A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novel

Starlight Web
Part of the Moonshadow Bay series:

Moonshadow Bay…where magic lurks in the moonlight, and danger hides in the shadows.

One month before January Jaxson turns 41, her husband ditches her for a trophy wife. Adding insult to injury, he steals the business she helped build, and kicks her out during the holidays. So when her best friend Ari suggests she move back to Moonshadow Bay—a quirky, magical town near Bellingham WA—January decides to take the plunge.

Born into a family of witches, January accepts a job at Conjure Ink, a paranormal investigations website. The job’s right up her alley but she doubts that everything reported to Conjure Ink really exists. That is, until she’s sent out on her first case.

An abandoned asylum once housed a murderer, who killed an entire family one Yuletide Eve. It’s rumored that every December he returns to haunt the woodland around the asylum, seeking to add new members to his supernatural family. January’s sure it’s an urban legend, but when new victims show up with no logical explanation for their deaths, Conjure Ink sends her in to investigate. Suddenly January finds herself in over her head, staring directly into the shadowed world of the Veil.

Now, January must not only navigate the new life she’s trying to build, but the paranormal beasties she’s sent out to explore, as well as a hot new neighbor, who seems to be hiding a shadowed past of his own.



Chapter 1

I leaned in my car window to crank the stereo, then returned to the sidewalk, staring at the house. Warren Zevon was on the radio, singing “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.” The lawyers I had, for all the good they did me. Fortunately for Ellison, I wasn’t carrying a gun. But the money part? Not quite so flush, especially after Ellison took me to the cleaners.

As I stood in the driveway, I paused, jamming my thumbs in the pockets of my jeans.

Eighteen freaking years I’d spent with my scumbag of an ex-husband. For eighteen years I’d done things his way, followed his traditions instead of mine, kept my mouth shut while he made one mistake after another because I didn’t want to field yet another argument.


I’d decorated the house to his tastes, I’d worn polite, prim clothing because he couldn’t stand for anything to be too “weird” or “garish.” I’d played the good little wife and muted my magic when I was around his friends, who were oh so disdainful of anybody born outside of a human suit. I had put my life on hold to work for his dream, and I’d made his dream happen.

I’d done everything he asked, and what was the end result?

The end result was that I was now standing outside my house for the last time. I had been dumped for a twenty-year-old bimbo, I’d been blacklisted from any job in publishing in the area, and I had been bilked out of both the magazine that I had started almost single-handedly and the house I’d helped to buy.

Sure, I had been awarded half our known assets, but I knew that we had accumulated far more money. Ellison had just managed to squirrel it away from the judge’s eye, a judge who should have recused himself from our divorce proceedings because he was Ellison’s good buddy. But he hadn’t, and I’d gotten screwed without even an orgasm to seal the deal.

“Fuck you, Ellison Reilly. And your uptight prig of a mother, too.” I flipped the house the bird, but that didn’t feel like enough of a parting statement.

Then it hit me. I knew what to do.

I marched back inside and dug through the closets until I found his tuxedo—the one he had worn when we got married. The thousand-dollar stand-in for a honeymoon. I’m sorry, January, but I can’t afford a honeymoon, even though I promised you one. I had to buy my tux. We’ll take one later. Only later had never come.

I added my wedding dress—a modest white sheath dress, because I had stuck to the budget we had originally set for our wedding—and carried both the tux and dress outside.

My next act was to toss the thousand-dollar tux into the fire pit, then drop my wedding dress on top of it. After they were firmly inside, I poured lighter fluid over the whole shebang. I stepped back, then lit a match and flicked it into the pile of clothing. Whoosh! The flames roared up into the cloudy sky, filling the air with the acrid stench of dry-cleaning chemicals. The flames weren’t bright enough to attract undue attention, and Ellison was out with his floozy, so he wouldn’t find the charred remains until tomorrow.

I thought about dancing around the fire but I wasn’t in a celebrating mood and it wasn’t a full moon. And I still didn’t feel like I had payback—at least, not enough. I wanted to say good-bye on a big note. One he couldn’t ignore.

A snowflake landed on my cheek and I glanced at the sky. It was only the first week of December and already the weather had taken a turn toward winter. We didn’t always have snow in Seattle, but this year, it looked like we were about to break the odds.

Ellison was out for the evening with Ana—one “n”—his trophy bride-to-be. He’d spent a year trying to gaslight me that he wasn’t having an affair with her, but I could sense her residue energy on him every time he came home late. Finally, I called Ari and asked her to cast a spell, asking that the affair be brought into the open if it was really happening. I was too close to the situation and didn’t trust my magic not to backfire. The next day, I came home to find his head between Ana’s legs and boom, that took care of that.

I looked around for one last way to signal my departure. I really didn’t want to destroy the house—I had loved that house. But then I caught sight of his convertible and I knew how to sign my good-bye note. He had bought a $55,000 car that we could barely afford, while I was still driving a fifteen-year-old Subaru that was in the shop more often than it was out.

“Can you get any more midlife crisis?” I said, shaking my head. A convertible in Seattle made as much sense as a bikini in the Antarctic, but men who thought with their penises usually made idiotic decisions. Dashing back in the house, I found the spare car key he kept in his desk.

Back outside, I opened the car door, fit the key in the ignition, and rolled down the window just wide enough to fit the hose. One more trip back to the side yard and I found the hose and dragged it around to the driveway. I stuck it through the crack, then returned to the faucet.

“Okay, January, think,” I said aloud. “Do you really want to do this? Is he even worth the effort?”

But my heart answered for me. He had used me to build something wonderful, then cut me out of it as thoroughly as he had cut out my heart. The pain of losing him? I was over that, but I wasn’t over the anger that he had taken everything away from me and then blacklisted me with all his buddies in the publishing industry. I had lost my marriage, my career, the magazine…all in one fell swoop.

I turned the faucet on, turning it all the way. The water began to fill the car.

Feeling a grim sense of satisfaction, I stood back, my hands on my hips. “Okay. This…this is closure. Good-bye, Ellison. We’re done.”

I tossed his car key and my house key into the flames still flickering in the firepit, then turned away. The movers were gone, hours ago. The last of my suitcases were in the back of my Subaru. I settled into the driver’s seat, fastened my seat belt, and turned the ignition.

“Come on, Cookie,” I whispered to my car. “Let’s get a move on.”

Smiling for the first time in weeks, I turned up the music as the track switched over to the Talking Heads, and rolled out of the neighborhood with “Burning Down the House” echoing in my ears.


Moonshadow Bay was a town on the coast of Washington, about ten miles south of Bellingham. With a population of around five thousand, it also happened to be the town I was born in. And though I had lost my parents to a plane crash five months ago, the town was filled with happy memories, and even though they wouldn’t be there to greet me, my aunt was waiting for me and that was enough to make me smile.

As I drove through the quiet streets, a life that had felt a world away when I was in Seattle came rushing back. Some of the shops had changed, but the town square was still set up for get-togethers and meetings, and the City Central building, which housed the police station, courthouse, jail, town hall, the main fire station, public works department, and the library, still stood in the center of town, as stoic as ever, with the clock in the tower that was always and forever ten minutes slow, watching over the center of Moonshadow Bay.

The snow had already cloaked the town. Moonshadow Bay was close to the Canadian border, and the town was on the lower end of Bellingham Bay, overlooking the Salish Sea. The storms came in past the islands. The farther north I got from Seattle, the heavier the snow had become. I had been driving for almost two hours, given the slippery roads. The weather added thirty minutes to the usual time, as well as me slowing down to thirty-five on some parts of the freeway. I wasn’t afraid of driving, but I wasn’t stupid, either, and when the snow was falling so heavily it was hard to see through, I took my time.

As I pulled into town, I began to breathe easier. I was finally here, almost home. As I passed the city limits sign, I felt something shift, and the anger I had still been carrying seemed to fall away.

Welcome home, the town whispered. We’ve missed you.

Moonshadow Bay was beautiful, with more parks and woodland areas than it had buildings. The centralized downtown district was fairly dense and compact, and from that inner core, the residential area sprawled out, feathering through the trees and the streams that flowed down to the Salish Sea. While it didn’t have all the amenities of a large city, Bellingham was close enough to make up for that.

The streets were coated with a light dusting of snow and everywhere faerie lights shone, sparkling as they wove around the trees and lampposts and shop windows. Every store seemed decorated and ready for the holidays, and I suddenly felt the tension draining away, out of my shoulders. There was magic in the air—I could smell it as sure as I could smell the snow. It crackled, darting like shifting sparks, and it too whispered, Welcome home. Moonshadow Bay is where you belong.

And it truly was, in a way.

My great-grandfather, Brian Fletcher, and his wife Colleen had come over from England. The family powers had descended through her—we were Fam-Trads, a family of witches—and even though I didn’t know a great deal about Colleen’s heritage other than she had been born in Ireland, I knew that the magic came down through her, through the women in my family. My mother and my grandmother had been witch women, too, and so was my aunt Teran, who was a few years younger than my mother had been. And all of them had passed on their knowledge to me. And what had I done? Turned away from it because Ellison was too spooked by Otherkin.

I passed through the main strip, watching the pedestrians strolling along the sidewalks. The stores were open late due to the holidays, and while the streets had been plowed, they were still slippery. I eased along, making sure not to slam on the brakes.

As I left the town square and turned the corner on Maple Street, my eyes grew misty. I was only a few blocks away from my house. My parents had left me the house I’d grown up in, but I hadn’t been home since they had died, and then I had been so distracted by my grief that I had barely noticed my surroundings.

But now, the realization that I was coming home, and my mother and father wouldn’t be around to greet me ever again hit hard. It didn’t matter whether you were fourteen or forty, losing your parents cut a deep hole.

One more turn and I was on Fern Street, and there, up ahead on the left, was a beautiful two-story farmhouse, with a wide front porch that was supported by intricately carved newel posts. The driveway was clear, except for one truck, which I recognized as my aunt’s. Teran had driven an old beater for years now, and how the thing held together, I didn’t know. It ran on a whisper of magic, for sure.

I parked next to the truck, then turned off the ignition and sat in the silence for a moment, taking it all in.

The house came with a half-acre acre of land, so the yard was wide and private, surrounded by trees on all sides. Fern Street was a dead-end road, ending at one of the many pathways leading into Mystic Wood State Park. I lived right up against the park. I finally opened the door and hauled myself out of the car, wincing as I stretched.

Even though I worked out on my exercise bike every day and did yoga, the years were beginning to tap on my shoulder, reminding me that I wasn’t anywhere near the shape I wanted to be in. But given that I had held down a full-time job and cleaned the house and took care of everything so Ellison wouldn’t complain, I decided to cut myself some slack.

I slung my purse over my shoulder and clattered up the front stairs. As I reached for the bell, the door opened and there she was—Aunt Teran.

“Thank heaven you’re here. It’s setting in to blow up a gale out there,” she said. “The movers made it here and I did my best to direct them where to put the boxes.”

My aunt had a smile a mile wide for me. She held out her arms and then it hit me. Her eyes—they were same as my mother’s eyes. The same depth, the same love, the same color even. And in that moment, the dam broke and I leaned into her embrace, bursting into tears for the first time since my parents’ funeral.


Twenty minutes later, I was snuggled under a throw, curled on the sofa with a peppermint schnapps mocha and a plate of cookies. They were oatmeal raisin, with just the right amount of cinnamon.

“So you’re back to stay,” my aunt said. She was sitting in the rocking chair. My parents had updated the house shortly before they died, with new paint throughout, a new kitchen and a new master bath. It felt like home and yet, oddly different. The living room had a new sofa in it, and I had to admit it was comfortable, but it felt out of place.

I let out a sigh. “Yeah. I’m back to stay.” I paused, then said, “I guess that chapter of my life is over.”

“Was it bad? The divorce?” Teran sipped her mocha. “I don’t know if I spiked this enough.”

“It’s got plenty of kick to it,” I said, rolling up to a sitting position. “The divorce? Well, it wasn’t good. I know I should have ended it years ago, but I was…”


I thought about it for a moment. “No, not comfortable. I was in a rut. I had no clue what to do if I left, and back then I didn’t want to think about the fight we’d have dividing the magazine. I guess Ellison took care of that for me.”

“Tell me what happened with that.” Aunt Teran folded her legs under her in the chair. She was tall and sturdy, and she had hair down to her butt. It had been salt and pepper when I last saw her, but now it was black, streaked with electric blue, and it looked amazing. She was wearing jeans, a rainbow-pride top, and her throw-back granny glasses. Teran had never married, and she had never told me why.

“I did something everybody always warns you not to do. I signed a document—a notarized one at that—without reading it. We were in a hurry, Ellison assured me that what I was signing were articles of incorporation. But the notary was actually a friend of Ellison’s who was helping him. The articles of incorporation turned out to be a prenup. They got my signature but actually managed to change the date, pre-dating it to before our wedding. I gave Ellison full control over the magazine, as well as giving him full ownership of the house, but I can’t prove anything.” I groaned, bringing my knees up to lean against them.

“I feel like such a fool. I trusted him and he screwed me over so bad my lawyer couldn’t untangle it. We told the judge what happened, but it was useless. It was my word against Ellison’s, and he has some powerful friends in the Seattle law community, including that judge. So he basically conned me out of the magazine I started and any interest in the house.”

I winced, glancing at her. Teran could be mighty blunt, but I really needed some TLC now, not a lecture.

She stared at me for a moment, then the next, she was by my side, scooching me toward the center of the sofa. She slid in behind me and began to rub my shoulders.

Sighing, she said, “You know, sometimes the con artists of the world catch us by surprise. Ellison was good at hiding his true nature, although I never liked him very much. He was such a pompous ass. I’m not going to scold you about this. But…”

That “but” hung in the air, and I dreaded hearing what was attached to it.

“But what?” I finally asked.

“The thing I can’t excuse is the fact that you spent eighteen years sublimating yourself for a man who wasn’t worth a fraction of what you bring to the table. How the hell did everything we taught you go sliding out the window?” She slid her arms around my shoulders, hugging me from behind. “What happened, child?”

I shrugged, scooting to the side and turning around. I couldn’t face her.

“I don’t know, to be honest. At first I fought. I fought to celebrate my holidays. I fought to practice our traditions. I argued about the clothes he wanted me to wear. I made excuses for his rudeness, especially around other Otherkin. Basically, I tried to hold my own, but after a while, he wore me down.”

“Why didn’t you leave him?”

Again, I had no good answer. “I don’t know. You’d think I would have, right? But…somewhere along the way, I guess I lost my confidence.” I glanced over my shoulder at her. “I gave up. When someone tells you you’re stupid time after time, you begin to believe it.”

Teran gave me a hug. “Well, that ends now. That ends tonight.”

I ducked my head, smiling. “I’ve missed you.”

“And I’ve missed you, too. But I knew that you weren’t ready to see me, child. I remind you too much of your mama.” She stroked my hair, pulling it back. “As wavy as it ever was.”

I laughed. “We’re always going to envy each other’s hair.”

Teran had straight hair, down to her ass. Mine was dark brown and wavy. Not corkscrew curly, but long and wavy and just rough enough to never take a good shine.

“And yours is as smooth and silky as ever. I love the blue, by the way.” I sighed, then said, “You’re right, though. I wasn’t ready to face their deaths yet. But I guess…now I have to. It feels good to be back in Moonshadow Bay, though. I’ll see Ari a lot more. Ellison didn’t like her and he almost broke up our friendship.”

“You two were always thick as thieves,” Teran said. “All right, I’d better get on home. Ree and Roo are probably hungry.” My aunt had two hound dogs. They were as old as the hills—or at least, as old as most dogs get—and they showed no sign of slowing down. But her familiar was a great horned owl that lived out in the trees near her house. They had a deep connection that crossed the species barrier.

I walked her to the door and she gave me a hug, then handed me a key. She had taken care of the house after my parents died. “Here, you’ll want this back.”

I shook my head, folding her fingers over the key. “No, you keep it. Just in case.” I pressed my lips together, thinking of my mother and father. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

“Too true, love,” she said, hugging me. “That’s why you have a key to my house, too. For the same reason.” As she headed down the sidewalk to her car, it occurred to me that I was really, truly, starting over. For the first time in eighteen years, I was embarking on a new stage in my life.

I walked out on the porch, watching the snow fall. It drifted down, the flakes larger, like thick wisps of cotton candy. There was a softness to the night, and all around the neighborhood, lights twinkled on the windows around the houses.

I glanced over at the house next door, only to see a “Sold” sign on the front lawn. When I was little, the Hart family had lived there, and I’d played with Sallie Hart, though we weren’t best friends. Now, it looked like her parents were off to greener pastures.

Slowly descending the steps, I walked out toward the front of the yard. The streetlights cast a muted glow in the winter night, and I closed my eyes as I crossed my arms, jamming my hands deep beneath my armpits to keep warm. My breath hung in the air, vaporous—like a miniature cloud. It was cold, but I just wanted to let the peace that came with the snowfall encompass me.

“Hello…” The voice came from over my shoulder, but when I jerked around, I couldn’t see anybody there. It was a woman’s voice, clear and familiar though, and I was sure that I had heard it. I glanced around, suddenly realizing I was going to be alone in the house. While Ellison hadn’t been much comfort, at least he’d been a warm body.

“Can you hear me?” The voice echoed again, this time from the other side. I whirled around, but still, there was no one in sight.

Holding my breath, I turned and ran back up the sidewalk and took the steps two at a time. Once inside, I slammed the door behind me. I didn’t have the energy to deal with ghosts tonight, and since there hadn’t been any stranger lurking in the bushes, that’s all I could assume the woman’s voice had been. There were certainly enough of them hanging around.

Shaking, I locked the door. Tomorrow I would dig out my mother’s herbs and make a protection charm, but for tonight, I decided to sleep on the sofa. In the kitchen, I found the biggest, meanest-looking knife my mother had owned. Clutching the hilt, I returned to the living room. I placed the knife on the coffee table within easy reach and then, exhausted, I curled up under the afghan on the sofa and promptly fell into a dreamless sleep.



I often write to music, and STARLIGHT WEB was no exception. Here’s the playlist I used for this book.

Adele: Rumour Has It
Android Lust: Here And Now; Saint Over
The Animals: The House of the Rising Sun; Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; Bury My Body
Arch Leaves: Nowhere To Go
Asteroids Galaxy Tour: The Sun Ain’t Shining No More; Sunshine Coolin’; Major; Heart Attack
Band of Skulls: I Know What I Am
Beastie Boys: She’s Crafty
Beck: Qué Onda Guero; Farewell Ride; Emergency Exit; Think I’m In Love; Cellphone’s Dead; Nausea; Broken Train; Where It’s At
The Black Angels: Don’t Play With Guns; Love Me Forever; You’re Mine
Black Pumas: Sweet Conversations
Blind Melon: No Rain
Bret Michaels: Love Sucks
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Cake: The Distance; Never There
Camouflage Nights: (It Could Be) Love
The Cars: Candy-O; Good Times Roll; Moving In Stereo; All Mixed Up
Chris Isaak: Wicked Games
The Clash: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
Crazy Town: Butterfly
David Bowie: Fame; Golden Years; China Girl; Let’s Dance
Dead or Alive: You Spin Me ‘Round
Donovan: Season Of The Witch
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Eels: Souljacker Part 1
Fats Domino: I Want To Walk You Home
Fleetwood Mac: The Chain; Gold Dust Woman
Gary Numan: Cars; Are Friends Electric?; Down In The Park; War Songs; I, Assassin; Bridge? What Bridge?; My Shadow In Vain
Gerry Rafferty: Baker Street
Godsmack: Voodoo
Gordon Lightfoot: Sundown
Gorillaz: Last Living Souls; Dare; Demon Days; Hongkongaton; Rockit; Clint Eastwood
The Gospel Whiskey Runners: Muddy Waters
Gotye: Somebody That I Used To Know
Grand Funk Railroad: We’re An American Band
The Guess Who: No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature
Heart: Magic Man; White Lightning & Wine
The Hollies: Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)
Imagine Dragons: Natural
In Strict Confidence: Snow White; Tiefer
Jay Price: Dark-Hearted Man; The Devil’s Bride; Coming For You Baby
Jeannie C. Riley: Harper Valley P.T.A.
John Fogerty: The Old Man Down The Road
Johnny Otis: Willy & The Hand Jive
The Kills: Nail In My Coffin; You Don’t Own The Road; Sour Cherry
Kirsty MacColl: In These Shoes?
Lady Gaga: Born This Way; Paparazzi; Poker Face; Paper Gangsta; I Like It Rough
Ladytron: Paco!; I’m Not Scared
Low: Witches; Plastic Cup; Half Light
Mai Lan: Pumper
Mark Lanegan: Phantasmagoria Blues; Wedding Dress
Matt Corby: Breathe
Men Without Hats: Safety Dance
Nancy Sinatra: These Boots Are Made For Walking
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Red Right Hand
Nirvana: Lithium; Heart Shaped Box; Come As You Are; Something In The Way; Plateau; Lake Of Fire
Orgy: Blue Monday
Outasight: The Boogie; Fire It Up; The Bounce
Pearl Jam: Even Flow; Black; Jeremy
Radiohead: Creep
Red Venom: Let’s Get It On
Ricky Martin: She Bangs
Ringo Starr: It Don’t Come Easy
Robin Schulz: Sugar
The Rolling Stones: Gimmer Shelter; Little Red Rooster; The Spider And The Fly; 19th Nervous Breakdown; Paint It Black; Mother’s Little Helper; Lady Jane; Miss You
Saliva: Ladies And Gentlemen
Screaming Trees: Where the Twain Shall Meet; All I Know
Seether: Remedy
Shriekback: The Shining Path; Underwaterboys; Intoxication; Over the Wire; New Man; Go Bang; Big Fun; Dust And A Shadow; Agony Box; Putting All the Lights Out; The Fire Has Brought Us; And The Rain; Wiggle And Drone; Church Of The Louder Light; Now These Days Are Gone; The King In The Tree
Simple Minds: Don’t You
Spiderbait: Shazam
Stealers Wheel: Stuck In The Middle With You
Steppenwolf: Born To Be Wild; Your Wall’s Too High; Magic Carpet Ride
Strawberry Alarm Clock: Incense And Peppermints
Susan Enan: Bring On The Wonder
Suzanne Vega: Blood Makes Noise; 99.9F°; Bad Wisdom; Solitude Standing; Straight Lines
Sweet Talk Radio: We All Fall Down
Syntax: Pride
Talking Heads: Life During Wartime; Take Me To The River; Burning Down The House; Moon Rocks; Psycho Killer
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s In A Pool
The Temptations: Papa Was A Rolling Stone
Thomas Dolby: She Blinded Me With Science
Thompson Twins: The Gap
Toadies: The Gap
Toadies: Possum Kingdom
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Trills: Speak Loud
U2: Vertigo; Elevation
The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony
Vive la Void: Devil
Voxhaul Broadcast: You Are The Wilderness
Warrant: Cherry Pie
Wild Cherry: Play That Funky Music
Zero 7: In The Waiting Line
The Zombies: Time Of The Season

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Twenty dark and ghostly faerie tale retellings from the NYT, USA Today and internationally bestselling authors in the award-winning Once Upon Anthologies series! Push open the creaky cellar door and prepare for chilling re-imaginings of Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks, Rapunzel, and Bloody Mary. Or breathe a sigh of relief with brighter twists on The Little Match Girl, Hansel & Gretel, and The Bremen Town Musicians.

But beware! Blood and revenge, creepy haunted houses, and evil magic lurk within the pages. Are you brave enough to enter?


HAUNTED - Kay McSpadden
FAERIE SONG - Anthea Sharp
FORGIVEN: A Djinn Wars Story - Christine Pope
WHAT MAGIC LIES BENEATH - Shawntelle Madison
QUEEN JOANNA.- Kate Danley
RAPUNZEL DREAMING - Yasmine Galenorn
THE DEVIL’S DUE - Melissa Marr
THE BANSHEE OF LIATH WOOD - Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
THE GHOST QUEEN – Nikki Jefford
TO BE REMEMBERED - Jamie Ferguson
THE SOUL CAGES - Phaedra Weldon
THE THORN KING - Alexia Purdy

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17 Romantic Fairy Tale Re-Tellings by 17 authors

Seventeen all new, magical stories from NY Times and USA Today bestsellers and award-winning authors that will warm even the coldest hearts. Inspired by old favorites as well as lesser-known tales, find retellings of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Old Rinkrank, King Thrushbeard, The Princess and the Pea, and many more – all with fresh, romantic twists – just in time for Valentine’s Day~

PRINCESS CHARMING -- Yasmine Galenorn
Sometimes, the road to Happily Ever After leads right past Prince Charming...into the arms of his sister!

On the way to her wedding, brave and clever Princess Sabine falls into a Glass Mountain, where she is trapped with a crotchety man she calls “Old Rinkrank.” The two form a unique, unlikely friendship while working to escape.

THE BAKERS GRIMM – Hailey Edwards
When two struggling business owners compete for the contract of a lifetime, it’s all bakers on deck. Mix in a dollop of rivalry, a tablespoon of romance, and a pinch of magic, and you’ve got the recipe for one heck of a bake-off. May the best decorator win!

A young woman in ancient Greece is tasked with carving a new statue for Aphrodite’s temple. But what happens when she falls in love with her art?

RED– Sarra Cannon
Charlotte is searching for a cure to save her sister, but what she finds in the woods is not at all what she expects…

MAD ABOUT YOU – Jennifer Blackstream
Alice doesn’t want to marry the Mad Hatter. Will an unexpected trip to Wonderland change her mind?

A mermaid gives up everything to be with the mortal man she loves – but can there be a happy ending when the Sea Witch intervenes?

Juliet enters the afterlife and discovers the truth behind her relationship with Romeo and Paris – and that their greatest challenge is yet to come.

SOOT AND STONE: A Fae Tale of the Otherworld – Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Aisling, a young Faelorehn artist, finds herself falling for the son of one of the famed Tuatha De Danann. The only problem is, she’s unaware of his true identity, and her selfish uncle will do anything to keep her from realizing her dreams.

Sometimes, a prince isn’t as charming as history would like you to believe. And sometimes, a princess needs an alpha male shifter to find her happily ever after.

An imp finds herself in a fairytale world without her infernal powers facing an impossible task. Will Sam barter away her firstborn? Will her angelic main-squeeze save her? Or will she come up with a devilish solution of her own?

THE GLASS SKY – Alexia Purdy
Star’s refusal of suitors lined up for her hand has her family in knots, but when the city is bombed and overthrown, she loses everything. After she’s rescued by a handsome stranger named Clyde, she sneaks away to save her parents but finds herself trapped in the new president’s clutches.

RUSH – C. Gockel
Misogyny is a beast.
When the incarnation of Creation gets angry at Rush for innocently stating his opinion, she curses him to find true love in two weeks … or else.

Her first love has been placed under a spell. But will her kiss wake him… or kill him?

THE TOAD PRINCE – Nikki Jefford
Isabel Ivers’s stepfather will do anything to secure his place as Far North’s new ruler, even if it means marrying her off to the depraved prince of the lowlands.

CRAFTED WITH A KISS – Shawntelle Madison
Despite fighting in countless battles to bring peace to warring kingdoms, Pynnelope, a warrior maiden made of wood, knows no fear. Becoming human is all she desires until she discovers she can have so much more.

A SMALL MAGIC – Devon Monk
A cursed princess, a talking pea, and a wish that changes everything.

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Fury Awakened Cover

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury. Oath bound to Hecate, I was charged from birth to hunt down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and send them back to Pandoriam.

We’re on the run into the Wild Wood, away from the zombie invasion in Seattle. The Regent has set the Devani free to use whatever force they deem necessary. Their research labs have created a deadly antidote, with one major problem: the serum kills the zombies at a terrible price to humans. But things take an even more devastating turn.

As we return to UnderBarrow to plan our next move, the Order of the Black Mist carries out simultaneous strikes at governments across the world, crumbling the old order. Seattle, Atlantea, Black Forest, city after city falls to the chaos magicians. The world around us has changed forever. Now, Hecate offers me a choice I never thought I’d have to face. I can either leave my old life forever, or walk into the fire and awaken the fury within...

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Chapter 1

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. They call me Fury. I walk in flame and ash, on a field of bones. As Seattle burns-the old order crashing behind us, ahead the Wild Wood waits in the cold, frozen dark. Some battles, it's wiser to run than to stand and fight.

* * *

"HOW'S YOUR ARM?" I knelt by Tam, who was sitting by the fire. The forest loomed around us, the massive fir and cedar trees bending under the weight of the snow. The wind whistled through their boughs, the creaking setting up a lonely lament that echoed through our encampment. I cocked my head, listening to the noise of the forest around us. I wasn't used to the sounds of the woodland and they made me nervous. Traffic, cars, the hum of electricity, and milling crowds were my usual milieu. Out here, I felt lost and clumsy.

Tam winced as he shifted his right shoulder, rotating it first backward, then forward.


"It will heal. Leave it to those bastards to implant the chip in my bicep instead of someplace where it was easy to remove." He let out a soft grunt, then took another sip of his coffee from the enamel mug.

Jason had removed the chip for him while we were aboard the boat headed for the Greens. It had been a rough, bloody surgery, but with Elan's salves, and my fire to cauterize the wound, Tam managed to avoid infection. We dumped the chip overboard, so if the Devani or the Corp Rats were trying to track him, they'd find themselves in the middle of the Pacific Sound. With the zombies overrunning Seattle, I doubted they'd even bother.

We had managed to reach the Wild Wood and were well north of the Greens, attempting to make our way through to the forest on the opposite side of Wild Wave Inlet, but the going was slow and the weather had been against us all the way. None of our cell phones worked here. The Wild Wood had taken on a force of its own since the World Shift, and even satellite technology couldn't pierce the veil that shadowed the tangle of forests.

I warmed my hands by the fire. We had yet to come across any of the Woodland Fae supposed to be living out in the wilds. Elan had cautioned patience.

"We have miles to go yet," she had said. "Verdanya is at least a week to the south, given the weather we're encountering."

Apparently, she wasn't kidding.

There were no paved roads out here, nor cars to travel them. If we had managed to escape to the south we could have hiked along the highway toward Bend and perhaps hitched a ride, but there hadn't been any time to escape that way. We had to evacuate immediately and with the Devani watching the southern border of the city, that meant traveling via the Barrow tunnels to the Pacific Sound to meet Laren's boat.

When the zombies swarmed the city, the Regent of Seattle declared martial law and every border was in the process of being locked up good and tight. Luckily the curfew couldn't affect UnderBarrow, but we had to run while we had the chance or risk facing the Devani as they began to patrol the Pacific Sound as well as the city streets. Laren would have had to sail away before they caught him. As big as our party was-eight adults and one teenager-the only way out through the chaos had been via the waterways.

Now, two days later, we were deep in the forest, caught in the middle of a massive snowstorm. I was usually good with directions, but keeping my bearings in a wild tangle of woodland was proving a challenge.

I settled beside Tam on the nurse log and leaned against him. He wrapped his arm-his good arm-around me and kissed my forehead.

"This is all new for you, isn't it? The forest?"

I nodded. "Other than a day trip or two, and an occasional excursion into the Bogs, the only interactions I've had with the forest were in the Arbortariam with the Greenlings. I'm not sure what to expect here. The sounds are so different than in the city. I don't know what to be alarmed by, or what's considered normal. Also, I can't stop thinking about Hecate. I know she said she'd be able to find me, but...will she?"

I was most concerned about the latter. Hecate was a goddess of the Crossroads. I was her Theosian-a minor goddess in my own right. She was back in Seattle. The Peninsula of the Gods had closed itself off to any visitors, including government officials. They had raised the banner of sovereignty as they isolated themselves from the chaos raging through the city.

"She's an Elder Goddess. She'll be able to find you, no matter what. Even if your cell phone isn't picking up a signal, she'll find you. You're bound to her and she holds your leash. How could she not keep track of you?"

Once again, Tam kissed me, this time on the lips. A long, lingering kiss, his touch ran through to the tips of my toes. I shivered, more out of hunger for him than because of my fears. I had never relied on anybody this much in a long time, and that in itself scared me.

Tam was around five-eleven, lanky with long black hair that curled to his waist. His features were angular, with wide, sloping eyes. His irises glimmered silver, and were ringed with black. He was the prettiest man I had ever seen. At least, he was pretty in that dangerous, glam-boy way. He also happened to be Lord of the Bonny Fae, and he was my lover.

I huddled next to him, holding my hands out to the fire as the snow fell thickly around us. Winter had come hard this year. Eons ago, before the World Shift, the Seattle area had been rainy during the winter, from what the history books told us. But now the season marched on, with long chilly autumns, icy winters, lovely springs, and then a brief, sweltering summer.

"What do you think is happening back there?" I missed the city. Even though I had lived on the fringe, hiding from the Devani and the sky-eyes, I loved the hustle and bustle, the street vendors and late night bogeys who slinked through the shadows. The city was all I had ever known.

"I don't even want to think about it." Tam slid his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. He grazed my cheek with his lips. "I'm just grateful that UnderBarrow can close against the outer world. At least my people will be safe. Someday, I want to show you all of its wonders. When we return I'll take you on the full tour." He paused, then whispered, "I wish I could fuck you right here, right now. You drive me crazy, you know that?"

I blushed. I was learning to accept his compliments, but they still made me laugh nervously. We had transformed our years-long friendship into a romantic one. It took some getting used to.

"I know." I shifted on the log. "I feel the same way, but we're in the middle of the woods, in the middle of a snowstorm, and all our friends are right here. I don't want to make them uncomfortable." I paused, glancing over at the tent we shared. "I'm just grateful Elan and Laren had plenty of survival gear stowed aboard the Golden Briar."

Born in Verdanya, home of the Woodland Fae, the twins owned the boat, and had helped us escape from Seattle.

Tam arched his back to stretch, raising his arms over his head. With a sudden grunt, he lowered his right arm, wincing. "That was stupid."

"Your arm?"

He nodded. "Yeah, I won't make that mistake again." With a sigh, he stood, holding out his hand. "Come then, let's see how the others are doing."

As we turned to join the rest of the camp, who were over by the main fire, the crackle of branches split the night as a group of dark, twisted figures lunged out from the forest. They growled and sputtered as they raced forward.

Crap. We were under attack.

I slapped my hand to my right thigh, where the long tattoo of a flaming whip came to life in my palm. Hecate had tattooed the whip onto my leg, magically imbuing the ink with her cold fire and strength. As I coiled the braided lash back, my side protested. I was still weak from a rib-bruising beating, but at least I had recovered enough over the past couple of days to fight.

Tam drew his sword, tossing it to his left hand. He was ambidextrous, and had a keen aim with either hand. I moved aside to give both of us room to maneuver. The last thing I needed was to flail one of our own party with my whip.

Over by the main fire, Elan and Laren smoothly moved in unison, nocking their arrows. Jason-a hawk shifter and one of my closest friends-drew his dagger. Though he was a magician, his spellwork wasn't geared toward fighting.

Hans, a Theosian like me who was pledged to Thor, and Greta, a newly ascended Valkyrie, also drew their swords and took up battle stance. Tymbur and Montran began to prepare their magic. Pledged to Hades, their magic ran in dark corners, like much of my own.

The only two who hung back had good reason. Neither Shevron, Jason's sister, or her teenaged son Leonard, were trained to fight.

As we tensed, waiting, our attackers emerged from the trees, looking ready to rumble. They were twisted and dark, and there were a lot of them. They must have been tracking us-they were too numerous for a scouting party, so they had probably caught our trail earlier in the day and gathered to form an attack.

As they drew closer to the fire, Jason shouted, "Lycanthropes!"

Lycanthropes looked more wolf than human and could run on all fours when they wished, though they generally slinked around upright. Unlike shifters and Weres, they couldn't transform into human and animal forms-they were stuck in-between. With long, jointed arms and legs, they could both run on all fours and yet walk on their hind legs. Their faces were disfigured, their muzzles a muddy cross between human and wolf, and their hair flowed down their back like a horse's mane. When they were on alert, as they were now, the strands stiffened into long, rigid hackles.

We spread out in a semi-Circle to shield Shevron and Leonard. The lycanthropes growled and snuffled as they slowed their approach, growing wary as they pushed toward us.

"Can we reason with them?" I asked Tam.

A flurry of snow whirled around me and Queet, my spirit guide, appeared.

In whisper-speak, so that only our party could hear, he said, "No. There is no reasoning with them, nor bargaining. Lycanthropes are filled with blood lust. Even among their own, they pick on the weak and elderly. They allow their young to grow without attacking them, but you'll never see an old or disabled lycanthrope. Strength and might are their values. Any member who feels themselves growing weak will leave the pack before they are destroyed."

"Great," I mumbled. "So we're facing fighters in their prime." I contemplated whether to charge, or to hold back for defense. But I wasn't leading the group, and it wasn't my call. We had elected Elan to be in charge as long as we were making our way through the Wild Wood.

I glanced over at her, where she was holding her arrow taut, trained on the leader. She must have sensed my question, because without looking away from her target, she said, "Hold until I give the go. Let them come a little closer, if they choose to take the risk."

Her words rang out, sounding like a taunt. I glanced at the lycanthropes, who jockeyed for position yet again. They looked a little less certain. It was then that I understood the dynamics. Just as with big cats, never look away or down or they'd take it as a sign of weakness.

I stared at the nearest one, locking my gaze with his. He was a huge beast, obviously male, and he was walking on his back legs. The lycanthrope let out a grunt. A challenge. I held my place, whip ready to strike.

As the creatures shuffled forward, Elan called out, "Ready!"

We froze, ready to strike.

Then, the lycanthropes rushed us.

"Go!" Elan let her arrow fly.

I brought my focus to my opponent. I was used to battling creatures bigger than myself-the Abominations that came in off the World Tree chose large human vehicles-but I knew their M.O.s. I knew what their weaknesses were, and I knew how to avoid most of their attacks. Lycanthropes? Not so much.

The lycanthrope careening toward me was at least two feet taller and a hundred pounds heavier than I was. His mouth was open, his razor sharp teeth gleaming and ready to snag himself some dinner. Fury-on-a-stick, to be precise.

My gaze darting over his body, I decided to strike for his face-that seemed the most vulnerable. I brought my whip back, circling it quickly around my head. The flames rushed off of the thong as it cracked through the air. Magical, they were a cold, burning fire, and deadly. They would burn on impact, and keep eating into the flesh after they hit.

My shoulder and ribs ached as I targeted the center of his face and brought the lash whistling down. I still was bruised from the shit-kicking I had taken a week or so ago, but I ignored the throbbing pain as the fall landed dead center on his nose. The crack echoed through the cascade of shouts and shrieks around us.

The lycanthrope let out a shriek and lurched back, dropping his club. I pressed in for another attack. I'd learned early never to give my opponent time to think. The moment I attacked, I kept on attacking.

He covered his face with his hands as I hit him again, this time the fall creeping between his fingers to land on the chin. As he clumsily lurched toward me, I darted to the side, trying not to slip in the knee deep snow. With my left hand, I drew Xan-my sword-from the scabbard hanging over my back. She was a magical blade, she was, ornate and engraved, and another gift from Hecate. The sword was bound to me, enhanced with magic so she aimed better and hit harder. Xan bit deep into flesh with a ruthlessly sharp edge.

I slapped the whip back on my thigh and it instantly coiled back into place, once more simply a tattoo.

The lycanthrope lunged. He was bleeding heavily, the blood dripping into his murderous eyes. I dodged to the right, twisting to bring Xan across his chest. He shrieked, howling long and deep as he stumbled forward, grabbing for his chest. By the light of the campfire, a stain of red saturated the snow, spreading as his life force pumped out through the wounds. He was bleeding so heavily that I found it hard to believe he hadn't keeled over yet. He must be tougher than I thought.

I swung again as he fell on his knees and this time, Xan cleaved into his back, lodging in his shoulder. Darting forward, I used my boot to shove his ass forward as I yanked on my sword. He lurched spread-eagle on the ground, and the sudden jolt as Xan came free sent me staggering back. I tried to steady myself, but tripped over a root and went sprawling on my butt.

Another one of the creatures leaped, landing atop of me, his long teeth snapping at my face. I thrust myself backward against the snow, trying to scramble out from beneath him.


The next moment, blood splattered on my face and chest as the tip of a sword came thrusting through his skull from behind. I cringed as the lycanthrope went flying off of me, tossed to the side like a used tissue. Tam stood there, panting. He offered his hand, pulled me to my feet, and then we were back into the fray, both of our injuries forgotten in the heat of the battle.

My blood pulsed as the adrenaline rush thundered through my veins and I fell on the first creature who had attacked me, finishing him off as he crouched on the ground. As I jumped up, I saw that Greta and Hans were plowing through the beasts. There must have been twenty-five of the lycanthropes in the attack party, but Hans and Greta advanced, guarding each other's sides as they acted like a two-person slice-and-dice team. They took down first one, then two, then yet a third creature as I watched.

Jason dodged a hail of blows from one of the beasts, managing to throw him off guard with a fake pass to the right. As the lycanthrope aimed in the wrong direction, he left his side open and Jason took advantage, driving his long dagger between the creature's ribs, into his heart.

Another quick check told me Montran and Tymbur were cooking up some sort of magic. The energy echoed through the clearing and I made sure to stay out of the way. They worked with the magic of death and decay, and I wasn't about to interfere, even accidentally.

Elan and Laren had backed up onto a slope behind us, firing arrows one after another. In another moment or two, they'd have to draw their blades. The lycanthropes were fully inside our camp. As I finished my cursory examination, a scream echoed behind me.

I whirled. Shevron had pushed Leonard in back of her, trying to protect him from one of the creatures who had broken through the lines.

"Fall back!" I rushed over, drawing my dagger in my right hand.

Leonard was cursing up a blue streak, but Shevron shoved him out of the way as I slid between them and the lycanthrope, driving the blade deep into its throat. We were in too close of quarters for my whip or sword, so I jerked the dagger as hard as I could, ripping his larynx and severing his jugular in the process. I yanked the blade away, jumping to the side to let him fall. As he landed on the snow, bleeding out, I stabbed him in the back to make certain he was dead.

"Fury! Be care-" Shevron screamed, but before she could finish, a white hot pain slashed through my back.

I turned to find another of the beasts had taken advantage of my focus on his buddy to sneak up behind me. He raked my shoulder from behind. Before I could stop him, he slashed his claws across my chest. I stifled a scream, thrusting my blade deep into his stomach. As I twisted the dagger, he struggled, impaled on the cold steel as the flames spread into his wound. I gave the blade another moment, then cleanly withdrew it, stepping aside as he fell forward.

Shevron stared at me, her eyes wide. She was shaking, but still she held firm to Leonard's arm. Len, on the other hand, was struggling against her hold. But Shevron was a hawk-shifter, and Leonard had inherited his father's human nature. Which meant Mama Bird was far stronger than her chick.

Leonard thrashed. "Let me go. I can fight!"

"Shut up." I leaned in, glaring at him.

Len quickly shut his mouth. He had always been a little afraid of me.

"Mind your mother. We don't have time to protect you from yourself. Do as you're told."

Before he could sputter a word, I turned and raced back to the fight.

We had them on the run. Elan and Laren were back to shooting arrows and the survivors struggled toward the tree line. I tried to count how many still stood. At least eight, but they had apparently had enough. Jason made ready to chase after them.

"Leave them," Elan barked out, her voice sharp.

As the last of the lycanthropes vanished into the undergrowth, we regrouped by the main fire. Shevron let go of Leonard and he sullenly moved to the side, but stayed within the encampment. I ladled more snow into the pot of water hanging over the fire. I was hurt, and it looked like Jason and Tam had taken a couple hits and we'd need to clean our wounds.

Tymbur gently took the pan I was using as a scoop out of my hands. "Go sit. You're injured. I received a few superficial cuts but I'm fine. Let me take care of this."

Wearily, I nodded, too shell shocked to protest. I knew there were dangers in the Wild Wood, but I hadn't been prepared for a pack of ferocious lycanthropes to leap out of the woodwork. I winced as I moved my shoulder.

Tam was making the rounds, checking everybody's status. He hurried over to me. "Are you all right?" He knelt beside me, stroking my cheek.

"I need to clean these scratches. As long as they don't get infected, they'll heal up." As a Theosian, I healed faster than ordinary humans. I was also tougher. But that didn't make me immortal, invulnerable, or immune to infections, wounds, broken bones, and pain. I knew that all too well from experience.

I rested my hand on his arm. "Anybody else hurt?"

"Jason took a knife wound, but it's didn't hit anything vital and while it will sting, it should heal without incident. Montran managed to hit four of them with a death spell, but apparently lycanthropes have a natural immunity, and it sent them into a frenzy instead. They attacked each other, but in doing so, one managed to clobber him with her club. He has a knot on his forehead, but again, nothing life-threatening as far as I can tell."

He paused, then added, "Fury, we have to move and we should leave soon. If they come from a tribe somewhere near, we can't chance staying. We're going to have to travel in the dark, as quickly as we can get packed up. I'll work on an illusion to mask our scent-a glamour of sorts. As soon as Tymbur binds your wounds, please help break down the camp." With that, he planted a quick kiss on my lips and headed over to where Elan and Laren were standing.

I watched as Shevron marched through the camp, dragging Leonard with her. He was bitching-all too loudly-and she stopped in front of Jason, who was holding his side where the lycanthrope's blade had nicked him.

"Jason, tell your nephew to stop trying to play hero." Shevron shoved Leonard in front of her, holding him by the shoulders. "He won't listen to his mother anymore."

Jason stared at Leonard for a moment, then slowly opened his jacket. In the glow of the campfire, I could see the oozing wound. On someone who was human, it could have easily have put them out of commission, but Jason was still standing. Hawk-shifters were fierce.

"Look at this wound. Look close." He grabbed Leonard by the head and forced him close to the angry gash. "Take a really good look."

Leonard grimaced, trying to look away.

"You don't want to look? I don't blame you. If you had taken the blade, you'd be dead. We'll teach you how to fight, son, but until we get to our destination, you need to chill out. Get it?" Jason planted Len's hand against the bleeding gash. "Feel that? It's slippery. Smell it."

That seemed a bit harsh, but then I stopped myself from interfering. This was a family affair, and Leonard been testing the boundaries all too much lately.

The teen looked sick to his stomach, but he obeyed, slowly bringing his hand to his face where he sniffed his fingers. "It smells coppery."

"That's blood. Blood keeps us all alive. Do you know how much this hurts? Like a razor sharp son of a bitch. I'm bleeding, which weakens me. But I don't have time to slow down. Every life in this camp depends on each of us doing our part. Every breath we take depends on each one of us doing what we're asked to. We can't afford to have you go running off half-cocked. If you do, I guarantee you, you're going to put somebody's life in danger. Because all the enthusiasm in the world won't matter and you'll end up being the one who needs rescuing. When we get to Verdanya, I'll teach you to fight-"

"Jason-" Shevron didn't look happy at all.

"Quiet, Shevron. Things have changed. They weren't easy to begin with, but Seattle's fighting a horde of zombies right now and we're stuck out in the middle of the wilderness. We have to adapt. Len should know how to defend himself." Jason turned back to Len. "And one more thing: don't let me ever hear you talking back to your mother again. I can argue with her because I'm her brother and we're both adults. You, on the other hand, keep your nose clean. Do you understand me?"

Leonard let out a long sigh, but finally nodded. He was caught in the throes of growing up. Jason and Shevron had inherited their parents' pale complexion and light hair, but Len was golden brown, the color of his father, and his eyes were dark and rich. His hair was blonde thanks to a bottle, but he was his father's child in many ways, including that the human nature had come through rather than the hawk-shifter. And except for the fact that his father had abandoned both Shevron and his unborn child long before Len entered the world. Regardless of his arguments with Shevron, Leonard was devoted to her and his uncle.

"I'll play by the rules, Uncle J."

"See that you do. Now apologize to your mother." Jason pointed toward Shevron, a stern look on his face.

Leonard turned to his mother and sheepishly said. "I'm sorry, Mom."

"Sorry, what?" Shevron asked.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am. I'll behave." He reminded me of the five year old who had played in my room years ago, getting into my makeup and crying when I yelled at him for eating my lipstick.

Shevron held his gaze for a moment, then nodded. She turned back to Jason. "What should we do?"

"Break down camp. We need to get out of here now."

As we fell to dressing wounds, taking down tents, and gathering embers for our next camp, I wondered if we'd make it away before the lycanthropes returned. And if they didn't return, just what else was waiting for us in the Wild Wood?

* * *

I'M KAELEEN DONOVAN, but I rarely go by that name. Most folks call me Fury, though Jason calls me Kae, but he's allowed to. He gave me a home after my mother was brutally murdered.

Speaking of my mother, Marlene and Terry, my father, were both human. But during her pregnancy, my mother took a shortcut through the Sandspit and wandered into a patch of rogue magic. Boom, bang, and hoorah. My life-to-be changed forever.

The rogue magic altered my DNA, turning me into a Theosian-a minor goddess. As was the custom, I was presented to the Seers who declared that I belonged to Hecate. And so I was bound to her. Hecate taught me to use my fire, at least to some degree. And she taught me how to seek out and destroy the Abominations that come in off the World Tree. We have a good relationship. At least, I think so. She makes sure I have work when I need it, and I make sure to play by the rules.

When I'm not chasing down Abominations, I run the Crossroads Cleaning Company that's set up in Jason's magical store-Dream Wardens. In other words, I clean up psychic messes, hauntings, perform exorcisms, offer tarot and rune readings, and anything else that I can think of. I make a living, but it's not a get-rich-quick profession.

As I said, my mother was murdered and I was there to witness it. I escaped, though it's never been clear how. We think the trauma triggered something deep within my magic. Whatever the case, I landed on Jason's doorstep that night, and he took me in. How he managed with a thirteen year old girl, I'm not sure. He was single, over two-hundred, (but didn't look a day over thirty), yet he made a home for me. Together, he and Shevron looked after me.

I was fed, clothed, and cared for. They shepherded me through school, and made sure I attended every lesson Hecate scheduled. As I grew up, they became my friends rather than guardians. Now, at thirty, my aging process is starting to slow. Theosians are long lived. We can make it to six hundred or sometimes longer, as long as we aren't killed or fall to an accident.

Until recently, everything was hunky dory-at least, as much as it could be given the corrupt government and the ruthless Devani who patrol the streets.

But when the Order of the Black Mist stole an ancient artifact and threatened to rain down chaos on the planet, everything in my world shifted. We managed to steal back the Thunderstrike, but the Order retaliated in an even more deadly fashion, turning Seattle over to a horde of zombies. Not quite the apocalypse, but not that far off, either.

Now, we're on the run-my friends and I. And we're not sure just when we're going to be able to go home again. Or if there will be a home to return to.

* * *

"EVERYTHING READY?" ELAN took another look around the campsite.

All the tents were down, the fires were out, and we were ready to move again. I desperately wanted to go to bed, but Elan was right. We couldn't chance the lycanthropes returning, fortified by reinforcements.

"Everything's packed and on the horses." I glanced over at the animals. We hadn't been able to scare up enough horses to ride through the Wild Wood, but we had three and they were carrying most of the gear.

"All right," she said, waving for us to move. "Onward. We'll journey for two or three hours and then, if we see no sign that the lycanthropes are in pursuit, we'll set up camp again. I know you're all tired but we risk our lives if we stay here." With that, she motioned for us to move out. With Elan leading, and her brother taking the rear to make certain nobody stumbled off the path, we started our slow slog through the snow again. As the heavy snow continued to fall, we headed into the darkness, cutting cross-country.



Air: Moon fever, Napalm Love, Venus, Surfing on a Rocket, Playground Love
The Alan Parsons Project: Sirius, Children of the Moon, Breakdown, Can't Take It With You, The Raven
Amethystium: Shadow to Light, Tinuviel
Android Lust: Here and Now
Arcade Fire: Abraham's Daughter
Arch Leaves: Nowhere to Go
The Black Angels: You on the Run, Don't Play With Guns, Holland, Love Me Forever, Young Men Dead, Haunting at 1300 McKinley
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Shuffle Your Feet, Feel It Now
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Bryan Adams: Run to You
Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth
Cat Stevens: Katmandu
Celtic woman: Butterfly, Scarborough Fair
Chris Isaak: Wicked Game
Clannad: Banba Óir, I See Red, Newgrange
Cobra Verde: Play With Fire
Corvus Corax: Ballarde de Mercy, Bucca
Crosby, Stills & Nash: Ohio, Find the Cost of Freedom, Guinnevere
Damh the Bard: Brighid, The January Man, Land, Sky and Sea, Willow's Song, Gently Johnny, The Wicker Man, Oak Broom and Meadowsweet
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig, Dance of the Unicorns
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Enya: Cursum Perficio, Orinoco Flow
Faun: Hymn to Pan, The Market Song, Sieben, Tanz mit mir
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
The Gospel Whiskey Runners: Muddy Waters
The Heathen Kings: Rambling Sailor, Rolling of the Stones, The Blacksmith
Heather Alexander: Camden Town, Yo Ho! Black Jack's Lady, March of Cambreadth
Hedningarna: Gorrlaus, Tuuli, Grodan/Widergrenen, Räven, Tullí, Ukkonen, Juopolle Joutunut, Drafur & Gilder
Huldrelokkk: Trolldans, Huldrehalling
Ian Melrose & Kerstin Blodig: Kråka, Kelpie
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Jethro Tull: Jackfrost and the Hooded Crow, I'm Your Gun, A Stitch in Time, Jack-A-Lynn, Motoreyes, Part of the Machine, Overhang, Living in These Hard Times, Witch's Promise, The Clasp, Dun Ringill, North Sea Oil, Something's on the Move, Old Ghosts, Quizz Kid, Taxi Grab, Big Dipper
The Kills: Nail In My Coffin, You Don't Own The Road, Sour Cherry, No Wow, Dead Road 7
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat, Royals
Loreena McKennitt: The Mummers' Dance, All Souls Night
Low with Tom and Andy: Half Light
Matt Corby: Breathe
The Pierces: Secret
Shriekback: The Shining Path, Underwater Boys, Dust and a Shadow, This Big Hush, Now These Days Are Gone, The King in the Tree
Simple Minds: Don't You (Forget About Me)
Spiral Dance: The Goddess and the Weaver, Boys of Bedlam, The Quickening, The Oak, Tarry Trousers, Rise Up
Sweet Talk Radio: We All Fall Down
Tamaryn: While You're Sleeping, I'm Dreaming, Violet's in a Pool
Tempest: Raggle Taggle Gypsy, Mad Tom of Bedlam, Nottamun Town, Queen of Argyll, Black Jack Davey
Tina Turner: One of the Living
Tom Petty: Mary Jane's Last Dance
Traffic: The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Tuatha Dea: The Hunt, Irish Handfasting, Tuatha de Dannan, The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing Part 1, Long Black Curl
Warchild: Ash
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow, Hecate, The Circle Song, The Wolf Sky, Evolution, Elemental Chant
Woodland: Will O' the Wisp, The Old Ones, Beltane Night, Rose Red (The Moon's Daughter), Blood of the Moon, Golden Raven's Eye, Under the Snow, First Melt, Witch's Cross, I Remember, The Dragon
Zero 7: In the Waiting Line

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Fury Rising

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury. Oath bound to Hecate, I was charged from birth to hunt down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and send them back to Pandoriam.

When the Thunderstrike — an ancient artifact from the time of the Weather Wars — is stolen by the Order of the Black Mist, Hecate orders me to find the magical device. The chaos magicians are out to upset the balance that Gaia instilled during the World Shift. But I soon discover that the leader of the Black Mist is out to do more than stir up trouble. He's looking to set up a new world order with himself on the throne. Caught between two rival forces, will my friends and I be able to survive as we search for the Thunderstrike and attempt to stop a war that could bring about the end of the civilization?

Reading Order of the Fury Unbound Series:

Fury Rising
Fury's Magic
Fury Awakened
Fury Calling
Fury’s Mantle

Cover Artists:

The Beginning

The end of civilization as we knew it arrived not with a whimper, but with a massive storm. When Gaia-the great mother and spirit of the Earth-finally woke from her slumber to discover the human race destroying the planet through a series of magical Weather Wars, she pitched a fit. The magical storm she unleashed change such as never before had been seen. The resulting gale ripped the doors on the World Tree wide open, including the doors to Pandoriam-where the Aboms-chaotic demons of shadow and darkness-live, and the doors to Elysium, where the Devani-ruthless agents of light-exist.

In that one cataclysmic moment, now known as the World Shift, life changed forever as creatures from our wildest dreams-and nightmares-began to pour through the open doors.


The old gods returned and set up shop. The Fae and the Weres came out from the shadows and took up their place among the humans. The Theosians began to appear. Technology integrated with magic, and now everything is all jumbled together. Nothing in the old order remained untouched. The world might appear to be similar to the way it was, but trust me-under that thin veneer of illusion, nothing has remained the same.

Chapter 1

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. They call me Fury. I'm a Theosian. I walk in flame and ash, on a field of bones. Some nights I think I'll burn to a crisp under Hecate's moonlight. Other nights... are easier.

I pressed myself against the crumbling brick, breathing softly. A trail of ivy came tumbling down the side of the wall, covering a wide swath all the way to the ground next to me. One tendril reached out and tapped me on the shoulder and the patch of green opened up, offering me the chance to slip inside, out of the wind, but I pushed it away. Wandering Ivy was unpredictable and you couldn't trust it, any more than you could trust the wide fields of vegetation outside the city boundaries. And since we didn't have the resources to eradicate it down here in Darktown-or even keep it in check-most of us just left it alone and watched where we sat or leaned.

The moon was hidden, her light barely visible, masking both street and burrow-lane, but I could sense the clouds coming in. The low rumble of thunder in the distance announced they weren't too far out, but for now, the clear skies meant it was perfect drone weather. And that meant the Corp-Rats would have their sky-eyes out in full force.

In fact, one had started to follow me a few minutes earlier, but when I ducked beneath the overhanging eaves of the 22-U, the mini-mall that housed several small businesses, it backed off. Luckily, the drones weren't allowed to maneuver down to street level. There was too much danger that somebody would attempt a disable-and-grab, especially down here in Darktown, so the Devani kept their patrols limited to watching over us from above. They wouldn't respond if something went down, anyway. Nobody gave a damn what went on in this sector of the city-not unless it looked like a riot that might threaten to spill through the borders. And that wasn't likely to happen. As long as people weren't outright starving, and they were kept busy by long-hour shifts and an abundance of Opish and Methodyne, apathy tended to rule.

Another minute, and the sky-eye zipped past and kept on going. I waited until it was out of sight before I relaxed and sucked in a deep breath. It wasn't that I was doing anything wrong, per se. Not yet, at least. But the less I crossed the Corp-Rats' radar, the better.

Theosians who caught their attention often vanished without warning and I didn't intend to be one of them, especially since my chips had been altered and if they did an in-depth scan on me, they'd find out that I was living off-grid, in a roundabout manner. With luck, the Devani would be running on their usual schedule, which meant there shouldn't be another fly-by in this area for at least two or three hours. Breathing a little easier, I stepped back into the burrow-lane and headed toward the Sandspit.

Darktown's linkup to the Monotrain was erratic at best during the day. At night, it was catch as catch can, so I picked up my pace. Public transportation didn't always make it this far, and it wasn't for want of tracks.

As I jogged along, I pulled out my phone and tapped ENCRYPT. Tam had tricked it out for me, so I could send brief messages that couldn't be intercepted.

"Heading to the Sandspit. Something's going down there tonight-I can feel it, but I'm not quite sure what it is. I'll send Queet with news if we find anything." Phones didn't work near the Sandspit, so once I arrived there, I wouldn't be able to call him.

"Be careful, Kae. The Spit has been very active lately. If you even think you need help, send Queet my way immediately." Jason was a hawk-shifter and a magus. He could talk to spirits when he chose to open himself up.

Pocketing my phone, I glanced up at the sky. The clouds were starting to roll in fast now. The storm was going to be a nasty one. The wind picked up and the scent of rain was heavy.

The Pacific Northwest had always been drizzly, but once the World Shift happened, Seattle was lucky to see full sun for more than a handful of days during the summer. In winter, the downpours turned to heavy snow and ice. In fact, everything had changed since the World Shift, including the weather. The greenhouse effect and global warming? Gone with an angry wave of Gaia's hand. The pendulum had swung the other way and temperatures had grown colder in the north and hotter toward the equators. It was like Gaia had given the finger to humans and decided to shift the weather patterns according to her whims.

With a sigh, I zipped up my jacket and braced myself against the rising wind. I had patrols to make, rain or not. And the fact that I was wearing a pair of leather shorts didn't matter. I couldn't wear pants-it interfered with my magic. So I just had to suck up the autumn chill and deal with it.

I was about two miles away from my home when I reached the edge of the Sandspit.

The Sandspit was a two-hundred-acre vortex of wasteland, bordered by Darktown on the north and the Bogs to the west. Gaia's rampage had swept through with a vengeance. The magical storm she created had raged through every section of the land. A particularly nasty lightning strike had ripped apart this area of the city, and that lightning was infused with her anger.

When the bolt struck the train yards, it had driven deep into the ground with a massive jolt of magic. Poof... in a blink, all the tracks and trains vaporized as the Sandspit formed. But while the area looked pretty much like a hill-and-valley stretch of dunes, it was far from being just a pile of sand. Rife with wild magic, the Spit was a dangerous place. At times odd creatures ventured out from shifting portals that opened from Seattle's World Tree, which was smack in the middle of the patch of magical dunes. Other times, a small whirlwind would spring up, spreading sand and random spells every which way. But no matter what was going on, you could count on it as being dangerous.

Over time, the Bogs had built up on the west side of the Sandspit. They were a dangerous, wild space of cold marsh, tangled trees, and quicksand. People who wandered in there often never came out, and nobody sent search parties looking for them.

To the east stood the Metalworks, the industrial district, but the majority of people who didn't have to work or live in the area avoided the Sandspit whenever possible.

Most people. My mother had traveled through it on her way home one night when she was pregnant with me and that's how I ended up a Theosian. She stumbled into a swirling pool of wild magic and in that brief time, the energy shifted something in my DNA and boom... one minor goddess coming up.

The Sandspit was partly enclosed by a tall chain-link fence to keep people from accidentally wandering through, but every time the Corp-Rats tried to barricade it entirely, the fence would mysteriously corrode or break or vanish, leaving the Sandspit accessible again. After a while, the Regent got the message and while the chain fence still stood, wide gates left access on all sides.

Standing near the edge, I cautiously looked around. I wasn't sure what had called me out yet, but I had learned never to ignore my gut. I shaded my eyes, trying to see through the gloom. Finally, bored and yet antsy, I slid down to sit on the ground, back against the fence, my sword across my legs. Whatever it was, I would wait it out for as long as I could. I sure as hell wasn't going to go poking around in there on my own. I'd rather sit here all night, if necessary.

Using whisper-speak, I asked, "Queet, are you with me?"

"I'm here." His voice echoed into my thoughts. Nobody else could hear him unless they were tuned into the spirit realm or he chose to make himself heard.

Relieved, I let out a long breath. Queet was usually nearby, even when I couldn't see him, but hearing his voice made me feel easier. I might complain about being connected in the head with a spirit guide, but truth was, he made my job-and my life-easier, even though neither of us liked being yoked together. Being a Theosian wasn't easy. At least, not for me. I was indentured to Hecate. Hecate, the Goddess of Dark Magic and the Crossroads. My magic was that of cold flame and moonlight, of ash and bone and death.

"Fury? Don't get too comfortable." Queet sounded concerned.

I tensed. "Do we have an outlier?" I tuned in and sure enough, my alarm bells began to ring as my Trace screen opened up.

"Yeah, an Abom."

At the same moment he spoke, the creepy-crawly feeling flared in my gut. Queet was right, an Abomination was near. Well, hell. That meant we were in for trouble unless we could head him off at the pass.

"Where is he? I just caught his Trace."

"He's on the north side of the Sandspit. He's headed back toward the center of Darktown. Fury, he's in-body."

An in-body Abom? They were usually rare. "Do you think he noticed my footprint?"

"I don't think he's made you. But Fury, Tommy-Tee is out on his corner tonight. Smack in the middle of the Abom's path."

Double hell. Tommy-Tee was a sitting duck. Hell, the poor guy could barely handle life, let alone take on an Abom. But fucked up or not, because of his musical bent, Tommy-Tee had enough energy to attract the creature's attention. It would drain him dry and toss the shell. And that wasn't acceptable. Down here in Darktown, we took care of our own, especially those who couldn't look after themselves.

I pushed to my feet. "Which direction? Guide me."

"If you head west along Industrial Drive, then swing a right into the first burrow-lane, then a left at Silverfish's stall, you'll be on his back."

Crap. That was near Jason's shop-Dream Wardens. And Up-Cakes, his sister's bakery.

"You'll have to use your blur, though, in order to catch up to him."

"That's why I wore these shoes, ghostling." I smiled in the darkness. It drove Queet nuts when I called him that, but I couldn't help myself. He was always so very serious that sometimes I just wanted to shake a smile or laugh out of him.

"Just go." Queet didn't like being a spirit guide-he had told me that time and again. But that was okay, because I didn't always like having him for one. Since we had to work together, though, we made the most of it. And truth was, if we had just been able to pal around? We would have gotten along fine. It was the bound-at-the-skull thing that was an issue.

As I headed toward the burrow-lane, the rain started. It pelted off me, giant stinging droplets that bounced off as I sped up my pace, swerving to skirt a massive pile of rubble. Darktown was full of ruins, buildings that hadn't survived the World Shift. Cleanup had stopped at the borders. Croix? Uptown? North Shore? Even Portside was nice and tidy, but in our district, we were left to cope with the decay. At least we weren't as bad off as the Tremble, though.

At top speed, I was a blur of motion-running about four times faster than any human. I came to the burrow-lane and skidded to the right, veering into the narrow passage. As I ran, I talked to Queet. Whisper-speak was easy on the lungs, a talent almost every Theosian possessed.

"Aboms almost always come in on the astral. I wonder what lured this one to cross over in-body."

"I don't know, but wrap your mind around the fact that this one is as corporeal as you are, and he's a bruiser, so be careful. He's likely to knock you for a loop unless you go about this right, Fury."

I always took Queet's warnings to heart. We might chafe at working together but he was smart. And when it came to Aboms-he knew what he was talking about.

Abominations were soul-eaters. They had no conscience when it came to their victims.  But in-body? They were far worse. They'd been known to devour their victims down to the bone, as well as drain their souls, usually while the quarry was still alive and could feel it. When they came in-body, they often took on human form, but once they took hold of their victim, all bets were off and they reverted to their natural shape. Which was usually some sort of hideous beast.

At least I was armed. I'd tried stunners and several other weapons, but very little fazed these creatures but magic and brute force. And while magic was my forte, I carried three very important weapons-my sword, my dagger, and my whip.

Xan, my long, ornate sword, was razor sharp. She wasn't exactly legal, but down here, in Darktown? Nobody, not even the Devani, were going to put up a fuss. When Hecate had presented her to me, along with the matching dagger, she had given me the name of the sword. She sealed Xan into servitude for me, enhancing the sword's abilities to strike my opponents and to bite them deep and hard.

"There, make a left." Queet appeared in a flurry of mist next to me. Nobody else would recognize the mist for what it really was. That is, no one except another Theosian, magus, witch, or Psi. And right now, it felt good to know that somebody had my back, even a spirit guide.

I swung a hard left out of the burrow-lane, onto Sidewinder Street, the main street in Darktown. Up ahead and across the street was Dream Wardens, and the lights were still on. Next door, Up-Cakes was dark. In the center market, most of the stalls were closed, including Silverfish's Hemporium, but up ahead, on the corner, I could see the faint shape of someone playing guitar. Tommy-Tee. And headed his way, halfway between us, was the lurching figure of the Abom.

From the back, he did look like a bruiser. The Abom's current vehicle was six feet high, bald and brutish and wearing a pair of jeans and a leather jacket. That in itself was unusual. Mostly, when the Aboms came over in-body, they chose a Suit as their host, attempting to garner an edge via their three-pieces and shiny shoes. But whatever the case, the Abom was on the hunt and he was headed right for Tommy-Tee.

The Abomination's signal lit up my Trace with a neon frenzy. From where I was, I could smell the faint scent of char. They all reeked with it-an acrid scent of burning flesh and wood. My instincts kicked into high gear. Time to hunt and destroy. Hecate was leaning over my shoulder-I could feel her whispering to me through the dark of the moon, through the tattoo on my neck-triple snakes for the Triple Goddess-wound into an intricate pattern. Venomous images embodying my shadow magic.

I'd have a better chance of taking the Abom down if he didn't know I was coming, but it was only a matter of seconds before he picked up on me, and then my advantage would be long gone. And in that body? He wasn't going to be easy to handle. Not here, out in the open.


"Here. What do you need?"

"He's big and he's strong. I need to meet him on the Crossroads."

"Fury, that's a big risk. You know what shifting over to the Crossroads does to you. The aftereffects are nasty. Honestly, are you telling me that you are willing to risk yourself for Tommy-Tee? Think about it."

"I don't have time to think about it. Look-he's fucking huge. He's at least a foot taller than I am, and the minute he hears me breathe, he'll turn. Then, I won't have a clear shot to his soul-hole. If I have to fight him here, it's going to be bad. Real bad. If I take him to the Crossroads, I'll have my full power there."

A half-beat. Then, "Go. Do what you need to. I'll contact Jason as soon as you cross over and meet you there."

I surged forward and within seconds, I raced past the Abom, past Tommy-Tee, and was standing in the middle of the intersection. Thank gods there was no traffic.

"Hey, freakshow! How about a real dinner?" I waved my hands and shouted at the bruiser, trying to get his attention.

Startled, I heard Tommy-Tee stumble over a chord as he lost his place in his song.

The Abomination turned my way. The next moment, he broke off stalking Tommy-Tee and made a beeline for me, darting into the road at breakneck speed.

I waited, biding my time, breath pent.

Tommy-Tee was too fried from years of being hooked on Opish to understand what was going on. He took a step toward the edge of the sidewalk.

"Queet, do something. Keep Tommy-Tee off the road."

Queet swept past-I could feel the gust-and he slammed into Tommy, knocking him back with the force of his currents. Having a spirit guide who could mimic a poltergeist was handy at times.

Tommy-Tee landed on his butt on the sidewalk and I took that moment to make my move. The Abom was almost within arm's range of me. I swept my arms up, clasping my hands together over my head. A flash radiated as I closed my eyes and focused on my destination. The street shifted and blurred, melting around us, as the world lurched and then-we were on the Crossroads.

Reviews:Jill Smith on Romantic Times Reviews wrote:

Over the course of her impressive career, Galenorn has excelled at setting up compelling worlds filled with a variety of layered characters who enrich each tale. Fury Rising is no different, as this launch book of the Fury Unbound series gives readers a glimpse into the world of Kaeleen Donovan, who is a minor-goddess known as Fury.The stakes for all of humanity are high and Galenorn wastes no time setting the action in motion. Hang on and enjoy!


Android Lust: Here and Now
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Witch’s Brew; Night Fairies; Legend of the Dark Lord
Celtic Woman: The Butterfly; The Voice
The Chieftains: Dunmore Lassies
Clannad: Banba Óir; Newgrange
Corvus Corax: Bucca; Filii Neidhardi
David & Steve Gordon: Shaman’s Drum Dance
Deuter: Petite Fleur
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Enya: Orinoco Flow; Cursum Perficio
Faun: Iduna; Rad; Sieben; The Market Song
Gabrielle Roth: The Dancing Path: Flowing; Rest Your Tears Here; Totem; The Calling; Mother Night; Raven
Hedningarna: Chicago; Ukkonen; Gorrulaus; Tullí; Räven [Fox Woman]; Juopolle Joutunut
Huldrelokk: Trolldans
Kerstin Blodig & Ian Melrose: Kråka; Kelpie; Bedlam Boys/Bedlam Girls; Miner Viser
Tamaryn: Violet’s in a Pool; While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming
Tingstad & Rumbel: Chaco; Peru

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