Now that I'm at loose ends having finished the project, what comes next? Well, while I wait for the edits from my editor, I move on to the next project. And while I'm in Paranormal mode I'm going to write the 2nd book of my Superstition Series. Deep Within The Stone. I have a rough mock up of a cover but I'll post the finished one as soon as it's available. And I'm nearly at the 10,000 word mark already. Since I'm so far along I thought I'd post the beginning to give you just a little taste.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Coldness permeated Finlay MacLeod’s body, bone-deep and damp. A small finger of reflective light crept across the floor from above. The sun was going down and the chill would grow worse. He had been held in the oubliette for two days with only a heel of bread dropped down into the narrow cell from above. It wasn’t the hunger gnawing at his belly that preyed on his mind, but the thirst and the cold. He could no longer control his chattering teeth. He winced at the pain as he clenched his teeth in an instinctive desire to quell them. The side of his face hurt where Clach had struck him. The fool had almost broken his jaw. His chin, cheekbone, and temple ached and his eye was swollen to a slit. His head pounded relentlessly making him queasy. Had he had anything in his stomach he would have bocked.
He twisted against the ropes binding his arms to his sides, but only managed to further chaff the skin. The inside of his elbows was raw and painful, his ribs bruised. Surely his cousin Ian Ciar MacLeod wouldn’t leave him here to freeze to death and die a slow lingering death of starvation and thirst.
A shudder of cold and pain shook him. His cousin was not known for his warmth and generosity. Ian Ciar could be brutal, his moods mercurial. He understood he was upset with him. But all this over a woman?
Granted she was the Druid’s daughter, but no more valuable than any other lass.
Perhaps if he truly believed that, he would not feel an icy finger of fear blowing up his spine.
The old draoidh seemed to know things others in the clan should, but did not. Ian Ciar depended on the Druid to alert him to troubles long before they struck. Morning prayers were reserved for the castle priest. He was not sure what the Druid, Cinead MacLeod worshiped, but everyone had a healthy fear and respect for the draoidh.
Finlay shook his head and nearly groaned aloud when his jaw and temple throbbed like a punched bruise. He shut his eyes and rested his head back against the hard stone wall.
Why had he gotten it into his mind to seduce Isabel? She had been too innocent to be interesting. But so ripe for the picking. And once picked, so desperate to please. He had lost interest about the time she had come to him with the news she was with child. And now, ‘twas he who was paying for the deed, when she had been just as eager as he.
His resentment died as quickly as it had risen. He did not wish Isabel to be beaten. Surely her father would not go so far as that. He would not see her punished and possibly have the bairn harmed.
She was a sweet lass and deserved better than he was capable of giving her, or any other woman. It was not in his nature to remain faithful and even if it were, that alone would not make him a good guidesman. The fact he had no property of his own, no way to provide for a family and lived largely off what he could earn with his fists and his sword created an obvious impediment to his making the lass happy.
They were both in a sorry state.
At the sound of the bolt above being thrown, Finn cracked his one good eye. The iron grate screeched as Clach swung it aside. Finn’s movements were ginger as he tilted his head back and gazed up at the two men standing at the mouth of the small cell.
Isabelle’s father glared down at him with disgust. Though the man dressed in brays and a rough shirt, just as the rest of them, there was nothing common about him. He looked down his long nose with the arrogance of a king. The cold hard glow in his dark eyes promised retribution, the sharp chiseled bones of his face carved from stone. His gray beard hung against his chest, iron gray and coarse. “You have disgraced my daughter and broken trust with your own people. ‘Tis not only m’child you have preyed upon. There are others who have come forward. You will face them now.”
He motioned toward Clach and the huge man bent to pick up a short ladder and lowered it into the pit.
Finn eyed the two men warily. They’d probably beat him again once he was out of the oubliette, but at least he would be free of this hellish, small dungeon. He braced his back against the wall and shoved against it to slide upward to his feet. The ground seemed to sway beneath him as he approached the ladder and clumsily gripped the rungs with hands he could raise only waist high. He paused there for a moment waiting for the motion to cease. He had to lean into the ladder and search for each rung with his feet to ascend. Weakness dragged at his legs and he had to rest between each step.
Clach gripped his shirt as soon as he was within reach and dragged him onto stable ground then dropped him like a sack of oats.
Finn grunted in pain and his vision went gray as the pain in his head and jaw soared. It hurt to breathe. He lay still a moment willing the pain to subside a wee bit. Perhaps his ribs were more than just bruised. He rolled to his knees and attempted to climb to his feet. With his hands tied at his waist and the room spinning with every move it was difficult, but he managed to get his feet beneath him. He swayed unsteadily and staggered back against one of the close, cold walls. The vision in his right eye blurred then dimmed and his stomach rolled.
He’d been beaten before and the pain had been bad, but there was something wrong here. “If you mean to kill me, you may only need to wait a wee time. Clach has done his job well.” His words sounded slurred and the only thing keeping him on his feet was the wall at his back. He closed his eyes as the room pitched.
Was he facing his death? No fear rushed out to embrace him. Death seemed so foreign, so distant, and he was focusing too fiercely on staying on his feet for the emotion to take hold.
Clach cut his bindings and tossed the rope aside. He gripped Finn's arm, slung it over his shoulder and half carried, half dragged him to the stairs and up. Every step jarred his ribs and jaw. His eyes watered from the pain and he swallowed back more than a few groans while he put pressure on his ribs hoping to hold them in place. Once they reached the landing, he gulped in a breath of relief that was more like a sob.
The castle’s great room smelled of burning wood and roasting meat overwhelming Finn and he gagged. As soon as Clach released him he fell to his knees and he curled into a knot. The painful throbbing inside his head grew worse with each heave. He collapsed on the floor and lay on his side.
“He is dying.” Clach’s deep murmur reached him.
“Nay. Not yet. Not until he has paid.”
“If he dies, is that not payment enough?
“Nay, ‘twill never be payment enough. He shamed my daughter. She was meant for better than he.”
“And better than me as well?” Clach asked.
Finn lay still, grateful the two had forgotten him.
Clach wanted Isabelle? Had he known, he would have never touched her.
He had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Clach, defending the clan. But he had never noticed his interest in Isabella. Why had he not seen it?
And what difference did it make now? It was too late. He could not change his actions any more than he could change the consequences of them.
“You shall have her after the bairn is born, if that be yer wish. She will be grateful to have ye after the likes of him.” Cinead motion toward Finn.
Through the slit of his one good eye Finn recognized the man’s thirst for revenge. It was not his daughter’s honor he was defending, but his own.
What punishment had Cinead heaped upon the girl? He wanted to turn and search the large tables for Isabelle and reassure himself she had not been harmed, but to move would stir the pain once more into a maelstrom and draw the devil bastard’s attention. And at the moment he did not feel strong enough to survive even the man’s harsh words. Despite the huge fires that burnt at each end of the room, he felt cold. The vision in his one eye was growing fuzzy and he could not discern the faces of those few sitting even a short distance away.
The room was strangely still and quiet, the only sound the popping of the fire as it consumed the huge logs.
Would Clach stand between the old Druid and his daughter to protect Isabelle? He would appeal to him to do so because Finn knew he would not live much longer. The pain in his head was growing worse. It throbbed relentlessly behind his eyes, against his ears as though it were a thing alive trying to push its way free of his skull.
“Raise him so his accusers may look him in the face,” Cinead demanded.
Clach stepped over his body and bent to grip him under the arms. He raised him into a sitting position.
Finn couldn’t bite back the groan of pain, as an ax seemed to split his forehead above his eye. Had Clach not been holding him up Finn could not have been able to remain sitting. He snagged Clach’s sleeve between his fingers. “Dinna let him hurt Isabelle or the bairn.”
“Nay he winna do so.” Clach said just above a whisper.
Clach would protect them. Finn leaned his head back against the man’s knee and his lids dropped.
“Open yer eyes, Finn MacLeod.”
It took all his effort to do so. He could see nothing. Everything was black.
“Ye have shamed many women of this clan and deserve a harsh punishment.”
One blow and the pain would be gone. Clach would strike it and it would be over.
“What say you, Finn MacLeod?”
“I didna take m’ pleasure without givin’ as well as I received, Cinead MacLeod. Can ye say as much?”
He could not see the man, but the punch came striking his jaw. A sword of pain lanced into his brain. Blackness closed in around him and awareness fell away.
Seconds later it seemed he was awakened by something cold being poured over his face all at once. He choked as he breathed in some of the water and rolled face down as he hacked and coughed. His body was one huge ache as he gasped for air and finally drew air into his starving lungs.
His face felt strangely numb.
“Open your eyes, Finn.”
Cinead’s commanding voice did not impress him. “Leave me be, Druid.”
“You will face the women you have spoiled.”
A booted toe hit his ribs and he could not breathe again. He coughed and he tasted blood.
Clach once again tried to intercede. “Look about you, Cinead. What do the people’s faces tell you? What does your daughter’s face tell you?”
“That they are weak willed and foolish to have sympathy for the very man who has shamed them.”
His head was beginning to thunder again but the vision in his one eye had cleared enough for him to see the hatred in Cinead MacLeod’s expression. If he could provoke him, would it end this? He gulped enough air to speak. “‘Tis you who have shamed them, Druid. I have never spoken of any lass I have been with. Who has born witness against any of the lasses here? Or have you frightened them all into saying they have been with me?” Finn coughed again and spat blood. “No matter what you do to me, ‘tis you they will hate for this. Their kin will hate you as well.”
“Then I will give them something more than hatred to think about.” He thrust out his hands toward Finn
“Your heart has hardened to stone,
And for that you shall remain alone,
Trapped in your own hardened shell,
Until you learn to tell,
Respect and affection, from lust,
Or until you crumble into dust.
No sunlight will you feel,
Only at night will the monster in you steal
Sustenance for you to remain
The monster you became.
The wind looped around him and like a large hand picked him up and set him on his feet. He hunched forward against the pain.
A violent rush of panicked movement came from the large tables and benches in the great room as the clansmen and women scrambled to get away from the hot air that whipped around the chamber knocking over tankards and whipping their clothing close to their bodies.
Finn’s head felt too heavy to hold aloft and it fell back. He cried out in agony as a piercing cold raced from his fingertips and toes upward consuming his arms and legs, burrowing into his torso. The leaden weight of his limbs dragged at him, threatening to tear them from their sockets.
He screamed as a thousand knives seemed to pierce his body. His shoulder blades ripped from his back and bowed outward growing into more. The weight of the projections dragged against his skin, against his bones, until he thought his back might snap in two. He fell to one knee, the sound that thrust from his throat more an animal growl than a scream. Power raged through his body, stiffening his limbs until they solidified into a crouched position. He caught one last breath and howled a curse upon the Druid his voice like crushed stone. “Revenge is a double-edged sword, draoidh. You will pay as steep a price as I. You will know every loss I do and more.”
Finn’s lungs seized, everything turned gray and he knew nothing more.
My first novella in the Magic and Mayhem Kindle World is Have Wand, Will Travel.
A soul-sucking wand, a witch, a vampire and a hellhound. ‘Nuff said.
Private detective and gifted witch Zaira O’Shea has built her reputation on her ability to always find her relic, magical device, or man. When the Witches’ Council hires her to find and return a stolen wand, she can’t refuse, and she’s eager to recover the device. Until the clues lead her to a vampire with fallen-angel good looks, and talents that don’t require a bite to lead her into temptation.
History professor and vampire Christophe Bakas has brushed off his cat burglar skills to steal a powerful wand for the Vampire Council, but only because they are holding his uncle hostage. When he meets Zaira, he hopes he’s found someone who’ll help with the rescue. But from their first teleportation he’s hooked on more than her flying skills.
The more they learn about the wand, the more Chris and Zaira believe neither council can be trusted with the dangerous device. With both councils closing in, they’re forced to go on the run. Only the vacationing Baba Yaga can make sure the wand isn’t used to destroy the careful balance between witch and vampire kind. If they can find her.
Assjacket, West Virginia here they come.
Other Paranormal books by Teresa Reasor
Deep Within The Shadows $.99
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1H21xKN
Whisper In My Ear
B & N: http://bit.ly/1C9fAy4
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1DYityV
B &N http://bit.ly/MIUgIa
Google play: http://bit.ly/1DfB2AE
An Automated Death $.99
B& N: http://bit.ly/1okCCqi