Stolen Magic

Stolen Magic

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by Esri Rose

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Romance Can Be Tricky. . .

In a world where humans are displacing elves in alarming numbers, Adlia spends her days working at elf headquarters. But with no artistic talent of her own, and orphaned too young to have known her parents, Adlia is an outsider even among her own elven kind. Only Mark, her human photography instructor, sees that beneath her

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Romance Can Be Tricky. . .

In a world where humans are displacing elves in alarming numbers, Adlia spends her days working at elf headquarters. But with no artistic talent of her own, and orphaned too young to have known her parents, Adlia is an outsider even among her own elven kind. Only Mark, her human photography instructor, sees that beneath her sarcastic humor lies a vulnerable soul--and a desirable young woman.

. . .Especially When An Elf Is Involved

But while relationships with humans are pleasurable, they're also complicated, as Adlia is about to discover. For somewhere between her mind-blowing first human kiss and falling in love, a mysterious memory loss strikes the elf population. Now Adlia has to save her people and herself before she forgets everything. If she succeeds, she may also solve an important piece of her personal puzzle and find that Mark fits perfectly.

"I enjoyed Stolen Magic so much, I devoured it in one night!" --Kerrelyn Sparks, NYT Bestselling author, Secret Life of a Vampire

Praise for Bound to Love Her

"A delightful fantasy sure to appeal to anyone who loves wit, mystery, and magic!" --Kathy Love, bestselling author of Fangs For The Memories

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Rose revisits the world of 2008's Bound to Love Her with this clever fantasy romance. Adlia is an orphaned elf who works at Elf Ops, a Boulder, Colo., organization run by local elves to manage their land. Elves are tied to their land-they live inside it and rejuvenate by melting back into it-and must constantly combat human encroachment. Newly emerged and disguised as human, Adlia struggles to keep from falling for Mark Speranzi, her warmly affectionate photography teacher. When a wayward amnesiac elf is brought to Elf Ops and Adlia's mentor begins relying heavily on another outsider, Adlia must combat jealousy and suspicion as well as questions about her identity and feelings for Mark. Adlia's efforts to untangle the numerous plot threads are hampered as she and others miss obvious clues, and numerous implausible coincidences fuel the unsatisfying resolution. (May)

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Stolen Magic

By Esri Rose
Copyright © 2009

Esri Allbritten
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-0252-9

Chapter One When it comes to elves versus humans, the deck is stacked against us-us being elves. Yes, being an elf means always having the last word. A shot of elven hypnotism, or glamour, and a human thinks what you want him to think. This ability keeps us hidden among the enemy, but it only works in person. Glamour hasn't stopped humans from slowly driving us toward extinction. Elves need wilderness. Humans consume wilderness like breakfast cereal. In the end, it all comes down to real estate.

The few humans who know about elves often say we're not doing ourselves any favors by staying hidden. How can we help you if we don't know you're there? Let us know, and we'll share. Yeah, because that worked so well for the Native Americans, and the Australian aborigines, and the Picts. Who are the Picts, you ask? Exactly. Who are the Picts? You never hear about them anymore.

Humans as a group are trouble, but humans as individuals can be very ... attractive. For one thing, humans generate positive life energy when having sex-and elves live on life energy. Yes, humans are often ignorant, destructive, and careless, but they're just as often clever, generous, and loving. Humans are like the cousins you're not supposed to hang out with-the distant and disdained branch of the family tree, with the cool toys, bad habits, and a twinkle in their eyes.

Take Mark Speranzi, my photography teacher. He definitely has a twinkle in his eye, and all too often it seems to be directed at me. Since I learned most of what I needed to know during the first two classes, I'd taken to drawing Mark in the margins of my notebook.

I shaded the dark circle of his eye, leaving a white glint in the pupil, then studied the result. His shaggy hair and narrow, intelligent face were just right, but there was something wrong about the mouth. It was too smiley-or maybe not smiley enough.

"Is that a drawing of me?"

I looked up to see Mark himself standing next to my chair. At the moment, his mouth was very smiley.

"It is me, isn't it? I should get a haircut."

Around the classroom, other members of the class craned their necks to see what our teacher was talking about. I made a quick adjustment to Mark's thoughts so he forgot the sketch, then turned my notebook's page to hide the drawing.

His brow furrowed. "I'm sorry ... Did you have a question, Adlia?"

"No, I'm fine." I picked up the digital camera in front of me. "Adjust for fluorescent or halogen lighting. Got it."

He nodded and resumed his lecture on the color effects of different light, walking as he talked.

Even though no one but Mark had seen the drawing, I sat in a pool of my own embarrassment during the rest of class, wondering yet again why elves associated with humans when it was so exhausting.

The disadvantage of sitting in the back of the room is that you can't make a run for it when class ends. As we packed up our notes and gear, the woman seated next to me said, "Can I ask where you get your hair done? That reddish-gold color is so pretty, especially with the curls."

"I don't get it done anywhere. It's just my hair." I didn't know what else to say, so I picked up my camera. "Excuse me. I need to put this away."

She pursed her mouth. "Sorry to keep you."

I didn't mean to be rude. It was just that my social skills weren't the greatest. To avoid further conversation, I took a long time organizing my messenger bag as people moseyed toward the door, chatting like sparrows. When the room cleared, I walked quickly toward the exit, head ducked and both arms around my bag as I passed Mark's desk.


I paused at the door, halfway out. "Uh-huh?"

He leaned over his folded arms to see me as I edged even farther out the door. The faded denim shirt he wore hung from his broad shoulders and showed a V of olive skin at his neck. "Adlia, is everything okay? You seem a little subdued today, as opposed to your normal, talkative self."

"Ha-ha. I'm impressed you managed to say that with a straight face." Were there shades to my subduedness? If so, did everyone notice them, or just Mark? "I'm fine." I cleared my throat. "Thanks."

He grinned, the corners of his mouth curling. "Okay, then. Let me know if you have any problems in class. Oh, and that picture you took of the tree roots going into the creek?" He gave an emphatic nod. "Really nice."

I couldn't meet his eyes anymore. The twinkle was in full effect, making me wonder if he were making fun of me. "Thanks," I muttered again, then made a sharp turn around the door frame, snagging my T-shirt on the door's hardware as I escaped into the hall. Elves ... we're so frickin' graceful.

Outside the Photo Center, August heat radiated off the sidewalk, even though it was evening. Hipsters sat at café tables outside trendy restaurants, looking down their noses at out-of-town parents bonding with their kids before college started.

Soon the parents would go back to California and Texas, leaving their young'uns to get tattoos and learn how to smoke dope. But maybe I only thought that because I was jealous of their family happiness. Some of them probably wouldn't get tattoos.

Walking three blocks took me past the restaurant- and-boutique zone and across Canyon Boulevard, to the city park that ran along Boulder Creek.

Elves merge with our bit of Ma'Nah, the earth, to recharge. While in this energetic state, we can also travel through the earth. But the grass felt so wonderful under my feet, I resisted the urge to melt into the ground and flow to my destination. Instead, I walked parallel to the concrete bike path.

The fast, catchy beat of a drum circle came from my right somewhere, punctuated by the occasional incoherent shout of a bum nesting under a tree.

No one bothered me as I walked the rest of the way to the Canyon Gallery and Theater, an annex building of the Boulder Public Library and location of our nerdy secret headquarters.

I let myself in with a key, being careful to lock the door after me. It was after-hours for everyone but elves, or it should have been. One poor human sat slogging away at her computer.

"Hey! Who are you?" she demanded, swiveling in her chair as I passed. A shot of elf glamour and she turned back to her screen, oblivious.

I wondered how many times this had happened to her tonight, and how it was affecting her spreadsheet results.

The sign on the door to our covert office said ARCHIVES: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY, and no human had tried to come in since we'd screwed it on. Either no one cared about archives or they weren't sure if they were authorized. I closed the door behind me and turned the dead bolt, then tensed as I saw that our boss, Kutara, was the only other person in the room.

Kutara was the head honcho and supreme ruler in chief of the elves in Boulder, Colorado. She had organized the defeat of Fellseth, an elf-gone-bad who had cut a swath from New Mexico to Colorado, killing elves to take their energy and glamouring humans to put him in their wills. Dark elves weren't that common, but since we were already fighting to survive against human encroachment, they were seen as the ultimate betrayers.

With Fellseth dead, Kutara was determined to use his fortune to preserve wilderness areas and the elves who lived in them, and also to buy some kind of building that could serve as office space for us.

She looked up, giving me the same look a hawk gives a rabbit. Kutara is lovely, with violet eyes, black hair, and a heart-shaped face, but none of this makes her any less intimidating, nor does the preppie clothing style she's adopted. Today she wore tan slacks and a sleeveless pink shell. "Did you check the tree?" she asked.

The message tree was a twisted-wire sculpture that ran up the wall by the door, its branches stuck with paper reminders. We mostly used e-mail, but sometimes there wasn't a spare computer.

Once, once, I had forgotten to check the tree, and missed a reminder to get a new toner cartridge. I would never hear the end of it.

"I'm checking the tree." I plucked off a scrap with my name. "Get more copy paper." It was Kutara's handwriting, of course.

I sat down at one of the four desks that occupied the center of the room, across from She Who Must Be Obeyed. The desks faced each other, with a space in the middle for cords and cables. The effect was a sort of fountain of laptops, over which we stared at each other when we weren't staring at our screens. The rest of the space was taken up with a copier/fax, a couple of file cabinets, and storage boxes.

I thumped the office-supplies catalog on my desk and felt my spine slump all the way to my skull.

Once upon a time, one of us would have gone to Office Depot and glamoured the staff to ignore some sizeable thefts. Now we paid our own way, thanks to Fellseth's money. Well, except for rent on this space.

"Do we need anything besides paper?" I asked. "Because it's free delivery if I get over forty dollars worth of stuff."

Kutara gave me the smile I had come to dread. "Galan and I have talked about getting an investment- tracking program. I thought you might be the person to learn it."

Galan was Kutara's second-in-command, and one of the few people I considered a friend. Galan had created the message tree-the one pretty thing in our office, even if Kutara had turned it into yet another tool for making me feel guilty.

At her suggestion that I learn a new program, I felt the corners of my mouth turn down. Across from me, Kutara's did the same. It was like looking in a mirror. "I'm really not sure I'm the right person for that," I said.

"Why not? You're smart enough, Adlia. You're not having any trouble learning how to use the digital camera, are you?"

"No." The camera was for taking pictures of prospective properties. I'd mastered the basics by reading the manual, but when Kutara suggested taking a photography class, I'd jumped at the excuse to get away from the office. Basking in Mark Speranzi's presence was a bonus. "It's just that numbers make my head hurt. That's more Galan's thing."

Her expression was like a black cloud now. "Numbers make all of our heads hurt," she snapped. "Galan has done it in the past because it has to be done, but Erin needs him at her store."

Erin was Galan's human mate. They had bonded when Fellseth had taken Galan's land and tried to kill him. Erin had found Galan when he was near death and had brought him home, not knowing he was an elf. Now Galan, whose elven talent was metalworking, made jewelry to sell in Erin's New Age shop.

Kutara went on. "With Erin needing Galan, I really can't rely on him as a full-time worker."

I felt a stab of alarm. Did she plan to rely on me? "Couldn't we hire someone to track investments? Rich humans have brokers, or whatever they're called. I'd be happy to look in the phone book-"

"A financial advisor would want to know where the money came from, to see tax returns and Social Security numbers."

"We're going to need those things eventually. You can't glamour the IRS-not all of them at once, anyway." My voice was getting shrill, but I couldn't seem to help it. "How do you think we're going to buy property without Social Security numbers and stuff?"

Kutara toyed with her staple remover, snapping it like a pair of little jaws. "Those are all problems I have to solve, and to do that, I need you to help me. I didn't think this was a huge request, Adlia, but you seem determined to-" She broke off as the office door opened.

Galan came in, his expression serious. All elves are more beautiful than humans, but with his violet eyes and long, silver-blond hair, Galan was a looker even for elves.

"We were just ..." I trailed off as a female elf followed him in. She had frightened eyes and a pinched look on her face.

Galan put a gentle hand on her back and steered her to an office chair. "This is Fia. I found her wandering by the creek. Fia, this is Kutara and Adlia."

Fia perched on the chair and looked over her shoulder at Galan. He patted her shoulder reassuringly, and I felt a flutter in my stomach. There had been a time when I would have given anything for Galan to touch me like that. He was the kindest, funniest, most affectionate elf I knew, and so amazingly in love with Erin that any jealousy on my part felt small and mean.

Kutara smiled pleasantly at Fia, then turned to Galan. "Wandering?" she asked.

"She's having some memory problems." Galan made it sound so innocuous, it had to be bad.

Kutara came around the desk and sat on the edge next to Fia. "What are you having trouble remembering?"

Fia brushed her chestnut hair from her face in a nervous gesture. "Everything but my name. I can't remember anything but my name, and when-" She stopped and looked over her shoulder.

"Galan," he prompted.

"When Galan asked me, I almost couldn't remember that." She clasped her hands in her lap. "I can't remember how I got here, or where I live. I can't remember anything."

Kutara nodded at her. "You're safe here. We'll take care of you and find out what's happened."

Galan headed toward his desk. "Should I call Erin, do you think?" Since bonding with Galan, Erin had developed certain healing abilities.

"Not at the moment." Kutara stood. "Can I examine you, Fia?"

She nodded.

Kutara pulled Fia's long chestnut hair aside, section by section, presumably looking for an injury. "Do you hurt anywhere?"

"No. I'm hungry, though."

"We'll help you get some energy. Don't eat human food. It will change you from elf to mortal."

Fia frowned slightly, as though this basic information were only vaguely familiar. "Okay."

Galan looked up from his computer. "I showed her how to take energy from the creek, but I'm not sure she was able to concentrate enough to do it well."

Functioning normally on water energy was like trying to run a marathon on an all-lettuce diet. Creek energy would keep Fia alive, but it wasn't a good substitute for energy from Ma'Nah, and an elf could get that energy only by merging with his own land-land to which he was bonded.

Kutara finished examining Fia's head. "I can't find any injury. Galan, put the word out on our Yahoo Group, asking if anyone has heard of a missing female."

Galan typed something in. "I'll also ask if anyone knows about memory loss."

"Good. There must be missing-persons sites for humans, but I doubt they would do much good."

Especially since humans were unlikely to have information on people over a hundred years old.

"Adlia," Kutara said.

I froze in my chair. "What?"

"Now would be a good time for you to research investment-management software."

"Don't you want me to help find out about Fia?"

"Galan has that under control."

I opened the lid of my laptop with a sigh. "I was just going to start that."

Chapter Two Researching investment management turned out to be a lot like editing a book on nuclear physics. First step: look up all the unfamiliar words. I didn't care about investments. I didn't want to learn about investments. But I read lots of online articles on the basics of investments so I could make an informed decision on a program about them.

Concentrating wasn't made any easier by Fia wandering around with nothing to do and not much mind to do it with.

Galan periodically asked her questions. "Do you remember any landmarks on your land?"

Considering that elves cared for their land and spent long periods of time merged with it, that should have been an easy question. Fia's answer was a blank stare and a long silence before she said, "I think there were some trees."

"Does the name Golden sound familiar to you?" Galan asked.

"It's a ... It's a color, isn't it? Or a type of wood?"

"Metal. It's also a town west of here. Does it sound familiar at all? No?"

As her energy got low, Fia developed wrinkles and her hair became lank. I'd never seen an elf so energy deprived, and it was seriously creepy.

When Fia really started to droop, Galan would take her outside and show her how to absorb the energy released by the flowing water of Boulder Creek.

Sometime before three in the morning, I sat back in my chair with a huge sigh. "It looks like we should get Quicken Premier."

Kutara opened a binder and flipped through the pages. "I've heard of that program."

"Yes. Quicken is so famous that even elves have heard of it, but it still took me four hours to figure out that's what we want."

"An informed decision is best. Go ahead and download it."

"I thought I'd add it to the copy-paper order, to get the free shipping." Not to mention that the hard copy would come with paper manuals, which could be taken outside for "studying."


Excerpted from Stolen Magic by Esri Rose Copyright © 2009 by Esri Allbritten. 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.

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Stolen Magic 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LiJuun More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book - I had no trouble at all connecting to Adlia and found Mark to be quite a fantastic male lead. Although I haven't really enjoyed romance much in the last few years, I did really love this book. It's a sequel to her first book, but I think it works just fine as a standalone if you can't find a copy of the first. The book is about elves living in Boulder, CO. Specifically Adlia, an elf who doesn't quite fit in with the others. She's short, not willowy. She's clutzy instead of graceful. She has very little artistic talent. She kind of feels like a loser, and I can totally empathize with that. Also? She's kind of sarcastic, and I just love that. I don't know that this could be considered a true romance, since the first half to two thirds of the book has the romance as almost a subplot. There's Trouble in Elftown and the elves need to worry about putting things right. Adlia does her best to keep her photography teacher Mark, who is human, as far away from the trouble and from herself as possible. Every time she's around him she has to lie about who she is, and that makes her feel profoundly guilty. This book doesn't follow a lot of the genre "rules" that you see so often. Because of that, it kind of keeps you off balance - in a good way. If it doesn't follow the "rules" then how can you guess what's happening next and who will or won't get a happy ending? I highly encourage you to read this book!