The Recovery of the Lost Stories – Part 2

New Year, new task. 2020 looks like it’s going to be a renewed period of time where we all can get in touch with our inner selves… Or to be quite frank, let’s hope it’s a lot better than 2019! Yes, you can hear my sarcasm. Nobody I have talked to said it was a good year.

Now that I’ve got all the contaminated manuscripts squared away so I can start to actually touch them again (you can read part one of this story here), I can start the fun process of bringing them into your hands: transcribing them. So to start the process, I’ve been tallying up all the notebooks to see what I’ve got. Turns out I’d written a lot more than I remembered. Out of the sixty or so notebooks, I’ve tallied up what notebooks belong to what series.

Note to self: Tell my brain to calm down. We’re good on content… that is, until it invariably comes up with yet another idea... usually are one AM when I’m trying to get to sleep. Tell me I’m not the only author who has become more bat-like than human when it comes to hours…

Hence forth, here are all the series and books coming your way in the not so distant future. Ie., this is my list of WIPs (works in progress) plus a quick summary of what they are. (Anyone who requested a twisted fairy tale, you can now check out to see if your request made the cut!):

Destiny in the Shadows: 17 Notebooks (mind you, all 70 pages each and written on front to back). They include the story lines for BLOOD WAR, the as of yet untitled untitled book to sum up the series, and three of the spinoff series books from Cain McRattin’s POV. (Yes, dear readers. I’ve been listening to your pleas!) This makes up about 30% of my notebooks. Clearly I enjoy writing from Sierrenna’s & Cain’s POVs.

The Delunian Kingdom Saga: 6 Notebooks (not including the current manuscript of the first book in the series which is close to completion). As for those who aren’t acquainted with the concept yet, it’s a dystopian medi-punk sci-fi retelling of the Robin Hood story from Maid Marien’s POV. Yes, considering there’s all sorts of otherworldly creatures including reptilians and awesome sword fights, it’s definitely for my sci-fi readers. Maid Marriene is definitely not your typical lady in waiting.

Note: These books have been one of the hardest to write out of all of them. I started the story when I was ten and have continued to rip the story to shreds periodically to build it back up from the bare bones. And let me tell you, my ten year old self had no interest in evil reptilians, so it’s been quite the rewrite! This series has been over a decade in the making.

Del Muerta Trilogy: 5 Notebooks. Based loosely on the state of Venezuela, it’s a dystopian series with a slightly Latin American spin. It involves vigilantes, a revolution, a pack of former police dogs, and is one of my more high octane action series with a slightly Hunger Games feel. If you enjoyed the newer Zorro movies, I venture to say you’ll likely enjoy this series.

Riding Hood: 2 Notebooks. Red is a man and granny is an alpha wolf shifters. Need I say more? Fantasy fodder with a romantic twist.

Jack Frost Chronology: 7 Notebooks. Yes, I’ve got an upcoming science fantasy series where Jack Frost is actually Jaqueline Frost (Jackie Frost), an ice elf able to control ice and fire. Includes genetic cloning, the Louisiana French Quarter, a pet fox / Yeti, a skunk, and all sort of fun subjects. Three books planned and two largely in complete in the notebooks.

It was one of my first series that I wrote next to Vaktare and Destiny in the Shadows. The male protagonist, David, is one of my favorites because it’s been such a challenge writing from his POV since he’s blind!

Sleeping Beau-T: 2 Notebooks. A sci-fi retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty story.

Guardians of the Grail Series: 1 Notebook so far since the Vampire’s Handmaiden was released in October. But it’s in the works! The ‘catnip sniffing idiot’ as one of my readers coined Rafe will return with Yasmina, as will Dune!

Vaktare of All Realms Series: 5 Notebooks, not including books 2 & 3 of the series. Those, plus one more notebook that is the beginning of the Rex spin-off that was requested by one of my Beta-Readers. Most of you haven’t met Rex yet because he doesn’t come into the picture until book two (Black Hart which is out on Valentine’s Day!) Those who read the ARC of it are still fascinated by him! Needless to say, he plays a huge role in Shira Hart’s story.

Legends of Arestina Series: Six notebooks, which span two books from Kenzie and Dare’s son’s POVs. You see? I do listen to my readers. Wings of Caligo was originally a stand-alone, but enough people demanded that I do a sequel that I listened. I even have a fourth book rattling around in my brain that hasn’t been put on paper yet.

The books extensively cover the subject of hybrids and chimeras that result from genetic engineering. Much like the first book, the subject of bullying will also be a large theme. Needless to say, old enemies resurface from the dead and create all sorts of mayhem on Arestina!

Cicario (Still untitled): 1 Notebook. Still largely in development, but is inspired by the situation in Mexico with the drug cartels and assassins in the cities. Yes, I do take pokes at sensitive topics. I’m no coward.

Watergate: 1 notebook. No, it’s not a Clinton investigation book (I value my life too highly for that! I may not be a coward, but I’m no idiot!). An underwater high-tech civilization under attack by marine spirits and mermaids. It takes place in this current day in time, so it will be an urban fantasy.

Blood of Innocents: 1 Notebook. Epic Fantasy in a different time. Still too new to talk about, but there will be sword fights, different realms to explore, and an epic love story.

Star Catcher Series: 3 notebooks (so far) and two books in total. A hypochondriacal dragon*, a knight, and two princess go on an epic quest. What could go wrong? Sabrina is another favorite of mine as is Channidy.

*The series was originally supposed to be a serious, epic fantasy. That is until I made the stupid decision to mention it to my mother and she came up with the idea of turning Reggie into a hypochondriac. Needless to say, it disrupted all of my plans for the story but was too good to let go!

The Sword in the Stones: A modern retelling of the Sword in the Stone story. Two men from the medieval era get transported to the future. Again, what could go wrong?

Faith Vs. Magic / Deliverance: 4 Notebooks. A fictionalized version of deliverance Ministry within the Christian faith. Basically us Vs demons. My first officially Christian novel that will likely piss a number of people off because it tackles the subject of demons in the faith.

The Gunslinger: 1 Notebook. A dystopian novel that follows the adventures of Jairal (Yes! For those who have spoken to me, she’s quite the character!) a gunslinger in the ruins of an American city. My first foray into cyber-punk fiction.

And finally…

The Wolf Keeper’s Daughter: A stylized retelling of the Cinderella story that includes a fantasy world, giant wolves, an icy fantasy world, Snow Alclaws (basically giant snow leopards that are an advanced civilization), and a war for power between their kingdoms. Clearly I don’t stick within normal fairytale bounds!

PS., none of these include the books I have noted but not yet written down. This is just a short list of what’s physically in the notebooks!

So that basically sums it up. While these stories won’t be immediately released, they will be coming your way very soon. If there’s a particular one you want sooner rather than later, make sure to comment and let me know what you’re looking forward to. I aim to please my readers and sometimes your requests make my to-do list get re-prioritized!

If you really want to do me a favor, make sure to fill out his survey for me before you go! I’m trying to see just exactly who my readers are and it gives options about you preferences about future books. Ex: are you into fantasy, scifi, or straight up action? It’s anonymous, so there’s no strings attached. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QWHJMLJ

In this next month, I have two releases coming up, so you definitely won’t be without new content to keep your reading list full. BLACK HART and OUTFOXED will be coming to a bookshelf near you. Outfoxed will be a charity release for the Australian bushfires, so make sure to stay tuned for the details. You’ll get to support a great cause and get a book out of it, too!

In the meantime, if you want a free copy of my now BEST SELLING ebook Still Death, make sure to click here. Wishing you all the best this new year! May God bless you and may the winds of adventure always be at your back!

– Maggie Lynn

Christmas in Caligo – A Special Christmas Gift To You

undefined A very special Christmas gift to all my readers. I wrote this as a present especially for you and is free to read for Christmas. It’s a continuation of the Wings of Caligo story.
My only request is that if you enjoy it, leave a review of it at the link at the back of the novella 🥰
Merry Christmas everyone and may God bless you! Thank you for all your lovely support through the years!

You can read it here: CHRISTMAS IN CALIGO

Cursed Hart Is Finally Here!

The hotly anticipated day is here! Cursed Hart is available to read on Amazon in ebook and paperback editions! The reviews are rolling in and so gar they’ve all been excellent. One reader went so far as call it my best work yet when he reviewed it on BookBub.

Make sure to pick up your copy of Cursed Hart on Amazon today! If you send me a proof of purchase screenshot and a review acreenshot, I will send you another ebook of your choice from my catalog as a free thank you bonus!

Read CURSED HART ON AMAZON

Happy November – Prepare Yourself For The Christmas Ads!

Oh the weather outside is frightful,

And the advertising agencies mindful,

We’ve only two months to go,

Christmas overload, overload, overload!

Ah, the month of November is here already! Turkeys will be stuffed (and humans, too!) by the end of the month. Me? I’m still trying to wrangle the Christmas ads that started playing before Halloween was even over!

Ah well. Maybe I’ll stick with thoughts of El Dia de los Muertos. That ends today, but at least it doesn’t involve thoughts of snow and thoughts of Mishka trying to eat the tinsel off of people’s trees! There’s never any on ours, but knowing him, he’ll try to find some anyway!

Thank you all for your wonderful support during the launch of the Vampire’s Handmaiden. It’s been wonderful hearing from you all about the story. It make me as the author so happy! If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, make sure to do so here.

Well, let all tidings be merry and don’t imbibe in the foodstuffs over the upcoming holidays! ‘Till we meet again, God bless!

The Vampire’s Handmaiden: Exclusive Excerpt #2

“If my plan works,” Dune continued, “he’ll lift his hypnosis to find out what we’ve done. Once he does, when you remember all this – remember me – I want you to make a decision. You need to decide what you want. If you call out for me, I will come for you and break you free. I promise you I will. I won’t let him take you again. Never.”

“And if I don’t remember?” I asked, sensing he had moved closer.

“Then I’ll find another way to free you,” he swore.

I looked at the obscured man, still unsure. All of this mattered very little considering I doubted Remy would ever let me go. “And what are we supposed to have done?”

“This,” he murmured huskily, invisible hands cupping my cheeks.

I shivered as my lower lip was traced. “What‘re you-?”

My question broke off with a low gasp as lips kissed the corner of my mouth, then along my jaw. I trembled, eyes closing and breath hitching in my throat as he feathered kisses under my ear, traveling lower with every brush of his lips against my skin.

Despite the bizarreness of the situation, not being able to see the man whose hands were encircling my waist and all but dragging me to him, I found myself swayed by the intoxicating feeling of his touch. A thrill went up my spine, wondering just where this moment would lead. On some level, it felt very wrong not knowing who was touching my body. But on another one, it felt so right; too good to tell him to stop.

One arm bowed my body to him, letting me feel the planes of his chest. My hands tightened on the chair arm rest, resisting the urge to reach out to touch him. To pull him even closer, to feel his body against mine.

As I gave in to the feeling, I tilted my head back to give him better access as he kissed my collar bone. Lower and lower he went, down between my breasts and across my stomach. With every kiss, I grew steadily hotter, feeling his lips through the thin, cool silk of my shirt. I trembled as his fingers dipped below the waist of my skirt and I fought to breathe as his lips came back to my ear, his hands lingering on my body and shaking over my skin.

“Choose us,” he rasped in my ear, his voice rough with desire. ”I will come for you.”

The Vampire’s Handmaiden

Pre-order it at amazon.com/author/maggielynnheronheidel

The Vampire’s Handmaiden will be available on October 31st 2019

©️ 2019 Maggielynnheronheidel

The Recovery of the Lost Stories…

Forty seven notebooks all filled with stories, series, and above all, my writing. And I couldn’t touch them…

For the last two years a large portion of my writing sat untouched because the notebooks they were contained in were spray treated with a mold killing agent that I was highly allergic to. As it turned out, the mold killing agent had a component of mold in it itself (and in my case, a double negative didn’t equal a positive result), so every time I’d get near them my mast cell condition would kick up with gusto, causing my blood pressure to skyrocket to over two hundred. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with blood pressure levels, that’s scarily high at the level where strokes can occur, as well as kidney damage.

But yesterday I risked it all to bring them to you, my dear readers. After the notebooks were ozoned to try and kill the remaining mycotoxins in them (thanks to my dear editor Peg Heron Heidel for handling them while in that condition), I carefully cut off the covers and backings of them all to remove the most contaminated areas. Donned in surgical gloves and a mask, and outside to keep clean air circulating, I sorted them all out.

Most luckily, my blood pressure didn’t elevate too much once the covers were gone, so it seems handling them has finally become safe enough to do. Now comes the fun task of typing up all of what they contain. To give you an idea, once sorted, all the different piles in the photo below are different series. The largest pile you see there on the right belongs to my Destiny in the Shadows series. The rest are from other series you’ve yet to read. And each notebook has a minimum of seventy pages in it, written on front and back of each sheet.

These don’t even count the uncontaminated pile of notebooks I have upstairs by my usual writing spot on the love seat. There’s another twenty or so of those, too.

So you see, folks, some people say they bleed for their craft, but I do that and also risk my life to bring you new works. While slightly melodramatic, it’s true all the same. I often joke I bleed for my writing as it is. My hands have a tendency to get hives from the ongoing mold issue with our house and they crack while I’m writing, so my notebooks are spotted with my own blood in some places.

Here’s to the creation of new books and hopefully no more mold related catastrophes! I’ll be very busy for the near future, that’s for sure!

Love you all,

Author Maggie Lynn

From Behind the Writers Desk: Slave to War – The Bonus Chapters

Hello everyone!

Today I have a special behind the scenes look at some of the chapters that hit the cutting room floor in Slave to War. These are unedited and raw bits of the story that were cut for the sake flow of the story. I’ll be releasing three bonus chapters, so keep an eye out for chapters two and three!

So without further adieu, here’s the first deleted scene. It was one of my favorites that I wrote for Michael’s character, and is in Rain’s POV, but found it was unnecessary in the end for the final draft of the novel. So it hit the cutting room floor.

WARNING | SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ WAR MACHINE

OR SLAVE TO WAR

Much to my unease, Michael took me to the garden where his party had been. But this time he took me to an aviary in the way back I hadn’t spotted on my first fateful visit.

Once inside, I looked around with amazement. Long rows of branches held creatures regarding me with keen, shrewd eyes. Vultures, hawks, owls, and one enormous looking condor all regarded us with glittering eyes. These were all military-trained birds. I could see transmitters hanging up in the corners with cameras they fastened on their backs.

I felt myself grin. Master Rascorr had had a pet hawk and excelled in falconry. He allowed me to practice with it every day. I whistled in a low tone following a particular pattern that perhaps they would recognize if the trainer had taught them in the style Master and I had.

I couldn’t hear their calls, but I could see most of their mouths open and a great deal of wings spread as they chorused their calls back at me. Michael jumped and stared around wondrously. Owls were blinking at us, falcons bobbed their heads up and down, and the lone condor spread its enormous wings and screamed at me in defiance. It was unnatural for so many birds of prey to be in one place, so it seemed they had formed their own social hierarchy. The condor reigned supreme, probably by sheer size. It stared me down with a hiss, cocking its head. Its lack of a comb and red eyes told me it was a female.

All the other birds stilled as I stepped towards her. I whistled softly, extending my hand in a friendly gesture. I saw scars lining her head. Seeing an electrical collar around its neck I understood her reluctance though she had been trained. I looked around at all the others. They had collars, too. They were just like me: trapped and forced to obey.

She eyed me with distrust and I whistled again. She lowered her head after a minute and allowed me to scratch her head. I lowered my head next to her and whistled softly in an affectionate tone. She hissed at me again and I stroked the feathers along her back until she jiggled her feathers back and forth. I had hit the spot.

I turned back to Michael to see him nose to nose with an owl that had settled itself on his shoulder. He winced as its talons dug into his shoulder. I saw blood starting and rushed forward. I stuck my hand out and the owl snapped at it.

I looked back at Michael who seemed utterly terrified as it bore its enormous yellow eyes into his and screeched at him. “You don’t have food, do you?

He stuck his hand in his pocket, pulled out a bag of jerky, and stuck it at me. I opened the bag and all yellow, orange, red, and black eyes turned on me. They all returned to their perches as I whistled a command. The owl screamed at me and did the same, leaving his shoulder. I tossed the condor the biggest piece and divided the rest.

I gave a few to Michael and gestured he should give it a try, too, in particular to feed the owl. It was still eyeing him with interest. He tossed the piece at it and it caught it with a snap. It called at him, bobbing its head and twisting it around so it was upside down. Finally he cracked a smile and cooed back at it. The owl screeched at him for more. He jumped back with a start.

For the first time in months, I really laughed. And boy did it hurt. It turned into a coughing fit real fast as the scar where my vocal cords should have been stretched. It really didn’t feel good, but they didn’t rip. That was good. It meant they had healed even if it was badly. I probably sounded like a chain smoker laughing.

I shrugged off Michael’s concerned hand and ventured further into the building realizing it wasn’t just an aviary. It housed a lot more than just birds.

Through another door, I entered a dark room. A red light flicked on for me to see ruby eyes gleaming back at me. A breeze whipped around my hair as wings flapped around me. I stumbled back as a cold nose sniffed along my neck. I came eye to eye with an upside down brown head and enormous black eyes. It was a giant fruit bat. It probably was looking for its food. More eyes from all corners blinked open at me.

The room after the next was the best, though. It was a large enclosure that held a weird assortment. Two wolves, a black leopard, a cheetah, a brown bear, and panda all eyed me. They were in a cluster together except for the panther which paced its end of the cage restlessly. I gathered they had been raised together and had adapted to each other’s presences as the birds of prey had.

I looked at the electrical prod hanging in the corner and ignored it. I sat down on the opposite wall pretending I had no interest in them. The door to my left opened again and Michael stepped through, fighting off what appeared to be one of the giant fruit bats trying to get into his pocket. He threw in what looked like a bag of candies and slammed the door shut.

When he turned to face this room, I think he had a near coronary. He gripped the handle of the room with too much force and slammed his back into the wall. His wild eyes found me on the floor and started saying something out loud. I rolled my eyes, patting the floor. He looked at me as if I had sprouted a third head.

I shrugged. The panda was sauntering toward us, sniffing the air. Behind it was the brown bear. The others watched to see what we would do. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

“Sure,” he signed with sarcasm as the panda came over and plopped in front of him. He waved at it weakly. To his and my intense surprise, it waved its paw back before rolling over on its side. The brown bear growled, already bored, and sat down behind it.

It’s hard to believe Emperor Huang domesticated pandas and used them to defeat Emperor Yan 4000 years ago. They aren’t very intimidating.”

I can believe it,” he signed, sitting beside me. “All I see are rows of razor sharp teeth. I think the army had the same idea. But it got too expensive so my father took on the care of the menagerie. He likes having the bragging rights to his own private zoo.”

He stopped as curiosity got to the others. The Leopard and wolves hung back, but the cheetah came over with a chirrup. I couldn’t hear it, but I remembered the call from the visit to the zoo as a child with Master and Dantenn. I whistled the birdlike call back and it came forward with a purr. It sank down next to my side, rubbing its head against my arm. I stroked its ears as it nipped at my hand playfully.

Michael stayed with his knees curled up to his chest. The other animals ignored us and the leopard went back to pacing at its end of the cage. The wolves watched with pricked ears. I was disgusted to see all of these animals too bore scars and collars.

Michael nodded, venturing to put his hand out for the cheetah to sniff. “I brought you here to talk without prying ears. I wanted to discuss what may happen tonight.”

He looked at me then. Bitter loathing for his father warred with the warmth for me in his eyes. “Sorry he’s attempting to force you to marry me. I’m not sure how he’s going to work this considering you’re still supposedly still hitched to Cain.”

I sighed. “There are worse things than being married to your best friend.

He squeezed my hand. “Yes, but if you were going to marry me I’d want it to be on our terms. I have no aversion to marriage; in fact I rather like the idea of binding oneself to the one you love for eternity.”

His eyes held such warmth and affection that I gulped. I felt like I was cheating on Cain it was so strong a connection. He drew me to him then, like he hadn’t dared do before, resting his head on my shoulder and stroking my hair. We stayed like that for a while. He just held me like there was nothing on the planet he wanted to do more and perhaps that was true. I felt for him, I really did. We were just two broken souls that the world had spat out years ago. But we had saved that world together despite what it had done to us and now it had turned on us once more. But we still had each other.

If I weren’t too young would you consider me being with me?” he asked suddenly, pulling back just far enough so I could see his hand but not far enough so I was out of his embrace. I didn’t reply. “If you had never met Cain, would it be a different answer?”

The questions were getting more difficult. “I don’t think you’d like me very much if I hadn’t. I am a killer, Michael. Never forget that.”

I felt him suck in a breath. “But you wouldn’t be if it weren’t necessary, right?”

I reflected on that for a second. “If there were no more evil in the world, I suppose would find myself without a purpose. There would be no use for my skills to defend those I love-“

But you do love,” he insisted. “That is the difference. Evil is most often defined as a lack of love. I know evil. It is my father. He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t love anybody, which is why he ripped me from my mother’s arms as she died from childbirth. I’m just an heir so he’ll have a legacy when he dies.”

I bowed my head. “I’m sorry about your mother. She must have loved you.”

She did. The doctors told her she wouldn’t survive if she had me. My father tried to stop her and blames me for her death. That’s why he hates me so much. But she insisted to carry me full term. Sometimes I wish she hadn’t. She would still be alive then.”

I gasped at that statement. That rivaled even my way of toxic thinking. He was wishing himself away. “Don’t belittle her sacrifice with those thoughts. Do something with your life. You are valued-“

Am I? If I died, my funeral would be a show for my father to profit off of.

But I would grieve,” my hands said.

He looked down at me with sad eyes. “Yeah, and you would run to Cain for comfort.” He shook his head and glanced at his watch. “We have to go. Father will be looking for us soon. After tonight, I doubt we’ll be spending much time together-” I started to protest – “Alone, that is.

I stood with what I’m sure was a fierce expression. “I’m not leaving without you. Remember that.”

He stood and nodded, still thoroughly unhappy looking. He didn’t release my hand as we went back to reality, leaving our little piece of solitude behind.

– Copyright 2018 Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

Thanks for reading! Make sure to leave a comment on what you thought of this scene! And if you haven’t read Slave to War, make sure to pick up a copy here!

Keep an eye out for bonus chapters two and three in the next few days!

Enter to win an autographed copy of Slave to War

Enter to win an autographed copy of Slave to War here!

Slave to War is available now on Amazon in Ebook and Paperback editions. Here’s a little more about the novel:

He took my city. They chained me as a slave. Nothing will stop my revenge.

In aftermath of bitter betrayal, the city of Nacin will tremble to its core under my wrath. Truth will come to light; the underbelly of the city rising from the darkness below as age-old secrets surface from their graves. Death is the only solace to be found and blood will be the currency to pay for their sins. But can Operation Night-Butterfly be stopped once fate is called to action? Or will the city that was once mine become nothing more than a graveyard of what it once was as martial law descends upon the ashes that remain? That is the question…

Pick up your copy here

Slave to War – An Exclusive Sneak Peek

Hi everyone! Just a few more days until Slave to War is here! Wanted to give you an exclusive sneak peek before the book is released. This is the prologue the story, so not too much for a spoiler for ya!

“Where is she?!”

The terrified-looking secretary leaned away from her desk as General Cain McRattin suddenly lunged and grabbed her by her shirt collar, losing his patience. Now nose to nose, he bore down on her, causing her to to drop the phone in fright.

“Call Rogee and tell him if he doesn’t cough Rain up this instant, I’m going to tear his city apart from the inside out!” he snarled, shaking her roughly. “I know he has her! I’m not putting up with the runaround anymore. Either get him on the phone or this is going to get ugly…”

Her eyes widened as his grip tightened around her shoulders. “I’m sorry, General, but I already inquired about her to my boss multiple times and the Prime Minister insists he had nothing to do with Sierrenna’s disappearance. Maybe she left voluntarily,” she stuttered and then gulped as he shook her. “I can leave him another message-“

“That’s bullshit!” he roared, icy blue eyes narrowing dangerously. “She was abducted! I have it all on security footage and the license plate of the vehicle that took her belongs to Rogee!”

“Cain,” Rig inserted calmly, reaching over to attempt to pry Cain’s fingers off of her. “Let her go.”

“She’s full of crap,” Argon added, shooting her a disgusted look as Cain reluctantly released her. “She’s not going to talk. Let’s blow. If Rogee won’t answer our calls, then maybe he’ll respond to us releasing the evidence linking him to your father’s murder. How about that, bitchface?”

That seemed to get a rise out of the secretary. She shook, mouth opening and closing for a minute while all four soldiers glared at her. “Look, I have searched the records myself for this Sierrenna, but we have no records in our system of such a person inside the government database.”

“Then how do you explain all the photographs in the paper?” Ray demanded, slamming her fist on the counter while Rig nodded. “Or the security footage from the nuclear incident?! She was chosen by the state for the mission! There has to be a record somewhere!”

The secretary shook her head. “Then someone has erased all records of her existence. I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. If she is still alive, you’re going to have to find her yourselves.”

Cain stood up with a start as she folded her arms, refusing to talk further. Storming out of the room, he headed outside of the building to escape all of the lies. He slammed the door shut and headed out to the car. All was quiet as he muttered under his breath mutinously and dragged his hands through his hair.

Seven long days had passed since Rain had been taken. All evidence indicated that his love was beyond his reach, but he refused to give up. He had been through the city and across the desert to MoiRai, but still no sign of her had been found… until this morning, that is.

Argon had called. A woman was found washed up on the shore of the river on the other side of the city. Limbs missing, artificial organs, innards and eyes cut free to steal the technology, she wore Rain’s violet dress from the night of Michael’s party. Even the leather jacket that Cain had tossed over her shoulders had washed up, covered in white blood. A gang’s insignia had been burned into her forehead as a grim signature.

His stomach sank thinking about it. It was so grizzly that Argon warned him to stay away, but he had gone and he was glad he had. Sorry for the poor soul sacrificed to throw him off of Rain’s trail, but relieved because it hadn’t been her.

The true Rain had a small scar under her chin that he’d noticed one night while she was asleep, unaware of his study. It was almost like a small star on her silky copper skin. It was missing from the corpse. That they couldn’t fake. This woman also had pierced ears. Rain didn’t. She had no brand on the back of her neck and many of her other scars weren’t present either.

The empty eye sockets made him sick with disgust and brought images of Rain’s lifeless body to mind. But that was too much to bear now.

Determination rekindled, he spent the day redoubling his efforts and still came up with nothing. He knew she was still out there somewhere in Nacin. Rogee wouldn’t send her far. He’d want her right under his nose to keep an eye on her. She was too dangerous to leave without supervision, but with her new technologies too valuable to kill.

Cain sighed, forcing himself to take a deep, calming breath. It wasn’t easy. Every breath hurt knowing he had failed to keep her safe. If he never shared the locket with her, she wouldn’t have been dragged into this mess. She would never have discovered the dark secret Rogee was so desperate to hide and would still be a free woman.

Rain’s face swam in front of his eyes, thinking of how her eyes crinkled at the corners when she cracked a rare smile. He thought of how her violet eyes fluttered closed and how she shivered when he finally confessed his feelings for her, overcome with emotion because no one had ever loved her before. Those eyes were the windows to her soul and the very thing that had captured him as a boy. They held endless pain but also a sea of yearning for someone to reach out and gain her trust again.

So close…. If only they had had more time he was sure she would have come to trust him, to give in to his love completely. And even better, for her to love him back.

He longed to hold her, feel her heart fluttering under his fingers again, responding to his touch. The raw feeling of their one and only kiss, stolen in the moment just before she had been taken from him, was just a bare memory now. The moment that should have held so much promise for them was now a reminder of his failure.

An acid desire for revenge warred with his forced sense of calm. If anyone touched one hair on her head they were going to be a cadaver before long. He’d sworn to himself that he’d keep her from ever being hurt again. Cain hated that he’d failed in his promise. She had already suffered beyond measure.

Cain looked up as Argon came out of the building, heading to his side. Argon shook his head, pulling his hood up. “The sec knows nothing. She didn’t even know about the body that washed up this morning. I also inquired about Michael. All she can say is he was sent to a prestigious prep school, but we both know that’s a bunch of shit. They have their stories straight and they’re sticking to ‘em. Xorratti is in Mercaine so we can’t question him either.”

“We have to find her,” Cain said, putting both palms on the hood of the car and exhaling heavily.

“We will,” Argon replied wearily, patting his shoulder. “Rain’s strong. She’ll be fine. Rogee must be desperate to hide her if he’s willing to try and fake her murder.”

But he could hear the lie in Argon’s voice. Argon already thought that it was too late to find her. He just didn’t dare to say it straight to Cain’s face. And he was probably right but Cain refused to give up.

Both men stood for a minute, enmity strong for the city that had betrayed them. They both knew what the elites had planned and had no idea how to stop them. All they could do for now was keep searching and wait for the opportune moment to bring Rogee down.

Argon shifted, looking at Cain suddenly. “You really do love her, don’t you?”

Cain didn’t answer, still looking out over the cityscape before them. His eyes narrowed, knowing that Argon didn’t need an answer to that rhetorical question. He already knew the truth, as did everyone else that they had interrogated over the last week. And they all had the same bleak look in their eyes, thinking that it was a lost cause to keep searching.

“Call Dantenn,” Cain ordered, turning away. “Check again to make sure Rain hasn’t been there.”

Argon nodded and headed off as Cain looked out over the city once more. Cain gritted his teeth, squaring his chin as the dawn came over the city of Nacin.

“I’m coming for you, Rain. I will find you,” he vowed to no one in particular as the drizzle fell, dampening the smog. “I will find you.”

Did you enjoy it? Comment and let me know if you’re excited for the book to come out! Slave to War will be within your grasp in a week!