muster to hold on. One glance down showed the broken road beneath, along with the mercilessly turning wheels.

His fingers slipped. Maybe Gilles was right—maybe he was going to die.

If he died, everyone in the castle died.

A shot of adrenaline—more than he’d ever felt before—coursed through his body, and Adem reached for the rail with his other hand. His fingers inched toward the target, but they went over another bump, and Adem almost slipped. His back hit the side of the carriage hard. He glared at the rail, held his breath, and reached. This time his grip found purchase, and he used the remaining adrenaline to pull himself up.

He opened his mouth to ask Marshel what had happened, but he found the man curled in on himself, the reins still in his—

Instead of fingers, claws protruded from the man’s gloves. Gray fur poked out the top.

The hair on Adem’s neck rose again, and he found himself bearing his teeth. He shook his head and reached for the reins.

A low snarl sounded, and Adem stopped with his fingers just inches from the man. “Marshel?”

The snarl turned into a groan, and Marshel shuddered. He looked up.

Adem froze. Instead of the man’s usual blue eyes, gold eyes stared back at him.

“Get…away.”

“Can’t do that. Sorry.” Adem wrenched the reins from Marshel. Marshel lunged, but Adem kicked him away. Marshel crashed to the other end of the bench, and Adem pulled on the reins.

The horses fought against the command. Now that he knew Marshel had started to change, Adem could assume that the animals had caught the scent. The carriage slowed.

Adem looked over his shoulder. “Come get Marshel off!”

The horses refused to stop completely, but Adem slowed enough so Gilles could hop out and pull Marshel off.

After another dozen yards, the horses lost his scent and came to a stop.

Adem tied them off, hopped down, and ran back.

Gilles crouched over Marshel, who contorted as if someone were poking him with a hot iron. Animal fur sprouted on his cheeks and jaw, and Marshel’s nose elongated.

“It seems that our progression quickens the longer we’re outside the castle,” Gilles said, glancing down at his own increasingly furry hands. Gilles looked at Adem. “You?”

“Besides a heightened sense of smell, I’ve got nothing.”

“Perhaps the protection spell is stronger for you. Or perhaps it is because you are young.”

“Does it matter?” Adem asked.

“It means you need to focus at the Academy.”

Marshel stopped thrashing. He lay on the ground, panting. Adem squatted next to him and took his hand—now a paw. “I’m sorry.”

Marshel’s eyes barely focused on Adem. “Save us.”

Faces of those still in the castle swam before his vision. Men and women who had been servants, nobles and peasants, forced to work together to survive. Most Adem counted as friend.

They were his responsibility.

Adem gave Marshel’s hand a squeeze and rose. He faced Gilles. “Take the carriage and get him back.”

“What about you?” Gilles asked.

“I’m only a day’s walk from the Academy. I’m sure I can find a ride.”

Gilles frowned. “You shouldn’t arrive like that.”

“Why? Because I’m a prince?” Adem stepped toward Gilles. “I don’t care about that. I’m not going there for validation or to find a wife or a mate or to die uselessly or anything else.” He pointed at Marshel. “I’m going to keep this from happening to everyone we love.”

Gilles studied him for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, m’lord.”


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