Genre: romantic fantasy
Number of pages: 272
Word Count: 47853
Cover Artist: Myriah Reed
Ryder, commander of the Levarian legion of gargoyles, has a problem. He keeps dreaming on duty…and falling…neither of which gargoyles ever do. Every dream is of the same woman, and every time, it brings on red-hot, searing pain in the crescent-shaped scar on his palm. Driven to find the woman and the reason for his bizarre dreams, he lets himself fall…
…right through to a place he never knew existed…to the woman of his dreams.
Labeled a misfit, Tempest was snatched away as a child and imprisoned in the hidden realm of Misfit Mountain. Locked up by Fedor, the ruler of the kingdom, who intends to take her as his bride, she has no choice but to brave the dangerous snow and ice of the Mountain to escape. Despairing, faced with the impossible choices of Fedor or death, love is the last thing on her mind, until Ryder snatches her from the air and into a whole new realm of feeling.
Can Ryder find the key to freeing her and save them both?
“Please,” Tempest begged shivering beneath the fresh blanket of snow. “I’d rather die.”
She’d managed to escape…again, wishing this would be the last time. How she prayed the swirling snow devils would suck her up and away from this horrid hellhole of a world. Death would be welcome, if it kept her from going back to that place…back to him.
She’d been on the run for hours, wearing nothing more than a thin black cloak and an old pair of large, well-worn leather shoes she’d managed to steal from the guard. The knee-deep snow made her efforts to get away seem impossible. Countless times, she fell, only to push herself back up to her feet and plunge forward. As futile as the situation appeared, Tempest refused to give up. No longer could she feel her feet and hands; they’d gone numb long ago.
If only I could rest for a few minutes.
No! Her mind screamed in retaliation. If you stop, they will find you.
Her breath came in gulps; her lungs were on fire demanding more oxygen and a reprieve from the bitter cold air. The blinding snow went on forever. She had no idea which direction she headed, but hoped it led far away from her captors.
She lifted her arm, trying to shield her snow-bitten eyes from the brutal onslaught of the blizzard, but couldn’t see anything except for the deceiving flat white drifts. Her pace slowed, one step at a time; she was disoriented, tired, and hungry.
With her next step, her stomach fell out from underneath her. She screamed in terror as she fell through the air to an unknown fate. In a poof, she landed, buried in a soft tomb of snow.
The wind had been knocked from her lungs. She opened her mouth, gasping like a fish out of water. Finally, with a gulp, her airways filled with snow-mixed air. Coughing, she sputtered, unable to move. She uttered another weak plea for help, knowing know one would hear her. In the silence, her eyelids fluttered closed, and she drifted into the welcoming arms of darkness.
Vigorous scratching, dull and muffled, aroused Tempest from her slumber.
Am I dreaming? Oh gods, are the Vemlers trying to get in?
Relentless and deadly, the filthy, vile creatures could claw their way through anything in search of a meal. She fought them off on a regular basis. Alone in her cell, she was a sitting duck, with only a stick as her means of protection.
She tried to lift her head, but ended up with another mouthful of snow. As she gulped for air, the memory of her escape came flooding back.
No, this wasn’t supposed to happen.
It was worse than a dream. They must have found her, and she remained buried under the snow with no way to flee.
The scratching continued in the snow above, bringing her demise closer by the second. She refused to go down without a fight, and she’d end her life before Fedor ever laid his grotesque hands on her again. In all probability, his touch would kill her anyway.
She held her breath, trying to cease her shivers, knowing she must lie perfectly still and wait…wait for the exact moment before they broke through the small barrier of snow that encased her frigid body—a body that could not and would not freeze to death.
She braced her hands down at her sides, readying to push straight up.
Please let the snow beneath me hold my weight.
Her thigh muscles ached with tension as she contemplated the thought of moving.
Count to three.
They’d expect her to be in a slumber.
Her feet and calves tightened ready for action.
Her fists clenched into tight balls, prepared to strike. Her stomach rolled, threatening to hurl, but she knew it was empty, and had been for some time.
This is it. Three!
Tempest unleashed whatever strength she had left in her tired, battered body, bursting through the thin barrier of snow.
Two paws hit her square in the chest, and a pair of large glowing red eyes met her stare. Startled and off balance, Tempest stumbled backward. Her feet slid out from underneath her.
Rogue had found her, not the Vemlers or Fedor. She slid downward on her stomach, her arms desperately grasping at anything to stop her fall.
The beast pounced through the snow down the hill after her, trying to grasp a piece of her with his large fangs.
It was too late; her body flew through the air. She reached out and snagged a tree branch, to swing in the forsaken snowstorm at the mercy of a small twig protruding from a tiny ledge. Looking down into a vast crevasse with no bottom in sight, she thought maybe she’d get what she wished for, after all.
“No, I take it back, I don’t want to die. Creators, help me, please. Why do you hate me so?” Tempest squeaked, looking up into the sky, which continued to dump endless amounts of snow. Her hands, next to frozen, would not support her weight for long.
Above, Rogue perched on the small ledge preparing to jump after her. “Rogue, no! Stay!” she desperately commanded. A single tear rolled down her cheek, symbolizing her desperation and fear. The crazy beast would die with her; she knew that. If she fell, he would jump after her.
Rogue howled a mournful cry. His large grey-and-tan-spotted body crouched low. Tempest knew he was angry; his pointed ears lay flat against his large square head. She felt his frustration through his piercing red eyes. She swallowed a shriek as her hands slipped slightly.
Rogue moved even closer to the edge, causing chunks of snow to fall in her direction. “Rogue, listen to me. Don’t do this. You don’t need to end your life because of me.” Even as those words tumbled out of her mouth, Tempest knew the poor beast had no life worth living on the miserable mountain. They were both misfits not suitable to live with the regular folk on Levare. And there was no way to escape this miserable rock covered with ice and snow.
Tempest closed her eyes, wishing she had the power or ability to remove them from this horrid situation. It was impossible, of course, because she had no gifts—only misfortune. Poor Rogue also shared in the bad luck. He was a Gargdog, half gargoyle and half dog. His problem was his wings. A spell gone wrong, they were barely large enough for a pixie to fly with—useless wings on a grand creature. That’s what misfits were—rejects from Levare, banished from the world as though they never existed.
Her body trembled with the last bit of strength oozing from her limbs.
“Rogue goes with Tempest! I will not stay here without you,” the Gargdog growled in the form of words. She smiled up at him, proud of his speech. “I see you’ve been practicing since they separated us.” It was her attempt to lighten the mood.
“I’m sorry, Rogue,” Tempest squeaked as she slipped another half-finger length.
“Rogue loves Tempest. Not want Tempest to die without him.” Rogue hung his head. She felt his sadness.
“Rogue, I don’t have much strength left,” Tempest said weakly. “I’m not afraid of death. You know I could never be Fedor’s bride. His touch would kill me, anyway. This way is better. I won’t feel a thing,” she lied, trying to sound brave.
“We will go together. Neither will I live under his control any longer.”
Her arms now shook uncontrollably. Her hands had no feeling, but her brain forced the signal to her fingers to grasp as tightly as she could. She closed her eyes and said a quick, silent prayer for all the other misfits who suffered like her and Rogue.
We’ve endured so much pain in our lives. Please, Creators, let us have a painless death. With her silent prayers complete, Tempest opened her eyes, looked up, and whispered, “I love you, Rogue,” and let go.
Meet Lawna Mackie
I have always believed in fairy tales and when I got tired of the old ones I made up my own. Each story would have a hero and heroine, but they were anything but typical.
I devoured my first romance novel when I was a teenager and soon discovered I couldn’t read them fast enough. Years later I stumbled across my first paranormal romance…an injustice would be done if I tried to explain my joy when I found this genre of romance. Now writing any type of love story is my passion, whether it’s paranormal, fantasy, historical or contemporary–for me it’s all about LOVE and a happy-ever-after.
I am truly blessed. My husband is my hero in every story. My family and my precious animals are my inspiration. We live on a small acreage in Didsbury, Alberta, with Dozer, Daisy, Mandarin and Peppers.
Happy reading everyone, I would love to hear from you.