All she wanted was a vacation … but Dumnos offered a new life.
Lilith Evergreen has always lived in the California desert, but when she receives an antique ring as a gift, she dreams of a magnificent tree at cliff’s edge, a castle by the sea, and a mysterious woman who bids Lilith to come to Dumnos, a land of mist and rain.
Cade Bausiney is the future Earl of Dumnos, but at present he just wants to bolster the local economy with a scheme to increase tourism. When he meets Lilith, a tourist from the other side of the world, his attraction to her is overwhelming ~ but are the feelings real or magically induced?
Long ago a wyrding woman’s spell ended in disaster that left two souls to haunt Dumnos to this day. Lilith and Cade must find a way to make things right – or be forever possessed by the spirits who’ve waited a millennium to consummate their love.
Prologue: A Wyrding Woman
Cold and salty winds drove in over the Severn Sea and blew Frona’s hair in every direction. She pulled her cloak’s hood forward and stepped behind Igdrasil, the ancient oak which clung to the cliff edge. Since dawn a bank of clouds had approached land from the western ocean. Frona had watched, drawing strength from Igdrasil, and waited.
Aeolios was in those clouds, and he was angry. The god of wind was furious with her for the Great Wyrding.
As a favor to King Jowan, Frona had altered the vast deposits of iron ore buried beneath Dumnos. In human terms, the spell was her greatest success. The king had ordered songs composed and tapestries woven to commemorate the awesome deed. Dumnos now had steel to rival that of any kingdom. It made for lighter cauldrons and more durable horseshoes, and superior swords for the knights.
This morning the king was safe in his bed at Tintagos Castle, and Frona was left to deal with the god’s wrath. She’d made a mistake in the wyrding. She hadn’t considered its effect on nonhuman realms.
Driving rain joined the wind to announce Aeolios’s arrival. When he was at peace he rested in the bowels of Dumnos, but abroad he commanded the wind. Wind – but no thunder, no bolts of lightning.
“Face me, wyrding woman!” A blast of wind whipped around Igdrasil and blew back Frona’s hood. She sighed. Yes, she’d caused him grief, and he would complain, but he was a minor god. “Your contempt for the natural law will not go unpunished!”
The vibration of his voice passed through her and left a residual of nausea. She had gone too far. It was all in a day’s work to bend and guide the material world, but it was a dangerous business to change anything’s fundamental nature. But she wouldn’t admit that to Aeolios. She stepped away from Igdrasil. As a precaution, she set a boundary around herself and the tree, like a bubble, a shield against his temper.
The clouds consolidated and darkened over the waters in the bay and rose in a black billowing flume larger than Igdrasil. The perfect shape of a man formed with eyes that flashed like fire, a gigantic torso, shoulders, and arms.
Frona let out her breath in relief. Aeolios could appear in whatever form he chose, and he’d made himself handsome in her eyes. He wanted something. It would make him easier to deal with.
“Mighty Aeolios, I meant no harm.” Of course the god of wind adored flattery.
But what did her intentions matter? The Great Wyrding may have pleased the king and thrilled the people, but the change in the iron had rippled into every other thing. There would be consequences, but she’d answer to Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Not Aeolios.
“I will allow you to atone for your foolish act.” He smiled. Now that was unnatural. In Aeolios, the attempt at a calm demeanor was unsettling. “I am not unreasonable.”
Ha! Aeolios wasunreasonable by his very nature. “And how would you have me atone?” Frona said.
“I am in need of a wife, and you have two daughters.”
Great gods! Frona’s heart compressed and she had to struggle for breath. This was just the sort of thing Brother Sun and Sister Moon liked: a marriage among adversaries. If sun and moon had their way, the fae would dine at King Jowan’s table on mischief night!
“That won’t do, mighty Aeolios.”
“Give me the young one. She’s of no use to you.”
“She will reign as my queen. Her children will be demigods.”
“Never!” Not Elyse, not sweet Elyse, Frona’s only reminder. The only thing she had left of … him.
“Very well. The beautiful one then.”
For the blink of an eye, it was tempting. Frona reconsidered Aeolios. Proud and eternal. Dependable. Stronger than rock. Perhaps only a god like that could handle her eldest daughter, Lourdes. And it would solve that other problem.
The winds calmed somewhat. “Then you agree?”
But Aeolios was also thoughtless and as quick to strike as a snake. Lourdes’s headstrong personality would more likely spark than mitigate his violence. And in truth, Frona loved Lourdes as much as she did Elyse. She couldn’t let either of them go. The girls embodied the best qualities of their two very different fathers.
“I must decline your generous offer.”
The god’s wail blasted through the air, and the winds ratcheted to gale force.
“Help me, Igdrasil.” Frona laid her palms against the great oak’s trunk to draw on its strength. She was a wyrder, skilled in all the magics, but she wasn’t a god. “Help me.” She drew power down from the heavens through the world tree’s branches and up from the underworld through its roots.
She removed the protective shield from around herself and Igdrasil and infused it with the power she’d collected. She transformed the boundary into a veil which Aeolios couldn’t pass. He let loose another scream, but the sound was insignificant and far away.
“The veil will fade when your rage dissipates.” She spoke quietly, but Aeolios would hear. She sensed him backing away from the veil and its infused higher divine power.
After a silent prayer of gratitude to Igdrasil and the high gods, Frona turned homeward to Glimmer Cottage. She was the most powerful wyrder in all of Dumnos’s history, but she didn’t feel so mighty. Great magic always demands compensation. Brother Sun and Sister Moon had allowed her to draw on Igdrasil’s energy to keep Aeolios at bay, but now it took all her strength to force her legs forward. The encounter had damaged her heart.
She didn’t mind. She’d wyrded the iron out of pride and thoughtless arrogance; she should be the one to pay. She’d give anything to protect her daughters from harm. Aeolios was as changeable as the wind; likely he’d already forgotten that he even wanted a wife.
Give Me, a fairy tale