Daven Talvi made a choice a quarter-century ago to serve the Bitterroot Elf Clan, allowing the Circle of Elders to send him into suspended animation until the queen could be rescued. In doing so, he gave up his mate and his newborn son, sacrificing his own life for that of the clan.
It had been a mistake.
With the clan now in chaos and the new young queen in hiding, Daven must acknowledge his own errors and take responsibility to set things right. He teams up with Lane Donatelli, a human who has too long used food and computer gaming to feed his own insecurities.
Together, they use Lane’s beloved technology with Daven’s innate magical abilities to wage battle against the evil elf mages threatening the clan.
[Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book 3) | Fantasy novel from Dragonfly Publishing, Inc. | Available in Hardback, Paperback, and eBook]
“Kev! Come in! Man, you should have called. I woulda come down and saved you the steps.” He stepped aside so Kevin could skinny past him; fortunately, Kevin kept himself in military trim. Lane, on the other hand, had a longstanding love affair with Creamy Cupcakes that kept him mostly round.
Kevin continued into the kitchen. “What’s that noise? I thought you took that hawk back to the forest?”
Lane swallowed hard. “Oh, the hawk. Yeah. Yeah, we did.” He wandered back into the small living room where Crispy sat curled into the corner of their brown Salvation-Army acquired couch.
“That’s a….” Kevin blinked as he leaned on the counter at the pass-through.
“Yep. That’s a baby.” Lane smiled as little Elliun snuggled into Crispy’s arm, both hands on the bottle Crispy had just warmed. Elliun’s blue fleece sleeper zipped all the way to his chin, but Crispy had insisted on wrapping him in a knit blanket, too. Just in case.
Kevin set down the box he’d carried upstairs and walked into the living room, staring. His words dropped like stones. “Where. Did. You. Get. A. Baby.” He glanced first at the door, then at the webcam on the edge of the Cave. “Are we going to have police on the doorstep?”
“Not likely.” Lane sighed. “We’re just…babysitting.”
“Babysitting.” Kevin’s dry tone was laced with skepticism. “Really.”
“At least I hope so.”
Satisfied Crispy was meeting the child’s needs, Lane leaned against the door frame into the kitchen. ‘Babysitting’ wasn’t really the right word. “Kidnapping,’ now that was more accurate, in the legal sense. He’d had to take the baby. He had to. For the baby’s sake. Before something bad happened.
Crispy suspected, but he hadn’t said anything until they got home. Then he’d turned into the perfect little mother, tending to Elliun’s every need. But it didn’t keep the little one from crying. And even though it had been less than two days, the noise and needs of this child grated on Lane’s nerves. More ibuprofen, please…
“Seriously, Lane. Isn’t that your friend’s baby? How long are you keeping it?”
Crispy looked up, a Madonna-like smile on his face. “Until he’s safe. Everyone needs to be safe. You know that. You were a soldier.”
A furrow developed between Kevin’s thin brows. “Well, I can’t argue with you. Everyone sure does need to be safe. It’s just really peculiar.” He inched closer to the couch. “He’s a handsome little guy. But…how did you learn to–”
“Ehow.com,” Lane said. “They also have a page on how to change a diaper and how to mix formula.”
Kevin laughed. “I guess I never looked it up. I had plenty of brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins. We did it all by watching. You want to know how to put a baby to sleep?”
“We learned that on WikiHow,” Crispy said. “They even have a video.”
“Unbelievable.” Kevin shook his head. “Hey…do you think I could hold him?”
Crispy looked suspiciously at Kevin. “Do you have baby credentials?”
“Probably more than you do, Crisp,” Lane said. “Go ahead. It’ll be fine.”
Elliun went to Kevin without a peep, studying his dark face curiously. He reached out to touch Kevin’s skin, then broke into a smile.
“See? He likes you.”
A knock at the door sent them all into shocked silence. Crispy hid his head behind a green sofa pillow. “The government’s here! Your camera told them we’re criminals!”
At her friend’s coaxing, Jelani tries on a glass slipper left lying on the sidewalk. When she steps into the shoe, it shatters, cutting her foot. As blood trickles to the pavement and mingles with the broken glass, dozens of two-inch high creatures emerge and then scurry away into the shadows. Soon she is approached by two mysterious and handsome men claiming to be elves who need her help to rescue their queen. More revelations come, threatening to unravel the life of this sassy barista from Missoula, Montana. Jelani must learn to accept that elves are real and living in the forests of the Bitterroot Mountains.
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Jelani opened her eyes and discovered a different world.
She and Daven had come up a single trail that led to the area. Now, as she looked behind them, she could see a dozen imprints snaking across the grass around them. The deer, the elk, even rabbits left distinctive marks and patterns on the green blades that made it clear to her what had stepped there. She looked behind to see her own footprints, heavy and destructive, plants crushed under the weight of her boot. Daven’s passing was marked only by a shadow on the grass that faded as she watched.
But that wasn’t all. Her new sight revealed patterns in the trees, many of them set close together to create small enclosures. Looking up, she saw gossamer platforms extending between the branches, the elves on them hardly noticing her below through the nearly opaque walls of their chambers. For the first time, she saw elf children. Their tinkling laughter lifted her spirit.
“Kids? There were kids out here the whole time?”
Daven smiled, raising a hand to the curious toddler above, whose attention had now been captured. She laughed and scattered a handful of flower petals over them. “We didn’t all come out of a glass slipper, you know. We procreate much as humans do.”
She considered the view, looking around her. As her eyes adjusted, she noticed other dwellings in the trees around them. Surely their walls were like those of the Circle chambers, diaphanous but sturdy with magic, keeping out the elements. Even so… She winced as the small ones ran in what seemed to be open space, awaiting their death-defying tumble to the ground. But of course, magic kept them safe.
“You just live in the open? Just hang out?” She shuddered. “I don’t think I could do that.”
“We did not believe you would. That’s why we have created a special place for our new queen.”
They continued into the woods to the foot of a Douglas fir so tall it hurt her neck to crane back to see the top. Astan waited there to meet them, a warm smile on his face.
Her eyes narrowed at the negative thought that came to mind, even though she couldn’t believe Astan would be involved with something that could hurt her. “You’ll shove me in a tree, like my mother?”
“Of course not, denami,” Astan said. “This is specially created for you-for us.” He gestured at the trunk. “Look closely.”
She eyed the rugged bark, suspicious, but saw at last the outline of a door and three dots spaced closely together. When she reached for the dots, she found them separated by an interval that comfortably matched her fingertips. Contact gave her fingers a little tingle, then the trunk split open without the crack or noise she expected, the two sides raising and separating.
“Come into our home,” Astan said softly, taking her hand. They entered the opening to discover a small cottage of several rooms, complete with windows.
“Now, wait a minute,” she said, stepping out to examine the trunk of the tree, no more than four feet across. She looked back inside at the roomy space, which held several chairs, a small table, and some cabinets. A fireplace was laid out, but not burning. An open space in the back hinted at a bedroom. “How did you do this?”
“We want to make our queen happy,” Daven said. “Welcome, Jelani.”
She could hardly believe what she saw. The space reminded her of something Snow White might have stumbled upon in the woods. Except, of course, this was elves. “Is this the only house like this? Just for us?”
“No,” Astan said. “Others exist, but none are quite so suited to humans. The Circle has gone to some length to keep your comfort in mind.”
Grateful at the concern for her well-being, she’d marveled at the creation, her one frown prompted by the fireplace. “You want me to burn a fire inside a tree? That seems counter-productive somehow. Even if we wouldn’t die from smoke inhalation.”
A laugh burst from Daven, amusement flickering in his eyes. Shaking his head, he patted her on the shoulder. “You are quite right, Jelani. Burning an actual fire in this enclosure could be dangerous to you, and the tree as well. One of the elders has left you some flash dust.”
He demonstrated the use of the gift by opening a small glass box on the mantel. Inside was some nondescript powder that looked like well-dried ash. He said a few words in elvish and tossed a pinch of the powder onto the hearth and a fire appeared.
“Whoa.” Jelani stared at the flames, then came near. No smoke came from the fire, and heat came only as high as the fireplace enclosure. While the room warmed perceptibly, the heat faded as it approached the walls formed by the trunk of the tree that housed her.
“You’re going to teach me that abracadabra part, right?”
Daven crossed his arms and studied her. “I’ll teach you all the magic you can learn, my queen.”
I knew when I got the idea for THE ELF GUARDIAN that It would be set in the Bitterroot Mountains, like the others–but I wanted a unique twist. It came when I read about the Montana Vortex.
When paranormal investigator Chiara de Luna needs a boost to her sagging career, she makes a trip to northwestern Montana for new material. Little does she know that the real story she’ll find is much more outlandish than weirdly tilted trees and brooms standing up on their own.
Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book IV): The strong Earth energies that support the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot have gone awry for unknown reasons, and the powerful forces at work have not gone unnoticed by the outside world. When a paranormal investigator looking for a story to save her career is told a fantastic tale by the juvenile and disobedient elf prince Elliun, his young albino elf bodyguard Max must try to fix the mistake. Can Max get humans, mages, and elves working together in time to save the land before the energies spin out of control? Or is this the end of the elven world in the Bitterroot Mountains? [Urban Fantasy series from Dragonfly Publishing, Inc.]
The phone line went dead before she could even say ‘goodbye.”
Not that she was going to say ‘goodbye.’ Anything but.
The once-sweet name turning bitter on her tongue, the whispered words sighed through her lips, becoming sharp, cutting her.
No, that was her teeth, biting down hard enough to make her bleed.
She set the phone into the stand. Gone.
Her knees gave way and she landed, hard, in her office chair, banging her elbow on the edge of the polished black-and-chrome desk. The pain reverberated up and down her arm, but did nothing to cloak the agony raging inside her.
The news clippings across the surface of the desk seemed to mock her now. Paranormal Investigator Visits Alcatraz. DeLuna Solves Local Murder with Psychic Clues. Ghosts Give Up Secrets to Ohio Paranormal Expert. All her work, fifteen years of building a reputation as an investigator of the weird and unexplained—what would it mean if Hunter Nowles walked away from her?
And why was he leaving? Because that stupid exorcism had turned out to be a fake.
Okay, and the haunting of that old mansion in Pennsylvania had turned out to be a bust.
She chewed her lip. To be honest, she’d failed to either prove or debunk the last seven investigations she’d undertaken. Lucky number seven.
“The great Chiara DeLuna bites the big one,” she muttered, waiting for the rim shot that had to follow. It was a joke, right? She was a joke. The network seemed to think so. Davis had already sent a memo warning her they wouldn’t fund her program any longer if she couldn’t produce results. And now Hunter had decided she wasn’t worth his time, either.
Or maybe he was just afraid that her failures would taint his own growing stature in the paranormal investigation community. Their three years as lovers didn’t mean anything at all?
Her gaze was snagged by one of the news photos on the desk, herself smiling and shaking the beefy hand of some small-town police chief. See, that woman was Chiara DeLuna, “spooky” media star—the woman with the chic platinum blonde hair, the expensive wardrobe, and the ominous black sedan that seemed to part crowds when she arrived on a scene.
Not the woman who looked back at her from the mirror, dreary, bookish Bonny Lang from Euclid, Ohio whose most thrilling accomplishment before she’d hit the big time was surviving a wreck with a drunk driver, as a teenager. Her mother had been killed in the crash; Bonny had sold her first paranormal article based on a post-mortem conversation they had before her mother’s spirit faded.
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One of the themes of this blog is adventure, which I think everyone should experience at some point. But sometimes adventures are planned…and sometimes….
As she reached Broadway, a worn blue bicycle pulled up next to her, horn screeching over its rider’s distinctive squeal. “Where is your car, woman?”
Jelani eyed her best friend, Iris Pallaton, whose blonde hair swirled above the bright cloud of a magenta blouse. “Richard had it towed.”
“Tell me about it. I’m late.” Jelani headed off again.
Iris pedaled along the curb beside her. “You should call his supervisor and complain.”
“And what? Humiliate myself because he’s a jerk? Screw him!”
“Maybe you should.” Iris laughed. “Then he’d be too awed to bother you again.”
Jelani glared as they crossed the street. “Funny.”
On the far side, she caught the glint of glass in the middle of the sidewalk. “What idiot would drop a bottle when there’s a trash can right there?” she grumbled. “I’ll get it. First karma points of the day.”
Iris climbed off the bike and put down the kickstand. “What is that?” She bent down near the object. “Oh, sweet Gaia! It’s a glass slipper!”
No kidding. It really appeared to be a shoe made out of glass. A large one.
“Who would have left this here?” Jelani picked it up, looking around for a prankster camera team. Something kept her from tossing the shoe.
“Try it on,” Iris whispered. “It would get Richard Snyder off your mind.”
“Richard is not on my mind. He’s on my crap list.”
“Oooh. Sorry.” Iris ran her finger over the shoe. “You’re chicken anyway.”
“Don’t even go there.”
“Chicken. Bawk-bawk.” Iris giggled.
“Fine! If it means I can get to work.” Reaching down with her right hand, she unzipped her boot and kicked it off. “Ready? You want a picture?”
Iris dug for her cellphone and raised it, ready to take a shot. “Just in case your prince shows up right then.”
“I don’t need a prince,” Jelani complained. “I don’t need a man. I need a new life.”
Setting the shoe on the ground, Jelani slipped her foot in it and gently stepped down, not sure to what expect.
The slipper shattered, slicing into the sole of her foot.
Nauseous, Jelani screamed and could only watch in disbelief as tiny men sprang from the blood trickling under the broken shoe. She lost track of how many. With the biggest maybe two inches high, the men scattered into the shadows around the nearest building and disappeared.
She lifted her foot, shaking off the blood, and examined her sole to see if glass remained buried in her skin.
“Did you see that?” Iris gasped, nearly breathless. She grabbed at the wall, eyes closed for a moment.
Jelani felt faint, too, suddenly washed out. “I don’t know.”
There were no glass fragments in her foot or anywhere. The shoe had vanished. The only trace of the whole incident was dark blood, slowly drying in the sun on the sidewalk. As she watched, the cuts in her foot healed.
Iris knelt down to peer at Jelani’s foot. “There were little people. Naked little people. They ran away. I swear they did.”
“Did you get pictures?”
“I almost forgot!” Iris got up and activated the screen on her cell phone, pressed the arrow. Jelani leaned close to watch the whole thing replay in living color. “Oh. Bless. My. God,” Iris said, in her shock reverting to the male deity.
Jelani nodded. “And the horse He rode in on.”
When Jelani tries on a real glass slipper left lying on the sidewalk, it splits in half and out pour dozens of two-inch high creatures who scurry away into the shadows. As if that’s not bizarre enough, she is soon approached by two men claiming (of all things) to be elves who need her help to rescue their queen.
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Interesting story about Bozeman, Montana, not too far from the Bitterroot. Seems like they have a lot of problems that my new home city, Asheville, NC, is dealing with:
Is it possible to build up too much fun for anyone to afford?
Come by, read an excerpt and check out the new covers for the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series!!
The northwest corner of Montana is a magical place indeed. Not only do my Clan Elves of the Bitterroot live in the forests alongside the Montana Vortex, the Sasquatch is also rumored to live there! Advice from the pros? Pack your PBJ’s; leave the Skittles at home.