QSFer Jeanne Marcella has a new MM paranormal book out: Demon Lord of California.
Stripped of his psychic powers, Calico Winghorse barely made it to 19th century Earth via his interdimensional portal. As a mixed-blood phoenix concealing himself in human form, he opens a bakery in the San Francisco Bay Area and quietly licks his wounds. But the unique method of his escape has drawn the unwanted attention of Infinity Corporation.
Representing this angelic-run company is Agustín Chávez de la Cruz, the Demon Lord of California. Even though Agustín is the corporation’s heir, he finds himself demoted from his daily duties for a new assignment: take absolute control of the portal.
As Agustín formulates a more gracious avenue of acquiring Calico’s gateway, the demanding head of IC interferes, further complicating matters. From this unexpected interlude, Calico and Agustín realize they both wish to establish more than a mere business arrangement. So negotiations stumble along, all the while Calico ensures that the good people of the city are getting their fill of baked goods.
Yet due to Calico’s injuries, the portal remains vulnerable to the darker forces that want it at any cost. Agustín will have to push both his angelic heritage, and his own psychic powers to the very limits to mend someone who not only bears celestial blood, but who is also the god of space and time.
“My lord, have you heard the rumors?”
Considering his reply, Agustín picked at his dessert. Spearing the sugary snout with his fork, he shoved it in his mouth. Delicious.
What rumors was Triptych getting at? There were always waggling tongues among their community, and for the right price, they’d waggle more.
His mansion’s servants and his Infinity team had a friendly competition going about who could tell the best stories. He permitted the pastime as long as it didn’t dive into waspish and hurtful undertones. But sifting through all the gossip that had passed by his breakfast table, he settled on the one most bantered about.
“So I’m to bring in the mongrel triplet demons who recently moved to town.”
“Yes and no.” From his satchel, Triptych presented a stack of papers, which Agustín ignored. He could read them later. Now was the time for his briefing.
Triptych tapped the pages. “Our focus is on the one calling himself Acanthus Scrivens. His real name is Calico Winghorse.”
Winghorse. Hmm. The surname bothered him. It seemed vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t place it. He knew a lot of demons—from nobility to commoner—and had been introduced to hundreds more in every corner of the world.
Triptych reached for his coffee; Agustín broke from his thoughts to watch. But the man only partially lifted the veils of his wide-brimmed rattan hat and sipped from behind them. Not even showing his chin. It made Agustín all the more curious.
He ruled out vampire. Harper banned vampires from IC, even in a liaison capacity. Humans as a food source was not something angels tolerated. Some of the Infinity teams were often assigned to eradicate the more troublesome hives of the undead.
Could this man be one of the fae? The disconnected chatter and veering off topic could get bothersome quickly if he didn’t adjust to it. Or was he some sort of trickster?
Agustín added an extra scoop of cake to his fork and considered ordering a port to go along with it. Chocolate was a barrier against bad news and dashed dreams. He thought about that official seal burned into the wax of Harper’s letter, and his stomach clenched. What office would Harper strip from him next?
He sensed Triptych was still smiling behind those veils, as if this were all a game to him. Summoning up a tentative telepathic ear in the man’s direction also proved a dead end. Which meant either Triptych was telepathic himself, or he had extensive training to block such talent.
“Go on.” Agustín finished his slice and helped himself to a second piece even though he knew he shouldn’t. The cake was spongy and moist; the chocolate wasn’t overpowering or heavy like bricks in his belly. Raynard must have hired new confectioners since his last visit. He’d have to send his chef here to purchase cakes or collect the recipe. He had a feeling his diet would be consisting of a lot of this treat in the next several weeks.
“These triplets exude raw power.” Triptych took another sip of his coffee before arranging his veils back into place. “A power that originates from another plane of existence, on another world. And Calico controls a portal.”
“Portals are a dime a dozen,” Agustín said dismissively.
“This isn’t just any portal. Calico has absolute control over space and time.”
That got his attention. “Absolute control? Are we talking about wayfaring godlings here?”
“A god, not godling.”
Agustín let the spoonful of chocolate pool on his tongue. Harper had a lot of faith in him if he was expected to handle a god. That had to be the reason for his demotions—to focus his attention solely on delivering this deity. But it also raised questions.
“Why me? Infinity 1 is composed entirely of angels. Most of them full-bloods. Four of them originate from Heaven, while the others are Earthborn. What better group than that to handle a god?”
“Mr. Harper decided your background would better serve this assignment.”
Agustín pushed aside his plate of crumbs; he was sorely tempted to, in a fit of bad behavior, pull the remaining cake, stand and all, in front of him and dig in. “On what grounds?” he inquired.
“On the grounds of your heritage, of course. Being half-angel permits you the raw celestial power, should you need it.”
“And my demonic half?” To hell with appearances and propriety. Agustín yanked the cake stand closer and helped himself to thirds.
“A shared heritage.”
Inhaling silently through his nose, he sent Triptych a quick, concerned glance from lowered eyelids. That response was all Harper.
“Just because we both share demonic blood doesn’t ensure the target’s cooperation. You mentioned they’re from another plane, another world. Are they spies from the Amaranth Empire?”
“No, not spies. Mr. Harper wants Calico folded into the corporation, and he wants that portal. You are to recruit him into your Infinity 8 group. Woo him.”
That brought him enough unease that he put down his fork. Would Harper sink so low? “Woo him how? I refuse—”
“Your priority is your assignment, Lord California. Mr. Harper says to handle it how you see fit.”
My style is eclectic, and somewhat eccentric. I live in the worlds of dark and light fantasy that eagerly explore fantastic quests and the grit of living. Along the way there might be budding romances, and of course established ones that are slightly fractured. Nearly all my characters are LGBTQ (queer) though that does not define who they are.
Stories came to me from a very young age. And I loved books. I would stare at Richard Scarry’s art for hours. Days. And was mesmerized at the infinite mini universes and stories within stories presented.
The music I grew up with truly varied. A few examples: Mexican, Hawaiian, and big band. Classical and top 50s and 60s. In the mid-80s I encountered the new age genre: Ray Lynch’s Deep Breakfast. Stevie Nicks was my all time favorite for her unique fantasy-like allure.
Today I gravitate toward Apocalyptica, Adam Hurst, and E.S. Posthumus. I’m also into old black and white movies. People knew how to tell a complete story back then with only body language and a look.
What’s Inside My Head
I often muse why centaurs are categorized as non-people or stupid animals, instead of treated like the other sentient mythical beings of vampires, werewolves, and demons.
Conspiracy theories are my soap operas. Paranormal realms and ancient astronauts. Is the moon really hollow? Is Bigfoot from another dimension or merely a shy, near-extinct descendant of Giganthropithicus Blacki? All this drives the imagination and creativity. And it certainly opens up new realms to play in.