Saturday, October 8, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Whyborne & Griffin by Jordan L Hawk


Widdershins #1
Summary:
Some things should stay buried.

Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.

So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.

As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?

Eidolon #1.5
Summary:
A Whyborne & Griffin short story.

Griffin Flaherty wants nothing more than to create a perfect Valentine’s Day for his lover, Dr. Percival Endicott Whyborne. Dinner at a fancy restaurant, an evening at the theater, and a romantic interlude at home should do the trick. 

But a new client with an urgent case puts Griffin’s plans in jeopardy. A magic talisman has been stolen, and if it isn’t returned by sundown, it may unleash disaster not only on the thief but the innocents around him.

Can Whyborne and Griffin track down the thief and return the amulet by nightfall, or will dinner reservations become the least of their worries?

Threshold #2
Summary:
Introverted scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne wants nothing more than to live quietly with his lover, ex-Pinkerton detective Griffin Flaherty. Unfortunately, Whyborne's railroad tycoon father has other ideas, namely hiring Griffin to investigate mysterious events at a coal mine.

Whyborne, Griffin, and their friend Christine travel to Threshold Mountain, a place of dark legend even before the mine burrowed into its heart. A contingent of Pinkertons-including Griffin's ex-lover Elliot-already guard the mine. But Griffin knows better than anyone just how unprepared the detectives are to face the otherworldly forces threatening them.

Soon, Whyborne and Griffin are on the trail of mysterious disappearances, deadly accidents, and whispered secrets. Is Elliot an ally, or does he only want to rekindle his relationship with Griffin? And if so, how can Whyborne possibly hope to compete with the stunningly handsome Pinkerton-especially when Griffin is hiding secrets about his past?

For in a town where friends become enemies and horror lurks behind a human mask, Whyborne can't afford to trust anything-including his own heart.

Stormhaven #3
Summary:
Mysterious happenings are nothing new to reclusive scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne, but finding one of his colleagues screaming for help in the street is rather unusual. Allan Tambling claims he can’t remember any of the last hour—but someone murdered his uncle, and Allan is covered in blood. 

Whyborne’s lover, dashing ex-Pinkerton detective Griffin Flaherty, agrees to prove Allan’s innocence. But when Allan is deemed insane and locked away in the Stormhaven Lunatic Asylum, Griffin finds himself reliving the horrifying memories of his own ordeal inside a madhouse.

Along with their friend Christine, the two men become drawn deeper and deeper into a dark web of conspiracy, magic, and murder. Their only clue: a missing artifact depicting an unknown god. Who stole the artifact, and why can’t Allan remember what happened? And what is the truth behind the terrible experiments conducted on Stormhaven’s forbidden fourth floor?

It will take all of Whyborne’s sorcery and Griffin’s derring-do to stop the murderers and save Allan. But first, they must survive an even greater challenge: a visit from Griffin’s family.

Carousel #3.4 (Another Place in Time Anthology)
Summary:
When a child goes missing, is it a simple case of a young runaway, or are more sinister forces at work?

“Carousel” is part of the Whyborne & Griffin series and takes place between the events of Stormhaven and Necropolis. It can be read as a standalone.

Remnant: A Caldwell & Feximal/Whyborne & Griffin Mystery (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal) #3.5
Summary
London, 1899. The beautiful people are dying…

A malevolent power is attacking London’s bright young things, and the only clue to what's happening is written in ancient Egyptian script. As ghost-hunter Simon Feximal and his companion Robert Caldwell investigate the mysterious deaths, the arrival in London of a notorious scholar-sorcerer seems to hold the answer to more than one of their problems.

A quiet break in London while en route to Egypt turns dramatic for Dr Percival Endicott Whyborne and his lover Griffin Flaherty when they encounter the hostile ghost-hunter. Feximal clearly suspects the worst of Whyborne – and his flirtatious sidekick seems to think a great deal too well of Griffin...

Jordan L Hawk’s heroes Whyborne and Griffin meet KJ Charles’ occult detectives from the Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal in a mystery that takes all four lovers through the decadent underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of an ancient and deadly evil.

Necropolis #4
Summary:
Introverted scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has spent the last few months watching his lover, Griffin Flaherty, come to terms with the rejection of his adoptive family. So when an urgent telegram from Christine summons them to Egypt, Whyborne is reluctant to risk the fragile peace they’ve established. Until, that is, a man who seems as much animal as human tries to murder Whyborne in the museum.

Amidst the ancient ruins of the pharaohs, they must join Christine and face betrayal, murder, and a legendary sorceress risen from the dead. In the forge of the desert heat, the trio will either face their fears and stand together—or shatter the bonds between them forever.

Bloodline #5
Summary:
Between his bullying father and dissolute brother, Percival Endicott Whyborne has quite enough problematic family members to deal with. So when his sister returns to Widdershins asking for help solving the mystery of a derelict ship, Whyborne is reluctant to get involved. Until, that is, a brutal murderer strikes, leaving Whyborne and his lover Griffin no choice but to take the case.

The investigation leads them deep into a conspiracy of blackmail, murder, and darkest sorcery. But worst of all are the secrets held within the family itself, one of which will destroy everything Whyborne believed to be true, not only about his family, but about himself.

Hoarfrost #6
Summary:
Sorcerer Percival Endicott Whyborne and his husband Griffin Flaherty have enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the calm is shattered by the arrival of a package from Griffin’s brother Jack, who has uncovered a strange artifact while digging for gold in Alaska. The discovery of a previously unknown civilization could revive the career of their friend Dr. Christine Putnam—or it might kill them all, if the hints of dark sorcery surrounding the find are true.

With Christine and her fiancé Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must journey to the farthest reaches of the arctic to stop an ancient evil from claiming the life of Griffin’s brother. But in the rough mining camp of Hoarfrost, secrets fly as thickly as the snow, and Whyborne isn’t the only sorcerer drawn by the rumors of magic. Amidst a wilderness of ice and stone, Griffin must either face his greatest fear—or lose everyone he loves.

Maelstrom #7
Summary:
Between his father’s sudden—and rather suspicious—generosity, and his own rash promise to help Christine plan her wedding, Percival Endicott Whyborne has quite enough to worry about. But when the donation of a mysterious codex to the Ladysmith Museum draws the attention of a murderous cult, Whyborne finds himself in a race against time to unlock its secrets first.

Griffin has a case of his own: the disappearance of an historic map, which quickly escalates to murder. Someone is sacrificing men in dark rituals—and all the clues lead back to the museum.

With their friends Christine and Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must discover the cult’s true goal before it’s too late. For dark forces are afoot at the very heart of the museum, and they want more than Whyborne’s codex.

Fallow #8
Summary:
When Griffin’s past collides with his present, will it cost the lives of everyone he loves?

Between the threat of a world-ending invasion from the Outside and unwelcome revelations about his own nature, Percival Endicott Whyborne is under a great deal of strain. His husband, Griffin Flaherty, wants to help—but how can he, when Whyborne won’t tell him what’s wrong?

When a man from Griffin’s past murders a sorcerer, the situation grows even more dire. Once a simple farmer from Griffin’s hometown of Fallow, the assassin now bears a terrifying magical corruption, one whose nature even Whyborne can’t explain.

To keep Griffin’s estranged mother safe, they must travel to a dying town in Kansas. But as drought withers the crops of Fallow, a sinister cult sinks its roots deep into the arid soil. And if the cult’s foul harvest isn’t stopped in time, Fallow will be only the first city to fall.

Fallow is the eighth book in the Whyborne & Griffin series, where magic, mystery, and m/m romance collide with Victorian era America.


Books #1-4(Widdershins, Eidolin, Threshold, Stormhaven, Carousel, Remnant, & Necropolis)
Original Overall Review May 30, 2014:
I'm doing an overall review because each book flows fluently into the next.  Each book is a mystery in itself but the relationships are ongoing and growing so they really need to be read in order, although I did read the short story last and it wasn't really out of place.

The characters are not only well written but easily liked or hated, as the case may be.  As much as I love both Whyborne & Griffin, I really enjoyed Christine.  A woman before her time and smarter than her colleagues, she doesn't hold any punches with anyone and she is the only true friend that both men come to trust and rely on.  As for the hated characters, for me it was pretty consistently Whyborne's father and brother, they are both self-evolved with tunnel vision.  But we can't like everyone in a story.

The mysteries are intriguing and definitely well written.  They do rely heavily on the supernatural or paranormal, which is a plus for me.  It's done so well that for those who aren't necessarily fans of magic I think will still find these stories interesting.  This series is an excellent read anytime but a perfect read for October and Halloween.

Bloodline #5
Original Review October 18, 2014:
As you know, I don't do spoilers but I'll just start off by stating that I didn't think it was possible for me to hate Stanford more than I already did.  Was I wrong!  Jordan L. Hawk has managed to make him even more reprehensible than he already was.  As usual, Christine is a woman ahead of her time and a true friend to both Whyborne and Griffin and brutally honest with her opinions.  Once again, the mystery is filled with supernatural powers, both good and bad.  Intriguing new characters that give Whyborne a sense of belonging and confidence he thought he still lacked.  Griffin isn't completely convinced of certain intentions but lack of/poor communications between the two lovers could spell the downfall of more than just a beloved relationship.

Hoarfrost #6
Original Review April 22, 2015:
How is it possible that after all their adventures, Whyborne & Griffin keep getting better?  I guess Miss Hawk really knows how to bring the chemistry between, not only our favorite couple, but also Griffin and his newly found brother, Christine and Iskander, and even how Iskander is fitting in with our heroic trio, to life.  In Hoarfrost, as it was in Necropolis, we get to see Whyborne away from his element and home of Widdershins, not always a good thing but he deals with it as only Whyborne can. A story filled with passion, intrigue, mystery, and of course all the good and bad that defines paranormal.  Of course, not everything or everyone is as black and white as it seems, there's always layers to sift through to find the truth.  I loved seeing Griffin finally able to deal with his past, although watching him have to face his parents rejection is heartbreaking, having Whyborne and the little family they have soothes not only Griffin's heartache but the reader's too.

Maelstrom #7
Original Review December 12, 2015:
As usual, I was blown away by Jordan L Hawk's Whyborne & Griffin, of course, I never expected not to be.  The entire series has me on the edge of my seat but there was something about Maelstrom that had me perched on the edge that I might as well have sat on the floor because it took everything I had to stay on the chair.  As always, Christine adds her unique brand of friendship and determination.  I don't do spoilers but I will say there came a point that I was yelling "NO! NO! NO!", the rest I will let you discover for yourself and trust me, you will want to find out.  Can't wait to see what she has planned for their next adventure.

Fallow #8
Original Review August 7, 2016:
What can I say about Fallow and not give away any spoilers?  Let's see what I can come up with.  Whyborne and Griffin just keep getting better and better, if that is even possible, throw in Christine and Iskander and what you have is off the charts.  Our little group goes to Griffin's hometown of Fallow, Kansas where life is not as he recalls from his youth.  Whyborne's plan to leave Griffin in Kansas, which he sees as a way to keep Griffin safe, breaks your heart and every time his inner monologue debates the plan I found myself screaming at my Kindle "Just talk to him!!"  Well, have faith, Jordan L Hawk has never steered her readers wrong and Fallow is no different.  If you are already a Whyborne & Griffin fan then you'll be in paranormal romantic suspense heaven and if you haven't checked them out before, don't let there being 8 books in the series scare you away.  Trust me, whether there is only 8 or 108 entries in the series, it's well worth the time,  they are fantabulous! A must read for magic lovers.

RATING: 


Widdershins #1
The explosion was deafening; a huge cloud of fire rolled out the window after us, its immense heat brushing against my face as we tumbled into the snow.

We hit the ground and rolled. Flaming debris from the house came down around us; Griffin shoved me flat on my back, covering us both with his heavy coat.

The echoes of the explosion reflected back across the river, then slowly dwindled away, like dying thunder. The leaping flames threw warm light onto the falling snow, turning it into a storm of sparks pouring down from the heavens.

Griffin started to push himself off of me, then stopped. His hands were braced to either side of my shoulders, his legs twined with mine. My heart pounded, my palms sweated, and I was suddenly, acutely aware of how close his face was to mine.

“You’re a madman,” he whispered. “An utter madman.”

“Perhaps,” I allowed. “But it worked.”

The leaping light from the burning house painted his features in gold, highlighting his patrician nose and finding the threads of brown and blue in his green eyes. His pupils widened, the irises contracting to slivers. “Whatever am I to do with you?” he murmured.

The warmth of his breath feathered over my skin. Heat collected in my groin, my lips. My mouth was dry, my voice hoarse, and perhaps he was right and it was madness when I whispered, “Whatever you want.”

A shiver went through his body, perhaps because we were lying on the cold ground. But instead of getting up, he leaned closer, his overlong hair tumbling over his forehead. He paused, his mouth almost touching mine, his eyes seeming to ask a question.

It was madness; it was folly; it was sheer selfishness. I was delusional, misguided, wrong, out of control. I needed to pull back, to say something sane, to re-establish mastery over myself. I could not do this. I could not take this risk.

Later tonight, I’d relive this moment in my lonely bed and wonder if I’d done the right thing. But at least that would be familiar, would be something I knew how to cope with.

And yet the very thought felt like dying.

I surged forward, crossing the final, tiny gap and pressing my lips to his. It was awkward and desperate and frantic, but the feel of his mouth against mine sent a bolt of electricity straight down my spine. Just a moment, just this one kiss, surely that would be enough…

Then he kissed me back, and it would never be enough, a thousand years of this would not be enough. His mouth was hungry and insistent, his tongue probing my lips, asking for greater intimacy. I granted it, tongues swirling together, mine following his when it retreated and tasting him in return.

Eidolin #1.5
“Allow me to mention I don’t take cases involving divorce or scandal.”

She waved a hand; a silver ring caught the light. Something appeared to be inscribed on it, but I couldn’t make it out without a closer inspection. “A case of simple theft. My grandfather is quite elderly and not in the best of health. He possessed a small talisman, something of no great value to anyone but him. A thief entered the house early this morning while the rest of the family was out, overpowered the manservant who tends Grandfather, and stole the talisman.”

“Did he take anything else?” Surely, they wouldn’t have broken in for such a trinket, unless Miss Lester meant to deceive me as to its true value.

“No.” Her mouth thinned into an unpleasant line. “Unfortunately, the thief is a relative. A distant cousin from a branch of the family which moved to Boston a generation or so ago. I received a letter from him not two hours past, demanding an outrageous sum for the return of the talisman.”

I frowned. “A ransom? For a trinket holding only sentimental value?”

My words did nothing to ruffle her cold, dark gaze. “I never said the talisman had only sentimental value, Mr. Flaherty. Only that it had no value to anyone save Grandfather.”

Blast it. She was right; I had missed the distinction. I wanted to ask her what its value might be to him, but in a town where one regularly saw cloaked figures scurrying through the streets at night and neighbors considered it the height of polite behavior not to inquire into one another’s business, a reputation for discretion was even more necessary than elsewhere.

“Do you know where to find this cousin?”

“If I did, I would hardly need to hire a private detective to locate him.” Her long fingers plucked anxiously at her furs, a nervous habit which betrayed the distress hidden behind her impassive face. “It is of utmost importance the talisman be recovered by sundown.”

My pencil froze against the paper, and I glanced automatically at the calendar. Any other day, I would at least try to accommodate her. But not today. Not Valentine’s Day.

I’d never remarked the date before, except perhaps to laugh at the fools forced to trudge into shops to pacify their wives and sweethearts. But this year was different.

I was in love.

Threshold #2
Dressed in a fresh suit, I hurried downstairs to the kitchen. Griffin stood in front of the stove, a pan in one hand and cooking oil in the other, regarding the wall with surprise.

Oh dear. I’d forgotten about the rather large scorch mark blackening the plaster.

“Whyborne,” he said, in a deceptively calm voice, “did you leave the gas on too long before lighting the stove?”

I winced. “Er, no.”

“I see.” He put the pan on the stove. “Would you care to tell me what did happen?”

I felt rather like an errant schoolboy caught out by a disapproving headmaster, a sensation I did not care for in the least. “Well, I…that is, while you were gone, I, er…experimented.”

“Experimented.”

“With the spell. The one for fire.”

Griffin turned to me, exasperation clearly written across his face. “I thought we agreed you wouldn’t use that damnable book without discussing it first.”

“You’re being quite unfair,” I objected. “The spell saved our lives, more than once. Besides, it’s only a novice’s magic. It’s not as if I’m raising the dead, or creating monsters, or calling lightning down from the sky. Although, the last one might be useful…” I trailed off at his expression.

“So you waited until I left town, knowing full well I’d disapprove otherwise, and did what? Tried to set the house on fire?”

“Of course not.” I tugged absently at my shirt cuffs, even though they were already perfectly straight. “I simply ran a few tests. I wanted to find out what effects distance might have, and if I could alter the size of the flame produced.”

“I take it the answer was yes,” Griffin said dryly.

“Forgive me—I’ll have the plaster patched soon, I promise.”

Griffin put aside the makings of our breakfast and crossed the room to me. Gripping my shoulders with his hands, he looked earnestly up into my eyes. “I don’t give a fig for the plaster. I understand you can’t help but be curious. Your inquisitive mind is part of what attracted me to you in the first place. But I worry about you.”

His words warmed me. “I appreciate your concern. But truly, I’m careful. Er, mostly.”

A wry grin slipped across his features. “Well, at least you didn’t burn down the house, or set yourself on fire. Just let me supervise the next time.”

“Of course.” I hesitated, but could hardly put it off any longer. “By the way, the newspaper might contain mention of a ‘freak wind’ at the museum last night.”

“A what? Whyborne…”

“Oh, did I hear the postman?” I blurted, before hastily escaping to the porch.

Stormhaven #3
An array of probes lay on the table in front of it, some of whose use was made obvious by their shape. Bile stung my throat, and I glanced at Griffin, whose empty-eyed gaze had locked on the probes.

If he slipped into a fit now, we’d be caught for sure. I had to get him out of here. “Griffin,” I said, low and urgent. “Hang on. We’re almost there. I know you can do this.”

He swallowed convulsively, then nodded. “Yes. Just…lead the way.”

I did so, trying not to think of him locked in one of those cribs or chairs, let alone receiving shocks from the instruments. I wanted to take him far from here, wrap my arms around him, and shield him from every possible harm. But I couldn’t.

I led him further down the ward, wondering how many men might be confined here. Unlike the first floor ward, these walls weren’t painted a cheerful yellow. Instead, strange, swirling lines and symbols covered the raw plaster. I stopped to look at them, certain I’d seen many of the sigils in the Arcanorum and other occult tomes. A symbol hung above every cell, with sigils and lines twisting out from it, both inside the cell and to tangle with its neighbors.

What the devil was Zeiler doing with these men?

Griffin tugged at my hand. There was no time to gawk, I reminded myself. As we hurried down the ward, I shone my lantern into each cell, hoping for a glimpse of Allan. The wretched patients were little more than huddled shapes, for the most part, with the occasional gleam of eyes. The low moaning grew louder, and I realized it came from a cell halfway down the ward. Through some trick of the ventilation, the scent of the sea strengthened as we approached, drowning out the foulness of human effluvia. The air grew heavy and damp, smelling of salt and rot, dead fish and cold, cold mud.

My footsteps turned sluggish, as if mired in sludge. I needed to keep walking…and yet for some reason I felt compelled to look into the cell. Everything seemed to move very slowly, as if I’d slipped into some strange dream.

My feet came to a halt altogether, and I shone the beam of my lantern on the moaning man. The occupant of the cell crouched with his back to me. Unlike the shabbily-clothed patients I’d seen thus far, he seemed to be naked, his vertebrae strung like stones beneath his skin. Tattoos of strange design covered his arms and part of his back. Had he been a sailor, perhaps? Even one of the cultists?

The moaning fell suddenly silent. When the madman spoke, his cracked voice lilted strangely, like a child half-singing the words of a taunt. “You hear its song.”

My breath caught in my throat. “I d-don’t know what you mean,” I lied.

A low laugh started…then spread to the other cells, until we stood in the midst of a whole ward of laughing, cackling, giggling lunatics. “Don’t you?” the sailor asked. “It sings to you as it sings to us. In our dreams.”

“Whyborne,” Griffin said urgently, but he seemed very far away. On the other side of the world, or at the bottom of a well.

I took a step closer to the cell, fascinated by the tattoos on the sailor’s back. Was it a trick of the light, or had they begun to move?

The lunatic sprang to his feet, slamming into the bars, mere inches from my face. “It sings to you!” he screamed, spittle flying everywhere.

No, not spittle—sea foam. Somehow—I didn’t know how—the ocean had risen into Stormhaven, an inch of water splashing beneath my feet, the scent of the murky depths filling my nose. It wasn’t possible—it would take a cataclysm indeed for the ocean to rise so high, and surely the building would have been swept away. But where did the water come from?

What was happening to me?

“It’s coming!” the madman howled, shaking the bars of his cage. “The dweller in the deep is coming! The god is coming, singing; don’t you hear it, don’t you hear it?”

A hand touched my arm.

Carousel #3.4
Whyborne pressed his ear to the carousel horse. “There’s a voice.”

The air seemed to grow colder—or perhaps it was my blood. “A voice?”

“Come listen.”

My feet felt glued to the wooden platform. I lifted them anyway, taking one step and then the next, until I stood by him. The sound could have been anything—the pounding of the sea waves, perhaps, sending a vibration through the machinery and into the carved animals.

I mimicked his position, placing my ear against the wood, so close to him I felt his breath against my face, steaming in the icy air. My impression of the lifelike detail grew—I would have sworn I could feel the roughness of a horse’s hairy coat on my ear. But surely it was only the marks left behind by the chisel.

I closed my eyes, blocking out all distraction. Whispers. A constant, murmuring whisper in what sounded like the voice of a young girl.

I swallowed against my dry throat. “Can you make out the words?” My own words came out as a whisper as well, although who I couldn’t say who I feared might overhear.

“No.”

Perhaps that was kinder. I drew away. “All right, we . . .”

The words in my throat died. When we’d climbed aboard the carousel, the animals had all been facing straight ahead in their courses.

Now every one of them stared directly at us.

Remnant #3.5
Simon stayed up late that night, and rose first the next morning. I, the far heavier sleeper, rolled out of bed as the clocks struck eight, to find toast and kippers turning leathery on the parlour table, and Simon hidden behind a copy of The Times. At least the coffee was hot.

I poured myself a cup, and refreshed Simon’s, then sat down to attend to my meal without speech. I am naturally a talkative soul, but five years of Simon Feximal teach one the art of morning silence. I was halfway through a kipper when, for once, he broke the breakfast quiet, and with an exclamation of some vigour.

“What!” he almost shouted.

“What?” I enquired, reaching for the salt.

“This.” Simon folded the paper and slapped it on the table, heedless of the breakfast things. His dark eyes snapped with fury and he jabbed a finger at a column of tiny print as if enraged. I took it up.

“The passenger manifestos from America?”

“Look at it. Look. The nerve of the devils.”

He shoved his chair back and stalked to the window. I rapidly conned the page. It was simply the usual list of notable passengers who were due to arrive on the steamer from the United States. Marie Lloyd and Little Tich were returning to the London music halls from successful tours. Some Broadway dramatist was coming over to launch his plays on the London stage. Various politicians, bankers, sons of aristocracy and daughters of industry appeared to cross and recross the Atlantic like weavers’ shuttles.

I took a sip of coffee as Simon fumed impatiently, moved my eyes to the next paragraph, and had to swallow hard to prevent myself spitting the mouthful over the paper.

“Ah, you see it,” Simon observed, as I choked.

“I see the name.” I dabbed at my lips with a napkin. “I take it the gentleman referred to is an Endicott of the Cornish Endicotts?” That foul clan was notorious in the strange circles in which we moved.

“Without doubt,” Simon said grimly. “I’d not been aware of an American branch, but I’m not surprised they’ve spread their filth across nations.” He strode over to stand behind me. “And the Whyborne family are known to me, by name at least. They are of the Brotherhood of the Immortal Fire.”

“What is that?”

“A cult. The usual thing. Power and wealth, won by the foulest means.”

That was unwelcome news. I could not stop myself touching the teardrop-shaped scar under my eye, a souvenir from my own encounter with a group of strange worshippers. Simon saw the gesture and dropped a hand to my shoulder. “I will not stand for it, Robert. I will have no foreign cultists and Yankee necromancers in this city.”

Necropolis #4
“Ow,” I said, as Griffin gently applied a warm washcloth to the blood on my knuckles.

We’d returned to our house…although first I’d suffered the humiliation of Father scolding Stanford and I for brawling in front of the servants like a pair of common hoodlums. Although brawling was rather a strong term for it. My blow to Stanford’s jaw felt as if it had broken my hand, and resulted in the both of us standing there in utter shock: myself at the pain, and he at the fact I’d actually struck him. Meanwhile, the servants and Griffin rushed to make certain the candles in the toppled tree didn’t burn down the house.

Father charged in from his study like an enraged bull, bellowing at us both and further compounding Stanford’s surprise. Father always took his side during our childhood, ruffling Stanford’s hair while telling me I needed to toughen up. When Griffin led me out the door a short time later, Stanford still stood in the foyer looking dazed, as if he couldn’t quite comprehend what had just happened.

Now Griffin tenderly took my hand in his and felt the bones. “Nothing seems to be broken,” he pronounced. “Just bruised and bloodied.”

“I’m sorry,” I said as he dipped the washcloth back into the basin. “My family is an utter horror. I shouldn’t have dragged you there with me. I only thought…”

There existed no way to finish the sentence without bringing him pain. “I should have known better,” I finished unhappily. “Nothing good ever came out of that house.”

He put the washbasin aside and sat back on his heels, looking up at me. “Not so.” He rested his hand on my knee, his fingers warm through the cloth of my trousers. “You came out of it, after all. Even if you are trying to turn your mother into a sorceress.”

I didn’t bother to suppress my sigh. I’d known he’d bring up the matter sooner or later. “No need to lecture me. I know how you feel about the Liber Arcanorum and the spells within, and about my use of them. You know as well as I do nothing bad has happened thus far.”

“The wind which blew over the tree. Did you summon it deliberately?”

“It had nothing to do with me,” I protested. “A fluke breeze.”

He didn’t seem convinced. “Quite the fluke.”

“You know I have to draw a sigil to summon wind. Did you see me do so?”

“No,” he admitted reluctantly. “But you didn’t need a sigil at Stormhaven, either.”

Not an incident I wished to recall. “The dweller possesses its own magic. Under its influence, I had use of its power. Which isn’t the case now.”

Bloodline #5
The final man had cornered Griffin against the rail. Griffin must have wounded him—blood dripped freely from a shallow cut on his face. Now wary of the sword cane, he’d snatched up a long cargo hook. Christine couldn’t fire without risk of hitting Griffin, so I started forward, shouting to distract the attacker.

A swipe of the cargo hook caught Griffin’s slim blade, wrenching it from his hand. I ran, arm out flung, as if to put a stop to the inevitable. The man grinned horribly, raising the hook and preparing to impale Griffin on it.

A man’s voice called out, chanting in Aklo. The air around us grew suddenly cold, and frost coalesced on the ruffian’s skin. He let out a startled cry of shock and pain.
In the moment of inattention, Griffin dove for his sword cane. A quick slash across the throat, and our attacker slumped to the deck, his blood steaming where it met the layer of frost that had formed around him.

The chanting ended. Light from a lantern bloomed, blinding after the dimness, and two figures made their way toward us.

“There you chaps are,” exclaimed Theodore Endicott. “We’ve been looking for you, cousin.”

I gaped at him and his companion. “Th-theodore? Fiona? What are you doing here?”

“Saving your friend’s life,” Fiona said. “Now let’s get away from here, in case anyone heard the noise or saw the lights on board. We have a great deal to talk about.”

Hoarfrost #6
“How many to a bed, did you say?” Whyborne asked, sounding a bit faint.

I put an expression of mild concern on my face, although in truth I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Having been to many a frontier town—albeit never one so damnably cold—I’d guessed our accommodations would be a far cry from our hotel in Threshold, let alone Shepheard’s in Cairo. But, as with the scurvy, I’d neglected to mention the details when discussing it with Whyborne.

Not to suggest I’d truly wished to deceive him. Nor had I omitted things because I feared he would otherwise refuse to come. But Christine and I quietly agreed that this way, we would only have to listen to Whyborne’s complaints once we actually arrived, as opposed to the entire trip here.

“Four,” Iskander replied, rather apologetically. We stood in the cramped front room of the hotel, which doubled as a saloon and restaurant. Men sat at rough-hewn tables, and a few of the town’s women circulated among them. The air stank of wet wool, raw lumber, and unwashed bodies.

“Four,” Whyborne repeated.

“The beds aren’t narrow—they’re made extra wide,” Iskander offered. “They aren’t what one would call comfortable, and of course there’s the danger of lice, but they’re quite warm at least.”

Whyborne paled at the mention of lice. The color looked particularly bad when paired with the puce scarf.

“We’ve roughed it before,” I said, patting his arm. “Egypt was hardly a pleasure jaunt. And it is only for one night.”

My reminder didn’t serve to cheer him. “Not that I’ll sleep a moment of it. I don’t mind living rough, but…”

“Don’t you worry,” Jack said. He gave Whyborne a bright grin. “St. Michael might be rough, but it’s no Skagway. None of these fellows will try to rob you in your sleep, I promise.”

Ival’s look of alarm confirmed my guess he hadn’t even considered the possibility until now. “Oh, do stop complaining, Whyborne,” Christine said. “We’re all exhausted, and standing about isn’t going to change things.”

“Easy for you to say,” he muttered. Christine would of course be bunking with the two or three other respectable—or mostly respectable—ladies who had come on the steamer with us. I suspected their small room in the back of the hotel would be far more comfortable than ours, if only because it wouldn’t be packed to the rafters with snoring men.

“Perhaps we should turn in,” Iskander suggested. “An early start and all that.”

“Yes, quite.” Christine looked as if she wished to say something further to him, but felt constrained by our presence. It must have been difficult, having been separated for so long, but unable to touch or speak openly without inviting scandal. At least Whyborne and I could slip away alone without causing comment.

Of course, once they married, Christine and Iskander would be expected to sleep in the same bed, and do so openly. I pressed my thumb against the heavy band on my left hand, the gold warm from the heat of my body. There was no reason to resent Christine; it was hardly her fault, and she’d been nothing if not staunchly loyal.

Still, it meant this trip would probably include an extended interlude of celibacy, unless we were exceedingly quick and discreet about things. Another fact I hadn’t mentioned to Whyborne.

Maelstrom #7
Chapter 1
Whyborne
I stood amidst the press of bodies at the Nathaniel R. Ladysmith museum, desperately wishing I were elsewhere. Preferably back in Alaska; although I’d despised the cold climate, at the moment the memory seemed heavenly compared to the stuffy heat of the crowded grand foyer. Sweat crept down my back beneath my layers of clothing, and I longed to slip outside and remove my gloves. In previous years, I might have at least escaped to one of the open windows in hopes of catching a bit of a breeze.

Unfortunately, the days of my anonymity were over. Almost as soon as I arrived this evening, Dr. Hart and the museum’s president Mr. Mathison cornered me. We’d soon been joined by the head librarian, Mr. Quinn, whom I couldn’t remember ever seeing outside of the Ladysmith’s library before, let alone in formal wear.

The gathering tonight celebrated a rather large donation of rare books to the museum’s library. Although my philological expertise tended to the deciphering of more ancient languages, the source of the donation made it of more than usual interest to me.

Two years ago, my husband Griffin and I had traveled to Egypt to assist our dear friend Dr. Christine Putnam. Christine’s sister, Grafin Daphne de Wisborg, had joined us, ostensibly in mourning for her dead husband.

In reality, Daphne had used the books in the late graf’s library to find a way to communicate with the spirit of Nitocris, Queen of the Ghūls, lurking Outside our ordinary world and awaiting her chance to come back. Daphne, possessed by Nitocris, then murdered her husband and came to Egypt with the intent of turning the world into a wasteland of the dead for her ghūls to rule over. My left shoulder still bore the scar of the bite she’d inflicted with her jackal teeth, as we fought for our lives in the Egyptian desert. As for Christine, losing her only sister in such a terrible fashion…well, she didn’t speak of the incident, but it couldn’t have been easy.

The letter from the current Graf de Wisborg had taken Christine by surprise; that much I did know. The young graf had found himself in possession of a crumbling castle he had little interest in maintaining, and an extensive library he cared for even less. Daphne’s connection with Christine, and thus the museum, had inspired him—and if his generous donation came with the chance to travel and meet rich American heiresses, so much the better.

I’d come tonight not only to please the museum director, but to offer my support to Christine. Her nerves were already stretched thin from the stress of planning her upcoming wedding; this had certainly done them no good. Unfortunately, I could think of no way to politely extricate myself from the director and president.

“This is quite the triumph, don’t you think, Mr. Quinn?” asked Dr. Hart. His balding head shone with sweat, and his face flushed red with the heat.

“Indeed.” White tie and tails somehow failed to make Mr. Quinn look any less like an undertaker. His silvery eyes went to Dr. Hart, then to me. He then proceeded to stare at me without blinking. “I suspect we’ll find many tomes of great value within. Perhaps Dr. Whyborne would care to assist when we open the crates.”

His suggestion caught me off guard; cataloging new arrivals wasn’t remotely one of my duties. Still, it would give me an excuse to look for the truly dangerous tomes and suggest they be kept under lock and key, before they had a chance to find their way onto the general shelves. “Of course, Mr. Quinn. I’d be glad to assist.”

Dr. Hart rubbed his hands together with glee. “The Wisborg Collection will finally wipe the smirk off the faces of those fellows from Miskatonic. Their paltry library will be nothing compared to ours!”

“Now, now,” Mr. Mathison said with a good-natured smile. “Let’s not forget Miskatonic University is Dr. Whyborne’s alma mater.”

“Dr. Whyborne belongs to Widdershins,” Mr. Quinn said, giving Mathison a rather poisonous glare. “His allegiance, I should say. To the museum.”

“Er, yes.” I cast about for some means of escape. Once again the elite of Widdershins crowded the Ladysmith’s grand foyer, nibbling on canapés beneath the looming hadrosaur skeleton, exclaiming over the carefully curated displays from Nephren-ka’s tomb, and silently judging one another’s clothing, demeanor, and heritage. “I say, has anyone seen Dr. Putnam recently?”

“Last I saw, she was speaking with the graf,” Mathison said, taking a flute of chilled champagne from a passing waiter. I snagged a flute of my own.

“No, no, the graf is being set upon by every heiress in the place,” Dr. Hart replied. “The ones with enough money to desire a title to accompany their fortune, that is.”

“He looks like Orpheus stalked by the maenads,” Mr. Quinn observed wistfully.

I edged away from him—but I also took a quick look about to make certain the graf wasn’t actually being torn apart. I assumed as much from the lack of screams, but…well, the former Graf de Wisborg had been killed and eaten by his own wife.

I didn’t see the new graf, but I finally spotted Christine near the Nephren-ka relics. Iskander stood beside her, in earnest conversation with my father.

My heart sank. God only knew what Father might be saying to them. To suggest I’d been shocked when Father offered Whyborne House as the venue for Christine’s wedding would be an understatement. Obviously he must have some sort of ulterior motive, but what he had in mind hadn’t yet become clear. Most likely he thought doing favors for my friends would convince me to abandon my career, return to the fold, and take up my position as the heir of Whyborne Railroad and Industries. It was, I suspected, the same reason Father settled a large amount of stock on Griffin for his birthday last month.

“Excuse me—I need to speak to Dr. Putnam.” I hurried away without waiting for an answer. As I wove through the crowd, I caught sight of my friend Dr. Gerritson and his wife. Unfortunately, they appeared to have been cornered by Mr. Durfree and Mr. Farr, a pair of art curators known for their passionate disagreements on anything and everything. I hurriedly ducked behind a gaggle of heiresses to avoid being drawn in.

My champagne had grown warm in the stifling heat. A whisper of magic chilled the glass, frost forming briefly on the outside of the flute before melting. I lifted it to my lips and was promptly jostled from behind. Champagne splashed across my chin and down the front of my shirt.

“Oh, sorry Percy, didn’t see you there,” drawled Bradley Osborne. He didn’t sound sorry at all.

I took out my handkerchief and began to dab ineffectively at my now-wet clothing. “Quite all right, Bradley,” I gritted out between clenched teeth. “Accidents do happen.” Not that I imagined for an instant this had been an accident.

Bradley observed my efforts at drying myself with a smug smile. “You really ought to watch where you’re going. Been drinking a bit more champagne than good for you, eh?”

The old familiar anger ached in my chest. I straightened my spine, which forced Bradley to look up at me. “Actually, I’ve been speaking with Mr. Mathison and Dr. Hart.”

His jovial mask slipped—just for an instant, but enough to let me know I’d struck home. Bradley had spent his years in Widdershins trying to claw his way higher into society. When we’d first met, he’d held me in contempt, for…well, for all sorts of reasons, but not taking advantage of the class I’d been born into was certainly one of them.

Bradley’s right hand tightened around his champagne flute; his left he tucked at the small of his back, perhaps to conceal a fist. Then he relaxed and put on a false smile. “I’m sure they found your father’s money and name—I mean, your conversation—most fascinating.”

I forced my expression to remain neutral, even as I seethed within. It wasn’t just Father’s money that had brought me to the attention of the museum’s board and president. Most of the blame lay with my wretched brother Stanford, who’d held Widdershins’s upper crust hostage in this very foyer, forcing me to save them.

“Among other things,” I replied coolly.

“Ah, yes, other things.” He continued to smile, but his eyes were cold and dead as knives. “By the way, how is Mr. Flaherty?”

“I’m quite well,” Griffin said from just behind Bradley. “Thank you for your concern, Dr. Osborne.”

I felt a thrill of savage satisfaction when Bradley started in surprise. Griffin stepped to my side, his green eyes fixed on Bradley and a smile no more genuine than Bradley’s on his lips. The man I called husband always cut a handsome figure, but the tailcoat and white tie suited him very well indeed. His chestnut hair, worn longer than strictly fashionable, curled around his collar.

Unfortunately, Bradley recovered quickly enough. “I’m glad to hear it, Mr. Flaherty,” he said even as his lip drew into a sneer. “After all, if I recall correctly, you were shot right over there. I take it the wound no longer troubles you?”

Goosebumps prickled on my arms despite the heat, and I felt as though the marble floor had shifted beneath me. The night Stanford had taken the museum staff and donors hostage, he’d also tried to kill me.

But first he’d shot Griffin, with the clear intention of hurting me. After first calling me a sodomite.

The implication had been obvious enough. But Stanford was a madman who had tried to murder the most powerful people in Widdershins. Polite society put his insults and actions down to lunatic ravings.

Whether anyone really believed that or no…well, Griffin had quietly received an invitation to various museum functions, including this one, with no real explanation as to why. If pressed, no doubt it would be pointed out he’d tried to save everyone at the Hallowe’en tour and been gallantly wounded in their defense. Surely that was worth a few invitations to exclusive events?

And perhaps it was the real explanation. I honestly didn’t know and certainly would never ask. But I had no doubts as to Bradley’s opinion.

Would he try to use it against us? He hadn’t so far, but that didn’t mean the day wouldn’t come when we’d find police knocking on our door. Or my name in some headline from a tawdry New York paper, as no reporter in Massachusetts would dare risk Father’s wrath.

My hand tightened on the champagne flute, the scars beneath my white glove pulling tight. The great arcane maelstrom that underlay Widdershins turned beneath my feet. A breeze ruffled through the gathering, bearing on it the scent of the nearby ocean.

“As I said, I’m quite fine,” Griffin replied. “Come, Whyborne—you need to dry your shirt.”

He touched my elbow. The breeze died away, and my sense of the maelstrom receded to the back of my mind, in the same place that kept track of my heart beating and my lungs breathing.

“Yes,” I said, and let him steer me away.

Fallow #8
Chapter 1
Widdershins always knows its own.

Welcome home.

The wind strengthened from over the ocean, coiling around the slender figure standing atop a craggy rock. She might have been some barbaric sea goddess, dressed in nothing but golden jewelry and a skirt of knotted seaweed. Dark swirls marked her pearlescent skin like war paint, and the stinging tendrils of her hair writhed as the autumnal breeze grew into a gale.

I kept a grip on my hat to prevent it from flying off. Even though I stood well back from the water in an attempt to preserve my suit, dampness flecked my exposed skin. I licked my lips and tasted salt.

The wind died away, just as quickly as it had arisen. My twin sister let her arms fall and turned to me, mouth splitting into a grin and revealing rows of shark’s teeth. “I told you I’ve been practicing.”

I crossed the strand to her, my shoes sinking into the moist sand. “Well done,” I said as she climbed down from the rock. “You’re as good as I am at drawing power from the maelstrom now.” Which was only natural, I supposed, given our relationship to the magical vortex lying beneath Widdershins.

“Better,” she countered. Her tentacle hair flicked out in a sudden blur and sent my hat flying from my head.

“Persephone!” I snatched it up, brushing sand off the brim. “This is serious. Not a time for-for childish pranks. We’re preparing for war, in case you’ve forgotten.”

Two months ago, the Fideles cult had used the power of the maelstrom to send a sorcerous beacon through the veil separating our world and the Outside. They meant to summon back the ancient masters who had ruled the earth thousands of years ago, who had created the ketoi and the umbrae, and twisted the arcane lines to form the maelstrom.

We’d failed to stop them from sending the signal and beginning what they called the Restoration. Eventually the inhuman masters would return, and if we failed a second time…

It didn’t bear contemplating. The ketoi and umbrae would either be killed or enslaved, and I doubted humanity would fare much better.

“It doesn’t mean we can never laugh again,” Griffin said as he approached, the light of his lantern gleaming off Persephone’s sleek skin.

I folded my arms over my chest. “I didn’t say that,” I replied, trying to conceal my annoyance. Judging from the look on his face, I failed.

Griffin didn’t understand. How could he? He didn’t know the truth about the maelstrom.

About me.

Oh, he thought he did. He’d seen…something…during our battle against the Fideles cult in July. And of course he already knew about my ketoi blood.

But I couldn’t tell him worst of it, the thing I’d realized when I briefly touched the consciousness of the maelstrom. The vortex beneath Widdershins wasn’t just a feature of the landscape, like a river or mountain. It was magic, and alive in a way I didn’t entirely understand. It wanted things and acted to get them.

Chiefly, it wanted not to be used by the masters upon their return. And Persephone and I were the keys to its plan, its attempt to touch and understand the world, to give it hands and eyes and hearts to work its will.

In the end, my sister and I were the ones responsible for preventing the return of the masters. The sheer weight of our obligation threatened to overwhelm me at times. I’d spent every waking moment searching for any way to halt the Restoration and the return of the masters.

“Did you see?” Persephone asked Griffin.

“I did.” He meant it literally—Griffin had returned from our Alaskan expedition with shadowsight, the ability to perceive magic. “You burned like a candle when you pulled on the maelstrom. Just as your brother does.”

Persephone grinned happily. I tightened my arms across my chest and hunched my shoulders forward slightly. I was used to being the only one Griffin described in such a way, and I wasn’t certain I cared to share it, even with my sister.

He looked handsome tonight—well, he always did, but his new suit from Dryden & Sons complimented his figure nicely. The rust-colored vest in particular brought out the brown threads in his green eyes and the russet in his hair.

“What did the spell look like?” Persephone asked. She crouched on the sand, the fins on her arms jutting out awkwardly.

Griffin’s eyes went slightly unfocused as he considered. “The glare from the arcane line running under the beach can make it hard to see,” he said. “But it was as though you took a needle and thread, and punched them through the fabric of the world. Then you drew the cloth together, and the wind came.”

Persephone frowned, an expression far less ferocious than her smile. “We don’t sew cloth beneath the sea,” she reminded him.

“Of course.” He grimaced. “It wasn’t the most accurate description anyway. Think of it as weaving a net, then, to catch the wind.”

I drew out my pocket watch and was startled at the time. “We should leave. I have work in the morning, after all.”

Persephone perked up slightly. “You will see Maggie there?”

“Of course. Miss Parkhurst is my secretary.” They’d met during the awfulness in July and struck up something of a friendship.

Persephone detached a pouch at her waist. “Will you take this to her?” she asked, passing it to me without opening it.

Even through the knotted seaweed, I could sense its faint call. “A summoning stone?” I asked blankly. “What on earth for? I can’t imagine any reason Miss Parkhurst would need to summon ketoi—”

“One never knows,” Griffin interrupted. “Before we go, may I ask the two of you to try something?”

“Yes!” Persephone said hastily, rising to her feet.

I looked pointedly at my watch again, but they both ignored me. Griffin gestured in the direction of the rock, where Persephone had cast her spell. “Have you tried working a spell in tandem?”

“No,” I replied slowly. “Why?”

“What would happen? Would it be more powerful, or…?”

I hadn’t the slightest idea. My damnable cousins, Theo and Fiona Endicott, had performed sorcery together to raise a tidal wave in an attempt to destroy Widdershins, so I knew it was at least theoretically possible.

“Let’s try!” Persephone said eagerly.

“All right, but I’m not climbing on that boulder,” I said. “I haven’t the shoes for it.”

She looked disappointed, but followed me a bit further up the beach. The slow pulse of magic through the veins of the earth throbbed against the soles of my feet. “Here. We’re still on the arcane line, so it will be easy for us to draw on the maelstrom.”

“What should we do?”

I had only the vaguest idea. “Cast the spell at the same time, I suppose.”

“Would touching help?” Griffin asked. He stood a short distance back. He’d once touched me while I pulled arcane power from the lines, an experience neither of us wanted to repeat. Its effects hadn’t been permanent, but it had hurt him at the time, bursting capillaries in his eyes and sending him reeling into unconsciousness.

Human bodies weren’t meant to touch such power directly. But the maelstrom had spent years changing probabilities, nudging the odds this way and that, until Persephone and I were born. Sorcerers of ketoi blood, who could channel the magic directly without harm.

Persephone took my hand. Her skin was cool and slick against mine, the points of her claws pressing lightly as our fingers twined together.

“We’ll summon the wind again,” I said. “On three.”

She nodded, her expression determined. “One,” she said.

I took a deep breath, centering myself. The world seemed to still around me.

“Two.”

My awareness of the power beneath our feet sharpened.

“Three.”

I reached for the magic, shaping it with my will. Arcane energy surged through our bodies, and the scars on my right arm burned. I felt my sister beside me, her breathing and heartbeat matching mine.

We touched the world, and the world responded.

Wind roared in from the open ocean, a wall of force that knocked me to the ground. An instant later, the ocean answered the sky with a roar of its own. A massive wave rushed into the cove, bursting over the strand and nearly reaching the cliff. It surged around me, the greedy, cold water seeking to drag me into the sea.

I let out a surprised shout, clawing at sand that washed away beneath my fingers as quickly as I could grasp it. Then the wave receded, leaving me soaked to the bone and covered in seaweed, my shoes filled with sand.

I rose to my feet and wiped ineffectually at my suit. My hat was gone, probably blown all the way to Boston on the wind we’d summoned. A fish flopped on the beach beside me. Persephone picked it up and tossed it back into the surf.

“Well,” I said, turning to Griffin. “That was…oh.”

He stood dripping wet from head to toe, his new suit soaked in seawater. A strand of seaweed clung to his hair, and his hat had joined mine somewhere a few counties over.

“Yes,” he said, plucking sadly at his ruined vest. “It certainly was.”

~ * ~

“I’m so sorry,” I said yet again as Griffin unlocked the door to our home.

Our journey from the beach had been uncomfortable. It was impossible to remove all the sand from our shoes and clothes. Salt stiffened our suits and crusted our skin. Once back in Widdershins proper, we’d attempted to hire a cab, but the driver had taken one look at our sodden state and left us on the curb. For the first time, I found myself regretting the destruction of Griffin’s motor car.

“Stop apologizing,” Griffin said, holding the door open for me. Once inside, he locked it again, then began to peel off his coat. “It isn’t as though you knew what would happen.”

“What did happen?” I asked. “From your point of view, I mean.”

Griffin bit his lip, his eyes going thoughtful. “It isn’t easy to describe. Your spells…resonated? Overlay each other? I wonder if perhaps the spells the Endicotts and other sorcerers do together are handled in a different fashion. Each one contributing a piece to a more complex whole.”

That made sense. “Judging from what I’ve read in the Arcanorum and other magical texts, you’re probably right.”

“Could you and Persephone learn to perform spells like that?”

“Of course,” I said, more sharply than I intended.

“I don’t mean to cast aspersions on your abilities, my dear.” Griffin offered me a smile as he unbuttoned his salt-stained vest. “But from what little I know of the matter, you and Persephone aren’t quite the same as other sorcerers. You learn spells, yes, but they’re something of a crutch that you can discard after a while. When was the last time you had to draw a sigil to summon wind, or chant to make frost appear?”

“It’s only a matter of will for everyone,” I insisted. Griffin didn’t look as if he believed me.

I didn’t believe myself. But the conversation was getting too close to things I didn’t want to discuss with anyone except Persephone.

It wasn’t that I wished to keep secrets from the man I called husband. But if he knew the terrible truth I’d learned in July, when I touched the maelstrom and perceived the world as it did…

He’d be furious, and rightfully so.

“I am sorry about the suit,” I said, hoping to distract him. “It was brand new, and it looked so fine on you.”

By unspoken consent, we’d remained in the hallway to remove our ruined clothing. No sense scattering sand and dripping water through the house. He peeled off his trousers and stood clad only in his drawers. His eyes followed my movements as I did the same. “You appreciated how it looked, did you?” he asked, and I recognized the low note in his voice.

“Very much so.” I stepped closer, and he rested his hands on my hips, just above the edge of my drawers. His fingers felt chilled against my skin.

A slow smile curled his lips. “In that case, it’s a shame to have lost it so soon.” His grip on me tightened. “You’ll have to make it up to me, I think.”

“However shall I do that?” I murmured.

“You can start on your knees.”

Author Bio:
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in the wilds of North Carolina, where she was raised on stories of haints and mountain magic by her bootlegging granny and single mother. After using a silver knife in the light of a full moon to summon her true love, she turned her talents to spinning tales. She weaves together couples who need to fall in love, then throws in some evil sorcerers and undead just to make sure they want it bad enough. In Jordan’s world, love might conquer all, but it just as easily could end up in the grave.

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K.J. Charles(Co-Author Remnant)
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Widdershins #1

Eidolin #1.5

Threshold #2

Stormhaven #3

Carousel #3.4
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Another Place in Time Anthology
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Remnant #3.5

Necropolis #4

Bloodline #5
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Harmony #5.5(Christmas Short Story)
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Hoarfrost #6
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Maelstrom #7
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Fallow #8
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Whyborne & Griffin #1-3
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Whyborne & Griffin #4-6
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