To prepare for the launch of my new Mystic Bay novel, Fated for the Phoenix, I have a short excerpt from the manuscript. Single mom and unicorn Samantha Belfast wakes up alone in a backwoods cabin with her lover Rafael. And then her horrified parents show up!

Comment below to let me know what you think.


She sat up and let the blanket fall away from her body. Brilliant light was coming from the top of the open-fronted dresser. She had seen that starburst before. It was Rafael in phoenix form.

Golden eyes opened and shot sparks at her. A radiant blur landed on the floor and became a naked man. A naked god. A battered god, but still a god. Scars marred the former perfection of his olive skin. But he still made her heart race. Abruptly she was the yearning woman of four years ago facing her virile lover. Emotions exploded through her body and made it hum as it had done in Hawaii.

His broad shoulders and carved chest narrowed to slim hips. A thicket of black pubic hair formed a base for the formidable erection saluting her. Muscular thighs barely dusted with black hair met perfect knees and tapered to strong calves and beautiful feet. Three days worth of patchy stubble did not conceal the scars that ruined the perfection of his face. But despite his face, he still exuded potent masculinity.

“Good morning,” he said huskily and gave her his back.

Rafael was just as beautiful from behind as in front. The dimples of his back swelled into tight hard buns. Then bedroom door blocked her view as he closed it. The skeletal invalid of yesterday had vanished as if he had never been. Had she done that? Or only given him the strength to shift and heal himself? Did it matter which? This man was not at death’s door.

She felt grubby and unkempt. Overdue for a shower. She could hear puttering as a motor boat reduced throttle. They had company. She sprinted for the bathroom. Even with a washed face, and borrowing Rafael’s comb, she felt untidy and icky. Unfortunately she could already hear voices.

She emerged from the bathroom at the same time Rafael came out of his room. The door to the cabin burst open and several voices spoke at once.

“Dear Heaven, he’s a raptor!” That was Mom. “You brute! What have you done to my daughter?”

“Calm down, Araminta. Are you all right, Samantha?” asked Dad with his usual placidity.

“What’s going on?” demanded Sully jovially.

“Have you had breakfast?” Robin Fairchild’s sweet soprano inquired.

Neither she nor Rafael bothered to add their voices to the confusion. They waited until Mom and Dad had sputtered to a halt and Robin had gone to the kitchen. Water flowed, spluttered, and failed.

“You’ll have to pump before the faucet will come on,” said Sully. “I’ll do it for you, Robin.” He tramped over to the sink.

Rafael turned to Samantha. “Who are all these people?” he asked mildly.

She made her lips move and was vaguely surprised that words emerged audibly. “Mom, Dad, this is Rafael D’Angelo. Rafael, these are my parents, Araminta and Parsifal Belfast.”

“You said he was dead!” Mom was sorrowful and indignant. “You lied to us!” More sorrow. Greater indignation. Mom had lost her unicorn composure.

“I thought he was dead. Rafael was in a terrible accident,” Samantha said. “He was reported dead.”

Mom whinnied. No other word for it. It was a unicorn’s strongest statement of disbelief. A primal scream of rejection and skepticism. She certainly had her tail in a tight knot.

“Now, Minta,” Dad said in his peacemaker’s voice. “I’m sure there is some logical explanation.”

Rafael’s square jaw was set. He ignored her father’s outstretched hand and waved at the couch. “I don’t think I should shake, sir. Not if you share Samantha’s telepathic talent. She got badly burnt when she touched me.”

“Telepathy is part of the unicorn gift,” Dad responded curtly. “What the heck’s wrong with your psyche that you burnt her?” He put an arm around Samantha’s shoulders and hugged her gently.

“Won’t you have a seat, Mr. and Mrs. Belfast? I’ll try to explain,” Rafael said.

Sully carried six mugs to the table, three to a hand, and began setting them out in a neat row. Robin followed with the coffeepot. She stood by the table and spoke.

“We’ll drink our coffee over here. Have you eaten, Samantha?”

“I just got up,” Samantha cleared her throat. “Rafael too.”

Mom made a strangled noise and Dad clasped her hand in his and squeezed. Mom subsided. Robin went back to the kitchen with her coffee. Everyone else sat down at the table. Sully poured their coffee. Passed cream and sugar. He smiled benevolently at them all.

Robin took a carton of eggs out of the fridge and found a bowl. “I’d like to hear your explanation too, Maj. D’Angelo,” she said sternly.

Rafael shrugged. “I was on board a helicopter flying over Kilauea. We got caught in a volcanic explosion. I and another crewman parachuted to safety, but were presumed dead. We were both badly injured.” Another shrug. “I suffered a concussion and memory loss in addition to my other wounds. I forgot meeting Samantha, and she apparently was unwilling to marry a man as badly injured as me.”

Even across the table, Samantha could sense his hurt. As if last night’s intimate connection had not been severed. Hot denials sprang to her tongue, but she never got to utter them.

“That’s not possible,” Mom declared. “Samantha would never forsake her mate!”

Trust Mom to leap to conclusions! “I didn’t hear that Rafael had been rescued, Mom. I thought he was dead. He really doesn’t remember anything that happened in the six months prior to that accident, including meeting me. And he certainly didn’t know about Carmody until recently. He’s still suffering from partial amnesia and PTSD.”

“And yet you just happened to wash up on West Haven, D’Angelo?” demanded Dad. That quiet voice meant Parsifal Belfast was in a towering fury.

“No, sir.” Rafael kept his voice uninflected despite the storm of accusations. “Anton Benoit told one of my cousins that there was a D’Angelo child on this island. Lincoln figured out that Carmody must be mine and informed me. I came to find out for myself.”

“She’s a hybrid!” wailed Mom despairingly. “My only grandchild is a hunter hybrid!”

Dad patted Mom’s arm. “Settle down, Minta,” he ordered. “Drink your coffee. Carmody is the same dear child that she was yesterday or last year.”

Mom ignored his cautioning words. Her lips trembled. “No wonder she won’t behave properly. No wonder she keeps disappearing on us. She’s already manifesting,” she broke off and bit her lip.

Dad cleared his throat. “Carmody isn’t quite as docile as unicorn foals usually are, D’Angelo. My wife finds her nonsense a bit of a trial.”

“Whatever will the Mystic Bay town council say?” Mom wailed. Samantha could not ever recall her mother being so obviously distraught.

“Drink your coffee, Araminta,” ordered Robin, stirring the pan of eggs. “Gordon, what do you think the council will do?” She was her usual unflappable self.

“Put it to a vote.” Sully shook his shaggy head sadly. “Bound to. Especially since Minta here is half way to hysteria.” He turned to Rafael and spoke with menacing affability. “Now, son, I don’t say you did anything wrong, but Mystic Bay is a small town with small town ideas. When everyone thought that Samantha was a bereaved unicorn with a fatherless foal, naturally we were all a little shocked, but there was no point in saying so.” He held up one hand to forestall Samantha. “I’m sorry, Samantha, but facts are facts.”

“What Gordon means,” Robin cut in smoothly, “Is that since no one realized that Carmody was a hybrid hunter child, as well as being illegitimate, or knew that her father was alive, she and Samantha had the town’s sympathies. But once everyone knows that you’re Carmody’s father, Maj. D’Angelo, they will expect you to marry her.”

Robin set plates of eggs and toast before Samantha and Rafael. Rafael placed his coffee mug carefully on the table. He rose to his feet and squared his shoulders. To Samantha’s eyes he seemed taller than yesterday. His shoulders broader and more filled out. He looked around triumphantly with his sightless eyes.

“Where do I sign,” he asked simply.

This is material not previously published. ©Isadora Montrose, 2018

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