escape to elphyne

Dystopian Fantasy Romance where the Fae Protectors meet their match with strong, sassy human women.

Of Kisses and Wishes Novella (Paperback)

Of Kisses and Wishes Novella (Paperback)

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Fae Guardians Novella (Season of the Wolf 2.5)

Anise has always been teased for being a lesser fae of Elphyne. With no magic, no ability to shift, she’s left with little faith in herself. Two things she wishes for: the kisses of a long time friend who never dates outside his shifter community; and to find the elusive Ice-Witch, a dark fae who promises to give her everything she needs to feel whole—magic, and the ability to shift.

Caraway left his pacifist family to join the Guardians and became a ruthless protector of Elphyne. He wanted to prove his breed could be more than docile prey, but two years ago, he failed at protecting the most important fae in his life—his b Anise. 

When a new mission forces them together on a quest, secrets and desires are revealed. But have they been revealed too late? Even if Caraway can stop Anise from making the worst mistake of her life, no one walks away from the Ice-Witch with their soul intact.

Glass coin tinkled as it landed in Anise’s hand. She counted, and then checked down the length of the bar to see if her coworkers watched. Once sure she was free, she pocketed the amount instead of adding it to the Birdcage’s nightly takings. She reached beneath the bar and pulled out a small vial of red glowing liquid. Forcing a smile on her face, she handed it to the awaiting female wolf-shifter with wide, earnest eyes.

“You get caught with this outside of Cornucopia, you didn’t get it from me. Understood?” Anise warned.

The female smiled tightly, looked down at the tail swishing behind Anise, and struggled to hide her disgust. “I know the deal.”

Anise scowled back, immediately on the defense. Any fae who stared at her tail like it was monstrous, classed themselves superior to those lesser fae, those like Anise who appeared different to humans, but held no mana from the Well, and thus couldn’t shift or use magic. Lesser fae were considered only one step away from animals.

The shouts of cruel children surfaced from Anise’s memories.

“Without your tail and ears, you’re basically human!”

“Take that back!”

“You can’t shift. You can’t hunt. You can’t even protect your own kind.”

“Shut up!”

Sing-song taunts. “Human. Dirty, dirty human!”

“If you don’t stop, I’ll tell on you.”

“Who will save you? You have no friends.”

“Are you going to give me what I paid for, or what?”

Anise’s gaze returned to the white-haired female shifter. Like all wolf-shifters, her fur-tipped pointed ears gave her away. She also had an unremarkable body squeezed into a straight dress that hugged her skinny frame. And she smelled like wolf beneath all that perfume. There was nothing special about her, yet she clearly thought so. Probably the daughter or a distant cousin of some high fae Summer Court lord.

“What are you dumb as well as less?” The female snatched the vial from Anise’s hand, unstoppered the cork, and downed the contents in one hit.

“Easy there.” Anise flinched. “You didn’t even wait for the right dose.”

“I didn’t come to Cornucopia for the right dose. Just like you didn’t come here to feel like the second-rate citizen you are. I’ve taken Scarlixir before. I have plenty of elves as friends. I know exactly what I’m doing.”

Anise had to bite her lip to avoid scoffing. Elves may have been the original fae who’d concocted the elixir, but they had no idea how the magical and inebriating mana-infused mixture had been cut and diluted with other chemicals to save coin in production. Anise didn’t even know. She had to go by what the dealer had told her. They didn’t call it Scarlixir for the scarlet color. No. It was because if you overdosed on the euphoric inducing drug, it made you want to claw your skin until it bled. Hence, the scars.

“Suit yourself.” Anise smirked and watched the wolf sashay away to the dance floor. “Ooh, you’re going to be paying for that later, too.”

She glanced up. The three-story verdant nightclub overflowed with greenery. The central column reached all the way to the ceiling where a hole revealed the night sky. The crescent moon had crossed to the other side of the observatory. If she’d looked five minutes later, she’d have missed it, and the signal that her shift was over.

Elation lifted her soul. Finally. She’d been waiting for this moment for five years. Time to go on vacation. She patted the coin in her pocket. There was enough for where she needed to go, but that last sale was the icing on the cake.

Bidding adieu to her co-workers, Anise collected her jacket from the staffroom and checked her bone dagger was safely strapped to her belt before heading home. Not only was the dagger reinforced with mana to make it stronger, but she’d paid extra to spell it to always hit its mark. It cost a fortune, but after she was attacked two years ago and held hostage, she liked to feel secure.

The walk home to her modest apartment was not a safe one, but there were no safe parts of town. Cornucopia was not ruled by any fae kingdom, neither Seelie nor Unseelie. It existed as a neutral territory where all fae-kind could come together. No rules applied. Well, not many. Those rules were enforced by the Order of the Well, who were more like the magic police in terms of offenses to the integrity of the Well. If you were like Anise and held no mana with which to pervert, or held no forbidden metals or plastics, you weren’t even a fly in their swamp. The only other law was that of The Ring, a gladiator-style pit where you solved your differences.

Lucky for Anise, she’d kept to herself during her stay. She’d only left her home town of Crescent Hollow because it was no longer safe there either. As the closest fae settlement to the humans in the wasteland, she’d met the unfortunate fate of being kidnapped and tortured two years earlier. The ringleader of this torture was the Alpha of Crescent Hollow at the time, Lord Thaddeus Nightstalk. He’d been secretly working with humans to bargain for metal cages and weapons so he could control Guardians—the mana-enhanced warriors who worked for the Order of the Well. As part of the deal, Thaddeus had also tortured many of the lesser fae residents of Crescent Hollow, Anise included.

It was pure cowardice. Not only had Thaddeus picked those fae who were more vulnerable, but he also sucked dry what little mana they had so he could give it to the humans for their own nefarious purposes. It was Anise’s only blessing to have no mana to give.

Shivering with reasons nothing to do with the cold, Anise kept her hand poised over her dagger and her eyes wary. Every shadow and insect scuttle made her jolt. By the time she made it to her place, she was a bag of raw nerves. Once inside the one-room apartment, she double bolted the door and lit a candle. Not only did she check every dark crevice of the room, but also beneath the bed. Once satisfied, she crossed to the window, tweaked the drapes, and peeped outside into the dark alley street. Her room was on the second floor, and there was no other way to get into the room other than the front door.

After she washed her face, she pulled the pillows from her bed and stuffed them under the covers so it looked like someone slept there. Then she unsheathed her dagger, got to her knees, and crawled beneath the bed. There she had set up her own little den. A woolen blanket, another pillow, and a collection of her most precious items. A box with her saved coins, a dried flower her friend Caraway had once given her, and a secret invitation addressed to Anise from the Ice-Witch. Her salvation.

Clutching her dagger, she settled and tried not to let the darkness bring the wails and screams from her nightmares. The memories of being trapped in a cage, elevated from the ground, starved, and emaciated.

Two weeks.

She’d been held hostage for two weeks. Little food. Little water. And no one came to save her. Not even the one friend she thought she had.

“Who will save you? You have no friends.”

Anise sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. Cradling it to her chest, she clutched the Ice-Witch’s invitation until she fell asleep.

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