C. Michelle Jefferies is a writer who believes that the way to examine our souls is to explore the deep and dark as well as the shallow. To manipulate words in a way that makes a person think and maybe even second guess. Her worlds include suspense, urban fantasy, and an occasional twist of steampunk. When she is not writing, she can be found on the yoga mat, hand binding journals, dyeing cloth, and serving ginger tea. The author and creator divides her time between stories, projects, and mothering four of her seven children on the wild and windy plains of Wyoming.
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A PROPHET’S REDEMPTION
Living an unassuming life as a teacher for the Academy, the former assassin, Antony Danic, turned Speaker for the Devoted, would love to let the past stay there. However, as hard as he tries, his new identity, Noble Standing, can’t escape who Antony was. The widower, turned self-avowed bachelor doesn’t mean to fall for the red-headed sword instructor, Lyris Jaimes. Noble insists he’s better off single, but he is drawn to her in spite of his memories of Elite. Noble finds that courting her, however, isn’t easy. His interest in Lyris sets into motion a rivalry between him and a dangerous sociopath who wants her for himself.
Regardless of the vow he made to never shed human blood again, Noble must reconcile his past with his present, and use his assassin skills and knowledge to keep himself and those he loves alive.
“We’re making pizza tonight,” Noble said, indicating the counter.
“Sounds delicious,” Lyris said. The kitchen smelled heavenly already.
“Noble may not be the best chef, but he makes a mean pizza.” Gage swept the last of the green peppers from the cutting board into the bowl.
“Hey,” Noble interjected. “I am not a terrible cook.”
“If you call heating dinners in the microwave good cooking.” Gage laughed.
“I . . .” Noble sounded like he wanted to debate it but had nothing with which to argue. “So, Lyris, I hope you like pizza,” he finally said. “And board games.”
Lyris blushed as everyone turned and looked at her. “I love it.” That wasn’t a lie. She loved it as much as she loved curry and Chinese food. She’d have to ask them to her place some night for curry. This could become really comfortable if the rest of the evening continued like this.
Noble handed her a round pan and a lump of dough as the others took dough and started to press it onto pans too.
“So what did you think . . .”
“I heard that . . .”
Lyris listened to them talk as she spread sauce onto the dough once it was flattened. She watched Noble pile everything on his while Gage stuck to mostly veggies and Mathilde put only ham and pineapple on hers. Lyris chose a few toppings and then some cheese. She leaned against the counter while the pizzas cooked and just listened to Gage and Noble banter with each other.
Once at the table, the conversation continued. It was obvious they were as close as she and Rianne had become, but instead of feeling left out, she felt invited in and included. She let her reservations go and relaxed. It felt nice. She even found herself laughing at some of the stories that Gage told about Noble and Noble’s rebuttal of Gage’s accuracy. Sometimes the story seemed too good to be true anyway.
“So who’s up for a game of Risk, Calvin-style?” Gage asked as he brought a box to the kitchen table. Lyris and Mathilde had cleared the table while Noble put the food away.
“Calvin Style?” Lyris asked.
“Yeah, as in Calvin and Hobbes? The rules are relative and world conquest is the goal,” Gage said.
“I’ve heard you shouldn’t play Risk with someone you like,” Noble looked at Lyris. She stared back at him. A smile edged her mouth, her cheeks growing hot. He was flirting with her, and she liked it.
“Hogwash!” Gage opened the game box and pulled out the board. “This way you get to see your friend’s true sides.”
Noble sighed. “MAT, you’re keeping score this time. Gage cheats too much otherwise.”
“I don’t cheat,” Gage said.
“I can’t keep score in a game where you guys change the rules every turn,” a voice said.
Lyris paused. The voice, while similar to Mathilde’s, was not the same. “MAT?”
“MAT, say hello to Lyris Jaimes. She’s a good friend of ours. MAT is an Artificial Intelligence Program,” Gage told Lyris.
“Hello, Lyris,” MAT said. “I’m glad to meet you. Noble speaks highly of you.” This time it was Noble’s turn to blush.
“The question, MAT, is . . .” Lyris looked at Noble and he visibly squirmed. Noble started to open his mouth but Gage grabbed his sleeve and shushed him. “How often does he speak of me?” Lyris asked.
Noble covered his face with his hand while Gage started to laugh. Mathilde smiled and went to the kitchen counter by the back door where there were two paper bakery boxes and a few bottles of some type of drink.
“Oh, pretty often, I think he likes you,” MAT said.
Noble groaned, and Lyris laughed.
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