Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Magic After Midnight (After the Fire, Book 2) by C. Gockel

Release date: April 27, 2018
Subgenre: Paranormal romance, Urban fantasy

About Magic After Midnight:


Magic is real, and Marcia's life is a fairy tale. Except, according to her stepdaughter, she's the wicked stepmother. Undermined by a meddling godmother, Marcia is struggling to raise three teenagers in a world of enchantment and monsters. When she's introduced to a Night Elf who appears half her age, love is the last thing on her mind.

Count Darerick Razvano is a Night Elf--please don't call him a vampire! Fighting for the survival of his race, he has no time for matters of the heart. When a charming widow inadvertently threatens the Night Elves' most carefully guarded secret, Darerick must seek Marcia out to save his people.

Marcia's devoted to her children. Dare's determined to save his race. They aren't looking for love, but love might find them.

In a world of monsters, love may save Night Elves and humans alike.

A standalone, slow burn, paranormal romance in the world of I Bring the Fire.




Marcia, clad only in pajamas and a light robe, turns to Dare, screams, and drops the garbage bag.
It was not the reaction Dare was hoping for. Trying to show his good intent, Dare swoops in, grabs the bag, and points to a door a step away.
“Is that the rubbish chute?”
Hand over her mouth, Marcia nods, and Dare exhales. This might actually work. He swings into the tiny closet-like space, opens the chute, dumps his burden, and exits triumphantly.
Marcia is gone.
He looks down the hall and sees her sprinting for an open door, her robe billowing behind her. Her dark-haired daughter stands half-in, half-out of the apartment. “Mom,” she says in an accusing voice, “did you take out the
garbage again?” And then she sees Dare down the hall and blinks.
Giving a small wave, Dare approaches cautiously. She doesn’t bolt like her mother had. Her lips move, but if she speaks, it’s too softly for Dare to hear. He has the distinct impression he’s being measured.
The boy’s indignant voice rises from within the apartment. “You made Mom take out the garbage!”
Dare hears Cindy angrily retort, “She decided to take it herself!”
Out of sight, the boy roars, “Because you were too lazy!”
The dark-haired girl doesn’t shut the door. For a moment she seems to shimmer, as though by magic. Dare blinks and realizes that it’s just backlighting from the apartment making her glow. He peeks into the apartment, and as his eyes adjust, he sees Marcia standing just past the door, staring at him with a look equal parts horror and fury.
Still out of sight, the boy shouts, “Now the house smells like putrid chicken!”
“I’m sticking this piece of bubblegum in your sewing machine!” screams Cindy, also out of view.
Marcia gasps. “Shut the door, Alicia! Cindy, don’t you dare!”
Trying to smooth the tension with words, Dare says cheerfully as he can, “Ah, I see I have come to the right domicile,” and contains an inner wince.
He never liked his teenagers’ teenage behavior being brought to his attention.
Marcia’s eyes narrow—defensively, maybe. Her lips part. Before any words come out, Cindy bursts into view, her brother hot on her heels.
Alicia is still standing in the doorway. “Mom,” she whispers. “I recognize him from the party. We shouldn’t slam the door in his face.”
“May I come in?” Dare asks, attempting to take advantage of the girl’s politeness.
Throwing up her hands, Marcia cries, “Don’t let him—”
“Sure,” says Cindy.
Perhaps trying his luck, Dare obliges, stepping into the small apartment while trying to smile as reassuringly as possible at Marcia. Alicia shuts the door behind him, squeezing him into the narrow hallway between the door and the living area. There is another door to his right, coats on hooks on the wall, and shoes lined up on the wooden floor. The smell of cancer hangs in the air, more cloying than the scent of the garbage he just dumped down the chute. It’s strange to be surrounded by humans and feel nauseous.
“How can we help you?” says the boy, rolling on his heels. Cindy elbows him. He elbows her back.
Marcia’s eyes dart to the side, and she starts slowly edging out of the tiny foyer, motioning for her dark-haired daughter to follow, but the girl doesn’t move. Marcia sucks in a breath and Dare clears his throat. Does she have a firearm in another room she’s thinking of retrieving? That would be… inconvenient.
Speaking quickly, he says, “I apologize for disturbing you. My name is—”
Cindy says, “You’re Count Darerick Razvano. Servant to Prince Rayne. He told me so. What can we do for you, Count Darerick Razvano?” She lifts herself to her toes, and her eyelashes flutter.
Marcia crosses her arms and glares at him.
Eyes on Marcia, Dare says, “Please just call me Dare. First off, I want to return this—” He swings his satchel around to retrieve the object he had hoped would put him in their good graces. Bowing, he presents it to Cindy.
“Your shoe, madam.”
Cindy smiles, puts a hand to her mouth, and tip toes forward. Before she can take the shoe, Marcia snatches it from Dare and hands it to her, still glaring at him.
“And?” Cindy says.
Dare braves looking away from her mother. Cindy is bouncing on her heels.
Obviously, she expects him to say something, but he has no idea what. What a time for three millennia’s worth of politics in countless provinces, countries, courts, and households to fail him.
“If you’re here for Cindy’s hand in marriage, take her,” the boy says.
Dare blinks.
“Joshua!” Marcia hisses, edging to the side again.
“Pardon?” Dare asks, not sure if he heard correctly.
Clutching her shoe, Cindy gushes, “The prince? Did he send you?”
Dare’s jaw drops. “Ah,” he says. “He did not send me. I have business this way, and I thought I might return the shoe as well.”
Cindy’s face crumples. Bowing her head, she turns on her heel, walks out of his line of sight, and slams a door. Marcia gestures for Alicia, still standing by the entrance, to come stand next to her.
“Mom, are you feeling all right?” the girl asks instead.
Dare speaks quickly. “My primary order of business is to speak to you, madam. It is a matter of most urgent importance.”
Marcia gasps, “You’re—” She takes a deep breath, eyes glued to his.
“He’s a Night Elf, Mom,” Joshua says, in a tone of youthful exasperation.
“—not as dangerous as you perhaps think,” Dare interjects, not taking his eyes off Marcia’s. In the periphery of his vision, he sees her children shrug.
“The survival of my species is at stake,” he adds and then winces. “If you’ll pardon the expression.” Unbloody Helheim, what is wrong with his tongue today?
Marcia raises an eyebrow. The kids’ lips purse. After a long pause, the daughter says, “Mom, I think you have to help him.”
“Yeah, Mom, I don’t think The Sierra Club will ever let you back in if you refuse to save an endangered species,” Joshua adds.
Marcia glares at Dare.
He tries to look contrite.
She huffs.
Dare presses. “We need to speak someplace private … if you don’t mind?”
He sees the exact moment she decides he is not a threat. Or, maybe it’s just that the adrenaline that enabled her to dash down the hall despite pain and exhaustion, has left her. Her body bends, as though the weight of the world is settling on her shoulders. Which, he supposes, it is. The fear of dying before you see your children safely into adulthood is second only to the fear of them dying before you.
“The balcony is private,” she says.
He looks beyond her and sees glass doors just past a tiny living room. “Ah, there?”
Marcia nods. “Yes.”
Dare takes a breath of relief, and smells garbage on his hands.
Raising his hands, he asks, “May I wash up first? My hands smell like …” He remembers the boy’s words, “… putrid chicken.”
Marcia points to the small door in the foyer. “Powder room right there.”
She turns away, and then throws out a hand to catch herself on the wall, the other hand clutching her right side. She takes a ragged breath.
What could possibly make Marcia want to help him?
What’s more, how can he possibly ask?


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About C. Gockel: 

C. Gockel got her start writing fanfiction, and she is not ashamed! Much. She received emails, messages and reviews from her fans telling her she should 'do this professionally'. She didn't; because she is a coward and life as a digital designer, copywriter and coder is more dependable. But in the end, her husband's nagging wore her down: "You could be the next '50 Shades of Gray' and I could retire!" Unfortunately, the author isn't much for writing smut. She is sad about this; she'd love for her husband to be able to retire and just work for her so she could nag him.

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