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Twilight Witch (Dragon Key Book 1)

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Storms and Crones (Dragon Thief Book 5)

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Unnatural Lover #1

She was barren. Lifeless.

That's how Amanda Stenser felt when she was told the news that she couldn't have children. It was a blow to everything she'd dreamed of, everything she'd hoped. Now she felt lost, and her boyfriend suggests she get away from everything for a few days. That's why she heads up to the cabin deep in the woods, but she never could have expected what changes awaited her up on that lonely mountain.


The world was a barren place, just like her.
Amanda Stenser couldn’t stop feeling that way as she climbed up the steep mountain trail. She was up there to get away from it all, to give herself a breathe of fresh air and find some source of calm. So far it was an absolute failure, but she at least appreciated her boyfriend Tony’s sympathetic suggestion. He hadn’t been there when the doctor had broken the news to her, but he had at least rubbed her back when she’d cried at the end of her bed after the appointment.
The doctor had told her she couldn’t have children. She was barren, lifeless.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Tony had informed her.
Amanda couldn’t agree with him then, and she had doubts about it now as she marched up the rocky path. She’d wanted kids ever since she was little, and to learn that it would never naturally happen was devastating.


Dreams of feeling the babe kick inside her and soothingly talking to the growing child in her belly were gone, dashed from the hope of possibility and expectations. Now she felt physically and emotionally empty, like a shell unable to produce a seed and create one of its own kind.
“You’re getting really broody,” Amanda muttered to herself.
She generally wasn’t a broody person, but then again she wasn’t the other extreme, either. Like a lot of people her temperament lay somewhere in the middle. She had her flashes of anger and despondency, but generally she was an agreeable person who poked fun at others and could sometimes even take it in kind. This sudden news, though, had shaken her to her very core and she found herself lost in her thoughts. That’s why Tony had suggested she get away from it all.
That’s how she came to be on this well-worn path climbing this tree-covered mountain to a cabin high up in the mountains. Amanda had taken his suggestion with more vigor than he’d expected by renting an off-grid log cabin a few hours outside the city were they lived. He hadn’t been eager to see her go out into the wilderness all on her own.
“You sure you don’t want to change your mind?” he’d asked her while she packed her bag.
“I’ll be fine. There’s a propane stove and plenty of gas to get me through a few days,” Amanda had tried to comfort him. “I’ll take up some food with me and treat it like an extended picnic.”
She had been a little annoyed by the hint of panic in his voice. He probably thought she was going up there to commit suicide. While the thought had crossed her mind, she’d opted out of such a grisly, sinful end. She felt more abhorrence for suicide than she did for living the rest of her life knowing she wouldn’t ever become pregnant.
Tony hadn’t been able to get her to change her mind and have her reconsider just sitting in her apartment or visiting the beach. Now she climbed the steep trail to the cabin. She’d parked her car at the bottom of the hill in a well-used, albeit rough, parking lot and started the hike from there. It was about ten miles of decent trail between the lot and the cabin, but she didn’t have any problems with that. She was in shape and had made sure to pack light. Amanda was only planning on staying three nights up there because she couldn’t get any more leave from work without having a doctor’s note.
Even in her brooding Amanda enjoyed the nature which surrounded her. There were many flowers in bloom beside the trail and the trees reached their thick branches overhead to provide her with cover from the glaring sun. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, though the higher altitude meant the air was becoming chillier. However, her attention was drawn to the lack of animal life which should have greeted her passing. There had been more than enough beggarly squirrels and chirping birds at the parking lot, but the closer she came to the cabin the fewer she saw. By the time the trail made its final gasp to the cabin’s approach, all active life had ceased.
Amanda was both relieved and uneasy when she beheld her temporary residence. The cabin stood out on the point of a large sheet of rock and because of the hard ground the area around the structure was devoid of both bushes and trees. Not even a sprig of grass nor a lone weeds dared peeked their heads up from the cracks in the earth. The cabin itself was of some ancient, forgotten lineage, with massive logs for walls and chink in-between to keep out the cold. The roof was well-steeped against the heavy winters and there was only a single window at the front. The chimney stood out from the back and rose high into the clear, darkening sky.
However, their was a definite downside to the cabin. There was a distinct lack of indoor plumbing, and only a dilapidated outhouse made up for the non-existent flush toilet. With her priorities in the right order, she first checked to see if the outhouse was sanitary. She found quite the opposite, and instead opted for a nice, large tree off from the trail. Then she turned her attention to the building she would be calling home for a few days.
With a grunt of relief Amanda put her bag down beside the door and unlocked the old wooden portal. The door creaked open and light spilled out onto the roughly hewn logs which made up the floor. The cracks between them created deep shadows which she hesitated to step on. The rest of the one-room cabin was a bit friendlier, what with a large log bed in the far right corner and a simple kitchen on the left. Immediately in front of her stood the wide, deep chimney. A pile of chopped logs lay on the left along with some kindle and paper. There were rugs spread out on the floor to keep one’s toes from catching blisters on the floor, and to these she stepped on when she entered the room. There were two other windows set in the walls, one to her left above the counter and the other to her right behind the bed.
“Not too bad,” she whispered to herself. Her lonely voice echoed loudly in the silence, and she couldn’t help the shudder which crept down her body. She felt there was something not quite right about the place, which might explain the cheap price for the stay.


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Mac Flynn