Cradled by Christina Bauer (Beholder #4.5) Published by: Monster House Books Publication date: July 31st 2018 Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
An Epilogue Novella At last, Elea and Rowan are settling in to their new lives. Trouble is, Rowan is spending a lot of time cleaning up messes from his childhood. And considering the nightmare that was his mother, those are some ugly messes indeed. In fact, the experience is enough to make Rowan vow that he never wants children of his own.
“It’s the round gateway,” I whispered. “The one from Jicho’s vision.” I repeated the boy’s prophecy once more.
“Watch for the round gateway; it will bring you the lightning goddess and her consort.”
Rowan scanned the loop of brightness as it whirled above our heads. “If that’s a gateway, then I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
Heavy silence filled the central feasting hall. The swirl of light by the ceiling flared more brightly, casting odd shadows onto the tapestries and floor. A charged sense of anticipation hung in the air.
I shared a quick glance with Rowan. Every line of his rugged face was tight with determination.
Light pulsed in the center of the round gateway as a man and a woman tumbled through, landing on the floor in a crouch. Although their backs were facing us, I could still make out some basics about the pair. The woman was tall as me but far more curvy. Her long auburn hair cascaded down her back. The man beside her was broad shouldered and fit with short brown hair. Both of them were wore black body armor like none I’d ever seen before. It appeared not to be flexible. Interesting.
Something twitched behind the woman, and that’s when I noticed it. She had a tail. It was long, black, and covered in some kind of scales. The end was as pointed as an arrow.
In our realm, we did have people with non-human body parts. They were called Changed Ones, and they were the unfortunate results of by brother Viktor’s experiments in combining Casters with their animal familiars. My stomach sank. Was it possible that Viktor had somehow gotten to this woman and her realm?
The man lifted his right arm, and he was holding a severed head in his fist. Wait, a head?
I rubbed my eyes, wondering if I was seeing things. But once I lowered my hands, the man was still there, his back facing to us. And he still gripped a severed head in his hand. And what a head it was. The thing had the profile of a humanoid pig with green skin and a pair of large curlicue horns growing out of each temple. The man gripped the head by a single horn.
“The good news is, we killed the phase demon.” The man tossed the head onto the floor before him.
“The bad news is, he phased us somewhere before he died,” added the woman. Her tail perked up and tapped her shoulder. The woman looked to the arrowhead end. “What’s up, boy?”
The tail gestured toward me and Rowan as if to say: pay attention; there’s something behind you.
The woman slowly turned around. “Hello there,” she said. If she was shocked to be in a strange place, she didn’t show it.
The man turned around as well. He had mismatched eyes—one blue and one brown—as well as strong bone structure. The pair of us were a study in opposites. I was thin and dark haired, while the woman was curvy with long reddish locks. The man was pale and regal looking. At the same time, Rowan may be a king, but he always looked tanned and rugged.
The woman waved at us. “I said, hello there.”
“Hello,” I replied. “I’m Elea and this is Rowan. Who are you?”
“I’m Myla,” said the woman.
The man gave us a chin-nod. “Lincoln.”
Rowan stepped forward. “Are you a lightning goddess, by any chance?”
“You could call me that,” answered Myla.
I couldn’t help but smile. Jicho’s prophecy was coming true.
Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.