It’s Tuesday and we have an exclusive teaser just for you! Sela Carsen joins ALBTALBS for the first time with an exclusive expert from her newest book Magic’s Promise: A Nocturne Falls Universe Story! Which, I’m not going to lie, looks amazing! Enjoy reading!
Runaway bride Katya Dostoyevna escaped to Nocturne Falls ten years ago. She’s lived a quiet life since then, establishing a much-needed animal sanctuary. It’s good work for a shy witch who prefers to talk to animals, both supernatural and mundane.
Scorned groom Danil Leonov has finally tracked down the girl who fled from their arranged marriage. He doesn’t want to marry her any more now than he did then, but she left with something he desperately needs. The fate of the fae world depends on it.
But he’s not the only one after the microchip he developed. And after he and Katya connect, Danil starts to wonder if it’s the tech he really wants, or the woman he didn’t realize he loved.
If you die in the South, you get a layover in Atlanta on your way to Hell.
Danil Leonov hadn’t thought the joke was that funny the first time he’d heard it. Now, after fighting his way through the Atlanta airport to get to his connecting flight, he found it grimly truthful.
He’d wanted to use the family jet to fly up from Volshev, Texas, that morning, but brother had needed it for business, so he’d been forced to fly out of Houston to Atlanta.
Given that there was little in this world more miserable than Houston traffic, he hadn’t realized that changing planes in Atlanta would open his eyes to a new level of torment. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport could have had its own chapter in Dante’s Inferno. Finally, Danil’s sentence in purgatory ended when he switched to a puddle jumper that landed at a blessedly small and quiet airfield outside Nocturne Falls, Georgia.
Driving into town in his rented car, he raised a brow at the welcome sign that promised “Where Every Day is Halloween!” Everywhere he looked, there was hokey holiday schtick. Some guy was actually parading around in a puffy shirt and cape, pretending he was a vampire.
Danil stopped for dinner at a place appropriately named “Mummy’s Diner” for something to eat. Even though he rolled his eyes at their tag line – Our Food is To Die For! – the Blue Plate Special of meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy was almost worth the trip.
His hunger appeased and the sun sinking, he got back into the car and followed his GPS out to the edge of town. All around him, he saw perfectly normal houses. Some sleekly modern, some grand Victorians, most utterly ordinary. The street went from blacktop to gravel to dusty red clay before the road finally ended in front of a large house modeled on every Russian’s dream of a noble country summer estate.
But, just like the old empire, this impressive dacha was in serious disrepair. The creamy plaster facade was chipping off, exposing the old brick underneath. The short fence around the front was missing planks, and the sagging gate rocked and squeaked in the breeze. The solid wooden door had faded with age and exposure to the elements.
In the few moments he watched, the sky faded from twilight into darkness, and the old house went from sad to sinister. Tickling fingers of dread trailed up his spine, but he shook them off as he got out of the car and approached the gate. He was afraid it would fall apart under his fingers, but it was sturdier than it appeared. It was also stuck.
Danil pushed harder. The gate refused to budge, which was ridiculous. It was so filled with wood rot it was more rot than wood, but it stood stubbornly in place.
A sound drew his attention. The low growl seemed to roll out from the porch in nearly visible waves, and when he peered into the darkness, he found two glowing red eyes looking back at him.
He pulled a firestone out of his pocket and brushed it with his thumb. The glow revealed nothing but black… until the shadow moved. A massive hound rose to its feet. The thing topped a yardstick at the shoulders with a ruff that spread out from its neck in a warning display only a fool would ignore. Fangs as long as his finger gleamed white in the darkness, and its claws sparked green flame as it walked across the porch.
Great. She had a hellhound.
His goal, already difficult, got that much harder.
The day’s frustrations caught up with him. The wards hiding her had finally crashed down early that morning with a force that jolted him from his favorite dream of a woman with long, dark hair and beautiful curves. The magical shock had made him forget her abruptly, leaving behind the panic that danger was coming for her and she was unprepared. He was consumed with an overwhelming need to make sure that she was all right.
After he shook off that first hazy fear, he began to consider the real implications of those shields falling after they’d been in place for ten years. His irrational worry turned to legitimate concern. If he could find her, so could the Brotherhood. And they wouldn’t balk at hurting her to get to the chip, just like they’d been hunting down and hurting everyone else who had a copy of it. Including his own brother.
So Danil traveled all the way to Nocturne Falls to do the right thing and reassure himself that she was safe, and he was blocked at every turn.
He took a deep breath and tried to find his usual calm.
Since the gate was resisting him, Danil decided he’d go around the fence, which was merely decorative anyway. It spread across the front of the house, then ended at two slightly bedraggled cherry trees, one on either side. He walked around the scruffy things, but with every step he took thorns reached out to snag his clothing no matter how far from them he moved. Interesting. Cherry trees were not native to Georgia, and they didn’t have thorns.
After walking about a quarter mile trying to get around that tiny fence and those two little trees, he finally gave up. He was begrudgingly impressed. It was subtle magic, but effective. The property was warded to defend itself by not letting anyone in. He stalked back to the gate to glare at the door – and the dog.
The house stood passively, although he swore he detected a hint of smugness in the set of the windows.
The hound lifted one lip in a silent snarl.
He snarled back.
Danil had left his coat carefully hanging in the back seat of the car, and now he rolled up the sleeves of his fine dress shirt, keeping the lines straight for each of the three, precise folds.
Each roll revealed more and more of the sharp-edged tattoos that covered the inside of his forearms. The ink was bespelled and blended with alchemical elements. The shapes were intricate, some even delicate, and each was linked to the charey, the magic in his blood. Every stab of the needle had filled him with agony, but he had withstood the pain to become one of the Brotherhood of Mysteries.
Though he regretted being associated with them now, the power he’d gained through the tribulations might make the difference in keeping both Katya and his creation safe from them.
Putting that magic to work, he brought his forearms together until the symbols on his skin touched and sparked, coming to life on his body. Reaching out, he pushed his hands through the air in front of him, toward the house.
Danil didn’t want to hurt anything, but he wouldn’t let these little wards from a little witch stand in his way. Best to get this over with in one blow.
“Otkryto! Open!” The charey from his tattoos glowed, then shoved outward toward the gate. The last thing he saw was all that power bouncing off an invisible shield and rushing right back toward him.
This was going to hurt.
What did you think? Do you want to find out what happens to Danil and Katya as much as I do? You’re in luck! You can pre-order a copy here and read more about Sela’s other Nocturne Falls Universe books here.