April Song Writing Prompt – “I Will Possess Your Heart”

songprompt1I had a whole other story in mind for this song – “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie – which is a favorite of mine, btw.

But, I realized that idea…was something that would be much, much too long for something like this. So I switched gears.

Right now, I’m firmly entrenched in my Albion Circle series – writing like crazy on a story and characters I love. So, I decided to stay on that path with this month’s song prompt. Well, mostly on the path. Tthis is a slight detour as it’s a glimpse inside the head of Mordred – the not-so-good guy. o.O


~Mordred~

We belonged together.

Why didn’t Annwyl see that? Why didn’t she understand that Merlin wasn’t her other half? I was. I always had been, from the very beginning. He just got to her first.

Striding in to my study, I tugged my tie off and threw it on my desk before sitting in on of the armchairs in front of the fireplace. A few murmured words had flames springing to life, illuminating the darkening room. Another muttered spell, and a tumbler of brandy floated through the air into my waiting hand. I knocked the liquor back, relishing the burn as it worked it way down my throat to settle warmly in my stomach. I sent glass back toward the decanter to be refilled. Then, simply held the drink in my hand as anticipation flowed through me.

All day, I’d been waiting for this. Suffering through keeping up appearances, pretending to work for the bumbling idiot of a governor. Of course, he was firmly under my control, as was most of the staff. If I were to be successful this life, in this time, I needed to have power in the non-Magical world. The job was a means to an end, nothing more. But it kept me from maintaining contact with Annwyl. That required focus and concentration, and I couldn’t spare more than a few pockets of time through the day. And that wasn’t nearly enough. I needed more. She deserved more.

What Annwyl and I had, what we shared—no one else could understand that. Not Arthur and his followers, not Morgana, even when she was on the right side of the battle, and certainly not fucking Merlin. Even Annwyl didn’t fully understand. How could she? With Merlin in head? Well, this time would be different, because I was the one in her head now. I would have the time I needed with her, the time to show her the truth.

I know she thought I hated her, but my hatred never touched her. It was solely for Arthur and Merlin. I may feel anger at some of her choices—in this life and lives past—and lose myself in that anger, at times, but that was only because I cared too much. I loved her. More than Merlin ever could. It wasn’t a love born out of attraction and sex, but because she and I were of a kind. Underneath it all, Annwyl and I were the same. And it was up to me to make her see that.

I lifted the glass to my lips, thinking of what I’d have to do if I didn’t succeed. I never enjoyed taking her life. It hurt me to do so, and the guilt of failing weighed on me. But it was always a last resort, when it was clear she was too far gone to accept the truth before her. I regretted that her deaths were never easy, but if she couldn’t make the right choice, she needed to be used in a way to further the cause, to send a message to the Circle.

It wasn’t too late, this life, though. I still had time to make her see, to make her understand. I placed my brandy on the end table and settled back in the chair, closing my eyes, reaching out into Annwyl’s mind. Ready to spend some time with her and show her how things truly were. I would do everything in my power to succeed where I’d always failed.

And if she were too far gone, if Merlin and his king had corrupted her completely, I’d do what needed to be done. As painful as it would be, I’d reset things for her and start fresh in the next life.


Head on over and see what these awesome ladies have been inspired to write after listening to “I Will Possess Your Heart”…
Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn CeaseJessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris

January Photo Writing Prompt – Merlin’s Cave

photoprompt

As I mentioned in my 2015 goals post, some new things are happening on the blog in the coming year. This is one of them! The first Monday of every month, a wonderful bunch of ladies and I will be posting a photo along with a flashfiction peice inspired by that photo.

This month’s photo sent my mind immediately running to a character I’ve already written–and am still writing. Merlin from my Albion’s Circle series. So, I just went with it…

01-2015 - ManIceCave

MERLIN’S CAVE

I flipped up the collar of my coat and ducked my head. More out of habit than actual need. I didn’t really feel the frigid wind or the bitter cold. I didn’t feel much of anything. Hadn’t in a long, long time.

Which was why I was here. I needed to remember, needed to see their faces again, needed to feel.

The stones and gravel crunched under my boots as I made my way to the mouth of the cave. I hadn’t been here in… I chuckled softly—a humorless sound lost in the howling gusts. I hadn’t felt the need to come here in several lives. I hadn’t felt the need because it’d been so long since I’d been alone. Well, and truly alone. In all the lives I’d lived, in all the centuries since Camelot, there had been many years spent on my own, but not like this. Usually, at the end of it all, when the battle was over, I had someone there. Arthur or Galahad or one of the others standing by my side. There to help shoulder the burden, to balance the darkness inside me with their light, to remind me of what I was fighting for every life, to remind me it was all worth it.

But this life, there was no one. They were lost. And it was my fault. I’d done what needed to be done to stop Mordred, but I couldn’t stop. I clenched my jaw as images of fire and destruction and the sounds of screaming played in my head. I hadn’t stopped until everyone was gone.

I paused at the cave’s entrance and took a deep breath, the cold air burning my lungs. My magic throbbed inside me, pushing against my skin painfully. I hadn’t accessed it, hadn’t let it out, since the last battle ten years ago, and it was not happy.

I walked slowly inside, eyes adjusting to the change in light, and forced myself to continue deeper. When the darkness became too much, I lifted my trembling hand…and let it hover in the air. Fear and uncertainty overwhelmed me as my power jumped and vibrated, desperate to get out, to be used. It’d been too long. I didn’t know if I could wield it with any control.

Don’t be silly, Merlin. It’s a part of you. Trust it.

I closed my eyes as her voice sounded in my head. Oh, I knew it wasn’t really her voice. I hadn’t heard that since Camelot, but it’d always, always be her I heard when I needed a swift kick in the ass.

I inhaled deeply and loosened the decade-old hold I’d kept on my magic. Lights flickered through the cavern. Wild and erratic at first, all over the place. Then, they all converged and a large orb glowed, suspended near the roof of the cave, illuminating the large space.

I swayed on my feet, lightheaded and intoxicated as my power flowed out. It danced around the room before coming back, twining around me, embracing me, comforting me. My eyes stung as my gaze settled on the frosted cavern wall before me. What I’d etched into the stone all those years ago was barely visible, but I knew it was there. Power swelled and crackled in the air as bright lines appeared on the wall. I laughed, the sounded echoing, as the images I’d created were re-carved before my eyes. My magic was bringing them back without my even having to directing it.

I stepped forward and lifted my fingers to trace along the line of Arthur’s crown as I studied his face. Arthur Pendragon. King of Camelot, High King of all of Albion. The greatest of us all. My best friend.

My throat tightened, and I swallowed with difficulty. I made my way slowly down the length of the way, the orb of light following me so I could make out all the faces staring back at me. Lancelot and Guinevere, Gawain, Morgana, Percival, Erek and Owain. I stopped in front of Galahad, smiling at his cheeky grin even as I fought against the pain weighing down on me. And knew it was going to crush me. Destroy me the moment I took another step.

The orb moved past me, and Galahad’s face fell into shadow as the light concentrated, centered on what I avoided…and what I wanted to see more than anything. And of course, my magic knew that. I could feel it pulling, drawing me to stand before…well, her.

Annwyl.

I traced the lines of her face, imagined the warmth of her skin even as the frozen stone scraped the pad of my finger. And, suddenly, anger surged. The years that separated us, the guilt of not saving her, the utter grief of losing her time after time choked me. I slammed my fists against the wall, and it cracked—fissures crept outward, obscuring her likeness. Immediately, the fractures flared brightly then knit back together.

“I miss you,” I whispered, pressing my fingers to her lips. “I’ll find you.”

I turned away and stumbled to the large boulder in the center of the cavern. As I sat, I forced myself to look at Annwyl’s face again, even though it hurt. I deserved that. I deserved every ounce of pain and torment.

“I promise. The next life, I’ll find you. Just…just wait for me, this time. Please, wait for me.”

Make sure to check out what fabulousness the photo inspired from the other ladies. 🙂 
Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa | Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris

 

(kinda) NEW RELEASE – Albion’s Circle: The Deepest Cut

Originally part of the collection If Ever I Would Leave You, the first book in my Ablion’s Circle – The Deepest Cut – is now available to purchase on it’s own. 🙂

Links are below, as well as a sneak peek into The Deepest Cut.

Unknown

AVAILABLE NOW
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(B&N and iBookstore Coming Soon)

For nineteen years, Anna has been plagued by dreams of lives lived only in legend. Finally free from the family that believed her hopeless and worthless, she’s ready to start her life over—alone.

When Anna meets an enigmatic stranger claiming to be the legendary wizard Merlin, she is forced to question the very reality she’s struggled to accept. With the mythic figures from her dreams intruding on her waking life, Anna learns that she’s been reborn to fight an ancient evil alongside King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

Caught in an ages old conflict, Anna is the key to stopping a dark magic that will destroy the world—and Merlin wants to make sure that this time, Anna isn’t alone.

Note: Previously published in the anthology If Ever I Would Leave You


-EXCERPT-

Merlin

This life was no different than the others. She was absolutely beautiful. My Annwyl. Anna, I reminded myself. She was Anna now. I ached to go to her but held myself back. I had to be careful. I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes I’d made before. I wouldn’t lose her. Not again.

“Why are we just sitting here?”

I glanced at Galahad but said nothing. Nothing I said would shut him up anyway. It had only taken one lifetime to learn that about the guy.

“It’s been weeks, Merlin. Weeks. If your goal is to be a stalker, mission accomplished.” He ran a hand through his hair, causing the dark brown locks to stick up all over the place. “I thought the whole point was to bring her home, complete the Circle, defeat evil, live happily ever after. What the fuck are we doing sitting in a dark club watching her… Ah shit, I’m pretty sure she just took something. I’m going out on a limb here, and saying it’s not Tylenol. And…you’re not surprised. Not even a little.” He sighed.

“No,” I responded simply. It didn’t surprise me she would turn to that. It wouldn’t be the first time one of us used a crutch to deal with what we remembered and lived with. Of course, understanding that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It sure as hell didn’t ease the guilt I felt. It surrounded me, as it always did. I wished I had found her sooner, that I’d been able to shoulder some of the pain Annwyl…Anna experienced.

“Merlin!”

Galahad’s voice penetrated my thoughts, and I turned toward him again.

“What?”

“What are we waiting for?”

“She’s… She might not be ready.”

“Ready for what?” he asked, eyes wide and disbelieving. “How is leaving her to deal with everything on her own helping her, or any of us?”

“She’s always been so fragile,” I murmured, almost to myself. “The fact that we found her this time, before she—” I could hardly swallow around the lump that appeared in my throat, let alone speak.

I’d never gotten to her in time. Every life, every fucking one, I’d been too late. Sometimes, by mere minutes. Her body still warm, as if she were simply sleeping and she’d open her eyes and see me. But that had only been an illusion, a desperate hope. It never happened that way. No, soon, even the hint of life leached out, and I was left with the empty shell, a glaring reminder of how I’d failed her yet again.

“Merlin.” Galahad laid a hand on my knee and leaned close. “You found her this time. The other times… Stop thinking of them. It doesn’t matter now.”

But it did matter, I wanted to scream. Of course it mattered. Because she would remember all of it. Know how I had been unable to save her time after time. The shame and guilt—my constant companions—wouldn’t be erased by kind words, even if they came from a well-meaning friend.

I turned my attention back to her, just in time to see the glass slip from her grasp and crash to the floor. It was clear, even from across the bar, that she was pretty well flying high. The bartender, the one who’d put her in that state in the first place, seemed to be checking to make sure she was okay. So, maybe he wasn’t a complete douchebag. Though, my magic flared, skittered along my body, just under the skin, wanting to knock him on his ass for daring to touch Anna. Then, it nearly exploded as they kissed.

“Throttle back,” Galahad said under his breath, and I realized the glasses on the low table in front of us were shaking, dancing on the shiny surface.

I cursed and reined it in, but fuck, it was hard.

“You can hardly blame her for having a relationship.” He watched me warily, as if I were going to level the place just because Anna had kissed another man.

Never mind that was exactly what I wanted to do. I wouldn’t. I wasn’t stupid and actually had more control than that. It wouldn’t solve anything to let my magic loose. Highly satisfying, but not worth it in the long run.

“Not blaming her for anything,” I bit out, though a part of me wondered why. Why was she kissing him? She had to have her memories from before and know what we’d been together. But, instead of waiting or seeking me out, she was in a bar getting high and kissing the bartender. It hurt, more than I’d ever admit. Though, the way Galahad was eyeing me, he could tell. Aside from Arthur, he was the best friend I had, and he was too perceptive for his own damned good.

“You don’t know anything about her life, aside from what your creeper ass has seen the past couple weeks and what you’ve managed to dig up online.” He leaned back against the couch cushions and rested his booted feet on the table, ankles crossed.

“I know,” I conceded, ignoring the creeper comment. “I’m not making any— Who the hell is that? And why is Annwyl leaving with him?”

Annwyl—fuck, Anna—was following a skinny, greasy looking guy out of the bar. I started to stand, but Galahad yanked me back, only flinching slightly when I whipped around to glare at him. I knew he could feel my power snapping, like static electricity surrounding us.

“Give it a few minutes,” he advised. “She’s smart, Merlin, okay? She doesn’t need us following her around in the shadows.”

“She’s…she’s high.” I looked between my friend and the door. “Already not making smart choices, G.”

The Annwyl from before—God, how many lifetimes ago?—had been the smartest woman I’d ever known. It was one of many things I’d loved about her. But it wasn’t like that now and hadn’t been for a long, long time. It made no sense. I couldn’t figure it out. Everyone else came back the same. Exactly the same. So, why didn’t she?

When I asked the question aloud, Galahad shook his head. “Not exactly the same, you know that. Christ, just look at Morgana.”

I scowled at him. “That’s not what I meant. Morgana always struggled with the choice, even the first time around, but she didn’t change. Her personality, her determination, everything that makes her her never changes. But Anna isn’t acting like the Annwyl we knew.”

He nodded then shrugged. “And we’ll find out why. When you stop following her around like a crazy person and actually talk to her. I know you’re scared, Merlin. Don’t try to bullshit me,” he snapped when I opened my mouth to protest. “You’re scared, and who the hell could blame you after everything, but you found her this time. Now, you need to act, bring her home. She’ll be safer with us, and your focus won’t be as split.”

I tried not to feel guilty, and failed miserably. Ever since I’d found her, everything else had been shoved to the side. I wasn’t spending much time with the rest of the group or trying to figure out exactly what magical threat we were up against this time around. The task of finding the missing members of the Circle—Morgana and Lancelot—had fallen on the others’ shoulders.

Pushing it from my mind for now, I looked around the bar again. Anna wasn’t back. Galahad sighed when I met his gaze and stood.

“Let’s go find her,” he said, clapping a hand on my shoulder as I rose. Together, we wove through the crowd and out of the building. I stopped on the sidewalk and closed my eyes. I could sense Galahad next to me, his connection to me through the Circle strong and tangible. Even from a distance, I could feel Arthur. I couldn’t feel Lancelot or Morgana, but hadn’t for some time. That meant they were too far physically.

Anna’s connection… That was trickier, for some unknown fucking reason. I fought to relax. Being tense only got in the way, strangled my magic. Finding her took all of my concentration, and it shouldn’t. Not with her magic. It had drawn me to her from the beginning, before all the business with the Circle and destinies. I couldn’t figure out why it took so much to find her, but that was a question for another time.

Sweat rolled down my temples as I tried to focus. I felt Galahad’s hand on my upper arm, and I finally, finally grasped the weak spark that was Anna. She was just around the fucking corner, and I could barely feel her. Anger rushed through me as I hurried in her direction. She shouldn’t be hidden from me, not like this.

Entering the alley, I stumbled to a halt at the sight before me. The anger of a moment ago was nothing, it was fleeting, compared to the rage that consumed me and ignited my power. I didn’t even think as I pushed forward, physically and magically. The man who dared pin my Annwyl to the ground and lay his hands on her flew through the air. I was already on my knees at her side when the sickening thud of his body against the wall echoed around us.

Anna held her arm close to her chest and tried to sit up, her eyes blinking owlishly at me. Her mouth worked as if she was trying to speak but all that escaped was a pained whimper.

“Shhh, it’s all right. You’re safe now, Annwyl, you’re safe…”


AVAILABLE NOW
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NEW RELEASE – Albion’s Circle: In My Veins

I am SO excited! I’ve been looking forward to today for a long time. The second book in Albion’s Circle is now available at Amazon and Smashwords. *happy dance*

Links are below, along with a peek into In My Veins. 🙂

IN MY VEINS

AVAILABLE NOW
Amazon • Smashwords

Anna is his. Merlin has failed. The Circle is broken. After being defeated in every lifetime, Mordred believes he has finally won.

Even though Anna has little hope of gaining Merlin’s forgiveness for believing Mordred over him and the rest of the Circle, she isn’t giving up and vows to set things right. When an offer of helps comes from an unlikely ally, Anna must trust her instincts—the very thing that got her into this mess in the first place.

Because more than just her survival hangs in the balance. Mordred took her for a reason. Anna is the key. The key to completing the Circle. The key to preventing unthinkable death and destruction at Mordred’s hand. The key to destroy the heart of a wizard whose love has followed her through the ages.

But Mordred has forgotten exactly what he is up against.
Arthur and his Knights.
The most powerful Magical to ever walk the Earth.
And a love a thousand years in the making.


-EXCERPT-

~Morgana~

“He’s so cold.”

Galahad’s voice, hardly a whisper, made my heart race. My hands shook on the wheel as I raced along the roads to get back to the house. Back to Merlin. The spell on Will was a strong one, and I recognized Mordred’s magic when I felt it. The son of a bitch had personally taken Will down.

“He’s going to be okay,” I said firmly. “Mordred isn’t stupid. Killing Will doesn’t make sense. Anna would never forgive that, and Mordred wants her on his side.”

While I believed that, I also knew the longer Will was under the spell, the harder it would be to break it. And his magic… I could barely feel it. I glanced over, not liking how pale the other Magical was.

Galahad sat sideways in his seat, cradling the unconscious man closely. He stared down intently as if worried Will would fade away if he took his eyes off him for even a second. There was more there than just attraction, like I’d originally thought. Galahad clearly had deeper feelings for Will.

“Please, please, please…”

I don’t think he even realized he was whispering the word over and over again. Relief swept through me as I turned onto the long drive that led to the house. Almost there.

Before I even stopped the truck, Arthur and his knights rushed out of the house to meet us. I’d called my brother as soon as we’d left Anna’s apartment building, and they’d obviously been keeping an eye out. Arthur yanked open the passenger side as I parked. He helped Galahad pull Will out of the vehicle.

I left them to it and ran ahead of them into the house. Taking the stairs two at a time, I hurried up to Merlin’s room. I felt the seal and cursed. Arthur would have tried to get through, I knew that. Merlin must have blocked out sound, as well, because if he knew what was going on, he wouldn’t still be locked up in there.

Pressing my hands flat against the door, I closed my eyes and felt along the edges of the seal. If I could weaken it, unravel the strands of magic woven together just a little bit, he’d be able to hear me, feel Mordred’s spell wrapped around Will downstairs. Problem was, Merlin’s magic was fucking amazing. He’d probably thrown this seal up without a second thought, just wanting to be alone, and it was stronger than anything I could construct with planning and meticulous care.

And taking it apart wasn’t any easier. I knew that from lives past when I had other, more sinister reasons to undo Merlin’s work. Although, I wasn’t overly worried about being found out this time around; it was my goal, after all. I focused all of my attention on the threads, pulling and teasing them away from the whole. Time slipped away from me, meant nothing as I concentrated on what I had to do.

“Merlin, “ I murmured as my muscles began to quiver. My magic, exhausted, wanted to creep back into my body. “Come on, come on, come on.”

The door flew open, and I stumbled forward, hands slamming into Merlin’s chest. He caught me before I slid to the floor.

“What the fuck, Morgana!” he snapped. “I don’t want—”

He stiffened, and his magic exploded, shaking the house around us. I grabbed hold of his shoulders and tried to get him to look at me. He felt it, Mordred’s spell.

“It’s Will,” I said quickly. “Mordred got to him, and I don’t know how to break it. I need your help.”

The tremors didn’t stop, but increased exponentially. Power snapped in the air, shimmered along his skin until he radiated with it. Things crashed to the floor behind him, and cracks snaked along the walls as the house failed to withstand the battering. I heard the others shouting below us.

Merlin!”


 

AVAILABLE NOW
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COVER REVEAL – Albion’s Circle: In My Veins

Albion’s Circle: In My Vein
by Jessica Jarman
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Tour Organizer: N K Author Services

IN MY VEINS

Anna is his. Merlin has failed. The Circle is broken. After being defeated in every lifetime, Mordred believes he has finally won.

Even though Anna has little hope of gaining Merlin’s forgiveness for believing Mordred over him and the rest of the Circle, she isn’t giving up and vows to set things right. When an offer of helps comes from an unlikely ally, Anna must trust her instincts – the very thing that got her into this mess in the first place.

Because more than just her survival hangs in the balance. Mordred took her for a reason. Anna is the key. The key to completing the Circle. The key to preventing unthinkable death and destruction at Mordred’s hand. The key to destory the heart of a wizard whose love has followed her through the ages.

But Mordred has forgotten exactly what he is up against.
Arthur and his Knights.
The most powerful Magical to ever walk the Earth.
And a love a thousand years in the making.

JESSICA JARMAN

Jessica Jarman is an author, blogger, and rather obsessive fangirl. having grown up in Upper Michigan and currently living in Minnesota, she is a Midwestern girl through and through. And wouldn’t have it any other way.

When she’s not working ot get words on the page, Jessica passes the time with her amazing husband and four children, attempting to be crafty (and failing miserably), squeeing uncontrollably over her favorite shows or curling up with a good book.

Website
Blog
Twitter – @jessjarman
Facebook
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An Excerpt from The Deepest Cut

“The Deepest Cut” is my story in If Ever Ever I Would Leave You. It’s the first in my series Albion’s Circle
 
And you should totally check out excepts from the other stories in the collection.  “A Choice Fit For a Queen” by Abagail Barnette and “Surfacing” by Bronwyn Green.
 
Here is the blurb: 
 
For nineteen years, Anna has been plagued by dreams of lives lived only in legend. Finally free from the family that believed her hopeless and worthless, she’s ready to start her life over—alone. 

When Anna meets an enigmatic stranger claiming to be the legendary wizard Merlin, she is forced to question the very reality she’s struggled to accept. With the mythic figures from her dreams intruding on her waking life, Anna learns that she’s been reborn to fight an ancient evil alongside King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. 

Caught in an ages old conflict, Anna is the key to stopping a dark magic that will destroy the world—and Merlin wants to make sure that this time, Anna isn’t alone. 
 
And the excerpt…
 
Fire raced along every inch of my body, just under the skin. Sadly, it wasn’t a new feeling. And, after last night, I’d expected it. What I hadn’t expected was the shakiness and almost constant nausea plaguing me all damned day. It hadn’t been this bad in… I didn’t actually remember it ever being this bad. Not like this.

Usually, I could keep it controlled. If I kept busy and focused on what I needed to do through the day, I was fine. It had always been the nights that gave me problems, but I’d found ways to deal with that, too.

I gripped the counter in front of me as my vision blurred. Shutting my eyes, I tried to concentrate on my breathing. In and out. In and out. I bit back a whimper as faces flashed through my mind. One more than the others. No, no, no. I couldn’t deal with him in my head, not now. I bit my lip hard, focused on the pain. Not ever.

A weight settled on my shoulder, and I opened my eyes.

“Anna? You all right?”


I forced my lips to curve into a smile. Henry, the only other employee in the small

café today, looked concerned.

“I’m fine,” I assured him.


“You’re pale as hell,” he murmured, running his hand down my back. “It’s dead in

here; why don’t you take a break?”

I glanced down at my watch. It was just after seven. “There’s less than an hour ‘til

close,” I protested. “I’m fine.”

Of course my body decided that was the perfect time to show just how fine I wasn’t.

A tremor worked its way from my head to feet, and I had to cover my mouth as the late lunch I’d forced myself to eat threatened to reappear. My eyes stung as they filled with tears.

Henry shook his head. “Nope. Go take a break, and get some water in you. Take your time. If I need you, I’ll holler.” When I hesitated, he used his hand on the small of
my back and pushed me toward the door marked “Employees Only”.

I managed to walk through the tiny kitchen to the break room. Hands trembling, I

grabbed my purse from my locker and stumbled to the restroom. It took three tries to turn the lock, and with a sob, I leaned against the heavy door. Clutching my bag to my chest, I slid down until my ass hit the cold floor.

I don’t know how long I sat there, shaking, trying to pull myself together. And failing miserably. Behind my closed lids, images flipped rapidly, almost too fast to distinguish one from another. Almost. But they were as familiar to me as my own reflection. I knew each and every one. Not just faces this time—though, they were there —but places, buildings, events all clouded my mind, tried to burrow in and refused to be shoved aside. It was fierce and brutal, as if these imaginings were fighting back for all times I’d tried to bury them or cut them out of my life.

It didn’t make sense. I shook my head and moaned as the movement sent a wave of pain through my body. God, why was this happening to me? Why was it getting worse? I knew what my mother would say. I’d stopped taking all the medications she and her army of doctors shoved at me my entire life. Well, I’d stopped years ago, so that wasn’t the reason. And those medications… I’d rather be dead than take them again. I felt dead when I was under their influence. That was the reason I’d stopped. I wanted to feel, to live, and they made that impossible. So, as soon as I’d left home, I threw out the pills and never looked back. Things had gotten bad then, but I learned how to deal with it and function normally—without killing everything that made me me.

At first, on my own, I did a lot of stupid things. Stupid, stupid things. All I wanted to do was feel—so I partied hard, drank more than my fair share, and took just about every drug I came across. Not my finest moments. I got over that real quick. Waking up every morning in a different bed with a different person, with no idea what I’d done… Not how I wanted to go through life.

After a time, I realized some sleeping pills to help me get a solid night’s sleep—a solid, dreamless night’s sleep—was all I really needed.

Until now apparently.

I fumbled with the zipper on my purse and started digging through the contents. My fingers closed around a bottle, and I looked at it resting in my palm. That was the
problem. The pills weren’t working. Fucking Nate. I threw the unlabeled bottle back into the bag as anger joined the constant pain.

Nate was who I got the sleeping pills from. It was easier than trying to get a doctor to prescribe them—they always wanted to talk about why I wasn’t sleeping, and the hell if I was going there with anyone—and cheaper than paying for office visits and all that shit.
My breathing hitched as I felt solid steel at the bottom of my bag. I pulled out the pocketknife with trembling fingers.

The pills I’d gotten from Nate the other night were bad. They had to be. Because the alternative—that I was as crazy as my mother thought I was—couldn’t be. Could it? I wasn’t crazy. I pulled the blade of the knife open and fought against the bile surging up my throat.

I wasn’t crazy. Hitching up my skirt, I stared at my thighs, and the pale thin marks I kept hidden from the world. My vision blurred until I couldn’t see clearly, and I was biting back sob after sob. I couldn’t let Henry hear me. I needed to get control, so I could deal with Nate and his fucking shit-batch of pills.

I wasn’t crazy. I pressed the blade against my inner thigh. I still couldn’t see, but that was okay. I knew just how hard to push, how to drag the sharp tool slowly along my skin. My lids fluttered shut, and my breathing evened out as I felt the initial prick then the soothing sting.

I wasn’t crazy. I just needed to focus. And this…this brought me focus. This made things clear. I opened my eyes and watched crimson well up in thin lines, getting thicker and thicker until it began sliding down, down, down. A few beads dripped onto the floor, and in that moment, everything quieted inside me.

Five. It’d only taken five stripes to come back together again this time. Steadily, I rose to my feet and walked to the sink. I cleaned the knife, dried it and put it back in my purse. Avoiding the mirror—I knew I looked like shit, I didn’t need to see it—I lifted a booted foot to rest on the bar beside the toilet. As I cleaned my leg, blood soaked into the rough paper towels, and the drag against the cuts calmed me further. They wouldn’t stop bleeding so I pulled some Band-Aids from my bag and covered them, with hands that no longer shook.

When I had both legs beneath me again, I splashed cool water on my face and took a
few deep breaths.

“I’m not crazy,” I whispered. “I’m fine.”
 

And you should totally check out excepts from the other stories in the collection.  
“A Choice Fit For a Queen” by Abagail Barnette
 “Surfacing” by Bronwyn Green.
If Ever I Would Leave You is available in all ebook formats
 

If Ever I Would Leave You NOW AVAILABLE!!!!!

If Ever I Would Leave You: Arthurian Stories for a New Generation is NOW AVAILABLE
 
I am beyond excited about this. Not only did I get to write a story based on Arthurian legend – and you all know just how much I love that! – but I got to do it with two of my favorite people in the world! 
 
Surfacing
Bronwyn Green
 
A year after Tabby Nolan’s sister vanished from the Lake Michigan shore with her boyfriend, Liam, Tabby visits the spot where the two were last seen– and finds herself pulled into the crumbling world of Avalon.
 
Since his disappearance, Liam has been trapped in the mythical land, with no link to the world he knew. Now, their shared memories of Tabby’s missing sister are all they can cling to as Avalon dies around them.
 
But Tabby doesn’t want to be a replacement for her sister, and her growing attachment to Liam feels like a betrayal. As Avalon fades around them, Liam and Tabby must rely on each other– or be lost with the ancient kingdom forever.
 
Albion’s Circle: The Deepest Cut
Jessica Jarman
 
For nineteen years, Anna has been plagued by dreams of lives lived only in legend. Finally free from the family that believed her hopeless and worthless, she’s ready to start her life over—alone.
 
When Anna meets an enigmatic stranger claiming to be the legendary wizard Merlin, she is forced to question the very reality she’s struggled to accept. With the mythic figures from her dreams intruding on her waking life, Anna learns that she’s been reborn to fight an ancient evil alongside King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
 
Caught in an ages old conflict, Anna is the key to stopping a dark magic that will destroy the world—and Merlin wants to make sure that this time, Anna isn’t alone.
A Choice Fit For A Queen
Jenny Trout writing as Abigail Barnette
 
For perpetual overachiever Madison Lane, a summer studying Arthurian mythology in the Welsh countryside with professor Thomas Evans is a dream come true, and the adventure of a lifetime.
 
Of course, the enormous crush Madison developed on the professor after a semester of his lectures at U of M has absolutely nothing to do with her desire to learn more about the enduring legend of Camelot. At least, that’s what she’s telling her parents.
 
When Madison meets local hottie Rhys Crewe, sparks fly, throwing her plans for a wild fling with Professor Evans completely out of whack—as do her unexpectedly complicated feelings for Thomas. With tales of Arthur and Lancelot haunting her every waking moment, Madison has to make the most difficult choice of her life.