Please join me in welcoming Mickie B. Ashling to my blog today. Mickie has graciously provided us with an exclusive excerpt to her wonderful new fantasy novel!
Prince Colin of Sendorra would have been the spare instead of the heir if fate hadn’t intervened. Like his father and forefathers, Colin is expected to marry and father a child or his principality reverts to Spain at the time of his death. Filling the royal nursery with healthy babies seems easy enough until Princess Charlotte—his childhood friend and intended bride—breaks off their engagement.
Nobel Prize winner—and powerful gray witch—Alain de Gris isn’t looking for love. Science and research have taken center stage for years until he walks into a club and lays eyes on Colin, thirteen years his junior.
Bisexual by nature, Colin seeks to avoid another engagement repeat by shying away from a same-sex relationship. There are no acceptable alternatives to provide legitimate offspring if he follows his heart.
But Colin can’t stay away from Alain and the witch finds him irresistible. Ignoring the absolutes isn’t easy when a legacy is in jeopardy. And while magic may offer a solution, it could also create more problems.
A Tangled Legacy
Mickie B. Ashling © 2018
All Rights Reserved
I slipped through a break in the eight-foot hedge that separated my granny’s rose garden from our garage. It was the same gap I used whenever I snuck out of the palace. Familiar with the prickly branches, I knew how to get through without a tear or a scratch. My bodyguards would be frantic the minute they realized I was missing, but the chance to sample nightlife as an ordinary man instead of a prince was too tempting.
Saddled at birth by a title I didn’t deserve, I’d spent all my life trying to convince everyone, myself included, that I had a right to exist. It wasn’t my fault that my twin, older by five minutes and thus the legitimate heir apparent, had been stillborn. Survivor’s guilt weighed heavily on my psyche, although it was pure chance that he died and I didn’t.
More than likely, the problem had lain with my method of conception. That story was glorified in the annals of our nation’s history. Male pregnancy had been risky from the word go, and no one knew this better than the man who gave me life, my father’s consort, Errol, the Duke of Maitland. He was a commoner who’d received the title after he married my other father, Prince Sebastian, who was heir apparent at the time. They’d been delighted to welcome me into the world, but it had been bittersweet after they were informed that my brother hadn’t made it.
Nonetheless, I was loved and pampered from the moment I first opened my eyes. Everyone doted on me, and I had a wonderful, albeit lonely, childhood. Once in a rare while, someone heartless would point out that I was the spare who’d usurped his brother’s title, but the incidents were few and far enough apart to be ignored.
Of course, no one bothered to ask me how I felt about having two dads and no mother. Not that they were bad parents—far better than most, or so I’d been told—and my granny, the Dowager Princess Alexandra, and her ladies-in-waiting provided all the feminine influence I could possibly need, but that didn’t stop me from wondering if I’d be a different person had I been created conventionally.
As things stood, I was determined to cram as many life experiences as possible before assuming the throne. Hopefully, my father, the current ruler, would live well into his seventies so I could achieve my goals. Since my twin was watching me from somewhere beyond these earthly boundaries, I wanted him to take comfort knowing I was doing a fine job with the role I’d unintentionally usurped.
My red Beemer purred to life, and I inched my way out of the garage, hoping no one would hear the engine. Most of the staff had already gone for the day. It was late, way past dinner, and the odds of being stopped were slim. Thankfully, my exit was uneventful.
I drove slowly until I hit the open road and gassed the engine when the palace faded from view. Dancing was on my mind, and the songs blaring from my radio helped to put me in the right mood. Since I had succeeded in a clean getaway, I decided on something different tonight. There was a new club in town—one that catered to a sexually fluid crowd—and this would be the perfect opportunity to check it out.
My interest in exploring my gay side wasn’t something new. I’d been attracted to both sexes growing up but had chosen my childhood friend, Princess Charlotte of Navarre, for my future bride. My fathers had been delighted, but they warned me things might change. A first crush seldom worked out, they’d cautioned, but I was determined to make it work, and thus avoid the complications that might arise from a same-sex union. Rather than risk another man’s life, or that of my unborn child, I would go the conventional route and marry a woman. Charlotte was the perfect choice, until she wasn’t.
My best friend, the sweet girl who’d promised to be my forever love, no longer held my interest, nor I hers. Our recent breakup—remarkably amicable thanks to multiple shots of vodka—signaled the end of childhood dreams and aspirations. And now, I was single again, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Until I turned twenty-one. Then the invisible clock would start ticking, and pressure to marry and begin a family would escalate.
At the club entrance, I scanned my surroundings. Across the mass of heaving bodies, someone caught my eye. The stranger’s dark hair was combed back, probably tied in a low tail, but I couldn’t say for sure. He was surrounded by people but ignored the crowd after our eyes locked. Even from a distance, the tingling in my groin led me to believe we’d be a good fit.
My royal status precluded random pairings as the inevitable fallout would be disastrous in more ways than I could count; however, the intensity in the brunet’s gaze was pushing me to break a few of my own rules tonight.
I was wearing a tight navy-blue sweater to complement my eyes, and a pair of skinny jeans. The sweater’s fabric stuck to me like a second skin, the perfect showcase for hard-earned shoulder and arm muscles. My blond hair was chin length, and I normally tucked it behind my ears. Even though I’d been told many times that it needed to be at least two inches shorter, I resisted because it was one of the few things in my regimented life I could control.
As next in line to the throne, I’d been brought up with a strict code of conduct, and I did my best to adhere to tradition. But with my formative years behind me, there was less room for mistakes. Eyes were on me twenty-four seven, and slipping through the proverbial cracks was always a thrill. My energy was on high alert tonight.
Although I had Prince Sebastian’s fair coloring, I was built more like my other father, Errol. My wide shoulders, narrow waist, and muscular thighs combined with my height—six two on bare feet—were imposing, especially in formal attire. My facial hair was more a heavy scruff than a beard, but it was a disguise I’d adopted after my sixteenth birthday. Some know-it-all mentioned I was too young to be in such a position of power. The beard seemed to have the desired effect, adding the necessary years and a certain flair that drew men and women in equal measure.
My stranger disappeared from the dance floor, and I headed toward the rear of the club. There was a room, where one could presumably get more intimate, and I glanced around, hoping to spot him. He seemed to have vanished. Irritated that he’d eluded me, I went back to the main area and ordered a beer and a shot. Killing time until someone else caught my eye, I ordered another one-and-one after inhaling the first, and one more after that. The sudden buzz didn’t do much to improve my mood. I’d been looking forward to a few hours of mindless fun, and sex had been high on my list.
I cleared my tab with cash to stay incognito and decided to make one more attempt to find the brunet. As soon as I entered the dark room, I felt the man’s presence. He was leaning against a wall, staring at me with purpose. We met halfway, and I was hypnotized by catlike eyes, an interesting mix of browns and greens. The chemistry between us was sending shock waves directly to my groin. I didn’t want to appear inexperienced, but I hadn’t been with a guy in a long time, and I was nervous. It took a boatload of willpower to keep up my cool façade.
Finally, the stranger broke the silence. “Are you alone?”
Circling my waist with strong arms, he dragged me against his body. We were the same height, and as our mouths got closer, so did our hips, but I avoided his kiss. I wasn’t ready for that yet and hoped he’d get the message. Without faltering, my hookup deftly moved to my neck and slowly licked his way up to the outer shell of my ear, whispering dirty nothings along the way. I could feel the barriers crumbling as my need took over, and the next time he tried to kiss me, I let him.
His lips were surprisingly soft, but stubble against stubble was a sensation I’d never felt before. Gradually, I responded to his questing tongue and let his strong hands clutch my ass cheeks and drag me against his growing erection. The jolt of desire made him reckless.
“Can we get out of here?” I asked hopefully.
“You bet,” my mystery man answered. He held my hand and led me toward the exit. A few seconds before we’d made a clean getaway, I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. David, the royal event planner, and his partner, Sam, stood in our way.
“What are you doing here?” David asked, ignoring the guy beside me.
I was surprised to see him and went on the defensive. “None of your damn business.”
David was visibly shocked by my combative attitude but stood his ground. “You’ll be sorry in the morning.”
“Take your hands off him,” the stranger snarled. “He’s with me.”
“Look,” David said, trying a more amicable approach. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with, and he’s obviously had too much to drink.”
“He gave me a clear message, and I’m acting on it.”
Sam and David sandwiched me and headed toward the exit. My hookup was probably fuming, but our connection had been broken, and I couldn’t find the energy to put up a fight. David got behind the wheel of the car, and Sam sat in the back seat beside me.
After a few mild protests, I slumped against Sam and drifted off…
☆ Exclusive Excerpt ☆
Hi all! Mickie B. Ashling here. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to stop by and share an exclusive excerpt of my newest release, A Tangled Legacy. The idea for this novel started after I finished the prequel, Once Upon A Mattress, which was included in the Once Upon A Rainbow Anthology, Volume I. It was my first foray into the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, and I had so much fun I decided to write a longer piece. Although A Tangled Legacy is technically a sequel, I consider it to be a spinoff, and it can definitely be read as a standalone. The good news for those who are interested in reading the short story is that my wonderful publisher has decided to include it as bonus content if you purchase the paperback of A Tangled Legacy.
Meet Alain’s mother, Isabelle Simon, high priestess of the Simon Coven.
Isabelle never took her eyes off me as the limo weaved through traffic. Instead of avoiding her gaze, I studied her with equal fascination. She was stunningly beautiful, hardly what I expected. I assumed she and Granny were contemporaries, but Isabelle appeared at least a decade younger. Maybe she was in her sixties—it was hard to tell in this age of Botox and fillers—but the woman sitting across from me didn’t strike me as the type who wasted time and money on plastic surgeons. She exuded the kind of confidence one only found in people who’d been beautiful their entire lives. No lowering of the eyes or nervous gestures to mask her insecurities. This was a woman who’d been blessed by the goddess Aphrodite and was at ease with her effect on the opposite sex.
Her jet-black hair was woven with gray, and her upturned eyes, as catlike and alluring as her son’s, had deep-purple irises. The effect, so close to her black pupils, was a little unnerving. I forced myself to hold her invasive stare so she wouldn’t think I was a poor match for her son, but it was a questionable victory as her lips curved in a knowing smile. Isabelle was trespassing and I didn’t like it one bit.
Stay out of my head, witch.
She crossed her legs and grinned. Neophyte.
Alain caught the tail end of our mental tussle and shot her a poisonous look. “Cease your games, Maman. Now is not the time.”
“Colin and I were just playing,” she said sweetly. “Don’t be such a bore.”
“Save it for another day.”
Her eyes continued to sparkle with mirth, but she held her tongue, and the mind games were put on hold. Even Isabelle knew Alain wasn’t in the mood to be pushed.
The car sped along the AutoRoute toward the Spanish border. I had no idea where we were heading, but I memorized a few landmarks in case I had to return one day. The driver veered off the main road before we got to the border checkpoint and began the switchback route up the mountain. After ten minutes, we arrived at a granite structure that looked like an old French chateau. I wondered if this was the ancestral home or a new acquisition. I couldn’t remember if Alain had ever shared his ethnicity. Was he French or English? Didn’t he attend university in Edinburgh? Some boyfriend I was if I couldn’t answer the most basic questions about the man I loved.
The moment we stepped into the cavernous foyer, a white owl with black-tipped wings flapped down from one of the exposed wooden rafters and gently perched on Isabelle’s shoulder. I stood, amazed, as she crooned a greeting while the bird responded by nuzzling Isabelle’s neck and emitting soft mewling sounds. We followed her into the living room with the owl firmly seated on her shoulder.
“What’s that all about?” I asked Alain curiously.
“Bibi is her familiar.”
“I don’t have time to explain,” Alain muttered under his breath. “For the moment, consider Bibi a pet, and for heaven’s sake, don’t touch. Let her make the first move.”
“She looks harmless.”
Alain’s raised eyebrows made me rethink my hasty assumption.
“She’s fiercely protective of her mistress and a carnivore. If you want to save your fingers, I suggest you keep your hands to yourself.”
“Do you have a familiar?”
Alain looked at me with disdain. “Merlin.”
“Right,” I replied, drawing out the word. “You’ll have to expound on this topic someday.”
“I’ll be glad to, Colin. Right now, we have a mess to untangle.”
A fire was blazing in the stone hearth, and an assortment of refreshments were laid out on the sideboard. I wasn’t hungry, but I poured myself a cup of coffee to jump-start my brain, which was getting sluggish from the journey. Apparently, Alain had the same idea. I settled on the sofa, facing Isabelle across a coffee table that might have been a barn door in an earlier incarnation. The redwood was polished to a high gloss, but there were plugged holes on one end where the iron door hangers must have been removed. It was an interesting conversation piece, and I would have commented, except Alain joined us with a cup of coffee in one hand and a brioche in the other. After parking his loot on the table, he urged his mother to proceed with her report.
“Of course,” she said emphatically. “Bibi has been keeping a close eye on Drake since I received your first email.”
“Sorry?” I was completely thrown by that response.
“You heard right,” Alain said. “She and Maman make an excellent team.”
“The bird is her spy?”
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By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and fulfilled in April 2009.
Mickie discovered gay romance in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from the LGBTQA community and their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her characters work damn hard for their happy endings.