I’m super excited about this particular book. It’s the first time I reached the 60,000 words point. It’s actually a little bit longer (pats self on back).
Right now through September 15th you can pre-order a print copy through Dreamspinner for 30% off here. If you are going to GRL they will bring it and you won’t have to pay shipping.
You can pre-order an ebook here
My name is Octavius Septimus Stalk, but my friends call me Oss. I live in the City of Keys, a town of gears, keys, locks, and wonder. Our forefathers banished magic long ago, bolted the doors and locked everything up tight to keep people out and the town’s secrets in. Four Lock Lords control what information is left, and everyone else is left struggling to survive.
Despite what Thorne, my naïve lover, thinks, I was an orphan, but not a victim. When I walked the streets at the age of twelve, I learned fast where to steal the best food, how to use my daggers, and where to hide my would-be attackers’ bodies. No one suspected me of such violence. No one knew then or now that I have magic inside me.
Now, power hungry men intend to release the magic for their own benefit—at the expense of the rest of the city. We will stop them, even if Thorne must battle his own kin, even if I must reveal my hidden talents and the role I seem destined to play.
“For all the locks in the world, there is just one key, and with his
will, he can free the world.”
High Prophet Thomas H. Locksten—Prophecy of Keys
The clamoring bell from the Lock Tower filtered into my dreams,
a loud, obnoxious nudge reminding me to wake up and begin my day.
My name is Octavius Septimus Stalk. My friends call me Oss, and my
enemies hide from my blades. Stab one key keeper for grabbing your
ass and you never live down a violent reputation.
The brush of warm lips across my bare shoulder pulled my
attention to my bedmate. I always go from slumber to full alert with
little space for sluggish-headedness in between. Growing up a street
rat gave me certain habits I doubt I’ll ever be able to break. My instant
alert ability, the most minor of my infractions, came in handy when
Thorne wished to give me a proper send-off for the day.
“Morning, love.” Hawthorne Smith, Thorne to me, had a deep
voice that shivered down my spine like vibrations from the tolling
of the Tower bell. I’d stood next to it once while it rang, hiding out
from guards. They’d stopped their pursuit at the bottom of the stairs—
wiser than me I suspect, and happy to keep their hearing. Two days
later my eardrums were still ringing.
Thorne had a similar effect on me. I could still feel his hands
roaming my body days after we’ve made love. He’s lasted the longest
of any of my partners, if rushed gropings in a dark alley counted as
partners. Thorne has assured me it doesn’t. He’s certain I need no one
else and is determined to keep me sated enough I seek no others.
“Morning.” I don’t repeat the endearment. I’ve grown fond of
Thorne in the three months we’ve been warming each other’s beds,
but love took longer than that, or it should. I don’t know anyone in
love, so it is only guesswork on my part. Growing up on the streets
didn’t lend itself to being a trusting, loving person. My cold nature
has scared off more than one potential lover before we’d even reached
a properly dark bit of street to relieve some tension.
Thorne traced a finger down my back. My body jerked like a
marionette dancing along a string. Thorne knew how to be a proper
puppet master. Groaning, I pushed back into his touch. I craved my
man. Deep down I hoped to keep him, but I buried that ambition
in the darkest corner of my mind along with all my other dreams
and expectations. The Lord of the Keys didn’t easily grant scrubby
key keepers their heart’s desire. If Thorne stayed mine until the next
quarter cycle, I’d consider myself blessed.
“Hey, did you go back to sleep?” Thorne rolled me onto my
back. I smiled at the vision above me.
I dare anyone to wake up to that face and not feel their heart
hiccup at the sight. Thorne had the golden tan of a city guard. The
sun didn’t just kiss Thorne, it used its tongue and devoured him in
its shiny embrace. Thorne’s skin had the burnished glow only a man
working outdoors could acquire and hard, thick muscles from pulling
himself up rope ladders to reach the dirigible ships.
Becoming a guard took dedication, and Thorne had only one
more level before he reached Master of the Guard. Pride for him had
my lips parting in a smile.
“I was thinking of you.” I winced over my words. They sounded
far more foolish aloud than drifting through my head.
“Good. I want you to always think about me.” Thorne’s green
eyes sparkled down at me like the rare glass in the church windows.
He grabbed my hips and dragged me closer as if he couldn’t stand the
two inches of space between us.
I melted a bit at his show of strength. I had always prized my
smaller form for my ability to squeeze through tiny spaces, but I
didn’t wish the same shape for my lover. I preferred my bedmates big
and strong. The green eyes and cocky smile were optional but greatly
appreciated. Inhaling deeply, I breathed in his scent of cinnamon and
sunshine, an odd combination but one I always thought of when near
“Does your ego weigh you down when you climb up the
ladders?” I asked, sliding my hand across his furred chest. Thorne
had the body of a man, not like my smooth skin that refused to sprout
more than a few random hairs.
Thorne flexed an arm. “My muscles compensate.”