Saturday, March 09, 2013

Rogues Angels Presents: A St. Patrick's Day Tale

Happy St. Patty's Day to all. Check out the angels anthology. 

Star Crossed

Star Crossed
Christine Young

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Ireland in 1817, when tensions are high between Protestants and Catholics and faey people guide the fate of villagers. A lovely Catholic lass stumbles upon the weakly ritual fisticuffing between Irish lads. She falls into the lap of a handsome young Protestant. Family ties, grudges, and two conniving faeries threaten their budding love. But the faeries outsmart themselves when they hijack a time machine that has mysteriously appeared in their forest.


Casey pushed on the green grass, trying to unwind herself from the man beneath her, but fell again. All right, Casey lass, you're in a heap of trouble right now with no way out. You are seeing the earth whirl and tumble around and you're on top of a brute of a man--a Protestant.

"All right, lads, we'll meet here next Sunday, same place, same time," her brother's voice filtered through the air as if it floated in the fog that surrounded Casey.

Once again she pushed on the damp grass and didn't seem to make headway, her arms feeling as if they'd changed to soggy twine. Don't you abandon me, Patrick O'Connell. You know I have the Devil's own luck. If you leave me here, I'll never forgive you.

"What about Casey?" one of her brother's friend asked. "She looks a little worse for the encounter."

"Do you think we should leave her here--with Kelly?"

"He's a right stand-up guy. Of course you can leave her here. We'll see her home," a Shaunasey said.

"Well, Kelly is a fine bloke. He won't hurt her. In fact with my feisty lil' sister involved, I fear for him--not her," Patrick said laughing. "She'll do as she pleases. She always does. How can I control her when father cannot? She does not need a second father." He shrugged his shoulder and looked behind him at his little sister as he strolled down the hill.

"She's hurt," another friend called after Patrick. "What kind of brother are you?"

"One who is tired of looking after an accident prone little lass. She has to take responsibility for herself sometime, does she not?"

"She is that," one commented. "You rescue her night and day."

~ * ~

"You should have blessed her with a wee bit o'Irish coordination," Oran said dryly as he flew to a hovering position near the girl.

"And you should remember what our blessed mother told us, 'if you cannot say anythin' nice, don't say anything at all'." Moya rose above the flower petal, her wings buzzing with her anger toward her brother.

"I didn't say anything that wasn't the truth." Oran whistled out of tune for a moment. "We could kidnap them."

"And that is your solution to everything?" Moya pointed one finger at him and shook it. "Why, Oran, I believe you may fancy the lass for yourself. I will not have it. Go play your tricks on someone else's charge. She is mine to see to safety and long life. And don't be forgettin' the lad is yours to watch over."

"You best stem your anger, Moya. You're wings have turned golden," Oran said with a hearty chuckle.

~ * ~

"Let Kelly handle her," Casey's brother said with a light chuckle. "He lost and so he must deal with the object of that loss and assume the consequences. It's only fair."

"Hey!" Kelly said, "Don't leave me here with your sister. It will be hell to pay. She's a little girl. What will your father say?"

The others laughed. "Just don't take too long to decide what to do with her. Little girl or not, father will come after you with his pistol."

I just turned eighteen years old--little girl--how dare he…

"Bloody hell, Patrick. What are you thinking?" Kelly cried out.

"I'm thinking the Catholics won this fight. What are you thinking?" Patrick turned his back on the pair and whistled a jaunty tune as he strolled down the hill.

"Revenge will be sweet. Next Sunday…" Kelly shook his fist at the departing back of Casey's brother.

From what seemed like a great distance Casey heard the moan emanating from inside her battered and bruised body. She squished her eyes together, wishing her head didn't pound so fiercely, and the ground spin so wildly. "Who are you?" she whispered next to the man's chest while a soft spring breeze whispered against her heated face.

"Who am I?" the man chuckled. "Lass, you are the one who landed atop me. I should be inquiring into who you are? Only I know." His hands rested around her waist and squeezed as if he were testing--perhaps exploring--entirely inappropriate. Yet for some strange reason, Casey didn't mind the supposed to be unwanted attention. "And I don't think your brother should have left you here with the likes of me. I'm afraid I've landed myself in a dangerous predicament. And I'm thinkin' one that will be very hard to explain."

"Shame on you," Casey said. "You take liberties." The words stole her breath and she had to lean on Kelly once more in order to minimize the pounding of her head and the strange feelings emanating from where his hands were.

"I only want to remove you from--my--ah--person. And if I were taking liberties with you, lass, you'd be near swooning with passion."

"Ah, it seems you are a wee bit arrogant," she opened her eyes and gazed into the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. "The color of a summer sky," she whispered to him, still feeling woozy and not quite sure what he'd just told her--but thinking at the moment something besides the fall caused the earth to spin and the sky to tilt with a crazy, wild abandon.

"What is, lass?"

"Your eyes," she said, struggling against him and finally rolling to the side so she lay sprawled on the grass, staring into the sky she'd referred to a moment earlier and watching a white billowy cloud float past. "I'm not a little girl," she told him. "Don't ever call me that again."

"Then you want me to tell lies?" he asked with a lazy half-smile that stole Casey's heart and left her floundering. "I dinna think I can do that."

"It isn't a lie," she said, trying to sound indignant, yet frustrated beyond anything she'd ever felt before.

Title: Meadows of Gold
Author: Christie L. Kraemer
Genre: Fantasy
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Eugene, Oregon in the 20th century, amid a property feud between the local faeries and night elves. The conniving faeries from Olde Ireland try to stir up more mischief. However, a warrior gnome convinces the magic folk to control their own destiny.

A gentle breeze sighed, undulating the meadow grass lazily and whispering past the forlorn figure slumped on the tree trunk, hands clasped tightly in his lap. Thomas, a forest leprechaun, released a long melancholy breath between his cracked, dry lips. A single plump tear meandered down his stubbled cheek.
The sun sent bright shafts of light through the pine boughs and around the wooden pedestal upon which the morose figure resided. Ignoring the dancing beams, the leprechaun pulled a shuddered breath into his lungs and stared at a spot in front of the stump where a crumpled daisy chain necklace lay withering in the warmth of the afternoon. Another plump tear snaked down his unshaven face.
In the distance, a lone figure scuffed up the lane, which crossed in front of the tree stump. Thomas paid no heed to the approaching form, pulling a thin silver flask from inside his rumpled vest. He blindly opened the lid, placed the opened top to his lips and pulled a deep draught from the container. Refitting the cap to the top, he slipped the silver spirit holder back into his vest. His next shuddered breath was interrupted with a hiccup.
The figure on the road drew closer. Thomas raised his head and squinted his eyes. Was she coming back? He hiccupped and straightened up. Maybe she had been teasing him when she ran away and now she realized how much he cared for her. His eyes brightened and a smile began to touch his lips.
The figure came around the bend and toward him. The last he'd seen her, she was wearing a diaphanous, thin dress. Had she changed? The form nearing him was clad in leather breeches, a braided leather tunic, and knee-high, soft leather boots. A sword blade strapped to the figure's back flashed in the sunlight. Was Cary so angry she meant to cut him in little pieces? His heart began to pound in his chest and inside his mouth his tongue stuck to the roof.
The figure stopped two lengths from him and raised a hand to shade its eyes from the brightness of the day.
Thomas realized he was shaking. This was it…his life was over. He hung his head.
The voice was familiar but it didn't sound like Cary. If it wasn't her…

 St. Batzy and the Time Machine
Genene Valleau

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A modern day castle in western Oregon. An eccentric inventor is determined to reclaim his wayward time machine and save his beloved wife from her latest misadventure. If only they can travel safely past the black hole…


Horace Ainsworth patted the side of the giant red fire hydrant towering two stories above him then addressed the terrier mix dog staring at him curiously. "It's finished. Now don't you dig in my Maddie's roses any more or potty on the pansies."

Batzy stared at Horace's retreating back for a moment before he hiked his leg on the nearest flowering plant.

Then he turned his attention to the odd-looking structure the Big Human had erected. Not like any fire hydrant he'd ever sniffed. A canine would have to be the size of King Kong to give this thing a proper marking.

Though it did smell like the water that sprayed out of the hose when the human across the street yelled at him. Batzy grinned and lifted his leg, imagining he was returning the spray of the yelling human.

As he circled this mysterious structure, the smell of fresh paint and overturned earth drifted into his nostrils. It was bigger than the merry-go-round at the park where his human, Chloe, sometimes took him.

Wonder what's inside?

Batzy scratched at the side of the structure then trotted another few steps and scratched again. About halfway around he found an opening. Not tall enough for the Big Human, but just about perfect for his little girl, Chloe. Batzy darted inside and lifted his face to sample the aromas.

No scents of danger but much to explore. Like this box of dirt. Odd. Big humans usually didn't appreciate the joys of digging. Hadn't he just been told not to dig in the rose bushes? A sniff and a poke with his paw uncovered a bone. Fresh out of the package. Batzy looked around. What game was the Big Human playing?

"Batzy!" his little girl was calling him.

Batzy stepped out of the digging pit. Hmm. I smell peanut butter.

He put a front paw on a cabinet for balance and nosed a button. A bone-shaped treat fell into a bowl below. Also fresh out of a package. The Big Human was definitely up to something. Batzy gobbled it down quickly before looking around again.


Drat! He had to go. On his way out, Batzy stepped back into the digging box and snatched up the bone. Outside once again, he pushed the bone through the gap under the fence, and squeezed through after it.

He popped up on the other side with only a few more streaks of mud on the white of his belly and wagged his tail at Chloe. He'd go back to explore the Big Human's structure later.

~ * ~

Satisfied he had neutralized the threat to Maddie's rose bushes, Horace returned to the workshop in the basement of their castle-shaped home. In King Arthur's time, the sorcerer Merlin might have worked his magic in similar surroundings. Had Merlin simply been a scientist with an observing eye and a searching mind?

That's how Horace saw himself: open to possibilities and what others might consider impossibilities. He loved to explore "what if" and took delight in disproving "facts." Edison did it with the light bulb. The Wright brothers did it with airplanes. Horace continued that tradition with a flying car and a robot that served dinner, as well as a play structure made out of a water tower and painted like a giant fire hydrant for the dog next door. After all, who said inventions had to be serious?

Horace scanned the stone walls lined with tables and shelves stacked with high-tech inventions and mechanical gadgets in various stages of development. What should he work on next?

He nearly set aside the recipe card propped on the computer keyboard, except he hadn't seen the word "urgent" on a recipe before. Horace realized it was a phone message from his cousin, Clement. "Will arrive tomorrow with submarine."

Horace scratched his chin. What would his space engineer relative be doing with a submarine?

Suddenly, the alarm for the garages began wailing. A glance at the security monitor showed a truck pulling a trailer painted in vivid red and orange careening around the castle had clipped the gutter downspout and set off the alarm.

A net dropped over the trailer, tangling in a wheel and jerking it sideways. Unfortunately, the truck continued its forward momentum until it also lurched to a stop, now sitting almost side by side with the trailer.

If Horace didn't know his wife was safely painting in her studio, he would have sworn she was driving the truck.

He hurried out of his workshop to be sure both truck and driver were okay.

A tall, lanky man wearing a white shirt and black slacks jumped down from the driver's seat as the truck shuddered to a stop, grinning at Horace. "Hi, Cuz."

A frown creased Horace's forehead as he stared at the argyle suspenders that kept Clement Ainsworth's slacks pulled up into a permanent wedgie. The same suspenders Clement bragged had garnered him a date with the prettiest sorority girl at college some thirty-odd years ago. "But your message said you'd be here tomorrow."

Clement waved away Horace's confusion. "I called yesterday. You need a new secretary."

"My nephew took the message--"

"Like I said, you need a new secretary."

Horace made a mental note to come up with a more efficient way to deliver messages. "Why are you here? This doesn't look like a submarine."

Clement frowned. "Paperwork hold-up. But we can start work without it."

"Work on what?"

After a suspicious look around, Clement dropped his voice to a whisper. "A probe to explore black holes."

Horace also looked around, seeing nothing of danger except his cousin's lack of driving skills. "You mean black holes in space caused by stars burning out?"

"Well, that's the generally accepted theory."

"And do you have a probe in the trailer?"

"Nah. This is a mobile fabrication laboratory." Clement walked to the back of the trailer, stepping over the tangled netting that had captured one of the wheels. "This will make us a working prototype of the probe."

Horace stepped inside the trailer behind his cousin. "What is all this?"

"Laser cutter, CNC machine tools, robotic water jet, a rapid prototyping device--just to name a few. All run by cutting edge computer software."

Horace's hands tingled with the desire to pry open the metal casings on the equipment and see how the machines really worked. "Don't you make anything by hand?"

"You're still living in the dark ages, Horace." Clement laughed again. "No one makes things manually anymore."

Horace squared his shoulders, determined not to let his older, city slicker cousin make him feel inferior the way he had in college. "I do."

Clement's expression turned immediately apologetic, something Horace had rarely seen. "That's why I need you."

With a deep breath and a frown, Clement looked Horace squarely in the eye. "You're the detail man. You make visions a reality. Others know the theories, but you know how to make them work."

"Um...right." Horace was still a bit off balance and definitely wary of his cousin's change in attitude. For the first time Horace could recall, Clement seemed to appreciate his skills rather than denigrating them. Surely Horace could give the man a chance to explain--and examine these intriguing machines--before Maddie threw Clement off their property. "Tell me what you have in mind."

"Saving the world."

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