Today’s Finalist is Monica Corwin with her Paranormal Romance, Midnight’s Balance.
Just a reminder I forgot to share yesterday: REMEMBER! These are all works in progress that haven’t seen an editor yet…so, grain of salt if you see something you’d correct. 🙂
“If you take another Instagram snap, I’m going to feed you to the alligator.”
She didn’t acknowledge the threat, but waved glitter tipped fingers in my direction, and continued tapping her phone in a blaze of glory.
For the first time in 300 years, I was struck speechless by a familiar…on her first day no less.
I snatched the slim rose gold device from her palms, and a full two seconds passed before its absence registered.
Kids these days owned multiple electronics branded with the same tiny apples, which made me wonder if Hades himself might discover the logo stamped on their souls when they selfied their way to the Underworld.
When Marina reached out to snatch the phone from my hands, I stepped backward and smirked as she smacked face first into the wards guarding my threshold.
Instead of stopping, as I expected, she delved her fingers through the invisible shield and ripped it open, like split mesh on a screen door.
She raised one perfectly plucked eyebrow and met my probably quizzical gaze. It had been far too long since someone was brave enough to look me in the eye, let along go full on Tombstone.
I finally conceded, as my toes were starting to freeze from the winter chill wafted in around her small frame. “Come in.”
She shuffled into the entry way and reached back for her suitcase, it banging against her knees before she set it down on the hardwood floor. A shiver went through her, but I knew her family too well to think she was affected by the cold. So many of her generation lived in my house, she was feeling all of their magic in my wards.
I skirted around her, and her voluminous coat, toward the study just off the entry way. “Once you rid yourself of five or six layers you can join me in the study.”
She entered, the echo of her boots on the hardwood competing with the crackling fire. “This is…intimidating.”
I glanced around my work space before depositing her phone on the top of a chair. Books piled high from one corner to the other, not to mention the ones on the shelves lining an entire wall floor to ceiling. A lab table was set up in the middle of the room, plants with heat lamps hanging from the ceiling above it.
“I didn’t expect you to have a computer,” she said, from behind a maroon tufted high-back chair.
She picked up the MacBook and shook it in the air. “Computer, you have a laptop…I didn’t expect you to have one.
I shrugged and plopped in the chair to continue grinding the herb concoction I made earlier. “Your mother got it for me. It comes in handy as a paperweight from time to time.”
She chuckled and approached the workspace. “What’s that? A spell, ritual, demon banishment?”
I clinked the pestle on the edge of the mortar to knock of lingering herbs. “It’s something far more important than that.”
Leaning in her eyes widened staring into the bowl. “Oh?”
I matched her stance as if were conspiring. “It’s my morning tea.”
She blinked and stepped back. “Are you messing with me?”
I pushed the mortar toward her. “Smell it. Tell me what’s in it.”
With a withering glance she grabbed it and brought it to her nose. She took a short sniff then a long one. “I’m not sure. I think lavender, and rose hip, but I don’t know what the spicy one is.”
“Roobios,” I said.
She made a face. “Why the floral with the spicy?”
“Do I ask you why the pajama pants and fuzzy boots? No.”
Her pale cheeks took on a pink hue as she crossed her arms under her breasts. “Fine. Well…do you want me to start some water?”
I glanced up at her from over the table top. Not in 200 years had anyone offered to make tea for me. “Please, the kettle is on the back burner.” I pointed toward the hallway to the kitchen.
She spun and left and I watched her go. A pretty little thing, like all the women in her family. But, training a new familiar was tough work. Especially in the midst of magical turmoil. I glanced at the radio, now silent, but before Marina’s arrival it had been blaring magical hate speech for an hour. I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to things like that, but know your enemy, as they say.
Times were changing. It was getting more difficult to hide anything from anyone. And with big brother hanging over everyone’s shoulder it was even worse. A witch burned at the stake only a month ago after she used magic to save a bus load of people from an armed gunman. Her reward: turned to ash.
The guilt threatened to choke me. I let out a long sigh and shuffled some books stacked on the side of my table. I hadn’t been in my home realm at the time of the burning, or I could have saved her.
I stacked the books in front of me, spine to spine like the vertebrates on a human.
Marina reentered the room with a tea cup steaming with water. “I didn’t put anything in it. You don’t look like a milk or sugar man.”
I accepted the hot ceramic carefully cradling it in my palms, the heat sinking into my stiff and sore fingertips. Old age has its pitfalls even if I didn’t look a day over 40.
“You look tired,” she said, pulling the stack of books toward her.
I watched her carefully. A pithy remark hanging on my tongue. “Do you always comment on people’s appearance five years after meeting them?”
She seemed unphazed by my tone. “No, of course not, but I feel like I’ve known you all my life. In my house it’s always John did this and John did that.”
She lined the stack back up as I had it and shifted it back toward me.
I sipped the tea and waited to see if she was one of those people who could tolerate silence. When I offered nothing else she turned and wandered to the bookcase caressing some of the titles gently.
“How long have you lived here?”
I glanced at my watch. We made it a whole eight minutes without speaking. Not bad for the first day.
“I’ve lived in this house about eighty years or so.”
She spun around, a wide grin on her face. “I knew you were old, and I knew you never looked your age from the stories my mom told me, but hearing it from you is so weird.”
What was I supposed to say to that?
I decided to remain silent on that one. She shrugged and continued down the line of books stopping to read each carefully. A vibration sounded through the room and I shook myself. My phone was vibrating in my pocket. I slipped it out and glanced at the screen. A twitter alert had popped up.
“Was that you?”
I held it up and then plopped it on the edge of another stack of books. “Just Twitter.”
“You are on Twitter?”
“How else am I supposed to know when shit hits the fan? About the only useful thing it can do. Humans have a weird habit of videotaping and tagging before running for their lives.”
She pulled her phone out. “I’m totally going to follow you on Twitter. What’s your username? Wait let me guess: @magicman1785 or is it @badasssorcerer1922?”
I waited for her to finish.
She glanced up, caught my expression, and folded her lips under trying to hide the smile.
“I’ll tell you what. If you figure out my handle, I’ll even follow you back.”
“Challenge accepted, Old Man.” Her thumbs took up a furious pace on the iPhone larger than her head.
I sat back leaning the weight on the stool into my feet hooked into the wrung below. Her blonde hair shone orange from one side from the firelight at the end of the room. I took a sip of my tea and closed my eyes letting her aura filter in. It was like trying to reach out and grab a black hole. Whatever her power it was stronger than any woman in her family yet, and null, completely devoid of magic, like magic turned inside out.
I opened my eyes to find her staring at me. “Are you alright? You’re not going to like die on my first day right? Cause I’d never live that down.”
I chuckled against my will and sipped my tea before answering. “I’m fine. Tell me what your gift is?”
She straightened from leaning across the table, the glitter in her nail polish catching the light. “Well, I’m immune to magic. Any and all magic. Has no affect.”
“How do you know any and all magic?”
She shrugged. “They tested me.”
“Who tested you? You mother and grandmother?”
She shrugged and turned back to the books.
“Is this something you aren’t supposed to tell me because it will make me hunt those girl down and give them a good scolding?”
She laughed. “I can’t imagine anyone scolding my Grandmother.”
“Oh, it’s happened, on numerous occasions. I still call her up and grumble at her when I need my copy of Demonica that she destroyed.”
“I suppose it was an accident. Doesn’t replace the only copy to exist on Earth. I suggest she journey to hell for a new copy but she wasn’t too keen on that idea.”
She blinked and I maintained a neutral expression. “You’re joking right?”
I grabbed a book off the stack and pushed it toward her. “Start here.”
She tilted the spine up. “Magical History of the Americas?”
“You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”
She pushed up her sleeves and opened the book. “Alright Gandi.”
Lucky you! Midnight’s Balance is up for preorder HERE!
Monica Corwin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She is an outspoken writer attempting to make romance accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. As a Northern Ohioian, Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and a dislike of Michigan football. Monica owns more books about King Arthur than should be strictly necessary. Also typewriters…lots and lots of typewriters.
You can find her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/monicacorwin,
On the web at: http://www.monicacorwin.com. Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/rosetyper9.
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