Drift looked down at the collection of pastel-clad rabbits slowly climbing his legs, and quirked just enough lip to show the tip of a fang. “Are your bunnies going to throw me out?”Foiled, Samantha Marshall
A Perfectly Paranormal Easter
It’s here! It’s here! IT’S HERE!!
Today is the official release day for A Perfectly Paranormal Easter, coming to you just in time for a lovely bookish session on the couch with a hot chocolate, some actual chocolate, a blankie and some blessed peace and quiet.
Yes, please, I’ll take six!
Together with the other three fabulous authors who make up the Perfectly Paranormal Anthology crew, I am beyond thrilled to bring you this latest installment in the series.
This anthology contains four unique, original, full-length novellas in a variety of styles, so there’s bound to be something to suit everyone. My contribution is called Foiled, and it was a bit of a challenge (*cough* understatement *cough*) to write, but the result has been well worth the brain sparkles and copious amounts of hair pulling I did as part of the writing process.
We all worked our fluffy little tails off for this latest installment, and I for one am incredibly proud and grateful to have the continued opportunity to work with not only a group of such amazing authors, but three wonderful women who have evolved from colleagues to friends.
So, without further ado… here’s the blurb!
Foiled by Samantha Marshall
Everything has a dark side… even chocolate.
Taylin Colkannis has never questioned her place as head Sentinel of Evergreen Waters Retreat – until the night an intruder sneaks into her home and attempts to murder her mentor right under her nose. Before she has a chance to change out of her pyjamas, Taylin’s kitchen is overtaken by an entire department of Easter Bunnies and a darkly handsome man claiming to be the only god capable of saving her mentor’s life.
Drift was once the Primal God of the Vernal Equinox – until Ostara, Goddess of the Spring and Dawn, stole his powers, his staff, his duties as the Easter Hare and, if that wasn’t enough, his dignity. Countless centuries later, a nameless thief has snatched the Staff of Easter from Ostara’s domain and is using it to wreak havoc across the land of Mu. To regain his birthright, Drift must catch the thief… and nobody, least of all the enchanting Taylin Colkannis with her moon-touched magic and beguiling smile, is going to stand in his way.
Desperate to save her mentor, Taylin offers to help Drift recover his staff – putting them in direct competition with Ostara and the Easter Bunny Conglomerate, who will stop at nothing to prevent Drift’s restoration. With the balance of the Merged Worlds at stake and danger around every corner, Taylin and Drift must learn to trust the primal attraction blooming between them… or tear each other apart.
A Perfectly Paranormal Easter is currently on celebratory sale for 99c, so I highly recommend snapping up a copy before it slides up to full retail price.
If you’d like to know more about the anthology itself or check out the blurbs for the other stories before you dive in, however, I’ve got all the relevant info right here on my website!
If you’re new to the anthologies and aren’t sure where to dive in, then check out the first one, A Perfectly Paranormal Valentine, right here. (Hint, hint – it’s freeeeeeeee!)
Finally, if you’d like to keep up to date with these things as they happen, then don’t be afraid to sign up to my newsletter – then you’ll get updates straight to your inbox (as well as a free novella that’s exclusive to subscribers) on a monthly-ish basis.
Oh… and if you’ve read this far, then I have a treat for you! Simply keep on scrolling – the Osterhase might have dropped by and left chapter one of Foiled in the PS section.
Until next time,
Happy Easter, and even happier reading!
“How’s the writing going?”Conversation with my Nana, 96 years old, winking at me about the easter bunny while we sip hot drinks in her courtyard.
“Good – I have a new book coming out right before Easter.”
“You want me to buy you a book for Easter?”
“No, I have a BOOK coming OUT at Easter.”
“Oh, yes, well, ask the Easter Bunny – you never know what he’ll bring you.”
“NO, I SAID – you know what? Never mind.”
The Unfortunate Fate of Great Aunt Ethel
Foiled, Chapter One, by Samantha Marshall
A crinkle in the dark.
That’s all it took for Taylin’s eyes to snap open; no gentle, lazy lash lifting but a brutal, immediate awareness that had all the fine hairs on her body standing on end.
With careful deliberation, she forced her fingers to curl around the top of the bedsheet. One. Just a dream. Two. Dreams fade. Three. She was safe. Four … a wild, riotous flash of fury slammed into her brain, forcing her teeth together and bowing her spine before it cut off with the finality of a slamming door.
Taylin’s heart rabbited in her chest as the very real slamming of a door echoed from downstairs.
Someone was in the house.
Get up. Get up. Get up.
But she was made of stone, her bones a weight too great to lift, her lungs inadequate tools with which to provide oxygen to her body.
She was not helpless. She was Taylin Colkannis, triple-banded mage, Sentinel of Evergreen Waters Retreat, and she would never be helpless again.
Throwing the covers back, Taylin rolled out of bed and crept to the door. She hesitated with one hand on the knob, her senses ranging the house for signs of the intruder.
Nothing – except for an odd patch of static downstairs and to the right, in the kitchen. The strange cloud didn’t give off any emotion, no hint of life … and yet there was something, some kind of lingering residue that made Taylin want to scream and scream and scream and scream.
“Not helpless,” she whispered, pulling open the door. “Not. Helpless.”
Her steps were slow and deliberate down the landing, the rasp of her breathing the only sound in the choking silence. Shadows prowled beyond the faint luminosity of her skin, snickering as they awaited an opportunity to pounce. She took the stairs one at a time, one eye on her route and the other examining the magic woven into the very bones of the estate. Both Taylin and Great Aunt Ethel worked to recharge those wards every day, pouring love and strength into them until there was very little that could endanger Evergreen’s residents – and no way the residents could endanger anyone else.
Taylin paused at the foot of the stairs. The back door stood to her left, limned by moonlight … and ajar, as though slammed with such force it bounced off the frame before the lock had time to engage. She cracked it enough to peer into the night, the moonlight painting a blessing across her glowing skin.
A faint breeze whispered across the manicured lawns, causing the ever-blooming flowers in the garden to bob their heads hello, hello, hello. Beneath the outward appearance of peace crept a lingering echo of thwarted rage and driving purpose, a memory that faded more with every passing moment. Whoever had come was now gone.
She scanned the rest of the estate. Evergreen Waters Retreat had several buildings, of which the two-story home she shared with Great Aunt Ethel was the crown jewel. Since none of the wards were disturbed over the rest of the property, whoever had entered the house had known exactly what they wanted and where to find it.
Though … Great Aunt Ethel hadn’t raised the alarm, and the wards, whilst reflecting the intruder’s passage, remained intact. Perhaps this was no more than a late-night visit by an acquaintance of Ethel’s, or even a past resident wishing to drop by without garnering undue attention.
The patch of static in the kitchen pulsed.
“Ethel? Is that you?” Taylin pulled back into the house and closed the door.
Great Aunt Ethel had never before displayed the ability to scrub herself from Taylin’s empathic senses but the woman was fae and incredibly ancient; if she’d wanted to have some kind of clandestine meeting inside the house without alerting Taylin, this would be the perfect way to do it.
Releasing her grip on the wards, she smoothed her hands down the soft cotton of her pyjama pants and let out a long breath.
More jumping at shadows. When would she ever learn?
When Taylin entered the kitchen, Great Aunt Ethel was standing in her favourite spot by the far window, where a crack in the curtains allowed a perfect view of the courtyard beyond. That she didn’t turn when Taylin flicked on the kettle was no oddity, and with her empathic senses now retracted as far as they could go, the strange static that had felt so grating before was almost unnoticeable.
“Tea or coffee?” Taylin pulled two mugs from the overhead cupboard and arranged them just so on the smooth wooden bench. “Ethel?”
When the fae who was nobody’s Great Aunt and therefore everybody’s Great Aunt didn’t answer, Taylin swung to face her. Ethel remained as she’d been; still and silent. Shadows concealed most of her form, only the faintest illumination leaking in from the partially opened curtains to glint off the deep carmine velvet of her favourite robe.
Except … velvet didn’t glint.
“Great Aunt Ethel?” Goosebumps rose in a wave as Taylin sidled closer. Ethel’s iron-grey hair was in the long, loose braid she often wore for sleeping but it looked flat somehow, as though painted on.
Taking care to be gentle, Taylin put a hand on Ethel’s shoulder.
She drew back as though burnt, breath sawing in her lungs. That was the sound – the sound that had woken her. Crinkling, like … foil.
Swallowing her dread, Taylin illuminated her skin from within. The glow was gentle and soft, tinted blue-white like the moonlight it imitated, but it was more than enough to see by. More than enough to make out the shape of Great Aunt Ethel, her edges curiously rounded and her stance unchanging.
Taylin brushed her senses against the grating static that lingered in the air. As before, there were no signs of life, nothing to say that the shape in front of her was a person. But if it wasn’t Great Aunt Ethel, who, or what, was it?
Shifting so she could see the front of the strange figure, Taylin slapped a hand over her mouth, catching her scream. Before her was a painstakingly precise sculpture of Great Aunt Ethel, her face set in an almost comical caricature of shock. The features were correct to the finest detail whilst remaining unnaturally flat, as though someone had taken the real Ethel and transformed her into a parody of herself. When Taylin laid a hand softly, so softly, against the effigy’s outer surface, the crinkling of foil set bile bubbling at the back of her throat.
Swallowing the revulsion that threatened to overwhelm, Taylin opened her empathic senses as far as they would go. Beneath the static, almost impossible to detect, was a whisper of emotional resonance as unique as a fingerprint. The kind of resonance that allowed Taylin to say beyond any shadow of a doubt that the odd, foil-covered statue in front of her was Great Aunt Ethel.
Taylin’s fingers twitched and the foil crinkled and tore. She leapt back with a squeak, staring at the tear for a moment before slamming her hand down on the panic button at the end of the kitchen bench. No alarm split the night, but she knew that in the guardhouse across the estate, warnings and lights would be going off like crazy.
In the meantime, Taylin couldn’t help but bend to examine the rip she’d put in the foil. For all the hammering of her heart, she was the Sentinel here and it was her job to keep Aunt Ethel – and the rest of Evergreen Waters – safe. With careful fingers, she peeled the foil aside and stared.
It was … It looked like … No.
Shaking her head, Taylin tugged open the curtain to make sure she could see clearly, and when nothing changed, turned on every single light in the kitchen.
Beneath Ethel’s foil wrapping was not a body. No flesh. No blood. Not even stone.
It was chocolate.