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Monday, March 14, 2016

Deadly Intrigue, Scorching Passion, and a Thousand Year Old War


Warin’s War
By Ann Gimpel
Dream Shadow Press

Release Date: 3/16/16
Genre: Paranormal Romance Novella

Tumble into deadly intrigue, scorching passion, and a thousand year old war.
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Book Description:

Hybrids and full bloods became sworn enemies millennia ago.

A hybrid witch, a full blood warg, and a fairy make unlikely companions, but maybe that’s what it takes to save the world.

 Gabrielle McCallaghan sucked it up and quit a job she hated to spare her uncle the embarrassment of firing her. With her bond fairy on her shoulder, she’s wandering through a crowded neighborhood contemplating her options when a full blood magic wielder makes a beeline right for her. Gabby’s hybrid witch magic is no match for his, so she tries to flee. The contest is laughable. Even in his human form, the wolf-man is far stronger than she—or the fairy—ever dreamed of being.

Warin is weary and disgusted with the long running war targeting hybrid mages. There’s a bigger picture, but his kin refuse to consider it. Since they won’t, his next stop is the Coven’s council. Maybe he can light a fire under the hybrids. He’s on his way there when an alluring witch crosses his path. Warin shifts strategies fast. If he can persuade one witch to his side, maybe others will see the light too.

With sex as a lure, Gabby is drawn into a deadly game of intrigue that started over a thousand years before. The stakes are high and the timing abysmal, but she falls in love in spite of herself. Can she and her full blood lover make a life for themselves? Or will the long-running battle between full bloods and hybrids pound their fragile bond to dust?

 

Excerpt from Warin’s War:


“Why aren’t those spreadsheets done for the Anderson file?” Brad McCallaghan stared down his nose at Gabrielle, his blue eyes frosty. Blond hair, going gray, fell over one eye, and a network of fine lines in his face made him look older than forty-five. He crossed his arms over his chest, but it only served to wrinkle his cheap, charcoal polyester suit.

“Sorry, sir. They’re not done because I didn’t get to them.”

Gabrielle McCallaghan looked at her scuffed black pumps and willed the green-winged pixie fluttering behind her to be silent. Brad couldn’t see fairies, but it wouldn’t be good if her small sidekick made her laugh. Brad was her uncle and entirely human, just like all the other members of her family, not a hybrid like her. She didn’t know if he’d refused the offer of magic at puberty, or if it was never made.

People didn’t talk about things like that.

She didn’t want to let Brad down, but she hated accounting. Hated it with a vengeance that had grown worse since she signed on to assist him. She’d been an English major, for chrissakes. She loved words, not numbers. When no jobs were forthcoming once she finished college, her father and his brother hatched up this position nine months ago. They’d done it just for her. Brad couldn’t really afford additional help. She’d tried to be grateful. And she was never late for work, but…

“Well,” he persisted, “what have you been doing instead of working on that file?”

Daydreaming. It’s nearly Samhain. Maybe this year I’ll actually get laid.

Not likely, since Beltane didn’t work out, a snarky inner voice sneered.

“Uh, I really am sorry.” Gabby risked a glance at her uncle. “I’ll get right to it. Should be done by the end of today if I stay late.”

Amalia, Gabby’s fairy, doubled over laughing. Blonde hair fell in her face. A breast popped out of her one-piece black jumpsuit, and she stuffed it back in.

Gabby swallowed a snort. “I’ve warned you how flimsy that outfit is. I understand it’s convenient because of your wings, but...”

“Priceless,” Amalia howled, ignoring the dig about her favorite piece of clothing. “You—working late. Shit, sister, you barely work at all.”

Gabby cringed. “Go away.”

“Make me. Make me.”

Her uncle blew out a breath through pursed lips and looked at her through narrowed eyes. “Earth to Gabrielle. You’re off in your own little world—again.”

Uh-oh here it comes.

She girded herself for the sort of lecture she thought she’d escape in adulthood. Except twenty-three wasn’t much of an adult. She had her own place—if you could call a three hundred square foot room anything but a broom closet. Amalia lived there too, but fifteen-inch pixies didn’t take up much space. They didn’t eat much, either. Good thing because money was always tight.

At least the apartment was hers, though, away from six younger brothers and sisters and her perpetually-short-of-money parents. She was the only one in her family with enough magic to be offered Coven status. Gabby didn’t understand how that had happened. She’d tried to ask her mom if, maybe, someone else had been her father. But Colleen McCallaghan developed a closed-off look and very red cheeks. And she’d never answered the question.

Curious as she’d been, Gabby understood the topic was off limits, and she hadn’t asked again.

“Gabrielle.”

She made a strong effort and forced herself to look at her uncle. He seemed more worried than angry. She exhaled nervously, wondering what would come next.

“You don’t really like working here, do you?”

Muscles tensed along the sides of her face as her eyes widened. “Uh, why would you think that?” She hedged to buy herself time. She couldn’t tell her uncle what she really thought of the stuffy little office where he plied his trade as a certified public accountant.

“Oh, pull on a set and go for it.” Amalia was still chortling, but had herself under better control. It was annoying the pixie could read her thoughts so easily.

“Shut up. Go away.” Gabrielle almost made shooing motions with both hands but caught herself.

Brad cleared his throat. “Even though your body is here, your mind is usually somewhere else. I’ve cut you slack because you’re family, but either you do the work I give you, or…” His words trailed off, and he shifted from foot to foot.

Gabrielle understood. Worse, so would her father once his brother explained she’d been nothing more than dead weight collecting a paycheck.

Heat rose to her face. Gabby straightened her shoulders and met her uncle’s gaze. “If you want me to leave, I will. You’re right. I’m not cut out for accounting. I have good intentions, but something about those long columns of numbers numbs my brain. I have to think about other things, or I’ll fall asleep.”

Fluttering a few feet away with her iridescent, gossamer wings beating double-time, Amalia clapped her hands together. “Bravo.”

Brad looked nonplussed. “But what will you do? How will you—?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know, but I’ll figure something out. Don’t worry. I know Mom and Dad can’t afford to have me back at home.”

The line of his jaw tightened. She could tell this was hard for him.

“Look,” he finally said, “are you sure you don’t want to give this another go? I could spend more time training you.”

Gabrielle shook her head. She was shocked by how eager she was to be free of Brad and this office. Now that the possibility of independence beckoned to her, she couldn’t resist.

“Thanks, Uncle Brad. You’ve been more than kind to me.”

He cleared his throat. “All right,” he said, his voice surprisingly gentle, “keep in touch. If you stop by tomorrow, I’ll have your check for this last week.”

Gabrielle knew how little she’d done. “That’s okay. I’ll just grab my things and be out of your hair. I—” But she didn’t know what else to say.

Suddenly uncomfortable, she turned away from her uncle and bent to clear her few possessions out of her desk. After inadvertently slamming her long, dark hair in a desk drawer, she pulled it into an untidy pony tail. Ten minutes later, she let herself out the swinging glass door adorned with Brad McCallaghan, CPA, in faded, dark blue letters.

“That wasn’t very smart,” she muttered to the pixie. “What am I going to do now?”

Doesn’t matter, I’m free.

“No, we’re free,” Amalia corrected. The pixie was clearly in mind-reading mode. “It hasn’t been any fun at all being your bond fairy ever since you took that job. All you’ve done is grump around, hating life.”

Gabrielle stared balefully at the pixie. “You need to keep your opinions to yourself.”

“Why?” Amalia settled on Gabrielle’s shoulder and crossed one leg over the other. She often perched there when Gabrielle went somewhere. The foot that dangled beat a tattoo against Gabby’s breast.

“Never mind.” It was wasted breath to urge the pixie to do anything but what she wanted. Gabrielle sucked in crisp autumn air and walked toward the bus stop. It felt good to be outside. Not living a lie anymore was a big relief. She’d struggled with guilt for months about her antipathy for Microsoft Excel, Turbo Tax, and Tax Cut.

At least that part was over.

Strangers swirled around her. Seattle’s Capitol Hill was always full of people. Gabrielle looked longingly at a Starbuck’s sign, but three dollar coffees weren’t part of her new austerity plan. Actually, neither was the bus. Walking home was a great idea. She had the time. And lower Queen Anne Hill wasn’t all that far away. She could be home in less than an hour.

What a joke. I have nothing but time now. Maybe if I walked more, I could get rid of some of this blubber.

She tugged at the too-tight waistband of her too-short dark green skirt. Sitting eight hours a day hadn’t improved her figure at all. Her height masked extra pounds, but she’d gained a good ten since she started working for her uncle.

“Don’t stare,” Amalia hissed, her sea-blue eyes wide with apprehension, “but that looks like trouble.”

The pixie always reverted to mind speech when she felt threatened. Good thing too. Her constant dialogue had gotten Gabrielle into trouble more than once when someone assumed she was the source of some smartass comment or other. Not all humans could hear pixies. It depended how much magic they had. The problem was when a person had no idea they had magic, but had been blessed—or cursed—with just enough to hear fairy chatter. Those folk were the ones who’d ended up in asylums a hundred years ago. Now doctors just crammed them full of mind-numbing drugs.

Gabrielle snapped her head up, scanning for what alerted Amalia. A hunk of a man who radiated power—wore it like an aura that screamed how much clout he had—strode down the opposite side of the street as if he owned the world. Hair so dark it held a midnight blue cast fell nearly to his waist. Well past six feet, he was dressed like a pirate in a cream-colored shirt with full, old-fashioned sleeves, a dark brown leather vest, and tight-fitting, black leather pants that left very little to the imagination. Knee-high boots of buff-colored suede fit over the pants. Apparently feeling her gaze on him, he slowed, his head turning from side to side. Gabrielle could’ve sworn he was scenting the air like a dog.

“What is he?” Gabby sent. “I know he’s a full blood, but what kind?” Because pixies were entirely magical just like the full bloods, they were often quicker on the uptake. Gabby was a hybrid, and her human blood often got in the way.

“Warg. He can see me, Gabby. Do something.” Amalia dug her nails into Gabby’s shoulder.

The pixie’s words barely registered when the man settled a wolfish, amber gaze on Gabrielle. That look—intense, smoky—bored into her. Heart racing, she ducked into the first shop she saw.

“Are you all right, miss?” A shopkeeper hurried over. Dyed red hair spiked into curls that fell past her shoulders. Her sharp, green eyes examined Gabby, no doubt judging her off-the-rack J.C. Penney’s clothes.

Gabrielle looked around and saw she’d entered a lingerie store, and a pricey one at that judging from the tags hanging off flimsy bits of silk. She tried to quiet her breathing.

“I’m fine. Just thought I’d look around a bit. I have a friend who’s, ah, getting married.” She offered up what she hoped was a convincing smile, reinforced by the tiniest leave me alone spell. The last thing she needed was for the salesclerk to boot her out of the store.

“There you are, darling.” A cultured baritone rang from the doorway. The voice had a definite German accent. “Nice of you to shop for something to entertain me.”

The warg moved to her side and slid a hand under her elbow. A blast of sexual energy ignited Gabby’s nerves, setting them on fire. Her nipples pebbled instantly, and her skin tingled with promise. Mostly so she wouldn’t throw herself into his arms, she took a step away and worked to settle her heart back into a normal rhythm. But the warg’s heat—and a delicious musky scent—followed her.

The shop girl’s eyes grew huge. She was practically salivating. Gabby could tell she was struggling to keep her gaze above the warg’s waist. “Welcome to my shop, sir,” she cooed. “We have things for men too.”

He raised a well-formed eyebrow. “Yes, dear. Your whole shop is actually for men.”

The clerk giggled nervously. “I meant we have underwear for men. Silk and Egyptian cotton. It’s in the back.” She pointed with one very long, manicured nail. “I could show you.” Her green eyes gleamed hotly. “I could even help you try things on.”

“Terribly kind of you, but not just now.”

Gabby tried edging away, but the warg snaked a hand out, snaring her wrist.

The clerk licked her lips in an overtly suggestive gesture. “I’m here from ten until seven every day, so if you change your mind—”

“Never fear, my sweet. You’ll be the first to know. Now run along.” He made shooing motions with one hand and, amazingly, the clerk stepped back a pace or two.

Gabby felt the warg probe her mind. She snatched her wrist back and summoned wards, but he defeated them as easily if they’d been made of paper mâché. She didn’t want to make a scene. A cardinal rule was to never reveal magic to mortals. The Coven—bastion of hybrid magic wielders like her—would punish her severely. And the pixie would tell on her. That was one of the purposes of the fairy bond: to keep Coven members honest—and invisible. She’d been given a choice at thirteen when her moon blood began to flow. She could’ve rejected her witch power and lived out her years as a human. But she’d picked magic, and the Coven bound her with ancient strictures—and the fairy.

She shot the warg a toothy smile that she hoped held a menacing edge. “I was shopping for Victoria. Remember, she and Jonah are getting married this weekend. And,” she glanced at her watch, “I just realized I’m late for my salon appointment.”

She slid past him, doing her damnedest to ignore the enticing scent oozing out of his pores. Vanilla mixed with musk. It made her want to drop everything and run her hands through that gorgeous hair. “See you later—darling.”

“Later will happen sooner than you think,” he called after her retreating form.