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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fire and Shadow Book 2 Lily Evans Mystery Series by Susan J Mcleod

Fire And Shadow
Lily Evans Mystery Series

Book 2

Susan J McLeod

Genre: Paranormal Suspense

Publisher: Imajin Books

Date of Publication: October 10, 2012

ISBN: 1926997832


Number of pages: 152

Cover Artist: Ryan Doan

Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/VHdye6

Book Description:

When the dead need to speak, she must listen…

Artist and Egyptologist Lily Evans struggles with her newly discovered psychic talents, while trying to get her life back to normal now that her mother is in a mental institution and the man Lily loves is far away in England. But "normal" is the last thing she finds.

When her best friend Katy takes her to a Celtic Faire, Lily meets a druid fortune-teller, who warns her that she can “never escape the Other.” Frightened and angry, Lily ignores his dire warning and stumbles across an eerie old portrait of a beautiful woman, who has something to tell her.

With the help of the enigmatic druid and his gifted friends, Lily embarks on a dangerous journey to unravel the mysteries of the portrait, the tarot card reader, an ancient book and whispers of witchcraft. She must discover the truth behind them all…or risk losing her very soul.
Excerpt from Chapter One of Fire And Shadow for October 22

"You have got to be kidding."

I stared hard at my friend Katy. Her fair, elfin face was alive with excitement and her blue eyes sparkled. I sighed. I knew she wouldn't be happy until the druid told our fortunes.

"Come on, Lily." She dragged me towards the tent. "It'll be fun. I can't make up my mind whether to go out with McKenzie or not. And you— well, you need all the advice you can get. I'll even pay. What have you got to lose?"

I read the wooden sign with disdain. "Caliman, High Priest, Sees Through The Veils of Time Into Your Future." I scowled. "Yeah, right. His name is probably Joe and he works at Dunkin' Donuts. Katy, really."

"Don't be such a killjoy. I saw Caliman earlier, and he's cute. The only other choice is Madame Rosa, and I don't think she's a real Gypsy. Her jewelry is all wrong."

Before I could argue with such irrefutable logic, a white-robed figure emerged from the tent and watched us approach.

"Look!" Katy smiled. "It's like he sensed our presence."

I shrugged and gave up. I had let myself be talked into attending the Celtic Faire. Katy, a specialist in Arthurian studies, was in her glory. We had just followed Merlin all the way through Camelot and been seated next to Guinevere at a joust. Unlike every other scholar I knew, Katy did not mind the historical inaccuracies. She simply enjoyed herself.

I had also been having a good time. The fair was colorful, the characters oozed charm, and reality was held cheerfully at bay. The druid was different. The whole fortune shtick made me uneasy, but it would have been rude to back out at that point. Katy had me firmly in tow and Caliman was waiting.

"Ladies," he said when we stood before him. "Have you come to look through time? Be prepared, for such forces are not to be taken lightly." He squinted at me in what seemed like an accusing manner.

Katy was right. He was attractive. He had perfect features, with a strong jaw and eyes so clear it was like staring into a blue winter sky. A little shiver went through me. I turned my face away.

"We're ready, Caliman," Katy said. "Show us the secrets of the future."

Oh, brother.

The druid nodded. "You may enter."

The inside of the tent had panels painted with oak trees, mistletoe hanging from their boughs. With the sun shut out, the only light came from flickering candles that made the branches seem to move. A carved stump with a rounded top served as a table.

Motioning us into chairs set around it, Caliman sat down and took up a deck of cards. "Here in the sacred grove, we can unlock the mysteries of the universe. The oracle will speak to us through these cards. Hold them in your hands and think about the questions you want answered."

Katy reached out eagerly. I watched, half-amused and half-irritated, as she clutched the cards to her heart and gave them back to Caliman. He laid them out on the table in five rows of five and studied them solemnly.

"I see that you are facing a decision. It seems to involve a man. Should you trust him?" He was silent for a moment. "The cards tell us that if you wish to take the risk, no harm will come of it, and there is a chance it can lead to great happiness." Caliman looked at Katy's smiling face. "Does this make sense to you?"

"Oh yes! What else do they say? I really want to know if the project I'm working on will be a success."

I knew Katy was referring to her long-running mystery novel, a story that featured her university boss, thinly disguised as a medieval woman. It was her dream to have it published someday, and she had finally gotten to the point where it was sufficiently edited and ready for submission.

Caliman turned over another card. "Ah! This symbolizes creativity. This configuration is a very auspicious sign. If you discipline yourself to finish this work on time, you cannot fail."

Katy clapped as if he'd just promised her a Pulitzer Prize.

"But wait. You must be careful. I see a woman who is jealous and would envy your success. I see instability and bitterness, a web of lies and deceit."

"That's right! Webster— she's my boss. She wouldn't be happy if she read my book, that's for sure."

"No, she must not know of your plans. Move as quickly as possible, and all will be well."

As Katy continued to play into Caliman's hands and he continued to make vague pronouncements, my mind started to drift. I was jolted by my friend's voice. "Lily! Take the cards. It's your turn."

I blinked as the deck was pressed into my palm. "Think," the druid said. "Concentrate on what you need to know, and the answers will come."

Oh, if only it were that easy. Images flashed through my mind— gray eyes filled with intensity and gentleness, a necklace at the throat of a young Egyptian woman, sand swirling in the desert heat, and my mother, unable to accept the knowledge of what she had done. As if to rid myself of the unwanted memories, I thrust the deck into Caliman's hands.

A startled look came over his face. For a moment, he seemed to be in pain. His fingers trembled a little as he laid out the cards. "There is a storm in your mind. You have traveled a long way to find the blue flower. You hoped it would bring you peace. And so it did, for a while. But the cost was more than you ever imagined."

He hesitated. "Now guilt overshadows your love. You are separated from what you hold most dear. You will go nowhere on this road you have chosen. Once you have met the Other, you cannot escape. Your only hope lies in acceptance. You must listen to the voice within."

He raised his eyes to mine. A spark seemed to fly between us. I couldn't open my mouth, couldn't move. Katy stared at us. "Lily, isn't that amazing?"

More like terrifying. I stood up. I had to get out of there.


They were coming for her.

She, who burned in the world like a flame, whose beauty drew all men, whose knowledge was so powerful it had to be buried.

How could such a life end in fire as well?

She should have foreseen the danger, yet she had depended on love and laughed in the face of hatred. She'd had time. She'd had her position and her man and her power. The people could whisper and cross themselves as she passed by, but did they not come to her for potions still? Did they not seek help when their families or their animals ailed? Hypocrites and cowards, all of them. Who would speak for her when the unthinkable happened? Who would protect her in her own home? No one.

She was alone. Her husband was away and could not fight for her. She could see the mob approaching the house. Their malice was a palpable entity. The madness in their eyes told her she was doomed. They broke down the door and burst in, Reverend Lacy leading them, quoting scripture while his parishioners chanted and prayed. The loathsome figure of Amos Woodbine wielded his heavy walking stick, his face twisted in triumph. For a moment, rage overcame her fear.

"Lecherous dog! This is how you treat your own family? I swear, you shall not long outlive this abomination." She pointed an accusing finger at the crowd. "And the rest of you— what courage, what character you possess. You bring a rabble against one small woman? How proud you must be of your virtue."

Her dark eyes flashed and she tossed her long, silky hair. More than one male heart stirred. But there could be no stopping the mob now.

"Silence, witch! You have worked your last evil upon this town." The reverend twitched with excitement. "I consign thee to the depths of Hell."

At this signal, everyone threw their torches to the floor. The wood quickly began to burn, aided by the oil in the lamps. She glanced about wildly, seeking escape, but the cowards were blocking the doors and windows from outside. Smoke began to fill the room. Although it was becoming hard to breathe, she managed a last defiant shout. "Fools! You cannot destroy me. I shall return."

The flames crept closer, hungry for her flesh. She screamed with all her might. Then she crumpled, unconscious, to the floor.

She awoke to darkness. She was but a shadow now, lost in that dead world, yet not wholly alone. Sometimes she could hear his voice— her husband's— and it brought both joy and anguish. The man she had thought to spend eternity with, their love reduced to memories and whispers.

"Rose? Where are you?" His words were filled with longing and pain. "When shall I see you again?" But she had no answer to comfort him.

Her only hope was the portrait— her image on canvas, a gift from her husband. Into the painting had gone his love and passion and a spark of the power between them, a spark of her soul. It had been hidden carefully in the attic of the old mansion. The precious book that was the repository of her knowledge was secure as well. She and Jacob had buried it only days before, after that mad preacher had first visited their house. The book had been almost complete, but they had sensed the animosity of the town growing. It had been best to take every precaution to keep the family safe while they made their final plans.

Alas, she had not believed the townspeople would strike so quickly. Jacob had been hunting in the woods with the wolf, and when he returned, he'd found their home a smoldering ruin. Before he could even grasp what had happened, he was dead. Four shots from a townsman's gun finished the murderous business of the day. But she would not lose him. Somehow she would escape.  

Her portrait was discovered twenty-five years later by a new generation occupying the old Woodbine homestead. Struck by its beauty, they hung it on the wall with their other pictures. All were entranced by its magic, but only one had the power to understand it. Lara, a sickly girl of eleven, gazed often into the dark, painted eyes. Rose reached out and touched her mind, trying to tell her tale. For a time, it seemed that Lara would help. Rose tried to give her strength, but the frail child succumbed to illness, and the family moved away.

Rose's portrait was purchased by a merchant and carried into the next town. Over countless years it passed from owner to owner, until at last it returned to the blighted former home of murderer Amos Woodbine, the identity of its subject long forgotten. But the spell it cast had not lost its power.

The woman in charge of what was now the Morrisville Museum was unnerved by the painting and loaned it to an art gallery. Rose had waited for so long to find the right connection. Now she could feel it.

Her time was coming.

Susan J.. Fire and Shadow (Kindle Locations 148-155). Imajin Books.

About the Author:

Susan Jane McLeod has been writing since she was seven years old. At age eleven she won a county-wide essay contest and her professional career was launched. By the time she was nineteen, her poetry had appeared in several magazines, including American Girl and Seventeen. She also won an honorable mention in The Writer.

She grew up in Rochester, New York, with three sisters and one brother. In her early thirties she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given a 50-50 chance to live. After two surgeries and chemotherapy, she is cancer free today.

She has worked at several jobs ranging from a baby store to a research consultant, but her favorite was managing a bookstore, surrounded by her passion: literature. She is currently employed by a non-profit foundation that runs Zara’s Center, a home for AIDS-impacted orphans in Zimbabwe.

Susan has published several short stories and two novels. The first, Soul and Shadow, is an award-winning paranormal historical romance. The second, Fire and Shadow, is classified as paranormal suspense. Both books have been in Amazon Top 100 bestseller categories.

http://on.fb.me/X6o1Hf : Facebook Author Page

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