Four brothers... Four maidens... Four challenges...
Publication Date: May 6, 2015
Genre: YA Romantic Fantasy
Series: The Brother's Keep (4 Novellas in 1)
Four brothers are appealing in appearance and stature. Yet beneath the striking features, magnitude and charm, they are monsters, for each one of them have fallen to darkness and are cursed for all time. Possessed with unique power, along with the wrath to destroy, the brothers consume all in their paths …until unlikely maidens challenge them apiece.
Each of the four young maidens ventures out, vulnerable and alone, to battle unknown elements, demons, and strange magic. Risking all for the journey, they are set to find the demise of their monster. But the question of motive begins to infiltrate each of their minds. Are they really trying to save their people from the harm of the monster or redeem a heartless being for the sake of love? Because somehow, while daring, their own hearts are stolen in what could be the quickest path to destruction, the greatest betrayal of all.
Along the way, meet Lily of the Valley, Bright & Morning Star, Promise the King, and The Messenger, characters potentially aiding these impressionable young women who find themselves quite lost in the keeps of alluring yet unscrupulous brothers.
“Who are you?”
He pushed further back into the shadows as she strode closer. “Someone you need not know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
When he didn’t answer, she sighed.
“What a strange, terrible day,” she mumbled. “Well, at least tell me your name . . .”
He stood, speechless, knowing he shouldn’t be there at all—conversing with a Meleyan—especially not their musical deliverer that he was set to doom the day after tomorrow.
A peculiar grumbling interrupted her insistence, to his relief.
“Sorry.” She patted her stomach. He could see, even in the blackened night, how her face turned a deeper shade of red than her hair. “I’ve forgotten to eat. I guess I’m hungrier than I realized.”
He plucked an apple from the tree he’d nearly become a part of and held it out to her. The girl approached tentatively. She reached for the fruit but recoiled when her fingers brushed his.
“Is touching me so horrible?” he asked.
Her jaw dropped open and her delicate brow furrowed. She inclined her head. “It . . . hurt.”
“How?” he asked, for her fingers felt good to him, soothing. Warm. He wanted to try again.
“I don’t know how to explain . . .”
“Hum.” Unsatisfied with the answer, he tossed the apple to her and watched as she crunched her teeth into it.
SEA GOD’S SIREN
“You’re not being very nice.” Syrena glanced in the direction of an especially loud wave that crashed against the shore, reaching to kiss the tips of her toes. She pulled her legs in and rested her head on her knees.
The three sisters lingered in silence for a spell, absorbing the sun’s offering for the day.
“Well, anyway,” Steffi said. “It’s high time you got over your fear of the sea. You’ve lived at its edge your entire life and you haven’t even put your feet in.”
“I don’t have to. And I don’t need to listen to you.” Syrena didn’t budge.
Gwyn snorted. “Grumpy this morning. . . .”
Syrena stood then, brushing off sand. She took several steps into the unknown, this time without her sisters, trying to feel her way back home but stumbled over driftwood.
“Here,” Gwyn said impatiently. “We’ll help you. We always do, you know. It’s because we love you and want to see you happy.”
“I know,” Syrena whispered. “Love you, too. Thanks,” she said, as her sisters grabbed a hand each and led her up the path from the beach.
A head popped out of the water not far from the coastline. Not one of the sisters noticed the keen eyes that watched the back of one girl in particular and had done so every day for a very long time. The wave he sent almost reached her this time, pulling her into his world. When would he ever hold her again?
Dagon dove to the darkest, deepest crook of his domain and sulked.
TREE LORD’S ORACLE
Gaping, Arekel tried to find words but couldn’t speak—only stare. Her heart palpitated in fear, yet she couldn’t pull away from him—couldn’t move.
He cocked his head. His brow furrowed. He pressed closer as if examining her. His snarl slowly wilted.
A strange sort of languish grew on the man’s face. His mouth and jaw shifted. Evil prevailed in him, yet it seemed as if Arekel opened a door to a dark room and in its depth a flicker of light, though very small, subsisted. In an odd way, it made her ache.
With tentativeness the man finally took hold of her face . . . but then his grip began to soften. He inclined his head again. “Warm,” he said, as if he’d never felt warmth. A long, cold finger delicately traced the line of her jaw. His voice purred like silk. “Fortunate,” he said, one side of his mouth curling upward. “You will live another day.”
ICE DANCER’S HOLD
Sasha’s heart hammered against her chest. She stared at Kilian, distrusting the vampyre. But after he had lifted her hands and brushed her palms with his sensuous lips, he sat upright with a deeply furrowed brow. “I don’t want to hurt you.” She could detect the tendon in his jaw that shifted as he glanced out the window at the falling snow. “That’s what’s strange.” He released her hands and stood.
She watched him, and felt the cloud of doubt that seemed to materialize from nowhere.
“The province from where I came is in the middle of an arctic.” He sighed. “My fortress is made of ice.” He lit a candle and then moved again toward the windows, whispering, “How I miss it.”
“I’m sorry for your unhappiness, Master.”
He turned partway and said, “Yes, you’ve said that before. At the water’s edge.”
“Well, then, I thank you.” He pursed his lips. “You are virtuous.”
She bowed her head.
He exhaled what sounded like the weight of his and her worlds combined. “Walk with me, Sasha.”
“I beg your pardon, Master?”
“A stroll. Come.” He extended his arm. Around his other arm draped a fur coat while heavy boots appeared at his feet.
She didn’t question his magic, but donned the items and then took his hand. “Will you not be cold, Master?”
“I cannot be touched by what I am. I am the cold, my dear.”
For whatever reason, Sasha felt glad Kilian didn’t address her as his sweet like he had Princess Kristyana. When he’d called her my dear, the endearment sounded dipped in a degree of respect. But that couldn’t be. She rubbed the fading sleep from her eyes. She was a slave and he, her master; she a fae and he a vampyre. Vampyres and faes didn’t go well together.
Tessa Stockton is a veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, having come from a long line of musical arts professionals. She loved seeing the world and absorbing the beauty of other cultures . . . an enriching life full of dance, music, faith, and interesting cuisine. Over the years, she also contributed as a writer/editor for ministry publications, ghostwriter for political content, and headed a column on the topic of forgiveness. Today, she writes fantasy, romance and political intrigue novels.