Time In Between Liberty Valley Love Book 6 by Josie Malone Genre: Time Travel Paranormal Romance
The oldest of the Jamison triplets, hereditary witch and criminal defense attorney, Astra Jamison knows more about the laws of magick than her two sisters. She serves the Goddess but believes those who hurt and harm those who can’t defend themselves should be punished, abhorring it when innocents suffer. She is always willing to dole out her kind of justice to anyone who offends her, often sending them to gruesome deaths. When she and her sisters open a time portal to 1888 Liberty Valley to save two people from a serial killer, the last thing she expects is to have the wizard she views as an age-old enemy return, seeking retribution for sins she committed in the past.
Wizard and healer in more than one life, Rowdy Tall-Deer struggled to survive when his soul-matched mate arranged his murder time and again, having rogue shape-shifters attack and eat him alive. Discovering a time portal that leads to the 21st century and the witch who betrayed him means making new plans. Does he opt for vengeance or attempt to learn the truth behind her machinations? Nothing is as it seems when her demon father becomes involved, determined to continue a war that began eons ago.
Will love finally conquer evil or is history doomed to repeat itself for their next life?
“Learn to use your magick, or your magick will use you.”
Astra Jamison, attorney, and hereditary witch
Prologue ~ “Magick, Marriage and Monsters!”
Trilunon – 10 days before the New Year Triholath festivals
The tense silence in the stone-walled bedchamber mounted as her two sisters stared in shocked silence at Satiranika. She took a deep breath and studied them in the weak daylight filtering through the narrow slits of the barred windows. All three were tall with dark red hair. Born in the same hour nearly thirty years before, they were the Trecesalty and considered favored by the Goddess. She was the oldest, a former High Judge in the courts of Amalodia, their country. “Well, say something.”
“What is there to say?” Katiranika, the youngest war-queen of their family, favored armor over the dark blue tunic, leggings, and riding boots she customarily wore. She pulled a decorative dagger from its sheath on her slender hip. “Our aunt, the regent of our land, steals the thrones left us by our mother instead of turning them over to us at the Winter Festivals this year. Now, we’re denied the privilege of royal deaths at the sacred fires. Instead, our aunt orders us wed, gives us away like sex slaves from the marketplace, as if we really are the treasonous criminals, she labeled us. Who does that witch think she is?”
“The new High Queen of our realm.” A tear trickled down Matiranika’s pale, wasted cheek as she leaned against the pillows of the giant bed the three of them shared in their tower prison. Several blankets covered her, but she still shivered in one of the nightgown she always wore. “Who would match with us? My ceroymatand died in the first wave of the plague. Yours would have taken you, but his relkinam refused you, Sati, saying you’re too much like our sire who slew our mother. Our aunt delayed Kat’s binding to Prince Hughondear of Warpathia.”
“She claimed to fear my death from the disease that killed the women and girls in that region.” Katiranika ran a careful finger along the edge of the blade, testing its sharpness. “Even she can’t mean to give us to strangers from other worlds. It’d lead to more wars.”
“It’s not strangers.” Satiranika picked up the goblet of wine on the table near the door, crossed the thickly carpeted floor, and carried the glass to her middle sister. “Drink your tonic or you won’t live to the New Year. You’ll be on a Journey to Rebirth, rather than joining us in the sacred fires or at a soul-binding ceremony or traveling with us since she’s banished us to a distant realm.”
Matiranika nodded agreement before sipping the restorative beverage. Her link to Trilunon poisoned her as much as the fire rain that fell from the smoky, gray skies. She barely managed to breathe the soot-laden air and rarely tasted the food delivered from the palace kitchens. “So, who are the men?”
“The Warpathians I sentenced to death before my arrest.” Satiranika sat on the edge of the bed, holding the golden cup for her sister. “After the Priest-Mages of Ethlestial demanded we serve our sire’s sentence when he fled the fires and our aunt refused, there aren’t any other males for her to choose.”
“What else did you learn?” Katiranika joined them on the bed, glaring across the room at the elaborate painting of their aunt on the wall. “Giving us to the felons in the dungeons couldn’t have taken that long. How does she know they won’t kill us when we’re sent to this new world?”
“At first, she only said what I told you.” Satiranika placed the goblet on the table next to the bed. “We talked of the Healers, Kat. They still don’t have a way to cleanse the waters, air, or soil of this realm. The creatures here in Amalodia continue to die as do the people. Our aunt intends to have the Healers strip our powers before the soul-binding rites. Those in your army are to be sent with us to a new land far from our home here. She asked after Mati and wanted to know you controlled your temper.”
“My temper!” Katiranika leaped to her feet. “I’ll show that witch my temper.” Whirling, she hurled a fireball at the painting. Ashes scattered on the carpet as the picture burned. “So much for her spying!”
Shaking her head, Satiranika waved her hand and put out the fire. “Cease, Kat. This chamber is smaller than either of our palaces, but at least we’re together where she had us jailed. As for your other question about our mates, our aunt has decided they will serve as our chapalmatands.”
“What does that mean?”
“Using a set of jewelry as tokens, they sacrifice their hearts, minds, souls along with their magick and powers. It doesn’t kill them.” Satiranika continued describing the ancient rite that would bind them and their newly matched mates. “We will wear the ornaments, the talipenlace sets for the rest of our lives and we will be bonded forever, through Time, Death and Rebirth.”
“I won’t.” Katiranika lifted her chin, narrowing violet eyes. “I’ll only be pushed so far. I will not be degraded or some man’s property.”
“Our aunt says that all three of us must wed on the same day, at the same hour or we lose our magick,” Matiranika said. “She claims it’s the law decreed by the Goddess.”
“Our aunt doesn’t know as much as she thinks.” Satiranika gestured for her sisters to draw closer. “I’m the one who has always studied every canon and Book of Shadows in all of the libraries here, in Warpathia and in Ethlestial. We are supposed to choose the talipenlace sets that we wish to wear. We can refuse and insist our newly Chosen mates place the jewels on us. They will believe us obedient, as women were in their land before dying in the plague.”
Katiranika rested a hand on the dagger hilt. “If I set myself afire at the ceremony, it will start a war. I’d rather be dead than linked to Hughondear.”
“No, Kat.” Matiranika held up her palm. “If harm comes to you, I feel it. Your death will bring about mine.”
“And I will die without both of you.” Satiranika caught both their hands and gripped tight. “Listen to me. Our aunt doesn’t have to win. For the talipenlace jewels to affect us, we must wear them of our own free will. Otherwise, they become tokens of Power. They focus our magick but give us the talents of our new mates too.”
Matiranika ran a hand through her thinning hair. “I might regain my health.”
“That alone would make it worthwhile.” Katiranika frowned thoughtfully. “Could we really trick them so easily? Afterward, we’ll escape. I’ll rally my soldiers and take back our thrones. Let our aunt go to the fires she loves so much.”
“One problem at a time.” Satiranika relaxed her grip on them. “I’ve never trusted our aunt with her love of the throne. Think. Who’d be forced to do the evil ritual to strip our magick and return all our powers to the High Queen?”
“Our oldest half-sib, the leader of the Healers who serve with Kat,” Matiranika mused. “It’d slay Robin’s heart. She cries when she comes to heal me now. She’ll pretend to take our powers and lie to our aunt. We act as if we’re without magick until we evade our enemies.”
“A simple ploy,” Katiranika said, “but those tend to be best in wars.”
“Exactly.” Satiranika stood and went to the table on the far side of the room to fill three glasses. “Thanks be to the Goddess that we’ve always treated our older sister with respect and kindness. She serves us willingly and with much love. She knows we are the royal Three.”
“And the Three are the Trecesalty,” Katiranika and Matiranika joined in the chant. “Trilunon is ours. We have the powers of the Three.”
Rowindache studied the flame-haired woman seated at the table in the corner of their shared quarters. She’d changed from the traditional scarlet dress to a black tunic over leggings and low-heeled slippers. When they arrived here after the soul-binding ceremony, she’d performed a Sex Magick spell on him. He’d enjoyed every moment. It had not, however, given her the control she’d apparently hoped for when she pleasured him with her mouth. Afterwards, she’d served him tainted wine, unaware his healer talents made him immune to poison.
Her efforts to gain the upper hand amused him. He wondered how long it would take for her to accept their binding. For both of their sakes, he hoped not long. When he was called away to attend a grievously ill patient, he returned to find his new mate had abandoned him to visit a former lover. It’d taken Rowindache less than an hour to find them and retrieve her. In his land, he’d have had to kill the other man even if the knave laid all the blame on Satiranika, but things were different in Amalodia and to his mind, a change not for the better. I’m not going to be shamed by her in Trilunon or at our home in the next realm.She is supposed to be a laspowima, my eternal mate, to be known, accepted, and worshipped by me alone. Instead, she dishonors me and our union. She did not come to our soul-matching with the same integrity that I did.
Rowindache filled two goblets with the wine he’d ordered and blessed to keep safe from her machinations. He wouldn’t allow her to poison him a second time. He crossed the room and passed a glass to her. “Granted, we have shared much, but why did you choose me when you obviously didn’t want me as a mate?”
“Your trial was not a sharing.” Her tone was overly patient when she accepted the cup. “And I didn’t choose you, High Healer. You chose me. Answer your own question. Or is that too difficult for you?”
The contempt sliced into him, but he didn’t let it show. “You are mine, my sweet. What does that make you other than the witch I took to reclaim the morality and renowned reputation I earned as a High Healer? You impugned my honor at my trial. What true judge accepts false evidence?”
“Who is to say it was false?” She arched a red-gold brow, then raised the glass of wine to her lips. “You have no relkinam, no heritage, no real name. How could someone like you have any prestige? Impossible. Unconceivable.”
He took a step forward, caught her chin in hard fingers and tilted it so their gazes met. “You will conceive and give me children, Satiranika. You will teach them that I am a fair, ethical man you admire and respect.”
“You obviously drank too much at the ceremonies today.” She laughed, dark blue eyes amused. “You may have brought me back to this mating chamber, but I’m not yours and I never will be.”
“You are not fit to be a laspowima to me.” He held her gaze a moment longer before releasing her and stepping away. “It’d ill serve you to be renounced and returned to your aunt for burning in the sacred fires.”
“Do what you wish, Warpathian.” She continued to drink the wine, seeming unperturbed by his low opinion of her. “I will do what suits me as always and being linked to you won’t keep me away from whatever males or females I wish to bed.”
“I’m not surprised by your antics. You think you’re above everyone else.”
“Only because I am. Respect your betters.”
He refused to answer immediately. He finished his wine first. So, his new Chosen thought she could order their soul-binding the way she had his trial. She’d lie, cheat, flaunt her lovers in front of him, and expect him to tolerate what he considered to be wrong. It was time for her to learn to behave with honor and treat others with respect. She needed to be a good ruler, not a dictator, and he’d teach her that.
He glanced at the law scrolls and the texts on the table. “Study what it means to be a vaslattel, Trecesalty. You will beg for the chance to be my laspowima before our battle ends. I will send word to the law-givers of the change in your status in the morning.”
She gasped. “I will not be a secondary mate to the likes of you or serve your other wives and any female servants in the household, nor will my children reflect this lesser status. My relkinam have ruled all of Trilunon for eons.”
He grinned at her. “As you say, I do the choosing, Vaslattel. You refused.”
Her hand clenched on the wine glass. She stormed to the table to flip through the law book on top of the stack, muttering insults. “Garungap!”
“Careful, Vaslattel.” He headed over to the large bed, sat down and removed his boots. “Annoy me further and I will renounce you again. It takes three lifetimes and several sons to regain the status of a vaslattel once I claim you as a third-level mate. Learning Warpathian laws should occupy you until we arrive at our new home.”
“And what will occupy you other than insulting me, Rowindache?”
He crossed to her, caught her hand, and drew her into his arms. “Discovering what you like when I take you to bed. After being with me, no one else will satisfy you for the rest of eternity.”
I live at Horse Country Farm, a family-owned riding stable in the Cascade foothills. I organize most of the riding programs and teach horsemanship, nurse sick horses, hold for the shoer, train whoever needs it – four-legged and two-legged. And write books in my spare time, usually from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week after a long day on the ranch. When I can’t write, due to the overwhelming needs and pressures of the “real” world, words and stories fill my mind. Even when I muck the barn, I think about books in progress and map out the writing in my mind. There are 26 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals. As for kids, I give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years and I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them! I’m a member of Evergreen Romance Writers of America, the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America Chapter, the Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest and Pacific NW Writers. I have B.A. degrees in English and History, and my Master’s-In-Teaching degree.