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Esmeralda stood at the window in her office looking over the gardens. She watched a tall figure approach. His velvet cloak shimmered in the sunlight and the air he stirred by his quick stride caused it to billow wildly behind him as he approached the steps.
He's early, she thought to herself. Admirable. She noted his broad shoulders, the way he held himself. His stride was purposeful, confident. That's a pleasant change. His blond hair was ruffled by a gust of wind as he reached the top landing and she lost sight of him.
She continued to busy herself in her chamber. She would make him wait until the appointed time. He would learn to follow her schedule. She was in charge and he needed to understand that. Just as Thomas had been made to follow her orders, so would he.
The communication orb on her oak desk pulsed yellow and the young voice of her assistant emanated from it.
"My Lady, Marcus DeLeon has arrived."
She spoke softly, "He's early. Have him wait, offer him some refreshments, but watch him. Tell me if he paces, let me know when he grows restless, then I will see him. He will learn. Oh, and Jonathan, ensure the eyes can see."
The assistant pressed the earpiece he wore as he listened to the instructions, then smiled and addressed the visitor, "Sir, My Lady is attending to Council business at this time and asks you to please be patient; she will be with you shortly. Can I offer you some tea, coffee, or water?"
"Do you know who I am?" the visitor asked casually.
"Yes," the attendant looked a little confused. Had he not just heard him announce his name? "You're our ten-thirty appointment."
Marcus leaned forward, his fists rested on the desk, his gray eyes darkened but his thin lips lined a small smile as he asked, "Do you know what I am?"
The assistant swallowed, "Yes, you're a vampire." Clearly, he did not understand where this line of questioning was headed.
"Then, you know I do not thirst for tea, or coffee, or water."
The confused look on the assistant's face turned to one of recognition, "Of course, how rude of me. Do you prefer it warm or cold?"
"Warm, it is most enjoyable when it's warm." He walked back toward the leather chair, sat and crossed his leg. He drew a case from his vest pocket, extracted a slim cigarillo, and lit it. The white smoke curled lazily upward.
The attendant coughed as he took in a whiff of the smoke when he handed him his precious red liquid. Marcus took another draw on the cigarillo; a smug smile lined his lips. "Does this bother you?"
"No," he spoke through another cough, "not in the least." The attendant went back to his desk. Very indiscreetly, he moved the crystal dragon that sat on the corner of his desk, ensuring the eyes were facing Marcus. He took his seat and resumed his work, but kept his senses trained on him.
* * *
Esmeralda sat at her computer. With a few keystrokes, the eyes of the dragon gave her a clear view of her outer lobby and her guest.
She watched him as he sat patiently. He held his drink in his left hand. Slowly, he swirled the remaining portion of the precious red liquid in the crystal glass before he downed it in one large swallow. He licked his lips, not allowing any of the drink to go to waste.
His relaxed manner made her uneasy.
Smug, I don't know if I like that. He'll be a challenge. However, I do enjoy a good challenge. Turn this way, I want to see your eyes, she coaxed.
She knew he couldn't hear her, but she coaxed him just the same. And he turned and stared straight at the dragon for her to see his eyes, his dark gray eyes, and they were not happy.
She pushed back from her desk, unnerved by his action.
Just my imagination, he cannot possibly know I am watching him, but those are strong eyes. He will complete his mission; oh yes, he will end her life.
This bit of knowledge began to excite her. She allowed a smile to light her face as she smoothed her hair, straightened her robes, and moistened her lips. Now she was ready to see him. She spoke into the orb, "Jonathan, I am available now. Please, show our guest in."
* * *
Esmeralda sat behind her desk shuffling her papers, putting them into neat piles. She looked up and smiled, "Marcus." She stood and extended her hand as she moved to greet him. "I'm so pleased you came. Sorry you had to wait, Council business ... you understand."
Marcus said nothing. He accepted her hand with a bow and a quick kiss to the ring on her finger, then stood straight and waited for her to sit before he took his seat in front of her.
"I have gone over your proposal. Everything is in order and I would like to offer the mission to you starting in December. Do you have any objections?" she asked as she met his eyes with a sweet smile.
"I thought you wanted this done now. Why December? I can have this over in a week's time. She is a mere mortal; this should have been handled easily some time ago. I'm not a patient person when there is a job that needs to be done. I have others wanting my time."
"Thomas has been with me a long time. He has assured me he will finish the job. But, I'm tired of waiting. I will only give him one more month and then the task will be yours. I want the child gone before year's end. I have thrown in a bonus," she spoke her words without looking at him.
"A bonus? And what would that be?" His eyes narrowed on her, he knew the contract mentioned nothing of a bonus.
She looked casually around the room, letting her eyes fall on him before she spoke, "Thomas has until the end of this month to bring me the child. If he does not, you will bring me Thomas and I will take his heart, among other things. I will torture him," she said dryly as she looked hard at him. "I will torture him not you. I want him to know how much he has displeased me. I want you to bring me the child, and I prefer her alive. I want him to watch me cut her heart out, before I take his life. Thomas is your bonus. You may even take his clan, all of them. I'm sure you will find his females desirable."
"Why would I want his females? I have my own."
"Then do with them as you want. I don't care, but I want his clan destroyed."
"That will cost you more," he informed her. "My contract with you was for the girl."
"I will double your price. Now, do we have a deal?"
He sat relaxed. He rubbed his right thumb and index finger together as he held her gaze. His eyes pierced hers as he tried to read the deep thoughts she held close.
"I know a great deal about Thomas. He's a strong male, a formidable opponent. Surely there is a reason why this has dragged on as long as it has."
She studied his face. His jaw muscles were relaxed; his square chin gave him a strong appearance. His eyes were fixed on her, and they were still angry. His sandy blond hair looked soft and thick. I'd love to feel how soft it really is. His lips were thin and smooth and she suspected very soft. His kisses, she could only assume, would be intense and very pleasurable. Yes, I shall know those lips. I shall know his passion.
Her eyes softened on him before she spoke, "Thomas ..." she stopped to choose her words carefully, "the child has an uncanny way of softening the hearts of those around her. Thomas was no exception. He's just like any other man that has watched over his prey for so very long. It's my fault actually. I allowed it to continue. I thought him stronger, but I was wrong and she was able to use her magic to gain his love. Oh, be sure, she has bewitched him as she does with all her men but he has assured me he will succeed." She gave him the sweetest 'pity me' smile she could muster. "However, like I said, he has been with me for a very long time and I have a want for him to succeed. I want Thomas back in the fold," she pouted. Her pout turned to a wicked smile while her violet eyes took a menacing hold over him and suddenly her voice switched to anger. "I want this deed done by year's end. My patience has run thin. I want it over and you will not mention the 'bonus' portion of our contract to anyone."
"Thirty-two years was a long time to wait," his eyes narrowed into slits, there was more to her explanation than she offered. "You have nothing to fear, the child will not soften my resolve," he tipped his head as he spoke. "And if Thomas should succeed in killing her, what of my payment?"
"You will be paid either way. As long as she dies, I am happy and I will pay for the happiness it brings me. I can be very generous when I'm in a good mood." She continued to smile her wicked smile, "And you do want me happy, I can assure you."
She took a pen from the top drawer of her desk and started to sign the contract, but stopped for his assurance, "Do we have a deal?" With a simple nod of his head, she signed her name to the bottom of both contracts - sealing Bree's fate ... as well as Thomas'.
Ft Worth, TX - November 2007
Bree's three-story home sat far back off the main road. Tall trees lined the sides of the long gravel lane that wound its way toward the circular driveway in front of the massive home.
The wide porch wrapped around the house. From one side it expanded into a large deck in the back, and the other side stopped at the garage. Rocking chairs and swings lined the porch to make several comfortable sitting areas. Flower baskets hung from the rails and all were in need of a little attention. The summer plants were done and winter color was needed to replace them.
The deck extended the complete width of the back of the house making it large enough to hold five large picnic tables. Umbrellas were anchored to the hard wood tables to keep them from being launched in the Texas winds. Lounge chairs, rockers, and wicker chairs were placed all around affording ample seating for Bree's growing clan.
Large rock boulders sat at the base of her home. Texas limestone intermixed with granite, river rock, and heavy, dark wood gave the structure the sturdiness the frame needed to bear the weight of such a big home. Solar panels were placed inconspicuously on the roof to supply all the power, heating and cooling.
A large entryway supported a very rustic chandelier. An oval mirror was on one wall and a matching sized oil painting of a field of Texas bluebonnets hung on the other. Hardwood floors, polished to a glossy sheen, led the way to the wide staircase that seemed to vanish into the ceiling. This, along with the kitchen and upstairs guest bedroom had been the extent of Bree's decorating choices for her rustic home. Nick, her ex-husband, insisted the decor be Victorian, and when Nick insisted on something, Bree had learned the hard way to let him have his way.
The rooms of the home were huge. The two guest bedrooms on the first floor had their own baths as did the four guest bedrooms on the second floor and the master bedroom took the entire length of one side of the second floor. The third floor was one long entertainment room, complete with theater, pool tables, an old rustic bar, and game machines. It was entirely too large a home for two people and Bree was at a loss to explain why her grandmother was very insistent on her buying this home when she married Nick, and why she now needed to hang on to it. At one time, Bree was able to imagine it filled with children, her own and those of her cousins. Unfortunately due to her 'accident' in early February, Bree's children will never come.
* * *
The sun was bright and warm, the winds were calm this day, but two rockers on the front porch moved very slowly. Two fine mist forms, sat in the rockers.
"She'd be home soon, Winston." The words floated from his lips on a breath of air. His tall wispy frame melted into the chair. He still sported the scratchy beard he'd had at the time of his death. His weatherworn cowboy hat still sat atop his head and he still chewed on his favorite pipe, the tobacco long gone now. "I'd hoped they was successful, gettin' those two back together," he spoke in a lazy tone. "She needs watchin', takin' care of. We kin only do so much, sittin here. Can't hold nothin', can't stop nothin'." His gaze kept watch along the tree line - alert to anything that moved out of the woods that shouldn't.
"I know, Jake, I know. Their eyes can't see what we see. They'll be back and he'll be with her and so will the clan. They will keep her safe. I so miss my granddaughter, it'll be good to see her smile again," Winston's words came with such longing.
In life, he'd been a tall man with broad shoulders and large hands, strong facial features. In death, he'd remained the same, but the strength was gone from his arms and hands. He couldn't grab and hold. If he could, he would have choked the life out of Nick a long time ago, but his hands had passed right through him each time he'd tried to stop him from striking Bree. He could taste the hate he had for Nick. It was the only taste he remembered from his life and he knew it well. His anger whipped the small amount of wind into a fury.
"Winston, calm yu'er self. I know you're thinkin 'bout the boy again. Ain't nothin' you kin do, what's done is done. Let the dead lay still," Jake advised as he took a drag from the tobacco-less pipe.
"That's just it - he's not dead. I wish to the heavens he was. If I had been alive, he never would have gotten to her. She would have married Steven a long time ago. I'd be damned if we would have succumbed to their demands. My granddaughter, she's a stubborn one. Hell, you would have thought she had my blood as stubborn as she is." He smiled at his memories of watching her through his misty eyes as she grew into a beautiful young woman.
"All in time. Once she comes home, she'll do us right. The spell will lift and then we kin talk with the livin'. You kin talk to yer granddaughter. Say yer 'goodbye' to yer woman and we kin move on. Mill's suffer'd long 'nough, time to let 'er go."
"Millie," he smiled her name. "Ah, that she has. She needed me though, and I couldn't help. Thankfully, we had strong grandsons; they have been a blessing. Millie needed them and they have never let her down. My two sons grew weak, fearful. Never thought I'd see the day," he laughed his haunting laugh. "Time we made the rounds, I think I saw a dark mist slithering around the creek last night. Their presence is becoming more apparent. Her clan will need to stay vigilant."
Jake and Winston floated on the breeze, guiding their wispy forms toward the woods and out of sight.
* * *
The rockers settled as the stillness grew. A dark shadow rounded the corner of the home, looking for a small crack in the foundation to melt into. Finding nothing, it moved back toward the woods and out of sight.
Late night at the Royal Castle - November 2007
Esmeralda sat in the dimly lit room of the gathering hall, waiting for her companion to join her. She sipped her drink, letting the liquor warm her throat, quieting her anger. He was late and that was one thing she couldn't accept. Punctuality was important to her and if there wasn't a satisfying reason for his lateness, he would pay dearly.
The hour was indeed late when the doors opened. Thomas entered quietly, his cloak draped over his arm. His eyes stayed with her the entire time as he lifted his wrap to the cloak hook.
His long coal black hair shimmered as the low light caught it. His face remained placid as he walked to the bar; filled his glass with ice and poured the whiskey. He quickly drank the first glass of the amber liquid then poured himself another.
His footsteps were quiet as he approached her. His fingertips raised her chin so he could look into her eyes.
"Are you upset with me Essie?"
"You're late. I don't like being kept waiting, and Thomas you have kept me waiting. I do hope you have a good reason."
"Is doing my job reason enough?" he asked softly, trying to soothe her ruffled feathers.
"It is if you have something to tell me. Do you have something to tell me Thomas? Does the child live?" She laughed as she stood and pushed by him, "Of course she still lives. Why would I think any differently?" She was resigned to those words. She refilled her drink and leaned against the bar, watching him.
He suppressed a grin, "Essie, these things take time. You want it done right, don't you? You don't want to be suspected of killing her, do you? Everyone knows your..." he paused, grinned his sexy grin, "dislike for her. You made your feelings quite clear in Vegas. If you remember, I counseled you on that." He swirled the amber liquid in his glass. "I told you not to have her appear before the Council, but you did not heed my warning and now I have to tread lightly. I have to keep the fingers pointing away from you." He took a drink of his whiskey; his eyes never left her.
She studied him for a long moment before she spoke, "So what is your plan?"
"I have had them followed, the clan has returned home. The protection her family had placed on her home is still solid. We can't enter without being invited, and her clan will never leave her by herself. We must wait for them to slip. She's engaged to Steven now," he knew that would bring anger to those violet eyes of hers and he was finding pleasure in that.
"That union must not take place, do you hear me? I want her dead, and I don't care if fingers point at me," she spewed.
Excerpted from Chrysalis - Tribulations by M.L. Lacy Copyright © 2010 by M. L. Lacy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 22, 2013
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Posted September 14, 2012
Chrysalis The Awakening really is a fantasy story. It has everything from romance to vampires, but has a much more adult feel than other books, like twilight. Because although it is written in a common genre it is a book all of its own. The plot and story line are definitely unique to this book series. M.L. Lacy is a fantastic author, and maes the book flows so well that I read it cover to cover in two days and had the right amount of suspense and mystery to keep me interested in reading. The characters are all so well written and have depth. I would recommend reading this book, 5/5 stars.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 29, 2010
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book after reading the first one. I was hooked big time! In this well-named second book, we rejoin Bree and her clan as they have to overcome several obstacles aka. tribulations.. that keep blocking their way. Some of these challenges come from within the clan while many are just there because Bree is still adapting to the fact that she is "The Chosen One" in a magical world that she never knew existed. The love story between Bree and her soul mate, Steven continues to strengthen even while she is trying to settle into her role as Alpha female to Bradley's Alpha male. Bree struggles with meshing her human emotions and values with the inner workings and structure of her supernatural and magical clan. The author does a fine job of building and growing her characters. Although, I would love to know more about the men and just what it is that makes them tick. Especially when it comes to their utter devotion and I guess, addiction to Bree. I have to admit that Bree's character was much more forgiving and generous than I could have been. I wanted to completely throttle Madelyn. She was petty, mean and jealous. If I had been the one with Bree's powers, I'd have squashed her in a big way. (Yes, I really got into the book!) But I did really enjoy Bree and could easily place myself in her shoes. It isn't hard to imagine having similar thoughts and feelings if I were to be suddenly told that I had all of these abilities and everything in my life to this point was a facade. I don't want to give anything else away for those who haven't had the pleasure of starting this series yet. Ms. Lacy has created a fantastic world with rich characters that I definitely want to read more about. I highly recommend readers start with the first book Chrysalis - The Awakening: Book 1 in order to get the full effect of this entire story. You can read my review of it HERE.
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Tribulations is the stunning sequel of The Awakening. Tribulations continues on from where The Awakening left off, with Bree still learning the true extent of her powers, as jealousy divides her clan, she has to stay one step ahead of her nemesis, Esmeralda.
Tribulations is a amazing book, in what is shaping up to be marvellous saga. The plot continues to flow effortlessly, with many twists and turns, leaving the readers unable to put the book down.
M.L. Lacy continues to write interesting and realistic characters that are far from one dimensional, as even characters that aren't always portrayed as being good guys, such as Tina, are shown as having depth. The characters were very realistic, as for example, Bree doesn't immediately accept the Magical way, which is completely opposite from how she was brought up. It would have been unrealistic for her to immediately be okay with the way their relationships work, since she grew up like a human.
The best scenes in this novel would be any of the scenes where Bree stands up for what she believes in and doesn't let anyone push her around. Bree really starts to find her place in her clan in this book; hopefully she will continue to be strong and independent in the next novel.
In conclusion, fans of The Awakening will love Tribulations as M.L. Lacy continues to deliver novels with fascinating plot lines and realistic characters. Anyone who hasn't read The Awakening and Tribulations should, as it is shaping up to be one of the best sagas of recent years.
Posted July 15, 2010
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Again, this book is aptly titled as the Chrysalis: Tribulations encompasses change as well as hardship and suffering for the main character, Bree. She secretly learns that her family is not whom they seem to be. She has to learn and accept her role as clan leader, which is challenging when her clan member. Madelyn, is having jealousy issues being fueled by two new female members in various ways. To make matters worse for her mortal side, she learns that she has to share her long-lost true love with the other females, while she herself must be with the other men in her clan, in addition to four others that remain unknown to her at the moment. Bree also has her confrontations with Esmeralda, challenging the evil sorceress's demand that Bree remain in the council's care for her transformation.
Bree is taken on a journey of growth, enlightenment and change. She is gifted with a keen knowledge in knowing when something is not right with her clan, able to penetrate thoughts of those in her clan without their knowing, while at the same time she can block them from entering hers.
She befriends another vampire, as she can see beyond the evil in him and this is something that her clan has an issue accepting, but learns that Bree was correct.
All the while as Bree is handling issues of jealousy, learning of her heritage, dealing with the men in her clan that are drawn to her, and learning of her path and what she must conquer to succeed and a highly over-protective clan that continues to stand in her way for her own good, it is impossible not to go on the ride with her as you feel her emotions as she endures each trial.
M.L. Lacy has indeed captured me in this story because I can hardly wait for the next chapter in this series! Chrysalis: Awakening and Chrysalis: Tribulations are amazing pieces of work, as they wrap the reader in continuous nail-biting suspense, descriptive action sequences and soft intimate moments. I would greatly recommend this set to anyone that enjoys the paranormal and fantasy genre. I love how Lacy mixes the two and delivers such a wonderful tale that captures the heart and imagination.
Posted June 8, 2010
Chrysalis: Tribulations is a fantastic read as it is the second book by M. L. Lacy in the Chrysalis saga. It picks up with Aubrey, "Bree" for short settling into her new life as the "Chosen One" although her transformation to the Magical World is still many months away. Esmeralda her arch nemesis has bounties on her life to the highest bidder to get rid of her before the year's end. Bree's powers are growing as she is navigating her way through being the Alpha female of the clan. Bree not only has to contend with the jealousy of Esmeralda but also with the females within in her own clan. The newest members have pushed Madalyn the mate of the Alpha male of the clan Bradley to challenge the decision of making Bree the Alpha just cause she is the Chosen One. So instead of having her family dragged through a court, Bree and the men of her clan have pretend to agree to let Madalyn have her chance at being the Alpha female and hope that she finds out she is not cut out for that role and most likely concede to Bree. As Madalyn goes about making demands and decisions which everyone pretty much ignores, secrets meetings are held with Bree and the men of the clan on what to do to keep Bree and the clan safe while getting rid of the dark creatures who threaten everyone's existence.
Bree also has to learn how to be able to satisfy the men of her clan. Preferably she would only want to be with her one and only Steven her soul mate but with this life there are certain traditions that are to be followed. As the Chosen One she is to have seven men that she is to be romantically involved with and she struggles with the mortal emotions that go with having to share her one and only with the other women of the clan especially with Madalyn and her cohorts but sharing herself with others. She has to learn to compartmentalize each one to keep them separate. Each one brings something different to her. She defines each one as Rick being her passion, Billy being her heart, Bradley is her old romantic love, and Steven her soul mate. At least Bree has a lot of help with guardians, teachers she sees in dreams, and two of the women in the clan who adore her and give their advice to help her along with advancing magical abilities as well as the romantic relationships that have to evolve with the men. Unfortunately, she also has to deal with this nasty demon in her dreams and waking life who is so determined to bring her to the dark side which she has now realized is her ex husband Nick in disguise. Tribulations is a fitting title as Bree struggles with preparing herself to leave the mortal world behind and crossing over to the Magical World to take her rightful place as the "Chosen One" Alpha female leader of the clan. The question is will she be alive to be able to claim it?
Posted May 26, 2010
All seems well in Aubrey Campbell's world. She is at home, enjoying a peaceful morning with Steven, her fiancée. But as the story of Chrysalis: Tribulations unfolds, it quickly becomes apparent to the reader that "Bree" is not an ordinary human. Indeed, she is a very special young woman. Born a mortal, she has recently discovered that she is a 'Chosen One,' a magical person with inordinate powers. She is just learning to use her powers but unfortunately, Esmeralda, a sorceress from the magical realm, desires both her blood and soul.
Chrysalis: Tribulations is a classic good vs. evil story with Bree and her clan of vampires fighting for all that is good in the magical world. Bree's arch nemesis is Esmeralda, a nasty, cunning sorceress who will stop at nothing to destroy Bree.
Fighting with Bree are the members of her clan, including Steven, her fiancée as well as Bradley, Bill and Rick. These men have sworn to protect Bree at all costs and because they're vampires, they certainly have the capabilities to fend off attackers. Of course, what clan would be complete without a matching group of women, um, vampires. As the newest member, Bree would typically be subservient to other members but because of her status as the last 'Chosen One,' she has been made Alpha (clans are matriarchal). This title does not sit well with other female members of the clan, resulting in a bad case of jealously from some of the women clan members. Add to this the fact that in the magical world, Bree is expected to be intimate with all male protectors in her clan. The young woman has her hands full, and that's before attempting to deal with Esmeralda.
Most of Chrysalis: Tribulations is told in the first person by Bree while a few sections are written in the third person (primarily those dealing with Esmeralda and scenes that don't involve Bree). The first person telling is part of what makes this book work - the reader sees Bree's uncertainty and struggles with her growing powers and need to protect her clan. She is torn, repeatedly, when her new family is in danger. The author has created a very likeable character in Bree and seeing her mature and take charge over time is as enjoyable as the fantasy aspects of this tale. Indeed, seeing a woman in charge of a group of men will have many female readers cheering.
There is quite a bit of action in this fantasy novel, with a tear between the magical and "normal" world causing havoc. And for the most part, the author keeps the story moving along briskly although there are several sections where the plot slows, particularly during the many dinner parties/meetings. But these are minor distractions within a story that is a lot of fun to read.
Chrysalis: Tribulations is an entertaining romp into the world of fantasy. Because I had not read the first book in the series, Chrysalis: The Awakening, it took me a bit of time to figure out all the characters, just what was happening/had happened to Bree, and why the heck she was hanging out with all those vampires. I would, therefore, suggest reading the first book in the series before diving into Tribulations. But I suspect you'll want to read the second book as soon as you finish The Awakening and anxiously await the next book in the series.
Quill says: Vampires, sorceresses, betrayals, harrowing rescues, and a young woman learning to use and control her awesome powers makes this a story not to be missed.
Posted October 3, 2012
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