This is no fairy tale
Haunted by nightmares of a black dog, sick to death of my mind-numbing career and heart-numbing fiancé, I impulsively walked out of my lifeand fell into Faerie. Terrified, fascinated, I discover I possess a power I can't control: my wishes come true. After an all-too-real attack by the animal from my dreams, I wake to find myself the captive of the seductive and ruthless fae lord Rogue. In return for my rescue, he demands an extravagant pricemy firstborn child, which he intends to sire himself
With no hope of escaping this world, I must learn to harness my magic and build a new life despite the perilsincluding my own inexplicable and debilitating desire for Rogue. I swear I will never submit to his demands, no matter what erotic torment he subjects me to
|Product dimensions:||4.27(w) x 6.53(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy.
Read an Excerpt
Wagon-wheel chandeliers and red velvet. Why on earth every damn hotel in Wyoming seemed compelled to decorate their conference rooms like nineteenth-century saloons escaped me.
But then, everything annoyed me lately.
I shifted, sipping from my glass of Jameson. My feet throbbed from standing around in my heels all evening, and restless irritation crawled across my skin. I'd rather be home, having a quiet evening with my cat, Isabel. I should be in the lab trying to make sense of that last batch of probably worthless data. Being Clive's convenient arm-candy fell pretty low on my list.
And yet, look where I'd ended up. I'd caved to him. Yet again.
The reception was really important to him, and as his fiancéeand here Clive had pulled out the big guns, since he usually only referred to me as his girlfriendI should be by his side. I always found the energy for my job so if I really loved him, I would. On and on and on. Sometimes I think I agreed with him just so I wouldn't have to hear about it anymore.
What the hell was wrong with me these days?
My brain pulsed against my skull. The fragile bones felt as if they could explode from the sheer pressure of what seethed inside.
I couldn't keep living my life this way.
How did you realize these things? Not in a flash, I thought. Not the epiphany complete with rays of light and singing angels. Instead, it was a slow, creeping restlessness. A depression that sent out fingers of anguished rebellion. You gradually noticed that every morning you dreaded going to your prestigious university research job. Worse, every night you came home to face the guy you thought was The One and you find yourself on the doorstep, hand on the doorknob, and you're suddenly desperate to be anywhere but walking into that house.
I suppose I was finally facing the fact that I was miserable. Dreams about a black dog, both compelling and terrifying, had been disrupting my sleep with a message I couldn't interpret.
Or, more precisely, that I didn't want to hear. When I met Clive he'd seemed so different, so mature and, well, like husband material. He fit the neat little peg-hole in the car of my personal Game of Life. Somehow in shining up that image, I'd forgotten that a nice salary and polished shoes didn't make someone a good partner. I'd been just as guiltyletting him see me as the cool, logical scientist. He'd never signed up for a woman with a formless restlessness and these dreams that lately obsessed me.
No, it hadn't been a flash, but standing at that party, it became obvious to me.
I didn't love Clive. Half the time I didn't even like him. Nothing in my life had turned out quite as wonderful as it had seemed when I planned it.
The conversation washed over me. The usual ballyhoo about oil, more drilling, politics, crazy environmentalists. Nothing new. I'd heard the conversation twenty times over and knew better than to argue any of the points. I didn't even think I was listening until I found myself saying, "Oh, Clive, that statistic has been discredited ten times over!"
Clive gaped at me. The other men looked surprised that I spoke.
Try to be softer, my mother said. So far as I could see, soft got you nowhere. Soft got you married to a man who spent his life making up problems to solve and leaving you to sleep alone. Besides, Clive knew I was right. I'd proved him wrong on that point before.
Now we'd have to stay up half the night discussing why I couldn't mind my smart mouth in public and how I didn't have to be always right. He'd explain until I wore down and agreed.
He patted me on the hipthe socially correct version of a pat on the bottomand said, "It's okay, sweetie, I don't think you really understood the concept of what we were discussing. But love ya, babe!" And with an off-color joke, he guided the group of men away, leaving me standing there.
Maybe I just needed sleep. Probably I shouldn't be drinking whiskey.
With every intention of swapping my empty Jameson glass for some Chardonnay, I headed to the saloon-style bar. Better to have something cool I could sip slowly. Drinking whiskey never contributed to my resolutions to get along with Clive. I appreciated that Clive was a great catch, handsome, successful, charming. Everyone said so. Somehow that just wasn't enough anymore.
Maybe it was me. Perhaps, like my father, nothing could make me happy.
Lately Clive had been saying that logic meant more to me than love. I had to bite my tongue to defy him to prove to me that love existed outside of Hallmark cards and romance novels. Did it register on an oscilloscope or an EEG?
I didn't think so.
I set my highball glass on the bar, nodded to the very cute but very young bartender and kept walking.
Pulling my coat and purse from the hooks near the reception hall door, I walked out the door. My body carried me away as if it belonged to someone else.
And no one saw me go.
I wasn't thinking about what I was doing until I was driving down the two-lane rural highway, turning up the radio to non-Clive-approved volumes so I could better hear Nickelback assure me that everything would be all right. But just not right now. I sang along, a curious sense of elated freedom lightening my mood. It felt good not to think.
When I did start thinking again, the first thing my brain did was point out that I wasn't on the interstate. Instead it coursed off to my left about half a mile across railroad tracks and prairie, angling away. I hadn't passed any kind of sign in quite a while, but I'd definitely missed the interstate access and was probably going east, not west, in the deepening evening.
To get on I-90, I'd have to turn around, which I found myself absolutely unable to do. As if I'd gained some kind of escape velocity from the immense gravity well of Clive, from my old life, momentum I couldn't afford to lose. So I just kept driving, feeling the tension bleed away with the rhythm of the highway. I ended up at Devils Tower.
What can I say? The weathered billboards with the big arrows caught my eye.
They produced a kind of longing in me for something I couldn't quite define. That cold, creeping restlessness in me warmed to the sight of the arrows, like they pointed to the one thing I'd always wanted and never had. I felt compelled to follow them, as I did in those dreams. As if someone was sending messages I couldn't quite hear.
Not logical, but at least it seemed that the plates of my skull might hold together.
Night hung heavy under the trees, a shadowed contrast to the spring sky, which still held a little light. As I wound around the hills, buff-colored sandstone stood out in bright relief to the dark greens of the pines, which in turn made dark silhouettes against the gloaming. Wyoming skies radiate lightone of the best things about the place.
The next bend revealed the tower, starkly outlined against the blue dusk. I might have seen it before, had I been looking in the right placedown instead of up. I'd expected a peak thrusting against the sky, but Devils Tower sits down in a river bottom, carved out of soft sandstone by the Belle Fourche River until only the striated stump of granite remains. As I dropped into its valley, the tower showed black against the darkness, so dark the shadows around it paled to vivid blues.
I found the gates to the park open but unmanned, so I filled out the yellow envelope at the self-pay station with one of those three-inch pencils provided in the bin.
Name, date, car make and year, a ten-dollar bill stuffed inside. I kept going, excited now, circling the base of the tower that loomed so immediately above me that I couldn't see it much anymore.
The road terminated, fittingly, in one final curla circular parking lot at the base of the tower, gleaming in the growing moonlight. I stood out in the dark, leaning against the car, as if I was waiting for someone. Like when you were a teenager and every trip to the mall held limitless romantic possibilities. I remembered the champagne giddiness of it all, as if, if you could just walk around enough, you'd find him. Or he'd find you.
Mule deer wandered nearby, cropping the new green grass in the center parkway. And that was it. Pretty evening. Peaceful scene. Nothing else happened.
So much for epiphanies.
Oddly disappointed and abruptly exhausted again, I drove back down the paved road. I didn't know what I'd been expecting. Something more than deer.
A dirt turnoff to the right was marked by a peeling sign for Devils Tower Lodge: Friends and Guests Only. A place to sleep was absolutely what I needed. I turned in. A sign at a second cattle guard repeated the invitation and warning.
At the end of the road a few buildings clustered beneath the bright light on the pole, the same blue-tinged spotlight every rural homestead in Wyoming seemed to have, as if they came free with cattle-guard grates, woven wire fencing and sheet-metal tool sheds. A new-looking Jetta was parked in front of the house that didn't look like a lodge. As I walked up to the door, another sign said Welcome. Piano music tumbled softly within.
Okay then. I rang the bell.
"Hi there!" said the guy who opened the door, as if I were a neighbor who stopped by frequently.
I hesitated on the doorstep. He wore several beaded chokers around his neck, framed in the open collar of his faded work shirt. A white mustache stood in stark relief to his tanned, wind-roughened face. An ex-hippie.
"I'm Frank," he said, holding out a hand. It seemed he might be about to hug me, but then thought better of it.
"Dr. McGee," I answered automatically.
"You got a first name to go with that title?"
"Ohsorry. Habit. Obnoxious habit," I amended, embarrassed. "Jennifer."
He shook my hand. "I've always liked Jennifers. Come on in!"
"Is this a lodge? I'm looking for a hotel or something."
"I have four rooms, all empty, you can take your pick. When the rooms are full, you can camp in the yard. Come any time!" He turned and walked back through the mudroom. A shelf ran along the wall with various hiking boots and climbing shoes ranged along it. A scribbled sign said Shoes, with a helpful arrow pointing to the shelf. I slipped off my pumps and set them there with the outdoorsy footwear. Frank waited for me inside the house, by the now-silent piano.
"I'm sorry to come so late, without notice " I began. Maybe this was a bad idea.
"Hey, I figure everyone who comes to this door is brought by divine inspiration of some kindBuddha, God, the devil, whatever you believe. It's my job to help you on your way."
Definitely an ex-hippie. But harmless, obviously. I sure wasn't driving any farther tonight if I could help it. "So, M.D. or vet?"
"Oh." I waved my hand, regretting my slip. "The PhD kind. I'm a professor at UW." I left out that I studied neurophysiology. Somehow I could never make that come out right. It was like telling people you were actually a rocket scientist. They never looked at you the same again.
Frank nodded to the hallway on my left. "You look tired. Take the Burning Daylight room. It's our honeymoon suite. In the morning you'll see sunrise on Devils Tower." He said it as if there was no greater experience. Maybe to him there wasn't. And I could barely keep my eyes open.
To hell with it.
"Do you need to swipe a credit card?" I reached to open my purse, but Frank just waved a hand at me.
"We can do that in the morning, after pancakes."
I fell asleep to the sound of piano music. Ironic to find myself in the honeymoon suite, when I'd finally walked away from Clive. He was, no doubt, furious over yet another example of my erratic behavior. Illogical and dangerously emotional. Lying in that lodge bed, I really wondered what had possessed me. Maybe I needed to consider seeing a counselor. Out my window, the tower loomed, blacker than the night sky, a silhouette that blocked the stars. An absence of light that somehow still beckoned me.
I dreamed of the Dog, yet again.
The room was warm and steamy, lined with stones.
The floor, ceiling, walls were all formed of rounded cobbles. I stood at the edge of a black pool. At least, it looked opaque in the flickering torchlight. At the shallow edge, near my toes, I could see that the water was transparent. The floor sloped down, the pool growing deeper and darker, until it disappeared into shadow. No end in sight. I must have been planning to bathe, because I was nude.
Then the Dog was there.
The angel hairs on the back of my neck lifted. I spun around. Like a statue of a hound carved out of black glass, the Dog sat on the stone steps that led down from above. Trapped. His amber eyes glinted with relentless hunger, and I wanted to flee but couldn't. His jaws dropped into a canine grin, white fangs echoing sharply pointed ears. I waited for him to attack, knowing I had no other choice.
He cocked his ears and tilted his head, waiting for me to answer a question. I didn't understand what he wanted. I just couldn't quite grasp it.