Some desires are too strong to be denied.
Brónach’s gift of foretelling is often a curse. The jumbled images she dreams aren’t usually helpful, but this time the danger is clear. Relaying the message is the easy part, the challenge comes in ridding herself of the one gargoyle who stops her heart. Adalstan has no clue she’s desired him for years. Now she finally has his attention at the worst possible time. Will he hate her once the full foretelling is revealed?
Twelve brothers turn to stone to protect the human realm, but they can’t protect their hearts once they find the mates who call to their souls. As they battle the unexpected feelings within, a battle wages in their city, a prophecy comes to light, and the fate of the entire continent is at stake.
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Zeph wiped the sweat from his eyes as he placed his hand over the one already holding the hilt of his broadsword. He’d seen many fighters hold the large weapon one-handed and using the other for a shield or a second weapon. But he’d warned his gargoyle not to lighten his swings or take it easy on him, and Steinn had taken him at his word. It was taking most of Zeph’s strength not to stumble each time their swords met.
“Need a break?” Steinn asked.
Zeph tried hard not to show his heavy breathing. “No…you?”
“Not yet. Perhaps some water, though?”
Steinn took a step back and pointed to a nearby well. Zeph could only nod as he measured each step toward the small structure. They’d been sparring for a couple of hours already, but Steinn looked fresh as a god’s bedamned daisy. Zeph ached from muscles he’d forgotten existed in his body. He could still fight and had fought injured and in more pain than this on several occasions. However, he didn’t want Steinn to suffer even a second’s guilt over this match.
They each took some water from the bucket hanging over the well before Steinn allowed it to drop back into the depths. The ground-cooled liquid did much to rejuvenate Zeph’s spirits as Steinn headed back to the sparring circle.
“Do you have archery targets set up?” Zeph asked.
Steinn pointed toward an open field beyond their sparring area. “Yes. They’re off a bit in that direction. We can each shoot an arrow nearly a third of a mile. We had to keep setting them back farther and farther for it to be any kind of contest.”
Zeph didn’t doubt the gargoyles’ skill in archery would match every other weapon they tried.
“How about we switch to the bow for a bit, then?” he asked.
Steinn took Zeph’s sword and headed for the open field. Zeph followed in silence, both annoyed and grateful that his lover would relieve him of his burden without asking.
At the archery field, six targets were set up equal distance apart from each other. Broken arrows littered the sand beneath each target, and a few of them still held arrows embedded in them.
Steinn stepped behind one large target and pulled out a couple of bows that had been stashed in a cubby at the base. He yanked the arrows from a few of the targets and motioned for Zeph to follow him back the way they’d come.
“I’ve only practiced with my brothers, so you’ll have to tell me how far away you should stand.”
“I certainly can’t shoot an arrow a third of a mile,” Zeph said with some amusement.
Steinn grinned. “Perhaps not. What is the range for a Pastelle?”
Zeph found a likely spot and turned to face the targets. “This should be good.”
Steinn handed him one of the bows. “How does this one feel? It’s shorter than this other.”
After testing the weight and resistance, Zeph switched for the other bow. It was a bit heavier but had better resistance. “I’ll try this one first.”
Steinn handed over a single arrow before stabbing the rest into the ground at Zeph’s feet. Then he stepped back.
“All right, love. Let’s see what you can do.”
Zeph’s arms still ached from the sword fighting, but he’d always excelled at archery. He set arrow to string, aimed, and let it fly. They watched it land exactly in the center of the target.
“Excellent,” Steinn said.
“Had you any doubt?” Zeph asked.
Steinn leaned in and kissed the tip of his nose. “Not for a single heartbeat.”
Zeph smiled and proceeded to shoot off the remaining arrows.
About the Author
Ms. Missy Jane is the alter ego of a Texas mother of four who has been married to the same wonderful man for over twenty years. Missy spends most of her time lost in worlds of her own making, alternately loving and hating such creatures as vampires, shape-shifters and gargoyles (to name a few). When not writing, she spends her time reading, taking photos of her four wonderful children and training her husband to believe she’s always right.
Where you can find Missy Jane: linktr.ee/authormissyjane
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