When I wrote book one, Cornerstone Deep, I wasn’t really sure—and I’m being embarrassingly honest here—what genre it would actually fall under. I knew it was Romance, of course. There’s no doubt about that. Cole’s love for Mianna and his longing to find his soul mate again couldn’t get more romantic, and the whole plot hinged on that. But, my characters have magical abilities; Cole’s skill with enchantments and telepathy, James’s skill with manipulating the elements, and Vincents…blowing things up…er, talent. The setting is other worldly. Reincarnation exists, and it’s common for those from the gifted central plane, Meridian, to find their soul mates in the next life and continue their souls’ progression together. With all this in my book, I wasn’t sure if it fell under the sub-genre Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Paranormal.
As I researched, at first I wasn’t getting much help from my trusty friend, Google. I finally broke it down and asked, “What is sub-genre…” for each. Then I found it. Someone who was asking the same question I was. And she got answers from some top Paranormal Romance authors.
New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Sizemore says this, “For publishing purposes Paranormal is a blanket term that covers an entire range of not necessarily related types of stories. Futuristic and SF romance and all sorts of fantasy romance, -- time travel, angels, devils, fairies, vampires, reincarnation, psychics, etc -- are published under the label of paranormal. Me, I call it ‘The Weird Stuff’ with pride, and get a great kick out of reading and writing it.”
So there I was. Happily defined in the Paranormal Romance genre. AKA, “The weird stuff.” And it continues in book two, Cornerstone Deep Echoes. Mianna’s return heals Cole’s soul, and he promises to follow her for the rest of his existence. But the past isn’t what he believed. The fight for her has only begun.
Unexpected knowledge surfaces and when Lord Dressen learns of it, his obsession grows. His search for Mianna spanned six life times and he’s not about to give up now. The courts stand behind him. Power pulses through his veins. Determination peeks and not even Cole Shilo can stop him. He will win his prize.
Struggling to stay ahead, Cole’s anger explodes. Nothing is sacred when it comes to keeping his love—not even covenants made with gods. His words to Mianna, “Every breath you take is a song to my soul,” couldn’t have been more sincere. But, through all his efforts, lofty or damned, the truth remains. Will echoes of another life cause him to fail?
Cornerstone Deep Echoes
Exhaustion racked Cole’s body. He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath to cleanse his lungs. The harm he’d caused Anna pulsed through his fatigued mind in fits of memory—distorted flashes that reminded him of the deceit, broken covenants, and ethereal anger. Pressing his palms onto his brow, his head sank deeper into the pillow. Did his actions really cost her soul six life times?
He dragged a hand down his face and blew air through his pursed lips. He’d bound her soul and even with his formidable skill with spells, he was unable to undo his wrong. Whatever cost Arylin saw fit to impose, he was grateful for the intervention. Only the Goddess of Love, with her boundless benevolence, would have found a way for them to continue their soul’s progression.
The God of Life’s fury rang in his ears as scenes of the night before haunted him. “You have defiled that which is sacred. No Meridian shall cause my child’s death without promise of rebirth. Griffin, I demand justice!”
His gaze returned to his love at his side and he listened to the sweet sound of her steady breathing. Strands of sleep-messed hair fluttered along the pillow each time she exhaled. Griffin, as God of Conformance, had every right to end him when Taravaughn called for justice. Surely, that was the desired punishment. To sentence him to serve her for the rest of her natural life only echoed Cole’s heart’s intent from the start.
As the morning sun’s light inched up the comforter’s patchwork pattern, he hitched his knee around her legs, forming his body to hers. For Arylin to return Anna’s soul to a previous life blessed them both beyond his dreams. It freed the binding and... He buried his face in her long waves and the scent of roses filled him. He had Mianna back.
“Mianna.” His whisper warmed his lips as it pooled against her neck.
She stirred and he pressed a kiss to her shoulder. “Cole.” Her sleepy eyes fluttered open but closed as if her lids were too heavy. “Have you been awake long?”
He smiled as the sound of her voice dispelled his mind’s troubles. “A while. How are you feeling?”
Her hand lifted and she brushed his long hair with her fingers before resting it at her side. “So tired. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired.” Her soft voice turned to a mumble. “You couldn’t have given me a better wedding gift but,” she drew a deep breath, “what did it do to me? What does Unsigh mean?”
Cole blinked to the side. She doesn’t know what Unsigh means? He lifted his head to peer at her cherubic face. Did she say wedding gift? Realization flushed his senses. Arylin returned her memory to our wedding night. We truly are starting our life together over.
He pulled the comforter up to her chin and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Unsigh means one heart, my love. It joins our passion when you create the symbol and utter the spell. It’s an enchantment only you can call on.”
“Oh,” she breathed. “It’s amazing…really. It’s just…I’m so…” As she drifted back into sleep, Cole’s brow furrowed. Mianna’s spell had never caused her fatigue, not even when her soul called upon it in Anna’s lifetime.
A spray of sun’s rays pitched across his face as they hit the wide dresser mirror. With a scowl, he squinted at the glare and twitched his hand at the window. The crepe sheers whipped closed followed by a thick swish from the burgundy drapes. The room plunged into darkness. As his eyes adjusted, dim light from the vanity area competed with the beams’ peek through the gaps around the window coverings. He sighed and sat up, resting his arm on his knee.
Perhaps it was everything she’d been through and she just needed rest. She’d experienced more trauma in the last week than he had in the last twenty-five hundred years. Her life as Anna had hardly been easy—abandonment, loss, and then manipulated by a man whose attention she’d refused. He raked a hand over his scalp. Then to nearly lose her life while they tried to unbind her soul, only to be saved by grace at the price of six life times’ progression…
Cole gazed over at the petite form beside him. He shook his head and brushed the dark hair from her face. How could Anna’s features be so similar to Mianna’s? The gentle slope of her nose, the curve of her bowtie lips. He tilted his head and gently stroked her cheek with his finger. Or was it the love he held in his heart that colored his view? A smile blossomed from his lips and he leaned to her, touching his brow to hers. His black hair fell to the pillow like a sheet of satin, deepening the shadows. No matter the reason. He had her back. And he vowed to never lose her again.
~ * ~
A satisfied grin tugged at Lord Dressen’s lips as he looked out over the gathered noblemen. Low voices filled the stately hall. Marble bracing columns led way to the arched beams in the domed ceiling. Sunbeams poured through the twelve-foot windows, filling the space with a yellow haze. The gold that framed the life-sized portraits along the walls appeared to glow, accenting their subjects.
The turn-out was as hoped. He had the majority of the Grand Marshals’ court in attendance and every member seemed dedicated to support him. His heavy brow furrowed and he lifted his chin. Cole Shilo, you’ll pay for taking Anna from me.
The dull rumble of conversation subsided as he stepped to Officiator’s stand and took his chair at the center of the table. He nodded to the two uniformed gentlemen who stood guard at the entrance and they stepped out, closing the doors behind them.
Lord Carrington tugged at his vest as he strode up the center aisle. A more trusted friend he’d never had. The tall man moved with trained temperance. An admirable trait; grace under pressure. Taking his place at Dressen’s side, he leaned to him with a hushed voice. “Ninety-nine are in attendance. Lord Standish’s men are the only ones not to sign in.”
“We can do without them. What are twenty-two votes against ninety-nine?”
Carrington nodded and ran a hand along his tailored beard. “One concern I feel I must voice, Kyle.” He looked at his friend and his brown eyes twitched. “Standish may not hold the court’s majority, but he’s a strong believer in tradition. The men here control a vote, but many of their wives and family are faithful to the Gods, including my own. They practice religious rites and that encompasses the Shilos as Sentinels. If this isn’t handled with care it could become nasty.”
Dressen sighed and he glanced at the portraits that lined the room. Every Grand Marshal that had held a senior position was portrayed. His gaze gravitated to the depiction of Sylis Shilo at the center of the hall. The founder seemed to watch his every move—his coal hair, onyx eyes, and square features set firm. Dressen sneered. A wizard surrounded by noblemen.
“Sentinels.” He scoffed. “They’re aliens. Nothing more. And their own laws protect us from their dimension’s powers. What superior race agrees to such an arrangement? They’re weak. Their kind has no place on Terra.”
“Never-the-less, the faithful could rise up to protect them.” Carrington looked down at his cufflink as he straightened the gold piece. “And I’ll be frank. Even though I see nothing wrong with how you achieved your goal with the girl, many will see it otherwise. Having the wizards bend her will as a servant was one thing, but calling for total compliance pushed the agreement’s intention.”
Dressen scowled. “The Wizards of Shilo Manor accepted my bid as any other. She broke the law and she was harvested. With the new curfew in play, she was no different from the homeless.” He softened his voice. “It was the only way to get her past the idea that my standing separated us. Once she joined the household, she admitted she wanted to be with me all along. She told me she loved me. Always had. She was happy.”
He looked at his comrade and his narrow features leered. “Cole Shilo’s desire to have her took her from me.” He pointed a finger to accentuate his view. “I know he has her up at that manor.”
Lord Carrington cocked his head. “We have no jurisdiction within the walls of the Sentinel’s home.”
“You just deal with the charges.”
“The only real proof we have is the vision you shared from that night she disappeared, Kyle. And that’s another issue. You were only able to share it by way of the magical means Cole Shilo gifted you.” His friend quirked his cheek. “There’s talk of a loss of integrity at the expense of…”
“A thief?” A growl rumbled in Dressen’s throat as his blood seethed.
“A Sentinel, Kyle. You have to view this from these men’s perspective. I know you’re not religious, but religion is going to play a large part in what they decide.”
“Then use their beliefs against them. Look into the covenants the wizards have made. Their long lives will show something. In two thousand years, no man can live without error.”
Carrington ran a finger under his collar as if it suddenly became too small. “I’ll make the assignment. But how do you expect to get to the girl if she’s up there?”
A crooked smile crept its way to Dressen’s lips. “I’ll find a way. You just start by calling them in for questioning and I’ll do the rest.”
I’d love to have you connect with me. Here’s where you can find me:
Author site: http://CharleneAWilson.com
You can get your own copies of Cornerstone Deep and Cornerstone Deep Echoes at Class Act Books and other fine online bookstores.
Be sure to follow my virtual book tour. I’m giving away lots of great prizes along the way to the grand prize, including ebooks and signed paperbacks of both books, gift cards from Bath and Body Works online and Amazon.com, and scented candles. Details are posted at ShiloManor.com, on my Facebook Fan Page, and on my blog, Charlene Blogs.
See you around the sphere!