Madison's Song

Madison's Song

by Christine Amsden

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606192832
Publisher: Paladin Timeless Books
Publication date: 10/15/2015
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.61(d)

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Madison's Song


By Christine Amsden

Twilight Times Books

Copyright © 2015 Christine Amsden
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60619-283-2


CHAPTER 1

Two years later ...


Madison clutched her cell phone as, for the dozenth time in less than a week, her call went to voicemail. Her younger brother's too-cheerful voice started to ask her to leave a message, but she hit "end" before it finished.

"Where are you, Clinton?" Madison wondered out loud. It had been a month. An entire month since the last time they'd spoken on the phone. Sure, he was in college, young and having fun, but he had never been irresponsible. He had never gone this long without at least sending her an email. And while he wasn't a Facebook regular, he would normally have posted something about the end of finals. That, more than anything, had led to the frantic flurry of phone calls this week.

The school year was over for Madison as well. She had brought her fifth graders to tears when she had sung them a final good-bye that afternoon. There hadn't been a dry eye in the room, not even on the stonier faces of the tough boys. She hadn't meant to do it. She was normally very conscious of the power her songbird voice had to evoke emotions in those who heard it, but she had been distracted. Not thinking clearly. The prospect of a lonely summer loomed ahead, her fifth graders would move on to middle school where she would never teach them again, and worst of all, her anxiety over Clinton grew stronger as each new day passed without a word.

Clinton was, after all, the only family she had left. The only one who had never hurt or betrayed her. If anything happened to him ...

Her mind started sorting through possibilities once again, but nothing made sense. She was Clinton's "in case of emergency" contact at school, at work, and on his phone. If he had gotten into an accident, she would know. Which left what, exactly? That a straight-A student had suddenly dropped out of school and joined a rock band?

It was probably nothing. He had probably been busy. They didn't hang out in the same circles, she wasn't his mother, and for all she knew he could have dropped his phone in a toilet. Weeks had passed between calls before – rarely.

But she had nightmares. These days, she almost always had nightmares. Madison knew better than most what sorts of dangers lurked in the night, but Clinton had always been separate from all of that. On the outside. He, unlike her, was the product of two normal people having a normal child.

She dialed again, this time calling Clinton's housemate, who had always struck her as being irresponsible. She wasn't surprised when he didn't answer her call, nor that he hadn't responded to the three messages she had left for him. She did not leave another.

Now what? The sun had set, but the moon had not yet risen. It wouldn't be full tonight, but it was close enough to make her shudder with remembered fear.

There was one final call she could make, one she had been putting off making for days. She had not spoken to her adoptive father, Phillip Carter, since the day he had betrayed her – selling the identity of her biological father to that man's enemies for the bargain-basement price of $10,000. In the end, that was how much she'd meant to him.

But she and Phillip (she sometimes still thought of him as Dad, but she was getting better) had one thing left in common: Clinton.

She did not have Phillip's number programmed into her phone, but she dialed it from memory, her fingers automatically jumping from digit to digit. Those fingers stayed curiously still and calm as she waited through four rings. Then she heard the familiar gravelly voice for the first time in over a year.

"What?" he demanded without preamble.

Her breath caught, something got lodged in her throat, and it was a moment before she managed a "Hi." Stupid girl. Why do you still care?

"What do you want, Madison?" Phillip asked in the clipped, distant tone he'd always used when she misbehaved.

"I haven't heard from Clinton in almost a month. I was wondering if you have."

"No." There was a pause. "I'm worried." He probably was. Clinton, he cared about. Clinton was really his son. Clinton had never even accidentally brushed up against the world of sorcery.

Madison might have felt jealous, but Phillip didn't know how to show affection to anyone, not even his son. Which was why Clinton often agreed with Madison that they were all the family each other had.

"I'm going to drive to Springfield tomorrow to look for him." She hadn't made the decision until she'd said it, but now she knew it was her only choice. Maybe she was overreacting, but if that was the case then so be it.

"Have him call me when you find him." That was it. Phillip didn't want to hear from her, only from his real son. Otherwise, she could turn right back around and go to the devil, where she'd been heading. Well, what had she expected? A sudden change of heart? A declaration of love?

"I will. Bye, Da–" Madison just stopped herself. Old habits. "Bye."

Phillip ended the call without saying another word.

Madison tried to push thoughts of Phillip from her mind as she prepared for bed. She called Clinton one last time, not because she thought he would suddenly pick up the phone but because she wanted to leave one last voicemail telling him she'd be making the two-hour drive from Eagle Rock, Missouri to Springfield in the morning. Then she set her phone on the nightstand and started humming to herself.

The tune was a familiar one, a song she'd been working on for years. She had the melody right, but she still had not found the words to go with it. The song needed words full of hope and love, but nothing in her life had inspired that kind of poetry lately.

Not for the first time, Madison wished her songbird gift would work on herself – that she could sing a joyful song and draw that song's happiness into herself. But that was not how it worked. In fact, she didn't make people feel the song's emotions as much as she made them feel her own. The melody and lyrics helped set a tone she could embrace, but she had once managed to make someone cry singing, "If You're Happy and You Know It."

Today was that kind of day. Music was her refuge, but tonight worry followed her within its sheltering embrace. She gave up by nine o'clock, thinking she should at least try to get a good night's sleep before setting off in the morning. She only prayed that her night-mares would give her respite.


* * *

She is scared and hurt, but not alone. Before her stands the man who saved her life. He is only a few inches taller than she, but so broad and powerful that he seems much larger. His arms ripple with well-defined, sculpted muscles that she knows he can use to kill. His face is not classically handsome, but it is rugged and beautiful to her. She loves his eyes most of all. Those jade green eyes that carry the weight of the world within their depths. They say eyes are the windows to the soul, so she tries to peer inside to see.

He looks back, giving her the sense that he sees her as no man ever has before – as a woman. He extends a hand to her and she takes it, feeling the thrill of contact. This is it. This is what it's supposed to feel like when a man touches a woman. She is pure sensation, all flutters and tingles. She wants this man, if he'll have her. She is afraid to hope that he might.

Suddenly, he shifts. In those soul-deep eyes he betrays a flash of pain, then his body jerks and flexes. Hair begins to sprout even as his bones contort. He looks like he is fighting the transformation, but he is fighting a losing battle.

For one last, lingering second he looks on her with the green eyes she knows. Then he is the wolf, and when she looks into its eyes, Scott is gone. The beast has yellow eyes, without so much as a spark of humanity left.

The beast growls, baring its teeth. It lunges for her, sinking long, sharp canines into her throat. She cannot scream. Her heart is trying to escape her chest. Her throat works again and again, but the scream will not come.

She can smell the blood. It's everywhere. The beast is going to eat her alive. It lowers its muzzle to sink its teeth into her belly and tear out her intestines – the part it likes best. She knows what will happen next, and there is nothing she can do about it.

If only whoever is calling her on the phone could help her. If only ...


* * *

Sweat drenched Madison's sheets when she finally managed to pull herself away from her recurring nightmare long enough to understand that the phone truly was ringing at two in the morning. She fumbled with several objects on her nightstand before finding the phone, but she had long-since missed the call. Her blood ran cold when she saw that it had been Clinton who'd phoned in the dead of night.

No word for a month and now this? A phone call at two in the morning?

Madison crawled out of bed, removed her sweat-drenched night shirt, then fumbled through her drawer for another. She wanted a shower. She wanted to change the bed. She settled for a dry shirt before taking a seat on the floor near the foot of her full-sized bed and returning her brother's call.

He answered on the first ring. "Oh, thank God."

Madison's pulse jumped. "What's going on?

"I need your help."

"You're in trouble." It wasn't a question. "What do you need? Money?" Although, now that she thought about it, if he needed money he could have picked a more reasonable hour to call.

"I don't need money." Clinton drew in a deep breath, as though steeling himself for something. "I need magic."

Magic? Madison sat up straighter, the last tendrils of sleepiness melting away as if they had never been. Sure, she had a little bit of magic, but Clinton knew how she felt about using it. And even if using magic didn't make her feel somehow tainted, the fact remained that she really couldn't use it. Magic required a combination of potential, effort, and study. She had little potential, didn't care to put out much effort, and had only studied enough basics so she wouldn't hurt anyone with what little potential she did have.

Unless ... "What do you mean by magic, exactly? Do you want me to sing for you?" Most outsiders didn't understand the distinction – Madison herself had only started to understand in the past year or so – but a gift was not the same thing as magic. Her songbird gift was tied to the soul and was as instinctive as breathing. She almost couldn't not do it, which was something she had never been able to explain to Phillip.

"No, that's not it. I need real magic."

"You know I don't have enough to count." But Madison had a feeling she knew where this was going.

"You can ask your other brother for help." Clinton said, confirming her suspicion. He always sounded jealous when he talked about her other brother, as if her recent discovery of the existence of a half brother meant she felt differently about him.

"Why don't you tell me what's going on first?"

"I don't want you to freak out."

"How can I not freak out when you call me at two in the morning?" Madison's voice rose as all her worst fears came tumbling back through her mind.

"More, then. I don't want you to freak out more. But I need some magical help, and I need you to get it for me."

"Wait a second, are you honestly suggesting that I act as a go-between when I don't even know what it is I'm going between?"

"Yeah. Pretty much."

"No!"

"Madison." Clinton had switched to his wheedling tone. If he were there in person, looking at her with the big brown puppy dog eyes they had both inherited from their mother, it might have worked.

"Clinton," Madison said, trying and failing to match his tone. "The thing is. Look. I can't handle losing you right now."

"Why would you lose me?" Madison could feel her heart pounding a little faster in response to the fear in her brother's voice. She had never heard anything quite like it there before. Her palms felt slick, and it was hard to hold onto the phone.

"If I told you what was wrong, I might. It's-look, I called because I met someone tonight who swears he can help me, but I don't trust him."

"You should go with your instincts."

"My instincts have been telling me to run away, but I can't run from this."

"From what?" Madison didn't yell, but it was a near thing. She felt like a string about to snap in two.

"This guy I met says tomorrow will be too late."

"The guy you don't trust? What happens tomorrow night?"

Clinton didn't respond. Madison's mind whirled. What would happen tomorrow night? Well, that was obvious. The full moon. She always knew when the full moon was coming because ...

No. It couldn't be.

"Please tell me this doesn't have something to do with the full moon tomorrow night," Madison pleaded. Her hand shook and her voice trembled.

"Don't freak out."

"Too late!"

"Okay. Okay!" Clinton was talking faster now. Breathing faster.

"You know that girl I told you about last time I called? Clara, the new waitress at Chili's?"

"Yes."

"Four weeks ago she came up to me and said she wanted to be my mate. I thought that meant she wanted to ... well, you know. So I said sure, great. She wanted to drive out to this secluded spot to do it, so I took her, but when we got there she took off. Then the moon rose, and out came this giant thing ... hard to describe ... it didn't really look like a wolf. I ran for my car, but it bit me on the back of the knee just before I got inside."

It was a good thing Madison was sitting on the floor, because if she hadn't been, she would have fallen. She knew the rest of the story, even before Clinton told her the details. The next day he got sick. Really, really sick. He almost died. He was sick for three weeks and missed his finals. When he woke up, it was to find Clara tending him. She seemed happy that he'd survived, and that he would now be a werewolf just like her.

"I didn't want to believe her," Clinton whispered. His voice was so low she barely heard him. "All week, I've been trying to figure a way out of it. It's not like I didn't grow up believing in things like werewolves, but you don't want to think it can happen to you, you know? And I've been in Springfield for three years, where most people don't believe in magic."

Madison could feel the delicate threads of her life slipping through her fingers once again. She should be used to it by now, perhaps, but this ... In her worst nightmares she never could have imagined this.

"Madison, are you still there?" Clinton's voice sounded far away, and agitated, as if he had been trying to get her attention for a while.

"I'm here."

"You're freaking out."

"I'm fine." She wasn't. Her whole body was shaking. From somewhere in the bowels of the house the air conditioning kicked on; it felt like a draft of arctic wind.

"I need help, Madison. I don't know who else to ask. Clara's so strong and has such good hearing. I had trouble getting away from her. Tonight I did, and then I met this guy at a bar ... he says if I go with him he can fix me, but it has to be before the full moon. Before the first, um, transformation."

Madison didn't believe there was a way to fix it, but she couldn't tell him that, not when he had called her for hope. He wasn't the only one who needed hope.

"I'm scared," Clinton said.

"Me too."

"Can you help me?"

"Don't go with him," Madison ordered. "Promise me you won't. I'll get you some help, one way or another."

"Really?"

Madison closed her eyes and swallowed, hard, knowing what this promise would mean. Clinton thought it was simple. He thought there would be a cure. She knew better, and she knew that however powerful her other brother was, Evan Blackwood wasn't the man who could help Clinton. The man who could help Clinton was the reason she couldn't sleep at the full moon, and the reason she had so many nightmares at other times of the month. He was the reason her hair clung damply to her forehead at that very moment, and the reason she needed to change her sheets.

"Really," Madison promised.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Madison's Song by Christine Amsden. Copyright © 2015 Christine Amsden. Excerpted by permission of Twilight Times Books.
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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Madison's Song 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
lauralovesreviewingLT More than 1 year ago
I was so sad when I finished the Cassie Scot series. Then I was so excited to get my hands on Madison’s Song. It’s a companion book to the series and features several characters I wanted to know more about. Christine Amsden is a master at hooking you into the story from the first couple of sentences. The prologue captivated me right away. I pressed on, anxious to get to the whole story and excited to enter this world again. I always thought Madison was stronger, more than she thought she was. Her power of song, her gift of evoking emotions through her singing, is a powerful gift. She is just discovering how handy it can be. Especially with werewolves slathering to eat her. Her fear of werewolves is well founded. An encounter with Scott, the local pack leader, left her riddled with nightmares and dealing with lots of anxiety. To be around him terrifies her. This is where she shows her toughness though. Her brother Clinton has vanished after calling and telling her he’s been bitten by a werewolf. The only one she knows might be able to help him is Scott. Imagine Scott’s surprise when he opens the door and there stands Madison. He knows how she feels about him. He can’t blame her after what he put her through. That shes’ there at all stuns him. Of course he’ll help her. He’s Clinton’s only chance at surviving the transformation and attacks from other packs. Plus it gives him time to be close to Madison. Maybe to change her fear of him to something else. Something more romantic. But that’s a problem too as his best friend, Evan, a powerful wizard, is Madison’s half brother. His threats to rip Scott limb from limb if he so much as looks at Madison are not to be taken lightly. I couldn’t wait for the road trip with Scott and Madison. These two are perfect for each other and I’ve been waiting a long time to see if or how they finally hook up. Things get strange when they run across a rogue werewolf, Clara. She’s a werewolf but she wasn’t bitten. Using her to track down who took Clinton, they stumble onto something. It could be good for the werewolves, or it could be disastrous. I had a feeling it couldn’t be good so I read late into the night to find out. I found out. I found out a lot of things by the end of the book. I loved every bit of this and sure hope the author continues with more companion novels. I can think of many other characters who I’d enjoy getting to know better.
closkot More than 1 year ago
My Thoughts - 5 out of 5 Unicorns - I loved it!!! ***Received the ebook for free for an honest review The cover is awesome and scary all at the same time. It is very beautiful :) I truly loved the Cassie Scot series and was very sad when it ended, so I jumped at the chance to read this companion novel. This book has Madison, Scott, and Evan in it…sadly no Cassie, but I live with it was it was just an awesome story and grabbed my attention and held on until the end. I think there is some magic in the words that Christine puts into her stories because it is definitely always magical and all the scenes fill my mind as I read, and I never have a problem picturing it. Madison and Scott’s story is terrifying, exciting, and action packed. I really hope there is more of this world because it is such a magical and wonderful place that Christine has created. If you loved the Cassie Scot series, then you do NOT want to miss reading this book. I highly recommend this series to Christine’s fans of the Cassie Scot series and to anyone who loves magic and thinks werewolves should be a bit more savage than some books portray.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Madison is a very real, believable character, caught up in an urban fantasy world and struggling to align her self-image with reality, her self-worth with the possibility of love, and her Catholic faith with the possibility of magic. The story comes near the end of the author’s Cassie Scott series, and takes one of the side-characters on a journey of her own, but readers don’t need to have read the rest of the series to enjoy this book. There’s a large background of town and people sketched in with just the right amount of depth. But there’s also a firm sense of the here and now in the way the story unfolds, as Madison learns that power might be God-given responsibility, and love might begin with the gift of loving yourself. I love the series and I’m only sorry I didn’t read this one earlier.
Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
Magic and mayhem collide in this fantastic and unforgettable novel! It’s one of those rare reads that you pick up and simply can’t put down. It caused one very sleepless night for me. I love the voice in which Amsden writes. It’s so fun & approachable, while at the same time, it truly drives the story forward. She paints her world before her readers in vivid Technicolor, allowing them to experience it rather than simply read about it. I loved the characters that Amsden fills this novel with. They’re both fun and loveable. The way in which she develops everyone individually here, while also tying it back to how we knew them in the Cassie Scot series was fantastic. Not only does this story spin off from, and connect back to, Amsden’s Cassie Scot series, it’s also a fantastic tale on its own. This novel is darker than the Cassie Scot series proper, but all the more delicious for it. I love how Amsden takes these developed concepts and runs with it, while also allowing readers to appreciate this novel all on its own. The magic in this novel isn’t all with the characters; it flows from the tip of Amsden’s pen in this creative & imaginative tale. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
Madison’s Song is a stand-alone companion book to the Cassie Scot series, apparently a series about paranormal detective Cassie Scot. I’ve never read the series before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading Madison’s Song, but overall, the book was a fun surprise. When Madison’s brother is bitten by a werewolf, she can only turn to one man for help. But this man, Scott Lee, scares her. He appears in her worst nightmares…yet at the same time, the thought of him thrillers her too, for reasons she can’t explain. But when she summons the courage to ask Scott for help, they discover her brother has vanished. And now it’s up to Scott and Madison to find her brother and save him from demons that are all too real. As you can probably guess, Scott is a werewolf, and about as alpha as they can get. Madison is a music teacher, and she’s quite timid, especially at first. She did grow and became stronger throughout the book. The two of them make an interesting pair, especially with Madison being afraid of him at the start of the book. Some of the topics are a bit darker, but overall, I enjoyed this book. It was filled with action, suspense and romance, and enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Beverly_Stowe More than 1 year ago
When you hear the word werewolf, what comes to mind? A savage beast that kills for the joy of killing? A human who turns into a furry creature at the full moon? A poor soul who would rather be human, but has no choice? Or perhaps you think all these things. Award winning author Christine Amsden’s latest fantasy novel, MADISON’S SONG, starts with action in the prologue and never lets up. Madison is drawn to Scott and possibly loves him. She also fears Scott because he has the power to change her life, and not for the better. Scott is a werewolf (the alpha of his territory) and also a powerful sorcerer, who loves Madison, but doesn’t want to hurt her and tries to protect her from himself. When her brother calls and tells her he’s been turned into a werewolf and needs magic, she knows the only one who can help her save her brother is Scott. Madison and Scott soon discover that much more is going on than her brother being turned into a werewolf. Madison has a power of her own, though she seldom uses it. She has little confidence in her abilities, but when she discovers that her gift may be all that saves them from death or worse, will she find the courage to use her power? Ms. Amsden has written a story about werewolves, magic, sorcerers, romance and prayer. Most of all, MADISON’S SONG is a story about making the best of the life one has. I especially like the way Madison doesn’t depend on just her power to succeed, but puts her faith in God through prayer. This is a story that shows the brutality of the werewolf, along with the evil in man. The author also manages to make Scott a likable character in spite of his behavior as a werewolf. I can only hope we see more of Madison and Scott in the future. ###
NikiMattes More than 1 year ago
Madison went through a lot in her life, an abusive, stone cold Stepdad, a fiancee who tried to kill her,, to name a few things, one night she gets a disturbing phone call from her brother, not knowing what to do she asks a man she is terrified of. Insisting to go with Scott to fin her brother, she needs to overcome fears to stay safe and learn to use her gift so she is able to safe herself too. First of all great cover! the book is as good as it looks, story is great and I loved the dynamics between Madison and Scott. I could often see it before me while I read, I was so drawn into the book that I forgot to eat! I read it in one sit! Look forwards to read more from this author. I received a free copy for a honest review
MikiHope More than 1 year ago
This is Madison's story. If you read all of the Cassie Scott Paranormal Detective books you will remember that she was the friend who kept getting abducted for various reasons. She also had a magical gift but was convinced by her step father that it was a gift from the Devil and she didn't really use it. She had a gift for music and a singing voice that was magnificent. Her magical gift has never been used nor did she realize it was magical! Scott, a werewolf with definite other magical abilities like most of the others in this town really likes Madison but is afraid if he lets himself get too close he might bite her--Madison is scared to death of Scott but when her brother disappears it is to Scott she goes for help. I loved reading how Madison went from a shy, frightened girl to a strong decisive woman as she and Scott pull out all the plugs magical and otherwise to find her brother. It takes them on a journey which will either solidify their relationship or break it apart forever. And of course there is her step-brother who doesn't want her near Scott or danger at all--Alpha Males--oh well-- I am hoping for another one of these offshoot novels very soon!!!!!!!
ELF-thereadingaddict More than 1 year ago
The complex relationship between Madison and Scott ....................... 4.25 stars “Madison’s Song” by Christine Amsden is a paranormal story that is connected to the ‘Cassie Scot’ series and centers on Madison Carter, who has had to deal with multiple issues related to werewolves, but none so challenging as the news that her beloved brother Clinton has been bitten by a werewolf. Scott Lee has never found a way to get past the life-changing experience he shared with Madison two years prior, with discouraging results for both of them. Unfortunately, there are even more dangers to them and those they care about than ever imagined and they will have to find a way to utilize all of the powers they can muster to fight the evil that threatens to destroy them. This intense paranormal story has both magic urban fantasy blended in an exciting tale. There are several aspects that I found uncomfortable to contemplate but the twists and turns of the story and the rising action makes this a fascinating and compelling read. Despite the fact that this book is tangentially connected to the ‘Cassie Scot’ series, it can be read as a stand-alone, although it provides some interesting insights about some of the characters from that series. This story differs from many other paranormal tales by focusing on the feral nature of werewolves and emphasizing the danger of dealing with an animal that loses its humanity when the beast is dominant. It is wonderful to watch Madison’s maturation and the strength of character that develops and the overarching theme is perfectly reflected in the words from the story, “How can you know love until you can learn to love yourself?” A few issues were not resolved to my satisfaction and I found some of the scenarios a little awkward but I was captured by the action and anxious to find out how things were going to be resolved. This is an exciting story that will appeal to those who love paranormal tales with a twist of magic, but be forewarned that it is not for the squeamish. There are a few threads left dangling to tantalize, so hopefully there will be more stories to give additional glimpses of these complex and compelling characters. A copy of this title was provided to me for review.