Monday, May 5, 2014

Over the River and Through the Woods

Praise For
A Christmas Novella
With Bonus Holiday Dessert Recipes
From Readers Around The World!

~Kim Swain, Red Line Editing

“A very touching story that puts you in the mood for hot cocoa and Christmas. Lacey Weatherford has you captivated from page one.”
~ Lisa Markson, The Paranormal Bookworm

“If the Hallmark Channel is looking for a new story to make into a movie for their Countdown to Christmas, this one is it!”

~ Raquel Ariemma, Roc N Read

Chapter One

“Oh my gosh! I can’t wait to go home for Christmas break tomorrow. It’s going to be so much fun!” Noelle, my roommate, exclaimed as the two of us packed our suitcases in our dorm room. “All the parties, family, food, fun, and presents—it will be a blast.”
“I agree. My whole family will be there too. I can’t wait to play with all my nieces and nephews. It’s kind of like a loud, crazy circus; but it’s still so much fun being together.” I was interrupted by the phone vibrating on the bed next to me.
By the time I ended my phone call with my mom, my mouth was watering. She told me all the wonderful things she’d been cooking in preparation for our arrival. “I can’t wait for some of her cherry cheesecake and Christmas pie. Those are two of my most favorite things to eat. Well, unless you count Aunt Sally’s brownies. Those are pretty awesome.” I attempted to close the top and zip my very over-packed suitcase, full of clothes and presents, as well as toiletries for my two week vacation. “Of course, I won’t get to enjoy any of it if I don’t survive the ride home.”
Noelle glanced at me and rolled her eyes dramatically. “Please, you will survive just fine. It was nice of Micah to offer to take us after Christian’s truck broke down. We could’ve been stranded.”
Christian was Noelle’s boyfriend, and Micah’s best friend. We’d gone to the same high school before heading off to Ivy College together. We had all been good friends until I caught Micah kissing one of the cheerleaders, at school. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except he was my boyfriend at the time. We’d been steady dating for two years and I’d fancied myself in love with him. Not anymore, though. I’d hated him ever since. He never even tried to apologize to me; so we’d spent the rest of our senior year avoiding each other, the animosity between us growing steadily stronger.
Now I was going to be stuck in a car with him for two and a half hours. Thank goodness Christian and Noelle would be there as buffers. Otherwise, I might have considered slitting my own wrists to get out of the trip.
“You two really should try talking to each other to see if you can come to some sort of agreement and get along. Chris and I hate having to bounce between the two of you all the time, worrying we might offend one of you.” She crawled onto the bed and sat on the lid to her suitcase, attempting to zip it closed.
“He’s had plenty of opportunity to apologize to me. Besides, I think he’s enjoying being the campus Casanova. I swear I see him making out with a new girl every week.”
“You sound jealous,” Noelle replied, grunting as she dragged her suitcase off the bed and over to the door.
I scoffed. “Not jealous, grateful; ecstatic even, as well as a bit sad for the poor girls. They’ll all find out what kind of guy he is, sooner or later.”
Noelle sighed heavily. “Micah is an amazing guy, Felicity, not to mention gorgeous. You can’t deny it, because you used to see it, too.”
“Yeah, well, I was wrong. We all know how that turned out.” Placing my suitcase beside hers, I turned to face her. “So, what else do we need to do? There’s that party my teacher is throwing for the music students, tonight. I promised I’d help out. She’s counting it as the rest of my work study hours, which will give me a little extra money for next semester.”
Noelle quickly glanced around. “I think we are done here.”
“All right.” Grabbing my white coat, I slipped it on before shoving my feet into my tall, fur-lined snow boots. “I’ll see you later tonight, then. It will probably be after eleven, so don’t worry if I’m late.” I wound my white, cable knit scarf around my neck and dug my matching gloves from my pocket.
“I always think you look like a snow angel when you go out in that get up.” Noelle laughed. “All that light blonde hair against your white clothing. I keep expecting you to break out in Christmas carols or something.”
I laughed heartily as I reached for the door. There were far worse things than angels to be compared to. “Have fun with Chris tonight.”
“Thanks, I will. Be careful on your walk to the auditorium. There was a lot of ice on the sidewalks, earlier; although I saw the grounds keepers spreading salt to keep it under control.”
“Will do,” I replied, stepping from our room into the vacant hall.
Most of the students had already left campus and were headed home, even though there were still a few parties scheduled, tonight.
It was already dark as I carefully made my way across campus, toward the large auditorium. The Music Department party was being held in the Greenroom and I promised to arrive an hour early to help Mrs. Wimble set up. Here and there I passed a student or facility members hurrying on their way; but, for the most part, I was alone.
The sidewalks were, indeed, still icy, even though most of the snow from the last storm had been shoveled away. Piles of it still covered the ground, marred with thousands of footprints from people walking across the lawn. Glancing up at the black sky, no stars shone through the heavy cloud cover. Another big storm was predicted for tomorrow and most people had left campus in an effort to beat it. I hoped it would hold out long enough for our little group to make the trip back up the mountain to our small town, Evergreen. If not, we would be stuck here until they re-opened the roads. That idea didn’t appeal to me at all. We’d already discussed that possibility when Chris’s truck broke down. As much as I hated to admit it, it had been a blessing that Micah had offered to take us all back home.
Stomping my feet to remove any loose snow, I opened the auditorium door and proceeded down the hall into the warm building, thankful to be out of the bitter cold. Music was already coming from the Greenroom and when I entered, I found Mrs. Wimble and her husband busy decorating everything with garlands and lights.
“Hi, Felicity!” she greeted me warmly, from the top of a small step ladder. “Dave and I got an early start on things, but I still need help setting up the banquet tables for the food and decorating them. The DJ should be here any minute to set up, too.” She pointed to a large box next to the door. “Everything you need should be in there.”
“Got it!” I shrugged out of my coat and accessories and carried them over to one of the chairs against the wall.
The party was in full swing a mere fifteen minutes after people began arriving. Students were on the make-shift dance floor, shaking it up to popular favorites as well as holiday music. The DJ worked the crowd well, mixing genres to keep everyone happy, and having a good time. From my spot behind the refreshment table, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the shenanigans going on as several guys got together and attempted to strut their stuff to a popular line dance. They really were awful.
“What’s a pretty girl like you doing stuck behind the table?” A tall, cute, blonde guy smiled, his eyes drifting over me before returning to my face.
“I’m here helping as part of my work study hours,” I explained.
“Oh, I see. Well, do you have to stay here or can you join me for a dance?”
I glanced to where Mrs. Wimble was setting out a new tray of cookies. “Go on, Felicity, Bill and I can take care of this for awhile. Have a little fun.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, knowing I was here to work.
“Positive,” she replied with a smile.
Stepping from behind the table, I walked toward the dance floor, the guy following a step behind me. “My name is Felicity.” I stopped, turned and held my hand out to him.
He shook it gently. “So I heard. I’m Chance, by the way.” A slow song started and Chance quickly swept me into his arms. “How come I haven’t seen you around before? I’m assuming you’re a music student if you’re working in this department.”
“I am,” I replied, resting my hands lightly on his shoulders as we swayed. “But I’m not in the choir, band, or orchestra, like most of the students here. I’m doing private study for piano. So, most of my time is spent alone, in a practice room.”
“Well, that’s a travesty.” He stared down at me, a slight twinkle lighting his eye.
“What is?” I asked, not following.
“That you’re always locked away where none of us can appreciate your beauty.” He chuckled and I had to work to avoid rolling my eyes. This guy was definitely a player; but, for some reason, I still blushed. “Had I known there was such a beautiful angel drifting around campus, I would’ve hunted you down a long time ago.”
I laughed and tried to casually brush his comment off. “Yeah, I don’t get out much. I have a pretty heavy schedule.”
“Maybe things will lighten up and I’ll see you next semester, then.”
“Maybe,” I replied, noncommittally.
“Are you going anywhere for Christmas?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m headed home tomorrow. I grew up about two and a half hours from here.” For some reason, I was reluctant to tell him the name of my town.
“Well, you better get an early start. There’s supposed to be a big storm coming.”
“I heard. We plan on leaving first thing in the morning.”
“We?” he asked.
“My roommate and her boyfriend.” I didn’t bother to acknowledge Micah would also be coming along. The song started drawing to a close.
“Look me up when you get back. Everyone in the music department knows me. Maybe we can grab a burger or something?”
“Sure, thanks.” I returned his smile as another student came up to us.
“Can I cut in?” he asked politely.
My gaze drifted to Mrs. Wimble, who signaled for me to keep dancing. Smiling, I nodded in acceptance as the newest stranger placed his arms around my waist.
“I’m Derek,” he said with a boyish grin. “Where are you from?” The conversation between us ran much the same as the first; and by the end of the night, I’d met half the male music student body.
It was late when I stumbled into my dark apartment, tired and ready for bed. Turning on the small lamp on my nightstand, rather than the overhead light so I wouldn’t wake Noelle, I was surprised to find her bed empty and made. A piece of paper rested on it. I picked it up, hurriedly reading through it.
I tried to reach you, but couldn’t ever get an answer. The auto place called right after you left to tell us Chris’s truck was fixed already. We went and got it and are headed home. I called Micah when I couldn’t get a hold of you. He said he will still pick you up in the morning and bring you with him. Sorry about the change in plans.
See you there,
“No!” I shouted, crumbling the paper into a ball and throwing it angrily at the wastepaper basket. This was horrible! How could she do this to me, knowing how much I detested Micah? Now I had to spend two and a half hours alone with him! This was going to be pure torture!
Dragging my phone from my pocket, I saw the reason for the missed calls. It was dead. Tossing it onto the nightstand, I flopped onto my bed with a groan, burying my face into my pillow. “Two and a half hours! Two and a half hours! I swear I am going to strangle you when I see you again, Noelle!”

© Lacey Weatherford Books/Moonstruck Media, LLC.

Over the River and Through the Woods Links
*available in both print and ebook formats

Faery Kissed

Faery Kissed :
Bran has always wanted to try and see the Fae during Midsummer's Eve when the Earth realm and Faery are blended. What he didn't count on was meeting a beautiful Fae princess who would turn his world completely upside down, wreaking havoc on both his life, his heart, and his future.

(Note: Faery Kissed appears both on it's own and as part of the A Midsummer Night's Fling collection.)

Chapter One

“Don’t tell me you give credence to all those old wives tales, Bran.”
Fergus shook his head at me in disbelief as he stared down at the Royal Fern Seeds I held in the palm of my hand.
I shrugged. “I might. My mother and father are very big on all the old customs and lore.” I closed my fist around my prize and slipped them into my pocket, hiding them from Fergus’s view.
“Well, let me help you put this lore to rest. You picked those seeds at midnight here on Midsummer’s Eve, and I can still plainly see you. You are not invisible. I think this is one legend you can cross off.” He ran a hand through his wild red hair—hair I was positive would never be tamed.
“You don’t have to believe, Fergus. It’s not a human I want to be invisible for.” I looked around at the revelers in the celebration around us and lowered my voice. “It’s the Fae.”
Fergus snorted and started to walk away.
I grabbed him by the arm. “I know you believe in them too. You were scared of them as a child.”
“I’ve overcome my fears.” He stood up taller. “Like you, I’m on the brink of manhood now with almost twenty summers to my name. You would do better to quit talking about such crazy things and go find your beautiful Ceridwen before some other young man swoops in to carry her off.”
Laughter came from behind me, and I turned to find Ceridwen eavesdropping on our conversation.
“No one will ever steal me from Bran, Fergus. Who could beat him? He’s the tallest, brawniest, and the handsomest man around. Not to mention he’s kind-hearted as well. No, I think I should be afraid to have him stolen away from me.” She smiled, reaching up to touched the edge of my jawline with her fingertips.
“He’s also the craziest,” Fergus muttered, and I elbowed him in the ribs.
“That will never happen, my love,” I assured Ceridwen—reaching with one arm to pull her in closer so I could kiss her ripe plum lips. I tangled my other hand in her long, honey colored tresses, enjoying the way she felt against me.
Fergus cleared his throat, and the two of us broke apart, staring over at him.
“Before you get anymore wrapped up in your wildly handsome, dark-haired lover, Ceridwen, you might wish to know he’s a little touched in the head. He intends to become invisible by using his magic seeds while he goes off hunting Fae tonight.” He lifted a finger and made a swirling motion around his ear. “I think someone has been dipping a little too heavily in the honey mead.”
She laughed. “I like that he’s not afraid to believe in things he can’t see. I wish I could go with him, but I need to get back to help my mother and sister with the food now.”
Ceridwen gave me a quick peck once more, and I grabbed her before she could run off again, deepening the kiss even farther.
She smiled against my lips, and flattened her palms against my chest as she tried to push away from me. “You are going to cause quite the spectacle if you keep carrying on this way, Bran.”
“I don’t care.” I captured her lips and kissed her breathless. “Come into the woods with me,” I whispered when I pulled away.
“I can’t. I promised my mother. But you go have some fun with Fergus.”
Fergus grunted. “You won’t catch me out in the woods. That’s all I need is to have some Fae capture me and end up walking around like some faery-kissed fool.” He strode off toward the group gathered around the bonfire.
“I thought you didn’t believe!” I called after him with a grin, and he waved me off with an irritated gesture, continuing on his way.
“Since you can’t come with me, shall I stay to help you with the food?” I asked, turning my attention back to Ceridwen.
She laughed again. “My mother would be appalled to have a man helping out in her kitchen! No, go enjoy your little jaunt in the forest. I know how much you love nights like this.”
I stared up into the sky, looking at the giant orb lighting the sky. “You’re right. There’s nothing better than drinking honey mead with a pretty lass under the Honey Moon. I enjoyed the weddings tonight. Maybe next year it will be our turn.” I raised my eyebrow in a suggestive nature.
She blushed, refusing to give in to my teasing. “Go on now!” She gave me a playful shove.
“I won’t be too long, I promise.”
She turned away with a wave and headed back toward the festivities.
I traipsed quickly from the hilltop where the great bonfires were lit and made my way to the valley floor. The light of the giant moon that filled the sky softened as I entered the heavily treed forest, its milky glow filtering through the leaves and branches, casting silvery puddles here and there amongst the shadows.
I tried to tread silently, but couldn’t help the occasional crunch of a twig or two beneath my booted feet, though they were made from the softest, supple leather. Even so, the night remained alive with other sounds—a running rabbit I startled from its hiding place, the crickets singing their midnight song, and the whispering rustle of leaves as a soft breeze floated through the air.
The particular clearing I was searching for was in another small valley just over the hill ahead, and I reached into my pocket to retrieve my seeds, grasping them tightly in my fist before I continued. I chuckled to myself. It really was childish believing that seeds of any kind could make one invisible. I didn’t blame Fergus for his doubt, but whatever the reason, I felt the need to have these with me. I didn’t know why they were important, they just were.
Slowing my pace, I approached the hilltop stealthily, sticking to the darkness of the trees as much as possible. I peered into the moonlit glen below and was disappointed to find nothing there. Not one dancing Fae in sight. Even the tall grasses appeared motionless from this height. But still it was a beautiful night so I chose to make my way carefully down the hill, deciding to settle against the roots of a gnarled old tree as I enjoyed the peaceful scene.
Fireflies danced through the air, dipping and swooping as if they too were rejoicing in the season. Every now and then a breeze rippled through, making the vegetation swirl, adding to the mad little dance nature was creating.
I thought of my girl, suddenly wishing she was here to enjoy this magical setting. I could have stolen many a kiss from her under a night sky like this. I knew she was the one for me, the one I would marry. Many of my friends, who were a season or two older, were already settling down and starting their lives with their own pretty girls, as was the custom in these parts. But none of their lasses were as pretty as mine. I closed my eyes, thinking about how I couldn’t wait to have her.
The soft music lulled me at first, but as it grew louder and more rambunctious I suddenly realized what I was hearing. My eyes flashed open, and I was shocked to behold the sight in front of me. They were here, everywhere, filling the meadow to overflowing as they danced seductively around the giant bonfire that hadn’t existed just minutes before, many taking giant graceful leaps over the blaze.
I was frozen in place, afraid to move a muscle for fear I would alert them to my presence, but I cast my gaze rapidly about the space, trying to take in everything I was seeing. Their bodies were slender, but beautifully shaped with almost translucently fair skin, and both male and females had long hair in a variety of shades. I noticed their facial features all held similar slanted and pointed angles that marked them of the same race, but were unique to each individual as well. There was not an ugly person among them—each of them so beautiful it was almost overwhelming.
They were dressed in many different styles and in an overwhelming array of various colors, some of which I was sure I’d never seen before. I knew I’d never be able to describe them properly to another soul.
Those who weren’t dancing sat at giant wooden tables heavily laden with all kinds of food. Several Fae served drinks to those who were seated, often bowing to them in humble deference as they worked.
I looked beyond to a raised platform where a solemn looking Fae king sat on an elaborately carved throne, watching the merrymaking of his subjects, and I cast a glance to the young woman beside him. The rest of the world melted away.
She was the most stunning vision I’d ever beheld. Her hair was long and glowing silvery white—so white it almost reminded me of fresh fallen snow that sparkled in the morning sun. Her features were dainty, yet appeared regal at the same time, and her wide eyes almost made her look like a painted doll. Even from this distance I could tell her gaze was locked with mine.
I glanced down to my hand, realizing in surprise that I’d dropped my seeds. She could see me. I quickly looked up again, but no one around paid me any attention—only she watched.
She smiled slightly and stood, her bright yellow dress floating down around her as she walked toward the fire. The crowd parted easily for her and the music increased. She joined in the dancing, twirling and spinning about before she reached to lift her silken skirt, baring her shapely legs clear up to her thighs.
I couldn’t look away from her perfect form, watching as she sprung over the bonfire with one graceful leap, making it look as if it were the easiest thing to do. She continued to hold her dress up as she danced around the fire once more until she approached the edge that was closest to my location. Then she stopped, turned towards me, and our eyes met.
My breath caught in my throat as we stared at each other. She beckoned for me to join her with one flick of her wrist, but I was frozen. She motioned again, taking another step closer.
“Come,” she said airily, in a high lilted voice, and suddenly I couldn’t disobey her command.
My body seemed to move of its own accord, but I felt awkward and gangly after watching her. I walked toward her, stretching my hand to reach for hers. Sparks ran up my arm when we touched, and I was surprised when she interlaced her fingers with mine.
My brain seemed to be in a fog, and I had difficulty searching for the words I was trying to say.
“My heart belongs to another,” I managed to choke out, unsure of why I was telling her this.
“Shhh.” She smiled and placed a finger over my lips, sending the same sparks through them as well. “Do not speak for the moment. There will be time for that later. Right now we will dance.”
I nodded, and she pulled me into the fray with her. I easily fell into rhythm beside her, my body mimicking and mirroring her moves. Our hands remained clasped together, and each time we passed around the circle a new Fae would dance up beside us and drape a vine loosely over our arms. I watched in awe as the vines tightened on their own, binding us together in their grasp. I opened my mouth to ask her how they did that, but she shook her head, signaling for me to stay silent, so I did.
After we had danced around the circle several times, the crowd parted, and she pulled me away toward a small grouping of trees. I couldn’t help but think how beautiful she was as the wind ruffled her silvery hair slightly, and her bright blue eyes seemed to glow with a power of their own.
“Welcome to Faery, Bran. I am Eirian,” she whispered with a smile, and I realized her voice seemed familiar. My body responded when she called my name, sending a tremor through me, but I didn’t know how that was possible.
“You know my name. How?”
“I know lots of things about you, Bran.” Again the sound of her speaking my name caused a pleasant sense of lusty turmoil to ripple through me. She leaned forward and wrapped her unbound arm around my neck, pulling me toward her, lightly kissing my lips.
I was undone. Everything I knew or cared about fled from existence. There was only her. I lived solely for her. I wanted only her, and I knew I would do anything she asked.
The vines binding us together loosened and fell to the ground as she stepped away.
“How would you like to see Faery, Bran? It’s more beautiful than you could ever imagine.”
I groaned at the sound of my name on her lips, noticing that her eyes glittered like unfathomable jewels, and her smile lit the night. I wondered if she knew what she was doing to me.
“I don’t care what we do, as long as we’re together.” I squeezed her hand tightly in mine.

“Perfect,” she replied.

© Lacey Weatherford Books/Moodnstruck Media, LLC.

Faery Kissed Links 
*ebook only

A Midsummer Night's Fling
*print and ebook available