Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Snooping 101 ~ guest post by Anise Rae, author of Syphon's Song

Today, I'm pleased to bring my readers an fun guest post from author Anise Rae about the basics of book snooping along with some interesting tidbits from her new paranormal romance novel, Syphon's Song. Be sure to check out her book as well as her great tour wide contest at the end of this post. 

Excerpt from Syphon’s Song:

“Is this what you read for fun?” Bronte reached for one of the books that stood at attention on his floor-to-ceiling shelves. The impact of the title was like a hot fist to her chest. “Deadly Mages: Sirens, Syphons, and Necromancers,” she read aloud. Her throat clogged like it was stuffed with cotton. The binding creaked a warning as she opened it to its middle. She stared down at a rough illustration of a beautiful woman cradling a withered man in her lap. A syphon sucking a mage dry, Bronte guessed.
Vincent took the book from her, folded it shut, and put it back. “That one’s not pleasant reading.”
She turned back toward his shelves to search out other gems. One book had no title. She slipped it from its spot on the shelf. It was heavy in her hands. The leather cover was plain on the front as well.
“What’s this?”

Book Snooping 101

Take a look at any reader’s shelves and you’ll get a glimpse of their heart and soul. As Bronteinspects Vincent’s books, she sees proof that he never forgot her, though they only met briefly thirteen years ago. She realizes he’s not trying to lure her back into his life as a power play or a political move. He’s in this for her. Lucky girl.
Bookshelves are an informative source to snoop around if you’re looking to…ahem…syphon…information about a new acquaintance. But keep in mind that a simple glance is not enough. Rather like the adage, don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a reader by the eye-level shelves of their collection. You’ve got to get to the good stuff. Look for more than just the genre that dominates the shelves or the organization of the collection. Pick up a book or two. (Though be careful. Remember that airline commercial when the woman looks into a man’s medicine cabinet and all the shelves fall down? No snooper needs a repeat of that. You don’t want to have to buy an airplane ticket to flee the scene.)
So after you carefully slide a book off the shelf, does the spine crack? Is it brand new and not actually been read? Or is your new friend particular and insists on keeping the spine intact? Are the pages earmarked? What section does the book fall open to? The poignant monologues? Maybe he’s a thinker. Are the battle scene pages falling out of your new potential girlfriend’s book? Maybe in her heart, she’s Xena the Warrior Princess.
Here’s a question for you…if you were to turn this examination on yourself and look at your bookshelves through the eyes of a stranger, what would you conclude? Of course, correct conclusions will be easier to come by, but you might find a few surprises.
I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours…
Snoop through my house and you will see there are no books in the main living area of the house! When I first started thinking about this, I couldn’t believe this was true. You’ll only see my books if I invite you into my bedroom where I have an entire wall of them. Many of them are hard backs, ones I’ve read because my book club chose them. I keep them in my room because they’re filled with memories. The books on display aren’t necessarily reflective of my literary tastes…except for the big Harry Potter section and the knitting books…and the Sandra Boynton board books. I read those a thousand times to my kids when they were little, and I can’t bear to part with them. Again, like my book club books, those books hold precious memories.
If you want to see my favorite books, the ones where my heart lives, you have to come deeper into my bedroom,behind a little wall that separates the closet area. That’s where Cat and Bones live, along with Anita Blake and Jean Claude, and Adam and Mercy, all members of an enormous paranormal population that resides in the deepest parts of my house. It’s also where Eloisa James and Julia Quinn hang out with their in-triplicate pal Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick.
My book snooping conclusions? Books are my version of a photo album. They hold my past. Some of my best memories are contained within those pages. As for the fact that my books are so deep inside my house, I think that says that I hide a lot about myself, only letting those very close to me see my real self. Interestingly enough, I created a character that also hides. Bronte, the heroine in Syphon’s Song, has a secret so big she pretends to be something she’s not in order to survive.
Time to snoop on you now. What do your books reveal about you? Leave a comment and I’ll put your name in an e-hat and draw one winner for a $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to leave me your email address! And join in the Rafflecopter giveaway too!


Syphon’s Song
Mayflower Mages
Book One
Anise Rae

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Lyrical Press/Kensington
Date of Publication: March 3, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61650-211-9
Number of pages: 359
Word Count: 98,000
Cover Artist: Renee Rocco

Book Description:

Legends say a syphon can drain a mage dry. He’ll brave the danger. Will she?

Someone’s playing pranks. The body of the late Casteel patriarch has been stolen and gifted to the family’s enemy, the powerful Rallises. As far as Bronte Casteel is concerned, they can keep it. She hasn’t spoken to her family in thirteen years, not since they exiled her from society for her lack of mage power. But she’s a syphon mage, able to drain another mage’s power. Syphons’ destinies are always the same: death by fiery stake. She hides her secret by living among the Nons--powerless humans and the lowest class in the Republic. When her family orders her to go plead for the body’s return, she comes face to face with the one man who knows her secret.

Colonel Vincent Rallis isn’t letting his syphon get away this time. Not when she’s under suspicion of body-napping and aiding anti-mage terrorists. He’ll prove her innocence whether she wants him to or not, and then convince her they belong together...forever.
Vincent’s help comes with a steep price: Bronte must reveal her power. The inevitable ensuing witch-hunt and trial would be bad enough, but even a tough girl might buckle if her prosecutors are her own parents.

CONTENT WARNING: Hot, steamy nights with the colonel’s magic touch
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance

Available at Amazon  iTunes   Kobo   BN 

Bronte faced the senator. “I’m here to ask for your help.”
“Help with what, Bronte?” The gruff, hoarse words came from behind her, accompanied by a flood of vibes.
She wouldn’t have recognized his voice except for that energy pouring into her. She wrenched around in her seat to see the lion prowl out of the shadows.
His gaze targeted her like she was prey that might escape. “Tell us how we can help you. And then you can explain why you ran away from me.”
Her mind recorded him like a pencil scratching away at paper to save his image—his dark hair clipped short, eyebrows that formed stark lines with a skeptical bent near their ends. A crease pulled between his brows that hadn’t been there before. His rugged face had weathered storms his brother had avoided. Those storms had chiseled away any softness.
She closed her eyes, stopping the mental sketching—a necessity to save her sanity. She turned her whole body back toward the senator and only opened her eyes when she knew Vincent wasn’t in her line of sight.
“Vin!” Happy surprise colored every note of the senator’s voice. “How long have you been standing back there? Your energy is so subdued I didn’t even sense you until now.”
“I didn’t either.” Edmund’s voice was equally surprised. “Miss Casteel, your beauty has distracted us.”
Bronte fought to keep her calm mask intact. Her heart boomed like the senator’s voice and threatened to shake that mask right off her face. She couldn’t let that happen. Diplomatic words and composure were her only weapons in this battle, a quick escape her only viable strategy. She stood, one move closer to getting to the door. At her cue, all the men stood as well.
The closer Vincent came, the more his energy reached out to her. It touched her, filled her in places she’d forgotten were empty. Dangerous memories spilled back. If she knew how, she’d dump his vibrations out of her hidden vessel, turn it over, and sit on it like a metal bucket until it sank into the dirt with the force of her weight. She’d seal her hollow spaces shut and keep him out forever. To do otherwise would only invite death to creep close.
Vincent strode toward her.
She held her ground and looked him in the eye. “I do not need your help. I am simply the messenger. Here on behalf of the Casteels.” She cleared her throat to try again and turned to the senator. “Senator Rallis, my family requests your assistance.”
The senator’s wise gaze locked on Vincent, his expression thoughtful and full of silent words Bronte lacked the power to hear. Curiosity lit the dark depths of his gaze as they landed back on her.
Vincent leaned toward her. “And they sent you as their messenger?” His voice was soft, a caress against her skin. “The most vulnerable and weakest of them all, to fight their battles.”
“I am not weak.” She risked a quick glance at him. “I have plenty of strength to fight whatever battles I need to.” She bit her tongue to stop her aggressive tone. Arguing would not help her cause.
“Vincent, you are making our guest uncomfortable.” The senator’s tone went quiet. Deadly. The boom was much safer, she realized.
“No, I’m not. At least not with my vibes, Granddad.” Vincent’s reply was matter-of-fact. He held all the power between them, and he was going to use it. Running for the door would not help her now.
“My mage vibes do not make her uncomfortable.”
Her hold on her tongue wasn’t tight enough to stop her gasp. She’d messed up. Goddess, but she’d messed up. She closed her eyes for a moment at the realization. Instead of drinking Vincent in, she should have faked a reaction to his power, imitated the jittery anxiousness Nons felt around a mage who wasn’t suppressing his energy. Maybe that would have saved her.
“Vincent. She’s a Non. Of course you’re making her uncomfortable.” The senator’s reprimand was deceptively soft.
Bronte stared at Vincent as desperation swirled inside her. “Please. Don’t.”
“She’s not a Non.” Vincent’s words shattered her hope of escape.

Tour giveaway:

2 e-copies of Syphon’s Song

1 $50 Amazon gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Author:

Anise Rae grew up among the cornfields and soybeans of Ohio, dreaming of being a ballerina, an astronaut, and a romance writer. Thanks to her soul deep love of chocolate and a lack of natural grace, her ballerina dreams floated away as high as the moon, equidistant with the astronaut aspiration. She stuck with writing. 

Now transplanted to the south, Anise lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her kids and a dog gifted with the power of finding dirty socks.

Syphon’s Song, a 2012 Maggie Award of Excellence finalist, is the first book in the Mayflower Mages series.

Author photo by
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tea Leaf Tales: For the Price of a Bird of Paradise Song

On my daily walk going nowhere in particular other than through the fresh air, this majestic bird chirped at me, “Please, I beg you, free me from my captivity.”

“But you are in every bird’s idyllic home—paradise—where food and water and sunshine are everywhere.”

“True, those are freely abundant, but I wish to travel and see the world whispered about by the finches and squawked about by the scaup ducks. They have the life, not me.” The bird lowered his tone, and I drew nearer. “I have seen my brothers and sisters make the same pleas, but once cut free, they were forced into a worse prison of a narrow tube of stale water with no sunlight, but I can tell you are different than those who’ve passed by here before. You can transform my stem into wings, can you not?”

I worked to hide my smile and replied, “That may be true, but what will you give me in return?

“A beautiful song.”

I withdrew my pocket knife, and as I slashed his thick stem, a whistle grew into a clear note, into a trill, into a melodious warble…and off he sailed…for the high price of his first song that I deemed a fine trade.

Tea Leaf Tales is a series of original ten-sentence short stories by Marsha A. Moore, relating to photos/scenes that resonate with her.
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The First Secret is a Story ~guest post & contest by author of The Dragon's Message, Lori Fitzgerald

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome Lori Fitzgerald, author of a new fantasy book, The Dragon's Message. She's sharing a bit about what inspired  her to write this wonderful tale. I love her cover art! Please be sure to check out her book. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy!

“The first secret is a story…”
by Lori Fitzgerald            

When I was in high school my father bought me a navy leather-bound edition of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. I read it in bed by dim lamplight in the still hours after midnight during a week when the lancing pain of an ear infection made sleep elusive. The enchantment on each page made the pain bearable and, at the same time, illuminated a magical path for my life to follow.
In college my friends knew where to find me: lurking on the deserted third floor of the library near the Celtic myth section of the stacks. As an English major I specialized in my passion, medieval and Arthurian literature, so most of my stories are infused with Celtic and/or medieval settings, and The Dragon’s Message in particular takes place in a medieval fantasy land. Medieval literature abounds with hidden meanings, for in the landscape of the medieval mind, a character, setting, object or even action have both a literal and a symbolic meaning.  There are many secrets in The Dragon’s Message. Allow me to share a few hints to their discovery with you.
Lady Rhiannon of Caer Idris lives in a world filled with castles, knights, and tournaments.  In the very beginning of the story, Rhiannon’s heart is set pounding – in fear? or in longing? – by the sight of an entourage’s heraldic banners and the coat of arms on the lead knight’s shield. Medieval heraldry began as practical badges of recognition, so that armored knights could be identified in battle.  However, the symbols, or charges, also represented the qualities that the knight and his family held important. Sir Gwydion’s family banners are a blue background with a gold band at the top. The gold (“Or”) symbolizes generosity and elevation of the mind, and the blue (“Azure”) symbolizes truth and loyalty. These are keys to the quest in the story. The family coat of arms is, in medieval heraldic terms, “Azure, a unicorn passant reguardant Or, a chief embattled Or, file Azure.” This means the shield has a blue background, and a gold unicorn with one front leg reared and its head turned to look behind it is in the center. The unicorn symbolizes extreme courage, virtue, and strength. The top part of the shield is a gold band shaped like the top of a fortress turret, which symbolizes protection…or fire. On this gold band is a blue “file” symbol (it looks like an “E”) which is the symbol of the oldest son. This is how Rhiannon knows that the troop’s leader is Sir Gwydion. Other sons would have different symbols on the shield. And here is a hint for Rhiannon’s family coat of arms: look to the tapestry in the main hall of her castle for its interpretation.
Rhiannon’s medieval world is also populated by fantastical creatures such as dragons and unicorns. Unfortunately, these creatures are dying breeds. For many years wizards under the direction of various ruling lords have been stealing these creatures’ magic for their own. Rhiannon is the keeper of the Dragon Tome, a special book that holds the language and the secrets of the dragons. But there is more than meets the eye to this lady, as some names in the story suggest. Her castle “Idris” in Celtic/Welsh means “fiery,” and was also the name of a legendary giant in Celtic myth who lived on a mountain ridge (Cadair Idris). Her great-great grandmother’s name, Aelwyd, means “from the hearth.” And even the runes that the dragon messenger writes with “its red-gold ember breath in the darkening sky” hold multiple interpretations, because dragons “do not speak in as simple or as many words as we do, for their throats are clogged with embers. So each rune has many meanings, and can be interpreted in many ways, often depending on the other runes that they are with.”
In true medieval fashion, many secrets abound in The Dragon’s Message. I invite you to enter the world of the Dragon Tome and discover them! 

A dragon writes a cryptic message with its ember breath in the evening sky...

Lady Rhiannon watches from the turret wall with an ache in her blood. She's the only person who can decipher the message as the sole keeper of the Dragon Tome. When an old enemy threatens the castle, her father charges his knight with escorting her to a safe haven—the same knight Rhiannon had a crush on as a girl. But she must now convince him to change his plans, for she has her own sacred charge to fulfill...

So begins a journey to hidden ruins where magic slumbers in the stones and love lies in the heart, waiting to awaken. As Rhiannon and the knight face seemingly insurmountable odds, only the dragon knows if they can fulfill their destiny...

An excerpt from The Dragon’s Message:

When Rhiannon was small and had just learned to read, her mother brought her into the hall one day when her father was on campaign, and led her to the large table upon which a great map of their lands lay.  She instructed Rhiannon to read the words of the landmarks: castle, road, mountain, forest, village.  The young girl touched words inscribed over a place where trees met craggy peaks.  “What does that say, my love?” her mother prompted.
            “Here be dragons,” Rhiannon answered, glancing up at her mother.
            Her mother nodded, smiling.  She knelt down in front of Rhiannon so they were at the same height.  The lady’s hazel eyes sparkled as she whispered, “I have a secret to share.  But I can only share it with a little girl with red and gold hair,” she pulled playfully on Rhiannon’s braid,” who knows how to read.”  Rhiannon giggled.  “Are you a little girl such as this?” Rhiannon nodded eagerly, and her mother laughed.  She stood up and gestured at a tapestry on the wall.  “Come, child, the dragon guards our treasure.”
            Hand in hand they walked to the tapestry of the sleeping dragon.  “Your great-great grandmother wove this tapestry when she was an old woman.  It took her a long time to complete, with her hands gnarled so, like the twisted oak by the drawbridge.”  The dragon was curled up in front of a turret, with stone dolmens in a semi-circle behind it, interspersed with trees and a mountain peak in the background and bright blue sky above.  The dragon’s scales were crimson and woven through with glittering gold thread, and its curved horns and talons were gold.  As they paused in front of the large tapestry, Rhiannon looked closely at the eyes of the dragon; she thought perhaps she could see a slit of gold, as if the dragon were only pretending to be asleep. 
            Rhiannon’s mother stood on tiptoe and moved part of the tapestry to the side, revealing a slit in the stone wall.  With her free hand she reached in and drew out a large leather-bound tome.  She motioned her daughter to come sit with her on one of the benches that lined the walls.  “Look and listen well, my daughter,” she said, and ran her fingers along the smooth cover, “this book is our special treasure, and it contains many secrets within its pages.  I am going to teach you how to read them.”  She opened the book as Rhiannon snuggled closer to her, her mother’s loose red-gold hair falling over the girl’s shoulder and brushing the crinkly parchment pages of the book which she turned until she came to the picture of a girl.
            “The first secret is a story…”

About the Author:

Lori J. Fitzgerald lives in New York with her fellow English Major husband and their two little bookworms. Medieval literature is her passion, and she wishes she could spend more time traipsing around Renaissance Faires and shouting “Huzzah” at jousts. She was a middle school English teacher for many years and was best known for her dramatic readings of The Princess Bride. Lori is currently a Staff Writer for the website Once Upon A Fan, the popular fansite for ABC’s hit show Once Upon A Time. You can contact her by email at

Contact Links:

Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cover Reveal ~ Secret of the Souls, an upcoming fantasy novel by Terri Rochenski


Secret of the Souls

Release Date: October 6, 2014
Target Reader: Adult
Keywords: Fantasy

Back of the Book

Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.

Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tea Leaf Tales: Only for my Besties—A Magic Elixir

For my extra special friends—that’s you—I’ve got something incredible to share. But first, promise that you won’t tell anyone, or at least just guide them to my directions here—that’s okay—but only if they’re on your absolute bestie list.

One day last week, I noticed my neighbor a few doors down loading and unloading several five-gallon buckets from the back of his SUV. The guy is the ultra-handy sort and always up to do-it-yourself projects, one after another that make mere mortals feel even more ordinary.

Sometimes, I like to walk past his house to get ideas for my own projects, or to enjoy the mental challenge on the way home of trying to find time that doesn’t exist in my schedule to take on one more job.

Anyway, this time my reason was pure snooping, nothing principled, idealistic, or industrious as I strolled past looking like I had nothing better to do than enjoy the settling dusk, but instead spied purple water in one of his buckets—not just plain purple water, but a gleam of violet phosphorescence haloed the surface. I lingered behind a bush, and my neighbor poured the elixir on his bougainvillea vines, rose bushes, and creeping sunshine mimosa. Before my eyes, those plants grew thicker foliage, more abundant blooms, and headier fragrances so strong that I was delirious with the scent in my nose even after I returned home.

The next morning, when he loaded the empty buckets, I followed him to the back of our housing area, along the pot-holed construction road to this unmarked well. Since then, I’ve worked my own magic on my jasmine vines, which are now engulfing the porch with sweet, angelic, popcorn-like blooms…and the secret is now yours.

Tea Leaf Tales is a series of original ten-sentence short stories by Marsha A. Moore, relating to photos/scenes that resonate with her.

Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Copper Girl's Birthday ~ guest post by urban fantasy author Jennifer Allis Provost

 Today, I'm pleased to bring my readers a guest post from Jennifer Allis Provost about her new urban fantasy release Copper Girl. Check the bottom of this post for a great giveaway contest!

Copper Girl’s Birthday List
by Jennifer Allix Provost

I know writers say this all the time, but I adore my MC, Sara Corbeau. She’s smart, funny in spite of her bad jokes, and she appreciates the simple pleasures in life. Below is Sara’s birthday wish list, showing just what a down-to-earth gal she is. 
Coffee: Sara loves coffee, so much so she drinks it all day and all night. Cinnamon cappuccinos are her favorite, but she will happily drink black coffee, a shot of espresso, etc. She partakes of other forms of caffeine as well, especially if Micah’s serving tea with honey.
Hooded sweatshirt: Easily Sara’s favorite fashion accessory, she owns one for every day of the week, though most of them are black. They’re perfect for ensuring that no one sees her Elemental mark.
Bread: Sara doesn’t have a sweet tooth, she has a carb tooth, and the government rations she’s supposed to be eating taste more like sawdust than bread. She has a habit of going to the Promenade market with her best friend, Juliana, and stocking up on contraband bread and cheese. And if a bottle of wine sneaks its way in the bag, what of it? Can’t have good bread with bad wine.
Old movies: Sara once rigged up her Picture Vision so she could watch pre-war movies. You know, from back when the acting was good. After the war, the Peacekeepers rounded up everyone with talent and forced them to work on government projects. Sara keeps her head down, and works in a corporate office sorting reports.
A gift certificate to a salon: After obsessively dying her copper-colored hair for more than a decade, those tresses could use some tender loving care. It’s not that she wanted to dye her hair, but the color was yet another marker of her Elemental abilities. She has to be careful, or she could end up like her father and brother. Not that anyone knows what really happened to them.

Copper Girl
The Copper Legacy
Book One
Jennifer Allis Provost

Genre: urban fantasy
Publisher: Spence City
Date of Publication: June 25, 2013
ISBN: 978-1939392022
Number of pages: 248
Word Count: appx 80k
Cover Artist: Lisa Amowitz

Purchase it at Amazon or BN

Book Description:

Sara had always been careful.

She never spoke of magic, never associated with those suspected of handling magic, never thought of magic, and never, ever, let anyone see her mark. After all, the last thing she wanted was to end up missing, like her father and brother.

Then, a silver elf pushed his way into Sara's dream, and her life became anything but ordinary.

Excerpt Chapter 1

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
My office, like most modern offices, cranked the air conditioning down to Arctic proportions during the summer months. Consequently, we workers arrived in the morning dressed in sandals and sleeveless tops, donned heavy sweaters upon reaching our desks, and ended up shivering by noon. Ironically, when our workday ended we were hit by a wall of oppressive heat the moment we stepped outside the main doors. No, this wasn’t a flawed system in the slightest.
That day, I wasn’t having it. I had the grand idea of spending my lunch hour outside, away from the icy wind stiffening my fingers and chilling my neck. After I unwound myself from the afghan I kept in my desk (and only used in the summer months), I gathered up my lunch and my phone and headed out for an impromptu picnic in my car.
What I hadn’t considered was that the office runs the air conditioning so cold because it was, well, hot outside. Very hot, in fact. So hot that the cheese was melting in my sandwich and the lettuce looked like something that had washed ashore months, maybe even years, ago. I was parked in the shade and had taken down my car’s convertible top, but I still couldn’t manage to get comfortable. I’d already shed my sandals and cardigan, which left me wearing my sundress and…
Dare I?
I glanced around the parking lot of Real Estate Evaluation Services, the ‘go-to firm for all your commercial real estate needs’, according to the brochures. No one, human or drone, was taking a noontime stroll, and, by virtue of my being on the far side of the lot, no cars were near mine. Most of my coworkers didn’t even have cars, so the lot was rarely more than half-full. What was more, from where I sat, I couldn’t even see the office.
I dared.
I took a deep breath and channeled my inner wild woman, then leaned the seat back and slipped off my panties. Removing that small bit of cotton made an incredible difference, and the heat became somewhat bearable. Enjoyable, even. Was that a breeze?  
Ignoring my decrepit sandwich, I fully reclined the seat, set the alarm on my phone, and closed my eyes. A nap. Now that would make today bearable.
Suddenly, he is there.
Kissing me, holding me.
I know I’m dreaming, because he’s perfect. His lips are soft but insistent, his hands gentle. I glide my fingers across his back, feeling thick cords of muscle, before sinking my fingers into his hair. It’s superfine, like cobwebs, and when I crack an eyelid, I learn that it’s silver. Not gray or white, but the elegant hue of antique candlesticks and fine flatware.  Cool.
I squeeze my eyes shut again, not wanting the dream to end any sooner than it has to. He kisses me once more, and I can’t help melting against him. His hand travels up my leg, up past my hip… shit! No panties!
I try twisting away, but he already knows. I feel his mouth stretch into a smile, and he moves to nuzzle my neck. “What’s your name?” he murmurs.
“Sara,” I reply. “Yours?”
“Micah.” By now, his hands have traveled to my waist, and he slides one around to stroke the small of my back. “Why did you summon me, Sara?”
“I didn’t,” I protest. “I don’t know how.” I would say more, but he nibbles a trail from my neck to my shoulder, and pushes my dress to the side. As for me, I let him .
Micah raises his head, and I get a good look at him for the first time. His eyes are large and dark gray, like thunderheads, his features chiseled into warm caramel skin, and his unruly mop of silver hair seems to float around his head. He wears an odd, buff-colored leather shirt, made all the odder in this heat, and matching leather pants and boots. Boots?
“You did summon me,” he insists. “My Sara, you must tell me why.”
“Does it matter?” I ask. I pull him back to me, kissing him with all the passion I’ve never felt with anyone during my waking hours. Micah kisses me back, fingers deftly unbuttoning my dress while his other hand rubs my lower back. I’ve never felt so free, so alive as I do in Micah’s embrace, and I have no intention of rushing this. None at all.
My phone screamed for attention, thus ending the best dream that had ever been dreamed. Ever. I fumbled to silence it, then shook myself back to reality. I still felt warm and glowy from the dream, almost after-glowy. It wasn’t until I stretched and got tangled in my clothing that I noticed anything was amiss.
The straps of my dress had slid down around my elbows, and the dress itself was unbuttoned to my waist. What’s more, my bra was all askew and a nipple was dangerously close to freedom. I shot a quick glance around the parking lot as I fixed my clothing; luckily, there was no one around, either of the human or robotic drone persuasion. I hoped no one had gotten an eyeful of how I was apparently fondling myself in my sleep.
Some dream. Soon enough, I got the top half of my dress squared away and reached into the passenger seat, only to come up empty. My panties were gone. 
Great. Either one of my coworkers had found me sleeping and stolen them, or a randy squirrel had absconded with my delicates. Hoping for the latter, I stuffed my feet back into my sandals and returned to the office and my ever-growing mountain of paperwork.
Speaking of the mountain there was a fresh sheaf of reports on my desk, ready for sorting. My title, if it can be called that, is Quarterly Report Collator.
This impressive moniker means that I have the ability—no, make that the responsibility—to place various documents and reports in their proper order, usually alphabetically. I’ve even been known to utilize ascending numbers when the occasion warrants, a feat those who get paid far more than I do cannot seem to manage. As long as they keep paying me, I’m fine with my place on the food chain, low though it may be. It sure beats the alternative--a luxurious but caged life as a sellout government shill, performing spells on command as if they were parlor tricks. My family may have lost much, but we still have some pride left.
I dove right into the heap of reports, for once appreciating the mindless work since it gave me the mental space to dwell on my dream lover. Why would a man in my dream claim that I’d summoned him? And what was with his getup? Micah had looked like he should be playing the part of a swashbuckling hero in a trashy romance novel, not hanging around in the parking lot of a midsized corporation specializing in commercial real estate acquisitions and liquidations.
And his name: Micah. I was certain that I’d never heard it before, which puzzled me. If I were going to create a dream lover, wouldn’t I give him a regular name like Tom or Joe? A name I was at least familiar with?
I swiveled in my chair and called up my search engine. We are not, under any circumstances, supposed to use this bit of technology that is standard issue with each and every one of our ergonomically correct workstations. I’m not quite sure what the punishment for internet usage is, but I’ve always imagined ninjas dropping out of the ceiling and hauling me off to their lair. After enduring a mild torture session, I’m given a cup of hot sake and sent on my way.
I could have waited until I got home. I had a nicer computer and better, faster internet access than the office does, but I couldn’t wait. Not while the image of Micah’s thundercloud eyes still burned in my memory, inciting not-safe-for-work thoughts.
I typed in Micah: define, and the results page immediately listed a bunch of Biblical references. Mmm, not exactly helpful. I clicked around for a while until I found one of those sites that specialized in the meaning of names. It read thusly:
Micah ( mī ' kə ) he who resembles God.
Huh. My dream man was certainly attractive, but I didn’t know if I’d go so far as to call him a god. Then I remembered that there was a type of stone called mica, which also seemed like an unlikely source for me to pull a name from. In the midst of typing mica: stone, I was interrupted.
“Hey, beautiful.”
I glanced up and saw Floyd, the office sleaze, hovering at the edge of my cubicle. Better and better. I clicked off the browser and nonchalantly swiveled away from the keyboard. To throw the ninjas off my trail, of course. “You and Juliana heading over to The Room tonight?” he asked.
The Room is a local hangout, stocked with stale beer and watered-down liquor, not to mention a floor that has never, ever been mopped. Not. Even. Once. But it’s cheap and close to the office, so we all go. Since I started working at REES, I’ve been a regular. “We haven’t discussed it.”
“Everyone’s going,” Floyd pressed. “C’mon, I’ll buy you a drink. You like gin and tonic, right?”
I heaved the stack of reports from my lap to my desk and uncrossed my legs, squarely planting my feet in order to deliver the Keep Away From Me speech to Floyd yet again, when I remembered my lack of undergarments. Quickly, I snatched my afghan from where I’d tossed it before lunch and spread it across my lower body like a shield.
“Whatever,” I mumbled, which Floyd counted as a victory.
“See you there,” he drawled. I hate him.
I spent the rest of my shift with my thighs clamped together, having mild anxiety attacks whenever I stood. Or sat. Or reached for anything. Needless to say, by the end of the day I was more than ready for something eye-wateringly alcoholic. Juliana, my best friend and REES’s office manager, was game, as she usually was, and we made it to The Room in time for happy hour. Normally, I feel like I’m in her shadow, what with her long, dark hair, matching eyes, and the body of a pre-war pinup girl, but tonight I didn’t care. Right about now, a little overshadowing was just what the doctor ordered.
After a few bowls of pretzels, and more than a few cocktails, I confessed my al fresco state, to which Juliana and I clinked glasses and downed a few shots in honor of my missing panties. Floyd, the scum, welshed on his promise of gin and tonic. I really do hate him.
About the Author:

Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two birds, three cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.

Twitter: @parthalan

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prize pack including a signed copy of Copper Girl, swag, and a necklace inspired by the token Micah gives Sara.
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Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.