An unregistered human con wizard and a duty-bound, straight-laced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.
After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities, all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called Random Anomalous Reality Events or RARE, have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA, the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation, to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.
Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn’t the easiest city to make a living in. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course, for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically induced luck, he works as a ‘freelance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small-time con, according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn’t expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus, when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.
Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.
General Release Date: 6th March 2015
Surely just a kiss, an embrace… These things can only be beneficial. Valerian let his hands slide down the lovely human boy’s back. He leaned in to press his lips against those full, lush ones offered up to him so willingly…
Perhaps it was the human scent or the way the boy ground against him a bit too eagerly. None of it was right or familiar, all of the foreign human-ness grating on his nerves. He pulled away and turned to face the window, arms crossed over his chest.
“I’m sorry. This isn’t working.”
“You telling me this was a waste of my time? You drag me all the way up here for nothing? Time’s money, big boy.”
Val ground his back teeth together, fighting his temper. “I neither break nor bend my promises. Your money is there, on the bureau. You may take it and leave me.”
“Hey.” The sharp voice calmed to something more soothing. A gentle hand caressed his arm. “I didn’t mean it like that. Just gotta be careful, you know? We don’t have to do anything. I have clients that just wanna talk or cuddle. I have one who just wants someone to hold him while he cries.”
Is that what I’ll soon be reduced to? Paying someone to comfort me? “I spoke harshly. I apologize. But I have… It was a mistake. Please. I occupied your time. The money is yours. I simply need to be alone now.”
“Okay. I get it. But you change your mind, you call me, yeah?” The boy shoved the roll of cash into the pocket of his threadbare jeans. “Give me a chance to see if those yummy pointed elf ears are as sensitive as they say.”
With a grin and a wink, he swaggered out of the room. A moment later, the door to the apartment clicked shut. Val leaned his forehead against the cool glass, gazing down at the late evening traffic ten floors below. He could open the window. Lean out. Tumble to the waiting pavement.
Val heaved a weary sigh. A human would die, but with his bone structure, he was likely to survive—in a good deal of pain, but still alive. Living alone had begun to wear on him, nothing more. Perhaps he should have a roommate. It wasn’t the same as having a senrist of young males waiting for him, but at least it would be someone with whom to converse. Gods, but he missed them. He had tried to describe the senrist to his human work partner once. The closest parallel he could pull up had been a harem, but it didn’t begin to convey the love and devotion he had once been so privileged to have.
There were days he felt better, days when he thought, perhaps, he could adjust. Then something like this would happen to remind him that this was not his world. He would never belong here. The city bustled below him, sunlit streets and people hurrying about their days. Life—all around him life—while every day he died a bit more inside.
* * * *
Quinn sat on the sunny park bench watching ducks paddle around in the pond a few feet away. He had been sitting enjoying the warm weather and waiting for just over an hour when a young mother walked by with a toddler clutching her hand. An older boy tagged along beside them. Both kids had ice cream cones, the little girl with most of hers on her hands and face and down the front of her shirt, but she was still adorable in springy, golden pigtails.
Quinn watched as the family made their way down the path toward the footbridge that crossed the duck pond. They seemed completely unaware of the dark shape moving under the water, tracking their progress. Just before they reached the bridge, the dark shape resolved, lurching up out of the water. A tangle of weed, muck and pond scum streamed down a huge face twisted into a monstrous grimace, and the creature gave a low, menacing growl.
“Shit!” Quinn muttered and shot off the bench. This was not supposed to happen.
The mother and children screamed, their ice cream cones flying as they raced away from the bridge in the other direction. Quinn knew they were headed directly toward a cul-de-sac that ended in high shrubs, a fence and nowhere to run.
The monster lumbered out of the pond, growling, gnashing its pointed teeth, arms outstretched as it went after the terrified family. Quinn was faster, though, and raced down the path, darting between the monster and its intended prey. The woman had just figured out she had run right into a dead end and was trapped. She clutched the crying kids and they huddled together, terrified.
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you!” Quinn yelled, boldly turning toward the reeking beast. He raised his staff, muttering an indecipherable incantation. The end of the staff began to glow brightly and he pointed it at the pond monster. “Begone! Leave these people alone, foul beast!”
The creature hesitated, then took a few more menacing steps.
“I said, begone!” Quinn shouted, brandishing the staff. “I warn you…if I release the fireball from my staff, you will not survive it, fell creature!” Begone… Fell creature… God, I feel so cheesy saying stuff like that.
The swamp monster came to a shambling halt. Groaning, it lifted its gray-green, seaweed-draped arm to shield itself from the light that glowed bright from the end of the staff. With a cry that sounded as if it were afraid and in pain, it started to back away. Quinn followed, keeping the staff thrust forward, driving the creature back. At last it fled, shuffling back to the pond and sinking into the murky water.
Quinn breathed a sigh of relief and let the energy drain out of the spell. The glow at the end of the staff winked out. He turned back to the shaken family.
“It’s okay. It’s gone now. It won’t bother you again,” he said in his most confident and soothing voice.
“Oh, God, thank you! Thank you so much! I don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t been here.” Tears of relief shimmered in the woman’s eyes now that it looked like she and her children were safe.
“You don’t look like a wizard,” the boy said, looking up at Quinn with huge round eyes. “You look like my brother, Robbie. He’s in high school and thinks he’s too good to play games anymore.”
Quinn managed a smile. “I’m a little older than that. Every wizard was young once, though. Good thing I was here today or that troll would have had you guys for lunch.”
“You’d think those people from AURA would make sure beasts like that were locked up! I don’t know how I can repay you,” the mother gushed, already reaching into her pocketbook.
Quinn held his hand up, “No, no, I couldn’t. It’s no more than anyone would have done. It’s quite all right,” he said humbly.
“I insist, please. At least let me buy you lunch.” She pressed the bills into his hand.
Quinn hesitated and finally closed his hand around the money. Bowing his head graciously, he made the cash disappear, this time with sleight of hand rather than real magic.
“Let me escort you past the pond so I know you’ve made it safely out of the park. Then I’ll go back and see if I can hold the monster until AURA gets here,” Quinn said.
He led the grateful family away, over the bridge and back toward the street, making sure they were in a more populous area before he took his leave. On his way back to the pond, he stopped at a hot dog cart and bought four footlongs with some of the money the woman had given him.
The pond’s surface was smooth as glass when he returned, no sign of the monster or people anywhere. He waited, listening. He walked up the path about twenty yards, checking for any pedestrians, then walked back. “All right, coast is clear,” he said to empty air.
The ‘monster’, who wasn’t a troll at all but a boggle, rose up out of the depths, face split in a gruesome smile.
Quinn put a hand on his hip and looked at him sternly. “I thought we agreed you’d wait until I gave you the signal?”
“Aw, c’mon, Quinten. That was the most fun I’ve had in ages!” the boggle said.
“I said no marks with kids, Groof! They’ll probably have nightmares for months!”
“Oh, listen to you, Mr. Moral High Ground.” Groof snorted, which sent a spray of pond water from his nostrils. “What about that octogenarian you signaled on last week? He could have had a heart attack. Besides, the old ones don’t run nearly as fast.” He laughed, a wet sound, as if mud was stuck in his throat.
Quinn sighed. “Next time, wait for the signal, Groof. Here…” He tossed the hot dogs one at a time, still wrapped in paper, into Groof’s open maw, saving the last for himself. He tried not to grimace as the boggle chewed open-mouthed and his black tongue licked not just his lips but also his chin, cheeks and nostrils after swallowing each one. Groof was cool as far as boggles went and he was a pretty good partner, but his eating habits made Quinn a little queasy.
“Mmm… Extra mustard and onions, just like I wanted. You are a good friend, Quinten,” Groof rumbled with a happy chortle.
“Yeah, yeah… All right. See you tomorrow.” Quinn sent him an airy wave over his shoulder as he hefted his backpack and started in on his own hot dog on his way out of the park.
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel's cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You'll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don't expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.
You can take a look at Angel's Website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels.
The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.
You can take a look a Bellora's blog and find her on Facebook and Twitter.