Thursday, April 6, 2017

Everything Old is New Again...

The Oberon series will be getting a new look this spring and summer. Stay tuned for details!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Solstice scene from Scent of the Roses

Welcome to the Midsummer Night's Tea Party! You can find more participating blogs HERE.

Scent of the Roses, the first book in my Oberon series, is set at the summer solstice, so I couldn't resist posting an excerpt. In this scene my heroine, Scout, who is back home in Oberon, California following a twenty year absence, takes time out to enjoy the annual Midsummer festival. Enjoy!

Blurb: Twenty years ago. When a slumber-party prank goes awry, magical forces are unleashed that will permanently impact the lives of four teenaged girls. Exiled from Oberon when she was still a teen, Scout Patterson has been trying ever since to distance herself from the mistakes in her past. Now, she's finally coming home--to face the ghosts she has never laid to rest, and the love she thought she'd lost forever. 

Memories of the girl he loved and lost have haunted Officer Nick Greco for years, along with his dreams of what his life would be like if she’d only return. When Scout’s homecoming is followed by a reoccurrence of deadly attacks, Nick must solve an all-but-forgotten crime or risk losing her again—this time for good. 

Scout wandered through the deserted fairgrounds early next morning.  The fog that had seeped into the valley the night before lay thick on the ground, giving the empty pavilions a dreamlike quality.  People passed like ghosts through the pearl gray mist. 
A solitary piper, half hidden in the shadows, played a haunting, mournful tune.  Scout felt a melancholy longing steal through her.  The wheel of the year was turning.  The days would grow steadily shorter, now.  Last night, the Oak had fallen; the Holly King’s reign was begun.  She shivered, her heart filled with grief at the loss of the sun.  Until a passing breeze brought the welcome fragrance of fresh coffee to her nose.  
She breathed it in gratefully.  The scent evoked those tropical climes where the days never grew short.  That was what she needed.  The hell with this other nonsense.  She changed directions abruptly, moving away from the sorrowing pipe.  What the heck had she been thinking?  It was the height of summer.  The sun was rising, even now, and would soon warm the earth and burn off the fog.  It would be months before the nights were much longer than the days. 
Besides, this was Coastal California, where winter meant, at worst, a few weeks of rain.  She could handle that, couldn’t she?  A little rain, a little mud, a little bit of wind, perhaps.  No big deal.  She’d have no problem with winter here.
“C’mon, dog.”  She smiled at her companion.  “Let’s go eat.”
The dining pavilion was mostly empty, only a few of last night’s diehards, and a handful of early risers had gathered for coffee or tea and a light breakfast.  When Scout emerged from the line with her tray, she saw Celeste sitting alone at one of the tables.  She hesitated for a moment, then headed in her direction.
“Mind if I join you?” she asked. 
Celeste raised weary violet eyes to her face.  “Oh.  Hello, Scout.  Please.  Sit down.” 
Scout sat, and the dog sat at her feet. 
Celeste smiled as she bent to stroke the dog’s head.  “And aren’t you a sweetheart?” she crooned, as she offered the dog a scrap of toast.  “Have you had her long?”
“No.”   Scout sipped her coffee.  “And I’m not really sure I have her now, either.” 
“Of course you do!”  Celeste looked really shocked.  “Anyone can tell just by looking that she’s your dog.  What’s her name?”
“I’m afraid she doesn’t have one yet,” Scout replied, and was surprised when Celeste burst into a peal of silvery laughter.
“Oh, my.  Sweetie, they all have names.  You just haven’t discovered what it is yet.  But, don’t worry.  You will.”   Celeste smiled down at the dog again.  “Oh.  I have something for you.  I knew I was supposed to give it to someone.  Obviously you’re the very one.” 
She removed her satchel from the back of her chair and began rummaging through it.  Finally  emerging with a little brass medallion that she attached to the dog’s collar.
“It’s a protective amulet,” Celeste explained. “In ancient times actual blessing rituals were performed at these festivals, you know. People would bring their animals to be cleansed by being passed through the smoke from the bale fire.  It’s still a powerful time of year for working protective magic.  Especially for animals.”
“Mmm,” Scout murmured, neutrally.  She found herself growing annoyed with all the magic mumbo-jumbo.  “So how long have you been involved in this, uh, stuff?  You know-- amulets and tea leaves and all that kind of thing?”
  “Ohh, forever, really,” Celeste said, with an airy wave of one graceful hand.  “I learned to read the tea leaves from my grandmother.  And palms, as well.  The cards, though.”  She shook her head and gave Scout a small, rueful smile.  “I’m still working on those.  Would you like me to do a reading for you?  I could use the practice.”
“Thank you, but no.”  Scout spread fresh strawberry jam on a scone.  “I’m not interested.”
Celeste’s eyes glittered.  “You’re afraid.  Now why is that?”
“I’m not afraid!  I just don’t believe in that stuff.” 
“Well that’s what's so nice about it, isn’t it?  It doesn’t require Faith.  It works whether you believe in it or not.”  Celeste dipped into her satchel again and removed a small red velvet bag, from which she slid a deck of cards.
“Really, I’m not—” Scout began, but Celeste laid a hand on her arm. 
“Please.  Humor  me.”  She smiled at her.  “Pick one card.  Where’s the harm in that?”
Reluctantly, Scout turned her attention to the fanned deck.  Her hand hovered irresolute, and then settled on one card.  She drew it from the deck and laid it on the table.
“See?   That wasn’t so hard, now was it?”  Celeste teased.  “Let’s see . . . ahhh.  The Lovers.  Well, that’s always nice isn’t it?  Of course, it is reversed, which suggests some sort of difficulty.  Let’s see if we can’t find out what the problem is.  One more.” 
With a sigh, Scout picked another card at random and slapped it down. 
Celeste nodded.  “Uh-huh.  See now?  The Knight of Wands.  Someone fiery and impulsive and I’d say, tending to be rather single minded in his pursuit of you.”  She cocked her head at Scout and smiled.  “Sound like someone you know?”
A shadowy figure loomed over Celeste’s shoulder.  “Scout?  Can I talk to you?”   
Scout frowned up into Glenn’s face.  It was gray and pinched. Probably from partaking in last evening’s debauchery she supposed.          
“Hello, Glenn,” she said, striving to keep her voice neutral. 
Celeste gave a quiet cough and, when she had caught Scout’s eye, tapped gently, but meaningfully, at the card Scout had picked out. 
No, Scout mouthed, with an almost imperceptible shake of her head.  “Celeste, this is an old friend of mine, Glenn.  Glenn, Celeste.”  
As the others shook hands and mumbled polite greetings, Scout sank back into her chair and thought about how much she hated Oberon.  She hated the mystery and the magic.  Hated that she could pick a card called The Lovers  out of a deck of cards, and, a moment later, have Glenn materialize in front of her.  Jesus.  What is up with this card shit?  Belatedly she realized that Glenn was addressing her.
“I said, what are you doing here?  I thought you were going to stay home last night?” he repeated angrily.  “I thought we’d agreed it would be a good idea for you to be careful while you’re in town.”
“I was careful,” Scout snapped at him.  “And anyway, we didn’t decide any such thing.  Like I already told you, Glenn, much as I’d love to believe that Caroline had only my best interests at heart, I really  doubt that was the case.”
  “So you’re still determined to go through with this ridiculous plan of yours?”
Ridiculous plan?  “You mean, am I still going to keep looking for Lisa?  Of course I am.  Absolutely.  But, what do you think?  This being Oberon, and all, maybe I should start by getting a reading done on the subject?  Maybe see what the cards have to say?”         
“Uh, yeah,” he answered, his eyes  sliding away from her face.  “You’ll let me know beforehand though, right?  Before you do anything foolish.” 
Foolish?  A little late to start worrying about that.

Scent of the Roses can be purchased on its own, or as part of the Welcome to Oberon boxed set. 

There's something magical about the California Coast town. Oberon's idyllic setting makes it a perennial favorite with tourists, but danger lurks beneath the bright surface and things there are seldom what they seem. Visitors and residents alike find their lives forever changed by mystery, romance and intrigue. 

Contemporary romance meets magic realism in this engaging series by PG Forte. This first set, Welcome to Oberon, contains three full-length novels. While each book can be read on its own, you'll want to return to Oberon again and again to visit with the friends you've met there.

This set contains three full length novels, Scent of the Roses, A Sight to Dream Of and Sound of a Voice That is Still, and is available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble , All Romance eBooks, Smashwords, and SynergEbooks.

To learn more about the series, visit the website:

To read another summer solstice excerpt from The Oak King visit my other blog:

PG Forte inhabits a world only slightly less strange than the ones she creates. Filled with serendipity, coincidence, love at first sight and dreams come true.

She wrote her first serialized story when she was still in her teens. The sexy, ongoing adventure tales were very popular at her oh-so-proper, all girls, Catholic High School, where they helped to liven up otherwise dull classes...even if her teachers didn't always think so.

Originally a Jersey girl, PG now resides with her family on the extreme left coast where she writes contemporary and paranormal romance in a variety of sub-genres.
PG can be reached directly at: pgforte@pgforte.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Excerpt ~ A Taste of Honey

In honor of Mother's Day, I'm posting one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite books in the Oberon series. A Taste of Honey is one of those books that haunted me until I got it written--and got it right. I won't even tell you how long it took me to finish this particular scene. Enjoy!

           Lucy was still in the kitchen, carefully drizzling a thin stream of warm thyme honey over the platter she’d arranged, when Dan came up behind her. 
            “Hey,” he murmured softly, and between the sound of his voice and the feel of his hands, clasped around her waist, she found it hard to breathe. 
            She put the jar of honey down on the counter and leaned back against him, closing her eyes as she said, “Hey, yourself.  You just get back?”
            “Mm.”  He leaned down to kiss her neck.  “Sorry it took so long.  Did I miss much?”
            “Yeah.  Me.” 
            He slid his arms all the way around her then, hugging her close.  She placed her own hands on top of his, where they lay across her stomach.  His skin was warm from the sun.  She wanted to stay wrapped up like that forever.  “So, how did it go?”
            “Well, let’s see,” he sighed, rubbing his cheek against her hair.  “I think I spent pretty much the entire afternoon watching your son eat.  He scarfed down two chili cheese-dogs, some garlic fries, an order of nachos, a bag of peanuts,  popcorn, a pretzel, a frozen malted, a hamburger and two of the largest cups of root beer you’ve ever seen in your life.  I swear I do not know where he puts it, Luce.  Oh, and the team we were rooting for lost ten to six.  So--”
            “So, you had a good time, huh?”
            “Yeah,” he chuckled, slipping one arm free and brushing her hair back behind her ear.  “I really did.  We got a chance to talk, and…we cleared the air.  About a lot of things.  It was good.  I’m afraid it wasn’t much of a Mother’s Day treat for you though.”
            “S’okay.  The day’s not over yet.  I held dessert up for you.”  She sighed happily as she felt him nibbling on the edge of her ear.
            “Yeah?”  His voice was a warm, contented rumble in her ear.  “So, what’s for dessert?”
            “Stuffed figs,” she told him.
            “Figs, huh?”
            “Mm-hm.  With honey.”
            “You know,” he said, his grip around her tightening.  “I’ve been thinking.  There are a lot of things we could maybe do with all that honey of yours.”
            “Are there?”  She twisted around and looked up into bright blue eyes.  “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
            “Oh, you don’t, huh?”  He smiled, wickedly.  “Well, that’s too bad, babe.  ‘Cause, what I’m thinking of could be a lot of fun.”
            “Mm.  I guess you’ll just have to show me.”
            He leaned down to just brush his lips against hers.  “Why, Ms. Greco, it would be my pleasure.”

            “I know, Cavanaugh,” she sighed, as she pulled him back in for a real kiss.  “Mine, too.”

A Taste of Honey can be purchased individually (in both digital and print format). It is also included in the second Oberon boxed set, Return to Oberon

Welcome back to bewitching Oberon, California! This small, coastal town is an enchanting place. Anything can happen here - and all too often it does! Clinging to corrugated cliffs above a windswept beach, and isolated amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, Oberon can be a hard place to get to. But, as all too many visitors have learned over the years, it can be an even harder place to leave behind.

In Return to Oberon the series continues with books four through six. Once again, these are full-length novels. Although many of the same characters appear in each one, all the books in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories. 

Available at: AmazonBarnes & Noble All Romance eBooksSmashwordsKobo, and SynergEbooks.

This set contains the following three full-length novels:

Book Four: A Taste of Honey

As far as Lucy Greco Cavanaugh is concerned, her life is a dream come true. She has it all, the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect marriage. What more could she wish for—other than the chance to do it all again, to experience once more the agony and ecstasy of falling in love with the man of her dreams, to recapture the joy and uncertainty that comes with starting over.

For her husband, Shakespeare-quoting Dan Cavanaugh, however, that dream has just become a nightmare. His storybook marriage is on the line thanks in part to Deirdre Shelton-Cooper, the runaway daughter of a former girlfriend. Deirdre’s intent on proving Dan is her father. When she accidentally hooks up with Dan and Lucy’s son, Seth, the Cavanaughs are left to wonder: how did their fairy-tale romance turn into a classic Greek tragedy?

It’s going to take an entire band of angels to bring the Cavanaughs’ story to a sweet conclusion. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what’s coming to town. 

Book Five: Touch of a Vanished Hand

Sinead Quinn has always been something of a drifter. But now, with her ex-husband trying to blackmail her, and her ex-boyfriend's widow trying to put her in jail, she has no choice but to go to ground. What better place to hide than with your family? After all, what are sisters for—especially when you're a twin? But the first rule of hiding out, is to keep a low profile. That does not mean kissing your sister's boyfriend (even if he can't tell the two of you apart); rescuing a troubled teen; or taking a highly visible job as hostess of Oberon's most celebrated new inn.

Adam Sasso has always dreamed big. But big dreams beget big complications. First, his goal to turn the vineyard he inherited from his grandfather into a world-class winery is threatened by a mysterious saboteur. Next, his plan to run the finest bed & breakfast Oberon has ever seen, is broadsided by a hostess who seems to want to run him instead! Finally, his fondest wish, that of finding love-everlasting with the soul mate of his dreams, is about to go up in smoke when he can't convince the lady in question that they're destined to be together.

Things are really heating up in Oberon this summer—and it’s not just the arson! It's going to take all the wizardry the town can summon up in order to craft a happy ending for the drifter and the dreamer.

Book Six: The Spirit of the Place

It’s a week before Christmas and Marsha Quinn has a lot on her mind, like the fact that her entire family is about to arrive—including her daughter, Jasmine, who’s far from happy about Marsha’s upcoming wedding. In fact, there’s only one thing about her future stepfather that Jasmine can't help but admire, and that’s the graduate student he’s recently hired as an intern.

Brandon Ablemarle was already having a hard time finding the holiday spirit, and that was before the fiery redhead he can’t manage to keep his hands off hit town. If his new boss’s radical book is published, it could sink both their careers. Can he and Jasmine ignore the attraction between them long enough to stop the wedding and the book, or will the psychic energy they unwittingly raise put a stop to them, instead?

With so much chaos going on, is it any wonder Marsha finds herself wishing on a star? But it’s not just any star she chooses; it’s Venus, the Star of Love. Now Marsha’s about to be visited by three very special ghosts.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Contemporary Romance Meets Magic Realism in Oberon, California

The first of three box sets, Welcome to Oberon contains three full-length novels: Scent of the Roses, A Sight to Dream Of and Sound of a Voice That is Still.  

Check out what people are saying about the series here:

Such Fleeting Pleasures, the Oberon prequel, is also available for only .99. And with a snazzy new cover, too!

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Faire excerpt from A Taste of Honey

Here's another little excerpt to celebrate  Bealtaine.           

        [Lucy] made her way from the little enclosure and headed back up the garden path.  It was a beautiful evening.  Dragonflies danced jewel-like in the warm spring air, and the late afternoon sun poured down around her like a thick, golden syrup.  The grass had been mown that afternoon and beneath her feet the ground was warm and soft and damp.  Lucy knew the bottoms of her bare feet were probably turning green, but she didn’t care.  She stopped to breathe in the heady scents and for a moment her heart lifted and she felt like dancing, right there in the grass.  It was almost May Day.  And for just a moment she felt herself transported into the past...
            She was a junior in high school the night she and Lisa snuck out of the house to attend May Faire.  Lisa wanted to go for the sole purpose of spying on her boyfriend, Glenn, whom she suspected was once again sneaking around on her.  Lucy went along only to provide company and moral support.  They split up shortly after they got there, figuring they could cover more ground that way, and find Glenn faster.  But in no time at all the music and the magic of the moonlit night had gotten to her.  The fragrances of freshly cut grass and wood smoke from the blazing balefire, the intoxicating aroma of mead as it spilled down her throat, and over her clothes, and onto her dusty feet as well, made Lucy’s head spin and enflamed all her senses. 
            If Lisa had not intervened, Lucy might very well have ended up stripping off her clothes and joining in with the dancers who swirled in ecstatic circles around the fire; or she might have allowed herself to be led off into a secluded thicket by a handsome stranger.  Or, maybe even more than one.  Who knew what she might have done?  Or what might have happened to her, if Lisa had not reappeared when she had?
            “Hey!  Back off, you creeps!”  Lisa growled, as she pushed her way into the crowd that Lucy had been only dimly aware of as a warm, seething wall that surrounded her.  Lisa snatched the wineskin out of the hands of whomever had been squirting the mead into Lucy’s mouth at that point, and tossed it aside.  Lucy still remembered the resounding chorus of male voices that was raised in disappointed protest as she was grabbed by the arm and hauled roughly away.  “Jesus, Luce.  Have you gone insane?”
            “Oh, God, Lisa!” she murmured blissfully, practically bouncing with excitement.  “Let’s go back, Lisa, please!  I was having so much fun!”
            “Fun?  Right,”  Lisa growled as she continued to drag her relentlessly towards the car. 
            “Wait, what are you doing?”  Lucy protested, when she realized where they were headed.  “We’re not leaving already, are we?  Did you find Glenn?”
            Lisa shook her head.  “No.  He’s here somewhere, but it’s not worth sticking around to look for him.  I just wish I could figure out who he’s seeing this time.”  She lapsed into a thoughtful silence, but a moment later, her irrepressible smile had resurfaced.  “Shit, girl.  You’re the original wild thing tonight.  What the hell’s got into you all of a sudden?  You’ve gone totally pagan.  I swear, I have half a mind to toss you in a creek somewhere.  Might sober you up, and at the very least it would maybe wash the smell of that wine off your clothes.  You’re gonna have a hell of a time explaining that one to your mom!”
           “Ooh, a swim.”  Just the thought of it was irresistible.  “Yes!  Lisa, let’s do it!”

          “On second thought, let’s not and say we did,”  Lisa  answered, turning serious again.  “C’mon, hurry up.  I want to go home.”

A Taste of Honey is one of three, full-length novels included in the second Oberon boxed set, Return to Oberon.  Currently available at All Romance ebooks and Barnes & Nobleat a ridiculously great sale price, get it while you can! Also available at Amazon, Kobo and Synergebooks.

 Welcome back to bewitching Oberon, California! This small, coastal town is an enchanting place. Anything can happen here – and all too often it does! Clinging to corrugated cliffs above a windswept beach, and isolated amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, Oberon can be a hard place to get to. But, as all too many visitors have learned over the years, it can be an even harder place to leave behind. 

In Return to Oberon the series continues with books four through six. Once again, these are full-length novels. Although many of the same characters appear in each one, all the books in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Such Fleeting Pleasures -- Free Downloads!

This is what I'll be bringing with me to RT next month along with some other miscellaneous it really only two weeks away? GAH! I am sooo not packed! 

Anyway, if you're there, and you haven't read Such Fleeting Pleasures yet, the price will never get lower. lol! Ao hit me up for your free download! And if you have read it, why not pick up a few for some friends?

I should be easy to spot. I'll be the one whose hair matches the Welcome to Oberon boxed set. No, not the girl on the cover, the cover itself, all turquoise and rose. See what I mean? Yep, that's me. 

And, if all else fails, you can definitely find me at the Giant Book Fair on Saturday! I'll be signing books from my Children of Night series...and anything else you feel like bringing in!  

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Excerpts for a Winter's Night

As it happens, I've set a lot of stories around the Winter Solstice--including a new one, The Oak King, which releases in March. So today I thought I'd celebrate with a few excerpts.

The first one is from The Spirit of the Place (Oberon, book 6) which is also included in the second Oberon box set, Return to Oberon.

In this excerpt, Marsha explains some of her Winter Solstice traditions to her fiance, Sam.

Marsha stood at her living room window and stared out at the blackness.  It had been a long, long, tiring day, even if it was, technically, the year’s shortest.  The last of her guests had finally departed, and still, the longest night of the year was only half over.
“You look tired, angel,” Sam murmured, coming up behind her to massage her shoulders and plant a soft kiss on her cheek.  “Why don’t we go to bed now, and leave the rest of the clean up for morning?”
“I am tired,” Marsha agreed, as she relaxed against him, breathing a happy sigh.  She turned her head to smile at him over her shoulder.  “You can go ahead, if you want to, Sam.  I’m gonna stay up—or at least, try to.  It’s kind of traditional to keep vigil at the solstice, and stay awake until sunrise.”
“Really?”  Sam looked surprised.  “And what exactly do you do during this vigil?”
 Marsha shrugged.  “Well, it depends.  It’s a change of cycle, you see, from dark to light, so I’ve always liked to spend it thinking about the past and making plans for the future.  But, that’s just me.  A lot of people pass the time baking cookies, or bread, or whatever else they plan to eat for breakfast the next morning.  Making wishes for the new year.  Celeste always made rice pudding with crystallized ginger and dried fruit.  I don’t know if there was any particular significance to it, it was just...”  It was just something she always did.  Spiced with cinnamon and cardamom and eaten cold, it always seemed  to Marsha that the dish evoked a feeling of bright sunshine on even the darkest winter’s day.
“You really miss her, don’t you?” Sam’s voice was soft with sympathy.
Marsha nodded, too overcome to speak.  It was too cold at the window, the night too dark, and she felt…vulnerable, exposed.  As though hostile forces might crash through the insubstantial glass and steal away her happiness.  She turned away, and went to sit on the couch, where the fire’s heat could warm her, where the fire’s light could keep her safe. 
Even now, after a year and a half, it still seemed so impossible that Celeste could be gone.  It was like a bad dream, one that would surely be over soon?
“I’m sorry we never actually met,” Sam said, as he sat beside her, and took hold of her hand.  “I imagine I would have liked her.”
Marsha smiled at him.  “I think she would have liked you, too.”  She had a feeling Celeste would have enjoyed matching wits with Sam, although it was possible there would have been a little jealousy there, as well.  As there had been with Alex. 
     Marsha had loved Celeste as a friend, and always would, but she was never in love with her.  Not the way Celeste wished she could be.  It was something her friend had  seemed to accept, but still, there was always a doubt in the back of Marsha’s mind.  How much of Celeste’s dislike of Alex was actually due to envy?
     That doubt was the main reason she hadn’t confided in Celeste when her marriage began to crumble.  And it was why she never mentioned the spells she’d taken to casting on Alex, until it was too late.  How different would her life have turned out if she’d had the sense to listen to her friend, all those years ago?
     Sam gave her hand a little squeeze. “So, all this thinking and planning, is it something you need to be alone to do?  Or can someone keep you company?”
     Someone?  She smiled at him once more.  “Well, that depends.  Is the someone you, Sam?  Because, you know the answer to that is always yes.”
     They stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment, and then he leaned in and kissed her, soft and sweet. 
     A wave of peace washed through her.  I am so lucky, she thought, as he gathered her into his arms.  I am so blessed to have this chance, to have this man in my life, to know even this much happiness, for however long it lasts.  She felt his love surround her, bringing light into her darkness, and she closed her eyes, and gave herself over to the feeling of being loved, unconditionally.             
     The room around her wavered.  Worries and concerns that had plagued her ceased to matter.  Their love was a sacrament, as real and as holy as any prayer she could offer, any ritual she could perform.  And, like all things sacred, it existed outside of ordinary reality, in a place where space and time could bend and change and melt together.  Where dreams of the past and memories of the future could coexist in an endless present. 
     Where love, changeless and evergreen, reigned supreme.

Read more about this title here:

Next up is Iron. This is the scene where Gavin comes face to face with one of Winter's princes: 

Stray sunbeams piercing the gloomy gray sky lit up the landscape like visions of heaven. They did nothing to lighten [Gavin's] mood, however. Neither did the sight of the horseman stopped in the middle of the road just where it crested the hill overlooking the forge. The stranger’s aristocratic features were set in a sneer as he gazed down at Gavin’s demesne, causing an upwelling of territorial pride and anger in the smith’s heart.

“Can I help ye then?” Gavin asked as he came to a swaggering stop several feet from the stranger. If truth be told, between the drink and the bitterness besetting his spirits, he was spoiling for a fight; and the idea of wiping the boreen with this arrogant-looking young prick seemed all too appealing.

The horseman turned to him, a look of cold surprise on his face. Gavin was surprised, as well, and none too pleased. Bless my soul, if it’s not another bloody, damned Fae’Tis a fekkin’ plague of t’em, is what it is. This one had the look of a hunter, though, and coming so close on Aislinn’s heels it didn’t take a genius to figure out it must be he from whom she was running.

Not my kind, Aislinn had said of the fae that was in pursuit of her, and now that he’d had a look at him Gavin was much inclined to agree; the two were as different as day and night. As he took in the wintry expression in the stranger’s eyes, the cruel curl of his mouth, he felt the hackles rise on his neck. His temper flared hotter, burning off the effects of the alcohol, leaving him clear-headed, alert and murderously calm. How now, you cheeky devil? he thought angrily. You think you can just ride up to my door, bold as you please, and take her away from me, is that it? Well, think again.

Even without the promise she’d wrung from him and despite the anger he still harbored toward her; without knowing anything beyond what his senses had already told him about either fae, or anything at all about the argument between them, Gavin knew he’d not be handing Aislinn over to this brigand. Not without a fight.

But what weapons did he have with which to fight against one such as this? Despite the somewhat effete cast to the fae’s features, Gavin could sense the power that lay coiled inside him, as cold and deadly as any serpent.

“I’m looking for someone,” the stranger drawled at last. He had a voice like dry leaves scuttling across bare rock.

His mind racing as he searched for a solution, Gavin let his face relax into a drunken leer in an attempt to buy himself some time. “Lookin’, is it? Well, sure and I’d say you’dfound someone. Or amn’t I someone then?”

The stranger shook his head impatiently. “I’m seeking a particular someone. A woman. A young lady, in fact. Tall, with long, blonde hair, quite fair to look upon, she’s to be my bride. I thought to meet up with her hereabouts, but she seems to have ... gone astray.”

“Yerra,” Gavin shook his head sorrowfully. “’Tis a turrible t’ing that, young ladies goin’ astray. Have ye searched down in Cork for her? That’s usually where they end up, you see, on the streets o’ Cork City.”

“’Tis not what I meant,” the fae replied, staring down his nose at the smith. “I believe she passed through here quite recently. Perhaps you might have seen her?”

“What’s that?” Gavin feigned horror. “Me? Keeping company with some harlot outta Cork? Are ye daft, man? Who’s been telling such lies? You’ll have the missus down on me poor head if you go about spreading such stories as that!”

“Enough of your nonsense,” the stranger uttered in frosty tones. “Silence!”

Gavin fell dumb as the interdiction hit him. Like a cold hand it wrapped around his neck stealing his speech, almost stealing his air entirely. His heart labored as he struggled to breathe. Meanwhile, the stranger’s horse tossed its head and stamped impatiently, teeth snapping as it extended his neck in Gavin’s direction.

“Now, tell me,” the fae demanded, attempting to fix Gavin with his steely gaze, as he urged his restless mount forward. “Have ye or have ye not seen, or heard tell of, the woman I seek?”

It took all the willpower Gavin possessed to keep from answering; or to keep his eyes from meeting that fell gaze, but he knew he was as good as lost if he did. So he focused his attention on the stranger’s horse, instead. With an Irishman’s appreciation for horseflesh, he couldn’t help but be impressed, even despite the danger he was in. It was a beautiful creature, with eyes of coal, a dappled gray coat that shone with the same dull gleam as pewter, deadly white teeth, and those hooves--black as iron and probably just as heavy--ripe to cut a man down with a single kick, he didn’t doubt. Suddenly, Auld John’s words came back to him: “Nary a fae can abide the black metal--and their steeds be just the same.” And Gavin knew he had just one chance to save himself.

“I see how ’tis now,” he muttered, nodding like a simpleton, though it was a battle to say anything that was not in answer to the fae’s question. He dropped his packages carefully on the dried grass at the side of the road, hands fumbling slightly as the dug into his jacket pockets. But as they closed around his all-but-forgotten tools, he felt the pressure from the fae’s spell ease. “Sure and your beastie must have a stone stuck in his hoof, to put him in so foul a mood. But, ‘tis your lucky day, for I’ve just the thing for it.” And, so saying, he held up the implements of his trade--hoof parers and cleaning knife. The gray reared in alarm. Eyes flashing, whinnying fearfully, it stamped and twisted as it tried to back away from the smith.

“Put those away, you fool!” the fae ordered, savagely working the reins while his horse continued to pivot and buck in its efforts to distance itself from the iron.

“Now, now,” Gavin soothed, keeping an eye out for those hooves as he moved closer to the frightened animal. “It must be hurting him turrible to put him in such a state. But ’twill be all right. Just hold him still, can’t you?” Reaching out, he quickly swiped the tip of the parers along the horse’s flank, as though he were striking a match. The response was every bit as immediate and inflammatory.

The horse let out a scream of pain, as though it had been burnt; its hind legs shot out in a vicious kick that had Gavin jumping back to stay out of range, and that nearly unseated its rider. Then it bolted down the road, while the fae, howling furiously, tried in vain to halt its flight.

“Yerra,” Gavin jeered after them. “Off with ye then.” Laughing softly, he watched the pair disappeared from view. “And a good riddance to ye both.” Then he pocketed his tools, collected his parcels and resumed his journey.

Finally, an unedited excerpt from The Oak King...

December, 1895. At the time of the Winter Solstice…
“You’re thinking about him again, aren’t you?”
At the sound of her husband’s voice so close behind her, Aine’s thoughts scattered like a flock of wild birds flushed out of hiding. She paused in the act of lighting the solstice candles in her parlor window and turned round to face him. The look on Fionn’s face, so brooding and unhappy, caused an ache in Aine’s heart. For all that he’d wronged her by tricking her into this marriage, keeping the truth of his nature a secret until after they’d wed, Aine still loved him.  For an instant, she even considered denying the charge, but what good would that do? If the guilty blush heating her cheeks hadn’t already given her away, there was still naught that would be solved by lying. Nor would she insult them both by asking Fionn who he meant. He could only be referring to Kieran, Fionn’s other half, his opposite number and Aine’s…
Ah, well, that was the question, now wasn’t it? What was Kieran to her?
He wasn’t family. Though he and Fionn were as intimately connected as twins, their lives forever entwined, the two men were definitely not brothers. He wasn’t her lover yet either, no matter how much she might desire him, or how much Fionn might fear that was already the case. In fact, now that she’d thought on it, she did know what Kieran was to her. He was a geis—a curse. He was a burden she’d taken on, all unknowing, when she’d married Fionn, one she must now live with for six months out of every year.
Very soon, Kieran would be by her side once again with those eyes that seemed to gaze straight into her soul—and which also gave away far more of his own feelings than he ever intended—with a smile that could tempt even the most virtuous of angels into sinning and a voice that…well, even thinking about it now caused her heart to race and her chest to ache with longing.
Strong but wounded, charming yet aloof, handsome, tormented, and just the slightest bit wicked—had there ever been a more enticing combination in a man? Just like last year, he’d soon be sleeping under her roof, sharing the meals she cooked, keeping her company throughout the long winter nights and soft spring days whilst Fionn was away…
In truth, the prospect excited her far more than it should.
Aine shook her head. She could hardly tell her husband that! “The solstice is nigh upon us, my love,” she said instead.. “’Twould be wondrous strange were I not to be thinking of him at such a time. Would it not?”
“Aye,” Fionn replied in grudging tones. “I suppose it would at that.”
Aine felt her gaze soften as she looked upon her husband. He was so handsome, so serious, so concerned—and he looked so completely out of place in her little parlor, which she supposed he was. He appeared larger than life somehow, also not a great surprise. 
Even in the depths of winter, Fionn’s skin retained the same rosy flush she’d observed when first they’d met, as though he spent every day standing outside in the hot sun. He radiated warmth, vitality and strength—the very picture of every lush, summer day that had ever been, all rolled into one. All hers to enjoy. The thought sent a delicious thrill rushing through her, as it did each time she remembered it. Tonight, however, it also brought a renewed sense of urgency. For with Kieran’s arrival, Fionn would once again be forced to leave her.
Six long months would pass before they would see each other again and all she’d have to carry her through them was the memory of these days together. She ached to once more feel his body on hers—now, while she still had the chance. She yearned for those strong arms to wrap around her and hold her close, for those sure, masterful hands to caress her skin and bring her to ecstasy over and over again. The time left to them grew so short.
“’Tis you I married,” she said at last, for that was so much more important than the rest. “I bid you remember that, Fionn. ’Tis you who are my husband.”

“Aye. That I am.” A satisfied smile curved Fionn’s lips. His eyes lit up with a fierce, possessive gleam. Holding out his hand, he beckoned to her. “Now come here to me, wife, and let me remind you of that fact.” 
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