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About heathstallcup

Creator of the Monster Squad and other supernatural tales.

For My Girls Ch 6

For your reading pleasure, Chapter 6 of Huntress: Of Gods & Men, the story that probably should have been but never will be.

Every time I read these old scribblings, I long to finish the story. Perhaps even market it as a YA fantasy? But too many projects already have my attention and I fear I couldn’t do dear Erica the justice she deserves.

6

We continued to talk until the sun broke along the horizon. I watched as lights began coming on inside the house and I patted Alejo’s shoulder. “It might be best if you weren’t here when my parents are up.”

He sighed and dropped his head. “I suppose you’re right.” He stood and stretched then turned to me. “Come find me when you’re ready to finish learning about us.”

“How do you know so much?” I asked, standing and walking alongside him.

“The gods told me. Every time I travel to Olympus, I learn something new.” He smiled at me again and it was just as brilliant as the first time I saw it. “You should come with me sometime.”

My eyes widened. “I didn’t think…”

“What? That you’d be welcome?”

I shook my head. “No. That I could. I mean, that’s your gods’ home. My gods don’t live there.”

He laughed again and stepped back, fading from view slightly. “You’re a demigod. You can travel wherever you wish.”

And with that, he slipped away. I had no idea where he had gone but he was truly gone. The energy that bound us when we are near had faded to nothing. I reached out and waved my hand through the space he had just been and there was nothing. Empty air.

I sighed as I walked back toward the house. He had only just left but I already missed him. I pushed open the door and could smell the coffee brewing. Mother was just beginning breakfast so I knew that father would be here soon. I heard the bacon sizzle as she placed it into the pan and I smiled. My father does love his bacon.

“You’re up early.” Her voice actually surprised me. I suppose my mind was preoccupied.

“I didn’t sleep last night.” I slid in around her and reached for a coffee cup.

“No coffee. It will stunt your growth.”

I shot her a smile and reached for the pot anyway. “I’m nearly as tall as father. I think my growth could use some stunting.” She watched me pour the dark liquid and said nothing more about it as I sat at the table and enjoyed the aromas.

“So why didn’t you sleep? Something on your mind?”

I paused mid-sip and stared at the back of her head. I knew better than to lie but I didn’t think she’d understand if I told her the truth. I set the cup down and bit at my lower lip, my mind racing.

“I was talking to a friend.”

She paused but didn’t turn around. “A friend, eh? Somebody I know?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so. We actually just met ourselves.”

She nodded as she continued turning the bacon. “So does your friend have a name?”

“Alejo. He’s Greek.”

She stiffened then turned slowly. “He’s not the demigod you’re supposed to kill, is he?”

I shrugged slowly. “Maybe.”

Mother groaned and turned back to her bacon. “You’re too big for me to spank, but you better get your head on straight young lady. If your father finds out…”

“Finds out what?”

We both jumped as he spoke. I turned to see him staring at us, his eyes narrowing.

“It would seem that your daughter isn’t sleeping at nights.” Mother was quick on her feet but I didn’t know she was so adept at ‘handling’ him. “She stayed up all night and now she’s drinking coffee.”

Father’s face fell and he turned to me. “I can’t say that I blame you. Nectar of the gods, that is.” He pulled his own mug and poured half the carafe into it. I watched him reach around mother and pluck a piece of bacon from the pan.

“Quit it!” She slapped at his hand with a fork but he stuffed the piece of meat into his mouth then straddled the chair across from me.

“You aren’t sleeping?”

I shrugged. “Only sometimes. I just wasn’t tired.”

He nodded, studying me. He turned his attention back to mother. “Tex drop off the files for me?”

“They’re in your office.” She spun and placed the platter of bacon in front of him and a plate of fried eggs. “Your protein my dear.” She leaned down and kissed the top of his head.

“Thank the gods your mother loves me.” He shoved a handful of the bacon into his mouth and closed his eyes as he savored each bite.

“So, I think I’m going to go to Greece today.” I sipped the coffee and waited for his reaction.

“What’s in Greece?” He didn’t look up from his eggs and I was somewhat surprised that he wasn’t shocked I announced I was leaving the country.

“The target that Thor assigned me.” I reached across the table and snuck a slice of bacon. He narrowed his eyes at me and I swear, there was a low growl that came from him as he watched me eat it.

Mother slapped at him as she set a plate in front of me. I had the same thing as father, just not the same amount. The man ate for a small army. I watched his hand reach across for my food and mother slapped him again.

“She took one of mine.” He sounded like a child as he argued.

“You’ll live.” She turned to me and I caught her raised brows. “How long do you think you’ll be gone?”

“I honestly don’t know.” I chewed hoping she wouldn’t expand on what I had told her.

She sipped her coffee in silence and we waited until father was done and escaped to his office. I knew it was coming and tried to prepare myself. When she was sure he was behind closed doors she turned on me.

“What do you think will happen if Thor finds out that you’ve befriended your target?”

I had to avoid her eyes. I knew what would happen and I didn’t want to think about it. “Mother, he’s too lovely to kill.”

For a moment I thought she had been frozen in place, mouth open, eyes wide. Finally she blinked so I knew she was still alive.

“Did you say ‘too lovely’?”

I swallowed hard and nodded slowly.

“You are entirely too young to think that anybody is lovely!” I didn’t know it was possible to yell at a whisper, but she accomplished it.

I held my hands up and tried to calm her but she couldn’t be calmed. “You are just a child! And…he’s a…boy!”

“Boys don’t really have cooties, mother.”

“Do NOT get smart with me young lady!” She stood and cleared the dishes entirely too enthusiastically. I could hear them threatening to shatter as she tossed them into the sink. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Not only are you going against Thor, but you’re falling for the target.” She continued to rant and I couldn’t take it. I transported myself to my room and prepared a bag.

I know she meant well. She is only concerned for my well-being. She doesn’t want me to make a mistake that I’d one day regret. But every time I thought of Alejo, something inside me told me that it would be wrong to kill him.

Besides, he knew more about being a demi than I ever would. All because his gods believed in him and shared information.

I sat on the bed and pouted that my gods weren’t more open minded like his were.

I felt my anger rising and knew I had to get out of the house. I snatched up my bag and transported myself to Greece.

I stood along the same rocky shores and turned to see the small villa I had visited before. I turned and took the steps leading to the main road and reached out with my feelings, hoping to find whatever it was that had drawn me to him in the first place.

I felt nothing as I strode along the cobblestone paths. I would occasionally stop and allow my mind to reach out, concentrating on him and his amber eyes. His radiant smile. His dark wavy hair.

Nothing.

I spent the better part of the evening searching for him and as the sun set I found myself walking the shores. The sounds of the ocean and the smell of the salt air had a calming effect.

I never felt him approach. I can only assume he stepped out of whatever veil he would disappear into. One moment I was completely alone, the next, I felt him behind me.

I turned slowly and I know that the smile on my face couldn’t be hidden. His matched mine.

“I thought you’d find me. I didn’t think I’d have to come to you again.”

I stepped close to him and he bumped me with his shoulder. Tiny blue arcs crossed between us and I could feel my toes want to curl in the soft sand.

“I didn’t know where you were, so I came to where I found you the first time.”

“I told you about Olympus.” He gave me a look of expectancy. “I sat up there and watched you but you never came.”

I looked up into the darkening sky. “I didn’t know you could see me from there.”

He pointed in the other direction. “There. And yes. The gods watch all of their people from there.”

I blushed. “Am I one of your people now?”

He seemed to sober and his smile faded. “I think you and I are the only two of our people.” His face couldn’t hide the pain he felt.

I suddenly realized that while he was of two different worlds, he never felt that either of them were truly home. He wasn’t truly a god, nor was he fully human. When you are of two lines so fundamentally different from each other, you never really have a place you can call home.

This sudden realization also brought with it a completely new level of confusion. If he and I truly are the only two demigods…shouldn’t we stick together? Shouldn’t we support each other? Shouldn’t we…I had to stop thinking that way. I was suddenly embarrassed at the direction my thinking took me.

“Don’t you?”

It took me a moment to realize what he was asking. I nodded softly and turned from him. “I suppose you’re right. We are the only two.”

“And the gods created them man and woman that they might be fruitful and multiply.”

I spun and stared at him. “What did you say?”

He chuckled and shook his head. “Something from the carpenter’s book. Nothing really.”

He broke away from me and began walking along the shore, the cool water coming in and washing over his feet. I fell into step behind him.

“Tell me what you meant by that.”

He spun around and flashed me his best smile. “Nothing really. It just came to mind.” He bent low and splashed the salt water toward me. “I have a problem with my mouth saying things before my brain can stop it.”

Okay, now that I could relate to.

I side stepped his splashing and closed the distance between us. “What does it mean? What you said.”

He shook off my question. “You want to go someplace fun? I can show you how to get to Olympus.”

I stopped following him and didn’t realize I had assumed my mother’s pose. Both hands on my hips, my brows knitted together. “What does it mean?”

He stopped playing in the water and stared at me. His face became somber and he slowly approached me.

“Nothing really. It’s a reference to when they made men. They also made women. Because the two only work when they’re together. Without one they both die out.” He shrugged and gave me a weak smile. “That’s all. I didn’t really mean anything by it.”

I wasn’t stupid. I knew what the passage meant. I wanted to know what he meant when he uttered the words.

“So you think that since we are the only two demis…and one is male and the other female, that we were created for a reason?”

He reached out and took my hands. I felt the surge of power and didn’t let it distract me. I looked up into his face and his eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight.

“I was hoping.” He gave me a soft smile. “That’s all.”

Time seemed to slow to a crawl as we stood on the edge of the ocean. I stared up at him and watched as he slowly bent, his eyes closing, his lips parting. I knew what was about to come and a part of me was screaming, ‘no, don’t let this happen’ while the biggest part of me was screaming, ‘don’t let it stop’.

I saw no sparks when our lips met. My eyes were closed, too. But I felt the rush of power course through me and felt my chest would explode. It took another moment for my body to adjust and then I felt his lips pressed against my own.

It was glorious. I tingled in places I didn’t know could tingle.

I felt his hand reach down and wrap itself around my waist. I leaned into him and I could feel his tight muscular body pressed against my own. I found my own hands reacting without thought and my fingers were running through that dark wavy hair while my other hand pulled him closer.

I didn’t think we could be any closer but I found myself pulling him tighter to me. I could feel his hands across my back and our tongues met…it was so foreign but felt so right.

Time was at a standstill when we parted and sucked in air. I felt as though I had drank Hildy’s honey wine again as my head swam. I opened my eyes and stared at him. He was just as lovely as the first time I had seen him. He almost seemed to glow, a golden halo of power surrounded him and I watched as his mouth slowly formed a smile.

“That was incredible.”

“Yeah.” I couldn’t think of a way to top what he had just said. Actually, my brain wasn’t really working at all.

It took me a moment to realize that we were still pressed to each other. My hands ran along the length of his arms and I was impressed at the thick muscular ropes he had under his skin. He shouldn’t be allowed to wear clothing that hid such things.

He stepped back slightly and even in the moonlight I could see his face flush. He avoided my gaze and when he let go of me I wanted to snatch his hands and put them right back where they were.

“I’m sorry.” His voice was a whisper, but his words tore at me. “I shouldn’t have just…”

“Don’t be sorry.” I stepped closer to him and lifted his chin so that he was looking at me again. “Nobody touches me that I don’t allow.”

I felt his arms wrap around me again and he pulled me close to him.

I felt like I was finally home.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls Ch 5

Yes dear readers, it’s time for the next installment of the trilogy that nearly was. I tell ya, the more I read through these old scribblings, the more I yearn to finish the story. Maybe Erica needs to be heard after all.

Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here is Huntress Ch 5!

5

I know I must have seemed a completely different person when I returned home. I feared that I still had the mead on my breath and avoided my mother. Night had fallen and I could hear my father talking to someone in his study. I so wanted to go to him, to ask his opinion on this mission but I knew better. Father is many things, but one thing he would never do is go against the orders from Asgard. If they told him to ravage the earth, burn the buildings and enslave the humans in the name of Odin, he would ask where they preferred him to start.

I tried to sneak past his office when the doors suddenly opened and his right hand man, Tex, stepped out. He held his dusty old cowboy hat in his hands and shot me a crooked smile.

“Miss Erica.” He tipped his head to me and stepped toward the door.

I always held a soft spot for him. For my entire life, Tex had been there to assist my family in whatever they needed and now he was the direct line between my father and the vampires he worked for.

I fell into step behind him and caught him at the front porch. “Tex. Can I pick your brain for a moment?”

He turned and gave me his full attention. “I’m afraid there ain’t much in there to pick through but you’re more than welcome to whatever I have.”

“I need advice.” I searched his weathered eyes and he hid much more wisdom behind them then he ever let on.

“I’m not so sure I’d be the best person to ask.” He nodded toward the door. “Your pappy is in there and I’m sure he’d be a lot closer to the answers you need than I ever could.”

I watched him slip the hat back atop his head but he made no effort to leave.

“I don’t think I could ask father what I need to ask you.”

He seemed to ponder what I said for a moment then nodded. “Okay then. Shoot.”

“If you were ordered to kill somebody but…”

“But what?” His hand reached out and lifted my face to his. “What’s wrong?”

I shook my head slightly. “Thor wants me to hunt down and kill another demi.” I found my head shaking stronger. “But something inside tells me not to.”

He stepped back and studied me for a moment. “What seems to be the issue?”

That’s one of the many things I really like about Tex. He had never judged me for who I was or what I’ve done. To hear him say it, we’ve all done things we may not be proud of. It’s what we do from then on that matters more.

“I can’t put it into words. There’s just something about him.”

“Him?”

I nodded. “He’s so pretty. And there’s something about him that makes my power sizzle.” I shrugged. “I can’t put it into words.”

He nodded and chewed at his lower lip, the gears in his head spinning. “I can’t say for sure, but girlie, it seems to me that you need to talk to somebody who knows more about demigods.” He gave me a sad smile and a shrug. “I’m sorry I can’t help you, sweetie. I just don’t have the kind of knowledge you need.”

I sighed heavily and gave him a quick hug before he drove off into the night. I don’t know why I thought he would have the answers I needed. Perhaps because my father trusted him in all things?

I sat on the front porch and stared out into the night sky. “Where are you Alejo?”

 

*****

 

I tried to sleep. Usually a visit to the realms left me drained and sleep was a welcome reprieve. It allowed my body and mind to rest and my energy stores to recharge. But sleep wouldn’t come.

I tried searching for the history of demigods on the internet but found the misinformation and uninformed assumptions made by humans to be laughable. It was no use. The gods had destroyed most of us in the past and according to Hildy, it was because of our potential.

If we are so damned dangerous, why had Thor allowed me to live? Why had he gone to such lengths to keep me hidden from Odin Allfather? Was it just to be their hunter? A destroyer of my own kind? Were there really enough of us that he needed to take that precaution?

Alejo was the first demi that I knew of beside myself. And having touched his power and feeling what happened to my own I could possibly understand their fear. But if another god had spawned offspring what was to stop them all from doing the same?

I sulked around my room while these and a thousand more thoughts bounced around in my head. I began to question everything I knew and everything I thought I knew.

I braced both hands on my open window seal and stared out into the night sky. “I need answers but I don’t know who to ask.”

“Ask me.”

I nearly jumped and my head whipped around looking for the source of the voice. I recognized it almost immediately and my eyes finally focused on him.

Alejo stepped out of nowhere and became visible, standing in my yard and staring up at my window.

“When…how did…why are you…” My mind raced faster than my mouth could form words.

He laughed and it made my insides dance.

“That only leaves ‘what’ and ‘where’.” His smile was radiant and I found myself smiling back.

I appeared before him, standing on the soft grass of the lawn and noted that he held no fear of me. Perhaps because my weapons were stowed away? Maybe he knew something I didn’t.

“How did you find me?”

His smile faded, but only for a moment. “I searched you out.” He spread his arms wide and spun a slow circle. “Something…I don’t know what, pulled me here.”

I nodded, knowing exactly what he meant, but was still unable to put it into words.

“Why did you search for me?”

His smile faded and he crossed his arms. “I think because I was curious why you would try to kill me.”

I felt my cheeks flush. I think it was embarrassment.

I lowered my eyes and couldn’t meet his gaze. “I had orders.”

I could see the shadow of his head nodding from the moonlight. “I see.”

“I don’t.” I suddenly looked up and for a moment was lost in the swirling amber pools of his eyes. “I don’t understand at all. Why would they want you dead?” I had to stop myself from saying, ‘You’re too beautiful to kill’ and was glad I was able to.

“I suppose that depends on who ‘they’ are?”

I opened my mouth but something in the back of my mind was screaming at me to not tell him. I swallowed hard and tried to think of something convincing. “My bosses.”

“M-hmm.” He cocked his head to the side and continued to stare at me. “That’s pretty vague.”

I swallowed hard again and avoided his eyes. “Would you believe that they’re vague?” I cracked a sheepish smile but he didn’t return it.

I heard him sigh and he dropped his arms. “What aren’t you telling me?”

I shrugged. Everything.

“Well, I was hoping that we could clear the air and maybe move on, but…” he trailed off. I watched him slowly turn and I knew he was about to disappear.

“You said you had answers.” I blurted out, hoping to stop him. I took a step toward him and he paused.

He barely glanced over his shoulder as he spoke. “Why should I help you if you can’t be open with me?”

He had me there.

I sighed and walked toward him, stopping by his side. “Talk with me.” I placed a hand on his shoulder and felt the power surge between my fingertips as we touched.

He hiked a brow and turned slightly, watching as blue ribbons of electricity darted between us. “Interesting, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.” I slowly pulled my hand back and watched as the blue licks lifted, trying it’s best to maintain a connection.

“Nor have I.” He turned and faced me. I saw his eyes harden slightly and he seemed to huff. “Okay. We’ll talk. But talking is a two way street.” He raised a brow again and I saw his mouth form a tight line. “That means you enlighten me as well.”

I heard myself say, “Agreed.” I was a bit shocked not only at how quickly I said it, but the fact that my mouth spat it out before my brain could think about it.

I seem to recall my father having trouble holding his tongue as well. Perhaps it’s genetic?

He turned and walked slowly toward the concrete bench my mother placed near the edge of her flower garden. The sweet smell of honeysuckle and wild flowers greeted us as we sat and silently stared at the night sky.

“So, what do you want to know?”

I didn’t know where to start. “Everything.”

He chuckled and it made my insides do flip flops. “Everything, eh? That’s quite a bit.”

“Okay, start with what you know. Who spawned you, where do your powers come from?”

He raised both brows at that. “Who ‘spawned’ me? I’m not a frog.”

It was my turn to laugh. “I realize that. It’s just…our parents were gods.” My voice was barely a whisper but I don’t know why. There wasn’t anybody nearby who could hear us.

He nodded. “Perhaps spawned isn’t such a bad word.” He pulled his legs up and sat cross legged on the bench. I found myself following his lead and staring at him as he spoke.

“For the longest time, I thought Poseidon was my father. My mother finally told me that it was Zeus who… ‘spawned’ me.” He gave me a crooked smile.

“Why did you think it was Poseidon?”

“I love water.” I watched as he got a faraway look in his eyes and he breathed deeply. As if he could smell the ocean air from here in north Texas. “I found myself constantly at the shore, diving to depths that nobody should be able to stand, practically able to breathe under water…”

“That sounds amazing.” I was lost in his voice and could almost see him, muscles rippling under the waves, sea life surrounding him and worshiping him as he frolicked in their world.

“It is.” He shot me a brilliant smile and I found my breath catching in my throat.

“Were you disappointed that Poseidon wasn’t your father?”

He shook his head. “No. Not at all.” He shifted on the bench and faced me. “But I was surprised that my mother withheld the facts surrounding my birth from me for so long.”

My face scrunched and I gave him a quizzical look. “How old are you?”

He blushed and turned his eyes away. “Nearly six.” He shot me an embarrassed smile. “My mother raised me away from others so I didn’t know that I was different.”

I nodded. “My parents do the same.” I lowered my voice and leaned closer. “And I’m almost six, too.”

We shared a moment of silence before he continued. “When I sensed you, I honestly felt that the gods had sent me a…”

“A what?” I honestly didn’t know what he was about to say.

He shrugged slightly. “A friend.”

I nodded. At that moment, I thought he meant, ‘just a friend’. Somebody who understood what he was going through. Somebody who knew the problems and the joys of being a demi.

I watched as he slowly met my gaze. “So, your turn.”

“Practically the same story as yours. Except my father sired me while he held the stolen powers of a Norse god.” I shrugged. “Thor knew that he couldn’t raise me without that power so he shared his own.”

Alejo nodded. “If he shared his power, then…technically, isn’t your father Thor?”

I shook my head. “No. Remember, it wasn’t Thor’s power he held when he sired me. Technically, I think Loki would be my father.” I scratched at my head, trying to figure out my own lineage.

“No, I mean, if he shares Thor’s power, then they are equal, yes?”

I shook my head again. “My father’s power has grown since Thor shared it, but Uncle Thor is still more powerful. And he has millennia of using his power under his belt. He’s much more comfortable being a god than my father ever will be.”

Alejo nodded, pretending to understand. “Either way, you’re of Norse lineage.”

I smiled. “Didn’t the strawberry hair and the blue eyes give it away?”

He shook his head. “You could have been Irish.”

I opened my mouth to inform him that the Norse had settled Ireland centuries ago, but decided not to. I simply nodded.

He continued to stare at me and I finally had to ask, “What?”

“So who are your bosses that they want me dead?”

I had forgotten about that. His question actually struck me like a blow. I wasn’t expecting it.

I inhaled deeply and let it out slowly. “Thor.”

It was his turn to be confused. “Why would Thor want to kill the child of a Greek god?”

“It’s not that.” I struggled to find the correct words. “It wouldn’t matter where you came from. I was allowed to survive in order to ensure that no other demigods were allowed to live.”

Alejo looked as though he had been struck. “Allowed to live?” He shook his head and pulled his legs free, standing and staring at me. “Who are they to determine who can and cannot live?”

I stood and know that my eyes held the sorrow I felt. “If Odin Alfather knew that I existed, he would send his best to bring him my head. Thor allowed—”

“It is not up to him!” He began pacing, his hands waving as he spoke. “We live. We have a right to live.”

I stepped in front of him and stopped his pacing. “They fear us.”

“No shit!” He stepped around me and continued his pacing. “They know what we’re capable of.”

I stepped in front of him again. “Speaking of…”

He shook his head at me, not understanding. “What?”

“Tell me. What are we capable of?”

I saw him smile and his eyes narrowed to slits as he broke into laughter. “Oh you have no idea, do you?”

I grabbed him by the shoulders and ignored the jolts of power that coursed through me. “Tell me.”

His laughter faded and his smile turned to a sly grin. “You’d better sit down for this.”

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Contest Time!

I found a few extra copies of different Monster Squad books and thought to myself, ‘Hey self! If you order just a handful more, then you’ll have a complete set!’ Well, I did and they came in today!

Then I sat here, feeling accomplished, and wondered, ‘Hey, self…what are we gonna do with another whole complete set of books?’ For the record, self didn’t answer. But while talking to the missus, she said, why not have a contest? Again, I was confounded. What could kind of contest could I possibly have to justify a complete (autographed) set of the Monster Squad??

MS1-10

So I did the smart thing. I asked Jess again. She said, ‘Have a contest where people prove they’ve left a review for all ten books, then draw your winner.’

I’m so glad I married someone so smart. A contest like this would accomplish quite a bit. You guys all know that reviews make or break indie authors and this way we both win.  Well…ONE of you will win because I only have one extra set, BUT it’s a COMPLETE set. And did I mention that they’re autographed? That makes them almost worth as much as they were before I scribbled in them.

So there ya go. I reckon I’ll let this contest run a month, have the entrants email me their reviews and toss the names into a hat. Shipping is on me so this one is CONUS only, sorry overseas fans (although your reviews are highly appreciated, too!).

That’s it y’all. Enjoy, have fun and if you haven’t read MS10 yet, give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Peace, Love and Bacon for all!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls Ch 4

Now that the dust has settled around the release of MS10, The Final Monster Squad novel, let’s get back to the unfinished stories that lay in the shadows of my computer’s hard drive.

Huntress was a continuation of Sven’s Hunter trilogy. Erica, his daughter, is demigod and must be hidden from her grandfather, Odin. She is an assassin, trained by the best of Asgard and she has only one mission…to destroy any demigods that may arise.

But what happens when the demi she is sent to kill captures her heart? Read on to find out more…

4

I learned that her name was Hildy. Short for Hildegard. Not a pleasant name to have roll off the tongue, but I’m told it was considered a blessing to have a female named Hildegard amongst her peoples.

She spoke of the gods and the great battles that they had amongst themselves. She explained to me how the less honorable of them would come to earth and walk amongst mankind. It cemented their faith and gave them great strength…for a short time.

When men think about their gods, it ‘feeds’ them. The power of the spoken word or unspoken thought, prayers and meditations, it all concentrates into a mental energy that the gods feed from. They use that power to increase their own strengths.

Gods like the zodiac used to cheat the system and go to those people who had multiple gods. They appeared to them and they would assume their god’s mantles. They cheated the ancient people of their true gods and it was looked down upon by the other gods. They were soon blacklisted and it was the Greco-Roman gods that finally broke them of their bad habits and left them banished from the realm of the gods.

This was immediately after the zodiac had tried to assume the Norse gods positions from their people. Odin led the battle and kicked the zodiac’s asses. They had just returned to their own realm when the Greco-Roman gods struck the final blows. Zeus banished the zodiac and they hadn’t been heard from in millennia.

I listened intently, taking in the lessons of my people that I had never been taught. I learned how the demigods used to be common until Odin, Zeus and a few other leaders among the gods declared the demigods heretic and slayed them all.

This caught me off guard. I was suddenly afraid to even be in her presence, yet…she knew I was a demi before I ever spoke to her. I think she noticed my apprehension because she gripped my hand and soothed me with her voice. “Easy child. Not everyone believes as the Allfather.”

“Aren’t you afraid what might happen to you if they ever discovered you helped me?”

She laughed and it was a deep throaty laugh. I hate to admit that it was contagious, but she had me chuckling right along with her. “Really? And what could they possibly do to this old woman that hasn’t already been done?” She wiped the tears from her cheeks and patted my arm. “No, child. You need to know what you are and why.”

I wasn’t sure I understood but I nodded. “Please, explain it to me.”

She leaned back and took a deep breath. “Child, you are the product of two completely different worlds. The world of man and the world of the gods.” She stared intently into my eyes and I felt as though she could read my very soul. “The gods fear you because you have the potential to be even greater than they are.”

“I don’t understand. If I’m only part god, how can I be greater than they?”

Her smile set my mind at ease and I believed every word that escaped her. “Because you can combine the best of both worlds. It’s the very nature of what you are. The real quandary is, why were you created.”

“My parents say it’s because they loved each other and I came into being.” I glanced over my shoulder towards Asgard. “My uncle says it’s to serve the gods and do those things that they have sworn never to do again.”

Her brows hiked and she stared at me. “Truly? And what have they sworn never to do again?”

I cleared my throat, almost afraid to repeat the words. “To appear before mankind. Even to do what needs doing. That is why they act through nature.”

She laughed again and shook her head at me. “Silly child. They simply want to use you. You are their enforcer. Much like your father is for the vampires.”

I gave her a shocked stare. “How could you know what my father does?”

Her face sobered and she stared back at me. “Child, that is what I do.” She pointed to herself. “I was the oracle.”

 

*****

 

Hildy explained to me how she had been the oracle until she met her true love. She knew he was coming and she had been ordered to turn him away.

She couldn’t do it.

Instead, she ran off with him, abandoning her post and her responsibilities. It had taken them nearly two generations to find another who could do what she had done.

In her prime, Hildy had advised kings and gods, paupers and trolls. She was highly sought after and although the legends say that once she was deflowered, her gifts would fade, they never did.

The only thing she never saw coming was the king’s men taking her only child from her. She assumed it was her eternal punishment for abandoning her position. She had spent many lifetimes questioning whether she would have still left with her love if she could have known the pain she would feel later. Part of her claimed that she would have never known love…the love of her husband or the deepest love that only a mother could know. Another part of her would argue that knowing love and losing isn’t worth the pain. She had long ago given up on the ‘what if’ arguments.

“What it all boils down to is, what are your intentions?”

I shook my head. “To serve. To protect the nine realms. To do what I was created for.”

She sighed heavily and shook her head. “Child, if you learn nothing else from me, learn this…it’s a far more noble thing to live your own life than to live the life expected of you.”

Her words caught me off guard and I debated whether she was speaking from her own experience or channeling my future. “I’m not sure I know how to live my own life.” I poked at the dirt with a stick, unable to look her in the face. I was too embarrassed to admit that I was too young to know what I might want to do with my life.

She nodded as though she truly understood. “You will know when the time is right.” She suddenly stood and stretched.

“We’re not done are we?” I was honestly worried that she was going to send me away. I felt like there was so much more I needed to know and only she could enlighten me.

“I need a drink. And not some weak tea brewed from bark and leaves.” Her eyes glimmered with that mischievousness that I had seen earlier. She disappeared into her tree trunk and reappeared moments later with a leather flask. She pulled the cork with her teeth and took a long pull from the skin. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “That will tighten the skin on your backside.”

She handed me the leather skin and I held it close to my mouth, unsure if I should partake. My mother would have a fit if I did. She wouldn’t even let me drink coffee.

Now I know why my father enjoys his mead. The honey wine she offered me was sweet and savory, but it burned all the way down my throat. The warmth it left in my stomach was not unpleasant.

It didn’t take long and the trees were swaying without a wind to blow them. Everything we spoke of was much funnier and I suddenly didn’t care so much about the problems I had arrived with.

“So tell me child. What really troubles you?” She sat beside me, passing me the skin.

“I’m supposed to kill this boy.” I took a swig and felt my head spin. “He’s a man, really, but…he’s a demi, like me.” I handed the skin back to her.

“Ahhh. Let me guess. The gods sent you to kill him, yes?”

I nodded. “They did. Oh, but he’s sooo cute.” I batted my eyes at her. “Surely they must have made a mistake to want to kill somebody so…”

“Handsome?” She gave me a wink as she took another pull from the skin.

“Oh, very. He has the prettiest eyes. Like liquid pools of the purest amber.” I sighed heavily and leaned back against her tree. “And his smile is brighter than the sun.”

She laughed as she handed me back the skin. “Sounds to me like you’re in love.”

I gripped the skin and stared at her. “How can I be in love? I’m not even six years old yet.” I snorted and took another pull of that sweet nectar.

“Child, age is nothing but a number.” She pulled the skin from my grip and pointed to herself. “How old do I look?”

I was starting to see two of her. I leaned closer and tried to gage the wrinkles around her eyes. “Which one of you?”

She laughed and fell back against the tree. “Either of us. Both!”

“Oh, well, then….you must be at least fifty years old.”

She laughed so hard she fell over. For a moment I feared she might spill the mead, but she held the flask high and upright. When she finally composed herself, she handed it back. “You’re too kind.”

I shrugged. “Fiftyfive?”

She shook her head at me and pointed a finger. “Much, much…much older than that. But nevermind.” I felt her hand cup my face and she pulled me closer. “You’re a woman. You may not have many years in the realms, but you are grown. And a grown woman can…and often does, fall in love.”

“But I don’t know this boy.” I pushed the cork back into the skin and set it between us. “I just know that he’s pretty.”

She nodded. “That’s all I knew of my husband when first we met.” She gave me a sad smile. “Sometimes that’s all you need.”

“But I’m supposed to kill him.” I tried to sober and found it increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open. “He’s a demigod like me. He can’t be allowed to…to…”

“To live?”

I had to think about what she had said. I found myself nodding, but still questioning the ‘why’ he had to die. “They never told me what he’d done to deserve death.”

She shook her head and turned my face to hers. “Because he exists. They cannot suffer a demigod to exist. It could upend their entire creation.”

“How?” I tried to stand and quickly realized that was a mistake. I sat back down and placed a hand firmly against the trunk of the tree to keep the realm from spinning out of control.

“Did you not listen to what I told you? You and he…you have the potential to be even greater than they are.” She sat upright and seemed to sober immediately. “Child, they are old. Nobody prays to them any longer. They survive off the energy of those who are already here. The humans? They’re all enjoying their form of the afterlife. The rest of us? We were moved here when mankind broke the treaties with us. The elves, the trolls, the dwarves and giants…we all came here when mankind decided to hunt us down. We’ve been here ever since.”

“Sounds to me like mankind isn’t worth the trouble of saving.” I reached for the skin and she pulled it away from me.

“You’ve had enough. You need to be able to think now.” She snapped her fingers and I was suddenly clear headed. I have no idea how she did it, but something told me that she was more of a witch than an oracle. “Now pay attention.”

“I am.” Although it was very disconcerting to suddenly sober.

“You and he are different. And not just because you are demis. No. You two could simply walk the earth and reveal yourselves to men and you would have worshippers falling from the trees like leaves in autumn. Think of the power you would be stealing from the gods if you did that!”

I shook my head. “But we wouldn’t do that.” Could I truly say that for Alejo? “I mean, I know I wouldn’t.”

“Child, what is the worst thing that can happen to a god?”

I shrugged, truly unsure of the answer. “Death?”

She shook her head solemnly. “No. To be forgotten is a fate worse than death.” She stood on shaky legs and stretched her hands upward. “When those who once worshipped you suddenly forget that you even exist? That is truly a fate worse than death.”

“Then why don’t they reveal themselves to man once more? Prove that they are real and let-”

“Man doesn’t think he needs the gods anymore.” She stamped her stick into the ground and the dirt seemed to swirl. Within moments it faded and became a portal. I could see people walking the streets of a large city, their faces down, staring at the phones in their hands.

“Man worships things now. They don’t need to pray to the gods to fix things when they can do it themselves.” She caught my attention and I saw the fear in her eyes. “The gods chose to use nature to speak to mankind, but man isn’t listening any longer. That’s why they use every gadget they can possibly dream up to ignore nature. They don’t care what they do to the land, the waters or the air.” She sighed and sat back down, the portal to the earth closing. “Some think they are saving the planet by picking up trash or recycling the things they buy, but they aren’t. They don’t listen to nature. They don’t feel what nature is offering them. They don’t…care.”

Her words struck a chord with me. I felt my own phone bulging in my pocket and I knew she was right. I had been just as guilty of losing myself in some game or social media thing when I could have been doing something productive. Anything would have been more productive.

She patted my hand. “These things are just man’s most current distraction. They lost sight of what was important a millennia ago. Before they broke the accords with us.”

“Okay.” I swallowed hard and dreaded her next answer. “What does that have to do with me? How does this help me with Alejo?”

She sighed and closed her eyes, suddenly appearing very tired. “Child, if you and this Alejo were to suddenly show them what you truly were, a grand portion of mankind would follow you. Worship you. You’d be the center of attention for as long as you wished. All of that power focused on the two of you would make you stronger than…”

“The Jewish carpenter?” I knew that was a long shot.

She nodded slightly. “That’s entirely possible. It’s been at least two millennia since he made his walk with them.”

“But that’s not what I would want and I don’t think Alejo would either.”

“That doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that you could.” She suddenly stood. “You look like them but you have the power of the gods. If Odin Allfather suddenly appeared on earth, would they fall to their knees and love him or would they fear a ten foot tall Norse god with one good eye and a penchant for shoving lightning up their arses?”

I could see her point, even though I’d never met my grandfather. This all seemed too much for me to accept at once. The different thoughts racing through my mind all came to one conclusion…if I allowed myself to be the weapon of the gods and destroyed Alejo, who then would protect me from their wrath?

I turned to her and she had that knowing look on her face. “Exactly. Who would protect you, child?”

 

And that’s where chapter 4 ends.
If you’ve been following the blossoming adventures of young Erica Svensdottir and you like what you’ve read so far, know that there are a few more chapters waiting to be shared.
All in good time, faithful readers.
All in good time.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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MS10: The Final Chapter

It’s nearly here.  I’m wrapping up the final touches on MS10 Reckoning and I’m almost as nervous as I was when my very first was published.

This is the end of an era. As I’ve said before, these characters needed closure. The readers needed closure as well. And to be honest, so did I.

I hope this final chapter does us all justice.

Here’s the cover art by Jeffrey Kosh. Once again, he knocks it out of the park!

MS10 update

And yes, dear readers…the Good Guys wear black.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls Chapter 3

And it’s time again for another taste of what will never be…chapter three of Huntress: Of Gods and Men.

Part of me wishes that I had finished this story, but in my own twisted mind, it couldn’t be just ONE story. No, it would have to be a trilogy, just like Sven’s story had been. What’s fair is fair, right?

Anyway, onward and upward. Read on for Chapter 3 of Erica’s story. Please remember that this is the raw, first draft. It’s unedited, unproofed, etc.

3

I opened my mouth to speak and mother shushed me. “Close your eyes. Relive the events and describe it to me.”

I swallowed hard. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was transported back to that exact moment.

“He said that I wasn’t from around there. I told him, no…I was from America. Then I turned. I didn’t expect what I saw even though Thor had shown me what he looked like. He had olive skin, amber eyes, jet black hair and a smile that made me want to smile.”

I felt my mother’s hand squeeze mine and I took a deep breath, continuing my story.

“He said, ‘There’s something different about you.’ I pulled back my hood and revealed my face to him. He was still smiling. Then he asked me, ‘where are you from?’ and that’s when I told him I was from America. He said that he hoped to visit there one day. Then he told me his name is Alejo. He held his hand out to me and…”

I felt the familiar squeeze of my mother’s hand and I knew she was right there with me.

“When my hand gripped his I felt a rush of power stronger than anything I’d ever experienced. Even stronger than when I’m near Thor.” I opened my eyes and couldn’t read my mother’s expression. It almost looked sorrowful. “The strength I felt hit me like a truck, but in a good way. Does that even make sense?”

She nodded and patted my hand. “Go on, Erica. You can do this.”

I closed my eyes again and saw the confusion on his face. “He didn’t know what to make of it either. We were both stunned. I gripped my sword and slowly pulled it from the sheath. He never stopped staring at my eyes. Then suddenly the air crackled with intensity and the lightning struck between us.” I opened my eyes and stared at my mother.

“I remember his eyes. He was just as stunned as I was.”

Mother nodded. “Then it most likely came from somebody else. Could there have been two demigods there?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so. I only sensed him and he was gone when I got my feet back under me. I searched everywhere, but the pull was gone. Whatever it was that lead me to him had vanished.”

Mother finished her tea and pushed the cup aside. She seemed to consider my story for a moment before she spoke. “I can’t begin to understand your life Erica. Your strength, your agility, your powers…it’s all more than my mind can comprehend. I have to remind myself daily that you were born with these…things. They are inherent. You’ve known nothing else.” She stood and placed her cup in the sink then turned and leaned against the counter. “After years of training to be the best at what you do, you have finally met somebody who could possibly match you in strength, speed…even your ability to fight.”

I had a distinct feeling that I wouldn’t like where she was headed but I held my tongue and gave her the opportunity to go on.

She crossed her arms again and almost seemed to hug herself as she spoke. “I think that perhaps you should speak with somebody who has more knowledge of these things before you make another attempt at this mission.”

Okay, that wasn’t where I thought she was going. Her words actually caught me off guard. I shook my head slowly. “But who? Who could I possibly speak to about this?”

Mother shrugged. “Normally, I would suggest your father. But…” her words trailed off as her mind worked. “I don’t think that even he could truly help you with this.”

“Uncle Thor?”

Mother bristled slightly. She still wasn’t used to me calling him that. Considering how he nearly killed my father before sharing his power with him, I think she still holds that against him.

“No. I think you need to speak to somebody else.”

“Aunt Helen?”

Mother stiffened. “Definitely not.”

Aunt Helen isn’t really my aunt. She’s a witch that my mother was friends with before she met my father. She tried to help my father when he searched for his soul. She also tried to seduce him but he was too wrapped up in Mother to allow that to happen. I think she still resents her for trying.

“Then who could I possibly turn to?”

She bit nervously at the tip of her thumbnail while she thought. “There is somebody.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “I just don’t know if it’s a good idea to even try.”

I came to my feet, anxious to know what she spoke of. “Who, mother?”

Her eyes met mine for the briefest of moments and I saw fear. She dropped her hand from her mouth and seemed to stand taller. “An angel.”

 

*****

 

“No!” I was pacing the kitchen, my mind racing while my mouth continually repeated, “No, no, no. Not just no, but heck no.”

“I’m not saying that you need to work with one, only speak with-”

“You know how father feels about angels. It’s the one thing he drilled into my head from the time I was born. Angels are assholes.”

Mother nodded. “Yes, they are, and yes, he’s right. But they also have knowledge that could really enlighten-”

“No!” I spun and planted my hands on my hips. “Not just no, but-”

“You wanted to know who might could enlighten us. All I’m saying is that an angel could tell you what you need to know.”

I finally calmed myself and gave her that look. The one that she always uses on me and father. I had spent a long time practicing it in the mirror. “And what will father say when he finds out that we went to an angel for help?”

Her face blanched and I’m pretty sure it was what I asked, not the look I was giving her.

“Okay. You’re right.” She pulled her chair out and sat back down. “Then I have no other answers for you.”

I stood over her and stared, my mouth hanging open. Those were the last words I ever expected to hear from her. She always had the answers. She is my mother…who else could I turn to for answers besides her?

Nobody.

I pulled my chair out and sat across from her. “I’m sorry, mother.”

She shook her head and gave me a tight lipped smile. “Don’t be. You’re right. It was a bad idea. It was just the only one I could come up with.”

I felt my hand wrap around hers and I gave her a gentle squeeze. “I’ll figure it out.”

I thought I saw the glimmer of a tear in her eyes as she squeezed my hand in reply. “I know you will, sweetheart. I know you will.”

 

*****

 

The next few days had me trying to focus on Alejo and trying to transport myself to him.

I couldn’t leave the yard.

No matter how much I tried, it wouldn’t work. It was as if he no longer walked the earth.

More than once I feared that the lightning had somehow killed him. Destroyed him…burnt him to dust. But there would have been something left. A body. Ashes. Something.

I found myself lost in thought and wishing I could speak to somebody else who could enlighten me. Anybody but an angel.

I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed internally, wishing that there was somebody out there who could help.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself standing at Svartalfheim. I had transported to the land of the dark elves. I knew the realm as I had trained here with their warriors, but I stood in a wooded land that I didn’t recognize.

I turned slowly and peered deep into the shadows. I could sense somebody out there, watching me. I just couldn’t tell where they were.

I stepped from the mossy mound I stood upon and worked my way down past the hanging branches of the nearby trees. “Who is there?” I called out, hoping for a reply.

“Why are you in my forest, little demigod?”

I spun and faced an older elf. She barely came to my waist and she appeared withered. Her gnarled hand gripped a walking stick and her eyes shone with mischief.

“I came seeking guidance.”

She snorted and waved me away with her cane. “I’m no warrior. Shoo! Go away and pester those who know such things.”

I watched her turn and hobble away from me. I don’t know why but I knew I couldn’t let her leave. For whatever cause, she was the reason I was here. She had the knowledge I needed.

“Wait! Please, wait.” I tried to hurry after her but the branches seemed to reach out and grab at me, preventing me from moving. “Please!”

I watched her enter the trunk of a tree near its roots where the long tendrils gapped and bit into the soft earth below. I pulled at the branches and nearly fell at the foot of her door.

“Please wait.” I stretched a hand out to her. “I need your guidance.”

She paused in the doorway and slowly turned, her eyes narrowing. “Why should I? What’s in it for me?”

I got to my feet as best I could, wiping the damp soil and bits of moss from my clothes. I dropped to one knee and softened my voice. “Please. If I didn’t need your help, I wouldn’t have come here.”

She seemed to assess me with cautious reserve. She stepped back out from her door and sat on one of the great roots that created the entrance to her tree home. “You didn’t answer my question. What’s in it for me?”

I couldn’t think of an answer for her. What could I possibly offer her? I shrugged as I sat down. “I don’t know. I’m not sure what I can offer.”

She tilted her head and her eyes narrowed again. “You come asking for my help but offer nothing in return?” She snorted with derision and I could see her jaw working.

“What would you like?” I held my hands out to her. “I have little, but please, tell me what you desire.”

“You cannot give me what I desire.” Her eyes grew sad and for a moment I wanted nothing more than to grant her wish.

“Tell me. I might be able-”

“My son!” Her voice cracked as she yelled at me. “Bring him back from the dead. That’s what I want.”

I was stunned. I had always thought of the nine realms as the afterlife. Everybody’s afterlife. The land of the gods. I assumed that the elves here were…already dead. Wasn’t this their version of Valhalla as well?

I opened my mouth to speak but my tongue couldn’t form words. I slowly reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. “What happened?”

She wiped at her eyes and avoided my gaze. “He went to battle for the Elf King. He never returned.”

“When was this?”

She shook her head and turned her eyes to the tree canopy above. “Who can say? Many lifetimes ago.”

I crossed my legs and sat quietly. I didn’t know what else to do but let her talk and share her feelings. I knew I had to pay homage to her pain and pay attention to her words.

“What was he like?”

She smiled gently to herself as she focused on her lost child. “He was a smith. Not a good one, mind you, but when he was home, I convinced him that his work was beyond compare.” She sniffed at an unshed tear and wiped at her eyes. “But then the king sent his men to collect all males of age. Dabner was of age and he had a skill that the warrior class could utilize. He was taken and I never heard from him again.”

I didn’t want to appear overly optimistic, but I had to ask. “Is there a chance he survived the battle?”

She shrugged. “I would think he’d return home had he been able.”

I gave her a soft smile. “Perhaps he found a woman. Made a family?”

Her eyes turned even more sad. “And he wouldn’t want to share his newfound happiness with his only mother?”

Dammit. I need to think things through before I open my mouth.

“You’re right, of course. I’m sorry. I was only…”

“You were hoping to soften the blow of his being gone.” She reached out and patted my arm with her withered hand. “I appreciate the thought.”

She spoke of Dabner’s early days. How he had only begun learning his trade from his father when he passed. Dabner had to learn on his own from there. How he was really a horrible blacksmith but he truly put his heart into everything he tried to create.

She told me how she had spied on him as he sat on their stoop and he stared at the stars through the canopy at night. How he dreamed of one day making a name for himself. I watched as her face brightened when she recalled his younger years and how it fell once again as she closed in on that fateful day that he packed his meager belongings and left with the king’s men.

Afterward we sat in silence for a very long time and I dared not speak lest I say something inappropriate again. Many times I wanted to speak a thought that wandered into my mind only to bite my tongue and keep the thoughts to myself.

Finally she sighed and turned to me. “What do you seek little demigod?”

I gave her a soft smile and shrugged. “It seems unimportant now.”

“But you’ve come all this way.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice, “Besides, I have a feeling that you have much to learn.”

The twinkle in her eye was back and I could tell that she was eager to share with me now. Perhaps speaking of her son somehow endeared her to me. I couldn’t be certain, but the air around us seemed less heavy now.

“I have no way of giving you what you want. I couldn’t dream of asking you to-”

“Shush now child. Tell me what you wish to know.” She scooted closer to me and patted my leg. “I’ll teach you what you need. You can…owe me.” I raised a brow on that one. “A favor. You can owe me a favor.”

I nodded hesitantly. “I’m not sure where to start.”

“Let’s start at the beginning.” She braced both hands on the edge of her walking stick and eyed me. “What do you know of the gods and demigods?”

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Another Audible Teaser

For you audiophiles out there, be aware that Caldera 3 could be released by Audible any day now. I pushed the button and it’s in their hands. I can also tell you that Johnny Mack is constantly honing his skills as a narrator and continues to perfect his craft. I think you’ll be pretty pleased with this one.

Since C3 is soon to be released, I’ll be running a promo for Caldera 2 on AudioBook Boom. Those of you who are interested in swapping a free audio code for a review, you might look for C2 to show up next week on their site.

That is all for now.
Carry on.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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