Cover & Excerpt
A handsome stranger, a terrifying monster, a boy who burns and burns…
Mattawa, Washington, is usually a sleepy orchard town come December, until a murder, sightings of a fantastic beast, and the arrival of a handsome new vintner in town kindles twenty-year-old reporter Esme Ulloa’s curiosity—and maybe her passion as well.
But the more she untangles the mystery, the more the world Esme knows unspools, until she finds herself navigating a place she thought existed only in storybooks, where dreams come alive, monsters walk the earth and magic is real.
When tragedy strikes close to home, Esme finds she must strike back, matching wits with an ancient demon in a deadly game, where everything she values stands to be lost, including the love of her life.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Content/Theme(s): Demon, Magic, Monsters, Vintner, Reporter
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Excerpt & More
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“You’re trying to remember who you are.” Idly, he reached down and broke off a stem of lavender, brown and withered from the cold. “Watch this,” he said. He blew his breath on it and the stick burst into flames, like a little torch. He dropped it on the frozen ground where it burned, giving off sweet smoke.
“Are you a dragon?” I asked, only partly joking. “Like Quetzacoatl?” I added, thinking of the feathered serpent I had just studied about for my test.
He gave me a sharp look out of his gray eyes and reached down, breaking off another branch. “No. Not Quetzacoatl. Now you.” He handed the stick to me.
“Now me, what? You want me to light this on fire?”
He shook his head. “That’s not what you do,” he said. His arm squeezed my shoulder. “Do you trust me?”
I turned the dead branch in my hands. I looked into his face. “What do I do?”
“Blow on it and see”
I blew on the stem and watched it turn green and then burst into purple flowers. It was like watching a stop motion film, only I could smell the leaves and the fresh clean scent of lavender blossoms. I laughed with wonder as little purple flowers rained on the step we sat upon. The wind picked them up and blew them around the frost-covered ground.
“Doesn’t matter if its Ashmead Kernals, corn or poinsettias. Or lavender flowers. This is you. Just like the fire is me.” He suddenly kissed my cheek and nuzzled my ear. “Wake up, preciosa. Before you get stolen again. Please?”
“I don’t want to wake up from this,” I said, as little tingles of pleasure shimmered down my neck and I turned the blossoming branch in my hands. “This is the best dream ever, Xavier.”
“No, cara,” he said, suddenly serious. His other hand reached for my shoulder, so he could turn me to face him. “You have to be more careful. Yesterday, I told you to choose, and you didn’t. And now he is one step closer to having what he wants. And this is what he wants.”
I pulled a little away. “What are you talking about?”
“Yesterday. Your uncle sat in his office and drank with the devil—”
“Justin Colter is just a vintner from Italy—”
“And the devil asked you what you wanted—”
“That was a casual conversation—”
Xavier shook his dark head. “No. There are no casual conversations with him, Esme. Every word he says is a trap.”
“What are you talking about?” I thought back to yesterday afternoon, my uncle’s office, the two of them sitting with their cups of cider. Colter’s blue eyes twinkled up at me; Uncle Oscar gazed into his glass. Colter had said, What do you want, Esme?
“We were talking about college,” I said to Xavier. “That’s all.”
“That’s what he makes you think, every time,” he said, voice cold. “That’s how he always makes it seem. The stories have you signing a contract in blood, with this big ceremony, but really, he makes it seem like nothing, you understand? Like an afterthought. Like ordering a cheeseburger in a restaurant. When the whole time it’s your soul you’re giving away—”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying your uncle could have set you free, if you had asked. But now he can’t help you—and I cannot either, not without your—”
I sat up, my sleeping bag slipping down. “What do you know about Uncle Oscar? Where is he?”
“He’s gone, Esme. And you missed—”
“Where did he go—” I jumped to my feet.
Xavier ran a hand through his thick hair, standing. “It doesn’t matter. He’s gone. Listen. You have to listen, Esme. Do you understand? Because if you don’t choose yourself—”
“No!” I cried. “I don’t understand! I only know you come here and tell me what to do and I don’t even know who you are!” I was suddenly furious. “Where did you go? Where did you go all this time and why did you leave me here all alone?” I put my hands on his chest to push him away, but he grabbed my wrists, his fingers so hot they seemed to burn into my skin.
“Nothing in this world kept me from you, I promise,” he said. “And everything you do from now on will determine whether or not we can be together.”
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