Pay attention. Are you listening?
The story you’ve been told is a lie.
What a cliche way to start a tale. Trust me, I know. But I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said those exact words attempting to correct a story that effectively ruined my reputation.
Those are some of the milder things I’ve been called over the years. At a certain point, I gave up trying to correct the lie and leaned into it instead. I wasn’t always this way. A little introverted? Sure. A workaholic? I suppose you could call it that. But not cruel. Not cold. No, that came later. That’s what happens when you marry a conniving shrew who destroys you and takes half of what you own. And you let her, because you were so crazy about her you didn’t realize what she was doing until it was too late to stop her.
So now I share an entire kingdom with said shrew, and she makes sure to drive that miserable fact home as frequently as possible.
Do you know what the name “Persephone” means in Greek?
“Bringer of death.”
I should have paid attention.
A twist on the traditional Hades/Persephone story set in modern times.
Fiction: Fantasy, Romance, Greek Mythology
TW: Language, Sexual Content
Every time I saw Dorian Mathers’s stupid face, I wanted to take the stupid bat from his stupid hands and smack his stupid head with it.
I’m not a violent person, but what can I say? He brings out the worst in me.
It’s a shame really, because I love the Angels. But every time they face the Rangers at home, I have to see his stupid face and the cocky shit-eating grin so many other girls would swoon over.
Except I fucking know better.
Most people might just change the channel or turn off the TV entirely. 162 games in a season, what’s missing a dozen a year?
I, unfortunately, don’t have that luxury.
Trying to ignore the blazing Jumbotron screen over the field featuring stupid-face taking his stance in the batter’s box, I focused on the panel beneath my hands. Seventh-inning stretch was coming up, and I had to be ready to switch on mics and monitor feedback as whoever we had lined up belts out “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I worked too hard and too long for this job to let Dorian fucking Mathers ruin it.
A crack every baseball fan knows echoed from the field and I couldn’t help but look up, adrenaline surging. The crowd collectively held its breath as Mathers’s hit sailed into the stands just foul of the pole, and the stadium erupted again. I risked a glance at the Jumbotron and caught a glimpse of the frustrated smile on his face as he took a practice swing before stepping back into the box. I looked back down at the sound board. I shouldn’t still know how to read his moods after six years. Our pitcher was up to eighty pitches and we were down 3-1—he wouldn’t see another inning. Not with the division on the line. The series was tied: whoever won tonight would advance and I wouldn’t have to see Dorian’s face again for a blissful six months.
Another crack of the bat, this time fouled straight back. Dorian was down on strikes with two outs. Just one more pitch and the stretch would be on—
He didn’t miss the third time.
I swore and the crowd groaned as the ball headed between right and center. Nick Yoast, our rookie right-fielder, and Carter Sampson, our veteran All-Star center, sprinted for the ball. Mathers was about to round first.
“Come on come on, get there get there,” I chanted under my breath.
I saw the train wreck before they registered it was coming. Sampson was trying to wave Yoast off, his yelling drowned out by the crowd. But Yoast’s eyes were focused completely on the ball, not paying attention to the oncoming collision.
“No, Nick, don’t—” I couldn’t help shouting.
The rookie glanced down, trying at the last possible second to avoid the center-fielder.
A direct hit might have been less catastrophic.
My gasp was echoed by the stadium as Nick’s momentum propelled him into Carter. Lost his balance. Slipped. Carter tried to avoid him too late. His cleat caught in the grass. The ball dropped just in front of the two of them. Dorian rounded second.
Nick scrambled to his feet, trying to get his bearings. He snatched up the ball and slung it to the infield.
Carter rolled onto his stomach, pressing his forehead into the grass in a prone position I recognized all too well. Nausea rose in my stomach and I pressed my hands over my mouth.
Oh no. Oh no no no…
“Fucking hell,” one of the other sound booth engineers gasped.
The Angels managed to stop Dorian at third, but all eyes were on the outfield where Carter was still laid out, his ungloved hand gripping the earth as if it would somehow fortify him.
The medical staff was already on their way. It’s eerie when a crowd of nearly 50,000 suddenly goes silent.
I could see the panic in Nick’s eyes from the booth. He had fucked up. Badly. He was on one knee with a hand to Carter’s shoulder. The medical team and coaches waved him away as they circled the center-fielder. This time, he paid attention and moved.
The announcers were silent. The crowd was silent. I tried to think of something, anything to put over the sound system to break the deathly quiet but came up empty.
I knew our season was over when they brought out the stretcher.
Aspiring sound engineer Rory has snagged a dream job working for the L.A. Angels in their sound booth, content to be the faceless expert behind the scenes. But when the team trades for star center-fielder Dorian Mathers, she finds herself unwillingly thrust into the spotlight when her tumultuous past with him is revealed.
Fiction: Romance, Sports, Enemies-to-Lovers
TW: Language, sexual content
“Your newspaper, Mr. Ashcroft.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Bridges.”
The middle-aged, plump housekeeper nodded in acknowledgment and picked up the remnants of his breakfast from the dining table. “You’re on page six.”
“Is that right?” His hazel eyes lit up with amusement. “I wonder what they could possibly be writing about me now.”
“Seems to be documenting your summer vacation, sir.”
He opened the paper.
“MR. ASHCROFT WILL SEE YOU NOW” the headline read, accompanied by a photo of him wading in the surf wearing only his board shorts and a pair of sunglasses.
“CHICAGO–BASED CEO OF ASHCROFT INDUSTRIES SHOWS OFF ABS AND INK WHILE VACATIONING IN BARBADOS” read the caption.
“Who comes up with this nonsense?” he muttered, sipping his coffee and turning the page.
“Not a bad picture, though,” Mrs. Bridges said. “Nice to see you enjoying yourself.”
“Hm. Wish they’d feature the charity as much,” Mr. Ashcroft replied, flipping to the business section.
“I suspect they’re tired of covering your business deals,” Mrs. Bridges said, amusement in her voice as she took the dishes out of the room.
He snorted, skimming the headlines.
“ASHCROFT INDUSTRIES A TOP S&P 500 CONTENDER AFTER RECORD-BREAKING REAL ESTATE DEAL”
“SAY ‘HEY SIRI’ TO THE COMPANY PREPARING TO UPEND THE AI INDUSTRY”
“CARTER & FRANKLIN EMBEZZLEMENT SCANDAL UNCOVERED AFTER SENIOR PARTNER DIES FROM HEART ATTACK”
“MORTGAGE RATES LOOK TO RISE AGAIN AS EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS COME BACK STRONG”
Mr. Ashcroft downed the rest of his coffee. His cell phone rang beside him and he picked it up.
“Hey, Mr. Ashcroft! Those stock numbers, am I right?”
“Hey, Don. Yeah, it was a good start,” Ashcroft replied, holding the phone with his shoulder as he fastened a Cartier watch around his wrist. “Here’s hoping it holds.”
“Well, everything’s volatile right now. Chances are we’ll drop before the end of the day. But I swear man, I have never known anybody who can turn a deal in his favor like you.”
Ashcroft snorted. “Tell that to Mr. Soboliev. He was pissed.”
“You’re telling me. I thought he had us on that last phone call.”
“I did, too.”
“Yeah. Well, congrats. Your empire just got a bit bigger.”
“I gotta go. I’m meeting up with the city planner on that new industrial complex.”
“It’s what I pay you for,” he said wryly.
“Yeah, so tell HR I need a raise,” the other man said, laughing.
Mr. Ashcroft hung up the call and shrugged into his suit jacket. By all accounts, it was going to be an interesting day at the office. As he left his penthouse apartment, a dark figure fell in behind him as he waited at the elevator.
“Morning, Hughes,” he said without turning.
“Mr. Ashcroft,” his head of security replied. “Which car would you like to take, sir?”
“The Hypersport, I think. Good day for it.”
“Sir, if I may, I don’t know that there’s ever a good day for driving in Chicago,” Hughes said, sending off a text.
The young CEO snorted as the elevator dinged and the doors opened. The tall, dark-eyed man followed him inside. “Maybe you’re right. But I don’t know, Hughes. Something about today. It’s a good day.” He hit the garage floor button and adjusted his tie.
“I heard about the stock, congrats.”
“I assume you did well?”
“Yes, Mr. Ashcroft, thank you.”
“Seems like the press caught wind of my Barbados trip,” Mr. Ashcroft added.
“Yes sir, Mrs. Bridges informed me this morning.”
“Parasites,” he muttered. “That picture will be all over the internet today.”
“It will die off in a few days.”
“Were you able to put together that dossier I asked for?” Ashcroft asked him as the elevator doors opened to the garage. Hughes had already sent for the car to be brought around.
“Should be on your desk when you get in.”
“Wonderful. Thank you.”
The valet drove up in the Hypersport. Hughes held the door open for him and he slid into the driver’s seat.
“Have a pleasant day, sir.”
“Thank you, Hughes.”
The engine purred under his hands and he pulled out of the underground garage and into traffic. Hughes was right, of course. No such thing as a pleasant drive in Chicago.
Defense attorney Amberley learns her understanding of reality is deeply flawed after she's hired by an enigmatic billionaire and finds herself at the center of a fantastical scheme involving murder, luck, and magic.
Fiction: Romance, Billionaire, Fantasy, Werewolves
TW: Language, sexual content, drug abuse
If Athanasius heard his youngest brother quote poetry to his consort one more time, he was going to impale someone.
Everyone else though, especially the sea nymphs, seemed smitten by the romance of it all. As if pretty words somehow equated to something real. Sure, River nearly died and Endymion risked pissing off a goddess to get her back. Yes, maybe she helped him regain his song—a critical part of any Nereidri, and especially the royal family. But Poseidon’s beard, you’d think that would be enough to prove they loved each other rather than waxing poetic about it in earshot of everyone.
Athanasius crossed his burly arms over his bare chest, eyeing the couple in question from across the stone throne room as they twittered at each other. His crimson tail twitched in the supernaturally warm water. He made no secret of his own conquests, but this was excessive, even for him. Athanasius wondered to himself if he hadn’t preferred Endymion before River gave him back his song. A few centuries ago, he might have felt guilty over thinking such a thing. Of course he was pleased his youngest brother had found his song again, but it made Endymion more intolerable than usual.
Athanasius still bore fading signs of that ordeal, where another brother had raised blistering welts on his skin with destructive songweaving magic. That brother, thankfully, was quite deceased now, and Athanasius hadn’t lost sleep over it.
“Denarius for your thoughts, Ath?”
Athanasius recoiled out of instinct. Only one—well, three—voices could irritate him more than Endymion and River’s nauseating PDA. He inclined his head in a barely passable acknowledgement of the three silvery-pale figures drifting into the throne room.
“Ceridwen,” he bit out.
The triplets, iridescent from their pearl white tails to their ivory hair, exchanged knowing glances.
“Perhaps it’s a bad time.”
“Is it ever a good time with Athanasius?”
“He’d better make it a good time—”
“I’m right here,” the red-scaled Nereidri in question muttered. Normally a daunting specimen of sinew and muscle, Athanasius frequently found himself in the unnerving position of being more intimidated by his Sisters than they were of him.
“Oh, so it is a good time?” the white-haired Nereidri he called ‘Ceridwen’ responded. “I wouldn’t want to disturb you glowering at our heir apparent and her consort.”
“I wish you wouldn’t call her that,” Athanasius ground out between his teeth. “It feels so…”
“Accurate?” One of the other Sisters raised a pale eyebrow at him. “Chafing under the thumb of a female, brother?”
He shouldn’t piss them off, Athanasius reminded himself. Ceridwen, Eirwen, and Meiwen weren’t just his Sisters but powerful sorceresses. Sorceresses who recently saved his life. And to whom he was handing over his half of the Atlantic following the deaths of a few treacherous family members.
The four of them didn’t have a historically positive relationship.
“They could at least take their grinding somewhere else,” he complained under his breath, shifting uneasily.
“I don’t seem to remember you having a problem flaunting sea nymphs on your lap at regular intervals,” the middle Sister, Eirwen, reminded him.
This was true, but Athanasius chafed at the rebuke. “I’ll just be glad when we get this damn handoff done,” he grumbled. “So I can take over the Pacific and be free of all this…” He gestured with a hand in the vague direction of his black-scaled brother and prismatic mate.
“Never thought I’d see the day Athanasius was uncomfortable with public displays,” the aforementioned black prince spoke up from across the room, finally turning to the foursome. If his affectionate caresses of his consort weren’t subtle, neither were his Sisters’ and hot-headed brother’s whispering.
River looked over, eyes slightly dazed. Her newly-acquired song—the soul, some would say, of the Nereidri people—made her more sensitive to the emotions of those living in the underwater kingdom of Nendavia. While she didn’t seem to mind Athanasius’s scowl, Endymion appeared less than pleased.
The sequel to Song of the Abyss follows first-born sea prince Athanasius as he learns the true meaning of heroism…and villainy.
Fiction: Fantasy, Romance, Mermaids
TW: Language, Violence, Sexual Content