Of Elven Blood by Leslie Fish
paranormal erotic romance
length: Long novel (150,000 words/378 pages)
Cover Art by Valerie Tibbs
Release Date: 09/20/2012
Roxanne Defarge has three strikes against her; she’s an unsuccessful painter, miserably unlucky in love, and is carrying psychological scars of a childhood spent in a wretchedly dysfunctional family. She has given up on love, and on any hope of selling her paintings, but at least she’s found a job she likes – working as a newspaper editor for a union in Chicago.
But then Roxanne witnesses a murder in the newspaper’s office, and she’s sent to Arizona for her own protection. Now she must start again, and chooses to do so at Treemark Arabian Farms, working with horses.
But who can protect her from Brian Treemark, the mysterious ranch owner who reveals that he and Roxanne are members of a mysterious, ancient race—and they’re in more danger than Roxanne ever could find on the streets of Chicago? She’s going to have to learn fast, because she has an immensely extended lifespan, very rapid healing ability, and vast but untrained psychic talent.
In brief, she is now an Elf and must learn to live as one.
Thrust into the middle of an Elven battle, and still needing protection from those in Chicago who’d rather see her dead, Roxanne finds herself in even more danger than she ever could have imagined. Only the training she receives at Brian’s hands can protect her life. Her heart is another matter, and it will take all the skills she possesses to keep it safe from the one who told her she was of elven blood.
The contract Treemark handed her, back in the welcoming little office, was straightforward enough. It left the job-title blank, but he filled it in with 'general stable-work'. There was a paragraph guaranteeing 'complete medical and dental treatment' which made Lorraine smile at its simplicity; as written, it would take care of her even if she suffered serious injury or disease. Right after that, not surprisingly, was a clause requiring a 'health examination' for employment. There was another paragraph promising 'room and board' that even specified the room and 'fully balanced meals'.
"It looks too good to be true," she commented. There has to be a catch in it somewhere.
"The wages aren't," he smiled. "I pay rock-bottom minimum wage. Of course, you don't have to spend any of it on rent, food or utilities."
Lorraine chuckled, seeing what this meant. Hard work, minimum wage, and company housing – but still, I could do a lot worse. She couldn't help adding: "Is there a company store, too?"
Treemark looked blank for a moment, then caught the reference and burst out laughing. His laughter was like deep bells ringing. "Oh no," he whooped. "You'll have to go into town for everything else. So, will you be my wage-slave?"
It was Lorraine's turn to laugh as she recognized the old union term. "Yes," she grinned. "It sure beats working for a trade-paper."
He handed her a pen, and she signed.
"That's it, then." He took the contract and stood. "I'll show you out to your car.
Please try to get here as soon as possible tomorrow. I'd like to get the medical examination done early."
"You'll do the exam?" Ah, with a bit of groping on the side, perhaps?
Treemark shrugged. "Or my colleague will. Up to you. But I don't think it will matter; you're obviously sound of wind and limb."
Horseman's term. 'Colleague'? "You run a clinic out of your house?"
"It saves on rent, and it's useful if there are any accidents at the stable."
Treemark pointed to the door in the back wall. "Our examination room is right through there."
Lorraine shrugged. Again, this made sense. "I'll be here bright and early tomorrow," she promised.
With no further word Treemark led her out through the living room, into a tiled and paneled entryway, to the front door. Lorraine noted the spy-hole and discreet but impressive locks on the door; the man wasn't a fool about security, either. She stepped out into the blistering heat, hearing the door close softly behind her, and went down the flagstone walk to the driveway.
I've got the job, she marveled again. I've got the perfect job!
She couldn't help skipping down the flagstones to her car.
~* * *~
Behind the door, Treemark watched through the spy-hole and smiled as he saw Lorraine skipping like a little girl down the flagstone walk. He'd won the first round, drawn her in. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe, she'd be back in the morning. There were still several vital steps to go, and he'd have to persuade her to stay and accept them, but yes, she would return.
He turned around and leaned his back against the door, feeling a vast satisfaction and a monumental fatigue. This first round had been hard-fought, and hard-won. He'd never met any Uninitiated – and very few mortals – who were so wary, so subtly defensive, and yet so fearless. Where had she learned that, and how? He would have to discover it, delicately pry the knowledge from her, lay bare the scars and try to heal them, uncover her true potential and train it to its full glory.
Like taming a wild mare, he thought. She had entered his land like a splendid wild horse come in from the desert, unconsciously showing her natural beauty and the magnificence of her paces, yet watchful and cautious, ready to fly at the slightest sign of danger. He knew nothing of her but what he'd read from her speech, body-language and dim aura, yet that little was a gift from the fates – almost as if the balance of the universe had shifted in his favor, in the direction of his kind, for once in all these centuries.
He would take every precaution, use all of his skill, even call upon the aid of his best allies – but he would not waste the gift.
And for now he had to return to his guests, his patients, and his other work.