Introducing the KNIGHT TRAVELER SERIES
A new romantic paranormal adventure with a time-traveler twist!
Available now at Amazon
In the sixth century, Sir Gawain volunteered without hesitation when King Arthur asked him to contain a witch with terrible power. Now, his quest has pitched him through time to 21st century New York City and he must fulfill his original pledge to his king to stop an evil cult bent on enslaving humanity.
Recently promoted, Tara O’Malley is responsible for the family pub in Brooklyn, the family finances, and the safety of a medieval dagger that has been handed down for generations. When the dagger is stolen, she soon discovers her best hope to recover it rests on the broad shoulders of a golden stranger who seems to have stepped right out of a renaissance fair.
Together Gawain and Tara must overcome the myths of the past to safeguard humanity and any chance they might have for a future.
” a compelling complex story mixing fantasy, action, and an unpredictable ending.” -John K., reviewer
“a suspenseful story filled with tension and lots of drama. I’m looking forward to the next Knight Traveler book.” – Rosemary, reviewer
“so much fun to read and was totally entertaining with a story line that is fresh and new!” – jwreinhold, reviewer
Prologue, 6th century England
Gawain stared into the banked fire and rubbed a hand over his breast bone, thinking of a different fire and the spirit that had been lurking inside it. Tomorrow would be his greatest test, one he could not fail. A year ago he’d left Avalon for this sole purpose. Every day since, he’d been searching, making progress and inroads, only to discover another thread in need of clipping. He could see now how each day, nearly from his birth, had led him to this one point in time. He had one final night to refine his plan and prepare for the worst.
At his feet, his lean greyhound gave a heavy sigh and shifted to rest his long face across Gawain’s boot. Man and dog would go forth together, for good or ill. He stroked the soft ears, the muscled shoulder. A gift from his sister, this dear creature had become all the loyalty Gawain needed. It would be a shame if their lives were cut short too soon.
He sighed as heavily as the dog had done. The future was never certain and Gawain’s life held more mystery than most.
“To bring an end to the threat we have witnessed requires all that we are,” he said to the hound, pulling a thin dagger from his boot.
There was no peace, no middle ground, no negotiating with the evil simmering just under the earth’s surface. It waited to surge forth on a tide of greed and hatred, devouring every good and holy thing in the land.
Much as he resisted and resented the magical gifts from the twisted branch of his family tree, there was no other choice on this field of battle. “Peter!” he called for his squire.
The young man stood at his side an instant later. “Yes, sir.”
“I must ask a great favor of you,” Gawain began. “A commitment I do not ask lightly. Sit down.”
He settled on the other side of the fire and Gawain waited, watching the young man’s gaze drift from the hound to the blade until finally he made eye contact.
“When the sun rises tomorrow I will make my attack on the evil teeming in the cave in the valley. The odds are long and I would have some assurances from you.” He paused, but the squire, wisely, did not reply. “There is a spell I must cast. It requires a host, a blood bond to render it most effective. It cannot be my blood.” He glanced to the stars, wishing it were otherwise. If his blood bound the spell, should Morgana’s followers kill him tomorrow, they’d be able to undo his efforts immediately.
“Whatever you need, I will provide,” Peter stated with a steady regard.
“I’ll have your vow that you will not get a woman with child.” The squire’s eyes went wide. “For your own safety your family line must die with you. If you have children, our enemy will search relentlessly for a way to undo the binding spell I will cast should I fall in battle tomorrow.”
“You will not fall. You are the most prepared -”
“The odds are long,” Gawain repeated, cutting short the praise that made him uncomfortable. The burden, resting heavy on his shoulders, was enough without heaps of flattery piled on. “I won’t take a chance that this evil will gain more solid footing under my watch.” The task was to purge England of Morgana’s crafty machinations before she did the unthinkable. He hadn’t received word from the others for some time now, had no way of knowing how they fared.
“You have my vow,” the squire said.
“Should we not survive the battle or the spell, you will know what to do with our bodies.” He stroked the hound’s ears. “I have provided detailed instruction.” He handed the squire a parchment, waited for the young man to read his final orders. “Keep your vow and whatever happens on the morrow, good will prevail.”
The squire nodded.
“I thank you,” he said. “The world will thank you.” Gawain signaled for Peter to come closer. “Pet the dog,” he said quietly. As the squire complied, Gawain pulsed a bit of magic into the air until he felt his squire relaxing.
When Peter’s eyes glazed over, Gawain pricked the young man’s hand with the dagger, drawing a spot of blood. His voice low and intense, the air seemed to vibrate around him, pulse through him as he cast the spell. Carefully, he let the squire’s blood drip over the dagger, the final binding ingredient merging with his words and reinforcing his intention to quash the rise of Morgana’s destructive power.
With the spell complete, the pressure in Gawain’s chest eased. In that blessed moment of peace, he roused the squire and sent him away while he and the hound waited for the sun to rise.
Chapter One, 21st century
His body sore and aching, Gawain opened his eyes to find his vision blurred and unsettling. It happened whenever his physical sight blended with the mystical bond that allowed him to see the world through his greyhound’s eyes as well. He’d long ago stopped cursing the roots of magic in his family that made the union possible, as the gift had saved his life on the battlefield more than once.
At the moment, his hound’s view was full of Gawain’s profile. The devotion warmed him, but it was unhelpful. Had they succeeded in putting an end to Morgana’s followers? He could tell by the cool air and near darkness they were in a cave. Suppressing a shudder at the thought, he blinked several times until he was seeing only with his natural eyes.
Looking about, he saw they were in what amounted to a stone tomb. Hearing water flowing nearby, he muttered a prayer of thanks to his squire for following directions. Slowly, Gawain stretched his stiff muscles and sat up, reaching over to pet the hound’s perked ears. At least one of them was alert. “How have we fared?”
The hound replied with a soft whine as he snuffled at Gawain’s beard, then his ears.
He soothed the dog while he regained his bearings. Images, memories, and plans tumbled through his mind while he struggled to put his thoughts in a logical order. Though his armor was gone, his sword and scabbard were at his side. Interesting. He scratched at the thick whiskers on his chin and cheeks, concerned by the excessive length of his beard.
The hopeful justification for his current state was that his last-resort spell had rendered them exhausted and they’d been mistaken for dead. Even as he considered the notion, it felt wrong. His empty stomach rumbled with raw hunger. How much time had passed since he’d been forced to cast the spell?
If all had gone well, if his sacrifice had worked, he shouldn’t have woken at all.
Concerned now with more than his beard, he stood quickly. The small cave twirled around him and he paused, giving his head a moment to stop reeling. The hound nudged him again, seeking encouragement or affirmation, he wasn’t certain.
He followed the sounds of the water to a small pool fed by a narrow trickle of water flowing gently through a crack in the rocks. As much as he detested being underground, feeling trapped by the earth and power coursing through it, this place was different. Peaceful. The squire had done a fine job.
Everything was as it should be, except for his being awake.
Scooping up a handful of the water, he sniffed the liquid first, and then tasted a drop. Satisfied it was safe to drink, he and the hound quenched their thirst from the shallow pool.
Each passing moment brought new awareness of his surroundings and his personal condition. An urgency pressed him, a spike of heat behind his breastbone. He rubbed at it, remembering the magic, precautions, and warnings. A fire nymph had touched him on the day he’d agreed to this undertaking and since that day the spot seemed to heat when he was on the verge of a crucial decision.
When he’d cast the spell on Morgana, he’d wanted to claw the fever right out of his chest. Praise God his hands had been full with fighting her followers.
He sat back now, contemplating the dark sheen of water on the rock. In the quiet, beneath the heat, he felt an infilling of strength. A rare feat for him in this place. He preferred open air for his quests and his magic over cramped, underground spaces.
“Shall we see what’s brought us awake?” he asked his hound. The dog flopped down beside him in a silent show of support.
Gawain wasn’t precisely afraid, but he was concerned. His last act of magic had been to bind a foul sorceress, keeping her confined to the sixth century. Her power twisted by the world, he and his friends were tasked with holding the defensive line.
Memories of that last morning filled his head. The chaos, the darkness swelling up from the earth, roots and stones pressing in on him from all sides. Without the squire’s vow, the spell would have failed. He and his hound would have fallen in battle, their blood and souls fodder for that ravenous evil power.
So what need did the world have for him now? He sensed only peace and harmony in this place. Beside him, his hound was equally content.
“Merlin?” The name reverberated in the chamber until only the soft song of the water remained. Well, the magician wasn’t known for answering, was he? Whatever or whomever had roused him, he’d given his oath to serve.
He stilled his mind, preparing to call forth his magical vision. Peering into the water as the hound rested at his side, he spoke the first words of power he’d learned and opened his senses. He bid the images to flow across the surface of the pool.
Familiar vistas of trees and lakes, meadows and mountains, gave way to villages that grew into vast cities. Castles and fortresses rose and fell. The views bled one into the next, shifting and changing before he could question anything. The hound at his side and the recollection of the gentle voice of his sister anchored him. He realized, with no small concern, he was watching centuries fly by, life and death, generations of families and rulers passing within a blink. It was a blessing, a relief when the landscape slowed, but the view he faced was so foreign to him, he trembled head to toe.
The terrible possibility King Arthur had warned about, enlisted his help to avoid, had come to pass. He’d been warned during his training back in Avalon, back in his own time, when he understood the world. Although the priestess then had shown him a preview, he couldn’t quite understand the drastic changes in the world he’d known and loved.
In the image on the water, towers were packed one nearly on top of the next. Some reflected light from strange, gleaming surfaces. Others – made of stone – were more familiar in structure if not design. People, so small in comparison to those structures, hurried to and fro across paved paths. Their attire was as strange to him as their carriages. He spied a horse with a man wearing a uniform or sorts. Not armor, but boots at least, with an insignia on his shoulder. Did the mark give him authority? What kind of strength did this one man have that he could effectively oversee the sheer number of people moving about? Was he on the side of good or evil?
Gawain gawked at the strange images and symbols flashing and changing. The people didn’t seem bothered, or even aware of the phenomenon surrounding them. He swiped at the sweat beading on his forehead, a product of the magic as well as what it revealed. He’d known fear. Any knight or warrior who denied such a thing was the worst kind of liar. Gawain had long ago vowed to remain honest in all things.
“This will be our greatest challenge,” he said. He laid his hand on the hound’s shoulder for comfort.
He returned his focus to the images beyond the pool. His clothes and sword would be vastly different. Entering this world would require a bit of glamour magic until he could find suitable garments.
But first he needed to identify his target. Morgana’s power in this world had called him awake and the city was too vast and too populated to enter without clear direction. “Seek with me,” he said to the hound.
When the dog’s attention was focused on the pool, Gawain whispered the words that would illuminate the trail of power. Movement at the edge of the image caught the hound’s eye and Gawain’s gaze followed.
A tall woman with deep auburn hair lingered on a corner, ignoring a tower of baffling images changing in flashes over her head. Gawain, out of practice, got distracted by the images, but the hound stayed on course. He was grateful for his partner’s sharp focus.
“She is tied to the summoning.” He studied the woman, curious that she did not reek of the dark sorcery as he expected. This woman was neither Morgana nor one of the followers. He shook his head and concentrated more intensely.
The inexplicable stumped him. How could an innocent be connected to his quest? He would doubt his instinct if not for the hound’s single-mindedness. He didn’t notice anyone with a darker intent or connection among all of the people milling about her. Gawain sighed. He supposed none of the circumstances would make sense until he understood where the binding spell had failed. She was involved, his magic and the hound’s instinct were aligned on that fact.
Then he saw a face he recognized, though it seemed as impossible as the city he gazed upon. Peter. His squire was dressed for the times and strode right up to the woman waiting on the corner. The woman’s proud posture weakened at his arrival. What the devil? He’d trained his squire to be genteel and gracious, not imposing to the fairer sex.
“We must go.” Gawain strapped his broadsword to his back while the hound yawned and stretched. With one hand on the hound’s head and his intention clear in his mind, Gawain took a deep breath and stepped into the strange world reflected in the water.
It was a sensation he would not forget, despite his rare use of this powerful magic of moving from one point to another. The transition from the quiet cave to the crowded, noisy streets shocked him. He shivered and the hound leaned against his leg, lending what warmth he could.
The silent vision had been pleasant in comparison to this reality. The sounds battered his eardrums and the myriad smells assaulted his senses. There was nothing familiar to him in this world, nothing beyond people who walked on two legs and the single horseman. No thickets or trees, no grass or soft earth. The sky was blotted from view by the crowding towers and the only view of the sun came from glaring reflections of light bouncing off of the strange structures.
He’d chosen his entry point away from the official on the horse and moved swiftly toward the woman and his squire. It was difficult to ignore the people in such strange clothing and their contraptions clogged the wider, black path between lines of towers. If he dwelled on all that was foreign, he would be overwhelmed before he could resume his quest. Changes be damned. He would adapt because nothing was more imperative than purging the evil had broken the laws of time.
He felt people watching him. Mouths gaped, women startled, and all eyes went wide as he stalked forward. Belatedly, he recalled that he was not dressed for the current year. Swallowing his discomfort, he applied the strongest glamour he could muster to blend in.
As he started once more for the woman and the squire who owed him an explanation, another uniformed horseman with a dark blue uniform approached him. The horse moved between the strange, loud carriages without showing any sign of distress. Gawain would count courageous horses as one favorable thing in this new place.
“Mister, you need a leash for that dog,” the man said.
Gawain glanced up, wishing he still had the horse he’d signed over to the squire. He let his gaze wander over the excellent animal. “Your horse is in superb condition.”
“Thanks. You still need a leash. City ordinance.”
“Of course.” Gawain extended his illusion and mimed putting a lead on his hound. “He is so well behaved I’d forgotten.”
“Never seen a greyhound quite that color,” the uniformed officer said.
Gawain smiled. It pleased him that animals here were valued and cared for despite the vast changes to the world. “Blue greyhounds are rare,” he said. “He was a gift from the king and we have been together many years.”
“King Arthur,” Gawain replied, his concerns with this world growing by the second. Was there no one in charge of this seething mass of humanity?
The officer laughed. “Great job staying in character, man,” he said as his horse shifted sideways. “You and your dog take care.”
The uniformed sentry and horse moved along, leaving Gawain to his pursuit. He’d thought his illusion more effective as he closed the distance, until the squire spotted him, eyes going wide in his face.
Gawain expected fear or humility on the young man’s expression, but seeing excitement and awe instead, he grew more perturbed. “What has happened to you, Peter? Why am I here?”
“My God.” The squire rubbed at his eyes. “Sir…” Peter clamped his lips together as he rushed forward. “Holy shit.” He cleared his throat, shook his head. “I can’t believe it’s really you.”
Gawain tried to reconcile the words and voice with the young man he’d known. Clearly he’d been here long enough to assimilate with the current era, yet he hadn’t aged. It was impossible to anticipate all the effects of a complex binding spell, but Gawain couldn’t dispute the evidence before him. He closed his eyes and breathed deep of the air choked with the scents of too many people and strange machines.
There was cause and effect in all things from planting and harvest to battle tactics. Magic was not exempt. It seemed he’d missed a critical element despite his training and precautions. “Explain your presence, and mine,” Gawain snapped. “Why are we in this strange place, Peter? This is not what I asked of you.”
“M-my presence?” He stammered. “I l-live here.”
“For how long?”
“All my life. Twenty-seven years,” he added.
The woman shied away, but the squire caught her hand and pulled her close to his side. Were they lovers? His squire had given a vow and Gawain’s temper grew at the obvious affront. Peter whispered something at her ear that caused her to gawk, eyes wide.
Gawain cataloged her features quickly. Her almond shaped green eyes were as sharp and deep as emeralds and framed with thick lashes and auburn eyebrows that winged in the manner of fey creatures. He vaguely remembered dreaming of a lass with those eyes, but couldn’t pinpoint when that had occurred.
Uneasy, Gawain glared at the sight of his squire’s hand joined with the woman’s. Had he been awakened because the man had broken his vow and rendered the spell useless? He turned the full force of his attention to Peter. “You gave me your vow,” he said through gritted teeth.
“What? Oh, no.” The man laughed nervously. “Right. That wasn’t me. I didn’t make that vow. I’m not Peter.”
At his side the hound’s lip curled. The growl was barely audible, but it matched Gawain’s increasing frustration. No one but the one who’d made the vow should know of it. Clearly, his squire had betrayed him. His palm itched, eager for the hilt of his sword as he stepped forward. “Who has turned you? And when?” How much advantage had Morgana gained on Gawain’s quest?
“No one.” The squire leaned back, raising his hands. “Times changed, sir, moved forward. My name is Nick O’Malley. Allow me to introduce Tara O’Malley.”
His squire had been an O’Malley and had vowed to be the end of that particular family line. What in all of heaven or hell had happened to derail his simple instruction and put the world in peril? Far from appeased, Gawain offered Nick’s woman a cursory bow. Chivalry could not be discarded on the grounds of his distress. “Pardon me. I am Gaw-”
“Wayne,” the man with his squire’s face interrupted. “Use Wayne while you’re here.” The man’s smile was tight, forced, as his eyes darted among the people passing by. “And we are happy to see you. We need your help.”
Nick’s caution, while troubling, assured Gawain he had woken in dire times, yet managed to arrive in the right place. There was a familiar comfort in being needed. He stretched the limits of his power, diverting magic from his glamour to prod the people closest to them, seeking the source of the threat that had brought him here.
“Stop,” Nick commanded in a low tone. “Your disguise is slipping. We can’t afford to draw the wrong kind of attention.”
The woman gawked at him, a bewildered worry in her eyes. Gawain immediately refocused his magic on his appearance. When the pair calmed, his gaze again wandered over the startling environment and population. There were too many changes to catalog. Few were likely relevant to his purpose here anyway. “Send away the woman so you can explain yourself.”
“I will explain, but she stays with us,” the squire replied. “Alone, she is in danger.”
“Bull. The woman,” she bit out each syllable, “can take care of herself.”
Gawain saw neither a bull nor any other imminent danger. “Explain yourselves,” he demanded. If Morgana targeted Nick’s woman they needed to act immediately. Gawain looked her over from head to toe, ignoring her indignant gasp at his extended perusal. “Have we met before, Tara?”
“No.” Her nostrils flared and her full mouth thinned to an angry line.
Gawain sensed something more lurking beneath her temper and indignation, but Nick swiftly interrupted the questions parading through his mind.
“I’ll explain everything and it will make sense soon enough. I hope,” Nick said. “We can’t discuss it out here on the street.”
Gawain set his feet, wanting answers now. Here. People barely acknowledged the three of them as they hurried about their business in every direction. “No one appears concerned with us.” He couldn’t decide if that was a boon or an insult. In Arthur’s realm, he would be recognized and welcomed, his return celebrated. But the realm had grown immense over the centuries. Gawain reeled in his troubling thoughts. “What year is it? Who is the king?”
“That can wait.” Nick rolled his eyes. “It’s irrelevant anyway. Follow me.” His hand clasped tight on the woman’s arm, he turned his back and walked away.
“Halt!” This was Gawain’s quest. He’d given his word to his king, regardless of time or unfamiliar terrain. Nick could not be allowed to forget who was in charge. Gawain knew he needed guidance through the rules of this world, yet he would not traipse about uninformed, led by a man he didn’t know well enough to trust.
The younger version of his squire turned, urging Gawain to approach. “It’s the twenty-first century, sir,” he explained in a voice no more than a coarse whisper. “Your squire, Peter, was my grandfather many times over. In every generation one of us is chosen, trained, and prepared for the eventuality of your return. I am a modern day squire, if you will.” His gaze turned to steel, an expression his ancestor had not mastered in Gawain’s time. “That is all I will say about it out here. Lingering in public isn’t smart.”
Nick’s statement and obvious concerns only raised more questions. Gawain reached for the hound, the contact settling both of them. “This is impossible.” The buildings, the sheer number of people and developments he could not put into words threatened to overwhelm him.
“Apparently not so much,” the woman grumbled, crossing her arms. “He managed to keep all those pesky details from everyone. Even family.”
“Especially family,” Nick corrected with a wry twist of his mouth. “We need to get off the street.”
“I see,” Gawain said. The response wasn’t a complete lie, though it was close. Not even his hound had picked up a trace of Morgana’s presence. Could he believe this O’Malley’s tale? Would this man prove more faithful than his ancestor? “Why did you bring your woman into this?”