With Illness Comes Understanding

Over the last two weeks, thanks to a trip a waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells, I’ve been suffering with a severe and aggressive case of viral conjunctivitis. My right eye was scarlet red, leaky, painful, and swollen. I looked like the losing side of a boxing match and it wasn’t pretty.

Besides looking like a mess, I felt like a mess. The virus set off my lymph nodes all down the right side of my head which made me ache everywhere in my head and neck. I could barely sleep. I was treated, and treated myself like a leper, washing constantly so not to pass in this illness to anyone else. Goodness, I even had a system for tissues and which hand touched which eye, so I didn’t cross-contaminate myself. And even though I was super careful, it crossed to my good eye (though not as severely) and both eyes were blurry even with my glasses on. I felt like a walking bomb of germs with a hair trigger setting. To say I was miserable, was a mild description… I was downright awful!

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From the first day to today                       A 13 day span

 

Though the whole time I had to keep going for my family’s sake. My son was recovering from a tonsillectomy and his well being always comes before mine. Once he was settled, then I could take care of myself. But while all this was going on, no matter how pathetic I felt about myself, I tried to pick myself up by saying, “This is nothing compared to what some people have.”

I was brought to a place of humbling understanding thinking about how many people out there have illnesses completely worse? How many people are born with complication and deformities they won’t get rid of in two weeks? These people suffer ten times more than I did and for far greater a time. My stupid eye virus is nothing in the scheme of things.

I felt a sympathy for those with a live-life need for medical attention. If my eye was as miserable as it was, imagine what it’s like to live with Apert Syndrome. The little girl I raised money for this past summer, Hannah “the Warrior Princess” Donnelly, had this affliction. She’s disfigured, breathes with the help of a ventilator, and is constantly in the hospital. If she gets so much as a cold, she’s in a life or death situation. Yet, this is her life, she makes the best of it the best she knows how, and she has a smile in every photo I see of her. Her outlook is so beautiful and yet, here I was sobbing because I looked like (and felt) Rocky Balboa for a couple weeks.

Thinking this way put things into perspective for me. It helped me cope and get through this hiccup, because illness has a way of making one feel pathetic and weak. What I was able to do instead of continuing that downward-spiral thinking was pray for those who have illnesses and disabilities worse than I did. I prayed for their peace, for their mental and physical state, and made sure to check in on them. Even if you, the reader, aren’t religious, by simply reaching out to those with critical needs you’re giving them support and acknowledgement. Perhaps they had been in a bad place mentally and your words hit at the right time. No matter what the situation, hearing from a friend is always a good thing.

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Coming Soon in Eryn’s World

Good morning readers, I thought I’d give you a little update on some of the projects I have planned this spring and in the year to come. Writing… writing… writing…. that’s the biggest activity going. My plate is super full of new work. Currently, I’m writing the sixth book in the Falling for Heroes series entitled Falling for Strength. In this book will take place between the end of Falling for Sacrifice and its epilogue. It’s both Miguel and Rowan, Isabel and Alexander’s brothers, stories. Being that both guys were minor characters in Falling for Hope and Falling for Sacrifice, I had an idea to go with dual protagonists for Strength and combine their stories. My lovely story editor, Liam Cross, worked with me over Christmas perfecting the two storylines so they worked fluidly together, and I’m happy to report that this one is going to be AWESOME! I can’t wait to really get into it now that I can handle myself better.

Second and third big project coming later this year: I am very happy to say that I have received the publishing rights to my first two books, Beneath the Wall and The Blue Lute, back! At the start of my career, I was signed with a small publishing company. They gave me the break I needed to get started to where I finally came into my own through independent publishing. But as the years went on so did the interest in those books. They are still amazing stories and excellent books. Beneath the Wall reached #7 on Amazon’s paid list (which at the time was higher ranked than The Hunger Games 1st book – can I get a woohoo!). Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 7.51.47 AM (1)
The Blue Lute didn’t do as well, but I don’t believe it was from the story, but the lack of promotion. Well, we’re going to give those two a new lease on life later on this year with a full revamp – including top-notch editing, extra scenes, and new covers. They babies are going to shine like a bright, new diamond by the time I’m finished with them.

Lastly, hopefully by Christmas I’d like to release a novella prequel story to the Falling for Heroes series. I have a great outline and popping ideas for a story but I’m not sure if it will be a full novel or a collection of short stories catching up on the Hannels and their family and what started them all – the knight and lady who began the whole clan. I still have a ways to go on that one but my idea is to have it out by Christmas.

I hope you’ll stayed and follow me on here and all my social media outlets (just click on any of the icons or links on the side) there’s always so much to explore in the world of Eryn. Thanks for all your support and interest all over you have given me through out these years as being an author!

Fan fiction Friday – A Star is Born – Perhaps

This very short story came to me after watching the performance of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga on the Academy Awards this past Sunday. Everyone in the media has been speculating whether or not these two actors were indeed a couple, but when I watched them sing… I didn’t see Bradley and Lady; I saw Jack and Ally from A Star is Born. From there I wondered, if this was part of the movie, how would it actually play out.

At the piano, Ally sat in front of an audience of celebrities dressed to the nines. It was the Oscars –The Academy Awards—a place she never thought she’d ever be, with a song she sold to a movie called A Star is Born…a song she and Jack wrote together at the beginning.  She’d worked hard to be here; she’d been through the best and worst times of her life to make it to this moment.

Jack—oh Jack, you’d love to see me here, she thought, taking a breath and placing her fingers against the cold ivory keys.

No, no he wouldn’t, she heard in the back of her mind. He was a drunk who ate prescription medicine like tic tacs. He had jealous fits of rage whenever she was on stage, living in the spotlight like he used to in his heyday. It was what killed him, leaving her alone and shattered.

Ally shook away the devil and angel whispering in her ears and focused on the lead-up to her vocals.

A hand touched her shoulder. She looked away from the mic.

“Jack?” she said aloud, it came out in a breathy rush into the microphone.

He sat next to her on the piano bench.

Awe-struck, Ally moved over.

“Sing.” He spoke into her ear, kissing her diamond-studded lobe.

LGBC2Ally closed her eyes and sang their song from the depths of her heart, feeling him so near to her. His arm drifted behind her, caressing her lower back before settling on the crook of her waist. She leaned into his cheek, the rasp of stubble was familiar and warm. Her belly fluttered at the touch.LGBC

He sang harmony, blending his notes with hers effortlessly. Her breath was in her chest, her thoughts no longer on the song, but on him… only him.

The last notes—power notes—came deep from her soul erupting from her voice box with every bit of angst she’d held inside since the moment Jack died. She sang for him… she sang for herself… she sang for the love they could no longer share.

She opened her eyes as the tune trailed to an end. The cushion beside her was empty. The seat was cold. He was there, but not really—and not ever again.

A tear as fat as the diamond around her neck, fell to her cheek. “I love you, Jack,” she said.

The audience stood, applauded and as Ally scanned the crowd, many were drying their eyes. Why are they crying? Had they seen him too? Perhaps they did… perhaps they did.

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Meeting Alexander Bronwyn aka Adam Croasdell

This weekend, I had the great pleasure to meet the man that inspired my character Alexander Bronwyn from Falling for Hope, actor Adam Croasdell.

Adam is best known for his acting on stage, television, and film; as well as voice acting for a video games and cartoons. I met him through social media about three years ago when he introduced himself to the Once Upon A Time fandom as “Papa Hook” (Captain Hook’s estranged, dastardly father). Incredibly friendly and tweetative (talkative), he and I hit it off. I happened to just be finishing Falling for Phoenix and desperate to go right into the next story. I had a loose plot but no particulars until Adam starting tweeting about what life on the seas with little Killian and Liam Jones would be like. Somehow that triggered my thoughts into seeing him play a father to young children.

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My tweet to Adam with the buds of plot thoughts in my head. Oct. 27, 2015 – notice his icon is the gold triangle and he’d liked it.

My bud of a plan about a man searching for his birth family in order to find a blood marrow donor for his son suddenly had a father figure –Adam.

I wrote him back then about my idea and asked if he minded if I based this character after him. He was honored, and the book was written.

But after all this time–with notes back and forth, becoming online friends, and professional colleagues–we had never met… that is until this Saturday afternoon, February 16, 2019.

I caught my first glimpse of the back of his head walking into one of the convention’s room where he was going to do a panel on acting and voice acting, and decided to peek around the corner to see where he had gone in the room. He was sitting in a chair behind the other guests finishing up the panel in session. I waited. Then as the guests began to file out, I started in.

He didn’t see me at first, then looked over his shoulder as perhaps my presence was felt. With a big smile on his face, he said, “Eryn, I was wondering when I’d see you,” and immediately stood from his chair with open arms. We clasped each other in a long awaited embrace, laughing with glee for finally meeting each other. He wasn’t some fancy-dancy television star; not a voice actor with the most perfect baritone, British accented voice… he was my friend and even more so — he was my Alexander Bronwyn in real life. I was more than elated.

After pleasantries and compliments, Adam asked if my husband and son came with me. I said, “Just my son,” and called Cameron in.

With a big handshake, he said, “Cameron, nice to meet you, mate.” (I did giggle a little then over the fact that he called my son mate… probably the only fangirl thing I did).

Adam spoke with Cam a bit about video games and the convention. When the conversation turned to how long did the drive take and who else we liked here? We could honestly say, “We only know you.”

Adam was genuinely touched. It was then I could tell him how important his being was to me seeing he was the reason my character my created. Now, as I’ve discussed on my website before, and with Adam, I had a very rough time in losing my precious Marley last October. My motivation was shot, my creative ideas were gone, any concentration I had was lost; I honestly didn’t know if continuing writing was possible for me. Seeing a character of mine in flesh and blood was important to my healing, but what I didn’t expect was the uplifting motivation Adam gave to me from one professional in a tough career to another.

img_3364.jpgFrom the long table that sat before the audience of cosplayers and comic enthusiasts, Adam introduced me as his friend, and published author. He went on to tell the room how important writing is as a craft. “Acting is wonderful,” he said with grandiose bravado, “But writing… ahh, there you have all those thoughts and words down on paper and you can pass them across a desk and say, ‘not only am I an actor, but I am a writer as well.'”

He continued to say hone your craft, keep working, keep improving and never ever give up. Don’t leave an unfinished job as it is detrimental to the psyche. Such wonderful, uplifting words not just for me, but everyone to hear.

Later, during the autograph session, Adam was a love and signed a few things for me, including the dedication page of Falling for Hope, and happily posed for a few photographs with the book included. I won’t share what he wrote inside that book, because it is very touching and special to only me, but let’s just say it is a day and a character that I will never forget, and my dreams will never die. You will see more from this author… a lot more.

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Fan Fiction Friday: No One Said Obliterated

Much like I’ve done with several others of my Once Upon a Time fan fictions, I’ve corrected some plot holes, continuity mistakes, or story lines that didn’t work very well. This story is no different. In Season Five, three episodes before the end of the season, the powers that be killed off one of the most beloved characters — Robin Hood. He was a gentle soul, and only a thief when his family needed it the most. The actor who played the role, Sean Maguire, too, seemed to be one of the more genuine people in the acting world. Yet according to the episode entitled, The Last Rites, Robin got between the crosshairs of the God of the Underworld and the woman who held his heart, Regina Mills a.k.a The Evil Queen. The writers went so far to say that he wasn’t just dead, but he was eliminated so completely that he could never return. His soul was destroyed. (Sheesh, Sean Maguire, who did you piss off?). I was melancholy for a week after that episode and knew that one day if the writers didn’t bring him back, that I was. 
As always, the dialogue was taken straight from the show, episode 20 from season 5, and episode 1 from season 6 –  I DO NOT OWN THESE CHARACTERS, WORDS, OR DESCRIPTIONS.
And without further ado… the return of Robin Hood.

NO ONE SAID OBLITERATED

 

“I really hate him,” Regina said across the doorway from Robin.

He peered into her office, seeing Zelena leaning over Hades’ shoulder as he worked a spell on Regina’s mayoral desk. But there, all alone, on the conference table was his daughter in a basket, swathed in the pink outfit and blanket he bought her before they had left for the Underworld. “I see my daughter,” he whispered loud enough for Regina to hear him. “But we need a distraction.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth did the electricity give way, blinking and crackling, alerting Zelena. “My protection spell. Someone’s trying to break in.”

“What did I tell you,” Hades said. “They’re coming for us.”

Through the window Zelena peered. “It’s Emma Swan,” she growled, shoving her arms through her coat sleeves. “Mummy will be right back as soon as I make sure you’re safe,” she said to the baby.

“I’ll see who else is creeping in. One thing I know about these people, they never work alone,” Hades added, gliding his hand along Zelena’s arm. “Be careful.”

“You, too,” was Zelena’s answer and Robin wanted to be sick. Couldn’t she see that god of the Underworld was manipulating her, promising her love in return for evil?

Robin wanted to loathe Zelena for all the harm and manipulation she brought him, including posing as his late wife, Marian, to impregnate herself with his child. But she was still the mother of his daughter, and with that came an ounce of care. She didn’t deserve to be toyed with.

Seeing the two villainous ones on the move, Robin waved Regina over to his side where they could flatten themselves against the wall as Hades and Zelena slipped past. “Who needs a plan when you have blind luck on your side,” he said, leading the way over to his daughter.

Perhaps knowing her father was near, she began to fuss the moment Robin scooped her into his arms. “Your father’s here, and everything’s going to be all right,” he hushed the infant. Regina was by his side, a warm smile gracing her lips at the babe. Oh how he wished her blood ran through his daughter’s veins, not Zelena’s.

“I wouldn’t be so sure.” The foreboding voice of Hades filled the office, sending an icy chill spread across Robin’s shoulders.

Slowly he turned around seeing Hades aiming a menacing crystal toward Regina, the baby, and himself. Robin set his daughter back in the basket and faced Hades with open hands. “Stay away from my daughter.”

“Believe me, she’s not the one in danger,” the god replied, steadying the crystal’s target on Regina.

“Hades, stop. This isn’t worth it,” Regina defended herself, not a smidgen of her fear outwardly showing. It was one of the many reasons why Robin loved her. “If you kill me,” she continued, “you will lose Zelena forever.”

“Shh, only if she knows about it. And this,” he held up the crystal, “isn’t going to kill you. It’s going to end you. No Underworld, no moving on… one minute you exist and the next – you don’t. That’s what you get for trying to turn Zelena against me.”

Hate shown in Hades’ cold, blue eyes for Regina; he was maniacal and deranged… unstable. Robin, stepped forward, hoping to bring Hades’ attention to himself, away from Regina. “This was my idea to break in here. Just use that on me. You let her go.”

Tilting his head, Hades grinned. “Oh sorry, ladies first.” Then in one powerful surge, the crystal engaged.

Robin didn’t think. “No!” he yelled and jumped in front of Regina, taking the power the crystal shot directly in the chest. Electricity and magic, pure power lit him up. His body had taken a blow it wasn’t ready for. He couldn’t hold this; the power burning, liquifying him from the inside. Shock gripped his consciousness, there was nothing he could do, but turn and see Regina staring at him as perplexed as he was, waiting to see what would happen next.

He couldn’t voice what was going on inside his body, but knew he had to remain calm for her sake. This was it. This was the end, and she knew it as well. Fat tears welled in her eyes as the life drained from him. He watched it happen, one moment he was standing still aware of his body, and the next the physical body he once owned slumped in a heap at his feet.

Regina didn’t look down. Her eyes stayed with him… his soul. Just like he always knew, she saw the deepest part of him, not the man on the outside. As gently as he could, not knowing what his spiritual form could do to her, he reached out and touched her cheek, cherishing the last glimpse of a smile on her beautiful face. Then as quickly as the bolt hit him, he was swept away, watching as Regina fell to her knees, cradling his slain body.

“Don’t worry, you won’t be apart for long.”

Hades words were the last thing Robin heard as he was pulled higher and higher above the earth. “Wait!” he tried to shout. “What did he say? Please, stop!”

“Regina,” he whispered, then like a cyclone had picked him up, he was whirred and sucked into a vast portal of light. Suddenly, flashing around him were images, like those moving pictures in the modern world, of his daughter, Roland, and Regina, his friends… They flew by him at a sickening pace, until finally they came to an abrupt stop and Robin was dropped to his bottom with a thud.

Gulping in deep breaths, Robin found himself surrounded by darkness. This must be what Hades meant—no Underworld, no moving on… was he to be trapped in this darkness forever.

“No, this isn’t forever,” a soft voice caressed his ears, and before he could question its origin, lights came to life with a snap.

He was in a room? “What the hell?”

Robin found himself in the most lavish bedroom he’d ever seen in his living life. Plush, pale pink carpeting covered the floor from one side to the other, matching the painted walls and columns highlighted with gold accents. Within each wall were decorated with crushed deep red, velvet panels and golden sconces lit with white flames. Each bit of furniture looked as if they, too, were carved from pure gold; from the delicate, gilded chairs to armoires and a massive bed in the center of the room.

It was there on the bed, lying on top of a red quilted, satin spread, was a woman with long blonde waves, honey colored skin, and eyes as blue as brilliant sapphires. She wore a sheer white, clinging dress that seemed to kiss every curve of her sensuous body. In one fluid motion, she sat up, her long legs dangled gracefully off to one side as she lifted her fingers, summoning him toward her. “This isn’t hell, Robin. It’s Cyprus.”

Unable to resist the urge to rise and cross to her, he did just that, pausing when she raised a flat palm toward him.

“Not the Cyprus of your world, but of mine. We’re on the Mount of Olympus. See?” She pointed to an arched window to his right, and his eyes immediately darted toward the scenery outside.

The glass revealed they were in a cave overlooking a blue-green ocean. Beyond the water was lush green land and towering cliffs in the distance. An otherworldly sight if there ever was one.

The woman’s hand touched his shoulder, startling him. When had she moved? He hadn’t heard a footstep. “I don’t understand. Hades said my soul was to go nowhere.”
“Is that what my uncle said?” the woman—or goddess, as he now guessed—said with a roll of her eyes. “He’s an idiot. My father was right to banish him so long ago.”

“Your father… Zeus?”

“Yes, Zeus,” she smiled knowingly. “Robin, I’m Aphrodite.” Delicately she held out graceful, long fingers for him to accept.

He did, curling the tips over his to kiss the back of her hand. Something he’d only done for the women he loved in his life: his first love, Marian, and the one who owned his heart more fully than anyone else—Regina. These odd actions had him wondering. “Why did I do that?”

Aphrodite retrieved her hand. “Oh, right. Sorry. It’s this.” She touched the belt of spun gold around her tiny waist. “No man can resist me when I wear it.”

“That doesn’t exactly seem fair. Don’t you want someone to do something for you because they want to, not because you will it?”

Raising a daring eyebrow, the goddess reached behind her and unclasped the belt, tossing it to a chair close by. “And that is the reason I brought you to me. I meant to take it off before you arrived.”

Robin shook his head, not comprehending what she said. “You brought me to you?”

“Yes. The Olympian crystal Hades used is like a beacon for the deities of Olympus. He said what he did about ruining you because if you were willed to him, then that’s what he would do. But what he didn’t realize was that once he left the Underworld, he no longer had a link to the crystal. He had no control over where your soul went. I chose you to come to Cyprus to help me. Please, sit.” She asked this time, then gestured toward a chair.

Robin sat of his own free-will, listening to her as she paced back and forth, the train of her dress trailing her along the way. “Once the crystal was set off, I saw everything. I watched what you did for your love. Regina, right?”

“Yes.”

“You jumped in front of her selflessly not giving a care for what happened to you.”

He hadn’t thought about jumping; it was natural reaction to leap in front of what was to harm his love. “Dying for her was second nature. I dove taking on the power of that crystal to save her.”

Solemnly, Aphrodite sat on the foot bench in front of her bed, folding her hands in her lap. Robin watched as her chin drifted downward in what could only be sorrow. “I love someone like that, and he me.”

“That’s wonderful, but why tell me? Why summon me to you?”

She took a deep breath and lifted her eyes to him. “I need you to retrieve him for me. I need you to do this of your own free-will.”

“Pardon me, but you’re a goddess, can’t you simply command him to come to you?”

Aphrodite shook her head. “I cannot. He’s trapped in the deep forest of the Underworld with my sister Persephone.”

Internally, Robin sighed. Not another sister war, he thought.

“No, it’s not like Regina and Zelena,” she said and tapped her temple when his expression reflected his shock for reading his mind. “Gods and goddesses are all-knowing.”

Robin shrugged. “All right, tell me about Persephone.”

“She’s was the goddess of Springtime, flowers, and growth until Hades kidnapped her and brought her to the Underworld. She soon grew to love him and added goddess of the Underworld to her titles. Well, that is until Hades fell for another. That’s when he banished her to the farthest outreaches of the Underworld.

“At the same time, I was working a case involving with a strange couple—a father and daughter who were so captivated by each other that their love brought on a child. It was wrong. I, personally, as the goddess of love have been working tirelessly to rid Olympus of all the incest that has been a norm for eons, and would not stand for this behavior. But when the father found out that his daughter was pregnant with his child, he waited until the child was born and then performed a spell changing her into a tree.

“I was afraid of what he’d do to the child and took the boy from his care. I hid the child I named, Adonis, with my sister in the Underworld. But what I never expected was for him to grow to such a beautiful man. I fell in love with him every visit I took.  Deeply.”

Robin shook his head. “I don’t understand. If you asked your sister to keep him safe, why won’t she let him go?”

“Because she fell in love with him too. We’ve been fighting for centuries over Adonis, even taking it up with our father. His only ruling was that Persephone is allowed to keep him for half the year, and I, the other half. But it was not enough for Persephone after Hades broke her heart. She tethered Adonis’ aura to the Underworld so he can’t leave.”

“And what makes you think that me going to the Underworld on your behalf will change Persephone’s mind in letting Adonis go?”

“It won’t,” Aphrodite said, her eyes roamed around the room. She was leaving something out. “You’ll be his replacement.”

Robin shot from his seat. “No! I won’t live in the Underworld. What kind of fate is that? And here I thought I was to help you.”

Aphrodite stood as well. “Wait. I’m not finished. You won’t be trapped. You’re still a mortal soul. Adonis is not. He has a godly aura. It’s different. Both Persephone and I fed him ambrosia—the food of the gods—while he grew, so Adonis can live as a god like us.”

“I don’t understand,” Robin said, pacing, not liking how his side of the bargain was going.

“Since you’re mortal, you can leave the Underworld. I can tell you where to go to find a hidden portal. It can take you right back to your love: Regina… your family.”

Hesitantly, Robin agreed knowing he had the goddess’ promise of going back to him family. “What do I need to do?”

 

 

Exiting Aphrodite’s golden swan chariot at the end of the dark tunnel they traveled to reach the foothills of the Underworld, Robin ran through the instructions in his head: Approach Persephone’s fortress with open palms; have a piece of goat meat for her hellhounds just in case he meets them first; and finally, compliment the hell out of her and seduce her until she releases Adonis.

It sounded simple enough, especially since Aphrodite gave him her belt, tying it around his right ankle, hidden under his boot. With a few spoken words of Greek, she sparked the belt to glow against his skin, telling him it should work in his favor as long as he wore it.

“Should work?” he’d questioned.

“Try it, if you don’t believe. Will me to do your wishes,” she’d challenged him.

Robin had held out his hand, using his mind to ask Aphrodite to take it.  She did and he yanked her into his solid form, hard and fast. “You better not double cross me. You are not my love. Persephone is not my love. Regina has my heart; my children are the breath in my lungs.” The goddess’ eyes were locked on his, drinking in every word. “Give me your word this moment that your promise is sealed and protected. I will return to them.”

Blindly, Aphrodite had nodded. “You have my word.”

He’d believed the belt was working. As smooth as he joked he was with maidens of the Enchanted Forest before he was married to Marian, he knew his game was weak, and here the goddess of love herself was enthralled by his every word. Yes, the belt was his key out of the limbo of death.

 

“I need to go. Persephone can’t sense me. Free Adonis and tell him to meet me at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be waiting,” Aphrodite said from inside her chariot.

“And the portal home?”

“Make your way through this same tunnel, and at the end you’ll be at Olympus’ gate. Wrap the belt around your fist and summon me to your side. I will make you whole, and you will return.”

Robin thought for a moment. “Why can’t I simply do that now, and command you to do so?”

With a wry curve to her mouth, Aphrodite smirked. “I’m not as light headed as you think. I worked that into the belt’s spell. Only after Adonis is released can you summon me. Now, go. There’s no time to waste.”

Ratting his hair and disheveling his clothes, Robin kept his palms open and head toward the heavy drawbridge of Persephone’s fortress. He called for help as if he were simply a lost soul wandering the woods until the bridge was lowered across the river keeping him from entering the castle.

Carefully, he crossed the bridge, immediately hear the growls and snarls of wild animals. Hellhounds. Robin reached into his pocket and retrieved the goat meat. “Here doggie,” he beckoned.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a low and gravelly voice said.

Facing forward, Robin saw her; Persephone the Goddess of spring, flowers, and the Underworld. And where he thought he’d come across a young, beautiful woman, it was clear time in the Underworld that had taken its toll on her. Skin that was once a rich and bright cocoa color, was now ashen and faded. Long, dark hair fell stringy and unkempt from her crown. And the way she leaned with her shoulder against the arched frame of the doorway, crossing her arms under her bosom, inferred she once had curves and knew how to pose them. But now what was left were bony protrusions interrupting the flow of her blood-red dress.

“I apologize. I was told from those in town your guard dogs could be appeased with goat, so I may have a meeting with you.”

“A meeting? With me? Who are you, lost soul?”

“Robin Hood, your excellency.” He bowed at the waist. Accept me in, he thought, invoking the spell of Aphrodite’s belt.

“A meeting? I don’t see why not, Robin Hood. Follow me.” Persephone turned and whistled. “Pluto, Ruby… stay, guard,” she called out to the hounds he never saw but sensed were quite close by.

The goddess led him in to what looked like a dungeonous dining room, dark and foreboding; iron gates lined the two archways leading to a long wooden table set with fiery candelabras. She gestured toward a chair. “Please sit. Tell me why you are so interested in meeting me.” She sat at the head of the table and poured herself a goblet of wine. “Not many travel this far south, nor choose to meet me.”

Robin took his place at the seat she’d chosen for him. “No? Why is that? You seem like charming company.”

Persephone chuffed at his compliment. “Oh, you must really want something to make this kind of fuss. What is it?”

“You are intuitive, goddess. I was told to seek you out because you might have a way to return to the overworld. Your lover… husband… I’m not sure what he is to you anymore… Hades?”

Persephone rolled two dark gray eyes. “Pain in my ass, more like it. What has he done?”

“He killed me, and I was hoping to make him jealous enough to have him release my soul back to the world where I belong.” It was the story Aphrodite told him to use, from when Persephone was in love with Hades; when she didn’t give a single care about Adonis.

“That’s what he does. Sorry, I can’t help you.” Persephone tossed back the rest of her drink and poured a second. This time, though, she paused and offered him some.

“Please,” he said, angling his goblet toward her.

She poured and Robin held his glass outward, waiting for the customary clink. Hesitantly, Persephone tapped his cup and together they sipped. Robin finished first, setting his wine down. “You once loved Hades, no?”

“I did, but that was a very long time ago. He hasn’t cared for me in decades. There was another that came between us and I went back to an old lover. We’re fine apart.”

“Are you?” Robin twinkled his powder blue eyes at her.

Persephone only nodded and he took the quiet as a way in.

Scooting to the next seat, he picked up one of her hands, holding it gently in his. “I’m pretty perceptive, and forgive me for saying this, but don’t you deserve more than wayward husband and old lover.”

He pressed his lips to the back of her hand, slowly kissing her, letting his eyes linger with hers as he moved away. “Let’s show Hades how you’ve really moved on. And if he still cares, he’ll come back to you.”

She was unmoved and silent, drinking in his seduction, and just when Robin thought his tactic didn’t work, Persephone yanked her hand with his attached, into her and grabbed his lapel, kissing him with all her might. Her power struck him with such force, he didn’t have a chance to respond. He was putty in her hands and before Robin knew it, she was ushering him out of the dining room still attached at the lips.

Shuffling, blindly backwards Robin down a long hall. His only thoughts were of Regina, not the woman hanging from his mouth. This was all for Regina, not Aphrodite, not Persephone, but Regina. He pictured her on the other end of the kiss, drinking him in, clawing at him, yearning for him to be in her bed. Being back with her was his one and only goal.

Going to the extra mile to secure Persephone’s trust, he stopped her rush into her chamber, and took hold of the back of her neck. In one fluid move, he dipped her backward and held her wisp of a body in his strong arms, kissing her, but picturing his Regina instead.

“Mmm, who the hell are you?”

“Only someone who truly knows what a woman wants,” he said, and truly meant it, but not how she thought.

Setting her back to her feet, Persephone kicked the door closed, and with both hands pushed him onto a bed behind him.

“Adonis!” she shouted.

Grinning, it was the name Robin had been waiting to hear, everything was going to plan. He watched as a hatch in the floor lifted and out came a tall and lean man dressed in only a pair of ratted leather short pants. Dark hair curled from his scalp, blue eyes glistened in the candlelight coming from the room’s mantle and sconces. His physique was powerful and commanding. Persephone whisked her hand in the air, setting free the invisible hold she had on him. “Go,” she said. “You’re no longer needed.”

This was Robin’s chance, and took Persephone’s hand, holding her in place. “Adonis, go to the tunnel. A chariot awaits you.”

A quick nod from the immortal, and Persephone’s soft eyes turned to cold. “You toyed with me. Made me believe you’d come to help me. Why do this?”

She tried to yank her hand away, but Robin willed her to stop… and she did. Breath by harsh breath, she realized his plan. “’Dite’s belt… you have it don’t you?”

He nodded. “I do, but I don’t need it.” Reaching into his boot he untied the thing and tossed it out the door.

“I’m sorry for leading you astray. I truly am, but I have news that you will like.” He touched her cheek. “Hades is gone. He no longer rules the Underworld. No one does, as far as I know. Take over. Take your life back. You no longer have a captor. You no longer need to hide away a lover out of fear that you cannot have a love that you chose yourself. Be free Persephone.”

“And what has my sister promised you?”

“The very same. A return to the life that was taken from me by Hades.”

The corners of Persephone’s eyes rose in slight surprise, then softened just as quickly. “Hades has caused enough hate in this world. I’ll deal with Aphrodite on my own.”

Robin’s brows popped up. “Does that mean you’re letting me go?”

Persephone glared. “It doesn’t happen too often, but I can’t let Hades ruin yet another life.” She squeezed his hand. “Go. Return to your world.”

Taking their hold, Robin lifted the back of her hand to his lips. “Thank you.”

“I didn’t say I’d make it easy on you. You did trick and seduce me.”

Wincing, Robin slowly backed his way to the door. “Sorry.”

“You have five minutes to reach the exit to the Underworld before I send my dogs after you,” she said arching a wicked eyebrow.

“Yes, your excellency,” he said with a bow, he grabbed Aphrodite’s belt and took off at a sprinter’s pace out of the castle; the dogs barking at his heel as he reached the tunnel.

Once inside he wrapped the belt around his closed fist. “Goddess Aphrodite, take me home.”

“Your wish is my command.” Aphrodite appeared glowing next to him in the darkness of the tunnel. She smiled upon him. “Not only did you bring back my love, but you brought back Persephone’s strength. I saw what you did and I’m proud, Robin. Thank you.”

Robin bowed. “You are quite welcome, your excellency.”

He straightened and Aphrodite touched his forehead with a single finger. He blinked and found himself in Regina’s mansion; Henry standing in front of him, Regina at the fireplace with his quiver of all things. Her power surrounded it. The quiver rose then promptly fell.

Unable to speak still stunned that he was back, Robin watched as Henry walked further into the room. “Mom, why are you doing a locator spell?”

Regina’s eyes were fixed on her son’s, neither realizing he had returned. “Roland had a gift. Zelena lost it… it was Robin’s feather.”

Henry joined Regina on the sofa. “You know better than anyone why it didn’t work. It’s looking for him. And he’s gone.”

“’Obliterated’. That’s how Hades put it.”

Tears welled in Regina’s beautiful eyes, so brown and rich he’d often gotten lost in them. He couldn’t let her cry one more false tear for him. He stepped into the room. “No one said obliterated, my love.”

“Robin,” passed Regina’s lips in a soft, disbelieving whisper. Slowly, she stood and came toward him.

Mouth agape, she reached for him. Robin smiled, feeling his own tears filling his eyes. “He said he’d end me, but it wasn’t my end yet.”

Touching his face, his neck, his shoulders and arms, Regina’s shock transformed into joy shining in a smile bright enough to light the night sky. “It’s really you. You’re here. You’re back. Oh Robin.”

Clasping him in her arms, Robin reacted the only way he knew and lifted her chin, kissing her with all the warmth that flooded his newly beating heart.  “I am, and I’ll never leave your side again.”

Leaning away, Regina beamed. “Do you promise?”

“Always, my queen. Always,” he said, and captured her in his arms, dipping her back to fully kiss her the way he’d been dreaming about since the moment he was ripped from the world where the two of them existed…together.

 

** To Be Continued **

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books and Wine… Be Mine?

Are you tired of crappy Valentine’s Days? Tired of waiting for dates or even to find that special person your heart has been longing for? Well, this year, if you are near Bloomington, IL, you don’t have to worry about that at all! Five amazingly talented romance authors and I will be in the Hy-Vee Tasting Room reading samples from our books, giving away prizes, and selling and signing our incredible books. Friday, February 8th, from 5-7pm we will be tasting wines and getting our romance on. Mark your calendars now, this is one event you don’t want to miss.

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MEET THE AUTHORS

 

GENEVIEVE JACK

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USA Today bestselling author Genevieve Jack writes weird, witty, and wicked-hot paranormal romance and fantasy. Coffee and wine are her biofuel, the love lives of witches, shifters, and vampires her favorite topic of conversation. She harbors a passion for old cemeteries and ghost tours, thanks to her years attending a high school rumored to be haunted. Although originally from the Midwest, she now adores the beaches of the southeast, where she spends her days with her laptop and one lazy dog.

Don’t miss her newest novel THE DRAGON OF NEW ORLEANS, coming March 2019!

 

Follow her on:

Facebook: Genevieve Jack Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Genevieve_Jack

Amazon’s Author Central: Genevieve Jack

Her website is: GenevieveJack.com.

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JANICE CROOM

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Janice Croom is the author of the Kadence MacBride Mysteries. Death of an Idiot Boss and Death of an Island Tart are available now. Book three, Death of a Diet Queen, will be available this fall. In addition to novels, she also writes short stories and has had 15 of them published. The latest, The Phoenix, is included in the science fiction fantasy anthology Athena’s Daughters II by Silence in the Library publishing.

When not writing she’s a voracious reader and views writing as reverse reading. Toni Morrison said, ‘If there’s a story you want to read that hasn’t been written, you must write it.’ Janice has written the stories she wanted to read and hopes you enjoy reading them as much as she’s enjoyed writing them.

She loves to cook, is active in her church where she teaches Sunday School and Children’s church, and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Follow her on:

Facebook:

Twitter: @Janicecroom1

Amazon’s Author Central: Janice Croom

Her website is: www.janicecroom.com

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M.J. SCHILLER

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Bestselling author M.J. Schiller is a retired lunch lady/romance-romantic suspense writer. She enjoys writing novels whose characters include rock stars, desert princes, teachers, futuristic Knights, construction workers, cops, and a wide variety of others. In her mind everybody has a romance. She is the mother of a twenty-two-year-old and three twenty-year-olds. That’s right, triplets! So having recently taught four children to drive, she likes to escape from life on occasion by pretending to be a rock star at karaoke. However…you won’t be seeing her name on any record labels soon.

Follow her on:

Facebook: M.J. Schiller, Romance Author

Twitter: @MJSchiller

Amazon’s Author Central: M.J. Schiller

Her website is: mjschillerauthor.blogspot.com

 

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TL FISHER

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TL Fisher is an author of the angsty side of love, so she uses the term romance novelist loosely. She is an avid believer in the philosophy; life isn’t about finding yourself as much as it is about creating who you want to be. We are the architect of our own destiny.

When she tells a story, her main goal is to make you feel. If you haven’t laughed out loud, breathed a gooey sigh and wiped snot from your nose, she feels she hasn’t done her job.

Her motto in life is–when nothing goes right–go left.

Her best advice–never make eye contact while eating a banana.

Follow her on:

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/authortl.fisher.5

Twitter: @Brianna_Truth

Amazon’s Author Central: TL Fisher

Her website is: Author TL Fisher

 

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ERYN LaPLANT

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And me, of course, Eryn LaPlant grew up wishing she could have lived in the books she read, living through characters and their romantic adventures. Now she writes romances of her own to share with readers like you. When not writing, she spends time with her loving husband, their handsome son, and three fluffy pets in the land of Lincoln. If she can’t live in the past, she figures she can at least live amongst it.

Pick up and start falling in love with the Falling for Heroes Series today!

All my links and social media are listed on the top right corner of this website.

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And for those who aren’t into the lovey dovey, romance stuff, we’ve just added our Anti-Valentine’s Author.

 

A.K. DICKERSON

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A.K. Dickerson is the horror pen name for Andrew and Krystle Dickerson. The married couple lives in the midwest with their three children and dog. Both work professionally as full time writers and Andrew owns a content creation company called Typedit. Krystle currently attends the University of Illinois where she is studying English Literature and is a multi-genre author published with Crazy Ink under the pen name Krystle Able.

Follow her:

Facebook: AK Dickerson – Horror Author

Amazon Author Central: Krystle Able

Her website is: www.krystleable.com

 

Closure… and New Beginnings

The end of 2018 was a very tough time for me. I lost my sweet, little dog Marley to a tragic hit-and-run car accident that both my son and I saw happen right in front of us. His death caused a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, and more sadness than I have ever felt in my life. I’ve lost people I’ve loved; I’ve lost other pets, but none like Marley. This fluffy Pomeranian was my heart.

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Marley The Pom 4/10/10 – 10/10/18

He followed me wherever I went. I knew what each bark meant. I knew when he was nervous, tired, hungry, had to pee… we were quite a pair. Then came October 10th, and he was taken from my life in a blink of an eye.

For days and weeks, I was depressed and searching for the answer of why did this happen? What could I have done differently? Nothing came to mind. Nothing was revealed. I went so far as to post a note on several telephone poles and trees in the neighborhood around us saying, “If you are the woman with the beagle or the man in the car that witnessed the car accident involving my sweet Pomeranian, please call me,” and I left my number. (PS, if you don’t know Marley chased after a beagle being walked across the road just before he was hit, and only one gentleman helped by blocking the road with his car and retrieved poor Mar after the hit).

Weeks passed after posting, and no one had answered. I pressed on, praying, focusing on my family, doing my best to write, but the recovery was slow. Writing was difficult and simply just not happening.

 

I had to do something though, I couldn’t keep crumbling. So little by little I let my heart started heal.

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Penny

We adopted two new babies: one female Pomeranian – Penny who is 8 years old, just like Marley was; and a male tried-colored Corgi puppy – Merlin

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like the other dogs we had several years ago. I came love them both to pieces, but Marley still remained in my mind and soul – as well he should.

 

 

 

Now here we are the first week of 2019 and the ache to cry everyday has stopped, and the will to move on has finally come thanks to one simple phone call I received on Monday night.

A local number popped up on my phone and I answered it with a hesitant hello, since no name was attached. The voice on the other line said, “Eryn? Hi, this is the woman with beagle.”

I jumped from my seat with a gasp and immediately left for the quiet of my bedroom. The woman told me she hadn’t seen the sign before that day because she hadn’t walked that road since the day she witnessed the accident. She, too, was traumatized. She said she thought of me often and was quite shaken up for a few days afterwards.

She and I cried together, remembering that day and putting to rest the events that took Marley’s life. Hearing from her enabled me to close that final door by allowing me to ask the few questions that had yet to be answered.

After hearing from this woman, I feel like I can truly move on now. The only questions I have left hanging are ones I know can’t be answered like, giving the hit-and-run driver a piece of my mind, and what was the ultimate purpose in this happening in my life? One day that driver will be judged and one day, I’ll be able to ask God the meaning of why. And I’m okay with not having those answers for now. Until then, I will regain my focus and move on with my new babies.