Please welcome Rhea Rhodan, author of The Legacy of Buchanan's Crossing.
The Legacy of Buchanan’s Crossing just won an EPIC award! Whoo-hoo! To celebrate, I’m holding a drawing on April 23rd (closing on the 22nd) for newsletter subscribers.
The prize is this raven’s claw ring. A link to different views and instructions on how to enter are in the latest issue.
If you haven’t already signed up, all you need do is send an email to:
with the word "newsletter" in the subject line. Oh, and reading the excerpt below will give you a leg-up on the drawing’s bonus question.
Cayden Sinclair: BBW—big, beautiful witch—struggling to control her power and become worthy of her legacy.
Clint MacAllen: Blinded by ambition and desperate to save his failing construction company; he’s not expecting to find redemption wrapped in goth and toting a truckload of crazy.
J Milton: Mega-developer with plans for the Crossing.
Buchanan’s Crossing: One of the last magical strongholds on earth.
Each has everything to lose. All will stop at nothing to win.
The Legacy of Buchanan's Crossing
Clint MacAllen’s eyes flew open, but he saw only darkness. He Clint art pounding, gasping for air, he struggled against clammy bonds. No, just sheets, soaked with the cold sweat drenching his body. Rising to rest his elbows on his knees, he took a deep breath. It had been one hell of a nightmare.
The thing was, it had included everything he’d ever wanted: the German sports car, a hot yet classy wife, two point five perfect kids, a big beautiful house. It was all there. The dream had begun with the proposal he’d received yesterday in the mail, a very real offer from a mega developer he was meeting later this morning. He’d have pounced on the job even if he weren’t desperate. The development was a green builder’s dream come true and a fast track to the top.
Yeah. Then he’d gotten a load of the view from up there and found himself in the pit of hell. Recalling the unnatural geometry made him queasy. He walked unsteadily to the bathroom, filled the glass at the sink, and took a couple of swallows. A casual glance in the mirror made him jump. One side of his face was bathed in the eerie blue light of the electric toothbrush, the other in the red light from his razor’s recharging stand. The familiar face had been replaced by the image of someone he didn’t know and never wanted to meet. The man’s eyes were soulless, his lips twisted in a hideous grin.
Clint brought a hand to his face to reassure himself. His lips were pursed, not spread. But when he moved his hand, his reflection broke into a maniacal echoing laugh.
He screamed and jerked.
And found himself in bed, damp sheets sticking to him, sour breath scorching a parched throat.
A crow’s feather glinted in the moonlight as it drifted in through the open window. Clint closed it against the sudden draft and went to the kitchen this time, straight to the fridge for ice water. That was it. No matter how wide awake he was or how brave he felt, anchovies on late-night pizzas from HandiMart were off the menu.
His gaze strayed to the business card on the countertop next to the pile of overdue bills. Its raised blue letters glittered in the light from the stove’s digital clock. Five twelve. He leaned on the counter and guzzled the glass empty. A shower would help too, along with some aspirin for the blooming headache. Sleep, though, would be out of the question. It often was.
The shower’s multiple jets took their time working the pulsing hot water into his tense muscles. He dried off slowly, pleased he’d sprung for the extra-large bath sheets and not settled for those dinky regular-sized ones. He wrapped one around his waist and f lashed on unbidden memories of his youth, before he’d started working construction summers, when he’d been such a gangly weakling. Another batch of nightmares there. He grinned as he stepped up to the sink and caught his muscular reflection. Those days were long gone.
From the corner of his eye, he saw the drinking glass sitting on the edge of the sink and froze. It was half full.
Since one horrible night when he was barely a teenager, he had never walked away and left something partially consumed. He either ate it, drank it, or dumped it. Always. The layers of the nightmare started to come back to him in waves, then that awful view, then the beer and the pizza.
After drinking a glass and refilling it with a shaky hand, he drained it again and set it back on the shelf above the sink. Empty, damn it. Unfortunately, when he opened the medicine cabinet for some aspirin and something to settle his stomach, it was empty too. Fine and damned-dandy. Once his teeth were brushed, he’d have to drive back to the scene of the crime: HandiMart.
She glanced in the convex traffic mirror at the corner of the aisle. Her hair comprised its usual hopeless nest. She smoothed her short black leather skirt, straightened the little black tailored Victorian jacket she liked to wear with it, and stood up tall. As tall as her five feet plus the four-inch lace-up platform boots allowed, anyway.
He was probably in his early thirties, a few years older than she. Deeply tanned and tall, his broad shoulders and hard, lean muscles stretched his navy blue T-shirt across his chest and biceps. His sandy hair was sun-streaked and conservatively cut. He was much, much too all-American. But since he usually looked good enough to eat, drooling over him couldn’t be any worse for her than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s she didn’t need either. Presently though, he looked like something had eaten him. Then spit him back out.
She offered him a nod and her gentlest tone. “You want the back of aisle three.”
He stared at her.
“Past the ibuprofen, you’ll find the Pepto-Bismol and Alka-Seltzer.”
Mr. Sinfully Delicious turned up the aisle with a grunt and without a backward glance. That was nothing new. In the year and a half she’d worked the graveyard shift, he’d stopped in once or twice a week. While he’d never been rude to her, he’d never given her a reason to believe he knew she was alive, either. Why should tonight be any different?
Between his appearance and his purchasing habits, she’d pegged him as an insomniac with an outdoor job. Yet one more reason he was pure fantasy material. What could she do with someone who chose to be in the sun all day? She went back to reading the sad tale of someone much more her type, Roderick Usher.
She had a near overwhelming urge to sneak a peek up the aisle for a breathtaking view of a world-class butt wrapped in snug jeans worn thin in all the right places. Sadly, such a temptation also provided an excellent opportunity to develop some desperately-needed self-control. With great pride and determination, she avoided looking up until the clatter of small boxes on the counter and a not-even-remotely-subtle throat-clearing forced her to.
“That part of the costume?”
“Excuse me?” Cayden tried a little throat-clearing of her own. Not because her mouth had gone dry as the Sahara or she needed the time to get her brain functioning again. Of course not. But because something had drawn her to meet his eyes for the first time. Their color made her feel a bit seasick. Past that, something—
“I mean the story you’re reading, The Fall of the House of Usher. Is the Poe part of your getup?”
Cayden was used to being ridiculed about the goth thing, especially by guys like him. She might have responded with something cool and cutting or simply a haughty laugh. If only she hadn’t already been reacting to the something in his eyes that was resonating with the ring in her pocket, she would have had some precious control. That’s what she told herself later.
Instead, she blurted out a favorite line from Poe’s poem: “All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.”
“Wh-What?” His too-sexy mouth fell open, and those mesmerizing ocean-colored eyes widened as though she’d touched a nerve.
A telltale flicker of the overhead lights reminded her to keep her head above those dangerous waters. The rack next to the cash register started wobbling dangerously, then spinning wildly, unleashing sprays of breath mints. It was screeching loud enough to distract him from the sound of boxes rattling on the shelves all over the store—she hoped.
In a burst of brilliance—or inspiration, she’d grudgingly admit to Gran when she had to—Cayden slipped the ring out of her jacket pocket and tossed it into the fray. It was likely the best chance she’d ever get to verify the suspicion that glimpse in his eyes had planted, sprouting consequences she was battling to contain.
Persuading the rest of the inventory not to join their suicidal breath mint brothers was a feat requiring power and effort, rather than brilliance or inspiration. It left her drained and shaky. She sent rich prayers of thanks to every god and goddess she could think of. They’d not only helped her control her magic, they had also favored her with a generous gift. She was now able to give that particular aspect of Mr. Sinfully Delicious’s anatomy, the one she’d denied herself earlier, the closer inspection it so richly deserved.
Too bad she couldn’t leave him bending over the kamikazes’ scattered remains forever. Sighing deeply, she joined him on the other side of the counter. He began apologizing as though she’d been expressing dismay over the mess, rather than forcing herself to part from the view.
She knelt on the floor next to him, gathering runaway breath mints. “Don’t worry about it. You should have seen the mess a drunk made with his pizza here a couple of hours ago. And uh, speaking of pizza, I did warn you about those anchovies, remember?”
He hmm-ed noncommittally, re-relegating her status to that of service droid. Except when she glanced up, he was staring. His attention had probably been drawn by nothing more than the cleavage the little jacket would reveal from his angle.
Now she had to focus her own attention. She pointed past him to the copper ring gleaming more brightly than it ought to under the store’s dreary fluorescent-tube lights. “Did you drop that?” The words had come out nice and casual, even if she’d had to call on her remaining power to make them.
She held her breath when he turned and picked up the ring. He examined it carefully, almost as if he’d seen it glow and pulse with a grayed blue-green light the exact shade of his eyes. He couldn’t have, though. That welcome vision was for her alone. She rose weakly, light-headed, until she remembered to breathe.
He straightened too, frowning and shaking his head. “It’s not mine.”
There went her breath again. The rejection was an unexpected blow, following as closely as it did on the heels of her elation at having found the man meant to wear the ring. Recognition had been too much too hope for, a romantic pipe dream she’d carried as long as she’d carried the ring, since her eighteenth birthday.
They both stared as it lay glowing, more dimly now, in his open palm.
Maybe he only needed some encouragement, because as romantic pipe- dreams went, this one was particularly reluctant to be on its way. “Are you sure? It looks like it would fit.”
Of course it would. The ring always fit its Keeper perfectly. That was its nature. Even if said Keeper’s hands were remarkably large and richly callused, his fingers distractingly long and thick. Cayden swallowed the sudden excess of moisture provoked by the southward migration of her thoughts. Part of her was thrilled to discover this supremely hot man was the one who—
“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ve never seen it before.”
Like bright sunlight piercing languid shadows, the comment wrenched her from her reverie, reminding the other currently impaired part of her— the one with brain cells—how next-to-impossible him being who he was made her mission.
As if to reinforce her first clear thought since he’d spoken to her, he shoved the ring into her hand. She had no choice but to accept it. The instant their fingers brushed, the vision filled her mind’s eye: dark grasping tendrils drifting all around him. Whatever they were, they definitely tipped the scale closer to impossible.
Gripping the counter with her free hand, she forced the other to retreat with dignity and returned the ring to its pocket. She took a long prayer- filled breath as the vision receded and she could watch him less painfully.
He was wiping the hand that had held the ring on the leg of his jeans. It wouldn’t help. The ring had found its Keeper, whether the Keeper accepted it or not.
Cayden allowed herself a small smile. At least he wasn’t completely insensitive to its magic, and he did have integrity. That was something, anyway. “Yeah, by the way, I’m Clint, Clint MacAllen.” For a second, she thought he was going to take her hand in his. Instead, he went back to wiping it on his jeans.
Her smile faltered. Great. He didn’t even want to touch her. Why would he? An extra all-too-literal thirty pounds heaped on the impossible end of the scale.
All she could think of to say was, “Cayden Sinclair. Nice to meet you.” She propped up her smile, fighting furiously to keep from blushing, in vain. Her face heated anyway. She’d used up all of her power. Lovely. If she were any lamer, she’d be on the floor with the rest of the debris.
“Cayden.” Mr. Impossibly Gorgeous, Clean-Cut MacAllen marred his handsome face with another frown. “Isn’t that a boy’s name?”
Wonderful. “Yeah. I guess you could say I’ve been a disappointment all around.”
He looked her over slowly, nodding. If debris had emotions, she knew just how it would feel. The door jingled and the morning clerk shuffled in, along with the invasive rays of the rising sun.
Cayden tossed her replacement a heartfelt greeting, then grabbed her book and all but ran to the storeroom for her backpack. Unfortunately, just inside the door, the grungy broom glared at her in guilty reminder of the powdered bones of the breath mints’ remains. She couldn’t leave the mess for her relief to deal with. She owed him.
She didn’t find the dustpan right away, probably because she watched through the small window in the back room door until Clint MacAllen left the store before she started looking for it. By the time she’d returned those few packages of breath mints that had remained intact to their hooks on the rack and given the dearly departed a proper burial, the sun was rising. It made sufficient inroads to reveal the streaks in the storefront’s big plate-glass window. Ugh. Comprehending why anything without chlorophyll in its veins would worship the sun was beyond her.
The spelled black leather backpack from Gran was broken in to perfection, though the ignorant might call it beat-up. Cayden usually found whatever she wanted in it effortlessly. But with her hands shaking the way they were, finding her very dark round wire-rimmed sunglasses took far too much digging. Locating her black lace parasol was easier. Trying to pull the snug black lace gloves on was not. She slipped on the backpack, opened the parasol, and reached down to trip the levers, dropping the row of wheels that converted her boots into roller blades.
If she skated hard, she could make the next bus to Bradley and from there to East Granby in time for breakfast with Gran at Buchanan’s Crossing. This wasn’t the kind of news to share over her specially-grounded iffy-anyway landline. This was too big for anything less than Gran’s cozy kitchen.
Available as an e-book from these and other major etailers. Coming soon in print!
Romance with a Twist of Magic, a Touch of the Paranormal