Tallenmere, Book 1
An elven noblewoman longs to leave her gilded cage. A half-breed former pirate wants nothing more than to escape his guilty past. Easier said than done…
In this first exciting installment of the Tallenmere series, the feisty and headstrong high elf, Caliphany Aranea leads an enviable life as King Leopold's niece and daughter of Sirius, Leogard's most famous wizard. Yet, being forced to follow in her father's footsteps and being betrothed to a man she doesn't even like makes her want a taste of life outside the city walls.
As a young boy, half-elf Galadin Trudeaux witnessed his parents' death at the hands of pirates. After being raised by those same murderers and forced to do their bidding, he escaped and now lives an honest life as a sea merchant and ranger.
When two brutes at Leogard Harbor attempt to kidnap Caliphany while she dreams of faraway lands, Galadin comes to her rescue. Impressed by his skills, she asks him to train her as a ranger. Though he is hesitant at first to train a woman of her class, Caliphany's hefty sack of gold finally persuades him. Unfortunately, her father is not amused, and the two must escape before Caliphany faces a forced marriage and Galadin faces a noose.
From that moment on she and Galadin embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Only if they can survive the trials ahead, will they find a love that stands the test of time.
"Cap’n! You better come see this!”
Damn, that coffee smelled good. I set the cup down. “What is it?”
“A stowaway, Cap’n.”
I followed him out, where Bob held a kicking, squirming woman. My jaw dropped. “Cali?”
“We found her below, Cap’n,” Shyler said.
“Let me go!” Cali yelled. ”Your captain knows me; he’ll vouch for my innocence.”
Some more of the crew began gathering around to have a good laugh. Cali’s face glowed red, and I stepped toward them. Bob held her tightly, clasping her arms behind her.
I raised an eyebrow. “Well, you are a stowaway. Not exactly innocent, are you?”
Shyler snickered, his squinty eyes bouncing from me to Cali. “Looks like this one got attached to ya, Cap’n. You’ve never had ‘em sneakin’ aboard.”
Cali’s mouth fell open. “I am no such woman. Let me go!”
“Let her go, Bob.”
He obeyed, and Cali stomped up to me, glaring me right in the eye. “Take me to Faewood!”
The crew laughed again. I had to join in that time. “Faewood? No, I think you’d best go back to where you belong. Shyler, turn about!”
“We’ll be headed leeward, Cap’n.”
I kept my eyes on Cali. “We’ll have to sail against the wind, which will put us off schedule, but we don’t have much of a choice now, do we?”
Bob and some of the others ran to adjust the sails, while Shyler ran back to the helm.
Cali’s face filled with panic. “You can’t do that.”
“Oh, yes, I can. You don’t belong out here with a ship full of sailors. I don’t know what you were thinking.”
She pinched her lips together and jutted her chin out. “I thought I would find some compassion, someone who could see my dilemma.”
My brow hardened. “What dilemma? What I see is a woman who’s bored with her comfortable life and decided to traipse off and find adventure. You’ll have to find someone else to provide your amusement.”
“That’s what you would see, wouldn't you? You don’t even know who I am.”
“Oh, yes, I do. I know you’re the king’s niece, and I know I’m taking you back home before we all hang.”
“How did you find out?”
“It doesn’t matter. You’re going back, and that’s final.”
As the boat began to turn, it jerked portside. Cali stumbled, and I caught her. She felt good in my arms, until she wrenched herself away from me. Her blue eyes clouded with fury. She backed away to stand near the rigging. When she held her hand palm out, I watched a ball of fire appear, spinning like a cyclone.
I crept toward her and reached out one hand. “Cali, what are you doing?”
She stepped farther from me, her hand dangerously close to the main mast. “You will take me to Faewood, or I will incinerate this entire ship.”
Some of my crew saw what was happening and began to run toward her. I threw up my hand to stop them. “Have you gone mad? What do you think you’ll do if the ship burns down? Swim? In case you didn’t notice, we’re a long way from shore.”
“I don’t care anymore. I’ll go down same as you.”
I stared at her, confused by my own emotions more than anything. On one hand, I was furious that she’d put me in this situation, but on the other, she seemed desperate. If the sea didn’t drown her, then hopelessness would. I growled and turned to where Shyler stood frozen by the wheel. He and some of the others had drawn their weapons.
“Return to our course,” I shouted to Shyler. “Head for Faewood.”
Cali lowered her hand. Bob sprang forward, but I caught his shirt. “Leave her be. I’ll escort her to my cabin. We’ll take her to Faewood and leave her there.”
Bob glared at me. He was about as wide as he was tall, and his usually jolly eyes flashed with fear. “This won’t look good for any of us, Cap’n.”
“I know. But, we were heading there anyway. I want all sails unfurled. The sooner we arrive, the better.”
Bob sheathed his sword. “Aye, Cap’n, but it’s unlucky, I tell you, having a woman on board.”
“Hopefully she won’t be with us long.”
I motioned toward my cabin, and Cali went in. She stood by the table, tapping her fingers. My coffee cup had slid off and lay broken on the floor. A stream of brown liquid ran under the table.
“Figures.” I bent to pick up the pieces. Cali fetched a towel.
“Thank you,” she muttered.
As I tossed the broken ceramic in the trash, I asked, “Tell me, what is so god-awful bad about your life that made you want to hijack my ship?”
Her chin quivered. “My father…”
Indignation got the best of me. I still smelled the coffee I hadn’t had a chance to drink. “Oh, that again. Yes, your father is a difficult man. So what? That’s what fathers are supposed to be like, with daughters like you, especially.”
She turned and buried her face in her hands. I felt like an ass. I grasped her shoulders. “I’m sorry.”
Given half the chance, I would have held her in my arms. Instead, she shot away and turned angry, wet eyes toward me. “Take me to Faewood and leave me alone!”
If I had met a more exasperating woman, I didn't remember it.
“Fine! But, you’ll stay put until we get there, you hear me?”
She turned her head away. “Yes. Just go.”
I left her in there, slamming the door behind me. Great. She’d hijacked my ship, kept me from enjoying my coffee, and now, she’d taken over my cabin.
When I joined Shyler at the helm, he couldn’t hide his toothless grin.
“What? “ I growled.
“This un’s got you round her finger, Cap’n, that’s what.”
“Shut up and steer.”
Tallenmere, Book 2
In the fantasy world of Tallenmere, no one ever said love was easy...
Serenya Crowe may be a half-elf commoner, but she's no ordinary woman. With the ability to interpret dreams, and a birth defect that forces her to wear gloves, she’s endured small-town gossip and the cruelty of her husband, Sebastian, The Earl of Summerwind. All she's ever wanted is to live a quiet life and raise a family. When she meets the new stranger in town, her world and her heart, are turned upside down.
Wood-elf Jayden Ravenwing is an ex-secret agent who wants nothing more than to forget matters of the heart. He left the bustle of Leogard and his failed marriage to make a fresh start in Summerwind. He never planned to fall in love again, especially with the enchanting Serenya Crowe.
When a strange portal opens on the Crowe property at the edge of town, Jayden is thrown into an investigation, knowing that if he fails, Serenya and everyone in Summerwind may die.
Together, he and Serenya must overcome an ancient evil, and their own inner demons, to save Summerwind and find the love they've always dreamed of.
Rain pattered sharp notes in the sparse leaves above, falling to flatter beats at it reached the duff below. Wind fluted through the branches, the pitch changing tone as it passed along thick ebonwood boughs and narrower limbs of maple and oak. Minutes passed, or hours, perhaps a lifetime. Was it gone? Or was it ready to pounce? How would it feel to be torn apart and devoured alive?
The memory of my father’s advice calmed me. If they know you’re afraid, you won’t survive. Show no fear, son. Show no fear.
Breathing silently through my mouth, I scanned the dark surroundings. Rain sheeting along the trees and ground reflected a miniscule amount of moonlight edging its way in from breaks in the clouds.
I strained my eyes and ears for any sign of my hunter. Unbidden memories came as I tried to concentrate on my surroundings. I thought of Caliphany, how innocent we had both been eighty years ago, riding into the forest. Reclining on a blanket, I recited poetry, my head in her lap, while she braided small sections of my hair.
I remembered my father’s face, the disappointment in his eyes when Caliphany’s father dismissed me from his employ because of our relationship. His voice in my head chilled me even deeper than the rain. Your mother and I work tirelessly to give you the best of everything, and this is how you repay us?
And there was Serenya—the night I met her, that haunting voice as she sang, how it had warmed me to the core, filling holes in my heart I never knew were there. What would I do if I was forced to live without her?
I bit down on my tongue to stay alert and to lock the memories away. What was that? A flutter to my right. Circling through the trees. A soft thud of something landing. Deliberate steps squished through the muddy leaves. It was tiptoeing—each wet, noisy step driving my heart into near-frenzy. Only one of them, I was sure. I wondered if the other was hunting Zeph, and which one it could be. What if he had to make the choice I could not? He was one of my best scouts. I had to trust him to handle the situation. Still in concealment, every muscle in my body tensed. Swiveling my torso in the saddle, I silently readied my bow and an arrow. My senses tuned outward, gauging the distance. I imagined the creature closing in, drool stringing down its jaw from the scent of elf and horse flesh.
It smells me—of course it does. Come on, just a little farther.
I drew back the string. My fingers buzzed, wanting to fire, but I willed them to remain steady.
Wait for it.
The creature inched forward. It knew exactly where I was, so there was no use hiding anymore. I couldn’t tell whether it was Serenya or not, but I dropped concealment and decided to try reason first.
Still holding my bow as steadily as possible, I spoke in a low, soothing voice. “Serenya, if that is you, listen to me. I know you don’t want to hurt me. If you’ll just come with me now, I’ll do all I can to help you. It doesn’t have to be this way.” A raspy chuckle was the only reply. Hollow breaths met my ears between beats of raindrops on my hood. My eyes strained to see something, anything, until finally, a dark outline appeared against the shine of the rain-soaked ground. A whiff of sulfur burned my nostrils, triggering me to release the bowstring. But the creature flew upward and out of sight at the last second. The arrow missed its mark.
About the Author Mysti Parker is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and is the first in a fantasy romance series. Mysti reviews speculative fiction for SQ Magazine and is the proud writer of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award.
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