Tuesday, March 26, 2024

DARK HOURS, a Fantasy Romance by Linda Mooney - Chapter 3

Posted by: Linda Mooney


Chapter 3 


Soon after the deaths of the king and the royal family, black clouds of evil began to drift over Noranye. A week passed, then another. Then, one night, not long after Compline, Father Eustice had knocked softly on his door with a message. It seemed the centurion and a lady were waiting to see the priest. Padding barefoot into the rectory, Matthias met the couple who asked that he marry them. Right there. Right at that moment.

“Why the urgency?” Matthias had asked. A lady as well-familied as Emers should have an ample dowry. A Centurion of the Guard like Kayge should have an honor guard. Theirs should be a wedding the village would talk about for months to come. “Why not post your banns, and let the villagers and your family help celebrate this joyous occasion?”

Emers’s face was pinched with worry. “Madeline, my lady in waiting, has brought me distressing news, Father. We are left with no option but to leave Noranye as soon as possible. It has to be tonight.”

Kayge stepped forward. “When my lady passed along her information, I sought confirmation for myself. What news she was given is true. God protect us all.”

Matthias crossed himself automatically. “What kind of news could be so devastating as to drive you away from the castle?” he demanded.

Emers pressed her lips together, hesitating. It was as if her fears were greater than her faith in the church.

If I had only known . . .

“I was sent a warning that the witch Gola is after Emers,” Kayge spoke out.


“She’s out to punish me for her treatment while she was held prisoner,” Kayge continued. “It’s said she believes she can get to me through Emers.”

Matthias shook his head, not certain if he’d heard right. “You know this for certain?”

Kayge nodded. “BenĂ¡l, my lieutenant, will support the claim. He approached me this evening to warn us that Emers would be removed from her home in less than a fortnight.”

“How can that be? Gola has no control over the guards.”

“She doesn’t need to,” Kayge countered. “Word is she’s woven her dark magic over some of the weaker men. They do her bidding without conscience.”

“Have you spoken to your cousin?” the priest asked the woman. “Have you warned him? Have you asked for his help?”

“And what would you have me tell him?” she half-whispered, half-cried. “He fears the witch as much as anyone. Besides, he is my legal guardian. He has absolute say over my future…until I take a husband.”

“Maybe...maybe your lady in waiting misunderstood. Maybe the lieutenant was fed erroneous information.” Matthias shook his head. It was all happening too fast for him to think straight. “For what purpose would she target you for vengeance?” he directly asked Kayge. “You did as you were ordered to do by the king. The king is dead.”

“For what purpose?” Kayge snapped. “She cannot control me. Hence, I am a threat to her. So she seeks a way to make me bow in obeisance to her.”

In the dim candlelight his dull gray suit of armor seemed as black and as impenetrable as the night sky. He took a small step forward, as if to take the priest by the throat, when a slender hand grabbed him by the arm and stopped him. Emers turned back to the priest.

“Father, Kayge and I had planned on taking our vows next spring. But with this news it appears we have no other choice but to flee Noranye and seek sanctuary elsewhere.”

“Where would you go, my child?”

“Anywhere. My sword would be welcome in any kingdom,” the soldier answered for her. “I can provide for her. I can make her happy. And she would be safe from the witch.”

As if anyone could be safe from the witch.

“And your families. What about them? Would you have them worry about your absence? Would you leave them to face the witch’s anger?” Matthias tried to argue.

Kayge stiffened. “The witch will not challenge my family. Our lineage goes back to the Pope himself. Seeking to punish me is one thing. But should she try to bring harm down upon my bloodline, she will bring a worse retribution down upon herself, the likes of which she could never imagine. Much less be prepared for.”

Matthias could not deny his reasoning.

“Kayge has made arrangements for our travels,” Emers noted. “But before we go, we want you to marry us. Please, Father. The road before us is dangerous. The journey we are about to take will be a long one. Sanctuary may be farther away than we anticipate.”

“For Emers’s sake, I don’t want her to be compromised. Nor do I wish her name to be sullied because of our indiscretions,” Kayge added in his low, gravelly voice. He gave her a quick look, one which was intended to ease her fears. Somehow Emers managed to answer with a small smile.

The hour was too late to argue further. Besides, Matthias could not dismiss their concern. The witch had become a very, very dangerous entity, and there was no telling to what lengths she would go to when crossed. If the couple felt their best option was to flee Noranye, the priest would be able to serve them best by granting their request.

A short time later, before the altar of Christ, amid the soft glow of candles, Matthias married the lovers while Fathers Eustice and Tiberium witnessed. For his own piece of mind, he blessed them twice before bidding them safe journey.

As the couple rode away from the church, away from Noranye, a heavy mantle of guilt slowly descended over his head and shoulders, and a small voice whispered in his ear.

You betrayed them. It was you. You told the witch about them. You...you told...you....

“Father, how can I ever atone for my sin?”

Just as he was still adjusting to the turn of events which had happened less than an hour before, Matthias was thrown into deeper turmoil by the arrival of the guards at the rectory. The men bore looks on their faces that Matthias had never seen. They moved like soulless creatures, as if someone else was manipulating them from afar.

“Where did they go?” the one in charge demanded darkly.

“I-I don’t know. Away from Noranye is all I know.”

“And he is with her, isn’t he?”

Rather than try to delay the inevitable by acting confused, Matthias found the courage to be truthful. “Yes.”

“Why did they come here? Why this hour of the night?”

Matthias shuddered and continued to pray for strength. “They came to warn me,” he said.

“Warn you? About what?”

“About the witch.”

“The witch?” The knowledge bent the corners of the soldier’s mouth into a sickly smile. “For what purpose? Again, I ask, why would they warn you?”

“Because I am their friend and confessor. Emers felt I needed to know...for my own protection, I guess.”

Incredibly, the soldier let out a screech of laughter. The ground beneath his feet began to whirl like a small windstorm, gradually growing stronger, larger, and more forceful, until it enveloped the soldier from head to toe.

And then it was gone. Vanished. Leaving a familiar figure where the soldier had been.

Matthias stared in shock at the witch. He had heard of her ability to take on other forms. Although he had never seen her perform such a trick with his own eyes, he hadn’t disbelieved those claims. Still, witnessing it for himself filled him with disgust and fear.

The witch paced the floor, digesting the confession, testing to see if held honesty or treachery. A hideous blackness seemed to dog the hems of her garments with an evil shadow.

“How long? How long ago did they leave?”

“An hour, no more.” The words were like bile spilling from his lips. The priest nearly gagged.

Shoving her face into his, the witch stared at the cowering man with dead eyes. “If you think you can trick me, you had better reconsider your options,” she threatened.

“I have no other options,” Matthias admitted, realizing the implications. “I have no life other than the church.”

I no longer have a life in the church.

“Nevertheless, you have betrayed me. For that you will be punished.”

It took monumental effort for Matthias not to tell the woman that he’d married the couple before they’d left. He prayed she would not find out.

“Do with me as you will,” he responded. “I don’t serve you, and never will. I serve the Lord.” The words came automatically, as if he’d spoken them countless times before.

“Nevertheless…” The witch paused to whisper something in one of her guard’s ear. The soldier nodded and left the room. “Which way did you say they went?”

“North. They were headed north when they left here. That is all I can tell you.”

Gola jumped on the wordage. “That is all you can tell me? Or all you will tell me?”

“I have answered your questions truthfully.”

The witch studied him. “And it was just the two of them? No one else?”

“No one else,” Matthias confirmed.

“Very well. Listen to my judgment. You will be taken to the castle and cast into the dungeon. There you will be given plenty of time to contemplate your guilt and deception. Do you hear me?”


“If Kayge, Emers, or anyone else should try to contact you, you will notify me immediately. Immediately. Am I clear?”


Gathering her robes about her, the witch headed for the door. Her actions sparked further fear in the priest’s heart.

“Where are you going?”

“After them, you fool. They need to be taught a lesson.”

Dread seeped into the very marrow of his bones as Matthias watched the woman mount the horse brought to her by the guard she’d dismissed earlier. She left on her own, without the small cadre of armed men who’d accompanied her earlier.

The priest stood at the doorway until he could no longer hear the sound of her steed’s hooves pounding through the darkness. Only when she was gone from sight did the soldiers place him in chains and escort him back to the castle.

That had been three days ago. Three days. In three days, Jesus had died and been resurrected. But for a lowly man such as Matthias, it was three days of self-sacrifice and self-abasement wherein he could not find peace or restitution from his guilt.

The hour of Lauds came and went. As the night grew darker and colder, the old man remained stretched out on the stone floor before the makeshift altar.

Perhaps one day God would take pity on him and give him absolution. Perhaps, but Matthias seriously doubted it.

“Heavenly Father, hear my prayer.”



Monday, March 25, 2024

HERE BE NEWS for Monday March 25, 2024

Posted by: PG Forte



 Monday March 25, 2024 

Welcome to HERE BE NEWS, where each monday we bring you all the latest from the fantasy romance authors at Here Be Magic:

Tuesday March 19th, 2024: PG Forte pulls up one from the archives with an excerpt from A Taste of Honey (re-releasing next month).

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

From the Archives: A Taste of Honey by PG Forte

Posted by: PG Forte

I'd originally planned on re-releasing A Taste of Honey today, but life (as it so very often does) got in my way.  I'm hoping to have it out next month instead. BUT I hadn't thought of another topic for a blog post, so here's a post from the archives and a link to a free book. 

Such Fleeting Pleasures is actually a teaser for A Taste of Honey being as it tells the story of how Lucy and Dan met.  

You can get it here for FREE: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/5xxljdbblb

 I was looking for a scene with an April theme, and I  found one here in the opening chapter of A Taste of Honey--a book I always associate with May. Go figure. 

A Taste of Honey
Oberon, Book Four 
by PG Forte 
Paranormal Romance/Romantic Suspense 

This title is currently out of print. However, I'm currently in the process of re-booting the entire series. Join my FB group for updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheCronesNest and get a FREE novella (details below).


For Lucy Greco Cavanaugh, life is a dream come true. She has it all. The perfect family. The perfect husband. The perfect marriage. What more could she wish for? Other than the chance to do it all again. To experience once more the agony and ecstasy of falling in love with the man of her dreams. To recapture the joy and uncertainty that comes with starting over.

​ As far as Dan Cavanaugh is concerned, his life has become a nightmare. His storybook marriage is on the line when Deirdre Shelton-Cooper, the runaway daughter of a former girlfriend arrives in Oberon intent on proving Dan is her father. Even though he's convinced the girl's claims are false, Dan decides his only chance to keep from losing everything lies in keeping her very existence a secret from his wife and family.

But, sometimes, what you don't know can hurt you—and those you love. When Deirdre, masquerading as a surfer girl named Monica, accidentally hooks up with their son, Seth, Lucy and Dan are left to wonder: has their perfect, fairy-tale romance, turned into a classic Greek tragedy?

Sometimes you get exactly what you wish for. And it's more than you'd ever dreamed.


The present. Mid April. 

In a lot of ways, Oberon is typical of any one of several small towns to be found along California’s Central Coast. Clinging to sheer, corrugated green cliffs above a windswept strand of pale, golden sand, it lacks a little of the endless sunshine boasted by its neighbors to the south, enjoying instead a milder, more temperate climate and, for much of the year, a lot of fog.

The area surrounding the town lacks one other very important California mainstay as well: the plethora of freeways that grace most of the rest of state are largely absent here. Bounded on the west by the broad, brilliant blue crescent of San Bartolo Bay, and to the east by the majestic bulk of Mt. Totawka, the ‘sacred mountain’ of local lore, Oberon is virtually isolated. Set amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, undeveloped wilderness and—where the landscape and the environment have cooperated—acres of agricultural fields, it’s a hard place to get to. It can be an even harder place to leave behind.

But if Oberon was ever the type of funky beach town where teenaged girls with sun bleached hair, driving station wagons with surfboards tied to the roof was a common sight, it certainly is not that way anymore. So when Lucy Greco-Cavanaugh did happen to spy one, rolling down Main Street one sunny morning late in April, followed only a few minutes later, by a longhaired young man in a VW convertible rabbit, also with surfboard, she knew something strange was up. 

 Perhaps someone was making a movie, she reasoned. Or maybe—and being a lifetime resident of Oberon this was of course the theory she favored—a sudden tear in the fabric of space-time had inadvertently allowed her to take a nostalgic glimpse back in time to the California-dreamin’ fantasies of an earlier age.

Not coincidentally, this time displacement theory was one that she found herself applying to more and more events of late. She was thirty-seven years old, and she had memories that spanned most of those years, albeit, with varying amounts of clarity. But somehow, lately, it was almost as if all those memories didn’t quite add up the way they should. 

 For several months now, she had been aware of a vague sense of dissatisfaction growing within her, coupled with a worrisome preoccupation with the past. As if some invisible anchor line that had once kept her mind tethered in the present had been cut. No matter how hard she tried to stay focused, her mind kept drifting back to places it had already been.

Perhaps it had to do with the fact that while everyone around her seemed suddenly immersed in fresh new lives and new loves, she’d had to content herself with more of the same old, same old. Not that there was any part of her life that she wanted to change, she reminded herself sternly. She took a moment to rap her knuckles against the side of one of the wooden half barrels that served as planters on the terrace of the tea shop where she and her two best friends were having breakfast. The same old everything she had was pretty damn great.

She had two wonderful kids, satisfying work, a comfortable house, and she’d been happily married to the love of her life for the past sixteen and a half years. It was just that, after all those years, everything seemed to have gotten the slightest bit stale. She couldn’t help but remember how things used to be—

“Okay, Lucy,” Marsha snapped, “What’s wrong? You’ve been sitting here sighing to yourself for the past half-hour. You’re driving me nuts.”

Lucy frowned as she reached across the table for the pot of lavender honey. “Nothing’s wrong,” she answered. She could feel both Marsha and Scout eyeing her curiously as she occupied herself for several minutes deliberately drizzling the honey over the buttered French baguette on her plate, but she refused to return their gazes. “And anyway, I was not sighing.”

“You were sighing,” Marsha insisted. “Wasn’t she sighing, Scout?”

Lucy looked up impatiently as Scout turned weary hazel eyes in her direction. “What can I say, Lucy? It sounded like sighing to me, too.” Scout shrugged, absently stroking her baby’s head. Three-week-old Cole, who was turning out to be one of those preternaturally alert infants who have to be held all the time, had finally fallen asleep at her breast.

“Well, you’re wrong. Both of you.” Lucy took a big bite of bread and honey, and stared defiantly at her friends: Marsha with her new boyfriend, and Scout with both a new husband and a new baby. There was no way she was ever going to discuss what was bothering her with either of them.

She couldn’t believe that, with everything she had to be grateful for, she could still be so petty. She couldn’t believe that she would actually begrudge her two best friends a little happiness. But the plain fact of the matter was that she was so jealous of both of them, it was a wonder she wasn’t as green as an avocado. She saw the way Sam acted around Marsha, the way Nick looked at Scout, and she knew that once, she and Dan had been that way, too. Somewhere along the way it seemed they had lost that.

And she wanted it back. Oh, how she wanted it back! But, after all these years she wasn’t sure that was even possible.

You couldn’t recreate newness could you? You couldn’t expect to discover anything too different about the same old person you’d been regularly and intimately exploring for almost two decades. And how could anyone ever hope to recapture the exquisite torture of doubt and uncertainty that so often accompanied the first stages of love? She wasn’t even sure she wanted to--except when she remembered the way the agony transformed into ecstasy…

Be careful what you wish for, a soft voice seemed to whisper in her head. She shivered as a gust of wind swept across the terrace setting the wind chimes to tinkling in the trees around them. Lavender spikes swayed on their long stems and the tiny pink Cecile Brunner roses that covered the arbor over their heads shed a few more petals onto the table. Cole whimpered slightly. Lucy watched as Scout wrapped his blanket more snugly around her baby and Marsha picked the petals out of her teacup.

Such Fleeting Pleasures

An Oberon Prequel Novella, 0.5
by PG Forte
Paranormal Romance


Love wasn't always strawberries and cream for Lucy and Dan Cavanaugh...or was it? In this Oberon prequel, we travel back in time to see how it all began. 

Most of the material in this prequel novella (which is set some eighteen years before the series begins) also appears as flashback scenes in A Taste of Honey. But you can download it (and read it NOW) for FREE when you join my Facebook group: The Crone's Nest

Read an excerpt HERE

Monday, March 18, 2024

HERE BE NEWS for Monday March 18, 2024

Posted by: PG Forte



 Monday March 18, 2024 

Welcome to HERE BE NEWS, where each monday we bring you all the latest from the fantasy romance authors at Here Be Magic:

Thursday March 14, 2023: Deborah Bailey explores some of the many Reasons to Enjoy Fairy Tale Retellings

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Reasons to Enjoy Fairy Tale Retellings

Posted by: Deborah A Bailey

 Fairy tales (and retellings) have a strong appeal. And, for me there are many reasons why they’re my favorite type of story.

Life Lessons: Fairy tales often contain valuable life lessons and morals that can be applied to various situations in real life. Perhaps that’s why children and adults can enjoy them.

Magical Settings: These stories transport readers to enchanting and whimsical worlds filled with mystical creatures and fantastical landscapes. There’s nothing like being whisked away to a land where anything is possible.

Universal Appeal: These tales transcend cultural boundaries, resonating with people from diverse backgrounds across the globe. There are versions of popular fairy tales and folk tales that have been told in just about every culture and country.

Symbolism: Many elements in fairy tales are symbolic, offering deeper meanings and insights into human nature.

Happy Endings: The promise of a happy ending is comforting in a world where life can be so unpredictable. A HEA makes things so much better.

Inspiration: These tales inspire creativity, which is why retellings are so popular. You can create so many new stories from established ones.

Royalty: Not to say that every fairy tale has a royal family, but it’s always nice to have a Prince (or Princess) Charming show up at some point.

Fairy Tales are for Children and Adults: Fairy tales are popular books to read to children, but adults love them too. (As I’ve mentioned above!)

They can have different Meanings: When I was researching fairy tales for my novellas, I was surprised to learn the origins of Beauty and the Beast. One version was written in France in the 1700's and was said to reflect the anxieties of young women who might not know what to expect in marriage. Would their betrothed be a beast or a charming hero?

Transformation: Usually, characters will have a transformation of some kind, as when the beast becomes a man, or the heroine transforms from mermaid to human. And who doesn’t enjoy a good story of transformation?


Monday, March 4, 2024

HERE BE NEWS for Monday March 4, 2024

Posted by: PG Forte



 Monday March 4, 2024 

Welcome to HERE BE NEWS, where each monday we bring you all the latest from the fantasy romance authors at Here Be Magic:

Tuesday February 27, 2024: Linda Mooney gives us another glimpse of her Fantasy Romance, Dark Hours. Read  Chapter Two here:https://herebemagic.blogspot.com/2024/02/dark-hours-fantasy-romance-by-linda.html
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