Happy Father’s Day!!!

Hi everyone! Happy Father’s Day! Work and family had kept me hopping these last few months. But, fortunately, we are doing fine now. I’m back in Ruthorford, working on a new Ruthorford story where … wait, it won’t be a surprise if I tell you. Just know that it will have all the suspense, adventure, and romance my readers have come to love. So, dive into reading this season, enjoying stories where Shanon Grey weaves science with threads of magic.

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Shanon-Grey/e/B004Z9TS7I…

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Shanon+Grey

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Shanon+Grey?_requestid=1195237

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Willow at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast

For those that have enjoyed my stories of Ruthorford, you will notice that there are quite a few scenes that take place behind the Abbott Bed and Breakfast–where visitors and descendants, alike, dine under the willow by the creek that nearly encircles the town. A perfect setting for lunch, dinner, or a midnight tryst. I garnered my inspiration for the setting from Dunaway Gardens, located near Newnan, GA.

Unfortunately, the willow now only exists in the pictures I captured on a visit to the gardens, having been destroyed by a brutal storm that rampaged along a path of destruction through the area. I am lucky to have this photo. The good news is that those at Dunaway knew how much the wonderful tree was loved and are making every attempt to foster an offspring!

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Excerpt from Twisted Fate: The Mardi Gras Ball

Below is an excerpt from Twisted Fate by Shanon Grey, very appropriate for Mardi Gras, as Ruthorford celebrates Mardi Gras like no others. Enjoy

Teresa stopped midway down the steps as eyes turned to her. Her gown, befitting her circumstances, was black. However, that was where the austerity ended. Its black beaded bodice hugged her curves down to her hips, forming a medieval girdle peak, which ended in a black jeweled dagger, below which a black silk organza skirt swirled against her legs as she walked. A short demi-jacket of a single thickness of the same material barely covered her arms and shoulders. By far, it was the most magnificent, and sensuous, gown she’d ever worn. A mask of black sequins and black feathers, barely hinting at shimmers of purple and green, covered her eyes.

If those staring at her were amazed by her appearance, she, in turn, was stunned by the change to her bed and breakfast. Before her, the Abbott Bed and Breakfast has been transformed into a splendid, glittering, glistening Mardi Gras Ball extravaganza of golds, purples, and greens. Every surface dripped in beads, pearls, feathers, and sparkling coins. Gossamer folds of material draped, hung, covered, and swagged, shimmering in the light. Pillows, chairs, and couches had been slipcovered in purple, green, or gold. Even the chandelier had been given a festive sheen with harlequin mini lampshades.

In the center of the lobby, atop the grand carved circular walnut table, sat the largest punch bowl she’d ever seen, already filled with the special punch the sisters, Miss Alice and Miss Grace, had concocted for this special occasion. Dry ice created a whirling fog that hovered just above a fizzing, sparkling green. Purple ice cubes bobbed about each time the silver ladle scooped liquid to be poured into a cup. The old girls had outdone themselves.

It was, after all, their occasion. They had gone down to New Orleans the year before, a very rare trip away from home, much less Ruthorford, and had been nagging the committee to throw an extravagant Mardi Gras Ball. The committee, never missing an opportunity to celebrate, had jumped at the occasion. When Bill had gotten ill, they had offered to cancel, but Bill would have none of it. One of his last wishes was that she go through with the ball, telling her to let it be a celebration of life. Although she wasn’t in the mood, she’d agreed and, by all that was Ruthorford and descendant, it would be a magnificent tribute to Bill Ruthorford. The committee, and the sisters in particular, had taken over. Guests were rescheduled for that weekend and she was forbidden to step foot on the main floor, entering and leaving by a private, seldom used, side entrance.

It had been agony, letting others take over her home and business, but looking around as she descended the stairs, she needn’t have worried. It was truly as grand as anything Bill could have concocted, and he did have a way of coming up with some grandiose schemes. She stepped into the lobby and turned, letting the music and the happy voices surround her. The 12-foot-tall pocket doors that normally remained closed, separating the front parlor from the back parlor and the sun porch, were pushed into their walls, turning the space into a grand ballroom, its wood floors polished to a dark gleam. The ballroom was as fantastically adorned as the rest of the place. Even the dining room had undergone a Mardi Gras makeover, tables and chairs in coordinating colors, swags of beads twinkling in the light.

She spotted Morgan immediately, in an emerald green gown. Ten to one, the pirate in black and gold at her side was Dorian. Jasmine and Eryk were probably the couple in the complete purple and gold Venetian costume. For everyone else, she found herself speculating on their identities. The costumes were magnificent and the masks and headdresses covered their heads, completely hiding their features, except for the old sisters, who were garbed as either fairy godmothers or witches. She couldn’t be sure which, and she struggled not to chuckle. Short little things that they were, they reminded her of Flora and Fauna—or was it Merriweather—from Sleeping Beauty.

She wound her way through the throng, being handed a cup of punch by a waiter she passed, and took her position at the far end, away from the crowd, where she could watch the tribute to her dead husband. He would have loved it. He would, however, have stayed in the kitchen, away from the crowd. The music swelled and she watched the dancers move in a waltz about the room. As she took a sip of her punch, its fizz dancing across her tongue, a hand reached out and took the cup. She looked up into the mask of man standing in front of her. He set he cup aside and held out his hand.

“Oh, no. I don’t think so.” She pondered his mask. “Do I know you?” She let a smile play across her lips.

His gloved finger touched her lips, silencing her, and she felt a tingle move across her skin, as had happened when Bill had touched her.

The man took her hand and backed onto the floor drawing her into his arms. They moved into the rhythm of the waltz, swirling about the room. She felt his hand caress hers, sending fire up her arm. The warmth of his other hand sent a hot blaze against her waist. As long as the music continued, she could enjoy the surge of power she’d missed for so long. The power of one descendant pulled toward another in a dance as old as time.

The music played on and they moved in harmony, their bodies never touching, yet she felt the energy wrapping them in a sensual cocoon of desire.

When the music stopped, the man led her back to her position, once again handing her the cup. He bowed before her, his eyes drilling into hers. She gasped, but said nothing. Without a word, he turned and moved away, leaving her with a longing she found she’d missed.

She tried to watch him but was distracted when her name was mentioned. One of the sisters, Miss Alice, she suspected, was talking.

“Thank you, Teresa, for providing the magnificent setting for this Mardi Gras Ball. I know it’s difficult, with Bill’s passing so recently, so we are doubly grateful. You are a wonderful hostess.” She raised her glass. “Please, everyone, have a cup of punch—the waiters are passing it out—so we can pay tribute to the wonderful man who couldn’t be here tonight.” She waited a few moments as glasses were passed out before continuing.

“To Bill Ruthorford. May your legacy show us the way and lead us in all of our endeavors.” She raised her cup and everyone raised theirs high in tribute before taking a sip. “I will turn the show over to my sister, so listen well. You know how she gets when she’s ignored.”

While everyone laughed, Miss Alice leaned toward her sister’s ear. “It is done, dear sister…and they will remember nil.”

Grace addressed the crowd, finishing with “…let the music play and the food be consumed. Make merry, descendants, you are what you are and will furthermore be, GateKeepers all.”

The music swirled, as did the crowd, round and round, laughter filling the night, as the descendants enjoyed their Mardi Gras Ball and the tribute to Bill Ruthorford.

On the side street, across from the bed and breakfast, deep in the shadows, a lone figure watched, waiting, as the huge old Victorian glowed in an aura of purple and green.

***

“Teresa.” The tapping got louder. “Teresa, it’s eight o’clock. I told you I’d wake you at eight.”

Teresa blinked, looking around the room, momentarily confused, fragments of the dream still lingering in her mind. This was the third or fourth time she’d had this dream, and about the stranger who had danced with her. She smiled for she knew if Sandra hadn’t knocked, that dream would have gotten a whole lot better, for, although she could never remember what happened, she knew she woke happy. She also knew, as soon as she was up, the details of the dream would disappear.

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Have a Happy Mardi Gras!

It’s time for Mardi Gras. For many of you (and me, as well, for most of my life), Mardi Gras holds little meaning. When I moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, not only was I thrust into the warmest, most absorbing lifestyle, I was also thrust into Mardi Gras. Folks on the Coast take Mardi Gras very seriously, even with Covid-19 having to make the celebrations virtual or “drive-by’s”.  I thought I would tell you a little about how Mardi Gras rolls during better times and share some of the fun.

Mardi Gras begins on January 6th and runs until Ash Wednesday. I mean ~ it ends at midnight on Ash Wednesday. The day before is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday—the literal translation. And, let me tell you the season is something to behold. It is parties, parades, and every kind of festivity until midnight—when the streets are deserted and swept clean and there is no evidence of it—until the next year. This year Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, is February 16th, putting Valentine’s Day, February 14th, in the full swing of things. Trust me, celebrating has been in full swing since January 6th, in one form or another.

I thought you might enjoy having me share some fun facts about Mardi Gras:

PARADES:  Sadly, there will be no parades in New Orleans or the Gulf Coast this year due to COVID. However, it never hurts to know something about them since, I can assure you, they will return in all their splendor as soon as it’s feasible. Contrary to popular belief, the first Mardi Gras parade did not take place in New Orleans. It occurred in Mobile, Alabama in the 1700’s. And it still goes on all along the Gulf Coast. The traditional colors for Mardi Gras are: Purple for justice, Green for faith, and Gold for power. Cities, homes, shops, and people drip with color. You can find every sort of Mardi Gras adornment available everywhere along the coast. And if you can’t, you can go to one of the many warehouse size stores that specialize totally in Mardi Gras goodies. The most famous—or infamous—parades are in New Orleans. But the parades, in many ways, are just the culmination of all the fun that takes place getting ready them. Krewes, or parade organizations, host Balls, as well as create fabulous floats. From atop these incredible floats, beads and other goodies are thrown into the crowds. You’ll hear shouts, “Throw something at me, mister!” (which generally is not accompanied by exposing one’s chest—but you never know) from hordes of people lining the parade route to get the attention of the passing floats. People become weighed down with beads and doubloons, colored coins, and keep these mementos in their homes for years for good luck, displaying more and more each year.

BALLS: The Kings and Queens preside over the Balls, where food, fun, drink, beads and trinkets abound. Each Ball will have its own theme and its own King and Queen. Themes can run from the sublime to the ridiculous and anywhere in between. Everyone brings food and King Cakes adorn the tables.

Drinks have been made famous by Mardi Gras. Dishes have been created for Mardi Gras. Costumes can be simple or elaborate.

Most costumes are usually designed to reflect the theme of the ball, be it an 80’s theme, a Redneck Ball, or one dedicated to the Roaring Twenties. Don’t worry, you will be welcome at the ball, no matter what you wear. It’s the fun, food, and friendship that counts.

KING CAKES: Fortunately, King Cakes have been delivered as usual this year, with orders online booming. These are traditional fare of Mardi Gras and are generally shaped in an oval with the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold stripping it. Inside is a little plastic baby and whoever finds the baby is anointed King or Queen of the party (not so for the bigger balls, where much tradition goes into choosing the presiding King and Queen each year). But, the lucky person finding the baby is responsible for providing the King Cake the next year.

New Orleans has become famous for its Mardi Gras parades and celebrations. They will return! Don’t worry—there will be parades and parties everywhere you turn along the Gulf Coast once more. In the meantime, enjoy the decorations on the houses and shops. And, if you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, just stop along the way and as they say—let the good times roll!

LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER!!!

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Finding Your Valentine

Finding Your Valentine

by Shanon Grey

    It’s February and, as is the case everywhere, love is in the air. Even more so in the quaint southern town of Ruthorford, with one exception. In Ruthorford, descendants are hoping for a match-mate connection that will result in a “blended” offspring. To encourage this, the townsfolk of Ruthorford created an event perfect for their purpose–a Valentine Day’s Dance. Those who are descendants of the original Native Americans, whose farms surround and protect Ruthorford, and the descendants of the Scots, who settled and formed the core of the town, are invited. Not everyone will “match,” but generally one or two will find their mate and, hopefully, that union will produce a blend, who, in turn, will match with another blend and that couple will be trained as Gatekeepers, whose powers, when combined….

    This is the story of one such Valentine’s Day Dance and how things are not always as they seem.

    “Okay,” Brenda, the town’s long-lived post-mistress, said, as she pulled the large box of invitations through the open grill, “is that everyone?”

    “Of course it is,” Miss Alice intoned, sniffing indignantly. “I’ve been doing this for…forever,” she stated, careful never to give away her age.

    Brenda let the smile broaden as she flipped through the invitations, not looking up. She lifted one. “The Hamilton’s? They never come.”

    “I won’t be leaving anyone out. Just because they don’t come doesn’t mean they don’t deserve an invitation.” Alice’s narrowed her eyes.

    No one knew for sure why, but the Hamilton’s had broken away from the town, moving the farthest out. They married outside as well. It wouldn’t be long before they were all but gone. Nevertheless, as one of the first Scottish families chosen by the Native Americans to settle in Ruthorford, they deserved the respect as such and an invitation went out.

    The same with the Mercier’s. They came from a Canadian tribe and had settled with the tribe surrounding the town. They also didn’t attend, which was just as well, since their longstanding feud with the Hamilton’s generally erupted into a brawl whenever they attended the same functions.

    Brenda shook her head and stamped the envelopes. She gave a little smile. Miss Alice might be sending out the invitations but Brenda had managed to get on the decorating committee and she’d seen the huge Davis barn transformed into a red, pink, white and silver fantasy. Of course, Abbott Bed and Breakfast was catering the affair and Brenda had managed to “taste test” several of Teresa’s creations. No one would go hungry, that’s for sure. They’d nixed the idea of a live band this year since so many of the young men were away at college. Even if they made it home for the party, they’d arrive late with little time to practice. Rowe and Kateri Davis were in charge of music. They were young enough to make sure everyone got something they liked.

    Across town, Alice’s sister, Grace, was not making much headway with her visiting god-daughter.

    “Tante Gracie,” Alexanne, moaned, her voice pleading, her French accent heavy for effect. “I really don’t want to go to that dance.” She threw in a pout for good measure.

    “Now, Lexi,” Miss Grace said, using her nickname, “it would mean so much to Miss Alice. She’s worked so hard on the invitations. Grace reached over and gave a loving tug to the sable brown hair that flowed about Lexi’s shoulders. She hadn’t seen her since she was eleven and now, at nineteen, she was stunning. “Besides, Teresa sure could use the help.”

    Lexi’s light green eyes sparkled as she turned to her godmother. “For Tante Alice and Teresa, though I would rather stay with you,” she acquiesced. “I’m still not sure what the emergency was—that it was all so important that I come now. I’ve never been before. It’s a good thing I’m on winter break, because you know maman and papa would not have agreed.”

    Miss Grace just smiled.

    The crowd overflowed out from the open barn doors of the transformed barn. The heavy rhythm poured from perfectly placed speakers, letting the music flood into the night. Almost everyone was dancing. If they weren’t dancing, they were eating. Laughter drifted outside along with the music.

    Grant Hamilton made his way through the throng. He’d just arrived from Scotland that afternoon, his graduation present after finishing med school. It had been a wonderful break before starting his residency. He’d fallen in love with the land and the people, his family’s people. Now he was back and thrust into the thick of a Ruthorford gathering. Even though he’d never attended one of Ruthorford’s functions—his family making a point of avoiding them—tonight he found himself delivering the Scottish pastries he’d brought for Teresa Yancy, his god-mother and the owner of the Abbott Bed and Breakfast, per her request, to the Davis’ barn. He figured he could drop them off and be gone before he ran into a Mercier and they ruined the party.

    He headed straight to the table, keeping his blue eyes forward, trying not to draw attention. Teresa saw him, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and ruffled his windswept blond hair, moving before he could hand her the box. “Take that on down to the end of the table for me, will you?” She turned him and gave him a gentle push toward the end of the long table, already laden with every type of food, leaving little room to place his box. He moved a couple of plates around and lowered the box.

    “Don’t you dare set that box down!” A heavily accented female voice came at him from the side.

    He jerked the box back up and turned toward the voice, only to find himself staring into the green eyes of a goddess. Thick brown hair swept her shoulders, a fringe of bangs offsetting the pale green of her eyes. His response to her beauty was so visceral he nearly dropped the box. Perfect white teeth worried her full lower lip as she reached to catch the box.

    Her hands closed over his as the both clasped the box. A current coursed back and forth between them. Their eyes locked.

    “Hey, Lexi!” A young man came up and put his arm around her waist, breaking the spell. “You haven’t danced with me yet.”

    She gave Grant a quiet smile, let go of the box, and turned to the young man holding her, “I would love to dance with you, Jimmy.”

    Her French accent washed over Grant like warm cognac, setting fire to his nerves. Still holding the box, he watched her disappear into the crowd.

    Out of nowhere, Miss Grace appeared at his elbow. “Let’s put that right here,” she said, taking the box from his hands and setting it in the exact same spot he’d aimed for in the first place. “Now, would you offer an old lady a dance?”

“I’ll love to,” he flashed his blue eyes at her and followed her to the floor.

    She let his arm slip around her as she hit him with a flurry of questions–about his family, school, and Scotland—barely giving him a chance to breathe in between his answers. She was also leading, or rather pushing, him around the floor. He stumbled slightly and bumped into a warm body.

    “Mon dieu.”

    The contact sent a spark through his back. An apology was on the tip of his tongue, when Grace stepped around him. “Jimmy,” she exclaimed, taking hold of the young man’s arm. “Just the man I was looking for. Will you excuse us a moment, Lexi? Grant, this is Lexi. Lexi this is Grant.” They stood, staring at one another. “Well…dance with her,” she said and pushed the two together.

    His hands slid around her as though they were meant to encircle her small waist. The curves of her body melted into his as if welcoming him home after a long absence. The current ran from one to the other and back, pulsing—until their two hearts began to beat as one.

    Grace directed Jimmy, ignoring his whimpered complaints, out to the parking lot on some trumped-up errand and stopped next to Teresa. She turned and watched as the two young people swayed to the music, oblivious to the world around them.

    “There’s going to be some upset families tonight.” Teresa nodded toward the couple and let a smile play across her lips. “What were you thinking, putting a Mercier with a Hamilton?”

    Grace let her old green eyes close in a slow blink, opening them to see the blended aura surrounding the young couple. She smiled at Teresa. “We do what we must.”

    Her French accent washed over Grant like warm cognac, setting fire to his nerves. Still holding the box, he watched her disappear into the crowd.

    Out of nowhere, Miss Grace appeared at his elbow. “Let’s put that right here,” she said, taking the box from his hands and setting it in the exact same spot he’d aimed for in the first place. “Now, would you offer an old lady a dance?”

     “I’ll love to,” he flashed his blue eyes at her and followed her to the floor.

    She let his arm slip around her as she hit him with a flurry of questions–about his family, school, and Scotland–barely giving him a chance to breathe in between his answers. She was also leading, or rather pushing, him around the floor. He stumbled slightly and bumped into a warm body.

    “Mon dieu.”

    The contact sent a spark through his back. An apology was on the tip of his tongue, when Grace stepped around him. “Jimmy,” she exclaimed, taking hold of the young man’s arm. “Just the man I was looking for. Will you excuse us a moment, Lexi? Grant, this is Lexi. Lexi this is Grant.” They stood, staring at one another. “Well…dance with her,” she said and pushed the two together.

    His hands slid around her as though they were meant to encircle her small waist. The curves of her body melted into his as if welcoming him home after a long absence. The current ran from one to the other and back, pulsing—until their two hearts began to beat as one.

    Grace directed Jimmy, ignoring his whimpered complaints, out to the parking lot on some trumped-up errand and stopped next to Teresa. She turned and watched as the two young people swayed to the music, oblivious to the world around them.

    “There’s going to be some upset families tonight.” Teresa nodded toward the couple and let a smile play across her lips. “What were you thinking, putting a Mercier with a Hamilton?”

    Grace let her old green eyes close in a slow blink, opening them to see the blended aura surrounding the young couple. She smiled at Teresa. “We do what we must.”

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Behind the Scenes

Having received wonderful comments and questions on my covers and some of my ads, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes of some of my efforts and show you there’s more to this author than just being an author.

One of my favorite covers is from Twisted Fate. What makes that one so special is that the background of that cover is from a photograph I took standing on my front porch one evening, looking across the rise toward the sunset. It was taken with a cell phone several years ago. Then, when looking for something for a background to put behind the figure, I ran across the picture on my external hard drive. And, the cover was born.

For Silent Warrior, my 7th novel and one of my favorite stories, the background is from a picture taken outside my small bathroom window. I really do live in a cottage in the woods and don’t need a lot of curtains. One day, I stepped out of my closet and glanced out of the window, around late morning, when the sun was peaking in the south. The light hit the large tree and all the vines growing around it and I ran for my phone. I took several pictures, then ran outside to the deck and all around the house, but the only place I could get that shot was from that small window. I have never seen another shot quite as remarkable as that one, and, trust me, I’ve looked.

This ad, which was embellished with the fire, smoke and the silhouette drawing, is a curve that is down from my place. It’s a bad curve and I know of one person who was killed not making that curve. The snow is real and trust me, that’s a rarity here. Again, I just happened upon it when looking for something else. I was amazed because I’d already written the story with the accident scene and there it was.

I have received a lot of comments on this building, which is the image I use for the Abbott Bed & Breakfast in Ruthorford. It is real, no longer a B & B, but I stayed there when it was and loved it. It was huge, all decked out in a different decor for each suite, which included its own bath, and an expansive downstairs, as well. I loved it so much that I added it to Ruthorford.

Well, that’s enough secrets for now. Please, enjoy visiting Ruthorford and her descendants, or my other contemporary novels, which are available in digital and/or print. And, as always, I’d love to hear from you. You, after all, make Ruthorford possible. Shanon Grey

Silent Warrior – A Ruthorford suspense perfect for any season! Now available from Amazon and Smashwords (SW, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Odilo, Scribd, and Gardner). As well as my others.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3qIrEmG

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1058868

You can follow Shanon Grey on FB and twitter @shanongrey or friend me (Jerry Hampton) on FB, as well. I can always use input and friends.

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Silent Warrior Excerpt

As you are all aware, authors tend to put a bit of themselves into their stories. This is especially true of me. Well, not the enhanced abilities part of Ruthorford, but other things. In this story, a young woman finds herself in a strange town with no memory of her past or present. In reality, I am missing a year of my life. I found out when someone showed me pictures of that time and I had no memory of it. I sought professional help and even tried hypnotherapy, to no avail. I don’t know if it was from the trauma of my mother’s death or from several falls off of my horse, but a year is gone. And, trust me, having others tell you about it, doesn’t help. You then have their memories, not yours. So, with this in mind, enjoy an excerpt of Silent Warrior.

Silent Warrior by Shanon Grey

She glanced over at her dashboard where her phone sat in its cradle, the screen blank. She tightened her grip on the steering wheel and took a deep breath, still hesitating, hoping the conditions would improve, saving her from having to call. They didn’t.

Steeling herself, she said, “Call home.” Silence.

Her voice stronger, she commanded, “Call home!” Again, silence.

“Call 911.” Nothing.

“Call anyone.” She could hear the plea in her voice.

Her GPS had dutifully gotten her this far. She’d been following it since she’d gotten off the interstate outside of Atlanta. It had looked like a good state road, well-marked, wide. That was until she drove straight into the wall of snow. One moment the air and ground were clear, except for the last of the fall leaves on the ground and, the next, she was driving through a whirlwind of snow, fast covering the ground, as well as the road. The next time she’d looked at the phone, the screen was blank. She’d thought about stopping and turning around, but figured it was Georgia, how much snow could there be. Yet, the snow kept coming and the houses got fewer and farther from the road.

She kept thinking about that snow wall. From the top of the hill she’d come over, the road had stretched out in front of her like a bright ribbon, trees lining both sides, the fall colors covering the trees and ground. What looked like a fog bank had formed on the other side of the bridge ahead of her—not an uncommon occurrence when the temperatures changed as suddenly as they had in the past few hours. She crossed the bridge and drove through what appeared to be a sheer wall of air, making her ears pop. On the other side, however, everything had suddenly turned white. That’s when she realized her GPS was no longer giving her directions and her phone wasn’t responding. Feeling her panic rise, she rationalized—her destination couldn’t be more than ten or fifteen miles ahead, and she’d certainly brazened worse.

Trying to relax, she studied the scenery. It was magical, the rolling hills and the black fencing against the white. At least what she could see of it. As she drove under a low hanging branch, snow dropped onto her windshield, obscuring her vision. She hit the brakes. Several things seemed to happen all at once. The windshield wiper cleared enough on the right side of the window for her to see the bright yellow sign with a zigzagging black arrow on it. She heard a screeching sound overhead, with a melodious whistle seeming to answer from far away, and her car started to skid.

“Oh, shit!” she swore as the car left the road, slid down the drop-off, and slammed into a tree. The airbag deployed and everything went black.

***

Sim heard the owl screech and sent a whistle out in response, expecting to hear the great white owl call out in answer. He stopped and listened. Nothing. Normally, it would circle above him calling out any danger. It had been a long time since that had happened. With Dorian and Morgan ensconced in The Shoppe of Spells as the official GateKeepers and Eryk and Jasmine close by as backup, the owls flew quietly, enjoying being owls. He figured they’d earned their leisure, having kept Ruthorford and its surrounding lands protected and safe for almost two centuries. But they still flew and they still watched. And—they remained his friends.

He started tromping through the snow once more, the long stick he took on his hikes giving just the tiniest bit of added stability. Not that he needed it. He could balance on the head of a pin, his aunts teased him. Looking around, he stopped and took a deep breath. The land rolled out before him like a white carpet, undulating down the dormant lavender fields. The snow flew in swirls, spinning and dancing in the wind. The slight hum of the air moving through the trees surrounded him. In the distance he heard the owl. Not the screech warning of the Gulatega but something else. He looked to the sky, whistled, and waited. The faint sound of wings moving in from the west made him turn. The great snowy owl swooped down, circled him, and flew up, almost disappearing into the fat flakes of snow whirling about. Once more, the owl called and swooped down, this time gliding off toward the west. Sim closed his eyes, and when he opened them, the world around him had taken on a different look—brilliant colors shimmering through what now appeared as just a thin fog. He spotted the aura of the owl and, picking up his walking stick, took off at a run, following the owl. With long, fast strides, he raced across the pasture until the owl disappeared into the woods. At the edge, he stopped and whistled. The owl responded on the other side, near the road. Sim blinked and the world returned to a silvery white and he picked his way through the dense woods.

The lights from the vehicle hit his face and he raced toward them. The angle was off, pointed more toward each other than ahead. That’s when he saw the tall tree rising in the middle, the headlights bent around it. The owl, sitting atop the roof, chortled twice, stretched its broad wings, and took to the air. He let out two low whistles in thanks and moved around the car.

Smoke rose from the hood. It took several hard tugs on the door of the small SUV before it opened. A girl lay to the side, across the console. He pulled off his glove, at the same time closing and reopening his eyes to adjust his vision, and scanned her as he put his fingers to the side of her neck. Her pulse was a bit thready, but her aura, although spiking a bit, didn’t indicate any major trauma. Sim patted her arm. When he got no response, he pulled her upward. They needed to get away from the vehicle.

As he was jockeying her unconscious body around in the car, she moaned, turned, looked at him, screamed, and immediately fell unconscious once more. Great. It would have been one hell of a lot easier had she been awake and helping. The angle of the car, the slope of the ravine, and the door, all thwarted his movements. He swung her legs out of the car and stepped back. Rubbing his hands together, he watched the energy spike between them. Still concentrating, he lessened the energy and clasped his hands tighter, feeding the energy back into his body. He grasped the steering wheel and shoved it up, out of the way. He unhooked her seat belt and put one arm under her legs and one behind her back and lifted her out, backing up the ravine. Once on the road, he started running toward town, through the ever-swirling snow, giving only the slightest flinch as the car behind him exploded into flames.

I hope you enjoyed this short except of Silent Warrior, a Ruthorford suspense, perfect for the new year. It is available in digital and print on your favorite devices and at Amazon, as well as others through Smashwords.

Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3qIrEmG

Smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1058868

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Shanon Grey at Karen’s Killer Book Bench

It’s my Birthday!

I love it when a plan comes together. As a birthday present, Karen Docter invited me to do a piece on Karen’s Killer Book Bench today! As a birthday present on my birthday from me to you, I invite you to ask me any question in the comment area, personal/professional/writer. I will try to answer honestly. If not, I’ll lie. Plus, you’ll get a chance to win Silent Warrior. Please drop by. I’d love to hear from you!

https://wp.me/p4pimt-6cF

Karen’s Killer Book Bench #Romantic #Suspense #Paranormal: SILENT WARRIOR by Shanon Grey

Posted on December 30, 2020 by Karen Docter

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Silent Warrior

With one arm under her legs and one behind her back, he lifted her out, backing up the ravine. Once on the road, he started running toward town, giving only the slightest flinch as the car behind him exploded into flames.

Little did he know, his life was about to change in ways he would never have imagined.

Silent Warrior – now available in print and digital on Amazon and Smashwords. A Ruthorford suspense perfect for the season!

Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3qIrEmG

Smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1058868

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