Releases 10/7/2014

::tosses confetti::

Today is the official release day for Ghost Phoenix, Book 3 in the Phoenix Institute series.

And if you don’t want to start with book 3 (though I do write them so you can read separately and out of order), book 1, Phoenix Rising, is still just 99 cents on all platforms: Amazon, B&N, Samhain, and all other stores.

Go buy it before the price swaps back tomorrow!

The cure they desperately need just rose from the ashes of evil…

Ghost Phoenix, The Phoenix Institute, Book 3

Richard Plantagenet, self-exiled prince of an immortal court, is content living the uncomplicated life of a California surfer. Until his brother’s sudden death and his Queen’s wasting illness wrest him from his ocean-side solitude for one last quest.

The Queen needs a cure. To get it, Richard needs assistance from someone with a singular—and slightly illegal—talent.

As the latest of a long line of ghost-walkers, Marian Doyle can, literally, walk through walls—bringing objects with her. Her gift comes in handy for her family’s shady antiquities business, but Marian’s had it with breaking the law. She wants a life of her own choosing.

Instead, she gets Richard.

Their mission seems simple: Find the body of Gregori Rasputin and procure a small sample of his DNA. But when they discover the Mad Monk of Russia is very much alive, the prince and the phantom must form a bond to battle a man who desires to remake the world in fire.

I’ll be bad all day to update the post and add excerpts but you can also follow around on Facebook. Ghost Phoenix can be purchased for Kindle, Nook, and in any format at Samhain Publishing.

And while I know romance readers love their heroes, I know they also love their heroines. Here’s a glimpse of Marian Doyle, wanting to change her life around and using a kitchen skill we all wish we had….

Besides, if she’d been caught, she would have missed her new nephew’s baptism party.

She would never let down Jen. Her sister was the only one in her family she could relax with, the only one who cared about Marian the person, not Marian with the gift for smuggling million-dollar items. She liked her brother-in-law too. She expected she’d like the little guy at some point but all her godson James did so far was cry and sleep, so that was hard to tell right now.

But even crying, James was still definitely preferable to Grandfather.

She washed off the pastry knife in the sink as her brother-in-law rushed in to get the last slices to distribute to the guests gathered in the backyard. Scott looked harried, his eyes tired like only the eyes of a parent of a newborn could be. He barely mumbled thanks, added the slices to a tray and slipped back out. Laughter wafted in from the backyard as Marian slumped against the refrigerator, her job nearly finished. Hiding in the kitchen allowed her to plan her speech to Grandfather.

She was done with this. Over, finished. Screw their guilt trip. Her father had plenty of legitimate clients. Let those support the family firm. She couldn’t go on like this.

Marian pulled at a drawer to get out the last of the plastic silverware. It jammed. She tugged the drawer harder and that accomplished nothing except making herself angry. Dammit.

She looked down at her hand and concentrated until it was translucent. She stuck her arm up to her elbow through the jammed drawer and closed her eyes. Usually, she could do this to her hand without thinking, but her mind was stressed and jumbled today. How stupid would it be to screw up something as simple as un-sticking a drawer? She’d never hear the end of it.

She fumbled around in the drawer. The wisps of the solid items tickled her ghost fingers as she tapped around inside until she found the cheese grater in the back stuck upright. She concentrated again, feeling her fingertips take on their regular weight and become solid so she could shift the grater. When the rough edges of the grater scraped her thumb, she knew she had it. She twisted and it fell on its side.

She pulled her hand back through the drawer and dropped her concentration. Her hand filled out and became flesh and blood once more. She tugged at the drawer again. It came free. Success!

If only she could get her life unstuck as easily.

 

 

 

Good morning!

As a belated birthday present to me and all of you (well, I like to think of it that way) my publisher is dropping the price of Phoenix Rising, the first book in my superhero series, to 99 cents.

You can grab it on Kindle, , B&N and All Romance Ebooks now.

The sale is in celebration of the release of book three of the series, Ghost Phoenix, on October 7th. (Now available for pre-order on sale at $3.85 at Samhain Publishing!)

I listed ten reasons you might want to give Phoenix Rising a try. The other seven are at the link! 🙂
*************

1. The hero is a firestarter and telekinetic and also very photogenic. Or, as the heroine says, if God reached out to create a superhero, he’d look just like Alec Farley.

2. Telekinetic sex. Yes. That.

3. How many books do you read in which the heroine teaches the hero how to drive while listening to Motown?

Phoenix Legacy by Corrina Lawson (Paranormal Romance eBook)

4. Stuff blows up. As it does.

5. The heroine, Beth Nakamora, is a telepath. When she and Alec touch, well, like Springsteen said, “Fire!” Literally.

6. There are more than a few glimpses of the hero of book 2, Phoenix Legacy,  in Phoenix Rising, with Philip Drake being mysterious and deadly. As he does. (If you like dark heroes, Philip is your guy.)

7.  F-Team, Alec’s military-support team, featuring the leader, former Navy SEAL Daz Montoya, who is the hero of book 4, Phoenix Inheritance, coming out in March. He’s such a guy. I mean that in a good way. (If you like sweet but dangerous family men, Daz is your guy. )

8. Can you eat M&Ms with no hands? Alec can.

9. New York is saved!

9. It contains a homage to one of my favorite superhero movie scenes, namely the “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?” from the original Superman.

Give it a try!

You can be certain if my characters start a scene by sitting down in Bryant Park on a beautiful morning, it won’t end that way.

Ghost Phoenix is out on 10/7/14 and now available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and my publisher, Samhain Publishing.

Releases 10/7/2014

************************************************************

The sunlight was in Montoya’s eyes. No doubt that was why Richard saw the red dot appear on the soldier’s chest before Montoya did.

Richard tackled Montoya and grabbed Marian’s waist. The three of them went down in a heap behind the carousel. A bullet dinged off the sidewalk, raising small puffs of concrete dust. Richard rolled free from their pile, moaned and grabbed the side of his chest. His fingers came up bloody.

God’s eyes, he’d been so focused on the person stalking him that he hadn’t considered someone else could be after Montoya.

“What’s going on?” Marian scrambled to her feet.

He snatched her hand and pulled her back to the ground.

“Who’s shooting at us?”

“Unknown sniper, after Montoya. Stay down, please, Angel.”

Richard sat up, his back to the fence. Montoya was in a crouch, staring at the hotel windows, likely trying to locate the sniper.

“That bullet was aimed at me, Genet,” he said.

“I know. You’re welcome,” Richard said.

“I’m going to get us out of here,” Montoya said. “Be right back with transpo. Stay put.”

“Isn’t it dangerous to run out from cover?” Marian’s eyes were wide. But her voice was firm.

“Staying here and getting shot at is more dangerous. I can handle this. Stay down, miss. Besides, if he’s after me, you’ll be safer if I go.”

Richard liked Montoya a little already for trying to save Marian. He liked him evenmore now for protecting her. Edward might have misjudged these Phoenix Institute people. Which meant his brother had probably died needlessly. He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry about that. But he could do neither. Every breath he took was like a knife in his gut.

Marian, face white as a ghost, nodded at Montoya. “Okay.”

Montoya scrambled away, keeping structures in front of him as much as possible. No shots rang out. The sniper might have left already. Not that they could take that chance.Marian turned to him and noticed the blood soaking through his T-shirt and into the gray hoodie.

“Oh my God, you’ve been shot! I’ll call 911.”

“No. Would you like to spend the next few hours in a police station? Very boring, and then we’ll have the questions as to why my bullet wound healed so quickly.” He inhaled, holding back a moan. He needed to use shorter words. The stabbing pain crested. He exhaled and felt his whole side turn to fire. That was his body, healing itself, and driving down some of the pain.

“You’re losing a lot of blood,” she said.

Yes. He wouldn’t fully heal if the bullet remained inside him, as he suspected it was. It would have to come out. Soon. He had an idea how. But not here.

“Slide off my sweatshirt and press it against the wound. It’ll slow the bleeding.”

She did as he asked, and he wished pain didn’t prevent him from enjoying the touch of her fingers. He pressed his hand against the sweatshirt to keep it tight against him. “Don’t look so worried. It’s all right. Just stay put. I want you safe.”

“I’m safer than you are.” She curled her hand around his forearm. “I’m going to lookaround and see if someone is sneaking up on us.”

“You can’t—”

“No one can shoot a phantom. Bullets go right through me.”

“How would you know that?”

“I’ve been shot at before.”

He wanted to ask where and when and, if she had, why did she look so pale now, but it hurt to speak again. His head lolled down against his chest. Blood loss. Dammit. She straightened, and by the time she stood upright, she was immaterial. Again.Sunlight streamed through her. Again. Angel.

“I can’t see anyone or anything that looks dangerous.” Her voice was a low whisper, almost as immaterial as the rest of her, the sound of a ghost. She turned, and he lost sight of her in the sun. “Nothing.”

“Did you look at the windows of all the buildings?”

“Yes, but I don’t see anyone.” “Then come back here and return to normal, because there will be people at BryantPark who might convince themselves they’ve seen a ghost.” She must not suffer any fallout from this attack. “I need you to help with the blood loss.”

He took a deep breath. A sharp pain jabbed through his side once more, centered near the back. His healing fire couldn’t touch it. That must be where the bullet was lodged.Tires squealed around the corner. A black van sped toward them on the narrow street.

Ally or enemy?

 

 

All through September, on Mondays, I’ll be sharing short excerpts from Ghost Phoenix, until publication on October 7th. You can preorder at Amazon at the link or click “Want to Read” on Goodreads.

Today, for the first post, I’m sharing Marian and Richard’s initial reactions to each other. Marian demonstrates her phantom ability while Richard demonstrates his ability to turn heads. 🙂

Marian:

Marian walked to the back of her desk to face the window. She held out her arms, as if to absorb the sun, and he watched, rapt, as she become, clothes and all, intangible. It all happened in seconds, until he could see the outline of her but he could also see right through her.

She floated several feet into the air. Oddly, she seemed to have more curls in her hair in this state. She slipped through the window and outside. He rose, fascinated, and walked closer. She hung in midair just outside the window, light streaming through her, looking like an angel captured in stained glass. He drew in his breath.

In the blink of an eye, she passed back through the window, into the office, and an ordinary mortal stood before him once more.
The healing ability that kept him from aging was subtle. Telepathic ability was similarly quiet. He had fought a firestarter to the death a few hundred years ago. That had been a spectacular battle.

But he had never seen any ability to match the sheer awesomeness of Marian Doyle becoming one with the light.

Richard:

It was early on a weekday morning. Bryant Park, an oasis of calm in the midst of the midtown skyscrapers, was nearly deserted. The restaurant was closed, the carousel silent and the public tables and chairs almost completely empty.

Richard chose a table in the middle of the park and pulled out a chair for her. “Thank you. I seem to be thanking you a lot today.”

“You are quite welcome for all of it.” He folded himself into the chair. The sunlight streaming in from behind them caught the blond bleached into his hair by the sun and wind. No wonder he wanted to take a walk.

He needed to be outdoors, not inside a stuffy office. His tanned face contained some age lines, primarily around his eyes. If he were an ordinary person, she would have guessed his age between thirty and forty.

Richard Genet wasn’t ordinary. He stretched his long legs out in front of him and relaxed into the wire mesh chair.

“You spend a great deal of time outdoors?” she asked.

“Yes. I live in California, near the ocean.” He would fit right in with the movie stars.

“Do you surf?”

“Every day. Do you?”

She shook her head. “I’ve never tried.”

“Not a particular interest, or do you hate it?”

“It’s never come up.” I would learn if you agreed to teach me, she thought. He must look gorgeous in
a wetsuit, on a surfboard, about to take a wave, the sun and wind at his back.

Thank God she hadn’t said that out loud.

Releases 10/7/2014

Releases 10/7/2014 Now available for pre-order. Click on cover.

The cure they desperately need just rose from the ashes of evil…

Ghost Phoenix: The Phoenix Institute, Book 3

Richard Plantagenet, self-exiled prince of an immortal court, is content living the uncomplicated life of a California surfer. Until his brother’s sudden death and his Queen’s wasting illness wrest him from his ocean-side solitude for one last quest.

The Queen needs a cure. To get it, Richard needs assistance from someone with a singular—and slightly illegal—talent.

As the latest of a long line of ghost-walkers, Marian Doyle can, literally, walk through walls—bringing objects with her. Her gift comes in handy for her family’s shady antiquities business, but Marian’s had it with breaking the law. She wants a life of her own choosing.

Instead, she gets Richard.

Their mission seems simple: Find the body of Gregori Rasputin and procure a small sample of his DNA. But when they discover the Mad Monk of Russia is very much alive, the prince and the phantom must form a bond to battle a man who desires to remake the world in fire.

It’s almost here! Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some snippets from the book and perhaps even give away a copy or two. In the meantime, it’s up for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and my publisher, Samhain Publishing.

And it would be a huge help if anyone interested clicks “want to read” on Goodreads. Thanks!

Looking forward to this one coming it. It’s full of all the kinds of stuff I love: immortals, superpowers, hot sex, ninja monks, tunnels, travel and one really hot surfer dude.


When I was writing Phoenix Rising, I often used some famous comic book splash pages for inspiration, especially as my Alec Ramsey’s firestarting abilities start to go completely out of control near the end.

It worked in prose but I couldn’t stop wishing for George Perez or Marshall Rogers to appear in my home and illustrate it. 🙂

Which brings me to the contest. Answer this question in the comments below: what scene from your favorite book would you love to see drawn or illustrated, either in a comic or a poster?

A winner will be announced Monday morning and will be chosen by random number generator.

To set up the sequence:

Alec and the military-style assault team assigned to assist and protect him are chasing terrorists on the Newark docks. Problems arise when the terrorists begin escaping via tugboat. Alec’s trying to stop it with his telekinesis and a wall of fire.

***************************************

The fire screamed at Alec, rolling into a ball of raging heat, wanting to consume what was in its path, more powerful than any fire he’d handled before. It wanted to incinerate the entire tug, including the bomb. But he had control. This is what he’d trained to do all his life.

He created a wall of fire on the far side of the tug, trying to make it retreat. More shouting. Again, Hans calmed the others down and the boat kept moving. Alec had to let some of the fire spin away, lest it hit the bomb. They’d called his bluff. Shit.

The tug chugged into the harbor, taking it farther from Alec’s range and closer to a big, shadowy shape out on the water. Another ship. No way he’d be able to stop the bigger ship if they loaded the bomb on it. Sweat poured down Alec’s neck and back. His breathing grew quicker, his eyesight blurrier from the smoke of the burning dock.

Hans was the calm one. Get him and the rest would panic. Alec broke off a small ball of fire from the flames above the tug and sent it crashing into Hans’ chest.Hans screamed, stumbled backwards and fell into the water. Steam hissed and was quickly snuffed by a wave.

The tug stopped moving, dead in the water. Yes!

A shadow fell over the tug. Their pickup. The transfer wasn’t at the docks like intelligence said, it would be on the water. Kowalski, who’d berated them for their mission questions, had been wrong. If Daz didn’t go after the CIA fuck, Alec would.Daz yelled out loud. Alec ignored it.

Daz’s voice buzzed in his ear from the radio. Alec tore off his helmet. Tears ran down his face from the smoke. His knees grew weak. The fire almost escaped from him, almost roared into the bomb. Dammit, I can control this. What was wrong with him? He knew better.

He dropped to his knees and pushed the fire back to the tug’s bridge. Another man was yelling now. Alec saw the face illuminated in the firelight and recognized Demeter, the fanatic. He should crisp him too, but if he let the fire go even a little, he’d lose it completely. Hell.

He raised a hand and created a roof of flame over the boat. There! Let them try to move the bomb with that there. He grinned, panic gone, and stood. He blinked and saw the flames around him had grown.They whispered to him, embraced him, until he was weightless, free, just like the fire. Nothing could hurt him, nothing could defeat him, especially not some second-rate terrorist cell.

“Firefly!”

I ’m busy, Daz.

Alec blinked and finally registered the twenty-foot wall of flames directly around him. The fire he’d created had joined with the flames from the sniper’s body and grown into an inferno. F-Team was trapped between the warehouse and a shipping container and the flames were closing in. They’d be incinerated.

In the distance, a horn sounded, close to the tug. Fuck! Daz yelled his name again, voice more desperate.

Okay, easy. Take control of both fires. He could finish the mission and save F-Team at the same time. Piece of cake.

He spun around and around in the flames encircling him, pushing them upward, away from F-Team, sending them into the sky, where they’d have no fuel and would sputter out on their own. The metal of the crane above twisted and buckled from the intense heat. His throat felt like dust. Heat enclosed him, baking his skin. He shouldn’t have made it so damn hot without realizing it. He knew better. What the hell was wrong with him?

He waved his hand. The flames around him started to sputter out. Good, F-Team was safe. The roof of flames above the tug disappeared.

No, shit, he didn’t mean those flames. He reached out with his TK toward the boat. He felt something fuzzy, like a figurative cotton ball in the air. He had no idea what the hell that was.

An explosion rocked the night air, splitting the tug in half. Alec fell face-forward to the dock. He spat out ashes, cursing. What had happened?The fire around him leapt high again, its flames a vivid blue color. He couldn’t have exploded the bomb on the tug—he’d been careful. So what the hell had done it?

He pushed himself up with his arms, bit his lip and the fire around him stole the air from his lungs and took control of him.He closed his eyes, joined the flames, felt them rise up around him, like he was flying high with it, flying to the water, flying to consume that big ship out there. Who needed control?

This was all he needed.

He could be fire.

 

A little late in the day but here’s the promised snippet.

This is from chapter one which begins with Dinah being summoned by the Roman commander. If you’ve been reading my blurbs and the other snippets, you’ll realize that the commander, Tabor, is not the hero.

However, more than a few of those who read the manuscript before I sold  immediately bonded to Tabor as the hero. I’m hoping this isn’t a problem now that I’ve got a blurb. 🙂

It’s all Tabor’s fault. He refuses to be ordinary.

In any case, feel free to bond to him as a character as he does play a large role in the story.

******************************************

Licinius and Ceti handed their horses over to a  guard who saluted and faded back. As they walked,  her boots squished in the mud from yesterday’s rain.
She didn’t bother to look around. Even without the oil lanterns that dotted the camp, she could have found her way. Memorizing the layout of a Roman
encampment had been one of the first lessons from her master. The final test of her knowledge had been  walking through a simulacrum of one, blindfolded.

She’d passed. She’d been all of eight years old.

Instead, she listened. Rocks scraped against metal to sharpen it. Hammers pounded on armor to knock out dents. These soldiers expected a fight at any time. Her thumb rubbed the hilt of her hidden knife, tracing the great cat carved into it. She had never wanted to be in a military camp on the eve of
battle ever again.

Licinius set a fast pace with his long legs and she was breathing heavy by the time they reached Tabor’s field headquarters. One side of the command
tent was covered with the painting of a bald eagle, white head against a blue sky. Seneca’s symbol, both for the family and the settlement named after them, the same design that the old lord wanted on the signet ring. Too bad she couldn’t make either become real and fly away with the great bird.

The tent guard, another one of Tabor’s tight-lipped and serious soldiers, pulled aside the cloth door and passed them through with a quiet nod.

Tabor, in full uniform save for his helmet, dominated the tent. He paced back and forth, verbally tossing out orders to his staff, who were gathered around an oval wooden table in the center.

Tabor’s red woolen cloak swirled around him. His heavy winter boots made deep impressions in the soft ground. Only the sawdust poured onto the dirt
prevented a muddy mess.

Licinius announced their arrival. Tabor stopped in mid-stride. His cloak settled about his shoulders and he nodded to her. The staff officers around the
table froze, listening.

“You summoned me,” she said to Tabor, ignoring everyone else. Not quite a question, not quite a complaint, but a little of both.

“I have a task for you.” Tabor chopped the air with his arm and ordered everyone out, from his scribe to his top aide. The scribe grumbled but shut  his mouth in mid-sentence at Tabor’s angry glance.

No one else dared voice an objection. Licinius left first, with a quiet nod. The staff officers stared at her as they passed. No doubt some assumed their commander wanted sex to soothe his nerves. False. She might have tempted him if he liked women in his bed but he did not. Too bad that Tabor did not
have a twin, one she could tempt.

“I need your skill,” he said. Like always, his brisk manner was more like a large feral wolf than the polished Roman patrician he actually was. But like a patrician, he took what he wanted, when he wanted.

I was being obsessive earlier and double-checking all my hyperlinks and I discovered that the Freya’s Gift links under the “Books” tab wasn’t working any longer.

Samhain did something on their website and cyber-moved me. Heh. It’s corrected now but I wanted to apologize who anyone who clicked on the wrong link and got the Samhain site but also a ‘not found’ message.

I should be back tomorrow with another snippet from Dinah of Seneca. (And I have to pester The Wild Rose Press and make sure they have me up on their site now that my release date is less than sixty days away.)

At least, I hope to have a snippet.

The minions are quite restless today. I may have to bribe them into silence.

For those of you who have read Freya’s Gift and were intrigued enough to click over to my website, I thought I’d put up a short excerpt from Dinah of Seneca, which is a novel-length sequel set in the same universe.  This book is coming out at the end of May from The Wild Rose Press. (If you click on the tag to the right side, you’ll see the cover and the blurb.)

Gerhard from Freya’s Gift is the hero of the book but Sif also has a nice role in it, which includes one of my very favorite scenes but I can’t post that because it’s a huge spoiler.

Instead, I pulled out how Dinah meets Gerhard and how the cougars from the earlier story come into play.

To set this up, Dinah has been spying on the Viking camp for the Roman commander. (The Romans don’t show up in Freya’s Gift because they weren’t important and would have been distracting. 🙂

*******

Gerhard released her hair and knelt down to her. His hand reached out to her. She flinched, expecting a blow. But instead, he grabbed the belt knife at her waist and snatched it out of its sheath with ease. She bit back an objection. She should not have taken her favorite knife on this insane mission.

He held the knife up to the firelight and studied it, tilting his head in curiosity. He said something in his language. She shook her head, let the shivers take her body and the tears flow down her cheeks. She shrank back from the spear. I am small and not dangerous and most definitely not a Roman spy.

“Why are you here?” Gerhard said, in Latin. Her eyes widened. A Viking, speaking Latin? “Why are you here?” Gerhard waved his hand  and the spear moved away from her throat. She swallowed and curled into herself. “I, I, I’m sorry, I was hungry and I spied your fires and I tried to find some food. My master does not feed me properly.” She licked her lips, willing herself into a state that matched her words. Panic was not hard,  she was halfway there already. “I’m sorry, I become  lost so I hid behind the shields. I never meant harm, never meant harm.” She raised her head, so Gerhard  got a full look at her tear-stained face in the torchlight.

Gerhard took a breath in and let it out. He smelled like pine needles. He pointed the knife at her. “This is not the knife of a slave. It is too well-balanced, and it is Roman steel.” He traced the ivory carving on the hilt. “And this is intricate work. It captures one of Freya’s cats well.”

Freya? Who are Freya and her cats? “I stole it 1t from my master before I left,” she said. Idiot. She  should have bought a non-descript weapon, a basic Legionary belt knife, not a long-ago gift for a job well done. Sentiment will get you killed. Another one of Gracchus’ sayings.

“So you are twice a thief?” Gerhard asked.

“I have stolen nothing from you.”

“Yet.” He tilted his head, almost smiling. “You are saying you reached the center of our camp by accident? Interesting, since I know you followed me.”

So Gerhard had been playing with her. Cruel Viking. And very smart. “I did, I thought with you being the leader, you might help. But I got scared and hid.”

(more…)

Good morning. I missed last week because I got distracted by the Mad Men post. 🙂

Before the snippet, I wanted to announce that the publication date of Freya’s Gift has been moved to March 23 because of some reworking of Samhain’s website. Just a week delay.

It will now be released the same day as my essay in the Chicken Soup for the Soul–Thanks, Mom book.

Well, hey, they both do concern mothers. 🙂

This part is from the beginning of the fertility ritual. But just the beginning, so it’s work safe.

*********************************************

Freya, help me.

Gerhard dropped her hand, only to put his arm around her waist, steadying her but also bringing her closer to him. His arm enclosed her back, sending that strange second skin enclosing her humming. She licked her lips, her whole body awakening to the touch. Ragnor followed Gerhard’s example and she was enclosed by both of them. She bit back a moan, almost turning to watery clay in their hands.

Her breathing grew faster, her face hotter, the lights in the sky more intense. No longer could she tell which hand was Ragnor’s and which hand was Gerhard’s. They seemed as one, all the same person, her body ready to reach out and absorb both of them.

The arms around her tightened.

“Sif,” Ragnor whispered. “Are you well?”

“More than well.”

He kissed her cheek, the soft brush of his lips setting her face as aflame as the bonfire in front of them. Vaguely, she realized that both men had moved behind her, their shoulders touching, to better support her. Ah, now, if they would just touch her… If she could strip off her clothes, fall to the ground with their bodies entwined with hers…

“To the spring.”

Gunnhilda’s voice again. Sif shook her head, wondering what exactly had been in that cup. And had she given the men the same? If so, why did they seem able to stand on their own?

The walk seemed less of a walk than floating above the ground. Colors kept flashing in front of Sif’s eyes. The noises of birds flapping overheard and animals rustling in the brush felt amplified and strange. Her feet seemed to not feel the soil and grass under them. The hands that connected her to both men seemed to burn, almost scald.

They took the new path created to the spring and reached it in what seemed like no time at all. They stood, bathed in moonlight so bright that Sif squinted against the glare. It even reflected off the water, which seemed to double the glow. Imagination? Or some blessing from Freya?

Gunnhilda bowed to them, said one last blessing and retreated with the torch, leaving them alone before the goddess.