Tag Archives: Action-Adventure

Fascinating Story Behind Secret Lady (Book 3 Ladies in Time)


Many stories lie at the heart of my upcoming January 9th release, time travel romance Secret Lady (Book 3 Ladies in Time) from The Wild Rose Press. The characters in this mystery/adventure aren’t related to the first two releases in the series as I began a new thread. While strongly historical, Secret Lady has enough paranormal in it to categorize the story as fantasy.

The setting for Secret Lady is as close to home as I can get, our old farm-house (with a slight upgrade) in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I transformed our lush dairy farm into ‘Lavender and Lace Herb Farm’ and relocated it several miles up the road on the farm we once rented. During the Civil War, horses were hidden in the Alpine like woods beyond the house.

(Our house with the wild midsummer garden by Elise)
(Behind our farm by hubby Dennis)(Our pond by Dennis)

I gleaned inspiration for the story from events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s family, and their peers during the Civil War. My great-great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg and was captured at Pickett’s Charge, but the focus of this story is our richly historic valley. I grew up hearing about The Burning (autumn 1864) when Major General Philip Sheridan brought hard war to our green valley, called The Bread Basket of the Confederacy. In Sheridan’s ruthless destruction of farms, livestock, and supplies that might sustain Rebel troops, he unleashed Hell on countless innocents. Among the greatest sufferers in Rockingham County were the peaceful Mennonites, my husband’s ancestors among them. These plain, hardworking people are my adopted people and a vital part of the book.

(Old-Order Mennonite Buggy Passing our farm. Image by Dennis)

Our farm stands where the worst of The Burning took place, and it occurred to me that our Victorian house might have been built soon after the Civil War because its predecessor was destroyed. We knew our home dated at least to the mid 1870’s from an elderly woman who visited here decades ago and said she was born in the house. We dated our home even earlier after finding it on an 1866 map, plus our bank barn has original features that pin it to that era.

(Our old barn. Image by Beth. It used to be red.)

This past spring, in what was my last conversation with my father-in-law before his death, I asked him if he knew of a farm that once stood on our land that might have been destroyed during The Burning. His adamant ‘yes!’ surprised my husband who wasn’t aware of its existence. However, hubby never asked.

Dad Trissel told us he used to walk back the long lane that leads behind our farm up to the wooded hills beyond and there he saw the remains of a burned-out farm (woods have since overgrown the site). He also told us our farm used to encompass that land which was later parceled off. We decided to walk back to the woods and search for any remnants from the past. Fortunately, we chose April for our exploration as the only trace of earlier dwellers our untrained eyes could detect were the faithful daffodils outlining what must once have been a house, barn, and outbuildings.

(Daffodil discovery in dry early spring before rains came with me and granddaughter Emma. Images by Elise )

If we had chosen any other season for our walk, we wouldn’t have noted anything. We later learned foundation stones and usable timber were reused in rebuilding homes and barns after The Burning. Scavengers must have been at work, and nature has taken a toll over the years. I’m not sure what my father-in-law saw in the nineteen forties, but more than we did. The daffodils are an heirloom variety that used to grow in my garden, likely from those same bulbs. Not appreciating their historic value, I replaced them with more attractive varieties and must restore these blooms to a spot in the yard.

More research is needed to determine whether the farm behind us was, indeed, burned during Sheridan’s infamous valley campaign and whether that family built our present house or fled, and another took their place in the building. We learned the road that runs in front of our house used to cut through the meadow, which would account for a farm being located back there. The stream ran beside it in those days, and springs also provided water. It could be as Dad Trissel said.

A strong sense of history hangs over the woods, our farm, and our fair valley called Shenandoah, ‘Daughter of the Stars.’  Fiery war once raged here, but we survived and rebuilt. Of course, we did, we’re Virginians.

(The valley much as it would have looked then. Image by daughter Elise)

Secret Lady Story Blurb:

Torn apart by time, reunited by flames.

At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house “warbles” between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she’d paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?

Excerpt:

She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.

This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.

The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.

She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. What do you want from me?”

There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~

Secret Lady will be out in kindle and print at Amazon and in eBook from all major online booksellers.

In kindle and print  at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B07KNL7K3Z/

In eBook from all major online booksellers.

Follow my Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6

Follow me on BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/beth-trissel

***If you are interested in reviewing please contact me: bctrissel@yahoo. com


(Old barn behind our farm. Now torn down–sadly.)

Holiday Time Travel Romance The White Lady (Book 2, Ladies in Time)


The White Lady, (Book 2 the Ladies in Time series), is out on November 11th, and available in pre-order now. The story was inspired by the ghostly white woman lore I’m familiar with from the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains. One such account speaks of a young woman dressed in white observed walking along the riverbank by the children of a valley family. When asked, their father told them she was the spirit of a brokenhearted woman who had died years before, that they would likely see her again, and to leave her alone. They did and kept their distance. 

After researching these haunting tales, I discovered this lore is widespread in America and the UK and dates back centuries. It’s a paranormal ‘thing,’ or should I say she is? The white woman is described as a sad solitary figure deep in mourning, having been jilted in love, possibly left at the altar, maybe pregnant. Desperate, she generally kills herself or fades from illness and then lingers as a mournful restless ghost. While creepy, she’s not usually vindictive. Usually.

In addition to research into ghostly white woman lore, I had one of my waking visions. I was walking around our meadow with the cows when I saw a young couple in my mind. He was fixated on the beautiful portrait of a mysterious lady while the girl endeavored to get his attention. She called him Ignus–a name I’ve never heard before–and warned him of the inherent dangers she sensed in this ghostly woman. He wouldn’t listen. Guys never do. But there was something exceptional about Ignus, and then there’s her best friend Stan…

This paranormal time travel romance takes place in a Victorian house in Staunton, Virginia at Christmas with flashes back to the Civil War and the end of WWI.

Story Blurb

Avery Dunham has always been ready to follow her friend, time-traveling wizard, Ignus Burke, on incredible adventures. This time, though, she has serious misgivings. It’s just one week before Christmas, but she cannot get him to change his mind. The usually cool and collected magic-wielding leader is wholly obsessed by the portrait of the White Lady whom he is bent on rescuing.

Almost as soon as they begin their journey, it becomes clear their mission is a trap. Avery was right: this adventure is not going to be like any other.~

Excerpt:

Avery had a few queries on the tip of her tongue, like, “Are you out of your freaking skull?”

If she didn’t ask, Stan probably would. They’d graduated from high school this past June and worked part-time ‘nothing’ jobs, taking a break before college while finding their way, as Avery’s mother put it. Mostly, they were drawn to Ignus like moths to a flame, especially Avery. Not that he noticed.

If only he’d look at her the way he did the white lady. More and more, the portrait seemed to dominate his thoughts. How could a petite, okay short, girl in a sparkly pink sweater and unicorn leggings compete with this tantalizing beauty?

Avery wasn’t plain, some even referred to her as cute, but exotic didn’t describe her. Quirky, sure. She wouldn’t term her brown eyes deeply affecting, and her face wouldn’t compel men through centuries to her side. The best she could do was plead with him.

“Ignus, be reasonable. Please.”

No reply. He wore his stubborn look. Crossing his arms over a lean chest, he tilted his head to better view the femme fatale on the wall above them. The tousled brown hair covering his ears and forehead needed a trim. In his red Zombie Preparedness hoodie with a white rescue logo, gray dress pants, and white high-topped sneakers, he was the quintessential

nerd. Most importantly, he was a wizard and time traveler with a passion for rescuing lost souls. His fervor for this particular lady was alarming.~

Get The White Lady in kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/White-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B075XBTY1J

****Follow my Amazon Author Page and keep up with my new releases: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/

***The Lady in Time stories do not need to be read in order. If you are interested in reading and reviewing this story please contact me: bctrissel@yahoo.com

The Lady and the Warrior is Free in Kindle-#shortstory #historicalromance


For a taste of my historical romances with a frontier flavor, The Lady and the Warrior is free in kindle through March 6th at:

https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Warrior-Beth-Trissel-ebook/dp/B007EEF3O8

Short historical romance

Short historical romance

Note This is a Short Story. Also note how many readers have bashed it for being a short story, even though I have clearly stated this, as has Amazon. Short stories are not easy to write and this one took time. If you enjoy The Lady and the Warror, you may like my full novels in the same genre. Some have paranormal elements interwoven with the well researched historical detail.

Story Description for THE LADY AND THE WARRIOR:

An abused young wife stranded in the Alleghenies in 1783 is rescued from drowning by a rugged frontiersman who shows her kindness and passion. But is he more than he seems? And can they ever be together?

My Award-Winning Native American Warrior Series includes:

Award-winning historical romance novel

Through the Fire, The Bearwalker’s Daughter, Kira, Daughter of the Moon, and Red Bird’s Song.  Amazon bought the eBook rights to the last two novels from The Wild Rose Press. All are available at Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author page:

THROUGH THE FIRE: Will love inflame these two natural-born enemies in fiery destruction?

Passions run deep in the raging battle to possess a continent, its wealth and furs. Both the French and English count powerful Indian tribes as their allies.

English lady Rebecca Elliot, having eloped to America with a British captain, finds herself a widow. When she ventures into the colonial frontier with the militia to seek her uncle, she unwittingly enters a dangerous world of rugged mountains, wild animals, and even wilder men. The rules are different here and she doesn’t know them, especially those of the savagely handsome warrior who captures her body and her heart.

Half-Shawnee, half-French warrior Shoka, former guide for English traders, is the hawk, swift, sure, and silent as the moon. He knows all about survival in this untamed land and how deadly distraction can be. His intent is to sell Rebecca to the French before she draws him under her spell, but if he lets her go he can no longer protect her. If he holds onto her, can he safeguard his heart? With battle looming and an enemy warrior bent on vengeance, Shoka and Rebecca must decide whether to fight together or be destroyed.

The_Bearwalkers_Daughter_Cover3THE BEARWALKER’S DAUGHTER: A Handsome frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irishwoman, Shapeshifting Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance…The Bearwalker’s Daughter

Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman longing to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.

Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges—for her?

2c646-historicalromancekiradaughterofthemooncoverbyraremonetKIRA, DAUGHTER OF THE MOON (SEQUEL TO THROUGH THE FIRE)

Logan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family. Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay–and anyone else from getting too close. Now that he’s back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft. And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.

red-birds-song-coverRED BIRD’S SONG:

Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl. George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.

pipetomahawk

Short Western Romance The Lady and the Warrior Free through 5-30


For a taste of my historicals with a frontier flavor, The Lady and the Warrior is Free in kindle through the 30th at: https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Warrior-Beth-Trissel-ebook/dp/B007EEF3O8

Short historical romance

Short historical romance

Note This is a Short Story. Also note how many readers have bashed it for being a short story, even though I have stated this, as has Amazon. Short stories are not as easy to write as some might suppose. The idea is that if you enjoy this story, you may enjoy my full novels in the same genre.

Story Description for THE LADY AND THE WARRIOR:

An abused young wife stranded in the Alleghenies in 1783 is rescued from drowning by a rugged frontiersman who shows her kindness and passion. But is he more than he seems? And can they ever be together?

My Native American Warrior Series includes:

Award-winning historical romance novel

Through the Fire, The Bearwalker’s Daughter, Kira, Daughter of the Moon, and Red Bird’s Song.  Amazon bought the eBook rights to the last two novels from The Wild Rose Press. All are available at Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author page:

THROUGH THE FIRE: Will love inflame these two natural-born enemies in fiery destruction?

Passions run deep in the raging battle to possess a continent, its wealth and furs. Both the French and English count powerful Indian tribes as their allies.

English lady Rebecca Elliot, having eloped to America with a British captain, finds herself a widow. When she ventures into the colonial frontier with the militia to seek her uncle, she unwittingly enters a dangerous world of rugged mountains, wild animals, and even wilder men. The rules are different here and she doesn’t know them, especially those of the savagely handsome warrior who captures her body and her heart.

Half-Shawnee, half-French warrior Shoka, former guide for English traders, is the hawk, swift, sure, and silent as the moon. He knows all about survival in this untamed land and how deadly distraction can be. His intent is to sell Rebecca to the French before she draws him under her spell, but if he lets her go he can no longer protect her. If he holds onto her, can he safeguard his heart? With battle looming and an enemy warrior bent on vengeance, Shoka and Rebecca must decide whether to fight together or be destroyed.

The_Bearwalkers_Daughter_Cover3THE BEARWALKER’S DAUGHTER: A Handsome frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irishwoman, Shapeshifting Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance…The Bearwalker’s Daughter

Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman longing to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.

Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges—for her?

2c646-historicalromancekiradaughterofthemooncoverbyraremonetKIRA, DAUGHTER OF THE MOON (SEQUEL TO THROUGH THE FIRE)

Logan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family. Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay–and anyone else from getting too close. Now that he’s back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft. And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.

red-birds-song-coverRED BIRD’S SONG:

Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl. George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.

pipetomahawk

Release Day and Deeper Look At Young Adult Fantasy Romance The Hunter’s Moon


SECRET WARRIOR--THE HUNTERS MOONA great deal of musing and research went into my new YA fantasy romance series, Secret Warrior. Book 1, The Hunter’s Moon, is out now. I’ve signed a 3 book contract with the Wild Rose Press. This does not rule out more titles. Each story is novella length and will be available in eBook format only. They release faster this way.

The concept behind the series evolved for years before I wrote a word. Although the setting is present day, I’ve drawn on my knowledge of colonial America, Native Americans, particularly the Shawnee, the mountain people, herbal lore. and my imagination. Since this is fantasy, not everything in The Hunter’s Moon, or future titles, can be traced back to any particular people, but much can. The mythos behind the werewolves in Secret Warrior is uniquely mine. Historically, the Shawnee do not believe in werewolves, but they and other Native Americans admire ‘Brother Wolf’.’ Their reverence for nature, respect for their elders, inherent spirituality, and regard for courage and loyalty are all significant. Some aspects of the story are inspired by their values. Others are not. The dragon like thunder bird comes from Native American lore, and supposed sightings.

Eyes of the Wolf in Red Bird's Song

Jim Great Elk Waters, Shawnee Elder and Pipecarrier, assisted with the language. He also helped with several of my historicals. For a more accurate portrayal of the Shawnee, read my award-winning adult historical romance novels, Red Bird’s Song, available in kindle and print, and Through the Fire.

‘The Lizard Lady’ mentioned in The Hunter’s Moon and fully featured in Book 2, Curse of the Moon (release date TBD) is a fascinating character I learned about through late Shenandoah Valley historian and author John Heatwole. Mr. Heatwole interviewed mountain and valley people, compiling their accounts into a book, Shenandoah Voices. He also hosted a radio program. One of my favorite accounts is ‘The Lizard Lady’, a creepy shifter woman  from back in the gap who basks in the moonlight as an enormous lizard. In Secret Warrior, she’s a witch with two daughters. Other mountain people lore emerges in the series as well.

(More) Superstitions and Tales from The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

When the first settlers came to the Shenandoah Valley in the early/mid 1700’s, my Scots-Irish ancestors among them, Shawnee were living near the present day town of Winchester. They also hunted in the valley, a thoroughfare for Native Americans going north or south, but were soon evicted and war broke out. In Secret Warrior, a small band remain in the mountains as guardians of the forest. I’ve placed them in the ridges surrounding Fort Valley, a little known valley hidden between the Massanutten Mountains, just east of the Blue Ridge. A nugget I gleaned about George Washington ordering Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan to build the first road into Fort Valley and the plan to use it as a hideout if the Continental Army lost to the British at Yorktown, formed the basis for the series. And then there are the hala’a’kwa lin’nuwech’kie, Star People.

‘Nuff said, or I’ll give too much away. I hope you’ll enjoy The Hunter’s Moon and the Secret Warrior Series.

***The Hunter’s Moon is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and from other online booksellers. Although the series is written for teens 14 and up, (younger for prolific readers), the stories are entertaining for any age.

Secret Warrior Series Logo

Inspiration Behind YA Fantasy The Hunter’s Moon (Secret Warrior Series)


Although The Hunter’s Moon (Book 1, Secret Warrior Series) is my first venture into the young adult genre, I’m an award-winning, multi-published author in historical, paranormal, and time travel romance. I was inspired to create this new series partly by my teenage nieces, Lizzy (the story is dedicated to her), Sara, and daughter Elise. We’ve watched many YA movies and TV programs together and had book discussions. They urged me to embark on this journey.

Blue Ridge Mountains

I pondered the concept behind Secret Warrior for years as it gradually took shape in my mind. My love of history, fantasy, and fascination with the mountain people and Native Americans is at the heart of the series. Living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by mountains veiled in mist and mystery lends itself well to creating the characters and setting for YA fantasy romance, The Hunter’s Moon, and the stories that will follow. Some of the characters and creatures are based on lore I’ve learned. Others appeared to me, as characters have a way of doing. A great deal of research and intuition went into writing The Hunter’s Moon. Next in the series is Curse of the Moon (release date TBD). I purposefully kept these stories to novella length so they would come out faster, which means eBook format only. The Wild Rose Press is publishing the Secret Warrior series.

Pre-order links for The Hunter’s Moon are up at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The official release date for the story is December 14th.

SECRET WARRIOR--THE HUNTERS MOONStory Description:

Seventeen year old Morgan Daniel has been in the witness protection program most of her life. But The Panteras have caught up with her and her younger brother. Her car is totaled, she’s hurt, and the street gang is closing in when wolves with glowing eyes appear out of nowhere and chase away the killers.

Then a very cute guy who handles a bow like Robin Hood emerges from the woods and takes them to safety at his fortress-like home.

And that’s just the first sign that Morgan and her brother have entered a hidden world filled with secrets.

Excerpt:

“Should we stay, or go while the smoke lasts?” The cloth muffled her voice.

“You can hardly walk.”

She couldn’t argue that point. Neither could they wait to be found. “The Panteras won’t give up until we’re dead.”

“Maybe they think we are,” he argued under his breath.

“Maybe.”

She suspected Mateo would demand a body, even a charred one. Make that two. She and Jimmy didn’t have much choice, though, other than to crouch in dread while the fire crackled.

“Next birthday, I want an AK-47.” He nudged her. “Look.”

She fixed her blurry gaze on what appeared to be a black wolf emerging from the trees. The creature was larger than she’d thought wolves were, and she’d understood none remained in these mountains. They were all farther north or west. Somewhere else.

Apparently, she was misinformed.

th_Wolf_1Judging by its size, she guessed this was a male. He stopped before their hideout. Eyes the color of red coals surveyed them before he turned and darted down the trail she’d spotted.

“Holy cow, Batboy. Did you see that?” she whispered.

Jimmy didn’t reply. He prodded her again.

She stared at the big brown and gray wolf that took the black one’s place. Where on earth had he come from?

The beast turned its furry head at her and Jimmy. His eyes shone with a luminous light, like fireflies…

Sweet Saturday Snippet from New Release Somewhere in the Highlands


somewhere_in_the_highlands4.jpg2

Chapter One

Early November 2011, a Victorian home in historic Staunton, Virginia

Footfalls pounded down the stairs from the second story. A woman cried, “They’re coming!”

Beezus? Angus Fergus lowered his leather recliner with a thump. “Who is?”

Long brown hair spilling down over her red Trekkie T-shirt dress and hoodie, Beezus Mac tore into his living room. Particularly surprising as Fergus hadn’t even realized she was in the house.

“Here!” She thrust an ornate gold box at him. “Hide this!”

He set his laptop on the end table beside the jellyfish mood lamp and ‘There is no try, only do,’ Yoda coffee mug, and sprang to his feet. Warily, he took from her hands the gilded chest, its metal cold in his grasp. The only other light in the room came from the laserpod streaming a starry blue galaxy on the ceiling making everything appear surreal, especially her find—or take.

He gaped into her frightened eyes. “What is it?”

Darting glances over a slender shoulder, she insisted, “No time to explain. They’re coming. The MacDonalds are coming.”

An old fear welled in him. “All of them?”

“Not certain. I heard shouting behind me.”

Lock and Key series7No angry bellows reverberated in the old home. Yet. “Beezus, what have you done?”

She gulped out, “I borrowed your energy field detector—”

“Absconded with it, you mean.”

“And went through the portal,” she rushed on. “Only supposed to be an in and out job, but I was seen in the crypt.”

He dropped his gaze to the shine of gold. The reliquary had a disturbingly familiar design associated with some seriously bad mojo. It came to him—Raiders of the Lost Ark!

“Cripes, Beezus. Tell me you didn’t steal the Ark of the Covenant.” According to the Old Testament, anyone who touched it was zapped by a bolt from heaven.

“The original is God knows where, and considerably larger, Fergus. This is from Persia, or some ancient place, carried to Scotland by the Knights Templar.”

fierce highlanderThat accounted for it winding up with the MacDonalds. “Any idea how many irate Scotsmen are on your tail?”

“Might only be one. Sounded like more shouting than that.”

“If it’s the fiend I’ve encountered, all it takes is one.”

Fergus raced to a corner of the room, flipped open the head on the life-sized droid, a replica of R2-D2, and stuck the jewel-like chest inside its body at a vertical angle. He snapped the head shut. Turning around, he ran into the front hall, making a mental note to find a new place to stash his stuff now that Beezus knew of his secret safe—assuming he lived that long. He grabbed the lightsaber from the Chinese urn holding canes and umbrellas in the foyer.

Beezus followed at his heels. “But that’s just a toy!”

“Actually—” He hit a switch on the end and the weapon of the Jedi came to green glowing life. “It’s a taser. I made a few alterations.”

She drew up. “Cool.” Even in her near panic, she sounded impressed.

“Grab a stout walking stick while we’re at it.”

Springing to action, she snatched a heavy knobbed cane with an impish monkey head.

“You would choose that one.” The same cane Neil had wielded in pursuit of the Red MacDonald two years ago. Fergus pivoted and made for the winding staircase. “What were you doing back in the MacDonald camp at Domhnall castle?”

She clambered behind him. “That’s where the portal leads.”

“Still? I figured the portal would’ve shifted after it closed.”

ancient doorWhen he last passed through the wormhole connected to the mysterious door upstairs, it had been from the crypt below the castle chapel. He’d magnified the sensor in his energy field detector to pick up any activity, however slight, but not a blip or a buzz—until now. And Beezus had been the one to find it?

Annoyance and alarm melded in the flood of emotion coursing through him. “And you went through it because?”

“That reliquary should be mine. I’m the rightful MacDonald descendant.”

“How do you figure? There are hundreds of them, even got their own restaurant. You may have heard of it, Mickey D’s?

“Not this line. And I’ve got the key to open that chest.”

She probably swiped that too. In a flash of insight he realized Beezus Mac must be short for Elizabeth MacDonald.

“Why don’t the original MacDonalds have the key?”

“Lost it during one of the raids on the castle. It turned up later in the family. Domhnall’s in ruins now.”

Retro Keyhole“And the gold box I just hid?”

She panted, “In a Scottish Museum.”

Exactly where it belonged. Fergus never should’ve told her about the wormhole linked with this house and his adventure through it two years ago. In a moment of weakness, punch-drunk from too much caffeine, lulled by those bewitching golden-brown eyes and an overpowering desire to share with someone, he’d succumbed.

She’d hung around the perimeter of his cyber circle, a geek wannabe, or so he’d thought. A recent transplant to Staunton, she’d appeared on his doorstep as though drawn to him, the fortunate chosen one. He should have realized no woman that good-looking paid him much notice without an ulterior motive. If only he wasn’t so attracted to her.

“You’re fortunate you didn’t get stranded back there. The portal’s unpredictable.”

She was practically on his heels. “This is bad enough. You’ve got to keep the MacDonalds from coming through.”

“I can’t close a fricking wormhole, Beezus. Just drive back anyone emerging through it.”  Or die trying.

In his Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock T-shirt and jeans, he wouldn’t appear much of a threat to a 17th century Highland chieftain. But it was imperative to keep the Red MacDonald out of the house and the 21st century altogether. His last appearance here had fatal consequences. The man was a murderer, vowing vengeance. And none too fond of Fergus.

Well, the feeling was mutual.

full moon and clouds--blue-black night sky, hauntingFergus tore down the upstairs hall lit by the floral china lamp on the table along one gold print wall. A full moon shone through the windows, the old glass wavy in the light.

There!

At the end of the passage stood the intricately carved door, the oak darkened with age. The stained glass archway above it fanned out in a half circle of saffron, red, and gold like the entry to a chapel. The door to nowhere, so called as it led out onto a nonexistent balcony. But nothing could be further from the truth when the portal opened.

The aged wood swung wide.

Through the blackened archway appeared the demon Fergus dreaded ever to meet again, Red MacDonald. Shadows dulled the fiery mane blowing over his scarlet and green plaid, but Fergus spotted the great sword slung across one broad shoulder in leather back scabbard. The hilt of the claymore protruded above the giant’s shoulder blade.

One step closer and stout legs encased in full-length green trews came into view. Then those glittering blue eyes.

Man's_face_and_eyesHow he hated those eyes.

The enraged Scotsman pierced him with a glare. “You!”

A primal yowl tore from some place deep inside Fergus and he raised his lightsaber.~

***Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Time Travel Romance Somewhere in the Highlands is the sequel to Somewhere My Lass. Available in kindle at Amazon.

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