Halloween Valentine: A side story in the #Mongrelverse

Some authors ignore all their minor characters.

I find I cannot ignore all of them. Some of them start whispering their own stories in my ear and start harassing me until I write them.

That is the case here. For those who have read Through the Veil, you should remember Morgan, the Half-Fae PI. Well, this is the second short story about his life. (The first was Oathbreaker’s Blood, in The Hand You Were Dealt anthology.)
Enjoy a  horror driven romance in Treated to Tricks!

Have a Snippet from the tale here!

Morgan knew that he needed to bring something to Tegan. It was what people did for those with whom they would have to associate with for a long time. Everything he knew about the situation whispered to the Fae part of his soul that their association would either be short or most of the rest of his life.

Especially considering his oath to beget a child by her.

While he would not be a controlling arsehole like his own dearly departed Dad, he wanted to be involved with any child that he helped produce.

He was looking for a relationship that he had no way to define from his own experience. His life had been so tightly controlled by his father that he had no way to identify what he was looking for. Something more than someone to warm the bed of occasionally.

If he had any vaguely normal friends, then they could have told him what he was looking for. Even some of the saner members of his estranged family could have told him. He was looking for a loving, romantic, partnership of equals.

But there was nothing in his experience that led him to believe such was possible. His family, until he had broken from it, had been based entirely on dominance chains. There were no friendly equals within it that he had seen.

At first, Morgan considered which shop he might visit, what sort of gift he might purchase for Tegan. Then he realized two things. First, no matter what he bought for the woman, it would have less meaning than something from the collection of trophies and artifacts that had become his upon his father’s death. Things that should have been his long ago by battle right.

Secondly, his usual illusions might not cover his new appearance from an othersider, someone who had not crossed the Veil yet. He did not want to risk crossing someone over. Unnecessary travel in public would do precisely that, at least until he gained a better appreciation of what had changed about him.

His share had included much from siblings who were no longer alive. Those, however, lacked a personal touch in Morgan’s mind. He wanted to give Tegan something that he had been responsible for acquiring or liberating.

Monday Music

I have been trying to figure out ways to show you that I am still around and working on what you all want – more reading material. I will admit I have been absolutely terrible at the Facebook thing. It just isn’t really my wheelhouse. I love writing, but on Facebook brevity is a virtue. (Twitter even more so. I absolutely hate the character limit.) ‘short’ writing is not one of my virtues. So, I am going to trial a few things, starting with Music Monday – posting a tune that has helped me past a bump in my writing, or simply in life in general.

This week it is Broken Pieces by Apocalyptica (with Lacey.) There is simply something in it that sings to me as I write the second Mother of Monsters book.

Khazali’s Tale Release Snippet Sole: Book is live (and went live FAST!)

So… I was expecting to need two release snippets for you guys, but Khazali’s tale is already live. That’s right. You can buy it HERE
But I still owe you a snippet, and here it is:
The time was approaching. Khazali could have sworn she heard the marching steps of at least six people approaching the building. That made her frown slightly. Six people meant he had brought the maximum guards allowed. Four. She was not sure that boded well. It indicated either there was trouble near the border that this meeting was taking place, or a lack of trust, in one way or another, of the Sadeghi.

The young woman shook herself and thought, It is just my nerves talking. I can do this. Everyone I know has praised my beauty. Mazyar seemed interested when we spoke not two weeks ago. Surely with the additional attraction of my looks, he will desire a betrothal and a marriage as quickly as can be arranged.

There was a knock at the door. “Sister, it is time,” Vahid stated starkly. He had never been one to mince words. Oddly, it was comforting that he had not changed how he acted around her. Blunt and bluff as always.

She drew in a deep, calming breath, checked that her dress was in place and walked out the door. While ambling down the hall, she considered how to make the best impression on her suitor. Eventually, she settled on keeping her head bowed in respect. His rank was much higher than hers. He could be one of those people who was highly conscious of status. If so, keeping her head lowered, while keeping her body straight and her shoulders firm would show respect without implying servile station.

She also drew strength from Vahid’s presence. Everyone in the family knew that he never shaded the truth. If the Miahran heir found fault with her for some, probably imaginary, reason, then her family would not blame her. Then he stepped in front of her to open the door to the room where she would finally see Mazyar.

She firmly took control of her thoughts as she bowed her head and strode into the room.

Khazali’s Tale Snippet 2

“It is late for you to visit, my lord. It cannot be because of the message I sent you. So, what brings you to the border so late?” His agent asked as he led him over to a long table. Making sure his patron had water, he waited for Kazem to drink.

“I’m looking for a spear shaft for my niece. A particular type. It needs to be Ash.” Kazem explained. He was comfortable telling Umom this. The man had been loyal, and beyond that, he owed Nader and Kazim his life and his business. There was not much chance he would betray them. Especially over something involving Djinn politics. He might listen for disquiet on the clan lands, but he stayed clear of the politics of the Genies.

Umom froze slightly. Then he looked at Kazem. “She is of age already? My, how the time flies. Still, now is a bad time to travel, my Lord. An Angel, a Bene Elohim the commander thinks, sneaked through the gate just yesterday. I sent word as soon as I found out, and the commander sent a squad out to try and track it, as well as two runners from the militia to warn the Sadeghi himself.”

Kazem’s eyes narrowed. That may have explained the recruit’s salute. On the other hand, it also made the hamlet a possible site for conflict. Sighing, he said, “Why did you know I would seek you once my niece came of age?” He frowned slightly. Umom gave a slight frown.

“Because I was told what you would need. One of your niece’s tutors passed through here on his way home. I got him drunk, and he let slip to me that all the Sadeghi plans would be for naught if they did not have an ash shafted spear for their prized daughter.” A cunning smile crossed his face. “So, on the off chance he was not lying, I made a pair for her to choose from and hid them. It took me five years and several failures that were passed on to the garrison before I finally made a pair that I was proud of.”

Khazali’s Tale Snippet 1: Cover not ready yet.

Hello. Well, here is your notification that I am on track to publish yet another book next week. This one is a Spin-off/prequel to Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences, focusing on Khazali. It can also be read as a stand-alone, and for this reason will be part of a new spin-off ‘series’ of sorts, called ‘Alone in the Mongrelverse’.

So without further ado, here you go for your snippet pleasure

In one case, the lesser noble had been so uncouth and brutal in reputation that no-one, not even Kazem, had suggested accepting it, no matter the political advantage. In the other case, Sima had reflexively tightened her hand on the Azadan suitor who had commented on her scar. Sima was more of a soldier than a flower of Djinn femininity. She had conceded to Kazem she needed to marry soon, and Khazali knew it was likely that she would marry a soldier from within the clan.

It would not harm the family. It would strengthen ties with the retainers to the clan. Nor would it advance the Sadeghi among the nobility. Any opportunity for such now lay in Khazali’s marriage potential. Sima clearly believed it would be high.

After help from her sister to clean off the dust from her arms and face, Khazali hid a grimace. The hardest part was yet to come. She was to be introduced to the notable guests. This was the time when any mistakes would be worst. The Rite of Adulthood was only marginally less formal than a wedding or a funeral for the nobility. Her etiquette needed to be impeccable.

First, she was guided by her father to where the representatives of the Seven were standing. “Azdana Khazali, let me introduce you to the representative of the Suren.” He said formally.

The young woman curtsied deeply, and said, “Your Excellency Suren. It is a pleasure to meet you.” She extended her hand, and he brushed her fingers with his lips. “Charming and skilled. Your family should be praised for nurturing you into such a blossom.” Khazali bowed her head and blushed slightly at the compliment. It indicated that despite her skill with a weapon, he felt she had lost none of a woman’s charms. Sima would have been called a fine blade. She was pretty, but her training as the only child for fifty years had made her more masculine than the higher nobility, or the Seven would have accepted in a wife.

Next was the cousin from the Miahran. After she was introduced, after careful check of his clothes, she curtsied gracefully, although not low, and said, “My Lord of the Miahran.” This was the man she most wanted to impress with her poise and grace. What he said to his uncle would give her family the most significant improvement in status. Especially if he managed to convince the heir to take her as his first wife.

Through the Veil Is LIVE!

A normal life shatters. Beings beyond her imagination show themselves.

The Veil between the ordinary and the extraordinary rips for Zora.

Former MP and Army Medic Zora is happy with her life as a Paramedic. Helping people and saving lives gives her a satisfaction she never had as an MP. Her experience brings something few others have to her job.

Then there is an incident at work. One that leaves Zora’s memories hazy and her partner injured. Worried, she tries to move on but finds herself digging deeper. Finding out that there is a whole world hiding right among what she knows.

Once she walks through the Veil, there is no going back. But will her sanity remain intact after the journey?

Purchase the book on Amazon Today

Through the Veil: Release Snippet 2

Through the Veil has had the big red release button pressed.

Fly my words, Fly, Conquer the world! Ahahahaha!

That, of course, means that you get another snippet from the book. Enjoy, and I will put out an alert when the book goes live.

Zora shuddered in her fitful sleep, if it could even be called sleep. Her mind was not dreaming. It was struggling. She was trying to decide which memories she could trust, and which were false. The blue fog had lifted, leaving conflicting red and blue memories.

Somehow, she knew if she did not choose one set to accept, she would not remain sane for long. But which one could she accept? She had talked to her boss about Joe this morning. He had told her that her partner was alive, hadn’t he? Why would he lie to her?

Gary had always been honest and upfront with her. She could not conceive of a situation in which he would deceive her. He had to believe what he was saying. But she had encountered such other weirdness that she was not sure what she could trust. Or that he hadn’t been deceived. An older memory forced itself onto her. It seemed more raw, less polished, but that made it feel more solid at the same time. Black and white to the blue-tinted and red-tinted memories.

It was a memory of her Grandmama saying, “Always be careful, child. There are beings out there we cannot fathom the nature or abilities of. If you are unsure about something, remember the myths.”

One of those myths jumped out at her from those memories. The legend about Doppelgangers, and how they could take the form of anyone they wanted. Another, about changelings who replace a parent’s child at birth. What if there was something out there that could take the place of someone who was dead? Was that the sort of thing that her grandmother had been warning her about?

For the other Mongrelverse books that start series, A Mongrel’s Curse is HERE and Cursed Mother is HERE

Through the Veil: Release snippet 1

Zora found herself sitting on the passenger seat of a relatively new sedan. Her stomach had settled a little, but she was still having trouble focusing. The man who had helped her got some water from his boot. He had been kind. She really should get his name.

She rifled through the glovebox for something, even paper, to wipe her mouth with. Grabbing a loose sheet of what looked like scrap, she wiped it across her lips to remove the slimy-feeling residue. When the man came back with water in a metal sports bottle, he ordered, “Rinse and spit first.”

She grimaced but knew he was right. Swallowing the residue would most likely cause her gorge to rise again. She rinsed twice for good measure before she drank the rest of the bottle. Then she glanced at the piece of paper. On it was her address.

Fear flashed through her as she thought, Why does this man have my address? She shook herself a little. She had just seen a man light a smoke from fire from his fingertip and another thing with horns and red skin. A guy that had her address but was treating her kindly was low on her imminent-threats listing.

It still concerned her. If he had her address, there was no point in hiding where she lived. It all seemed so damned convenient now. Him being there to help her. Even the stranger that had precipitated the spill. She knew that there were times when paranoia was a survival trait.

How paranoid is a person if everyone is out to get them? Given what had happened, wasn’t some paranoia justified? She thought that was sure as hell the case.

Zora had grown up on tales from her father that her great-grandfather had been able to take the form of a wolf. As she had grown older, she had dismissed them as family stories with no basis in reality. But a part of her had always wondered. Wished it were true, even. That there were things that science alone could not explain.

Through the Veil should be released later this week. Hope you all are looking forward to it.
While you wait you can look at the other Mongrelverse Books, Here (A Mongrel’s Curse), Here (Cursed Mother) and Here (Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences)

Or you can look at my newest release, a Collaboration with Taki Drake, Mage and Mate

Also, sometime in the next month or two, my site should be getting a re-vamp (over vamp? Reconstruction?) So it may be briefly down. Just be patient. Things need to be updated and improved!

Paul C. Middleton.

Mage and Mate: Collaboration snippet 2

Here I am, taking a good hard look at myself, and I realize I almost did what I promised I would not do. Leave you guys in the dark

Sorry.

So without further ado, here is the final snippet for Mage and Mate. Why is it the final snippet? Well, the book is coming out next week, that’s why!

ForceX Bar, Arkken Port

It had been a short drive to the Marine bar known as ForceX. The drinking establishment had been the first place that Ruth had planned on visiting when she landed on the planet. It was here that she had returned the effects of Sarge Brandark, the man who had sacrificed himself on the slave ship to allow her to live.

Holding Sarge’s wake there had ed to other significant events in the short time that the Mage had been on the planet Arkken. If Ruth could’ve called anyone on the world an ally, she would’ve used that term to describe the bartender at the ForceX Bar.

Luka Grission was not just the bartender, he was part-owner of the drinking establishment itself. Tied tightly into both active and former military circles, he was a good source of information, and both Pawlik and Ruth valued him as a person of honor.

That was why Ruth was there.

Pawlik had gone out to another meeting with some of his political contacts, leaving the Mage at loose ends. While the nobleman was gone, a message had been brought in tagged for Ruth’s attention. It was a note from Luka, saying that he had some crucial topics to discuss with her and hoped that she would be able to stop by within the next day or so.

Of course, she’d been ready to take off immediately. Her security detail put their collective foot down and insisted that she wait for them to prepare. Jenna resisted all blandishments and took the time to assemble a security detail. Ruth fussed and fumed, but the delay wasn’t that long. By the time they took off from Borachland Castle, it was still less than an hour between Ruth getting the message and their shuttle leaving.

The big hurry may have increased their discomfort, Ruth thought to herself. However, it’s good for them to stop thinking of me as a package that needs to be moved around. This package has legs, and they can lead, follow, or get out of the blasted way.

Walking through the doors of the ForceX Bar still gave Ruth the shock of going from full light to almost complete darkness. At least at this point, it was a known feeling. Pausing for a short moment to get her bearings, Ruth was nearly overrun by one of her security detail.

Smiling at his muttered apology, Ruth walked over toward the bar and called out, “Hi Luka! I hope you have started to stock the better liquor because I really could use a drink and I don

’t want to drink any wimpy stuff.”

The bartender let a hearty belly laugh loose and reached below the bar to pull a bottle and several glasses. “Hello, yourself. I suppose we should be honored that the Lady Mage is visiting us.”

“Only if you want me to drink you under the table at the insult,” Ruth replied.

“No, no. Anything but that! Think of the terrible things you would do to my reputation if I allowed that to happen.”

“Then you better not give me any further snobbish words, because we are here for good companionship and drinks before we have to take off for home again.”

“Obviously, you’re going to need some people to drink with you. It wouldn’t be any fun to drink by yourself, and I know better than to try to tempt your bodyguards.”

“I suppose you’re right. Do you have any recommendations for someone who’s not going to get freaked out by drinking with a non-Marine? Preferably, someone who won’t hit on me.”

The bartender chortled and looked around the room, making a show of his slow perusal. There were very few people sitting in the bar at that point, but the Mage made special note of several of them. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Jenna had stiffened when she had seen two of the same three that Ruth had marked.

Ruth heard Jack, Jenna’s AI weapon, say, << Isn’t that the Major? I thought he was acting more like a hermit these days instead of drinking at a bar. >>

Jenna replied silently, surp

rising Ruth because she very seldom did that when the Mage was around. In a quiet mental voice, the former Marine said, << Yes, if you think that it is Major Alan Culhane. >>

<< OK. Now you can explain to me why that dimwitted excuse for an officer, Lieut. Trempal is slumming in a Marine bar. >>

Before Jenna could reply to Jack, a new mental voice interjected, << I think he was here because he had been ordered to spy on the occupants of the bar. However, when Alan and I showed up, his orders changed, and now he’s here to try to see who we might meet with and what other bits of meat he can scavenge. >>

Both Jack and Jenna exclaimed in unison, << Frag him! >>