The Beltane Kiss
Faerie Forest: Book 1
- Publication date: September 5, 2016
- Genre: Fantasy with Strong Romantic Element
- Length: novelette
- ISBN: 978-0-9980756-0-0
Daisy McAllister would do anything to save her sister, Lily, plunged into an endless sleep by faerie magic. Even enter a forbidden wood.
But braving the forest means facing the “lord” of the manor—wealthy recluse Rhett Fairshadow. He sees himself as a guardian, protecting humans from the fae who inhabit his land.
When a determined Daisy meets an angry Rhett one Beltane night, sparks fly.
The Beltane Kiss is a novelette of approximately 11,000 words.
PRAISE FOR THE BELTANE KISS:
“The magic in this story really sparkles, and the fae episodes are eerie and haunting.”— Amelia Denyven Ross
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An excerpt from The Beltane Kiss:
The wood smelled of damp earth, ferns, and mushrooms. Exactly what she needed. Here she would find what she was looking for. The one thing that might save her sister. If the aged text she’d found was true, then it was here, in a wild wood, on the night of Beltane, under the moonlight, that she would pick the mushrooms of a faerie circle. Then, she would string them to hang above her sister’s bed. The mushrooms, charged with faerie magic, would draw out the poison.
And then, maybe, Lily would come back.
Daisy remembered better days. Days when her sister’s blue eyes glimmered with mischief. Sunny summer afternoons when Lily could make even the dullest of chores lively. They’d laughed as they hung the laundry on the line. They’d laughed over Chinese take-out while they’d paid the bills for the creaky old farmhouse they shared. They’d sung songs while weeding their garden.
But two months had passed since the incident, and Daisy was beginning to wonder if things would ever be the same.
For now, Lily lay like a stone statue in her bed. Her once-sparkling eyes flitted from side to side behind closed lids, as though tormented by nightmares. Her lips couldn’t form a smile or sing a pleasant tune.
For the last two months, Daisy had scarcely slept. She’d traveled up and down the East Coast, combing through troves of information about poisoning by troll dust. Finally, last week, she’d discovered an old, leather-bound book entitled Alexander Finkelstein’s Cures and Tinctures for Faerie-Related Maladies. This—these mushrooms, plucked from a faerie ring—was the answer, his text had assured her. And at no time of year was faerie magic more accessible than on Beltane—or so her reading told her.
So here she was. Because she’d heard a rumor, the kind those old souls who still believed the even older tales whispered to those willing to listen. There was magic in the wooded hills of Fairshadow Manor. Faerie magic.
Her elderly neighbor, Eudora Cooper, had been the one to tell Daisy about Fairshadow Manor. “We share these woods,” Eudora had said one night as they sipped sweet tea on her front porch. She rocked her chair back and forth and gazed into the forests beyond the fields of grazing cattle. “We ain’t alone and ain’t never been. And you want to know where the fae roam wilder than anywhere else? It’s at the land of that peculiar young man—young Mr. Fairshadow. His family’s always had dealings with the fae. You want to save Miss Lily, you seek your answers there.” And then, with a firm nod of conviction, she’d sipped her tea.
Though Daisy had lived most of her life in Foster Springs, she’d only seen Rhett Fairshadow once, the year before at a benefit for the farmers’ market. She remembered him as gruff and reserved—and far grumpier than his twenty-eight years seemed to warrant. She remembered long blond hair pulled back in a careful ponytail, silvery eyes that peered out at her. A shiver of remembrance swept over her. Gorgeous, yes. And impenetrable? That, too.
She tore her thoughts away from Fairshadow Manor’s reclusive owner. She just had to find a faerie circle, pluck the mushrooms and tuck them safely into her basket, and then she would be on her way. She’d already searched the woods around her farmhouse, without any luck. So she’d heeded Eudora Cooper’s words, and here she was.
Daisy could only hope that the faeries here didn’t notice her—and that neither did the grumbling manor owner—before she got what she’d come for.
Twisting shadows crept across the wood, shrouding it in a misty darkness, so she pulled the flashlight out of her basket and flicked it on. She was far enough from the manor that its owner shouldn’t see the light if he happened to look out a window. She only hoped she could find a faerie ring before the mists grew any thicker.
She pointed the light at the forest floor and began her search, methodically scanning each area for a ring of mushrooms.
“What in Lucifer’s name do you think you’re doing?” a voice behind her growled. She almost jumped out of her skin. How was it she hadn’t heard his approach? Was he silent as a tomcat, or was she simply too caught up in her search to hear his footfalls?
“I…” She knew she couldn’t possibly tell him the truth. His silvery-gray eyes bored into hers. His blond hair was tied back in a simple ponytail, a contrast to his crisp white cotton shirt and khakis. She adjusted her grip on the basket. The truth was not an option. Who would believe such a far-fetched story? Some days Daisy wasn’t sure she believed it herself. Most of the residents of Foster Springs, Virginia, didn’t believe in the fae. They made up all sorts of far-fetched, yet somehow more mundane reasons, for the strange happenings in the forests around town—rabid coyotes, chemical spills, roving bands of rabble-rousers—anything to keep at bay the truth that the fae roamed these forests. Most did not believe, almost none in Daisy’s generation. But there were those in the older generations who still believed, who weren’t afraid to tell the truth about the faerie inhabitants of Foster Springs. She doubted Rhett Fairshadow fell into that camp.
“Cat got your tongue?” he sneered. “Get off my land before I call the cops and have them escort you to jail for trespassing.” He leaned forward, menacing.
She sucked in a breath, and she caught the scent of cloves and mint. Not an unpleasant combination. Jail? For collecting mushrooms? That seemed a little harsh. “All right. I’ll just be on my merry way.” She had no intention of leaving without those mushrooms. She’d have to come back later when the lord of the manor, his royal crankiness, was asleep.
He stood there, glaring at her in the lantern light, arms crossed over his chest, electric lantern dangling from one hand. He glowered. Actually glowered. The moon’s crescent sliver shone down on them, complementing the already silvery hue of his eyes.