I’ve been doing some more formatting this month. Just Within a Highland Mist, a Highland Gardens novella, the fifth tale in the series is now available at Apple and Kobo.
Fae pixies are meddling with Gregor’s heart…
At the garden archway, he slipped her hand into his and entered first to ensure naught was awry. He’d vowed to keep her safe.
“Oh, this is lovely,” she said as they traversed the path through the garden beds filled with vegetables and herbs to the rose garden, where he seated her on the turf bench, abloom with small, fragrant white flowers. The gentle scent was heady. As was her beauty.
“I owe you an apology,” she said.
He frowned. “Whatever for?”
“For not believing your story about the pixies.”
“I guess ’tis hard to believe in something you have never seen.”
“I saw one last night.”
Her admission made his brows rise. “You did?”
“Yeah. In my room, while I was bathing. Before you came. She wore a purple gown and had sheer lavender wings. Like that one there.” Emily pointed to a dragonfly-like creature perched on a shiny rose leaf.
He held out a hand and the ebony-haired pixie jounced onto his palm.
Tee teehee hee. Tee teehee hee. Tee teehee hee.
The wee creature’s voice tinkled like the sweetest chimes.
“Here is another!” Emily leapt to her feet and held out a hand. A blonde pixie with green wings landed on an outstretched finger. “This one has iridescent peridot wings.”
Gregor brought his hand closer to his face for a better look at the one he held.
Emily did the same with hers. “Hello,” she murmured.
Tee teehee hee. The pixies giggled again, before blowing dust into their faces. Then with more giggles, they flew away, high over the garden wall.
Emily and Gregor sneezed in unison, and then dropped onto the bench, overcome with laughter. Tears of merriment streamed from both their eyes.
August has brought storms to the area where I live. Every evening, so it seems, lightning flashes across a blackened sky and rolling thunder roars. I remember the earth-shattering sound of thunder when I lived in the mountains, but am surprised how loud it can be at sea level.
As the son of the Queen of the Fae, controlling the elements, especially lightning and thunder, is one of Prince Dugaid’s gifts. He display’s this skill in Just Wait For Me, the fourth tale in the Highland Gardens series.
Dugaid stared at the compromised hidey-hole, a snarl curling his lip. How dare his mother remove her protection from the lost bairns? Oonagh was a beautiful woman, sought after by many a man, both fae and mortal, but she lacked even an iota of motherly tendencies. Had the Fae Queen put the bairns in harm’s way?
His pointed ears perked at a commotion deeper in the wood. A lad cried out as if in pain. Cloaked in the glamour of invisibility, Dugaid followed the scuffling sounds.
Two of the woodland bairns huddled together on the ground, faces battered and bruised. Dugaid fisted his hands. No one had the right to hurt children.
An explosive outburst of nature heralded his anger to the world. Lightning sliced the darkening sky. Thunder reverberated over mountains, hills, and glens. Hail pounded the earth. The pungent smell of ozone sharpened the air, making his nostrils flare.
Maclay’s gaze shot to the ominous sky, and the man frowned. Returning attention to the third bairn, the one he held by the shoulders, he shook the battered lad. “Tell me!”
When the bairn didn’t answer, Maclay knuckle-slapped him hard across the face.
The lad cried out. Blood spewed from a broken nose.
Red also wept through a rag wrapped around Maclay’s wrist, but didn’t hinder the man from inflicting pain on those weaker. “Tell me what you ken of the lass traveling with MacEwen, unless you wish for more of a thrashing.”
“Nae. Dinnae hurt me anymore,” the lad pleaded. “She is from the future. ’Tis all I ken.”
Maclay thrust the lad away, grabbed the backpack from the ground, and strode away from the whimpering bairns. Dugaid’s rage boiled. The storm intensified. One especially jagged streak of vertical lightning pierced the ground at Maclay’s feet.
The villain leapt back, tossing weight from leg to leg, attempting to find balance as the ground rolled and splintered around him. Spider cracks spread from long narrow slits. Trees and rocks tumbled into deep crevasses. The backpack Jillian had brought through the time gate slipped from Maclay’s nerveless fingers. It tumbled into a fissure, got caught by the strap on a branch, and dangled just within reach.
He dove to retrieve it, but the earth pitched with a violent shudder. The pack dropped into the hole while the vibration joggled Maclay precariously close to the edge. He crabbed backward scarcely in time. One more quake closed the opening.
In a flash, Dugaid placed a vanishing blanket over the bairns, making them invisible.
Maclay stood, paced in a small circle, and punched a fist in the air. “Where are those cursed changelings?”
Unable to release his frustration on the bairns, the nasty devil strode away from the scene of destruction, muttering obscenities. Dugaid hated allowing the man to leave, but there were certain covenants to which he must adhere. As much as he so desired, he mustn’t kill a human.
Dugaid waited until the man had traveled a great distance before uncloaking himself and the lads. “Can you all walk?”
“Aye.” The lad with the mismatched eyes helped the older, pudgy fellow, who’d taken the worst beating, rise to his feet.
“Hie tail to the Caves of the Gray Women and use the pool to heal your injuries.”
“Many thanks for coming to our aid,” said the lad with a head too large for his child-sized body.
“You are verra welcome. Now run along and forget you saw me.” Dugaid watched them leave, chanting a spell of protection to keep them safe.
Then he, too, vanished, traveling through the nether in search of Caitrina. She would never win the challenge if she didn’t keep her mind on the task at hand. He was more than ready to give her a lengthy scolding.
Wow! July 20th, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Where did the time go?
The Lunar Module Eagle landed on the moon’s surface at 4:17 p.m. EDT with, if I can believe what I read, less than thirty seconds of fuel remaining. The moon walk took place six hours later.
…one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.
I was at girl scout camp in Pennsylvania at the time. We hiked up the hill from the tent sites to the activity center where the counselors had set up a television and we watched the events unfold. ‘Twas exciting. When I returned home from camp, I learned my dad had named our new beagle puppy ‘Moon Shot Duke’. The thought still makes me smile.
I’ve held a special place in my heart for the ‘moon’ ever since.
What are your memories from when Apollo 11 landed on the moon’s surface?
Continue reading for an excerpt from Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon. And then, please share in the comments your memories from the Apollo 11 moon landing. If you were too young or not born at the time, share your thoughts on what you know of the event.
Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon…
Finn inhaled deeply. His lungs filled with fresh mountain air. For the first time in months, he was free of fawning women. Free of the awkward position they put him in.
Patrick’s sword sliced past his face, drawing him from his thoughts. Rain streamed over his bare chest, mixing with sweat. He needed to pay attention. If he weren’t more careful, he’d do a face-plant in the mud.
“You fight like a lass, MacIntyre,” Patrick taunted.
“Hilt is slippery.” Finn cursed under his breath and sought a better grip.
“You must learn to fight under every circumstance. That includes rain. Could save your miserable life someday.”
Grunting, Finn barely ducked the next assault.
Patrick pulled back. “Enough!” He dropped the point of his claymore to the ground and scowled. “’Tis obvious you are not paying attention.”
Trying to catch his breath, Finn gulped air. He glared at his cousin-in-law. “This is supposed to be just for fun.”
“Ach, then. You must try harder to have fun, lad.” Humor lit Patrick’s blue eyes, and he unloosed the leather strip holding back his long chestnut hair. Patrick MacLachlan was a primitive man; to him a workout with the large two-handed sword was child’s play. “At times I forget we live in a modern world.”
Finn shook his head. “You are my fiercest opponent.”
Patrick laughed and placed a hand on Finn’s wet shoulder. “Come. The bairns are at the inn for Rory’s Thursday morning story time. Let us go and warm ourselves by the fire and listen to the old Highlander tell his tales.”
Finn yanked on a soaked t-shirt and followed Patrick across the wet lawn.
About twenty-five eagerly waiting children sat on the plush carpet in the parlor of the Whispering Pines Inn while gossiping moms relaxed on overstuffed floral sofas. A few dads stood nearby, appearing disinterested. Finn knew better. Everyone loved hearing Rory’s stories.
The crackling fire brought much-needed warmth to the dreary mountain morning. Finn joined Patrick at the hearth, hoping his clothes would dry.
Conversation ended when Rory MacNaughton entered from the rear door, his carved walking stick at his side. The elderly gentleman wore dress slacks, a brown tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows, and a tam covering his white hair. He greeted individuals as he crossed the room and eased onto the tall stool at the center of the parlor. With an age-spotted hand, he motioned for his audience to move closer.
Alert eyes sparkling, Rory glanced at Finn and grinned. One of the men standing nearby snickered. Finn groaned, sure he knew the yarn the storyteller would regale them with.
Taking a deep breath, Rory began…
“The Sithichean, the faeries of the ancient Highlands, had a special affinity for moonstones. Enamored by the pale, lustrous, blue color resembling that of moonlight, they found the best of these unique stones on the shores of their sensuous faerie paradise Tir-nan-Óg—land o’ heart’s desire—having washed ashore on the tides when the sun god and moon maiden were in a particular heavenly harmony.”
Rory leaned forward. “Ye ken this miraculous occurrence happens only once in three, seven-year cycles of the moon…”
He held up an index finger. “Just once in a verra blue moon,” he whispered.
A hush fell across the parlor.
“Handfuls of these precious stones belonged to a beautiful flame-haired faerie with eyes the color and brightness of the most costly emeralds.”
“Caitrina?” a precocious little girl, with red curls and freckles sprinkled across her nose, whispered. Her blond-haired friend giggled, and Rory smiled at the pair.
“She bestowed upon the moonstones magical powers, gifting them to deserving mortals. Some of these charmed stones had the ability to reunite lost lovers. Others gave the bearer the gift of second sight. One especially large gemstone she forged into the hilt of a magnificent Highland claymore, and with a kiss enchanted it with extraordinary power.”
His eyes wide, a boy in front pointed at Finn.
Finn glanced down. He must be a sight, his soaked shirt clinging to his chest and his wet kilt slung low on his hips. He’d grown his hair long and now the knotty, wet strands hung around his shoulders in disarray. Beside him, his sheathed sword leaned against the stone of the fireplace, the large moonstone in its cross-section plain to see.
Rory chuckled, locking gazes with him. With tight lips, Finn shook his head no. He didn’t want the kids to think his sword was the one of which Rory spoke.
“Over the ages, the sword brought many a worthy warrior fame and fortune. That was until the day an evil, dark power used it.” Rory’s voice rose and his pace quickened. “This could not be borne. With green eyes shooting flames of fire, the one who fashioned the splendid weapon cast it far away to vanish in the Sands of Time.”
The storyteller lowered his voice an octave and slowed his speech. “There are those who believe the lost sword of the fae has been found.”
Finn refused to listen to more of the man’s fantasy. He signaled to Patrick he was leaving.
Patrick followed him into the foyer. “Why the rush, lad?”
“My claymore doesn’t have supernatural powers. It’s just an antique sword.”
“Ach, well. Dinnae take offense. Rory means nae insult. He merely wishes for the bairns to believe in a wee bit of magic. Nae harm in that.”
I love this time of year–more hours of sunlight means more time spent in the garden. Time to notice the little things. Like this tiny praying mantis on a daylily bloom.
Time to spend sitting in the garden reading. Perhaps something from the Highland Gardens series…
* * *
Lively fiddle tunes greeted Finn as he parked his truck in the gravel lot near Laurie’s home and garden center. A portion of her garden and the crowd were visible through the iron gate. He was tempted to leave. He didn’t feel like making nice-nice with her business associates, but she’d never forgive him if he didn’t make an appearance.
The anniversary of opening her garden center meant a lot to her. He couldn’t hurt her feelings. And she just didn’t seem herself lately.
They had a falling-out several years ago when she handed him her resignation and moved to Anderson Creek. At the time, the thought of her in the country seemed ludicrous. But since she survived her adventure—at least physically—and married Patrick, damn if she hadn’t proved him wrong. Her garden center and gift shop, Foxgloves, had grown into a successful local enterprise.
He’d been a real jerk back then. So, yeah, he’d stay tonight. Laurie needed to know she could depend on him.
Finn got out of the pickup and entered the garden through the front gate. Geez. He hoped he could dodge Laurie’s two business partners, Jillian and Caitrina, for the rest of the evening.
His luck, Jillian was the first guest he saw. She leaned against the side of the tool shed, watching the musicians. Whenever they were thrown together, she tripped over herself to get his attention. Although it would make his cousin happy, he’d no desire to pursue a relationship with the mousy woman.
She had a kind heart and nice eyes yet the chemistry wasn’t there. No way could he picture her as the mother of his sons.
“Finn.” She waved her arms and lunged forward, knocking over a planted urn. The ceramic pot shattered on the stone patio, scattering shards and soil. She stared at him then bent to clean up the mess.
Shit, he should offer assistance. He struggled with his conscience. Good manners won, but before he moved, a couple of other guests jumped to her aid. Finn grasped the opportunity and strolled in the opposite direction.
He stumbled upon Caitrina almost hidden within the lush foliage near the rear gate. Their gazes met. An impish smile played on her lips.
The fine hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He wasn’t sure what it was about her. Beautiful, tall and willowy, she had intense green eyes. Her long auburn hair would set any man’s heart racing. In fact, his buddy Douglas was in love with her. Nevertheless, there was something unusual about her. Something out of the ordinary he couldn’t quite identify, which made him damn uncomfortable.
Caitrina always watched him, staring with her piercing emerald eyes, as if she knew something he didn’t.
She probably did. But still—
Annoyed he allowed her to unnerve him he tore his gaze away.
Before long, Jillian bore down on him.
He sidestepped a server with a tray of champagne flutes and strode to the sanctuary of the house, to the refrigerator for a cold beer, hoping she wouldn’t follow.
* * *
Caitrina stood amongst the rose-colored foxgloves, alone in the shadows near the garden’s rear gate. She smiled when Finn evaded Jillian’s clumsy attempt to attract his attention. As he disappeared into the house, Caitrina turned away to gaze at the silvery haze surrounding the full moon. The time neared, and she’d work to do.
She would set the match into action before the High Queen of the Fae learned the game had begun. Caitrina could almost taste victory. This round and one more—she’d earn her freedom and be returned to the royal realm.
She inhaled a deep breath and uncurled her fists.
From her peripheral vision, she glimpsed Douglas MacKinnon watching her. Didn’t he understand he no longer aroused her curiosity?
She pressed her palm against her chest. She must have ingested a stimulant with an unusual property capable of causing a faerie heart to beat too fast.
Douglas raised a dark eyebrow in question.
What a meddlesome man. Caitrina glanced heavenward, wishing he’d go away.
When she looked in his direction again, he gave her one of his devastating smiles, saluted, and walked off.
Oh, how she wanted to turn him into a horny toad. But she couldn’t waste time thinking about the beguiling man. She’d a challenge to win.
Taking note of the other guests, she made sure no one noticed as she shimmered, faded, dissolved into a fragrant fae mist.
After singing its heart out, a wren joins the cardinals, titmice, and chickadees at the feeders. Juncos (also known as snowbirds) swoop in from the mountains and mingle with sparrows and doves foraging within the garden beds. Herons wade in the creek.
Birds–symbols of power and freedom–have often been featured in the mythology and folklore of many countries. From prominent figures in creation stories to messengers of the deities to mediators between humans and the supernatural world, birds represent, strength, love, and wisdom.
Perhaps that is why so many of us enjoy watching birds. Birds have uncanny smarts. If you’re lucky, you can observe supernatural bird behaviors in your backyard.
Many birds build elaborate nests without ever getting lessons. They just know how to do it through instinct.
Some birds are born knowing how to navigate by instinct. Hummingbirds hatch during the summer in North America then fly solo a thousand miles or more to their wintering habitat in the tropics, without the guidance of a parent or a flock. In the spring, a hummingbird may return to the place where it began its journey, using its amazing memory. Perhaps you might see one in your backyard hovering around the spot where your sugar feeder previously hung, even though you haven’t put the feeder out as of yet. I’ve seen this occur in my backyard. When I do, I rush to get the cleaned feeder hung. I want to keep the hummers coming to my backyard.
Members of the crow family–jays, ravens, magpies, etc.–have incredible memories. They excel at hiding things and then finding them.
Green herons dine on small fish. They’ve been seen dropping pieces of bread or other bait to lure fish to the surface. Amazing. Right?
I enjoy writing birds into my romance stories…
From Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon, Book 2 in the Highland Gardens series:
She marched across the ridge, her hair blowing in the wind. A loud, rapid kek kek kek kek kek sounded before the whish of wings and the large bird landed on her outstretched arm.
“Trystan, you’ve returned to our mountain. I’m glad to see you, my friend.”
The peregrine falcon murmured close to Caitrina’s ear.
“Ah, you want to feel the sun on your face again. Aye, I imagine the northern tundra was verra cold.”
What happens when a twenty-first century business executive is expected to fulfill a prophecy given at the birth of a sixteenth-century seer? Of course, he must raise his sword in her defense.
Does a horse mentioned in a romance novel need a name?
If you’ve read the books in the Highland Gardens series, you may recall that Caitrina rides a white stallion. The fae horse is mentioned in a couple of the books, but never by name.
In Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the fae horse is mentioned sort of as description…
When they cleared the forest and road into the glen, a mysterious woman galloped out of the mist. Tinkling music filled the air. She raced toward them across the moor, her flaming red hair flying behind her like a pennon billowing in the wind. She rode a handsome white steed with a golden bridle and with golden bells plaited in his mane. The stallion was a fine beast, fast as wind, with an arched neck and broad chest. His nostrils flared; his ears laid back.
Something similar from Just Wait For Me…
A red-haired woman, richly garbed in green velvet and fur, sat a magnificent white steed with golden bridle and golden bells plaited in its mane. The beast stomped a hoof and snorted steam from flared nostrils, impatient for action. The lady murmured something in an ancient tongue and the animal calmed.
I think the stallion needs a name for the next book in the series, Just His Fae Kiss, especially since the tale is about Caitrina and Douglas. I expect Caitrina will have more interaction with the animal in this story and I hope the fae horse will become a character himself.
So I need your help. I’m running a contest over on my Facebook author page, Dawn Marie Hamilton, to find a name for Caitrina’s steed. Consider heading over there and entering the contest pinned to the top of the page. I sure will appreciate your help.
The contest will run through December 13th. Good luck!
Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow the first day of autumn. I love this time of year with its cooler temperatures. Recently, I spent a few days in Annapolis, MD. I enjoy hanging out in the historic section of town and taking in the sights. Kimberly and Robert from my paranormal romance, Sea Panther, visited Annapolis during their December cruise along the coast headed for Florida and Robert’s Florida panther refuge in the Everglades.
They traveled on a 90-foot sailing yacht named Sea Panther (also Robert’s nickname) and harbored in Annapolis while Robert was to meet with a boat builder to discuss the renovation of the yacht. Much, much more happened.
While there, Kimberly shopped along the cobblestone streets and visited a shop with mostly wool merchandise based on an actual store on West street.
An Excerpt from Sea Panther:
After dinner, the boys headed farther into town to hit the bars. Not inclined to join them in the carousing, Kimberly strolled the main drag where stores were open late for holiday shopping.
Glitzy seasonal decorations sparkled everywhere. The sight of animated Santa’s elves plying their trade on high tech electronic toys behind the plate-glass storefront of a hardware shop made her chuckle.
Kimberly suppressed the urge to enter a brightly lit jewelry store. She couldn’t afford to feed her fetish. But on approaching one of the trendy boutiques, the wintry window display drew her in. It was love-at-first-sight with the wool merchandise. While admiring a red cashmere sweater dress, her cell phone rang. Darn. She’d lost track of time.
Sarah’s number lit the screen. Her sister’s phone batteries must be good for a change.
“Hey,” she whispered into the phone not wanting to disturb the other shoppers.
“Are you okay? I went to pick up your car. One of my guy friends went with me. Thank God. ’Cause someone broke into the car. And the cops—”
“Slow down. What happened?” Kimberly’s pulse raced.
“I’m trying to tell you. Someone shot out the light on the lamppost over your car at the marina and smashed the passenger side window.”
“You’re kidding. Right?”
“I wouldn’t kid about a thing like this.”
Shit. Shit. Shit. Why would someone break into her car? She’d only left clothes in it.
“Kim? What where they looking for?”
“No idea. Tell me the whole story.”
“The police searched the car. Lifted some prints. They’re checking to see if any match the ones found in your room at the B&B. I told them about the hit man. They questioned Mr. Romano. Of course, he denies involvement.”
“Oh, Sarah, you didn’t. He’ll never forgive me.”
“What does it matter? He’s not your client anymore.”
Kimberly looked heavenward. Her sister didn’t get it. Sarah didn’t understand the importance of maintaining professional contacts.
“What else did the cops say?”
“They’ll let me know if they learn anything from the prints.”
“Was my car damaged?” The darn thing would probably cost a fortune to fix.
“Only the window and I had it repaired. And hey, all my friends think I look really cool driving around in a shiny black Beemer.”
“Be careful. That car is the only valuable possession I have left.”
“Yeah, it’s a good thing you paid it off before Jerky Jason came into your life.”
“I don’t want to go there,” Kimberly murmured, tired of Sarah’s constant reminders of how rotten her ex had been.
“Gotta hang up. Boss is calling for me. Be careful. Love you.”
“Love you too.” Kimberly pressed the End button and returned the cell phone to her purse. She glanced through the large plate-glass window into the street at the holiday shoppers strolling by. Unease tightened the muscles across her chest.
Just how much danger was she in? Was someone trying to scare her or was someone out to hurt her?
Needing a distraction from the mounting fear, she wandered to the next clothing rack and fingered the soft weave of a mohair cape. The tactile sensation soothed. Suddenly the hairs on her arms rose. Someone stood behind her. Heart pounding too fast, she spun to meet the captain’s intense gaze.
“Ach, lass, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He stepped closer.
Kimberly released the breath she held and willed her pulse to slow to a normal pace. “It’s okay. I’m not usually the nervous type. You must have caught me during a rare moment.” She didn’t want him to think she jumped every time a man came near.
The captain fondled the forest green cape she’d been admiring, and a delicious chill shivered along her spine. For a man with large hands, he had a gentle touch. What would those long fingers feel like caressing her skin? The thought of him massaging her breasts the way he did the wool caused a shot of lust to rush through her system.
Chills and fever. What a potent mix.
“This garment would look beautiful on you,” he said.
“Thank you.” She lowered her head to hide a flushed face. “I’m afraid I can’t afford it.”
“Will you tell me why a woman with a quick mind like yours is out of work and homeless?”
His question was blunt and to the point—a splash of cold water to raging hormones. How she’d landed in the current situation was the last thing she wanted to explain. She raised a wary gaze to meet his. “Captain MacLachlan, I—”
“Never mind.” He waved an arm as if to erase his words. “I did not mean to put such deep sadness into your eyes.”
“Excuse me. We’re closing,” one of the shop’s employees interrupted. Her gaze lingered on Robert as if to say, you’re welcome to stay.
“We are leaving,” he said to the woman then smiled at Kimberly. “Come. Walk with me.”
She followed him out onto the sidewalk. Cars slowly drove by on the one-way street. If a hit man was after her, in truth, he could be anywhere. She tamped down on her nerves, feeling foolish, refusing to believe someone wanted to harm her. It didn’t make sense. Her ex-clients were respectable businessmen. The burglaries had to be a bizarre coincidence. After all, she’d left the car in a nearly deserted marina. No wonder someone broke into it.