Promotions Week of July 19th


I’m a day late in writing this, but that’s okay, because you still have plenty of time to download two of my books for *free* this week!

Through the end of the day (that means 11:59 pm PDT) Friday, you can purchase the two Reborn series novellas, Revenge and Rectify, for free on Amazon! If you want to read them in order with the rest of the series, Revenge is book 2.5, and Rectify is book 3.5. But I wrote them in such a way so they also stand on their own.

Revenge is a short ghost story that focuses on one of the other Greek houses in the Reborn world, Alpha Rho. One of the Alpha Rho’s sorority sisters has died, and her spirit needs the sorority’s help to move on to the afterlife. It ties up some loose ends from the Alpha Rho subplot in Reborn, but it’s really a story about friendship and sisterhood. (And did I mention ghosts?)

Rectify is told from the point-of-view of Apate, the Greek goddess of trickery. She’s been stirring up a lot of trouble lately, but in Rectify she’s looking to right past wrongs. Her POV is a ton of fun to write from, because she says, and does, what she wants, and sometimes breaks the fourth wall. The novella also centers around her budding romance with Jimmy, a bartender and musician (and her arch nemesis’s ex).

The summaries for each novella are below. And if you do read one or both of them, I’d appreciate you leaving your thoughts on Amazon and/or Goodreads! Word of mouth is still the best way authors grow their readership.

Revenge

A stand-alone ghost story set in the Reborn world

Genie Cho was ambitious, a dedicated student, and–as president of her sorority, Alpha Rho–a promising leader. Until she made some new, otherworldly–and dangerous–friends. They opened her up to a world of magic, a world where everyone had special powers. They promised her eternal life. But something went wrong, and Genie wound up dead.

Her untimely death has shaken all of her sorority sisters, but hits Rebecca Grey especially hard. Ever since her roommate’s passing, Rebecca’s sleepless nights have been filled with nightmares. Rebecca even thinks she hears Genie’s voice sometimes, calling out for help. Although some of her sisters remain skeptical, Rebecca is convinced that Genie’s ghost is still out there somewhere and needs their help to move on.

Join Rebecca and the Alpha Rhos on their journey to lay Genie’s spirit to rest, a quest that takes them beyond the safety and comfort of their sorority house to the gates of the Underworld.

Rectify

A sexy, stand-alone novella set in the Reborn world

Love ’em and leave ’em. That’s always been Apate’s motto. The Olympian goddess of trickery doesn’t have time for entanglements, romantic or otherwise. And she sure as hell doesn’t have time for regret.

But when Thurston University student Siobhan Elliot goes missing and the human cops start sniffing around, Apate’s dubious past catches up with her. Now it’s only a matter of time until Jimmy, her latest conquest—who also happens to be Siobhan’s ex—finds out it’s her fault. To cover her tracks, Apate pays a visit to the Elliots, using her powers of illusion to pose as their daughter and convince them everything’s fine. Lying is easy. Confronting the consequences of her actions, however, will prove to be much harder than Apate expected.

To find her redemption, Apate knows it’s time to come clean. But the truth could cost her the only love she’s ever known.

Promotions Week of July 12th


To celebrate the release of Retribution, the fourth and final installment of the Reborn series, I have several promotions running over on Amazon for the earlier books in the series.

Reborn, the first book, is still free for a few more hours! Grab yours before it goes back to its original price tonight at 11:59 pm PST. The second and third books, Relapse and Reclaim, are both currently $0.99. Their price goes up to $1.99 in one day and reverts back to the original price on Sunday.

And if you do purchase one (or more 😉 ) of my books, remember to leave a brief, honest review of your thoughts on Amazon and/or Goodreads!

In other news, today I went live on Facebook for the first time! Overall, it was a little awkward but not too shabby? After the updates, I read a short excerpt from Chapter 4 of Retribution! Haha, so I can’t get the video to embed properly, but you can watch it here! (I am admittedly too tired to fiddle with trying to embed it, lol.)

Promotion: Reborn is FREE Through July 12th


Happy Friday Eve!

I am running a promotion for Reborn, the first book in my romantic urban fantasy series. Reborn is FREE for Kindle through the end of the day (11:59 pm PDT) July 12th! This way, you can dip your toes, so to speak, into the series if you’re new to it! Grab your free copy here.

Reborn is a modern, darker spin on the Eros and Psyche story from Greek Mythology. I call it an urban fantasy with strong romantic elements because it doesn’t fit the typical romance formula (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

I just released the fourth and final book, Retribution, and the complete series is also available to KU subscribers.

***

Summary: An old flame. A magical sorority. An uncontrollable power…

Siobhan Elliot’s World Myths and Legends class was supposed to be an easy way to get elective credit. Instead, she gets an unexpected—and unwanted—blast from the past in the form of the course’s handsome teaching assistant, Jasper Hart. He puts the cliché tall, dark and handsome to shame, but that’s the least of Siobhan’s worries. Because she’s met him before.

And he’s definitely not human.

Back then, their brief encounter left her with a unique but uncontrollable power, forever altering her young adult life. Now, the only person who can tell her the truth about who—and what—she really is doesn’t seem to remember her.

Even so, Jasper’s return opens a whole new world to Siobhan, one straight from the pages of her World Myths and Legends textbook. Her already bizarre life is about to be turned upside down, and nothing—not even her sorority, Gamma Lambda Phi—is left untouched. A world where Greek mythology meets Greek life, legendary lovers reunite, and nothing is what it seems.

Retribution is Here!


Happy Wednesday!

If you’re in one of the areas in the US experiencing record heat waves, I hope you’re able to stay cool. And while you’re indoors basking in the AC, why not curl up with a book?

Retribution, the fourth and final(?) installment of the Reborn series, is out in the world! You can purchase it alone for Kindle or as part of the complete series box set. All of my books are also available for KU subscribers. While you’re at it, add it to your summer TBR pile on Goodreads.

If funds are tight, I will be giving out a few review copies of the series box set (.mobi or pdf), so fill out this Google form if you’re interested! All I ask is that you leave an honest review on Goodreads and Amazon when you’re done reading. (And it goes without saying I won’t share your email with anyone, or use it for any other purpose!)

Summary:

Siobhan has returned from a seven-month stint in Pandora to a world that’s falling apart. Literally.

She doesn’t care, though, about the holes in the walls between the worlds. Or that, according to a prophecy, she’s the only one who can stop Eric and his halfling army from taking over Olympus. All Siobhan wants now is to get back to some semblance of normalcy in life, and in her relationship with Jasper.

Meanwhile, combat training is Carly’s new normal. But while Gamma Lambda Phi prepares for certain war, she grapples with missing memories and a forgotten power. And just when a possibility for new love presents itself, an old flame is rekindled.

Electra is the new general of Eric’s army, but it’s a tenuous command. She is caught between love and fear, sanity and madness, a desire for absolution and a thirst for vengeance…

In the game of the gods, anything goes, and nothing is what it seems. And in this conclusion to the Reborn saga, these three women will learn just how far they’re willing to go to win.

Retribution: The First 300 Words


With only ten days to go until Retribution releases July 1, I thought I’d share the first part of Chapter 1.

There are three main threads in the novel. Most of it is told from, of course, Siobhan’s perspective. The second chunk is from Carly’s. The third is a surprise, but it’s someone readers are familiar with (and will probably figure out fairly quickly). Your first clue is that Chapter 1 is called “Eric”. Your second clue is this playlist.

By the way, the Reborn series box set is on sale for Kindle through Wednesday morning. And you can pre-order Retribution here.

~

Every night, in my dreams, I return to the lake.

I kneel on the pebbled shore, swirling a finger through sepia-toned waters. Deep down, I know the color is wrong. But I also know I’m dreaming.

Think I’m dreaming.

Small waves lap the beach, rhythmic, endless, leaving behind dark, damp stones and traces of brown sludge. If I listen closely, I can hear the waves whispering. If I listen closer still, I can make out the words.

Feel me. See me. Know me.

I spring to my feet, shivering. But the whispers are a chorus now, pounding like blood in my temples.

Feel me.

See me.

Know me.

Hitching a breath, I dip my toes in the water. It is ice, but it is also a balm, the lake’s song diminishing to a murmur once again. I tiptoe forward until the water is ankle-deep. A little further still, and it doesn’t feel so bad anymore, the waves skimming my legs like indolent fingers.

Calves, knees, torso, shoulders—soon everything save for my head is submerged. I pause, treading water, and scan the lake. It is silent now. And I am alone.

There’s a pressure at my back, warm and slippery, like an eel slithering around my waist. It hooks my hip, shocking the breath out of me. A final squeeze, and I’m tugged entirely into the water.

Down here, the world is black ice. Everything is numbing, burning, crushing pain. I fight and thrash, but nothing I do makes any difference. Whatever has ahold of me isn’t letting go, dragging me down, down, down into more dark silence.

***

He is down here, in these muddy waters. I can’t see him, but his presence swells with every yard I fall. He sleeps. Dreams. Waits.

He waits for me.

Retribution Release and Pre-Order


Writing your first novel is…hard. Publishing your first novel, whether you decide to go the traditional or self-publishing route, is hard. But do you know what’s at least equally as hard, if not harder?

Writing the next book. And the next. And the next.

I forget who this quote is ascribed to, but I’ve heard it said you never learn how to write a book – you only learn how to write this book. I’ve been thinking about that quote lately, and how true it is. I published the first edition of Reborn back in November of 2013. That’s…eight years ago, lol. It started out as a pretty simple idea: a story about a college-aged woman who runs into a man from her past. A tall, dark, handsome, broody man who is probably not human. And who is either her long-lost love or sworn enemy. Or a little bit of both.

I wondered who these two characters were. I wanted to root around their brains, find out what drove them, what scared them, what – and who – they wanted more than anything.

Then, quite suddenly, I didn’t have just Siobhan and Jasper anymore, these two fascinating but deeply flawed people. I had a whole world in my head I wanted to explore, a world where Greek mythology met Greek life but was also equal parts 90s syndicated sci-fi show and teen drama. If you would have asked me to describe Reborn when it first came out, I might have told you it was like Stargate SG-1 meets Greek (you know, the ABC Family – now Freeform – show from the late 2000s?). Which is honestly kind of accurate, but also who the heck would want to read that (besides me)?

If you’re new to the Reborn series, it’s essentially a modern retelling of the Eros and Psyche myth. My Psyche is Siobhan Elliot, a college student at the fictional Thurston University in Shadesburg (a Pittsburgh-esque city). My Eros is Jasper Hart, her hot teaching assistant for her World Myths and Legends class. The first two books in the series, Reborn and Relapse, mostly focus on their complicated, at times downright toxic, relationship, as well as Siobhan’s efforts to navigate this new world she finds herself in.

Pretty quickly, my ideas for the series expanded beyond Siobhan and Jasper’s story. It spawned two novellas and the third installment, Reclaim, which focused on a different main character: Siobhan’s sorority sister, Carly Dragonjac. While Siobhan’s interests began to clash a lot with her sorority’s, I think of Carly as the Gamma Lambda Phi sister who stayed. As Carly doesn’t have much of a family left, the sorority didn’t just become her home-away-from-home, but her home, period. And her storyline let me indulge one of my other favorite archetypes, the wicked (and sexy) trickster god. The fourth book, Retribution, picks up where both Siobhan and Carly’s stories left off and gives them a (mostly) happy resolution.

Oh, right. Did I mention I have a book coming out?

Going back to that quote at the beginning of the post, it took me four years (Reclaim was published in 2017) to learn how to write Retribution. Not that I was writing it that entire time. I was not. I did put out a novella in 2019, but mostly the ideas for the fourth book were marinating. And, sure, then there was a global pandemic in which I was like…okay, I’m at home way more than usual, there is literally no excuse now not to finish this book…

Although the major ideas and revelations in the book never changed, I think it would have been a much different book if I had forced myself to write it four years ago. It was always going to be about how Siobhan and Jasper both heal from their past traumas, how they finally find their way back to an authentic, healthy version of their relationship. But I was also thinking about several larger themes while I was writing it. For one: What would happen if our world was infiltrated by an alien civilization? (Slight spoiler alert: probably nothing good.)

And, in this era of movements like #MeToo, where we’re starting, as a society, to confront egregious abuses of power and privilege, I was thinking a lot about what we’re “allowed” or expected to feel as women. So, power is definitely one of the major themes in Retribution – confronting power imbalances, confronting those who abuse their power and, most importantly, reclaiming that power.

Now, there are definitely many light-hearted, fun, silly, sexy, and romantic moments in Retribution. But it does get rather dark at times. Rest assured, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, I let my female characters experience the whole gamut of emotions: happiness, love, desire, fear, desperation, despair, regret, hate, resentment. Each main character has an inner darkness to confront. One learns to accept and live with it. One rises above it. One embraces it.

You can pre-order Retribution for Kindle on Amazon! It releases July 1, 2021. While you’re at it, add it on Goodreads. I am planning to give out a few review copies (.mobi or pdf only), so email me at slstacyauthor@gmail.com if you’re interested. Heidi’s gorgeous cover art and the book summary are below!

*****

Siobhan has returned from a seven-month stint in Pandora to a world that’s falling apart. Literally.

She doesn’t care, though, about the holes in the walls between the worlds. Or that, according to a prophecy, she’s the only one who can stop Eric and his halfling army from taking over Olympus. All Siobhan wants now is to get back to some semblance of normalcy in life, and in her relationship with Jasper.

Meanwhile, combat training is Carly’s new normal. But while Gamma Lambda Phi prepares for certain war, she grapples with missing memories and a forgotten power. And just when a possibility for new love presents itself, an old flame is rekindled.

Electra is the new general of Eric’s army, but it’s a tenuous command. She is caught between love and fear, sanity and madness, a desire for absolution and a thirst for vengeance…

In the game of the gods, anything goes, and nothing is what it seems. And in this conclusion to the Reborn saga, these three women will learn just how far they’re willing to go to win.

Rectify is Live!


Rectify, a new novella in the Reborn series, is now live!

Find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and more!

Add it on Goodreads.

Synopsis:

Love ’em and leave ’em. That’s always been Apate’s motto. The Olympian goddess of trickery doesn’t have time for entanglements, romantic or otherwise. And she sure as hell doesn’t have time for regret.

But when Thurston University student Siobhan Elliot goes missing and the human cops start sniffing around, Apate’s dubious past catches up with her. Now it’s only a matter of time until Jimmy, her latest conquest—who also happens to be Siobhan’s ex—finds out it’s her fault. To cover her tracks, Apate pays a visit to the Elliots, using her powers of illusion to pose as their daughter and convince them everything’s fine. Lying is easy. Confronting the consequences of her actions, however, will prove to be much harder than Apate expected.

To find her redemption, Apate knows it’s time to come clean. But the truth could cost her the only love she’s ever known.

New Year’s Resolutions N’at


It’s that time again (or, as January is almost over, passed that time) to set goals for the new year, including writing goals! So read on for my official, writing-related new year’s resolutions n’at. (And if you don’t know what n’at means, you may need this.)

Last year, I accomplished several major writing and publishing goals. Accomplishments included self-publishing Reclaim, the third book in my Reborn series, as well as a companion novella, Revenge. I attended my first writing-related conference and joined two professional organizations for a little networking and friendship with other writers. I also submitted a standalone young adult novel I’d written to a writing contest (Pitch Wars). That was a major fail, haha, but I’m glad I did it. I don’t know if I’ll try it again this year, but definitely in the future. (If you’d like to find out more about Pitch Wars, visit their site.) I managed to accomplish another goal in 2017, but I’m keeping that under wraps for now…it remains to be seen whether it will be a success or a failure. 😉

Although I didn’t do as good of a job updating this blog last year, I did a lot of writing, even if I wasn’t always writing about writing. Teehee. In addition to the Pitch Wars manuscript, I wrote (most) of a Reborn-world novel for NaNoWriMo. “Reborn-world” because it’s based in the same mythology, but mostly focuses on two characters not in the other books. It’s, quite frankly, not anywhere close to being done. When I took a break from it over the holidays I realized it had some problems I needed to work through. I still think there’s an interesting story there, but I’ve put it on the back-burner for now.

(As an aside, this is also why I shouldn’t gleefully announce projects way in advance, lol. I thought for sure I’d want to do something with it. I still probably will, but it’s not top priority at this time. It was still important writing as far as back story goes, though. As authors, we write down a lot that doesn’t actually end up making it into a book. But we have to know it happened. If that makes any sense…)

In addition to writing projects, which I PROMISE I’ll get to in a second, I have several marketing-related goals I want to meet. This is always hard for me, as it is for any self-published author (and probably any author, really…) because, although I know how important marketing and promotions are, it takes time away from actual writing. Which is what I want to be doing. However, I’m hoping that if I write down these resolutions here, for all to see, I’ll be more likely to do them. At least that’s the idea. 😉

  • Web site: I really need to upgrade this site. Like yesterday. There’s no reason I can’t buy my own domain and transfer everything over…I think GoDaddy let’s you do this. But it’s slightly extra work and I don’t wanna. But I need to.
  • Newsletter: I want to start an author newsletter to give more targeted updates to readers. I’ve been doing some research into this, subscribing to newsletters from authors I enjoy to see what they do. It seems like MailChimp is the way to go for this? (If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments–about any of this, of course, but especially newsletters!)
  • Author Signing/Book Festival: The idea of going to one of these things feels really overwhelming to me, like even just thinking about it. I attended a panel of local authors talking about these last weekend and…even though I expected there to be a lot of prep for these events, there were tons of details I hadn’t even thought of. Yikes. So my goal is to just do one of these in 2018. Just one, and go from there.

Writing Resolutions

And now for the moment you all, or at least some of you, have been waiting for. I did start writing a thing this January. It doesn’t have a title yet…except for Reborn Book 4. 😉 It will likely be the last book in this series with Siobhan, Carly, Jasper et al. as the main characters. But I felt, in addition to tying up loose ends from the previous books, they still had stories waiting to be told. (I do have ideas for other books set in this world…”spin off” books, if you will, for characters that have been more secondary or minor until now.)

I’ve just started writing so am still getting a feel for this book. I think I’m somewhere in between a plotter and a pantser, lol. Although I have the main plot and some of the major turning points in mind, sometimes I just start writing without a clear outline, to see what my imagination cooks up. Then I stop and go back and sort of reassess things, making a clearer outline then. Even when I do outline, things often don’t go as planned, but that’s part of the fun. I don’t want to force the story to go a certain way if that’s not where the characters are taking me.

So I can’t tell you a lot about this book yet, but I can tell you some of the loose ends it will address. This is probably an incomplete list since I’m not looking at my notes, going off the top of my head here (and, if you haven’t read the Reborn series yet, spoilers abound):

  • Sibohan’s origin. Siobhan is unique among the halflings, those who are part human, part Olympian. She seems to have a special set of powers no one else has. In this book, you’ll find out why.
  • Siobhan and Jasper. They’re together at the end of Relapse, but it’s an imperfect union. Jasper loves someone who finds it hard, with good reason, to truly love him back. Siobhan feels more of an addiction to Jasper than actual love, but I think Jasper is on the road to redemption and she will discover there are honest feelings there. In any case, these two need a more satisfying resolution.
  • Eric and Anna. Eric has been the “big bad” up to this point, building his halfling army to overthrow Zeus back on Olympus. He suffered a bad defeat at the end of Reclaim, but he’s making his comeback in this book, his army larger and more formidable than ever. But Eric has secrets still waiting to be uncovered. If you remember from Relapse, Siobhan and Victoria almost happen upon one of them in his penthouse when they’re rescuing Vanessa… Anna had some problems at the end of book 2, to say the least, although she’s since been on the road to recovery. She undergoes quite a transformation in the meantime…it’s been fun to play around with her character more.
  • Prophecies. There have been two main prophecies floating around in the series that are pretty important, and now you’ll get to find out why. Vanessa says one of them in Relapse, and Moira, an Olympian seer, gives Carly the other in Reclaim.

Speaking of Carly…she will have a major part to play in this upcoming book as well, and I’m hoping to resolve some of the loose ends involving her. However, I don’t have this part completely ironed out yet so I won’t say anything more. A lot about everything I’ve said could still change because I’ve just started writing it…these were just some of the specific plot threads I’ve left dangling that I want to make sure to tie up…if not into a neat, tidy bow, at least into some sort of complicated knot that’s really hard to get out…

As far as a timeline for all of this goes, I don’t have much sense of a release date. I am sorry for that, but I’m also not going to set one for a while, at least until I have a better sense of how this is all going to come together. Although I am a writer, and I love that part of myself, I’ve been learning not to try to solely define myself by that. I have other goals, other obligations, not related to writing at all, that are important to me, too. Between all of those things, and writing, it’s just hard for me to get a sense of how to time releases. The book is done when it’s done, haha. I want to make it something readers will devour and enjoy, not something that was rushed. If I had to guess, maaaaaaybe I could get this book out end of 2018 or spring of 2019, but we shall see. This is not a hard deadline (clearly).

I know waiting is hard, but I hope you’ll bear with me. The wait will be worth it. In the meantime, if you’ve read any of the Reborn series and enjoyed it, take a moment to spread the word! Tell even just one friend about it, or post a rating and/or short review to Goodreads, Amazon, etc.

Happy 2018, and most importantly, happy reading!

 

 

‘Tis the Season…October Freebies


In the…spirit of Halloween, I’m running two promotions on Amazon over the next two weeks.

Today and tomorrow (October 18-19), my novella Revenge is free for all Kindle users. One of its reviewers said it has a Halloween-ish vibe, so it’s a perfect quick read for this time of the year. You can download it here. And, although it takes place in the Reborn world, it can be read as a stand-alone.

Then next week, Reclaim (Reborn #3) is free for Kindle from October 24-25, down from its regular price of $2.99. You can purchase it here.

If you know anything about me, you know I love October and I LOVE Halloween and costumes and scary everything and just everything about it. So I’m glad to be able to share these two paranormal-themed stories with you to celebrate.

Happy Halloween, and happy reading!

 

Excerpt: The Visitor


Happy Monday!

I’ve been going through some old drafts of things I started and then put aside, trying to decide what writing project to work on next and what excerpt I could post on the blog. Some were too R-rated (lol), another I felt was potentially too dark, but this one seemed just right. 🙂 It’s really just backstory, so I don’t know if it will ever make its way into a book, but I wrote it when I was thinking about Carly’s bad ass grandma, and about who her biological father is (the one who left their mother when they were young). Sounds scumbag-ish, but like always in the Reborn world, nothing is as it first appears…..

This is some Carly family backstory, related to events that happened in Reclaim (Reborn Book #3). (I recommend *not* reading it if you haven’t read Reclaim and are planning to, because it will spoil parts of it.) And please keep in mind this was mostly for my notes so it’s very rough, but I thought readers of the series would enjoy it. Happy reading!

*****

Image result for someone knocking on a doorUpstate New York, eleven years ago

Darlene Vignovich was just beginning to doze off when there was a loud, urgent knocking at the front door.

She gave a shudder, paper-thin eyelids flying open, and sat straight up in her chair. Placing a gnarled, wrinkled hand on either chair arm, she hoisted herself to standing, then, grabbing her cane from where it was propped up against the end table, propelled herself toward the door. Three more loud, demanding knocks sounded on the other side. She thought about alerting her husband, who was out back tending to his rose bushes (as always), deciding against it a moment later. From the sudden, inexplicable drop in temperature in the room, and the way the breath left her lips in small, white puffs, she already knew who stood on the other side of that door.

She knew she could handle him.

“You,” she said after unlatching and pulling the door open. She kept the screen door locked, meeting the pair of bright, blue eyes on the other side of it with a steely resolve. They belonged to a very tall man with a strong-looking but slim body, a head of salt-and-pepper hair and beard to match, and those keen blue eyes peering out of a tan face lined with age. He looked to be about fifty, but each time Darlene had seen him over her long life he had looked the same. The first time their paths had crossed she had been eighteen and a freshman in college, and she had thought him an old man, albeit a distinguished one. Now that she was an old woman, he looked younger and more appealing than ever.

“Where do you get off, dropping by here unexpectedly,” Darlene snapped, jabbing her cane in his direction. “You should have called first.”

“Darlene.” He said her name patiently, imploringly, and spread his arms in an apologetic manner, palms out to face her. “You’re the one that invited me here.”

“I know that,” she spat, spittle flying through the air, collecting on the glass pane of the door in tiny round droplets. “I’m not senile, just old.” Although sometimes she wondered about that, herself. Sometimes she got confused. Usually, it was small things. Calling one of her granddaughters by her daughter’s name. Looking in the fridge for the sugar, and in the cupboard for the milk. But sometimes it was bigger things. The two worlds, two realities she had forced apart her entire life had, at some point, floated back together and now bled into each other, like squirts of blue and green dye mixing in a bowl of water.

“Darlene. Open the door,” the visitor beseeched her calmly.

After a moment’s stubborn pause, Darlene obliged, unlocking and opening the screen door.

One shiny black dress shoe, then the other, crossed the threshold, clapping over the hardwood floor. His dark suit was snug and well-tailored, the outline of muscle much too prominent for someone his age visible underneath the expensive material. Underneath, he wore a crisp white shirt and a purple tie.

“You should have called,” Darlene scolded him again, shuffling over to perch on the edge of a couch cushion. He sat down in the arm chair she had vacated moments ago, reclining it back slightly, making himself at home. “Hannah and the girls will be here soon. If they see you…”

“They won’t,” he assured her, drumming long, elegant fingers on his thigh. “They’ll never know I was here, will go on believing I left their mother, abandoned them.”

“You did,” she reminded him.

“Only because you demanded it of me.”

“You would have left eventually, anyway. That’s what your kind do. Spread your seed on this world and then bolt.”

“My kind?” The corner of his mouth ticked upward. Despite herself, Darlene always thought the man had a nice mouth. There was a sensuous curve to his lips, and they were a nice, smooth pale pink, like the peonies that grew in her garden. “It’s your kind too, Darlene. Our blood runs through your veins.”

Even though she already knew this—he had told her and her sorority sisters this sixty years ago—Darlene still shivered, the hairs on her forearms pricking. “Yes. Demon blood does run through them. But so does human blood. And that is where I derive my strength from.”

“Demon blood.” The visitor rolled those too-blue eyes. “We’re not demons. We are not evil. We are simply more…advanced. If anything, we’re angels. Gods.”

Darlene’s head of tight, white curls sliced to the right, then the left. “God has nothing to do with the likes of you. Living so long, being so beautiful, so…alluring…that can’t be God’s work. It is Satan’s. It is an abomination.”

“Is that what you would call your granddaughters?” He leaned forward in the chair, eyes deepening to an icier shade of blue. The temperature in the room took a nosedive, and Darlene felt little tendrils of frost collecting in her nose, on her eyelashes. “Abominations? Your ‘tainted’ blood flows through their veins. So does mine.”

“Carly and Diane will never know of this world,” she insisted, embracing herself. She didn’t want her daughter’s ex-husband to catch her shivering, but she couldn’t help it. His easily sparked temper had thrown them into a freezer. “I have made sure of that.”

“You won’t be around to protect them forever.” His reminder chilled her even further. “They’ll be out in the world, on their own. Just like you, they will gravitate toward the sisterhood. They will discover their heritage. Their destiny.”

“No.” She shook her head again. “I won’t let that happen.”

All at once, the temperature in the room rose again, the frost clinging to her eyelids and nostrils melting. The visitor sat back in the chair again, raking a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair. “You don’t have to leave them,” he continued in a calmer, kinder tone. “You know that. I can give you more ambrosia. It will awaken the rest of your…demon”—he sneered the word—“blood, give you practically eternal life. But you won’t have to leave Hannah, or your granddaughters.”

Darlene extended a hand to the top of her cane, feeling the grooves in the wood with her fingers. “I don’t want to leave them. But, one day, I’ll have to. That is the natural order of things. The circle of life. I won’t destroy my soul, even for eternal life.”

He sighed. “That’s my Darlene, always so damn moral.”

Darlene nodded once, stiffly. “That’s right. So, did you bring it? Do you have what I requested?” He’d better not have come empty handed.

Nodding and reaching into his suit jacket, her former son-in-law pulled out a black velvet, drawstring bag, seeming to weigh it in his hand before handing it to her. Darlene accepted it, resting the bag on her lap and opening it up, peering inside.

“This is it?” she asked, still unable to believe it. To trust him. “This will seal the rift that’s on the outskirts of my property?”

“That, and this.” He reached back into his jacket, this time emerging with a piece of yellowed parchment. “This is the ritual that will close the tear. Permanently.”

“Good.” Accepting the parchment from him, Darlene gingerly folded it in half and tucked it inside her robe. She pulled on the drawstrings, closing the black velvet pouch. “I’m not sure what’s out there, but there’s something on the other side of that rift. I can hear them sometimes, crying. Screaming.” More demons, she assumed, but she wasn’t about to bring that up in front of him again. There was no point. The rift would be repaired soon, and everything would be back to normal. “What do you think could cause such a thing?” she asked, almost as an afterthought. “I thought the walls the guardians erected long ago were supposed to be full-proof.”

“They are quite sturdy,” he agreed, “but can occasionally weaken and fail from natural wear and tear. But it’s nothing to worry about. That should do the trick.” He nodded toward the bag still sitting in her lap. Darlene wasn’t sure she believed that the anomaly was “nothing to worry about,” but she didn’t pursue that either. Hannah and the girls would be there soon. It was time for him to go.

He seemed to understand this, bringing the recliner forward again and getting to his feet, adjusting his tie as he strode toward the door. “Don’t bother getting up, Darlene.” He waved a hand in her direction just as she was making to push up onto her feet with her cane. “I can see myself out.”

But before he left, he turned again, one hand on the door, the other fisted at his side. “My daughters do not have evil inside of them. They have my people’s magic. Power. You don’t want me to be a part of their lives? Fine. I’ll stay away. But do not shelter them. Don’t deny them their heritage. Like you, like Hannah—though she doesn’t know it—they are guardians. And they are so much more. If you don’t tell them, they will find out some other way. I guarantee it. The Fates will guide them to their destiny. But it’s better that you prepare them. Think about it.”

With that, he pushed through the screen door, pulling it closed behind him much too hard, causing the glass pane to shudder and rattle. Heaving a sigh, Darlene set the black velvet pouch containing the object capable of mending the walls-between-worlds on the couch before getting up to close and lock the heavy oak door. Feeling suddenly breathless, she turned, leaning her back against the cool wood of the door, closing her eyes. He was right about one thing. Maybe she should tell Carly and Diane. Everything.

A moment later, she shook her head, going back over to the couch to retrieve the bag. She would need time to learn how to use the object inside properly and to practice the ritual. Until then, she would hide it away from her granddaughters’ inquisitive eyes. No, she decided, shuffling up the stairs. It was best Carly and Diane only knew the world they were used to. One that was safe. Normal. No demons, no parallel worlds, no magic. They would never know about the guardians, nor who their father really was.

She would make sure of it.