The second novel in my Foulweather Twins fantasy series hit the e-shelves this afternoon! If you haven’t read the first book, Queen Witch is on sale for $2.99 through May 10th.
Foulweather Twins Trilogy, Book 2
Suspicion and stubbornness have never served Sage so well…
There are moments when the panic swells in me as I realize afresh what I have done. To betray the immortal I was raised to serve… What was I thinking? But those are just moments. Every day I live with the consequences, and they’re worth it. If the only way I know to make the Lady suffer, to force her power to wilt, is to serve another like her, I will take it. Until I find a better way.
Sage Brighton made a choice six months ago. A choice that changed her whole world. Now she skulks in the shadows, hiding even more from her twin and the rest of the Queen family than she had before. Serving two immortals is stretching her beyond her limits. And then there’s her unwelcome attraction to Chaos, the immortal seeking to destroy her family, and her relationship with Peter. As Sage’s days and nights spiral out of control, can she figure out who to trust? A wrong move now could spell the end of everything she’s worked for. It could be the end of her.
As soon as my feet touched the cliff top at Cape Foulweather, I whirled to face Wren, grabbing her arm to still her forward motion. “You acted like a child back there. It’s always the same with you. I’m sick of it!”
Wren’s gaze dropped to where my hand connected with her flesh, and she kept her eyes there as the silence drew onward. I got the message, and gave up the grip that had tethered her to listening to my words. Not that they’d ever sink in.
What a horrible day. We’d been sent to rectify a situation in Cambodia, where a witch had called something not of this world into existence through spells. And when the Lady had to clean up something like that, she cleaned it up back to the source.
In this case, that source was a tiny, grandfatherly man living in a one-room hut in the middle of nowhere. I’d never know whether he’d been trying to call the horse-sized, blood red lizard creature. It had rampaged through the countryside for a day and a half, until we could get there and reverse his work, sending the monster back to wherever it came from. Whether that had been his intent or no, he was doomed from the moment we darkened his door.
Still, Wren didn’t have to take such joy in the killing.
By the time my twin was done with the old man…there hadn’t been much to recognize as a man. I’d invoked a combustion spell, and watched his corpse burn until what was left wasn’t recognizable as human at all, nor flesh. When he’d burned to smoldering cinders and ash, I used another spell, and a breeze picked up in the interior of his hut, scattering the ash that had recently been a man right out the door. While Wren stood quietly, I wiped the hut clean of our presence. I was always cleaning up after her.
Now I had to get my point across fast. Before long, one or another of the aunts would come to see what was taking us so long. Dinner was probably on the table, with Aunt Ivy watching the clock impatiently.
“What is the point of making them hurt, Wren?” I hated the pleading tone in my voice. Maybe if I were stronger, she’d listen to me.
My sister was quiet for a moment, and when I’d decided she wasn’t going to answer, she said, “What’s the point of the sun rising, or the waves beating the shore, Sage?”
“I’m talking about people and pain.”
At that she finally met my eyes, and my chest tightened at the hurt still lingering in me, when I saw my sister for who she truly was. She really didn’t get it. My words were a mystery to her. And somehow, it never stopped hurting me.
My phone beeped gently; the distraction from this conversation was a blessing. Pulling it from my pocket, I hoped it was Peter. He was the best distraction.
My heart thudded and lurched when my eyes caught the number on the screen.
It flashed as CC, the letters far too large for my liking, with my stone cold twin standing right next to me. Wren didn’t appear to notice, but I couldn’t exactly answer his call right now.
This was the razor-fine balance I walked these days. And what could I do about it? Wren would never join me serving Chaos. I had less hope of that result now than when I’d betrayed the Lady six months ago. Chaos seemed happy enough to have another of the Lady’s Hands in his pocket, but the tight space was beginning to chafe.
I was seeking my own freedom here, after all, not just another – a better – immortal to serve. I’d take a quiet life with a small boutique on the coast over these soul-wrenching missions. I’d take that deal any day. Sure, I was on the right side now. Maybe I was even doing some good against the Lady and her constant power plays. But I was still far from the normal life I craved.
Tonight would be normal enough. We were late for our twenty-first birthday dinner with the aunts.
Without another glance at Wren, I turned and walked inside. For Aunt Hope’s sake, I took a few deep breaths and focused on a serene expression. My sister’s strangeness wasn’t Aunt Hope’s fault. Since we’d never known our mother, there was no one to blame at all. Our personal histories were all we had, as if our ancestry was shielded behind the vapor of times gone by and the decisions made for us while we were too young to speak for ourselves. The unspoken truths about us that we’d never be privy to.
But Aunt Hope had always been kind. She’d been all the mother I’d ever needed, and I schooled my expression so I wouldn’t let her down. If she understood what was in my heart, she would worry, despite the fact she was as likely to change my mind about the Lady as I was likely to change Wren’s. It wasn’t going to happen.
I sniffed the air appreciatively as I stepped inside the house. After a long journey in the whipping wind, the house felt too still, and a touch too warm. But it would always be home.
“Girls? You’re late. We only waited because it’s your birthday,” Aunt Hope called cheerfully from the direction of the dining room.
Wren slipped in behind me, bringing a chill touch of wind with her.
I made my way to my seat, steeling my nerves in my childhood home.
Aunt Ivy frowned at us. “Where have you been?”
“Working,” I answered calmly.
“Well, that’s unavoidable then. Come on girls, have a seat. The food is getting cold.”
“Did you cook?” I asked Aunt Hope. It certainly wasn’t Aunt Ivy.
Aunt Hope shook her head, her auburn curls now streaked with the occasional gray. When had that happened? “Melody is here.”
“Where is she?” I craned my neck to look into the kitchen, but I didn’t see her bustling around in there either.
“Oh, I didn’t mean she was here right now. She’ll be back later tonight.”
I let it go. If she wanted to tell me where Melody had gone, she would have done so.
“So, where did the Lady send you this time?” Aunt Ivy’s jealousy was obvious. She’d never wanted to give up taking missions as one of the Lady’s Hands, but there was nothing either of us could do about it, so she kept her annoyance in check, mostly.
“Baltic Sea. There were some artifacts discovered there, including a couple of scrolls that she wanted. Just a trading deal, nothing that interesting.” I didn’t mind sharing the tales. It helped, a little, to talk about it, even though I knew Aunt Ivy relished her gifts and her service in a way I would never understand and could not bring myself to emulate. However, I wasn’t interested in sharing about the last stop on this particular trip; I continued to steel my stomach against the stream of gory images.
Aunt Ivy shot Aunt Hope a look, like I’d just confirmed something for her. I didn’t ask. Honestly, I didn’t want to know anything about the aunts that I’d feel compelled to pass on to Chaos. I was determined to leave them out of this. They were retired; they didn’t take missions for the Lady any more. Why should Chaos worry over them? I let those lies comfort me in the face of my disloyalty, and ignored the look that passed between them.
The food was simple, and lovely. I was earnestly glad Melody had come, and I couldn’t wait to see her later. I could feel the love she’d put into the meal, as I always could with Melody’s food. I soaked it in for the dark times sure to come.
Later, I snuck off guiltily as the aunts rinsed our dishes, and returned the call from Chaos. It rang three times before Tim picked up. “Sage?”
“It’s me,” I confirmed impatiently. “I don’t have long.”
“I need to meet you tonight. The old pier.”
“I can’t make it until midnight.”
“It’s our birthday, and we’re celebrating. All of the Hands are getting together for dessert – and I have to go, Tim.”
“Alright. Midnight.” He didn’t sound happy about it, but what could he say? The last thing any of us wanted was my cover blown. That went double for me given it was my skin on the line.
“See you there.” I hung up and went back to the table, hoping no one would notice the tension stringing my shoulders together like I was full of wires.
One of these days I was going to blow it. It was a feat of will just to track all of the lies I told. I didn’t want to know what would happen when the Lady found me out.