A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Friends,

It has been crazy town all over town, in every town, and it’s just getting crazier. Before the corona virus closed down everything here, our county came to a standstill with an e-coli scare in our water. Schools closed. Businesses closed. And there was a grocery store run as if it was the apocalypse itself!

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And the very next day…my state, county, city, village,…went into corona virus lockdown. Schools closed. Businesses closed. Gym closed. Restaurants shut down. AND the good folks of this county and metro-area had already bought up all the supplies. Yes, folks! No toilet paper here either!

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Sooooooooo, kids are home for at least 2 weeks! What does that mean for me? All writing/editing/marketing pretty much shuts down for the business that is KC Freeman Author!

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So I will do what I can when I can, but deadlines have pretty much been thrown out the window.

Regardless there is two bits of good news.

Rekindled Prophecy – Book 1 of the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series is up for voting for the April book of the month in the Double Trouble Book Club.

 

April Nominations – Voting now open
Double Trouble Book Club Reader Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2220606254842963

The two books with the most readers signed up will be our winners. We begin reading on 4/1 and conclude on 4/21 followed by an exclusive Author Q&A.

We are voting on:

Good Intentions: Volume One by Ana Balen – Contemporary Romance 82 pages –
Available on Kindle Unlimited
getbook.at/DTgoodint

Rekindled Prophecy: Greylyn The Guardian Angel Series (Book 1) by KC Freeman -Fantasy Paranormal 392 pages
getbook.at/DTrkndled

Finding Purpose (Colorado Veterans Book 1) by Tiffani Lynn – Contemporary Romance 325 Pages
getbook.at/DTfndprp

Stone (Castle Sin Book 1) by Linz Basset – Suspense BDSM Club Romance 318 pages – Available on Kindle Unlimited
getbook.at/DTstone

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Please sign up even if you’ve read the book.
2. Just because I’m a day late getting my blog posted doesn’t mean I can’t post it the next day (today). AND because it’s Tuesday the added bonus is it’s also…#TEASERTUESDAY!!! So without further delay, here’s a snippet from Rekindled Prophecy to whet your appetites and just perhaps encourages you to check out the above item and vote.
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For a moment, Greylyn saw the lightning mirrored in his eyes. She shook her head to rid herself of the image.

Great! Now she was imagining things.

He warned, “It’s too late to go running for cover. Let’s just sit here and wait out the rain. Surely, there’s something we can discuss…in a civilized manner.”

Greylyn felt a pair of cornflower blue eyes peering at the two of them from the manor’s covered veranda. Maureen was watching.

After years of being subjected to his particular type of torment, she’d have to endure the insufferable man for at least one more go-around. But that didn’t mean she had to loiter in a gazebo with him. It was dangerous, in more ways than one. The gold flecks in his eyes beckoned her closer, not just to him but to the edge of her own sanity.

“Rain doesn’t frighten me, Kael. And neither do you. This little confab is over.” Pivoting, she stepped out into the torrential storm.

Instantly soaked, she steeled herself to keep marching right back towards the house, away from him. She felt his eyes boring into her back. It was as if he reached across the distance to trail a finger lightly down her spine, leaving a delicious tingling sensation that raised goosebumps over her entire body.

Just as Greylyn cleared the grove, another, more powerful, surge of electricity pierced the air. She whipped around just in time for a lightning bolt to strike the ground a few yards from her. The ground shook as the resulting thunder boomed and echoed through the valley.

The charged air was exhilarating. Her heart beat against her ribcage in frantic time to the raging rain. Adrenaline coursed through her body in waves. Everything seemed brighter, more vivid. Every detail of her surroundings accentuated.

Was it from the lightning or from the energy radiating from the being in the gazebo?

Greylyn couldn’t be sure. The whole situation seemed fitting somehow, and not entirely surprising. It mirrored the energy surging between them. Her eyes locked with Kael’s.

Rain pelted her body, and the wind whipped her hair around in all directions. Greylyn no longer felt a thing except his burning stare. It was achingly painful. Every molecule of her being hypnotized by his eyes. Time stopped. For that moment there was only Kael, everything else faded to black.

*****************************************************************************
Until next time…Stay healthy, stay sanitized, my friends!
Oh, and HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’s DAY!!!!!!
Image result for st patrick's day 2020

 

Endings are Hard

Probably one of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Chuck (aka God) on the tv series Supernatural, which coincidentally is ending soon. I’m too heartbroken to discuss Supernatural ending, but ENDINGs in particular catch authors between a rock and a hard place.

Chuck (aka God) from Supernatural says it best:

“Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There’s always gonna be holes. And since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up to something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass.”

This is true not just with tv shows and movies, but books…especially series. You (as a reader) commit your time, your energy, your imagination, your heart and soul to a story and then the author either leaves you hanging with a cliffhanger only your imagination can fill in, or tries too hard to wrap it all up in a nice HEA (Happily Ever After) bow, or leaves you unsatisfied in some way that perhaps even you don’t understand. You just know that you are not happy now that it (the story) has ended. Sometimes, it really is just the fact that something you love has come to an end that there’s a huge hole in your heart. Regardless of the why, ENDINGS SUCK!

This discussion all started with a Facebook dialog on another author’s page and it really has me mulling things over hard, especially as I’m currently editing Book 3 of my own series (which was supposed to end with Book 3, but even I – the author – am not satisfied with the ending so I’m busting this baby out to at least 2 more books after #3 ~ much to the chagrin of the other stories swirling around in my noggin desperate to get out). Whereas the conversation on FB was particular to tv series, this also applies to book series.

Most tv series, and book series, have disappointing endings. For one, if you’re a fan of a show/book series, you’re already sad it’s ending. But why are we so emotionally connected to how the series ends?

For example, when Supernatural ends here in a few weeks…unless Sam and Dean are showing up on my own front porch then I will be disappointed because the characters and story have become part of my life. Watching the show has been my “escape” for years. Now what am I supposed to do? Find another show? *Gasp!* The horror of the thought!

I had the same thoughts/feelings when Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the off-shoot series, Angel, ended. Buffy wrapped up in a cute bow with dozens or more slayers now out in the world to protect us all from vamps and other hellish nightmares. What’s not to love about that? With Angel, it was a fantastic smashup, action-packed cliffhanger with the main character (the incredibly hot David Boreanaz) saying, “I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let’s get to work!” and then fade to black. OMG! What a kickass ending, right? Then why was I left with a huge black abyss in my soul?

Let’s take this to books. I just finished a series by one of my favorite authors. Gobbled up each and every book. Got to the end…good guys won! FMC (female main character) and MMC (male main character) live happily ever after! Supporting characters also live happily ever after! Awesome, right? I should be thrilled, right? NOPE! It was all wrapped up too neatly in a bow. Why on earth would I be disappointed when everyone except the bad guys got a wonderful HEA?

Even historical fiction based on real-life persons, I know how it’s going to end, but I’m still like “WTF? Cleopatra DIES! Octavian Caesar wins?!” Ugh!

Endings suck. They just do. Because part of our hearts and souls are connected to the story. It has fueled our imagination for years possibly. So when the inevitable happens…the ending…we are left with a piece of ourselves missing/torn/bruised.

No ending, no matter how HEA (happily ever after) given to us by tv producers or authors, will ever fill that hole, soothe that ache, or mend that jagged rip in our souls. So despite the best intentions of the creators, we will always remain disappointed to some extent.

As I keep writing my own series, dear readers, I am trying to keep you all in mind as I continue creating to get the the inevitable ending. But the truth is, the story must end how the creator sees it in his/her own imagination. Sometimes even we don’t like our own ending, but that’s just where the story leads. I’ve tried to write stories with different endings, different circumstances that didn’t fit with the story banging around in my head, and to be honest…that was always a huge mistake and I always went back and changed things to authentically sync with the story in my own head. The characters wouldn’t have it any other way.

So please don’t lash out at the authors, the tv show creators and producers and screen writers when the book or show or movie ends and leaves you upset or let down.

Image result for endings suckTruly, we are not out here in the universe trying to find ways to piss off the fans. No matter what ending is written, it’s never going to be enough to fill that gaping hole in our hearts because it simply is …THE END!

As Supernatural’s Chuck said several seasons ago,

“No doubt, endings are hard, but then again, nothing ever really ends, does it?”

Maybe that’s why endings are so difficult, either we can’t accept that it is “the end” or perhaps nothing ever really ends. Our imaginations make the story live on.

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1st Ever Book Signing!

I am beyond excited to be attending my first EVER book signing event this coming weekend (2/29/2020) in one of my favorite cities on planet Earth – Charleston, SC.

New Release banner

Since this my first book signing, and Penned Charleston is such a HUGE event, I will admit to being a bit intimidated and nervous.

What if I don’t bring enough books?

What if no one wants a book?

What if my brand new Square card reader doesn’t work (or user error – I’ve never used one before)?

What other items should I bring?

What if the banner doesn’t stay attached to the table? What if there’s no place to hang the poster of the book cover?

And so many other questions have been playing roller derby in my head and are only gaining speed and momentum as the day edges closer.

Luckily, other authors have heard my pleas for help and offered amazing advice, so fingers crossed that I will be as prepared as I can be. I have my banner, my poster (well, actually it hasn’t been delivered yet – Yikes!), bookmarks, pens (have been ordered but have not arrived yet either – Double Yikes!), candy (individually wrapped mints and chocolates, plastic candy bowl, bright tie-dyed table cloth because the event is going with a 60s theme, lots of hand sanitizer (also order, but not delivered – Triple Yikes!), Square card reader (still gotta learn how to use this thing), oh and…books!

Unfortunately, due to the short notice when I signed up for this event, I was unable to coordinate a pre-order form and list so I could bring just the right amount of books, with a few extras. So I will selling books directly at the event instead and my inventory of books in my current possession isn’t that extensive. I genuinely am hoping to run out of books and have to take orders to send readers afterwards. Lesson learned for the next book signing (Queen City Book Fair on 5/23/2020) is to have a pre-order promotion well in advance and to institute all the lessons I will learn this upcoming weekend.

So if you are anywhere near Charleston, SC or want an excuse to visit this amazingly charming city, please join me this Saturday at the North Charleston Marriott for Penned Charleston! The weather forecast is calling for a mild 55 degrees and mostly sunny!

Hope to see some of you there. If you don’t live close and have a book signing event like Penned Charleston near you, please send me an email or private message here and I’d love to see about attending closer to you if you’re interested in getting your own copy of Rekindled Prophecy signed or just want to meet up and chat.

Until next week!

Besties,

KC

 

 

 

Paperback Release TOMORROW 2/18/2020 for Rekindled Prophecy

book cover FB promo

Rekindled Prophecy is the first book in my fantasy/paranormal series, Greylyn the Guardian Angel. It came out in hardcover and ebook last November 2019 and will release in paperback format tomorrow, 2/18/2020!

I am so excited about the paperback release for many reasons:

  1. Hardcover books are sometimes too bulky to carry around in your purse, even if you use a drawstring athletic bag as a purse like me. (***Note to self: Buy a real purse one day!***)
  2. A LOT of people (and I do mean A LOT) prefer a physical book over ebooks despite the digital version being much more portable. There are a number of reasons for this preference. Some love the paper smell of books. Some have not transitioned to ebooks and never will (my own mom for one).
  3. An author can’t sign an ebook.
  4. Book shelves don’t get stacked with ebooks. You need hardcover or paperbacks for that. So if you love seeing your bookshelves nearly toppling over with books, ebooks will not do the trick. you need hardcover and paperback.
  5. Paperback books are generally cheaper than the hardcovers. So if you buy books in bulk to add to your TBR pile, paperback is the more economical option.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore my Kindle too. It’s the easiest to transport. Since I do most of my reading sitting at swim meets, wrestling tournaments, and in the car rider line at my daughter’s school, throwing the Kindle in the drawstring bag I utilize for a purse is the fastest, most convenient option.

Also, I LOVE hard cover books! I keep the book cover jackets on them too and line them up on my bookshelves with adoration and love! I have a full collection of hardcover Stephen King and Anne Rice books. When I was a struggling twenty-something, I switched to paperbacks and I proudly display them too on my shelves. (***Side note: All books have been stowed away in boxes while we renovate my office, including built-in book cases! Secretly I believe my hubby wants to keep the books in the boxes as he fails to see the necessity in keeping all my books, and keeping them all displayed for me to lovingly gaze it while I daydream when I should be writing or editing, but he will NOT win this one!)

So if you a bookaholic like myself, and you prefer physical books over the ebooks, and you love fantasy/paranormal with a steaming shot of romance thrown in, please check out Rekindled Prophecy starting tomorrow (it’s available for pre-order now, too).

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BOOK BLURB:

Guardian angel, Greylyn saves innocent humans from their own inner demons or the more nefarious real ones. She’s overdue for some rest and relaxation, but upon finding her archenemy already entrenched at an authentic Irish bed and breakfast, she knows her vacation is over before it ever starts.

Enemies for over four centuries, Greylyn has fought the dark guardian, Kael; and fought her desire for him. This time, however, she must work with the dashing dark guardian to protect innocent lives. It’s a deadly gamble. One she has no choice but to take.

But the situation is far more treacherous than she realizes as a notorious fallen archangel holds the lives of a mother and her unborn child over Greylyn’s head to force her to consummate a dormant, but deadly prophecy. One so deadly that Heaven didn’t even write it down.

Rekindled Prophecy: Greylyn the Guardian Angel is a fantasy/paranormal novel with strong undertones of romance and sex appeal between two enemies – one working for Heaven, the other working for Hell.

 

https://books2read.com/u/bzoaBE

***

Teaser:

Greylyn gulped in air. She wasn’t dead, not yet. Renewed energy pulsated through her body and gave her strength to push herself up on shaky arms. She stared, turning to look at each man as they circled each other. Both men with deadly intent etched on their faces. In between getting hit, and throwing jabs of his own, the stranger muttered, “Had to be you! It just had to be you!” One final uppercut to Jasper’s jaw, and the guardian angel fell back.

Her mouth opened to scream for him to leave Jasper alone, but no words came out. He turned to her, his face bloodied, but with a sad smile. “Until next time, love.” Seconds later, he vanished down the alleyway.

Suddenly able to move again, Greylyn jumped up and ran over to Jasper. “Who the hell was that?”

“Oh, I’m fine, by the way.” With the indignant look he flashed her, she knew Jasper was far from being fine. Physically, yes, he was alright. But his icy-blue eyes spoke volumes of fury she could not under-stand.

“I’m so sorry …” She checked him for injuries, hands roved over his body. His clothes were spatter-ed with blood. Other than his pride, and a black eye that would fade in an hour or two, he was in perfect shape.

Greylyn knew she looked a mess. Hell, she should be dead. Instead, the blood had already dried and the sizzle of her bones mending underneath her skin comforted her.

I’m not going to die. At least not tonight.

Jasper cupped her chin. “Yes, I know. It’s my fault. It was too soon to send you out on your own like that. I realized my mistake and came to find you, in case you needed assistance.” A nerve twitched in his jaw. “And, I find I was correct. You certainly needed help.”

“Oh, no! Edward? Did he escape? I came out here looking for him, but these guys,” she waved her hand toward the corpses littering the alley, “were after him and …”

“Yes, yes. I get it. You ran into the bad guys and as a bonus, you got a bloody dark guardian your first time on your own.”

“A what?”

“A dark guardian. The exact opposite of us, darling. You are just lucky I came along when I did. That one would’ve carved you up like a porterhouse steak.” He pushed himself off the ground. At his full height of well over six feet tall, he towered above her.

“Does this dark guardian have a name?” She didn’t know why it mattered that she find out his name.

Jasper narrowed his eyes at her in obvious disapproval. “That one in particular is Kael,” Jasper spat. “Truly nasty piece of work. Avoid him at all costs. Hopefully, you will never have to see that creature again.”

He turned toward her and grabbed her by the upper arms, leaning forward so they were nose to nose. An aroma of whiskey and tobacco wafted into her face. “Greylyn, promise me that you will stay away from Kael. If he ever crosses your path, either annihilate him completely with your dagger through his heart and then rip it out of his body while it’s still beating; or run. Just run.”

******

A quick note before I sign off, if you live in (or in driving distance from) Charleston, SC, I will be at the Penned Charleston book signing event on 2/29/2020. Please come by and say “Hi!” I’ll have paperbacks of Rekindled Prophecy to sell and to sign, along with some book swag.

And if you live in Charlotte, NC (or nearby, or within driving distance), please come out to the Queen City Book Fair on 5/23/2020 to see me and many other fabulous authors. I’ll have more paperbacks to sign, and hope to have a pre-order link set up soon.

Queen City Book Fair flyer

I’ll send out updates for future book signings and events as I schedule them.

Thanks and I hope everyone has a beautiful week!

 

Love always,

KC

Author Shout-Out to Serenity Rayne on the Pre-Order of Her New Book: Hunt Little Wolf

Hunt Little Wolf: The Aurora Marelup Series by [Rayne, Serenity]

🔥 Pre-order Now!🔥🔥

🐾˚ •。🐉 ˚ ˚☠️˚ ˛🌙* 。🐺🐾 ˛° 。🐺* ° ˚ 🐉 🌙 🐉˚ .🐾 。
*˛˚ HUNT LITTLE WOLF
˚. ★🐉🌙 *˛ ˚* ✰。🐺˚ ˚🐾。* ˚  。✰🐉˚🐺* ˚ 🌙

🐺 TWIN Sammich!
🐺 Paranormal Reverse harem romance.
🐺 Betrayal, lies, broken hearts
🐺 Strong ass female main character.
🐺 True mates / Fated mates
🐺 Wolves, dragon, and bear shifters
🐺 a 💩ton of plot twists
🐺 Why choose romance! 🐾

us:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZPLRP56
uk:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07ZPLRP56
au:
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07ZPLRP56
can:
https://www.amazon.com.ca/dp/B07ZPLRP56

BLURB

My name is Aurora. I am the first of my kind. After I ascended, it became clear to my Guardian’s that I wasn’t your average Lycan. My father’s noble bloodline has gifted me with powers unheard of for a Lycan. Half Lycan. Half dragon. I am a lethal hybrid of the two. With the help of my mates, I am hunting down the traitors to my kingdom, one by one.
The Strigoi may be an ever present pain in my ass, but even they can’t compare to what I feel waiting for us. I feel that something lurks in the background, a puppeteer pulling the strings of the usurpers.
With only two mates left to gather, my harem is almost complete. With their added strength, I will finally be able to avenge my family and take back my Mother’s thrown.

On my blood, I will triumph over my enemies… let my bloody coronation begin.

True mates,
blood and gore.
Why choose romance
Cliffhanger

***

Congrats, Serenity!

 

Who is Greylyn?

greylyn pic

For the last few weeks you’ve been reading about Rekindled Prophecy – Greylyn the Guardian Angel series, Book 1. You’ve been introduced to her guardian angel counterpart and mentor, Jasper Moreau. And you’ve witnessed her in action saving a co-ed with self esteem issues from a nefarious soul stealer in a country western bar.

But who exactly is Greylyn?

Greylyn was born over 450 years in the Irish countryside. She wishes she could tell you more about her human life, but since rising from the grave as a guardian angel she doesn’t remember anything from that time. Her first memory is waking up, underground, with the pungent odor of earth and fear infiltrating her senses.

The above image is “Alice in the Looking Glass” — a statue in England, which will have more relevance once we get to book three in the series. For our purposes here, it appears as if a young woman is reaching out from the grave.

Once Greylyn dug herself out of her grave, she met someone who would have a profound effect on her “afterlife” — yes, the handsome and strong guardian angel, Jasper. But don’t let their closeness fool you. Our beautiful guardian, Greylyn, has a penchant for the bad boys.

Enter dark guardian, Kael O’Shea. We’ll discuss Kael in more detail later. I just didn’t want you to misconstrue the situation with Jasper. Not that he hasn’t tried over the centuries to win her heart, body, and soul. It’s just the chemistry between Greylyn and Kael is off-the-charts hot and undeniable, even though she vehemently denies it.

Jasper taught Greylyn everything she knows about being a guardian angel, including how to fight. Sometimes they battle the bad guys together, and sometimes apart. There just aren’t enough guardian angels to go around, so they are kept plenty busy.

Greylyn takes her job seriously and rarely enjoys any R&R for herself. She’s learned not to get too close to the humans she is meant to save, but she has a huge heart. Whenever she fails a mission, it hits her hard. That fear of failure propels her forward, but doesn’t fill the emptiness in her heart and soul. A few people have been fortunate enough to make it into her inner circle, including a snarky Australian former rugby player turned college professor with an affinity for the paranormal; an Irish innkeeper; and the subject of Greylyn’s mission in Rekindled Prophecy — a young bride with a secret and a supernatural price on her head.

Here’s a glimpse into Greylyn’s meeting with the bride, Kelly:

Kelly’s voice was soft and sweet, with just the faintest Southern belle tinge. There was something that bothered Greylyn from the moment she’d walked in the room. A glimmer of gray hung over her like a cloud. Despite the smile, this woman sensed something was wrong too. When they shook hands, waves of energy spiked from Greylyn’s hand all the way to her neck. Not painful, but more like the warmth of a cashmere blanket. Familiar, but foreign.

Greylyn’s mind flashed back to the vision of the woman in white silently screaming in the window. Although the vision had been blurred, there was no doubt that Kelly had been the woman. For a split second, another image emerged. Glazed hazel green eyes, but the face was blurred. Again the vision morphed to pitch darkness surrounding the woman in front of her, like acrid smoke billowing off a bonfire. But instead of the smoke floating away from the source, it encircled her.

But that still doesn’t answer “Who is Greylyn?” Our heroine drives a 1968 British racing green Camaro, loves hair-band heavy metal music, and sports a Celtic dagger when going into battle. Her drink of choice is called a “Godfather” — half scotch/half amaretto over ice. She’s petite (under 5’2″) with long raven hair and a spattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her eyes are like emeralds…unless she’s upset or angry (her eyes turn as blue as the Mediterranean Sea). Her friends call them “mood eyes” (like a mood ring which changes color with your mood).

 

I don’t want to give away too much about our lovely heroine. I prefer you read about her for yourself when Rekindled Prophecy comes out in November 2019. Until then, I’ll keep posting tidbits here and there to keep you intrigued.

Have a safe & fun Mardi Gras!

A Little Slice of Heaven

book cover model 7 jasper

Usually an author introduces her/his readers to the main character first, but after some particularly interesting responses to my Facebook posting of a supporting character, I thought I’d break the mold and introduce the incredibly sexy guardian angel, Jasper, first.

Jasper — oh, he’s a hottie! A perfect spoil to the dark guardian, Kael (who we will discuss in much greater detail later).

Jasper is a guardian angel. He has been roaming the Earth helping humans battle their own inner demons and the more nefarious real ones for centuries. We know Jasper has been a guardian for much longer than our heroine, Greylyn (approximately 450 years for her).

He’s French royalty. He and Greylyn even visit revolutionary France to stop Robespierre from slaughtering innocents by the infamous guillotine, discovering too late that the dark guardian, Kael, is pulling the French leader’s strings.

But who really is Jasper Moreau? Although working on the side of good, he gives off a distinct bad boy aura. He’s a stylish dresser, with a flare for black boots and even a leather jacket if the situation calls for it. He will ride in to the rescue in a rented luxury sports car or straddling a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He drinks champagne as if it were water, but never overindulges because he wants…needs to remain in control.

His temper is ferocious and quick to flare. Just ask Kael who has been on the receiving end of his anger too many times to count. But Jasper’s heart is huge, but he keeps it guarded for reasons he does not confide even to his best friend for centuries, Greylyn.

Below is an excerpt from the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series, shown as a flashback of when Greylyn first met Jasper. Enjoy!

Hunched over, her body shuddering in the final throes of dry-heaving, a faint chuckle broke through the silent night.

She turned her face towards the sound. Everything was a blur. Blinking, grains of dirt caked onto her lashes fell away. More blinking, her eyes brought into focus the gloom of an icy moonless and starless night. Then finally she was able to make out the silhouette of a tall figure lounging against the side of a large oak tree.

“Well, it’s about time you made it out. I’ve been waiting all night. A few more moments and I would have left without you,” the shadowed man said in a foreign accent she didn’t recognize. With a subtle bow, he added, “Jasper Moreau at your service, Milady.” He separated from the tree and strolled leisurely over to where she lay on the damp ground. His boots shone with garish gold buckles, as if he were walking into a palace, not standing in the middle of a dirt field.

Get up and run!

The energy that had propelled her from the grave had vanished. She could barely lift her head to gaze up at him. The muscles in her neck twitched with the effort. Her mind ordered her legs to jump up and run, but nothing happened. A new wave of panic rocked her body.

She pushed herself up on trembling arms. “If you knew I was trapped under the ground, why did you not help me?”

“Sorry, Milady,” he said with a slight touch of sarcasm. “I could not assist you. There are no headstones or markers in this quaint little boneyard and there appear to be several fresh grave sites. I simply could not find you in time. I do hope you will accept my sincerest apology.” Something in the smoothness of his voice or his nonthreatening stance gave her a sense of calmness – that she had no need to fear this man. Still, how could she be certain? 

A tingling sensation washed over her body, as energy flooded back into her limbs. First, she wiggled her toes, then shook out her legs that moments earlier had refused to move. Pulling her legs towards her body, she took a long look around. She sat on the edge of a small graveyard between a sheep pasture and a thick forest. In the distance, silhouettes of buildings stood out, with one taller than the rest with a pointed steeple. Even the cloud-filled night sky seemed bright and welcoming.

A sliver of moonlight peeked out between the dense cloud cover for just a moment, offering enough illumination that she could make out the visage of the stranger. Her vision wavered in and out until finally coming to a crystal clear focus.

Strikingly tall with broad shoulders, his clothing was fancy. Frilly white shirt with a dark velvet overcoat. Long jet-black hair pulled into a ponytail with a satin ribbon. Every detail screamed he didn’t belong here.

When he reached over to help her up from the ground, a sweet musky scent infiltrated her senses producing a vision of a deep evergreen forest. Most notable were his startling blue eyes set against deep olive skin. They glowed in the darkness with such intensity as if he peered into her soul. She found herself on her feet without any recollection of standing. When she looked down at his hand on her arm, he released her. The tranquility abruptly ended.

“Madam, I realize you may be distressed about your predicament. Allow me to reassure you that you are now indeed safe. You will never need to fear the grave again.”

How dare he act so nonchalant about this situation? And say such nonsensical things! She rounded on him, her voice rising. “How is that precisely? Someone buried me alive! You did nothing about it. How can you stand there and smugly say that you could not help me?”

His eyes narrowed and a nerve ticked just under his left eye. The look, more than the silence, unnerved her.

This couldn’t possibly get worse.

“Milady, you were not buried alive,” he said. “You were very much dead.”