Tuesday, December 19, 2023

PG Forte's 12 Days of Yule Event

Posted by: PG Forte


I'm doing something fun for the holidays--well, I HOPE it will be fun, anyway! It involves free books, that's fun, right? I'll be posting details on my blog tomorrow so be sure to check it out!


And, in the meantime, here's a Yule excerpt from OAK.


Twice each year, Aine Murphy ventures into the woods to hold ceremonies to honor the Oak King and the Holly King, never dreaming these Lords of the Forest could be anything more than myth. When the legends spring to life in front of her, how can she help but fall for the sexy demi-gods she's loved all her life?


From midwinter to midsummer, Fionn O'Dair rules the Greenworld as the Oak King--a role he feels is beyond his abilities, and one that dooms him to a loveless future, forever craving the one man he can never allow himself to have. How can he resist what Aine offers--the sweet devotion that soothes his aching soul, and the slim chance to live a "normal" life as her husband, if only for half a year?


Holly King Kieran Mac Cuilenn never desired a human lover--until now. Seeing Fionn and Aine together fills him with longing for the love he threw away and awakens feelings he thought he'd buried with the last Oak King. Is there enough magic in the solstice to correct the mistakes he made years ago? Or is he doomed to be forever left out in the cold?


From his vantage point, beside the farmyard gate, Kieran surveyed the seemingly peaceful scene spread out before him. The night was still with nary a breeze to stir in even the topmost branches of the nearby trees. High above his head, thin white clouds stretched misty ribbons across the sky, blotting out great swaths of stars and wrapping the half-dark moon in a gauzy embrace. Kieran studied the orb’s shadowed form for several moments, the better to divine her wishes. Fionn might claim to serve the sun alone, but Kieran, King of the Waning Year and creature of the ’Tween, knew better; there was naught on this earth could escape the Night Queen’s influence. 

In a little over a week, when the moon rose full, it would be for the thirteenth time this year. A rare and unusual occurrence, it signaled a time of transition and change, a time when one might reasonably hope to alter one’s path. A hot swell of anticipation arose within him as he thought of it, the moon of opportunity and rebirth. The opportunity to change—wasn’t that exactly what he needed, what they all needed?

Tonight. Why should it not be tonight?

The sentinels of the forest were used to biding their time—for centuries, if need be. A delay of merely several decades before a goal could materialize or a dream come to fruition meant little to one such as he. That didn’t mean he didn’t suffer through the waiting. It didn’t mean he couldn’t yearn, or covet, or long for what he did not yet have, or what he’d foolishly thrown away.

Tonight. Please let it be tonight.

After sending one last, silent prayer flying heavenward, Kieran lowered his head and refocused his gaze upon the cozy farmhouse nestled in its tidy yard. On the surface, it looked much as it had the previous year, warm and inviting, but as Kieran well knew, looks were oftentimes deceiving. 

Last year, even despite the pleasant setting, the sight of this place had sparked fear and uncertainty within him. Tonight, the small, seemingly innocuous stone building, with its white-washed walls and neatly thatched roof, with candles burning in the windows and a lazy curl of smoke eddying from the chimney, marked the seat of all his hopes and dreams, as well as the crux of his restless discontent. Everything he did not have yet dearly longed for, resided within.

It was that, more than anything else, that kept him standing out here in the cold, that made him hesitate, afraid to enter or even to make his presence known to those inside. Fear. Anticipation. Hope. Uncertainty. Excitement. Desire. Love. Regret. If his dreams were ever to be realized, it would have to happen sometime, would it not? I might be now, or a hundred years from now. Kieran would much prefer it be now, of course, but even a hundred years was better than the third alternative. 

It was still possible that his dreams might not be realized at all. They might die aborning and never come to life.

Maybe he’d already had his chance and lost it. Maybe what he longed for now, would never be his again. In truth, he didn’t know what to expect. That, at least, was the same as last year…

He hadn’t known what to expect then either. He’d sped here on the full moon’s bright wings and his own breathless terror. His whole mind had been focused on a single goal, that of saving Fionn’s life. When he’d arrived at the farmhouse, it was just in time to hear Aine threaten the life of his grove—and out of nothing more than spite! It had seemed to him then that his fears had all been justified. 

Now, he could laugh about it. A smile creased his face as he remembered how fierce and fiery she’d appeared. And, even despite the danger she represented, how very beautiful with her red-gold hair catching the fire’s light and her blue eyes gleaming like sapphires over her flushed cheeks. Even smudged with flour and seething with rage, she’d been a sight to render him almost speechless. 

She’d seemed even more magnificent in her anger and wounded pride than she had on that last midsummer’s morning. She looked like a goddess, or a proud young queen as she’d stared Fionn down. Her hands had been fisted on her hips. Her chest heaved with every angry breath. But queens and goddesses are oft’ times cruel, as Kieran was well aware. And, in that moment, nothing about the situation had struck him as even remotely humorous. 

So great was his concern for Fionn’s safety that it quickly consumed the greater part of his common sense—as a wildfire might consume the better part of a forest glen, leaving nothing behind but smoldering ash. Centuries of self-preservation were gone in an instant. In his headlong rush to save his king, he spared no thought at all to the risks he himself was taking. Though he’d made light of it at the time, harnessing the power of the ’Tween to manipulate time had been no small undertaking, yet he’d done it without thinking twice. Then, in a further effort to safe-guard Fionn’s life, he’d complicated matters even more by pledging himself to remain at Aine’s side for the next half-year. 

On the surface, it had seemed so sensible, so rational, and certainly harmless enough. It turned out, of course, to be anything but. Falling in love with Aine in the process of getting to know her? Well, how was he to have known that was even a possibility, never mind the real danger he would face?  

The fact that she was Fionn’s bride should have been his strongest ward against her. That alone should have sufficed to keep Kieran away. He’d been insulted when Fionn suggested he might be planning to seduce her. Now he could better understand Fionn’s concerns. He’d dare anyone to do what he had done, spend six months in her presence, day in and day out, and not fall under her spell.

Little had he known it, but from the very first night, when he’d set himself to the task of getting to know her, he’d been setting himself up to fall. He’d made up his mind that he’d answer all her questions, tell her everything she wanted to know, everything she needed to hear—anything at all if it might keep her from cutting down his grove. But it had been so long since he’d spoken about these things to anyone, much less to so pure and gentle a spirit. He’d failed to take his own feelings into account. He hadn’t realized how all his unspoken thoughts had piled up inside, precariously balanced, but far from stable.

Like a single pebble might start the landslide that would take down an entire mountain, so it had been with him. Once he’d started talking, once he’d begun giving voice to his grief, to his memories and regrets, he found it difficult to stop, even though every word, every revelation, every memory he uncovered for her was another callused layer that he’d had to peel away from his too raw, still aching heart.

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