Saturday, June 22, 2013

Enthralled - 3 Day Contest (Day 3)

ENTHRALLED by Lora Leigh et. al.
with Ecstasy Under the Moon by Lucy Monroe
A Children of the Moon Novella

Trade Paperback
Berkley Trade - July 2013
ISBN-10: 0425253317 ~ ISBN-13: 9780425253311

Ecstasy Under the Moon excerpt
from the Enthralled anthology
Berkley July 2013 - ISBN-13: 978-0425253311
© 2013 Lucy Monroe

No portion of this excerpt may be quoted or used in any manner without the express written permission of either Lucy Monroe or the publisher Berkley/Jove (subsidiary of Penguin Putnam).

 The Forests of the Éan, Highlands of Scotland
1144, Reign of Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim, King of Scots
and the Reign of Prince Eirik Taran Gra Gealach, Ruler of the Éan

Chapter One

Una stood in shock, terror coursing through her like fire in her veins, burning away reason, destroying the façade of peace she had worked so hard to foster for the past five years.

Her eagle screamed to be released.  She wanted to take to the skies and fly as far as her wings could carry her until the sun sank over the waters and the moon rose and set again in the sky.

The high priestess, Anya Gra, smiled on the assembled Éan like she had not just made a pronouncement that could well spell their doom.

Faol were coming here?  To the forest of the Éan?  To their homeland kept secret for generations.  For very good reason.

Reason Una had learned to appreciate to the very marrow of her bones five years before.

"No," she whispered into air laden with smoke from the feast's cooking fires.  "This cannot be."

Other noises of dissent sounded around her, but her mind could not take them in.  It was too busy replaying images she'd tried to bury under years of proper and obedient behavior.  Years of not taking chances and staying far away from the human clans that had once intrigued her so.

She'd even avoided Lais, one of the few other eagle shifters among her people.  Because he'd come from the outside.  From the clan of the Donegal, the clan that spawned devils who called themselves men.

She'd not spoken to him once in the three years he'd lived among their people.

The grumbling around Una grew to such a level, even her own tormented thoughts could not keep it out.
For the first time in her memory, the Éan of their tribe looked on their high priestess with disfavor.  Many outright glared at the woman whose face might be lined with age, but maintained a translucent beauty that proclaimed her both princess and spiritual leader.

Others were yelling their displeasure toward the prince of the people, but their monarch let no emotion show on his handsome though young features.  He merely looked on, his expression stoic, his thoughts hidden behind his amber gaze.

The dissension grew more heated.  This was unheard of.  In any other circumstance, Una would have been appalled by the behavior of her fellow Chrechte, but not this day.

She hoped beyond hope that the anger and dissent would sway their leaders toward reason.

"Enough!" The prince's bellow was loud and commanding despite the fact he was only a few summers older than Una.

Silence fell like the blacksmith's anvil.

Emotion showed now, his amber eyes glowing like the sacred stone during a ceremony.  "We have had the Faol among us on many occasions these past three years."

Those wolves had only come to visit.  Una, and many like her – justifiably frightened by the race that had done so much to eradicate their own, had stayed away from the visitors.  She'd avoided all contact and had not even stolen so much as a peek at any of them.

Not like when she was younger and let her curiosity rule her common sense.

But Anya Gra said these ones, these emissaries from the Sinclair, Balmoral and Donegal clans, would live among the Éan for the foreseeable future.

Live.  Among.  Them.  With no end in sight.

Una's breath grew shorter as panic clawed at her insides with the sharpness of her eagle's talons.

"It is time the Chrechte brethren are reunited."  Prince Eirik's tone brooked no argument.  "It has been foretold this is the only chance for our people to survive as a race.  Do you suddenly doubt the visions of your high priestess?"

Many shook their head, but not Una.  Because for the first time in her life, she did doubt the wisdom of the woman who had led their people spiritually since before Una was born.

"Emissaries are coming to live among us, to learn our ways and teach us the way of the Faol."  This time it was another of the royal family who spoke, the head healer.  "We will all benefit."

"We know the way of the Faol," one brave soul shouted out.  "They kill, maim and destroy the Éan.  That is the way of the Faol."

"Not these wolves.  The Balmoral, the Sinclair, and the Donegal lairds are as committed to keeping our people safe as I am."  The prince's tone rang with sincerity.

The man believed his own words.  That was clear.

But Una couldn't bring herself to do so.  No wolf would ever care for the Éan as a true brother.  It was not in their violent, often sadistic and deceitful natures.

"It is only a few among the Faol today who would harm our people.  Far more would see us joined with the clans for our safety and all our advantage."

Join with the clans?  Who had conceived of that horrific notion?  First they were talking about having wolves come to live among them and now their leaders were mentioning leaving the forest so the Éan could join the clans?

Una's eagle fought for control, the desperate need to get away growing with each of her rapid heart beats.
"In the future, we will have no choice," Anya Gra said, as if reading Una's mind.  "But for this moment in time, we must only make these few trustworthy wolves welcome among us."

Only?  There was no only about it.  This thing the royal family asked, it was monumental.  Beyond terrifying.
It was impossible.

"You ask too much."  The sound of Una's father's voice brought a mixture of emotions, as it always did.
Guilt.  Grief.  Relief.  Safety.

Stooped from the grievous wound he had received at the hands of the Faol when rescuing Una from their clutches, he nevertheless made an imposing figure as he pushed his way toward the prince and priestess.
The leather patch covering the eye he'd lost in the same battle gave her father a sinister air she knew to be false.  He was the best of men.

And forever marred by wounds that would never allow him to take to the skies again...because of her.
"You ask us to make welcome those who did this," he gestured toward himself in a way he would never usually do.

He ignored his disfigurements and expected others to do the same.

"Nay."  The prince's arrogant stance was far beyond his years, but entirely fitting his station as the leader of their people.  "I demand you make welcome wolves who would die to protect you from anything like that happening again."

"Die, for the likes of me?" her father scoffed.  "That would be a fine day, indeed, would it not?  When a wolf would die to protect a bird."

"Do you doubt my desire to protect you and all of my people?" the prince demanded, a flicker of vulnerability quickly gone from his amber eyes.

"Nay.  My prince, you love us as your father did before you, but this?  This risk you would take with all our safety, it is foolishness."

Suddenly Anya Gra was standing right in front of Una's father, her expression livid, no desire for conciliation in evidence at all.  "Fionn, son of Micael, You dare call me foolish?"

Oh, the woman was beyond angry.  Even more furious than Una's father had a wont to get.

"Nay, Priestess.  Your wisdom has guided our people for many long years."

"Then, it is my visions you doubt," the celi di accused with no less fury in her tone.

Una's father shook his head vigorously.  "Your visions have always been right and true."

"Then you, and all those who stand before me today," she said including everyone at the feast with her sharp raven's stare.  "All of my people will give these wolves a chance to prove that not every Faol would murder us in our sleep."

"And if you are wrong?  If they turn on us?" her father dared to question.

Una's respect for her parent grew.  It took great strength to stand up to Anya Gra, spiritual leader and one of the oldest among them.

"Then I will cast my fire and destroy their clans without mercy," the prince promised in a tone no one, even her stalwart father, could deny.

Her father nodded, though he looked no happier by the assurance.  "Aye, that's the right of it then."

Prince Eirik let his gaze encompass the whole of their community, his expression one of unequivocal certainty.  "I will always protect my people to the best of my ability.  Welcoming these honorable men is part of that."

Una noted how he continued to push forth the message that these wolves were good men, trustworthy and honorable.

He was her prince and she should believe him.

But she couldn't.

She knew the truth.  Not that she hated all wolves.  That would make her like the Faol who had taken her and done the horrible things they had done with every intention of killing her in the end, as they would kill any Éan they came across.

No, she would not share the unreasoning prejudices of her enemy and hate an entire race, making no distinctions between individuals.

But she could not trust them either.
To enter the contest, leave a comment.
Tell us about your favorite Children of the Moon book.
Comments from all three posts will be combined and a winner will be randomly chosen and posted on 6/23. 


Stefanie said...

My favorite one is Moon Awakening, because that's the only one I've read until now.

Mary Preston said...

I really do need to hurry up with my reading. No favorite yet.

Judy Stone said...

If you haven't read "Run with the Moon", the free online story that launched the Children of the Moon saga, I urge you to do so. Suzannah and Magnus's mating sets everything in motion, and they make cameo appearances from time to time. The story is charming and the childlike drawings are endearing, but is completely different from her usual style: the characters stay in wolf form for most of the story and it's a lot tamer! While not my absolute favorite, I read it yearly when I'm buzzing through the series, anticipating the next novel. Write faster, Lucy! I'm jonesing here!

robinky42 said...

It is hard to pick a favorite. I would have to say Moon Awakening. They are all good.

Ashley Fasolo said...

wow looks great so far :D this is difently in the running as one of my faves.