Title: Defying the Odds
Author: C. L. Kraemer
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
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The night elves on the hill aren't happy without their magic. They concoct a plan to punish those who were involved in the act that rendered them almost human. Meanwhile, Uther, the rogue night elf, has returned to woo the Librarian to be his eternal mate.
In a meadow east of Eugene, Oregon
Bram ambled up the roughly hewn stairs to the willow lounge chair located at the front of his home. He pulled the scrimshawed pipe from his pocket and filled the bowl with his favorite blend of black cherry tobacco. The paced routine of loading the ivory bowl with fragrant leaves and tamping them firmly into place was one of his favorite after dinner rituals. Withdrawing a matchstick from the inner pocket of his vest, he struck the sulfured end against a river rock he'd placed on the root of the towering oak that served as his home.
The fading evening sky showered the mountains in hues of gold and red. Pushing away the light, a blanket of dark blue velvet sprinkled with luminous star points soon prevailed. Bram puffed smoke rings at the darkening heavens.
"Evenin'." A scruffy black and tan terrier mix meandered up and, after circling three times, lay next to the chubby gnome.
"Evening, Silas. How's the family?"
"Well, thank you. Daisy announced we're expecting--again."
Bram chuckled into his beard. "Congratulations."
"Humph. I'll be glad when we're both too old to care. I came over to ask if there are any jobs in sight. I'll need to be working as much as I can now."
It seemed he got one batch of kids out of the house and another was on the way.
Silence stretched between the business partners. Bram pulled deep draughts on his pipe, blowing the smoke away from his friend. His eyes were drawn to the large block of light spilling from the picture window of the behemoth on the hill. The Saun clan, night elves whose callous actions nearly destroyed the fae population of the meadow and surrounding forests, owned the out of place monstrosity.
Bram squinted his eyes to focus his vision on the methodical movement that broke the beam of light. He could just make out a figure pacing rhythmically in front of the casement. Unable to ascertain which of the night elves was engaged in the determined striding, Bram was sure of only one thing…if the night elves were restless and unhappy, the rest of the valley was in trouble.
~ * ~
Gitty paced in front of the picture window, ignoring the expansive view of the green valley below. The thick carpet covering the hand selected hardwood floors muffled the angry stompings of her boots. At the end of each turn, she jabbed the air with her finger.
"Think you can take away my magic, do you?" She spun on the ball of her foot and stamped to the other side of the room. "We'll see about that!" Jab, jab.
Morgan, the younger of the two siblings, stretched his limbs languidly across the fine leather couch, watching the angry display being played out in the living room, a smirk residing on his lips.
"What has your knickers in a twist?" His leg, hanging over the arm of the couch, swung slowly back and forth.
Gitty broke her tirade for a moment. "I'm surprised yours aren't. How can you tolerate not having magic to use?"
"Because, dear sister, I don't need magic to get my way. I have my," he waved a hand up and down his body, "obvious attributes."
Gitty grimaced. "Please. Don't make me sick."
Pulling to an upright position, Morgan stretched his long legs in front of him, tucking his hands behind his head.
"You're just jealous."
"Then what's your problem?"
"I don't fancy living my life in pubs among the scum of the valley sponging off the pity of strangers. My plans include owning all I see."
Morgan rose from the couch and faced his sister.
"Good luck with that. Even the Others are wise to your quest for power. I'm going out. See you later." He moseyed out of the living room and down the hall.
Gitty gritted her teeth. Morgan might be her brother, but he was useless when it came to thinking beyond his next good time.
She glared at the source of the fingers of light stretching over the meadow. The owner of the Lending Library was an Other the local fae had embraced with open arms. Even Uther, the one-time leader of the night elves and her uncle, had taken a personal interest in the older female.
"Must be losing his sanity."
She spotted a pinpoint of red light glowing in the far distance. As hard as she tried, she couldn't sense the origin of the light.
"I hate not having my magic!" She smacked the wall with her hand, immediately regretting the action. Bolts of pain shot up her arm.
Turning on her heel, she tramped out of the room.