Friday!

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There’s nothing better than a weekend of reading.

I’ve got a stack of books to get through – in no particular order, Gena Showalter’s The Darkest Warrior, Joanna Shupe’s Mogul, Nalini Singh’s Wolf Rain, and Jennifer Ashley’s Death in Kew Gardens.

Here’s to a weekend of reading! And by that I mean doing laundry, taking the furballs for their annual checkup, dealing with a leaky bathroom faucet, and some frantic cleaning for the houseguests arriving on Sunday. So, I will be snatching ten minutes here and there in between errands, in waiting rooms, and in the tub to get through a few pages.

What I really need is a treehouse, a stash of Girl Scout cookies, and no adult responsibilities.

What are you reading this weekend? If you’re looking for some steamy romantic suspense, here’s my suggestion:

Hope your weekend is relaxing and full of uninterrupted reading time!

xoxo

A polite little Death.

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Like all of you, I’m a voracious reader, and I have a tendency to choose a direction and just go go go until I run out of steam or something new and shiny crosses my path in a way that can’t be ignored. Then I change course – I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to romance genres. For the last few months, I’ve been obsessing over Regency, which has never really been absent from my life, but wasn’t a focus, either. So, I’ve been devouring Sarah MacLean and Joanna Bourne and Sherry Thomas and Ashley Gardner like they’re deep, dark chocolate, and pondering the intricacies of corsets and Polite Society.

I’m finally diving into writing this genre, which is both an exciting challenge and something I’m deathly afraid of – the bar is set pretty high! However, the best part about a new project is the research, and because I tend to lean toward the dark and creepy, I had to start with death customs. One of the things I find so interesting about this period is the strictness of society rules – particularly when applied to women – that were the norm when it came to funerals and mourning.

Here are a couple of links you might enjoy if you’re curious:

https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/the-regency-way-of-death-ladies-at-funerals/

http://donnahatch.com/mourning-customs-in-regency-england/

Heaven forbid a lady step out of mourning too soon!

More on what I’m writing in a few weeks, when I have a blurb and some excerpts. I’m tempted to write a romantic suspense set at the dawn of BRIGHT’S FERRY, in the colonial era – but that’s a whole new kettle of fish.

Have a lovely Thursday!

All the NEW things.

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Good morning, readers! It’s been a while, I know, but I’m so glad to be back! I’ve been struggling with some family illness – and stress is just the worst when it comes to being creative. However, today seems like a good day to send out an update and get the gears moving – the WIPs may be a little dusty, but there’s some serious sexy underneath.

First things first – I’m starting a monthly newsletter! If you’re reading this, you’ve probably figured that out from the pop-up subscription form – I haven’t decided if that’s the best way to go, but I’m going to give it a try. You can also always sign up using the LOOKING FOR LILY? tab above. Each month, you’ll get excerpts and updates, and some short stories or vignettes from some of my favorite worlds – THE KRINGLES, BRIGHT’S FERRY, and some new places I’ve been cooking up.

What’s up next in terms of reads?

I have a bunch of projects that are 90% ready to go, so I’m hoping to roll those out over the next few months. First up, a summer release for SAFE FROM THE STORM, which I get so many questions about. This October, I’ll have the second BEWITCH ME collection, and for the holidays, Ethan Kringle for your Christmas stocking.

I’ve also been delving into historicals for the first time, and that’s been a lot of fun – no less sexy, but with more petticoats. However, the rest of the year is going to be about launching long-promised titles – I’ll throw a few excerpts of the new worlds into the newsletter, and of course, watch this space for updates and news, and a little more insight into the day-to-day of my writing process.

LESSON OF THE DAY, writers and artists – don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t get another chance. We only stop when there are no more stories to tell.

Have a lovely Tuesday!

xoxo,

Lily

COMING SOON!!! Ethan (The Kringle Boys #2) – Blurb

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This morning I discovered I was out of coffee, then spent half an hour searching for my keys so I could run out to pick up a latte, because who can remember such things before they’ve had their first cup of coffee?

I’m finally caffeinated (yay!) and sitting down to edit, but first, here’s a blurb for ETHAN – I’ll have an excerpt for you on Friday and the release date will be sometime next week – stay tuned!

 

Ethan Main

ETHAN (THE KRINGLE BOYS #2)

When Jack Frost disappears, brilliant, calculating Ethan Kringle is left to handle his father’s yearly attempt to ruin Christmas, even though his newly-awakened conscience has him struggling with a plan that calls for Naughtiness on an epic scale.  However, when a Frost weapons test goes awry, destroying a research lab in the harsh terrain of his Antarctic home, Ethan feels compelled to rescue Emily March, a penguin-obsessed zoologist with enough sizzle to melt an iceberg.  Suddenly, Ethan is less worried about his father’s diabolical plan with its encroaching Christmas deadline and more concerned with the sexy scientist who fries his brain and threatens to melt his icy heart once and for all.

Emily March is ticked off.  He may be the most gorgeous thing she’s ever seen, but not only is Ethan Kringle responsible for the loss of six months’ research, now his Frost weapon is putting her beloved penguins’ habitat at risk.  Stuck in Frost Castle and determined to stop at nothing to save her feathered friends, Emily will do whatever it takes to change Ethan’s mind, be it sabotage or slow, decadent, deliciously naughty seduction.  She’s sure that under that chilly exterior lies something more than Jack Frost’s spiteful legacy.  It may take a Christmas miracle to warm Ethan Kringle up, but then again he’s never tangled with a smart girl on a mission before…

Catch up with the rest of the Kringles, Available Now!!!

Nick - SMALLThe Kringle Girls - SMALL

EXCERPT!!! Kringles and Kvetching…

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Anybody else so over 2016?  Aside from the Cubs bringing joy to the world, it’s been a slog all around – and the pages have suffered.  What to do?

How about making 2017 all about fun, sexy reads to fill your e-reader?  Let’s start with a new Kringle book – ETHAN (The Kringle Boys #2) is coming up just in time to distract you from your relatives this holiday season.  I’ll have a blurb and a release date up in a couple of days, but let’s just say that Jack Frost’s chilly son is going to get a bit of a warm-up from a sexy scientist in his Antarctic fortress. There will be penguins.  This might be the strangest Kringle book yet, but I’m hoping you’ll find it as funny and hot as I do.

Ethan Main

Meanwhile, you’ve got a few days to catch up on the Kringles!  Here’s the collection of Kringle Girls:

The Kringle Girls - SMALL

And here’s Nick, along with an excerpt to get you going:

Nick - SMALL

Bah, humbug. Nick Kringle is having a rotten Christmas. A huge disappointment to his chilly, holiday-stomping father, Jack Frost, Nick’s punishment for his refusal to take on the family business is exile to the human world, no magic allowed. Luckily, his North Pole relatives take pity on him, letting him run Santa’s big city candy factory and store. But Nick never counted on having to deal with customers, elves, or Santa’s nitpicky Candy Manager, the lovely but tightly wound Phoebe Winters. He’s never had a sweet tooth before, but everything about her has his mouth watering for a taste, despite the fact that they come from different worlds.

Phoebe Winters is determined to be the best Candy Manager that Santa has ever had, even though it means controlling her magical sugar addiction and her impossible attraction to Nick Kringle. Santa’s nephew has no right to be so hot, especially when he seems to be as coldhearted as his chilly father. But when a dangerous saboteur puts Santa’s magical candy supply in jeopardy right before the holiday, Phoebe and Nick must work together to repair the damage and save Christmas. Can Phoebe melt the icy shell around Nick’s heart? Or will the cold sweep away any chance of holiday-ever-after?

EXCERPT:

Nick grudgingly admitted that the candy shop was a great idea.  Customers entered, lured by the smell of sugar and spice, wide-eyed and jittery at the sight of the elves. They quickly relaxed as the chipper little creatures heaped smiles, attention, and free samples on them, and left with boxes and bags of cheerfully wrapped candy and cookies.

When closing time came, Nick was surprised – the hour had flown. Wanting to get the caramel cookies set before he closed up for the night, he’d sent the rest home with a gruff, “Thanks,” feeling unaccountably warm and pleased with himself when Mirabelle hopped up to pinch his cheek.

The soft squeak from the doorway to the factory had him looking up.

Phoebe stood there, staring at him as though he’d grown another head.

“About this morning—” he began, determined to at least get them back to civility.

Phoebe held up a hand.

“It’s okay. Let’s just put it behind us. I thought you didn’t want anything to do with this?”

She fluttered a hand to encompass the candy shop with its rows of sweets in enticing, old-fashioned jars along every shelf.

“I’m coming around,” admitted Nick with a grin.

Phoebe drew in a sharp breath, and her eyes drifted down to his hands. And stayed there.

Intuition tickled the back of Nick’s neck, and he examined the petite half-elf by the door. She seemed reluctant to come all the way inside the shop. And the way she was looking at his hands…

Nick poured the sticky mess onto the marble slab and started kneading it, adding powdered sugar as the caramel goo began to hold its shape.

“Would you like a taste?”

The words popped out of him. If possible, Phoebe grew even stiffer in the doorway.

“I don’t…sample,” said Phoebe coldly, her tone as frigid as the icy fields of home.

“Never?”

“No.”

“Because you don’t like candy,” he prodded.

“Yes. I mean, no. No, I don’t.”

“Suit yourself.”

Shrugging as he dismissed the odd sensation that he was missing something, Nick wrapped the ball of dough in plastic and reached for the sink to wash his caramel-coated hands, absently popping his finger in his mouth to suck the gooey goodness off his thumb. Another soft squeak had him looking up.

He froze.

Phoebe’s eyes were wide and bright, flitting between his fingers and his mouth, her skin flushed, and she was doing a rotten job controlling her breathing as an excited little pant escaped her lips. Nick was shocked to see that the prickly half-elf was nearly bubbling over with repressed arousal. She looked ready to explode at the lightest brush of skin against skin.

Nick knew elves were susceptible to sugar – they craved it, had to have it, and used it to soothe, to comfort, and to fuel their magical ability. Phoebe claimed to dislike it, but Nick had never seen a reaction quite like this – he’d seen elves lust over candy, but she was quivering as though he’d taken a long, fat candy cane and slid it into her throbbing pussy. His inner devil grinned even as blood rushed southward.

She doesn’t hate candy.

Forgetting the sink, he moved around the counter.

“What are you doing?”

Phoebe skittered around the edge of the room, avoiding him, stopping in front of the closed front door. The shades were drawn, the door frosted glass. They were completely alone.

“Sure you don’t want a lick?” asked Nick, holding up his hand, moving ever so carefully closer, like a lion stalking its prey.

Phoebe stepped back until the door prevented her from retreating further, her clipboard clutched in a death grip in front of her as though to ward him off. Bells jangled above as she pressed herself flat.

“It’s good,” he murmured, “Warm, buttery, rich. Perfect for drizzling all over warm skin so that I can lap it off, one delicious lick at a time.”

Phoebe moaned. Nick’s cock tightened painfully.

He wasn’t sure when teasing turned to seduction, but despite her buttoned up demeanor, he had to admit that everything about Phoebe flooded his mind with naughty fantasies he was dying to make reality. Their animosity of earlier suddenly seemed like foreplay, and Nick was beginning to think he might actually lose his mind if he didn’t get his mouth on her within the next thirty seconds. He’d never responded to a woman like this, but didn’t have the brain cells to examine it, because she shocked him, grabbing his wrist in a firm grip and bringing his fingers to her mouth. The clipboard clattered to the ground.

Oh God.

Phoebe was still holding back, breathing in the scent of caramel, watching it drip slowly down his hand, practically shaking. Nick swiped her lower lip with one finger, spreading sticky sugar.

Soft.

“Open your mouth, Phoebe.”

His tongue felt thick in his mouth, and he felt heat surge through him as she obeyed, her tongue darting out to lick it away, eager and hot. The sound she made was so throaty and delicious, he shuddered in reaction, wrapping his free arm around her waist to pull her tight against him, his cock hard enough to pound nails, pressed into the softness of her belly. Nick couldn’t even be insulted that she didn’t seem to notice, because that gorgeous mouth was on him now, savoring the caramel on his skin, slowly sucking his fingers inside, one at a time, rooting for every little trace of sugar. Her eyelids fluttered down as pleasure suffused her face. It didn’t look like she was planning to release him anytime soon.

Nick absorbed each lick and hot little suck with greed. He wanted her mouth on him, everywhere. He wanted to feel her exploring his chest, his abs, with the same hunger. He wanted to watch her take his cock down her throat, stretching her lips with each sumptuous stroke.

Nick groaned.

SWEET, SHE THOUGHT. SO incredibly sweet.

Phoebe lapped up the caramel, hungry for all of it, feeling the magic of sugar zing through her system. And the taste of his skin was delicious – salty and hot and addictive.

There’s a reason I shouldn’t be doing this.

Happy Holidays!

xoxo, Lily

Excerpt! Bad Candy (Bewitch Me More)

I’m trying to get back into the habit of Monday excerpts. 🙂

Here’s an excerpt from Bad Candy, one of the new Halloween shorts in my upcoming Bewitch Me More collection – finally ready for this October!  In this short, Dulcie is trying to make friends with the hunky new warlock on the block, but he’s having a little trouble controlling his magic.  This is their first encounter.  Enjoy!

Bad Candy

EXCERPT:

HEATH FELT LIKE HE WAS going to come out of his skin. Quite literally. For the last few weeks, he’d felt it, the slow buildup of power that meant his warlock abilities were advancing again – something like a renewed puberty that hit warlocks of a certain breed every few decades give or take, which is why the centuries-old witches and warlocks were inevitably more powerful than the younger crew. It was more than just experience and knowledge, it was literal leveling up.

Heath had been leveling up in earnest for the last three days as his system tried to accommodate the surges of power. Most warlocks siphoned off the excess until it stabilized, safely expelling it into inanimate objects like lakes and trees. Sure, this caused some temporary mischief – trees that could uproot themselves and replant somewhere else, bodies of water that teemed with unseemly species for a few weeks. Usually, the magic wore off on its own, or in extreme cases, the witch or warlock responsible would simply return to deal with the matter when their powers stabilized. It was flashy, but completely normal.

Nothing about this advancement felt normal.

The surges of power were expected, but when Heath tried to expel the excess…nothing happened. And so the power was filling him up like an overfilled water balloon, escaping in odd little spurts that were beyond his control, but resisting his attempts to tap into it to safely dispel it from his system. Heath couldn’t control the changes in temperature, so the house alternated between jungle hot that made the new wallpaper peel, and icicles hanging off the banister. The surges of magic were unpredictable, and he’d spent the morning cleaning pulsing green pods off the kitchen walls that had magically appeared when he’d yawned over the coffee pot. Worst of all was the feeling of growing power under his skin, energy that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to contain. He worried about what might happen to him when it finally burst through. He worried about what might happen to the neighborhood.

Heath huddled under a blanket on the couch, shivering, and worried about the neighbors.

It had been an inauspicious start to his new life. He’d grown up alone, abandoned and raised in magical foster homes with a series of disinterested temporary parents, and had decided to work his way through an education in the arts instead of flitting around the realms like so many young warlocks. He’d finally started making some money off the paintings he’d created using both mortal and magical techniques – the first warlock to bridge the gap – and after all this time, was excited to finally have a gallery space in the mortal world and a home to call his own in a friendly human neighborhood. He craved connection and friendship – things he’d never really had. However, he’d barely moved in when he felt the first surges of power, and had been struggling to contain them ever since.

He might still be learning about humans, but he did know that first impressions were everything – best to wait to meet the new neighbors until there was less of a chance of accidentally transforming them into salamanders or something equally unsavory.

The knock on the door was an unfamiliar sound. Purple smoke and strange sparks shooting up at odd hours of the day or night was hardly the way to endear oneself to skittish suburban mortals who may not have had any experience with magic, and not one of the new neighbors had come by to introduce themselves yet. Right now, however, Heath wasn’t exactly in the right state to be dealing with visitors. The temperature shifted again, and Heath heard another knock as the weather in his living room went from sub-arctic to tropical. He peeled off his shirt, belatedly remembering that he should probably be clothed when answering the door. He shrugged it back on, but didn’t bother to button it – it was too fucking hot to care.

Another knock, and Heath nearly tripped over his discarded blankets trying to reach the door.

“I’m coming, already, for fuck’s sake. Keep your panties on,” he grumbled, yanking it open.

He immediately wished he could take the words back, for a couple of reasons. First, from the thundercloud of a scowl on her face, it was obvious that the woman had heard him, and second, no heterosexual male in his right mind would encourage this woman to keep her panties on. She was all delicious, rounded curves clad in a voluminous sweatshirt and jeans on a frame that barely came up to his shoulder. Her skin was gold and cream and spoke of a Hispanic heritage, but it was her lips that Heath focused on – lush and wide and designed for sex. Her chocolate eyes were dark with annoyance at the moment and the mass of glossy black spiral curls bounced, unconfined, as she folded her arms, body rigid. The move pushed her fabulous breasts up a notch under soft fleece. She was speaking, and Heath tried to focus.

“What was that?”

“I said, there’s no need to be rude.”

Her eyes practically sparked with irritation.

“This isn’t really the best time,” said Heath, as sweat plastered the open shirt to his back.

The gorgeous woman’s eyes widened, as though she’d just realized he wasn’t totally dressed, and Heath forgot about the power surging through his system for a moment as her gaze skimmed down for a fraction of a second. Heat of a different kind sizzled up his cock.

“This will just take a second. I’m Dulcie Valencia. My son Harry and I live down the block.”

“It’s nice to meet you, but seriously, another time – ”

He started to close the door, surprised when Dulcie slapped a hand against the wood to stop him.

No wedding ring, he thought to himself.

“I just need to talk to you about Halloween.”

Heath felt a surge of power wriggling to escape his grasp and dug deep.

“Halloween?”

“You know, the big holiday with the candy and the pumpkins?”

“Yeah, so?”

She was looking at him like he was an idiot. Which he was. Under other circumstances, Heath would have made an admittedly pathetic attempt to flirt – he wasn’t good at initiating contact with the opposite sex. Right now, however, he needed to get the distractingly lovely Dulcie off the porch so that he could go explode in private without burying her in a hail of golf balls, submerging her in tomato sauce, or whatever other form his power chose to present itself.

“This Halloween is really important to Harry, and I want to make sure he has a good time.

You don’t have to go overboard, but I’d really appreciate it if you could make a bit of an effort when he comes to your house to trick or treat.”

It was possible that the house would be a smoldering pile of rubble by Halloween.

“I’m not really doing Halloween this year,” said Heath, gripping the edge of a door, desperately trying to hold himself together.

Dulcie scowled, her lush mouth pursed.

“Do you have any idea how much this neighborhood loves Halloween? You’re going to disappoint a lot of kids.”

“Look, Ms. Valencia,” said Heath, resentful at being taken to task, “I’ve got more important things to worry about than a bunch of kids overloading on candy.”

And he wished it weren’t true. Halloween was special for warlocks, and Heath had dreamed of creating an incredible haunted house for the kids and maybe endearing himself to the neighbors. But, until he got a handle on his power, all of that was out, and he didn’t want to promise anything he couldn’t deliver, even if it meant disappointing the hot soccer mom who was currently looking at him like she’d stepped in something awful.

“That’s a terrible attitude,” she said, “And I thought the magical world loved Halloween.”

And now she was looking at him like he’d completely failed as a representative of his species.

Heath was getting annoyed and he really needed to close the door. The power was beating against his skull now, hungry to escape.

“Mostly, it’s just an excuse for us to get seriously drunk and slum with fuck-hungry humans,” he snapped.

He winced internally as he said it and Dulcie gasped, though it wasn’t terribly far from the truth – Halloween was a grand excuse to let off some steam and indulge. Of course, magical hooch and orgies weren’t for everyone. Heath knew he’d have to apologize at some point, but right now, he just needed her off his porch before he accidentally injured her.

“Boy, did you pick the wrong neighborhood,” said Dulcie in frigid tones, “Sorry I bothered you.”

With a last icy glare, she whirled around, hair bouncing, and flounced off the porch. Relieved, Heath closed the door, but not before catching a glimpse of Dulcie’s ass in motion.

Lord have mercy, he thought, and let go of the reins.

The feral magic blew from every pore into a shower of sparks that covered ever surface of the first floor in glittery, orange jingle bells shaped like Jack O’Lanterns.

Heath groaned.

A Summer Plan

When life intrudes, it intrudes with a vengeance and a sledgehammer and takes up months of your time and all of your energy and leaves you a worried, stressed-out, shell of a human.

But enough of that.  I’m finally writing again and it’s AWESOME.  It’s just me and a vat of sweet, icy coffee in an air-conditioned corner of my favorite coffee shop, spending time in the chaotic, demanding world of my writing brain.  Ah, bliss.

Now that the world seems to have settled a bit, I thought I’d outline a book release plan to share – one I can hopefully stick with!  SAFE FROM THE STORM (Bright’s Ferry #3) is nearly done – I had to do a ton of rearranging to get it to work, and I had to dive into SAFE FROM THE WILD (Bright’s Ferry #4) to make sure the arcs tracked across from one book to the next.  You’ll see.  Rafe and Eden in #4 are two of my absolute favorites.  The writing is still a little schlocky, but excerpts from that next month.  SFS will (fingers crossed) be ready to download the last week in June, and I’ll set SFW up for pre-order as soon as possible.

BEWITCH ME #2 will be available October 1st – not sure if it will be up for pre-order this summer, but I’ll keep you posted.  I honestly didn’t think I had enough material for a second Halloween collection, but apparently magic, pumpkins, and hot, conveniently shirtless hunks go hand in hand.

I’m a little torn between RIFT GUARDIANS #1 and HIS TO PLEASURE, which is Regency, for the later part of the summer.  They’re both coming along nicely, but they both require a load of research that takes time, so I have to choose.  Dilemma, dilemma.

Excerpt of something or other next week – there are a ton of SFS excerpts up already, so I’ll probably only share one more the week of the release.

Hope you’re having a lovely transition to summer (or winter if you’re in that part of the world!) and that your book list is gloriously endless.

xoxo,

Lily

EXCERPT!!! Torn Asunder (Rift Guardians#1)

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My first excerpt of the new year!

I’ll have an official blurb for you soon, but the Rift Guardian series is about what happens when the magical world and the real world collide – sexy shapeshifters, powerful sorcerers, and creatures of the dark galore.  I can’t wait to share!  Here’s the Prologue to get you going.  Happy Reading!

Torn Asunder

EXCERPT:

The entire city of Chicago shook when the rift opened up.  The glass and steel skyscrapers that made up the iconic skyline swayed, the El trains shuddered on their tracks, and a wave of lake water swamped Lakeshore Drive with enough force to shove the morning commuters into a massive, waterlogged pileup, like toy cars accidentally left on the beach to the mercy of the tides.  Though there were few fatalities, the injuries were vast, and the city would take months to clean up the damage, years to sort out the insurance claims.

No one was thinking about paperwork that morning, however.  After a puzzled ten seconds when the locals wondered if it was even possible to have an earthquake in Chicago, they looked up to the sky over the lake, and the mighty city came to a standstill.

The rift dwarfed the tallest Chicago skyscraper many times over, spread as wide as three city blocks, a glowing rip in space a half-mile from the lakeshore that disappeared into the clouds and plunged deep into Lake Michigan.  Later, Coast Guard divers would discover that the rift went as far as the lake floor, as though the world itself were just a folded piece of wrapping paper, ripped down the center to show the secret beneath.

A tear in the sky was only the start.

Even from the lakefront, where anxious crowds gathered to view the terrifying phenomena as sirens blared and helicopters whomped closer, they could see what lay beyond the shimmering, golden slash over the blustery waters of the lake.  Though it wasn’t visible, every good Chicagoan knew that somewhere far across the lake lay Michigan.

What they saw through the rift wasn’t Michigan.

The first thing they noticed was the water – another lake, a dark churning thing, alive with trails of green and purple phosphorescence and teeming with strange creatures that one would never find in a lake.  They saw light gleaming on monstrous fins, shapes and sizes that were not of this Earth.  Roughly half a mile beyond that, a sandy lakeshore.

And a city.

This city also towered over the lake, an impressive skyline against a flat landscape, but instead of glass and steel, a sprawling medieval metropolis of gray stone, gothic towers, and castles monopolized by a towering fortress looking down from what could only be described as a mountain.  There were no mountains in Chicago, obviously.  But in this strange mirror image of the city, there it was.

Boats were sent out, of course, by the dozens, to get a closer look at the rift and the strange world beyond, and that’s when the city got its second shock of the day.  A pulse of light grabbed the Coast Guard and Chicago PD ships and lifted them from the water, then took hold of the whirling helicopters and held them frozen in midair for ten heartbeats, before dropping them.

Chicagoans scrambled back from the shore as another wave of water swamped them and the boats bobbed crazily in the water, half of them capsized, the heavy helicopters starting to sink.  At the impending loss of life, people sprang into action. Anyone with a boat – fishermen, sailboat aficionados, trust fund yacht babies – turned their ships from the marina and raced for the site, all incredibly brave or incredibly stupid.  Terrified, they edged close to the sinking vessels, but the rift stayed quiet, letting them approach to retrieve the injured and the dead.

But there were no dead.  Eighty-eight people – crew, officers, and Federal agents – all asleep. Every weapon on every wreckage of every vessel melted into an unrecognizable puddle of metal.

In the absence of a leader, Janus Marek, a third generation fisherman and retired Navy, stepped up to take the reins and organize the rescue with his three sons, keeping a wary eye on the shimmering rift and the city beyond.  The National Guard would be here soon enough – his job was to keep things moving and minimize loss of life.  The eighty-eight were brought on board, wrapped in blankets, coats – anything handy to keep them warm – and ferried back to the waiting ambulances on shore in organized fashion.  When the last of the rescues was clear, Janus ordered the remaining boats that had stayed behind to gawk out of the area.

And that’s when he saw it.

A man flying from the medieval city over the churning waters of the lake on massive wings of night sky black.