Thursday, May 19, 2016

Throwback Thursday. No Good Deed.

 No Good Deed.
All Romance Ebooks. 

The faerie world and its courts — the Seelie and Unseelie — come to life in this romance. Follow the story of the mortal Scott Owen and the mysterious Connor who possesses a mystic heritage and a chilling doom. In this Gaelic-style fantasy, these two men struggle against forces both glamorous and banal in order to find their way back to the person who matters the most to them


Raised by an over-bearing and demanding father, Scott Owen leaves London and returns to Cardiff to take over the family business after his father is taken ill. He encounters a thief in his office, who is in fact his father's executive assistant, Connor Murphy, who claims he is trying to retrieve what is rightfully his. Intrigued by his father's hold over Connor, Scott sets out to discover the mysterious secret. He learns there is more to the young man than meets the eye.
Connor accompanies Scott on a business trip to Cornwall, near his family home. Desperate to preserve his ancestral home and right a childhood mistake, Connor offers himself in exchange for the land and accepts Scott's terms. Together, they must work to overcome the evil figure from Connor's past who threatens to destroy their lives.

This novel is written with English spelling and contains an M/M pairing with a few dark passages and fantasy violence.

In horror, Connor watched the great triple throne wrench violently from the earth. He clamped his hands over his ears. His voice joined thousands of others as they screamed out their pain. The cry of the banshee rent the air and echoed through the sacred grove. Sylphs and nymphs, gnomes and dryads, dancers of the mist, the Seelie and Unseelie Court alike cried their lament. Even the great Enchantresses woke.  
Connor woke from his nightmare, covered in sweat, his heart pounding in his chest. A shudder ran through him. He glanced over to see Scott sleeping soundly at his side.  
Slipping from the bed, Connor tugged on his jeans, his high-topped trainers, and hoodie. He kissed Scott’s shoulder and pulled the blanket up then crept from their room. The soft snick of the door sounded like an explosion as he made his guilty escape outside. In his haste, he skated on the frost-covered ground and slid down the embankment towards the beach. Once his feet hit the sand, he sprinted across the beach, his arms pumping like the wheels of a giant locomotive. Tears streamed down his face.  
His name whispered through the wind. A tiny flicker of light guided him. The mist separated and revealed a woman’s long, lithe form. Connor rushed into her open arms.  
Connor lifted her off her feet and twirled her around. “I’ve missed you so much.” He choked back the emotion. He didn’t think he’d ever see her again, and yet here he was. Connor wasn’t about to waste a minute of their time together. At last, he released her and held her at arm’s length. “You’re as beautiful as I remember.”  
Tall and willowy, her long blonde tresses hung loosely down her back. Her eyes were the colour of the calm sea. She wrapped her white cloak about them, and he closed his eyes, her warm perfume filling his nostrils.  
Loud music filled the room before all went deathly silent. Connor opened his eyes. They were in the centre of the great hall, and the dancers around them stopped in mid-stride. They were tall and beautiful, dressed in all their finery: silks and velvets, their fingers adorned with jewelled rings. Gold and silver circlets crowned them.  
One or two murmured whispers grew into dozens. Little had changed since Connor had last been here. The walls of the ancient hall constructed of huge blocks of stone, two fireplaces, one on each side of the room, were large enough for a man to stand in and at least six feet wide. Torches lit the space. Silk banners in greens, reds, and whites hung from the walls. Richly embroidered tapestries depicted scenes of great battles and hunts.  
“What right do you have to be here?” A loud voice echoed in the chamber. “You were banished.” Uncle Ronan waded through the parting crowd.  
His mother’s hand tightened around his. “Hold your tongue, Brother. He is my son. I do not need your permission to invite him or anyone to my home.” 
Any hope of avoiding a scene quickly vanished. Connor craned his neck and searched out his father. The last time he’d seen him, his father’s face had been a mask of rage and heartbreak. Connor had given him no choice but to punish him. Until Connor had retrieved what Gordon had stolen, he’d never be free to return on his own.  
“Esme, Ronan, Connor.”  
All eyes turned to his father. Connor lifted his head, offered his mother his arm, and followed proudly to his father’s private chamber.  
Connor breathed in the familiar smells of wood smoke, pine, night-scented stock, and roses. Nervous, he stood by the crackling fire. A servant entered with a tray of ale and wine. Another carried a platter from the feast—fish and fowl, fruits and bounty from the gardens of man. Great loaves of bread piled in a basket were set on the large wooden slab. His father sat in a huge throne at the end of the table.  
His mother took her place at his father’s right side. Ronan sat next to his sister. Connall motioned Connor to the seat on his left. Connor traced over the intricately carved wood before he dragged the chair out and sat.  
He longed to draw his father into his embrace. He waited for a signal, some sign his father welcomed him, and not only to appease his mother. His father had never looked so tired.  
“For what purpose are you here?” His father's piercing grey eyes regarded him. “Your presence was noted in the sacred grove.”  
“Then you know I did not enter the circle, Father. I had no choice.” His voice quavered with emotion.  
“Connall, please.” Esme placed her hand on her husband’s arm. “Please, let us enjoy our meal. Our son is here now.”  
“So the boy has grown into a man? Why was he there and under your protection?” Connall removed a round loaf from the basket, tore off a chunk of bread, and then took a bite.  
“As I said, I had no choice. His father has again threatened the land.” Connor swallowed a mouthful of ale, welcoming the bold taste.  
“Look at him, Connall. He is more human than Fae. He stinks of the man.” Ronan wrinkled his nose in disgust. “We have the young Owen within our grasp. His father could not refuse an exchange of his son for Connor.”  
Connor bowed his head in shame. “I have done what was necessary to protect the Realm. I have bound myself to the son.”  
“Connor!” His mother gasped in shock.  
“I’m warning you, Uncle. Scott Owen must not be harmed.” The ale provided Connor newfound courage. “The land will be mine in one human year. For my sacrifice, I agreed to follow the laws of man. Once the land is mine, I will sign it over to a trust. The old ways are dead to man,” Connor explained. “Their laws bind them, not ours. We are all but forgotten; nothing more than lore or bedtime stories.”  
“What of the father?” Ronan asked. “We have heard on the wind you scry and cast spells like a witch.”  
Connor tossed his fork on his plate and pushed back his chair. “I do not need you to remind me of my life, Uncle. I do as I am bid.” Connor seethed.  
“Please, Connall, restore Connor’s full powers so my son may return to us. At least let me help him,” Esme pleaded, grasping his father’s arm.  
Connall smashed his fist on the table, jarring the contents. "Do you not think I miss my son as well? No, Esme, I cannot. The council stripped him of all but his basic powers. The court demanded his punishment after his continued disobedience. Connor accepted his fate. He knows he cannot permanently return to the realm without his crystal. I indulge you tonight with his presence, but I forbid you from meddling. Do not test me,” Connall warned his wife. Resigned, he faced his son. “Tell me, Connor. Was it worth the price we have all paid?”  
“Please, do not argue on my accord,” Connor implored. “In hindsight, I would have heeded your warning as a child. Yes, Father, every day for the past seven years, I have regretted my actions.”  
Connall studied Connor for a moment before he nodded. “You were forced to learn life’s hard lesson.” Connall softened his tone. “I shall leave you to your mother. You will find me in the great hall before you leave.” The heavy chair scraped over the stone floor as his father rose.  
“Yes, Father.” Connor noted the sadness in his father’s grey eyes as he left the room followed by his uncle. Connor closed his eyes. When he opened them again, they were in his mother’s grand salon.  
Esme motioned him towards the large, green velvet chair. A clap of her hands and a young faerie maid busied herself. Fine china and silver were set on the table, along with a plate covered in sweet treats. From a short, round teapot, Esme poured two cups of the fragrant brew.  
“Your favourite. I could never forget.” She passed him the delicate floral cup, smiling fondly.  
Connor bit into the sweet honeyed cake. The room hadn't changed. The glittering chandelier sparkled in the full-length, gilt-framed mirror. Green satin curtains draped the walls, covering the cold stone. A large tapestry bore their family portrait. His mother’s skills at the intricate needlecraft were unequalled. He memorised her every feature.  
Connor placed his cup on the table, and then drank in his mother’s image. Her face conveyed her love and devotion. It said ‘I love you, I’ll do whatever is necessary to keep you safe and make you happy, and I’ll even defy your father.’ And Connor didn’t doubt she would.  
“What have you done, Connor?” Esme watched him intently as he twisted the ring on his finger. “Connor, you didn’t… a consort?”  
“I did my duty to the Realm. Please, Mother, promise me you will do nothing to incur Father’s wrath.” Connor hoped she would heed his request.  
“How long will you be lost to me, Connor?” She couldn’t hide the sadness in her voice. Esme glanced over her shoulder as she glided across the room.  
“I am to be his partner for life. Our marriage has not been so unpleasant, Mother. Scott is not like his father.” Connor joined her at the mirror and wrapped his arms around her.  
Esme placed her delicate hand against the silvered surface. The glass cleared, showing the room he shared with Scott. “He is handsome. You did this of your own accord?”  
“Yes, Mother, I gave him my word.” Connor peered at his sleeping husband.  
“As you wish, Connor.” She touched the glass. Scott's image faded, and the mirror appeared normal.  
“I must return soon, Mother. If he wakes and I am gone, he will try and find me.”  
“Very well. Let us say goodbye to your father, and I will take you back.” Esme cupped his face, her eyes filled with tears. She rested her cheek against his.  
Connor kissed her forehead. “I love you, Mother.”  
Arm in arm, they strolled to the main hall so Connor could say his goodbyes. His father and Ronan were in the middle of an animated conversation with two of their brethren, no doubt unhappy over the banished prince’s return. His mother stiffened beside him, tightening her hold on his arm. He followed her gaze. A shiver ran down his spine as the black-clad figure turned.  
As a child, Connor had been terrified by the prospect of becoming Cormac’s mate. Even now, the vile creature repulsed him. The great hall went silent. Connall and Ronan left their guests and joined them. An air of unease Connor had never sensed before filled the room. Some things had changed after all.  
“Connor, wait,” Ronan yelled, closing the space between them. He hugged Connor close. “I have missed you, nephew.” 
Connor smiled and nodded, too emotional to speak. Ronan patted his cheek.  
In a blink of the eye, he and his mother were back in the circle on the beach. The moon hung low overhead. The tide revealed the time. Three hours had passed. With any luck, Scott still slept soundly.  
“I shall make every effort to see you again before we leave Cornwall, Mother.” Connor kissed his mother’s cheek and held her close before tearing himself from the ring. He waved as she faded into mist. 

Soft candlelight illuminated Esme's private dressing chamber. Her jewelled rings sparkled as the mirror caught their reflection. Her golden strands shimmered when she absently plaited her hair. Esme dropped the silver-handled hairbrush in her lap and buried her face in her hands. Between muffled sobs, she cursed the fates. She'd vowed once she held Connor in her arms again, she'd never let him go.  
She wasn't the only one affected by Connor's visit. A solemn mood fell over the Realm. The sonorous song reverberating from the adjoining bedchamber belied the cracks she'd witnessed in her husband’s normally stoic armour. The sad smile on his pain-etched face as he kissed her goodnight told all. Even Ronan had taken to his cups, sullen and acerbic, before retreating to his chamber.  
The ache in her chest deepened. Her heart was breaking all over again. She remembered those first days after Connor disappeared. Panic enslaved her as the search for her son proved fruitless at every turn. Connor had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. Slowly, the others resigned themselves to the fact that their prince was gone, but Esme refused to give up. Connor had to be out there somewhere.  
Days turned into weeks. Everyday life returned to the Realm. She grieved in silence at her loss. Esme used the glamour and walked among men, scouring the beaches. Whilst there, she spied a surly spriggan who admitted witnessing Connor's abduction by Gordon Owen.  
The trail led her from the Cornish beach to Cardiff. Her heart leapt when she spied her son. Her joy quickly turned to anger and frustration. Gordon Owen had imprisoned her son, warding the building to keep other Fae out and Connor in. Infuriated, she returned to the Realm, only to learn the Court had known Connor's whereabouts all along.  
The land Miranda had guarded for them had passed to Gordon's care. The man's greed was widely known among their kind. Esme had been forbidden to go to her son; her power in Gordon's hands would be disastrous.  
From every reflective surface, whether mirror, glass, fountain, or puddle, she could see her son; but never touch or speak to him, to reassure him of her love and devotion. She swore the day would come when she would have her revenge.  
“Goodnight, Mother.”  
Connor's voice filtered through the chamber. Esme sniffed and wiped her tears. A smile spread across her face. As hoped, Connor had not forgotten her. His goodnight was as good as an open invitation. She watched from the mirror as his breathing evened out in sleep. She sprang into motion, donning her finest dressing gown: the deep green velvet that matched her son's eyes.  
Esme placed her palm against the mirror then found herself in Scott's shared bedroom. The dishevelled bed spoke of more than sleeping. From the folds of her gown, she pulled at the chatelaine that hung from her waist.  
From a tiny vial, she poured the contents in her palm and blew the fine powder from her hand, sending both Connor and his mate into a deeper sleep. Esme crept closer. Scott was a child of summer, his hair the colour of the sun. In sleep, he bore such innocence. Taking her scissors, she snipped a lock of his hair then placed the strands in the silver locket. Next, she plucked a needle from her case. With a prick of Scott’s finger, she squeezed five drops of blood into a crystal vial. She brought his finger to her lips, sealing the tiny wound. His blood burned for Connor. She had no need to cast a spell.  
She leant over her sleeping son. “I love you,” Esme whispered. “I’ll leave you to one another.”  
Esme glided across the room then through the mirror. The corners of her mouth turned up into a wicked smile as she saw her reflection. She was shameless. 

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