Happy INDIEpendence Day! This is the second year the Indelibles are hosting it and, let me tell you, there is not a shortage of awesome indies for us to love and support! I’m featuring J.R. Pearse Nelson. I met J.R. through ROW80. We’ve beta read for each other for over a year now and I just adore her writing. She’s also just the coolest and when we can get together in person- we live across Portland from each other- it is always a good time.
J.R. put out a wonderful start to a new NA paranormal series earlier this year and I was lucky enough to beta read it. Check out QUEEN WITCH (Foulweather Twins #1)!
FOULWEATHER TWINS, BOOK ONE
Stubborn and suspicious are two qualities that don’t go over well in the Queen family…
Where does my story truly begin? Maybe with the birth of twins to a soon-dead witch. Or possibly with the name bestowed on me by the Lady, the immortal we serve. She called me Sage, and my sister Wren. The Foulweather twins. As I choose to see it, my story begins when I first participated in the course of my life. When I started making my own decisions, despite everything I’d been taught. Forced recluse with a secret life? That’s me.
Sage Brighton is a young woman of incredible power, but she doesn’t decide how that power is used, or anything else about her life. As a witch of the Queen family, and a twin, Sage will serve the Lady all her days. The immortal has plans for Sage and her twin Wren. They are to be her Hands, her enforcers in the mortal, modern world. But first Sage must survive her training, learn to control her sociopathic sister without getting maimed in the process, and all the while try to keep something of her life for her own.
“Wren, take it easy!” I shouted to my sister over the howling winds that whipped along the rock-studded beach and stirred the crashing waves into froth.
Instead, my twin threw all of her power against me, knocking aside the rock I’d held there for her, hovering in mid-air despite the fierce wind. I scowled, but played along, raising rock after rock as she dashed them back to the earth.
Wren’s expression was a mirror of my own as we faced off. We were identical, on the surface, even if we had little in common outside the physical. The wind had already stripped strands of Wren’s long dark hair out of the braid I’d done for her not half an hour ago. Deep gray clouds studding the horizon spoke of a rainstorm on the way.
Finally, Wren threw one of the stones far. It flew past me, into the waves. I made sure not to gape; she loved to show her superior strength in these games, and I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of knowing it bothered me.
“My turn.” I told her, watching the trail behind her for any sign of movement. If the aunts caught us at it, we’d be days recovering from the pile of chores that would result. Since we hadn’t started twin school, we were supposed to use our powers sparingly. Too many twins explored their powers in dangerous ways without the proper training and ended up dead before they could be of any service to the Lady at all. But tell that to a pair of fourteen-year-olds who could move matter with their minds. We couldn’t resist.
Wren raised a boulder first. A bead of sweat rolled down her temple as she concentrated her energy on the single rock. Instead of doing as she’d done, I twisted it, raising my own rock and beating it against the boulder, attempting to dislodge it and send it back to sea or sand. One rock wasn’t enough, so I was in the middle of raising an army of rocks – not one of my better ideas – when we were interrupted.
A ball of white fur hurtled toward us. The dog had gotten pretty close before I noticed it, and Wren’s back was to it. It started barking before I could warn her, a sharp yip that made Wren jump. She dropped the boulder, which shattered into two pieces as it hit the rocks below. I stared at it for a split second. Breaking rocks. Now that was cool.
I didn’t have time to say anything before Wren twisted to face the dog, now a scarce ten feet from her. She threw up a hand and a wave of sand and rock lifted the dog off its feet, and sent it flipping through the air.
It was then that I noticed a man running toward us from farther down the beach, obviously coming after his dog. He stopped, confused, when he saw Wren’s action. I couldn’t be sure what he thought he saw, but I let out a little shriek that alerted Wren to his presence. If there was any rule that governed our lives, it was don’t use powers around strangers.
The dog landed on all fours and gave a final yip before scurrying off with his tail between his legs and his ears flat against his head.
I grabbed Wren’s hand, holding tight despite her protest, and ran toward the wooded trail. I expected to hear the man yell behind us, but if he said anything at all, the wind tore the words away before they reached my ears.
Around a bend in the trail I slowed and dropped Wren’s hand angrily. She clasped her hands together and looked at the ground. She could tell I was mad, but I knew she had no idea why. That frustrated me even more.
“Wren! You cannot lash out like that with your power. Don’t you know you could hurt somebody?”
“It was a dog. An annoying dog,” she told me resentfully.
“Did you see the man running toward us?” I didn’t even have to ask. “Wren. We’ve been over this. We’re not even supposed to use our powers like that around the aunts, much less around a stranger. You can’t act like that. We don’t own the beach, you know.”
“We were there first.”
“No matter. If you can’t control yourself, I’m not playing.” I stalked off, too upset to say more right now. I might say something I’d regret. Not that my sister would notice. She could be selfish, not to mention dangerously out of control. Our temperaments were polar opposites. My sister was quiet, shy, and didn’t care for people. In fact, as she’d just shown, she could be dangerous. It wasn’t that Wren actively disliked people; it was that she didn’t care. Another person’s joy, or their pain, never really got through to her.
I stayed ahead of Wren the whole way home, taking our usual path alone. I don’t know if she trailed me or took another route. Sometimes I got tired of caring. She could find her own way home. She was capable of that much.
I strolled by my friend David’s house, but didn’t see any signs of life no matter how slow I walked. I hadn’t seen him in weeks, which was unusual for the summer months. His family lived in the city, but came to their coastal cabin for many weekends, regardless of the time of year. In the summer even more so, as his mom exchanged the heat of city sidewalks for the serenity of a beachfront paradise, taking her kids along. David’s mom always dressed in flowery prints, bright and sunny, just like her smile. David was lucky; his family was nice. Normal.
I’d known David since I was six. When he stayed at his family’s cabin, we had a secret way to exchange messages, and several secret places we loved to meet.
I hoped he’d be back soon. I was getting lonely with no one but my twin for company. You might think that would be enough, a twin to share everything with. I loved my sister, but sometimes she wasn’t great company. And I had no normal friends, not the way most kids my age had friends, from what David said. I didn’t go to school. A cousin who lived in the cliff-top house with us home schooled Wren and me. We didn’t really see anyone besides cousins, aunts and uncles. Some of the cousins were close to our age, but none of them were twins. That set us apart, in our family.
Among the Queen witches twins were precious and saved for the family’s immortal patron. Twins like us were raised to serve the Lady, as her Hands. In some ways, my twin was the only person I was taught to rely on. Our duality shaped our world and our obligations. I was only a kid and already I’d noticed that. The rest of the family held us apart, somewhat reverently, but that didn’t help children who just wanted to get in on their cousins’ games.
I continued along the small winding road toward home, a chill running through me when I considered what had almost happened on the beach. Wren had almost hurt someone. Would she ever learn caution? Would I always have to remind her to control her emotions, and her power? Would I always be there when she needed reminding?
These thoughts woke a fear that had long lived under my skin. What would the Lady do if she knew how Wren sometimes lost control and struck out with her power? The Queen witches hid their powers from the world. We lived outside of everything, having only as much contact with the mainstream as necessary. We didn’t mix, it was just too dangerous.
The Lady made her family from distinguished magical bloodlines, adopting and even rescuing witches as they were persecuted across the centuries and around the world. Regular people didn’t understand witches; especially witches bred to their powers like thoroughbred horses to the race.
J.R. Pearse Nelson is a fantasy and paranormal romance author. Her work is fast-paced, adventurous, and sometimes dark.
J.R. is a native Oregonian, residing in the beautiful Portland area. She lives with her husband, two small daughters and the family dog. J.R. is always searching for the magic in our world. She weaves tales rooted in mythology, bringing legend to life in modern-day and fantasy settings. J.R. is the author of the Children of the Sidhe paranormal romance series, and Queen Witch, the first installment of the Foulweather Twins series.
You can connect with J.R. online at her blog. Visit www.jrpearsenelson.com.
Head on over to the Indelibles blog to enter to win a $10 gift card to Amazon and to read more INDIEpendence Day posts!