Coming soon…

Want to help me create some buzz???
Follow me on Instagram at “MJTACKLESLIFE” and subscribe here. Once you have done both, send me a message on Instagram and I will send you the first 10 chapters of my Novel “The Half-Breed” to preview.
All previewers will be entered for a chance to win a free, signed hardback copy of my book!


What started as a relaxing camping trip quickly took Dakota Pyne’s world for a spin, leaving her with heavy doubts of who she was. She finds herself being hunted as she’s thrust into the journey of discover, unraveling the mysteries of her past, learning of her destiny, realizing that nothing was ever as it seemed and yet exactly as it should be.

After that night, Dakota knew life wouldn’t be the same, that her path would forever be altered. But no amount of preparing could have readied her for what was coming.

Other worlds, dimensions, portals, vampires, and other creatures of the night… they were never folklore, never simple bedtime stories. They were the tales of the past, of the real world, told to her so that if she was ever discovered, she would be ready to accept the truth.

She’s a Half-Breed.

Want to help me create some buzz???

Follow me on Instagram at “MJTACKLESLIFE” and subscribe here. Once you have done both, send me a message on Instagram and I will send you the first 10 chapters of my Novel “The Half-Breed” to preview.

All previewers will be entered for a chance to win a free, signed hardback copy of my book!

Chapter 13 – THE BOOK – Dakota

DAKOTA

I think I sat there for about an hour, at least, on the ground, surrounded by a ton of flowers that had decided to come and visit me, while I absentmindedly pet Rex. The little boy inside needed me. I could feel it, and I wasn’t sure how I could feel it. The same way I could feel it with everyone else lately. Everyone I came across, I could feel pain. I could feel their need for love and affection, for healing. It was just too much, too many people. Even that James guy needed me, although he seemed to want to protect me more than anything. I hated that my powers were coming in. I felt like I was in puberty all over again. It took everything in me to not freak out. Like the other night when I wanted some candy and Sage had the audacity to tell me I needed to stay fit. Then the house shook. I knew that had been me. And I’m pretty sure it was the earth shaking, not the house.

I felt James close, still watching over me. I needed a friend right now. I needed him to not be so distant with me. I swallowed hard. “James?” Silence ensued. I closed my eyes and pulled Rex closer to me. He went willingly. “James, please. I just… I need someone to talk to.” I sat like that for a few minutes before I felt a drop on my head, then a tear fall down my cheek. That was when he came to me. Still unkempt and aloof, but far more open than he had ever been before.

Still clad in pretty basic clothing, he came to sit beside me. He was within arm’s length but wouldn’t get much closer. I turned to him and smiled. “Thanks.”

To my surprise, he smiled back. “No problem.”

We sat like that for a while, in silence while Rex slowly fell asleep. When he did, he turned into a little boy. A handsome little boy with brown hair and golden skin. “I didn’t know that Zeos changed when they sleep.”

“They only change from the shape they’re in if they feel comfortable. If we fall asleep in our animal form, when we don’t feel comfortable or safe, we’ll stay that way.”

“So he trusts me?” I turned to James and beamed at the idea. This little guy, this boy who was so terrified that he hadn’t changed since his father’s death, had finally felt comfortable enough with me that his body allowed him to change. “That’s the most amazing thing I think I’ve ever done.”

James gave a strained chuckle. “See, you can do more than just make grass grow.”

It brought me back to the reality of it all. “I haven’t told Sage this yet, but…” he sat there waiting for me, knowing I would say it when I was ready but not seeming to be in a hurry to hear it. I didn’t know if it was because he didn’t want to know or he was afraid of the outcome. “I can feel things. From the people I meet.”

“What is it you’re feeling?”

I shrugged and looked away. “It’s like a part of me is able to see what they need, or feel it. I know when someone is hurting inside and, to be honest, it scares the shit out of me. I know my powers are growing. I can feel them. But I don’t know what it means, what I’m supposed to do with it.”

“I can’t help you with that part, Dakota. What I will tell you is that, from what I have witnessed, helping people will become a compulsion for you. You’ll crave it.” James gently wiped the tear away and turned my head towards him.

“You need me, too, James. I can feel your pain.”

He smiled solemnly. “I know and I’m sorry for that.“ He took a deep breath and looked towards the path that lead to the house. “Your abilities are gonna be more than any other Guardian in history, Dakota. I know that for a fact, which is why it’s so important for you to hone them now. Those men, they want you. They’re not gonna stop until they have you, either. So, even though it’s scary, and the path seems too hard and unforgiving, you need to work towards control. You need to be stronger than they bargained for.” His lip quivered. “They won’t expect you to be strong so fast. Let those bastards underestimate you.”

“So you’re saying I should jump off that cliff?” I asked with dry sarcasm.

James laughed an almost genuine laugh. “No. I would kill Sage if something happened to you.” I don’t know why it felt so good to know he cared that much, but I felt a girlish squeal rise up that I had to fight to squash. He leaned against the the fallen tree behind us and relaxed. “But Just try, okay?”

“Can I try in a couple hours?” He nodded but didn’t look at me. I leaned against the tree with him. “James?” He hummed a recognition. “Can you just…” I didn’t know how to articulate what I needed, or why I was allowing myself to be so vulnerable around him. James felt safe, he felt like love, the kind that makes you feel protected and cared for.

I didn’t have to tell him what I needed. He reached around and pulled me to him. His thin body was surprisingly comforting and I found myself nuzzling into his embrace. I sighed and whispered a thanks.

“Dakota?” I opened my eyes and looked around. Rex was in wolf form, staring at me curiously while James was looking down, trying to get my attention. I squinted up at him. “You fell asleep. Sorry, but Rex is hungry, I think, and so am I. Are you ready to head back?” I almost protested when my stomach gurgled loudly. He laughed. “I’m taking that as a ’yes’. Come on.”

Something was different about James, I realized as we headed back. The weight he always carried with him seemed a little less, and I even caught a smile from time to time. “You gonna come in and eat with me?” I asked casually while secretly praying he would agree.

“I don’t know about that, Dakota.”

He needs to eat more than anyone here. And I really didn’t want to stop being around him. “Oh, come on. Don’t leave me to deal with Sage all alone. Please? I’ll let you bite him if he pisses me off.”

He laughed. “I’m a Hawk.”

“Okay, fine. You can peck his eyes out.” He laughed again and that time it seemed to actually reach his eyes. “Is that a yes?”

He glanced over at me as we continued our long walk back. “Okay, I’ll eat with you.”

Chapter 13 – THE BOOK – Sage

SAGE

“I’m not doing that.”

“Come on, Dakota. You can’t say that to every suggestion.” I rolled my eyes.

She laughed. “You’re seriously gonna roll your eyes right now? You literally just told me to jump off a cliff… and meant it!”

I couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, well, either result would make me happy.”

Okay, that pushed a few too many buttons. She stood up with her lips pressed tightly together and poured her ice cold fucking water all over me. “You asshole!”

She turned and walked quickly away, towards the forest. Not surprising. “Dakota stop.” I went after her while trying to shake some of the water off of me. “It was a joke. Why are you taking it so seriously?”

“Why?!” She practically screamed back at me as she kept walking. “You’re not the one that everyone keeps staring at, the one that everyone is expecting to do some magic trick like I’m some freak!” I saw Rex running towards her. She didn’t even flinch. She knew he was there for her. That he would probably bite me if he thought she wanted him to.

Another body came from the trees, bounding down the path. His wild hair and unkempt look seemed to make his malnourished body even more intimidating, not that I’d ever admit it. He walked past her and stopped in front of me. “You’re done here.”

I ground my teeth and stopped. “We need to work.”

He stepped closer to me and that was when I realized that he had actually bathed. “You will leave my sister alone.” He said the words softly, yet with such firmness that I actually did take a step back. “She’ll be back when she’s ready.”

I looked up at the sun. It was still pretty early. I had worked her pretty hard yesterday evening and I had made her go for a jog this morning before we started going through the notes that Denni had left for us. “Fine. But I would like to try something today.”

“When she’s ready, not you.” He turned and walked away, slipping soundlessly into the trees. “I’ll take good care of her Wolf. Now leave.” The last words filtered through the dense woods and I had to stand there for a moment, fighting the urge to follow.

“Fuck.” I tapped my fingers rapidly on my leg, then turned and walked back to the deck. Denni and Corey stood there waiting for me. Their heads tilted curiously. “She needed a break.”

“From what?” Corey asked as he sat down with coffee and a handful of papers.

“From me.”

Denni and Corey both started laughing. It wasn’t that funny. “Big shocker. Are you trying to big brother her or fuck her?” Corey sat down and grinned as his question resonated in my brain.

“What?!” I asked with disgust. Denni smacked him upside the head, but not without laughing herself.

She looked at me innocently. “Oh, come on. You rarely have a middle ground. You try to control everything and everyone.”

“I do not.” I clipped the words bitterly as I sat down to go through more notes. “Just help me figure this shit out.”

“Actually,” Denni started as she sat the baby monitor on the table, “I was thinking about that. What if what Moiragetes meant was to use more than one element?”

I pursued my lips in thought for a moment. “You think that’s it?”

“Could be. Not to look too deeply into that cobra, but maybe…” she stopped and looked around before leaning in to whisper, “maybe it means exactly what we think it means.”

“A God?”

“Goddess, you mean?” Corey interjected. We both looked at him. “Well, we know Hawthorne isn’t part God, right? And that’s how they’re related, through their father, so it would have to mean that her mother was either a Goddess or part Goddess.”

I thought about that, wondering, if Corey was right, which goddess out of the hundreds it could possibly be. But Dakota did have something unique about her. Her eyes. Her amber eyes were so intense, you would think they had their own internal light. Only one time in my life have I seen eyes like that. Damn. He might just be right. “She’s gonna freak out if you tell her that.”

“Tell her what?”

We all turned around to see Jerome standing at the edge of the deck. He had his face clear of wild hair, while still leaving a slight shadow, and his clothes looked new and far more stylish than usual. “Hey there. You going on a date tonight?”

He looked at me and smiled. “Nah, I just decided to clean up a little. No sense in letting this nice package go to waste.” For a man that’s supposed to be more in tune with earth and all that crap, he sure was pretty quick to boast about his good looks.

“Careful, Bear. One day, someone’s gonna come along and deflate that little bubble.”

“It’s a pretty big bubble to burst, Sage.” He gave me a malicious stare and sat down at one of the empty tables. “So, I hear you’re trying to figure out this whole ‘unlock her powers’ thing. Any luck?”

“Yeah, not really. Every time I suggest something to her, she shoots it down.”

“Maybe you should try this little thing called ‘finesse’. Works for me.” He laughed and then leaned forward, glancing at the notes that Denni had made. “Where’d you get all this information from?”

“Moiragetes, himself. Gave it to Dakota to give to me.” He looked up at me and I knew then exactly why he had dressed up. He wanted her. I felt my jaw clench. “I was taking a nap, Moiragetes showed up and gave her the book. Interesting, huh?”

“You two were napping together? How cute.”

“They weren’t napping together,” Corey explained with a loud chuckle. “He was pissing her off again and Moiragetes came around and knocked his ass out so he could have a talk with her.”

“You’re really good at pissing her off, I hear.” I began tapping my fingers again, harder this time. Jerome laughed. “Alright, let’s just take a step back and go over what we know. How about you three fill me in on where we’re at.”

Half Breed – Chapter 23 – excerpt

I thought hard until my brain hurt. Until my throat grew more hoarse from the screams and the rain had no choice but to listen to me. Then the wind picked up, shoving the rain against the trees so hard that they stripped them of their bark, stripping them of the magic.

“Hey, sexy. You’re looking pretty good.” Cody grinned wide and looked me up and down. “You do have some luscious hips, don’t you?”

I snarled at the sack of shit. “Where’s my pack mate?”

His eyebrows lifted, “Oh, your pack mate? You’re in a pack now?” He laughed, “How cute.”

I walked towards him, “Give him back.”

He shrugged. “Fine.” From behind him, three men walked out, Chayton’s lifeless body being dragged between two of them. I wanted to cry at the sight but I fought back the emotion with anger. Bitterness. The need for revenge. “It’s you I wanted, anyway.”

I grinned wryly, “Yeah, well, you can’t have me, either.” My lips turned to a snarl. “Now give him back to me.” Cody smiled and all I could think about was smacking that smug look off his perfect little face.

The men came up to me, equally annoying expressions. I looked to Chayton and felt anger well up inside. No. It was more than anger. Hatred, raw and deep, for the man that had done this to him.

Patches of hair had been ripped from his head, his face beaten and bloodied. A steady stream of blood dripped from his mouth. Deep purple marks welled up on his throat where they had strangled him. His shirt had been removed and signs of bruising and severe swelling marred his skin.

How had no one else noticed this? How is it that, with all the security out here, there’s no one around that heard the commotion? I looked up to Cody with the question on my lips. He laughed, “Oh, are you curious about how we got away with this? I had help.”

“What kind of help?”

He grinned wider, “The kind that helps to ensure my deeds go unnoticed until I deem for them to be otherwise.”

I sucked in a deep breath and held my hands out to take him from them. The men stepped away and let Chayton’s limp body fall to the ground. A tear rimmed my eyes and it took everything in me not to let it out.

I fell to the ground and felt for his pulse. I could still see the lifeless tendril that blinked with only the faintest hint of hope. I ran my hand along his swollen cheek and thought. What was I going to do? Chayton needed me, but I knew that Cody wasn’t about to let me help him. He wanted me.

Yeah. He wanted me. He used Chayton. I looked up to Cody with unmitigated fury. “Why him?”

“Why not? He was easy. I wasn’t looking to get my ass handed to me by that fucking cat roaming around. I just wanted your attention.”

I had been too overwhelmed with pain and anger to realize that three more men had emerged from the trees and flanked my back. I passed a side-long glance to them then turned back to Cody. “What do you want from me?”

He grinned. “I need your help to get myself and my associates to our destination.”

I sent him a wicked glance. “Foten Kullarna.”

“You’ve been studying, haven’t you?” His eyes shot up with surprise. “What else do you know?”

I heard a man’s voice in the distance, calling my name, then Chayton’s. If he was right, they wouldn’t find us. I would be taken without a second thought and Chayton would be left here to die. So what do I do?

The sky above us grumbled. I looked up curiously. How much control did I have over these elements? I looked around and searched quickly for signs of magical markers, something that I could get rid of.

“I know you’re playing with vampires,” I stated with forced coolness.

He laughed. “Nice choice of words.” He sobered and I chanced a quick glance at a tree while testing Chayton’s heartbeat and my mental hold on him. “They think they’re playing me. Can you believe that?” A few trees behind him had what looked like hieroglyphs written with a sparkling blue substance. “I didn’t have to hurt the kid, you know.”

“Yeah?” I asked sarcastically, still holding Chayton’s spirit to his body. That was what I was doing, I realized, as I clung harder to the tendril that was so uniquely him. The men moved closer to me. “So, why did you? Why did you push this kid to the brink of death?”

He sighed, shaking is head as if I were a child that had a knack for disappointing him. “First off, if you hadn’t run off, we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place. Second,” He came to stand beside Chayton’s body and squatted to our level. I instinctively covered his body with my own. Cody put his hands up in defeat. “Point taken.”

He rested his arms on his knees as he continued. “Second, if he had just called you out here as I suggested, I wouldn’t have had to use quite so much force.” He looked down somberly. “I had a feeling you had integrated yourself into your pack. You wouldn’t be able to resist a fallen pack member.”

Thunder rumbled again. The lightning must not be that close, but was the storm close enough for it to rain? I tried to keep the conversation going, “he’s loyal.”

I began chanting in my mind for rain. Picturing hurricane-like rainfall that rushed through the trees and cleared the trees of the markings that had to be what kept the others from finding us. “He’s stupid.” Corey spat, snarling at the defiance. “You want him to live, then come with me.”

I laughed indignantly. “Are you fucking serious right now? I’m the only thing keeping him alive right now, and you think me leaving is going to help him?!” I felt a raindrop smack my cheek. Cody looked up and cursed. “What’s the matter? Did you not realize that you’d almost killed him, or are you just pissed that I’m not that stupid?”

“Shut the fuck up, Dakota.” His baby face was red with anger as he looked back up at the sky. That’s when it dawned on me. Sage thinks he’s a guardian, too. I breathed heavily, determination fueling my resistance. The way he looked up to the sky, I knew exactly what he was doing. If he, in fact, was a guardian that could control water, that is. But then, so can I.

But my powers, whatever the hell they were, were helping me to keep Chayton alive. Did I have the power to control the water and hold onto his spirit? I ignored the men around me, who seemed to have come closer in clear defensive stances, and tried to feel the magic inside of me. I knew there was something there. There had to be. How else had I been able to find Chayton? Fuck. Why did they have to come now?

Wait… why now? I looked to Cody. “How’d you know?”

Cody didn’t take his eyes from the ground. “An earthquake and a rush of guardian magic is a pretty fucking good way to tell some shit happened, Dakota. I’m not an idiot.”

He knew I’d be weak. How long had he hidden out here? And what kind of damn magic is this that keeps anyone from finding us? Cody grinned and I realized it was because he was controlling the rain to keep it from hitting us. I snarled. He was not about to win this.

Just as Cody turned to continue his ridiculous proposal, I dug my toes into the ground, having the innate need to be as close to the earth as I could possibly get. The free hand that didn’t hold the gaping wound on Chatyon’s ribs dug into the ground as well, and I focused. I imagined myself, using the anger and the bitterness that Cody elicited and used it as a slingshot, pulling the water from the sky as I continued to keep Chayton tethered to me.

Then a drop fell. Then twenty more drops. And before Cody realized that he had lost the battle of control, rain began to fall so fast and hard, it created a near whiteout. The rain fell as Cody yelled loudly for the men to grab me. I snarled my lips and dug my feet and hand in deeper, trying to solidify my hold. A guttural scream escaped my mouth as rain drenched me. And around me, I spotted three trees that had the markings. There was definitely more. I just knew it, but I was hoping that it would act like a salt barrier. If you break the circle, you break the magic.

I thought hard until my brain hurt. Until my throat grew more hoarse from the screams and the rain had no choice but to listen to me. Then the wind picked up, shoving the rain against the trees so hard that they stripped them of their bark, stripping them of the magic.

I stopped my mind. I stopped the fight with the rain as a man hauled me from the ground, and in every bone in my body, I pulled all the energy I could and screamed louder than I ever have before. “Sage!”

Because I knew he was out here. He was a protector. He was a protector, not just of me, but of Chayton. Another scream left my lips and the man holding me wrapped his arm around my mouth and nose. Fuck. I can’t fucking breath! Is he trying to kill me? I closed my eyes and checked on Chayton’s life force. It was still there, only weak. But if this guy didn’t let me breath soon, I would pass out and Chayton would die. I began to kick and swing my limbs. I really should have tried harder in those damn defense lessons Sage was trying to teach me.

Sage! Please Sage, Chayton’s dying! Hurry! I had forgotten about my psychic link to him and suddenly began to frantically scream out to him. Please! I swear I’ll do better in my lessons. I swear I’ll stop giving you attitude, just help him!

Get ready to run. It was the only warning I had before a large, red wolf flew through the air.

Devil’s Breed – Excerpt

Xatka situated her armor meticulously as her eyes bore daggers into her youngest brother, “I really should have drowned you at birth.”
“I would have survived, remember?” He made a strange motion with his hands against his neck. “Besides, everybody loved me when I was a baby.”

I really do enjoy writing stories. I especially love writing character disputes. Not just “good vs. evil” battles, but of simple personality clashes between two important, and equally loving characters. I love writing Anstend and Xatka together. Their personalities clash so much, yet there’s an obvious love between them. In this exerpt, you get to see the first time that the main character/narrator, Ambriel, is not only introduced to Xatka, but also of the oil and water relationship between these two.

 

I stepped through the doors of the castle, the walls around me welcoming me back to its bosom. I inhaled deeply, the familiar scent of elf enticing my blood lust. I was upset. The blood lust always got harder to control the more emotional I got. Fjærlette stopped and sighed. Curious, I turned towards the hallway and listened closely as we walked. The faint sound of an argument floated towards us. “My gods, can’t those two ever be in the same room without acting like juveniles?”

I looked over at her and laughed, “You say that like an irritated big sister.”

Her eyes widened, “Thanks for reminding me that I’m actually related to them.”
I laughed and held Lys’ hand as we walked towards a large open door where the familiar blue glowing orbs of light lit the room. Anstend’s voice was raw from the tears he had shed. “What the hell is your problem with me now? Damn Xatka, every time I see you, you just rip my fucking head off!”

“And I don’t have to justify my feelings, you little twerp!”

“Ooh, so vicious.” He mocked his sister as we stepped in through the door, “Maybe next time you might cross over and call me a butt head!” He lifted his hands in false fear before catching us standing there. He straightened, pressing his hands to his side, “Oh, hey.” He smiled sheepishly before stepping back.

Xatka was beautiful. She had intense blue eyes just like Anstend, and warm sun-kissed skin. She had strong cheekbones that made her look almost regal, but the scars that racked her face marked her as a warrior. She didn’t look much like her mother, other than the grey-violet hair, which was identical in shade to the tall, overbearing man beside her. Now he looked like Lys. He was taller than me, same bright blue eyes as Anstend and Xatka but he held himself like a man of refined taste, of royal bloodline, instead of the warrior stance that Anstend and Xatka currently donned. He must be Melo.

Xatka’s mouth hung open in surprise as I walked through with Fjærlette. I cleared my throat, “You must be Xatka and Melo?”

Xatka looked to her twin brother then back to me, “Yes, we are.” She came to stand in front of me, that familiar tug to my soul I had felt before, “Is it true you don’t remember us?”

She stood like a soldier, not that it wasn’t evident with her attire. She was fitted with armor, a metal that held a strange yellow-green color. It seemed dull yet shimmered against the light of the orbs. “Yes,” I began as I sat down. “I’m afraid my mind isn’t what it used to be.”

“Oh, look who was telling the truth. Who was it now?” Anstend stood thoughtfully for a moment, “Oh yeah, that was me.” He pinned her with an angry stare before taking a seat to my left. Lys sat beside me on the plush couch as Melo, Xatka and Fjærlette took the couch parallel mine. They moved in even closer, enough so that I could see the bright blue eyes of Melo and Xatka. They were quite breathtaking.

Xatka situated her armor meticulously as her eyes bore daggers into her youngest brother, “I really should have drowned you at birth.”

“I would have survived, remember?” He made a strange motion with his hands against his neck. “Besides, everybody loved me when I was a baby.”

“That’s because they didn’t know what a jerk you would turn out to be.”

“Okay, enough, you two!” Lys sat up straighter. She had her mom face on which I found highly amusing. “If I have to separate you two, you will feel my wrath like you’ve never felt before. This is not about your ridiculous bickering.”

“Yes ma’am.” They spoke in unison.

I coughed in my hand, trying to hide the chuckle that escaped. Lys glared at me before turning back to her children. Trying to ignore the feeling that I was going to get lectured after this, I turned back to the three on the couch. “Okay, so, I am under the impression that I used to be rather close to all of you. At least, my gut tells me that. Not knowing anything about anyone has essentially been driving me nuts over the last few days. So, maybe we can start by telling me some things about yourselves?”

Fjærlette turned to her siblings, “How about I start the introductions since you three can’t seem to open your mouths without insulting each other?” Xatka went to protest but Fjærlette cast her sister a warning stare. Turning back to me she cleared her throat.

“Okay, so let’s start by telling you what we all do for a living. Me, I work with mother in Scotland, looking over the land there. Usually I tend to the animals and the forests to try and protect them from the viciousness of men.” Melo made a sound of protest but she ignored and continued on. “Personally, I’ve never had much use for humanity of any kind. I prefer animals over people. For now, though, while mom is tending to the matters here, I’ve been taking care of her duties, which include watching over the mythics that live there. She governs over Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. Xatka is a warrior, as evident by her attire.”

“I didn’t have time to change.” She explained leaning forward, “And for the record, I’m a real warrior, unlike others.” She passed a glance to Anstend and smirked.

“Oh great, here we go again.” Fjærlette sighed and leaned back in her chair.

Anstend leaned forward, “Excuse me? What the hell does that mean?”

“You know exactly what that means.”

He laughed sarcastically, “Actually, no Xatka, I don’t. Do you mind enlightening everyone?”

She sat up higher, “Fine. You wanna know?”

“Please do, big sister. Your wisdom is all that I crave.” His sarcasm could have drowned an elephant.

She leaned in front of Melo, angling her head towards Anstend. Melo leaned back and laughed. “I became a warrior because I wanted to do good in this universe. I wanted to protect those that needed protecting, to serve those who needed help. You became a warrior, for what? To impress a General?”

“I didn’t decide to become a warrior because I wanted to score with the General, Xatka. I did, however, choose to become the best fucking warrior in the twelve known galaxies for that very reason. My decisions for why I did what I did has nothing to do with you. You’re just bitter because I’m a better fighter than you.”

“I’m bitter because I do what I do for the good of those twelve known galaxies while the only thing you give two shits about is getting your dick wet.”

My eyes shot up, as did everyone else’s. I turned around, trying to hide the smile on my lips. Anstend did the same thing. As soon as we looked at each other, we both broke into laughter. “Damn, Xatka. I can’t believe you just said I wanted to get my dick wet.”

She huffed, crossing her arms, “Yeah, well it’s true. It’s all you care about and you don’t care who you hurt in the process.”

“What in the hell are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about Delyna!”

“Who?”

She laughed loudly, “Of course you don’t remember her. She was my best friend until about a month ago when you slept with her and then never called on her again.”

“Are you talking about Del? That girl I hooked up with on Torg last time I came to visit you?”

“Yes, you asshole! That’s my best friend. Or at least was my best friend, until you broke her heart.”

He laughed, “Okay, let me get this straight, I come to visit you, and your best friend Delyna comes onto me knowing full well that I’m only visiting and then gets upset when I go home? Then she takes it out on you and you, in turn take it out on me. I got that right so far?”

Xatka’s eyebrows furrowed, “Yes.”

“So… what, am I supposed to never get laid on the off chance that the woman may very well be a friend or potential friend of yours?”

“It’s just…” She threw her hands in the air, “You do this every time! You always sleep with my friends! Why do you have to do that?”

“Because you have hot friends, and I need the exercise.”

She gasped then growled as she pulled a pillow from the couch and threw it at him. “I hate you so much right now!”

Anstend laughed harder, grabbed the pillow and stood. He went to his sister and knelt before her. “I’m sorry, Kloke kriger.”

“You might not want to be this close to me. I may have left my sword at the door, but I have plenty of throwing knives at my disposal.”

Anstend cast the most charming grin I had seen yet, “Kloke, I promise I will behave.” He wagged his brows at her, “And I promise I will try and do better about not sleeping with your friends.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

“I swear to the general herself.”

I eyed Lys with amusement as Xatka considered what he said. Finally she huffed, “Fine. But it doesn’t change the fact that I lost a good friend.” He stood up, plopping himself across his sister’s lap, draping his legs along Melo’s. Melo tried to slap them away but it didn’t seem to phase him. “Anstend, will you get off of me? You weigh a ton. Stop eating.”

“Sis, let me tell you something.” She stopped squirming and looked up at him, “If that was all it took for her to not be your friend, then she wasn’t really a good friend. You’re the best warrior I know, and you are the kindest person I know. Your friends should feel half as lucky being your friend as I feel being your brother, because if they did, they would never leave your side. You deserve better than that bitch.”

For the first time since I walked in, I saw love for her brother as she looked up at him. “Thanks Anstend. I love you, too, you twerp.”

“Aw, you’re so sweet.” He leaned down and kissed her cheek. “You know, if you need help finding some better friends, I could help you with that.” The tender moment was broken as she shoved him to the floor. We all broke into laughter as Anstend laid on the floor at our feet. “See, she really does love me. If she didn’t, I’d have one of those throwing knives in my side right now.”

She kicked him in the ass as he moved to slide back into his chair. “Okay, now that you two have gotten your quarrel out of the way, let’s move on to Melo.” Fjærlette turned to him and smiled, “Melo is a diplomat for Staerlania. They’re rich in several types of herbs and minerals that you can’t find in other places. He’s the one that goes in to try and negotiate with them on a political level.” Fjærlette looked at him and smiled, “He’s done very well.”

He smiled at me, “My goal is to one day hold the seat of house representative on Atlantis.”

Anstend went to say something then stopped. Then he seemed to not be able to help himself, “Melo, I really wish you wouldn’t hang out with those assholes.”

Melo turned to him, “Anstend, you know why I’m there.”

He met his brother’s gaze. “They’re never gonna accept you as one of their own. They’re assholes that only like pure-bloods. You should know this better than anyone. Why do you do this to yourself?” Anstend seemed genuinely concerned for his brother, but Melo didn’t seem to notice. Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest, choosing not to speak. Anstend leaned forward, “I just don’t wanna have to go kill anyone that fucks with you. That’s all.”

Melo chewed on that for a moment, then finally chuckled, “You would, too, wouldn’t you?”

“You know my feelings on the Atlanteans.” Anstend turned back to me, “He’s the best politician there. He’s done more for that stupid place than anyone had been able to accomplish in over 1,000 years on Staerlania. But still, he’s held the same position on their Senate for over 400 kyers.”

I looked around, puzzled, “Sorry… kyers?”

“A euphemism for Kullarna years.” Ah. Okay.

I turned to Melo, “Well, I am kind of on the outside here, because I don’t know the entire situation, but it seems to me that if you have made such progress there and those dicks still refuse to give you your due diligence. I say fuck ‘em. I say tell ‘em to shove it up their asses and move on to somewhere that will appreciate your skills.”

His mouth quirked up just a little bit, “I was offered a quite prestigious position on Staerlania, working with the royal family of the Phroas continent.”

“Are you considering it?” I asked, leaning in closer.

He looked up, his trimmed grey-violet hair falling against his brow, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

Anstend seemed suddenly excited. “What’s the position?”

Melo smiled thoughtfully for a moment, “Ambassador to the queen in extraterrestrial affairs.”

“Ambassador as in you’ll be running everything? You will be the leader?” Lys piped in, just as intrigued as Anstend. Melo nodded with a shy grin. “Oh my gods, Melo, that’s amazing! That’s even higher standing than House representative in Atlantis.” His smile faded, looking at his hands. “Melo, look at me.” Lys stood, directing Xatka silently to trade her seats. She sat beside her son and pulled his hands into hers. His gaze met hers hopefully. “I know how badly you want to be accepted by the Atlanteans. I know that was something you needed, deep down, to feel closer to that side of your family. And you are closer to them, but you don’t deserve to be treated as some lower-life citizen. You are strong and smart. You would be an asset to the Atlanteans, but they fail to see it.”

There was silence that fell before them, and I could sense there was a conversation going on between them. Although I had a feeling I could listen in on their conversation, I didn’t feel that I wanted to find out anything else that might send me over the edge. If they were speaking telepathically, there was a reason.

I looked to Anstend who had his eyes set on Fjærlette, both staring at each other in amusement. Fjærlette finally cleared her throat, “Um, Melo, I wonder if you could, uh… clear something up for the rest of us.” He turned to her and frowned. “Is it true that you were caught necking with the queen’s youngest granddaughter?”

Melo’s eyes widened, his face turning deep red. “What? Why would say that? Who told you that?”

Anstend laughed loudly as Fjærlette raised her hand to her mouth, “Oh my gods, Melo! She was set to go into the ministry when she turned 40. She was a virgin!”

“And she still is. We’ve not done anything that would take that away from her.” He straightened, pulling his regal coat straighter, “We just… got caught up in the moment. That’s all. Nothing more.”

“Melo,” Xatka interjected, “You don’t think that’s why the queen wants to appoint you to Ambassador?”

Lys turned her head sharply, searing her daughter with irritation, “Xatka! She offered him that position because he is the best at what he does! Nothing more. How could you possibly put those fears into his head? You know how he blows things out of proportion.”

“Thanks mother.” Melo countered dryly.

“I’m sorry,” Xatka began, “it’s just that it’s well known that Queen Sava has been pretty adamant about not wanting her to go into the ministry. There’s some type of prophecy on their planet and the Queen is obsessed with the idea that the prophecy is of her granddaughter. If she and Melo were to end up having sex, it would make her ineligible for the ministry.”

“Can we please not talk about my sex life right now?”

“Or lack there of?” Anstend thought his question funny until he had four sets of bitter eyes his direction. “Hey,” He shrugged, “I’m just saying, you’re kind of obsessed with your work. Maybe getting laid would do you some good.” A long list of profound obscenities rushed from four mouths, bashing Anstend. “I’m just trying to help my brother, here, alright? He hasn’t had a girlfriend since Dad disappeared.”

There was a subtle but distinguished change in the air around us. Everyone quietened down, staring at Anstend as memories seemed to flash through their eyes. After a couple of moments, Anstend ran his hands through his hair, clearly disturbed by whatever had just happened and stood up. “I think I’m going to bed. I have a long day ahead.”

“Anstend, wait.” Lys stood up to follow after him.

He stopped at the door and held his hand up to his mom. “It’s fine, mom. Really. I just… I’ll be better in the morning.”

“Søtnos, I was really hoping that all of us could stay in Fjærlette’s cabin tonight. It’s been ages since we were all together, and with Feppert’s death…” She trailed off has her voice broke.

Anstend pulled her into a deep hug, “Of course, mamma. We’ll get up early and talk Xatka into making breakfast.” They all laughed somberly and it was then that I noticed they all had started crying again.

Slowly, the rest of Lys’ children stood, giving me and Lys a tight hug. They let us know that they would save the master bedroom for us before heading out. She seemed sad now, as they all left the room. “I’m sorry about that. When his father disappeared, it was really hard on him. I don’t know that he’s ever quite recovered from it. Honestly, I think that’s why he’s so afraid of commitment. And why he’s obsessed over a woman that’s unattainable.” She looked up at me, trying to shake off the sorrow. “He just needs to sleep it off. And we need to sleep as well. We have to get up early in the morning. It’s a full two day journey to the Valkyrie.”

“Wait, we’re leaving tomorrow? What about Feppert? Aren’t we having a funeral for him?”

Her face turned to stone, “Tomorrow evening they will give his body back to Kullarna. And we’re going to get this Sephora shit taken care of so I can focus on killing that bitch, Victoria.”

Again, this is such a fun group of characters to write about. I really do enjoy their banter. I am hoping to have this book out by August of this year. It’s a very complex plotline, so there’s a lot of attention to detail that I need to adhere to. Also, there are two other storylines that not only coincide in the same universe, but have intertwining timelines and characters, so there’s a lot to watch out for when writing these stories. I will try to add an excerpt of the other two storylines within the next week, just for fun.