Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Kitra by Gideon Marcus

Release date: March 16, 2020
Subgenre: Space Opera 


About Kitra:

 

Stranded in space: no fuel, no way home...and no one coming to help. Nineteen-year-old Kitra Yilmaz dreams of traveling the galaxy like her Ambassador mother. But soaring in her glider is the closest she can get to touching the stars--until she stakes her inheritance on a salvage Navy spaceship.On its shakedown cruise, Kitra's ship plunges into hyperspace, stranding Kitra and her crew light years away. Tensions rise between Kitra and her shipmates: the handsome programmer, Fareedh; Marta, biologist and Kitra's ex-girlfriend; Peter, the panicking engineer, and the oddball alien navigator, Pinky. Now, running low on air and food, it'll take all of them working together to get back home.

 

Excerpt:

 

Chapter 1

Twelfth of Red, 306 Post Settlement of Vatan (2846, old calendar)
At 1,000 meters above the ground, my right wing dipped down, and I felt a lurch in my stomach as if I were going over a waterfall. The east edge of the city sprawled out before my right window at an increasing angle. The invisible columns of hot air that were the source of lift for my sailplane had disappeared. My fault. I shouldn’t have gotten dis­tracted. There was no time to worry about that now, though. I spiraled in ever widening circles, trying to find my lost lift. I had to do it by feel, sensing for tell-tale little changes in vertical speed, an increase in pressure of the seat against me. But there was nothing; just a sinking feeling as my ears popped, heading downward.
A glance at the altimeter showed I had passed 750 meters. I was running out of options. I could keep hunting for the thermals rising from the hot plains at the edge of the city, but if they weren’t there anymore, that would mean a hard landing far from the gliderport. For a moment, I considered just riding all the way down anyway and activating the emergency antigravity brake, a tiny battery powered thing that would slow my descent in the last seconds before landing. I grimaced at the thought. I’d never had to use it before, and it would be an embarrassment, an admission of failure. Not to mention a long walk home.
I squinted at the distant towers of Denizli. That was an option. It was about 39 o’ clock, and the sun had warmed the downtown streets and plazas for twenty hours. They might provide enough lift. Then again, they might not. It was nearly sunset. Anyway, flying at low al­titude over the capital was a sure way to run into the air traffic cops.
I continued my spiral, flaps fully off, trying to maximize my glideslope to get somewhere, anywhere there might be lift. I was al­ready down to 500 meters. I looked around for a ridge or hill. Maybe I could use the wind that blows upward when a horizontal breeze hits a slope? No, no luck. All the good ones were too far away.
Bright light filled the cockpit, dazzling me for a moment. The glancing rays of the setting sun reflected off the ocean, shimmering all the way to the limits of vision. I hadn’t realized I was so close to the shore. Shielding my eyes from the glare, I grinned. Of course! I knew where to find a ridge after all. An invisible one.
I waited until the plane was facing the shore and then straight­ened out, making a beeline for the ocean. Would I have enough time? I looked down and swallowed. Suburban houses, stores, a school, were drifting uncomfortably closer and closer beneath me. Then, at 150 me­ters, buildings gave way to a sprawling stretch of beach. It curved away on both sides for kilometers, to skyscrapers toward the city, to preserved parkland in the other direction. I headed toward the green­ery, aiming for the source of lift I knew existed parallel to the shore.
The altimeter read 100 meters as I sailed over the crashing break­ers. The glider jerked in the chaotic air flow, and I gripped the con­trols tightly to keep it steady. My back pressed into the seat as the plane’s wings caught the winds that zoomed up where the warm air of the land met the colder air above the sea. The plane jittered, then smoothed out, climbing faster and faster. In no time, I was at 300 me­ters and still rising, wisps of marine layer clouds breaking across the glider’s wingtips as I soared above them. The greenish sky of Vatan was turning gold in the sunset, and the planet’s rings formed an arch that started at the horizon and vaulted high overhead. I breathed a sigh of relief and punched a fist against my knee in victory.
At 2000 meters, more than high enough to make it back to the gliderport, I eased the plane into a smooth bank, aiming for the traffic pattern that would eventually get me home. Then I gave my forehead a little rap for my lapse of concentration. Soaring is something you can do for hours on end, and it’s easy to slide into a sort of trance, letting your hands guide the glider on their own while your mind wanders. That’s when you get into trouble.
I settled into my seat, blowing out a breath. But even with that ob­ject lesson, now that the danger had passed, my thoughts went right back to what had distracted me in the first place. The decision I’d been so sure of last night.
Once again, I got those butterflies in my stomach that had nothing to do with flying, at least not directly. Was this really going to be my final flight? Was I really going to sell my glider? I loved soaring, and I loved my little plane. It had given me good service for two years. Flying in it had become almost as familiar, as easy as walking. Did I really want to give it up? Could I?
I looked out the right window, watching the setting sun ignite the ocean horizon with green flame. It was a sight I never got tired of.
I bit my lip. It wouldn’t just be the glider. It’d be selling virtually everything I owned, just to start the next phase of my plan. Ridding myself of a lifetime of security. It would be safer to just pick out a col­lege, plan a career. If I wanted to follow in my late mother’s footsteps, I could get a degree in interstellar studies and join the state depart­ment. In fifteen years, maybe only ten, I’d be eligible for a diplomatic mission off-planet. It was what my uncle, my mother’s brother, want­ed me to do. It was the safe route.
I shook my head. No. That wasn’t the course for me. It was too long, and the pay-off might never happen. I needed to stick to the plan.
Next week, Marta and I would go to the auction yards where they sold second-hand and decommissioned spaceships. In my bank ac­count would be my inheritance plus the proceeds of the sale of nearly all of my possessions, including the glider. It should be enough to buy a ship of my very own. Once I assembled a crew, I wouldn’t be Kitra Yilmaz anymore. I’d be Captain Kitra Yilmaz.
That thought dispelled the last of my doubts. I smiled and gave the control panel a fond pat, a goodbye embrace. Then I steered for home.
From now on, the soaring I’d do would be among the stars.
 

Amazon | Journey Press

 

About Gideon Marcus:

Gideon Marcus is the founder of the Serling Award-winning and twice Hugo-nominated historical web project, Galactic Journey, Gideon Marcus is a science fiction writer and space historian. His alternate history story, “Andy and Tina,” is the lead tale in the Sidewise-nominated anthology, Tales from Alternate Earths 2. He lives in the San Diego area with his wife and their prodigy daughter as well as a matched pair of cats.

 

Galactic Journey | Twitter

 

 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2020

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month

It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some February books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, YA fantasy, paranormal mysteries, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, science fantasy,  space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, YA science fiction, vampires, werewolves, wizards, demons, dragons, zombies, necromancers, succubi, crime-busting witches, crime-busting weretigers, missing giants, missing kings, space mages, space pirates, space rebels, teens lost in space and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Rebel by Krista D. BallRebel by Krista D. Ball:

Trust is the rarest of commodities.

From the moment she stepped onboard Liberty’s Pleasure, Rebecca St. Martin knew something was off. Before she could sound the alarm, she was kidnapped and pulled into a conspiracy that made her question every single relationship she’d made.

Even as Rebecca questioned, she looked around at her co-captives and decided it didn’t matter. She wouldn’t let anyone harm these people for one minute longer than necessary. They had no hero coming to rescue them. Just her.

Rebecca will have to put aside a lifetime of fear and be the hero these people need. Anyone wanting to hurt them would have to go through her first.

Balancing the Scales by Annie BelletBalancing the Scales by Annie Bellet:

Never fear an ending. For every end is a beginning, too. Even the darkest night is broken by the dawn...

Jade Crow faces her biggest challenges yet, and the consequences just might be world-ending...

This is the tenth book and the exciting conclusion to The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series!
 
Battle Bond by Lindsay BurokerBattle Bond by Lindsay Buroker:

If you think having one dragon around messes up your life, imagine what it’s like when a second one shows up.

I’m Val Thorvald, assassin of magical bad guys and tenuous ally to the dragon lord Zav.

He still calls me a mongrel and thinks I’m a criminal, but he healed my wounds after we fought those dark elves together. That’s progress, right? Maybe one day, he’ll deign to use my name.

Not that this is my primary concern. I’m busy with a new assignment. Nin, the awesome lady who makes my magical weapons, has a werewolf problem. Specifically, sleazy loser werewolf competitors who want to drive her out of business. Or worse.

Normally, a couple of werewolves wouldn’t be a big deal, but these ones have powerful allies. And then there’s that new dragon.

It turns out he’s one of Zav’s enemies, and he wants to use me against him.

I don’t know why he’s picking on me—it’s not like I mean something to Zav—but somehow I’ve gotten stuck in the middle of dragon politics. If you think that sounds like a nightmare, you’re right.

If I can’t figure out a way to help my friend with the werewolves while keeping these dragons from tearing me apart, we’re both going to end up flatter than the deck chairs when Zav lands on the roof of my apartment building.

Apple of My Eye by Alyssa DayApple of My Eye by Alyssa Day:

A detective who turns into a tiger. A pawn shop owner who can see how you'll die. The criminals never had a chance.

If you enjoyed Sookie Stackhouse and True Blood, you’ll love Tess Callahan and the Tiger’s Eye mysteries. Tess and sexy shapeshifter Jack solve mysteries with supernatural flair, and the laughs fly as fast as the clues.” — New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn.

When Tess starts receiving mysterious gifts from a stalker, addressed to "The Apple of My Eye," she starts to worry. Because it's Dead End, Florida, where dead bodies have been piling up faster than competitive pecan pies at the county fair. But when the gifts turn deadly, she and Jack know they have to solve the mystery and track down the stalker before they find another dead body … and this time it might be Tess!

Luckily, Tess has Jack to help her solve this case … because sometimes it takes a tiger's eye to see the truth.

Daughter of Winter by Corina DouglasDaughter of Winter by Corina Douglas:

Some choose to fight the darkness; others become it.

Darkness and danger enter Brydie MacKay’s life in the form of an unforeseen inheritance.

Ignorant of her turbulent birthright, and unaware that she is marked by an ancient prophecy wielded by the gods, Brydie becomes prey to a powerful adversary who seeks vengeance for the curse laid upon him thousands of years before.

When her life is threatened, and the lives of the people she cares for are placed in jeopardy, Brydie must choose to embrace her legacy and fight the darkness or lose everything she loves.

Daughter of Winter is the first book in a gripping fantasy series based on the legends behind the winter goddess, Cailleach Bheur. The series draws you into a world of Celtic mythology, powerful Druids, dark magic, and fated mates.

Wizard's Hatchling by James EggebeenWizard's Hatchling by James Eggebeen:

The age of Dragons has returned...

Kedrik was just another promising student at the wizard's school in Amedon. He thought saving the last dragon egg was the right thing to do. Little did he know he was going to be stuck raising the troublesome hatchling.

Expelled from the school for losing control of their magic and run out of every town they entered, Kedrik and his dragon, Sul'ing must learn to control their wild magic, but the threat to the dragon realm has them chasing their tails.

Bones TradersBone Traders by Rachel Ford:

A missing giant. A sinister conspiracy. A decision that will change the fate of a jarldom.

The bone trade is big business. Black market buyers will offer many silvers for fresh giant bone, to carve into charms or use in dark enchantments.

When cloaked men kidnap the giant Njal Frostborn, everyone knows why. He's destined to be murdered and sold in that terrible trade.

His best friend, apprentice wizard Idun Wintermoon, is determined to save him from that terrible fate.
But to do so, she must defy the head of her order, and face powers far beyond her ability. To survive, she's going to need an ally. Luckily for her, Lissette Forlatt - a down-on-her-luck sellsword - is on the case. Together, they'll brave worse than the elements and rogue mages in their quest to save Njal. What they discover might shake the jarldom to its core.

If they live long enough to tell the story.

No Quarter by Rachel FordNo Quarter by Rachel Ford:

Sometimes, old debts cost dearly.

War breaks out when the Union’s newest member planet is attacked by an age-old rival. Now every planet or star system with a grudge is capitalizing on the unrest.

And every available hand is drafted into service, to help keep the peace. That includes privateers Kay Ellis and Captain Magdalene Landon, whose honeymoon is cut short when the Black Flag is assigned to the far reaches of Union space.

It’s supposed to be a quiet mission: a simple show of force to deter mischief makers and reassure the border colonies that they haven’t been forgotten.

What they find instead is a ruthless enemy, who will stop at nothing to oust the Union - and anyone flying her colors.

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus by Jonathan FortinLilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus by Jonathan Fortin:

England, 1876. Twenty-year-old Maraina Blackwood has always struggled to adhere to the restrictive standards of Victorian society, denying the courage and desire that burn within her soul. But after a terrifying supernatural encounter, Maraina's instincts compel her to action.

Maraina soon discovers a plot to unleash a new world—one of demonic aristocrats, bloody rituals, and nightmarish monsters. Putting her upbringing aside, Maraina vows to fight the dark forces assuming control of England. But as her world transforms, Maraina finds that she too must transform...and what she becomes will bring out all that she once buried.

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus is the first chapter in an epic dark fantasy saga, proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Wicked Reunion by Lily Harper HartWicked Reunion by Lily Harper Hart:

Ivy Morgan was convinced she was heading toward a smooth future … until she was arrested and charged with criminal trespass. Sure, she was saving a woman from certain death at the time, but in order for the criminal case to hold up against a murderer, she has to face the music.

Fear is the one thing Ivy hates more than anything else, so in order to make herself feel better, she decides to fix her Aunt Felicity’s love life. That includes tracking down an old love … who just so happens to have set up shop one town over.

While visiting, Ivy is horrified when a battered woman straggles through the door and is immediately shot dead by a masked man. Traumatized, horrified, she calls her fiancé Detective Jack Harker for help. By the time he arrives, though, things are already spiraling out of control.

Ivy was always a good girl – although sometimes with a bad attitude – but now she’s a murder suspect thanks to some overzealous police officers … and a criminal record that’s fresh in the minds of everyone concerned.

Jack is determined to protect Ivy, but there’s only so much he can do. That means he needs to work with her to solve the crime. Otherwise, it could haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Who would be so brutal, though? That’s the question of the day.

A dangerous game of cat and mouse is afoot, and it’s going to take both Jack and Ivy working together to figure it out.

Kiss of Death by Kelly HashwayKiss of Death by Kelly Hashway:

The only life Alex Montgomery knows is raising the dead and having zombie servants, normal stuff for an Ophi.

Alex is a necromancer descended from Medusa—or at least he will be once he comes into his powers. So far his life is training to use abilities he doesn't yet possess, which gets him beaten up by zombies on more than one occasion. And his parents Victoria and Troy won't tolerate anything less than perfection from Alex. He has a lot to live up to, and they remind him of it every day.

So when an innocent birthday kiss turns deadly, Alex has to work twice as hard to master his Ophi abilities. He isn't the Chosen One, but he's still a Montgomery, which means he's expected to run the Ophi school one day. With a new group of students coming to the school, Alex needs to learn fast because he's about to be sent on the biggest mission of his life.

No Crone Unturned by Amanda M. LeeNo Crone Unturned by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall is on the verge of getting information about her past. Patience has never been one of her virtues, though. As she’s waiting for her source to get settled, a new problem arises … and it has fangs.

When she was a kid, a chance encounter in a park left Scout questioning the existence of monsters. Now, one of those potential monsters is back … and he’s taken up residence in Hawthorne Hollow. He isn’t alone either.

Vampires are on the prowl and it’s up to the Spell’s Angels to figure out what they want and eradicate them through any means necessary. That’s easier said than done, though.

Scout can’t shake the feeling that something bigger than the obvious is happening, and when her boyfriend’s close friend is infected, she realizes she has to increase her efforts if she wants to save as many people as possible.

One vampire is deadly. A nest, though? That can be catastrophic. In this particular case, the head vampire trying to infiltrate Hawthorne Hollow has a plan … and it involves turning as many people as possible.

It’s a race against time. Scout has to keep those closest to her safe while expanding her search for answers. In the end, she might get more than she bargained for on both fronts … if she can survive long enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Alpha and Omega by Carol T. LunaAlpha and Omega by Carol T. Luna:

Ao never believed in monsters—not after being branded one since childhood. Exiled, he lives with his adoptive guardian, Kaisei Aizawa, amidst verdant valleys surrounded by desolation.

Humanity only had themselves to blame for the wretched landscape. Their war poisoned the seas. Their greed coveted the fertile and the green.

Their ambition set it ablaze.

One hundred years had passed since the war banished Talus to the skies. Doomed to chase the sun, the once proud nation survives as a floating city. But the fallen always hunger for more.

When the Talarians descend to claim the earth as their own, Ao escapes capture—but nothing is without its price. The only man he ever saw as family, Kaisei, is imprisoned instead.

Ao vows to rescue him, no matter the cost—even if it means taking a stand against the most powerful nation left on earth. He knows of the risks. He knows of the dangers. But never would he know that someday, somehow, he would finally believe in monsters.

Kitra by Gideon MarcusKitra by Gideon Marcus:

Stranded in space: no fuel, no way home...and no one coming to help. Nineteen-year-old Kitra Yilmaz dreams of traveling the galaxy like her Ambassador mother. But soaring in her glider is the closest she can get to touching the stars--until she stakes her inheritance on a salvage Navy spaceship.On its shakedown cruise, Kitra's ship plunges into hyperspace, stranding Kitra and her crew light years away. Tensions rise between Kitra and her shipmates: the handsome programmer, Fareedh; Marta, biologist and Kitra's ex-girlfriend; Peter, the panicking engineer, and the oddball alien navigator, Pinky. Now, running low on air and food, it'll take all of them working together to get back home.

Unbroken Vows by Christine PopeUnbroken Vows by Christine Pope:

Hell hath no fury like a demon back from the dead.

Rosemary McGuire thought the past was dead. Unfortunately, she’s dead wrong...because it’s standing on her doorstep, very much alive. But this time, Caleb Lockwood’s target isn’t the hidden hard drive with the footage that proves demons are real. His target is Rosemary.

When Will Gordon comes home to find Rosemary gone, he trusts his instincts and reaches out to a network of friends forged in the fires of too many demon battles. Soon he, Michael, Audrey, and Glynis are casting supernatural nets far and wide in a desperate search. And Will is torn between hurling ungodly curses at who — or what — took the love of his life, and falling to his knees to pray for her safe return.

The truth isn’t just a nightmare — it’s a night terror. And Rosemary faces the terrible choice of surrendering everything she is to an unspeakable evil…or losing everyone she loves.

Unbroken Vows concludes the six-part Project Demon Hunters series.

Marek by Liza ProbzMarek by Liza Probz:

Jazmine

Being a thief was never my life’s ambition, but there’s something I need to find, and I’ll go to any length to do it.

It’s a matter of life and death. And no one is willing to help.

A few mishaps later, I find myself in trouble with the feline king and it’s time to RUN.

But I don’t get very far. A handsome humanoid is wanting company for a long trip and he’s offering just the help I need.

For a cost…

Marek

One year. That’s all I get before I’m to step up as rightful king of my people.

A people believed to be extinct by the surrounding worlds.

Even though I’m the eldest and most responsible, I’m in need of an adventure and a beautiful woman to help keep my blood warm.

Finding a human thief who needed a transport around the galaxy was not part of the plan, but once I laid eyes on her, I knew she was mine.

She might plan on ripping me off and not paying up on her half of the bargain, but that’s all right. I don’t only want her body.

I want everything she’s got to offer.

Forever.

Magically Poisoned by Joynell SchultzMagically Poisoned by Joynell Schultz:

The Mayor was murdered?
And a magical plant from my garden is to blame?

Even if I wanted that jerk dead, running my Bed & Breakfast takes all my time. There’s no way I could have snuck a murder into my busy schedule, but obviously, someone I know did.

They stole a plant from my garden and poisoned the Mayor. It couldn’t be my hard-working assistant, the delivery driver, or my gardener, could it be? And I’m sure it wasn’t the sexy water witch who spends an absurd amount of time staying at my little Bed & Breakfast…but he does know way more than he should about magical plants.

When the police ask for my cooperation, I begin to investigate myself. Who would steal from me? Frame me? None of my friends look like they could murder anyone…but what does a murderer look like?

But don't worry, I have this all under control.

I’m a potion witch and have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Mountains of Mars by Glynn StewartMountains of Mars by Glynn Stewart:

The Mage-King of Mars is dead
Chaos rocks Olympus Mons
A new monarch must rise – but she does not stand alone!

As the celebration of the victory at Legatus cools, a shuttle accident claims the lives of the Mage-King of Mars and his heir. The Crown and the Mountain fall to the Mage-King’s daughter, sixteen-year-old Kiera Alexander. She recalls Damien Montgomery, her father’s First Hand, to stand as her Lord Regent.

The pair are unprepared to govern but are thrust into the heart of Protectorate politics as the Mage-King had left behind everything from an unfinished war to an incomplete new Constitution.

Even as they get a handle on the list Kiera’s father left them, Damien is grimly certain of one thing: when it comes to the deaths of Kings, he doesn’t believe in accidents.

Auxiliary's Revenge by Jeff Tanyard Auxiliary's Revenge by Jeff Tanyard:

Jerry Harper is back home, recovering from his injuries. It won't be for long. He's a strategic asset now, and the government is eager to send him back into action. They want to protect him better on his next war patrol, so he's assigned to a new station: the Agrarian Commonwealth's new battleship. He and the fleet soon jump out and begin their mission.

While in space, horrifying news arrives. The Reliants have invented a doomsday weapon, a virus that targets the Agrarian genetic code. They begin deploying it, and Agrarians are killed by the billions. Jerry is tasked with using his electrokinesis to find the virus's production facility so that a coordinated attack can be made. It might be the only chance the Commonwealth gets before the galaxy's Agrarians are exterminated.

Jerry's health is in rapid decline due to his electrokinesis. He can't afford to push himself. But a Rifleman does his duty, even if it kills him.

The Black Raider by John TriptychThe Black Raider by John Triptych:

In command of the most notorious pirate outfit in known space, Captain Dangard is a mystery- a man without a past, until a stowaway triggers an event that reveals long buried secrets.

Before the legend, a young military officer chose honor over duty. His actions led to betrayal and then exile to the worst prison imaginable. Within that forsaken world there were infinite ways to die, yet only one path led to freedom and ultimately, vengeance.

For somewhere in the shadows of deep space, a black ship waited—ready to unleash her unholy power across the entire galaxy.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus by Jonathan Fortin

 Release date: March 27, 2020
Subgenre: Dark Fantasy

About Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus:

 

England, 1876. Twenty-year-old Maraina Blackwood has always struggled to adhere to the restrictive standards of Victorian society, denying the courage and desire that burn within her soul. But after a terrifying supernatural encounter, Maraina's instincts compel her to action.

Maraina soon discovers a plot to unleash a new world—one of demonic aristocrats, bloody rituals, and nightmarish monsters. Putting her upbringing aside, Maraina vows to fight the dark forces assuming control of England. But as her world transforms, Maraina finds that she too must transform...and what she becomes will bring out all that she once buried.

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus
is the first chapter in an epic dark fantasy saga, proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.



Excerpt:


That night, I awoke to the sound of leathery wings. At first, I panicked, assuming that my room had been infested with bats. Then, I noticed that my bedroom door had disappeared. So had the walls and the windows. There was only the bed, and the floor, and darkness.
I saw movement in the shadows beyond my bed. Something shifted around me, always in the corner of my eye, darting away whenever I turned to look. Slowly, I turned my head. For just a moment, I glimpsed a strong-jawed face, its eyes piercing into me with such intensity that I could not tell if it was out of rage or desire.
I awoke with a jolt. I was back in my room, in my bed—safe. But I did not feel relieved.
When I fell back asleep, the dream did not return.
I didn’t give the dream a great deal of thought the morning after. Unusually vivid though it had been, I had no reason to presume it had been anything other than my imagination. I’d had a strange experience with a creature on the road; it only made sense that I would have nightmares after.
So I went about my day as usual: reading, listening to Gladys gossip, and eating with my family.
But that night, the dream returned...and this time, it went further. After the familiar sound of fluttering wings, a lump formed in the sheets next to me. I felt paralyzed, unable to move, though I was not entirely sure I wanted to. I felt a tickle of pressure against the small of my back, as if something had brushed against it. I reached into the space behind me, searching for whatever might be there, until a hand clasped around mine. I felt the softest kiss against the back of my neck, and shivered in pleasure. At the same time, I was frightened by the delightful sensations. Was it sinful to enjoy this? Was this the same pleasure Amelia had succumbed to?
Blushing in shame, I pulled away—and then awoke as abruptly as before, breathing so hard I thought I was choking.
My dreams didn’t often repeat themselves, and this one was unusually disconcerting. Yet, for reasons I was too ashamed to admit, I found myself hoping the dream would return. I’d always hungered for affection—yearned to be held, kissed, and utterly loved, like the beautiful princesses I’d read about in stories. To briefly taste that pleasure, only to have it torn away, was more torturous than I could have imagined.
I felt like I’d been granted a drop of water after centuries of thirst—just enough to make me want more.


Amazon


About Jonathan Fortin:

Jonathan Fortin was named the Next Great Horror Writer in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University's Creative Writing program. His fiction has appeared in such markets as Allegory E-Zine, the Clockwork Wonderland anthology edited by Emerian Rich, and Siren's Call magazine. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys wearing corsets, making poor attempts at black metal death growls, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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