If you read the novella Canes and Scales, you only experienced part of the romance. Canes and Scales: the Novelsweeps the reader further into Linden and Alasdaire’s spellbinding relationship. Except for their love, nothing is as it seems.
Serpent Prince Linden of Ardaul is determined to drag his barbaric, power-hungry country into the modern age by encouraging learning, advances in the sciences, and tolerance. His insane brother Edward, the King, delights in making him pay for his efforts.
Long years of watching his back, fighting wars, and solving conflicts started by his cruel brother have taken a toll on Linden’s body and mind, and he needs a respite. When Linden meets an alluring young bed slave named Alasdaire, his weary heart responds. Alasdaire is an exotic mix of southern royal Totandian elf and human, and, although he’s also suffered hardship most of his life, his loving personality captivates the Prince.
Despite their differences, Alasdaire, canes—and Linden, scales—unite in body and soul, but their romance is nearly shattered by betrayal. When Linden becomes King, magical assassins, treachery, and threats plague them. They narrowly escape death more than once. The lovers must discover who wants them dead and more importantly, where they can turn for aid. Neither enemies nor allies are what they seem. Only time will tell who means to harm Linden and Alasdaire—the elves, the imprisoned Edward, or something even deadlier—and time is one thing they don’t have.
I blinked. The prickly hay shower no longer plagued my skin. My goggles and helmet had somehow vanished. I refocused my stare until I realized I lay in a verdant valley setting graced by a clear stream. Green grass supported me. How had I arrived here? How could I recognize the ancient oak’s twisted majestic branches soaring over my head? How?
I sat up and shook my head. Above me the towering sky appeared magical, spreading a wondrous, dense black field speckled with many silver lights. Had I fallen from that vast cosmos of blazing stars? Had I become a living comet and survived the fall? Amazing!
Somehow I saw clearly despite the dark, almost as if everything glowed from within. Intriguing. But why—I stood. How could I move? I had felt bones break. I looked around, feeling disorientated. The oak branches beckoned to me. More accurately, the timeless little elven shrine tucked above the tree in a mountainside grove called to me. I knew that shrine existed here. I had visited that ancient stone the last time I had journeyed to Keith’s many years ago.
I needed to go there.
I stepped forward. No pain or injury beleaguered me.
Was I dead?
I reached out to run my seeking fingers over the oak’s rough bark. The surface felt solid. Could a dead person still feel living objects? How odd. I edged upward on the path until I stepped into the grove. A beautiful, tranquil sight filled my gaze.
“Alasdaire!” To my delight, my elf—clad in a long golden robe—stood serenely staring up at the numerous stars.
Alasdaire started and fixed his luminous violet gaze on me. Alarm suffused his features. “Linden. No! Go back, my love.”
What? “Go back to where?”
“You must return to me.”
Why did my elf use silly riddles? My laughter liberated my soul. “But I’m with you now, Alasdaire. Why do I need to leave you to return to you? Do you tease me?”
Alasdaire slowly shook his head. He pointed a stern finger at me. “No. I understand the problem. You are here with my sleeping spirit. You need to return to your body in order to return to me in real life. You cannot stay here.”
I reached for him. Pulling him close seemed like a grand idea. “But it feels peaceful here. Here you’re free from the Catch and I’m free from worry.”
Instead of letting me hug him, Alasdaire held up his right hand. His angry expression chastised me. “Only a coward gives up so easily!”
How harsh. “Why do you call me a coward?”
He shook his head. “Because you do not want to return to face your responsibilities.”
I laughed with amazement. “Listen to you! Even in spirit you still act brash to me. I understand. You’re correct. If I return and survive, then you also survive. I accept your eternal wisdom.”
“You should. I speak the truth.” Alasdaire relented and stepped close to stroke my cheeks. When he remained close, we kissed, until he drew back and shook his head. “Stop trying to tempt me. Remaining in this sedate eternity appeals to me. You must go.”
“How can I resist your charms? Still, I don’t understand how we meet in this manner.”
“We meet like this because I love you with all my soul. My love protects you. Your spirit wanders from your damaged body. Feel glad you encountered my love at this shrine because other less kind entities prowl this hidden realm. Evil surrounds us.” Alasdaire pointed toward the shrine. “Hurry, press your hands to the stone canes and concentrate. We will be together soon enough.”
“How I long to remain with you.”
Another kiss felt wonderful until Alasdaire pushed me away, acting as if I tasted tainted. He pointed at the shrine. “Go!”
I accepted his rudeness. “Until we meet again in life.”
His adoring smile soothed me. “Yes, my Linden. Until that moment, keep safe and remember our love. Remember.”
I walked to the small, weathered shrine and traced the worn cane carvings before I pressed my palms flat against the cool stone. To my shock, warmth welled into my flesh. Warmth and urgency, there—
I seemed to fade into the night.
A frantic voice intruded on my peace. “Linden! Linden! Powers on High, Prince, do not be dead! Linden! This cannot be! Linden, no!”
I blinked. Even a simple blink hurt. Searing pain invaded every part of my body. “Jenkins—” My voice croaked free in a shattered parody of itself. “Jenkins, please stop shaking me.”
Poor Jenkins could barely speak. Blood coated his face. “Forgive me, my Prince, but you did not breathe. I feared the worst, but you are alive!”
I managed a pained grin. “Someone rudely tossed me back into the living world.”
Before I uttered any more stupid remarks, I passed into fresh oblivion.
Who is S.A. Garcia?
Forty years ago, I started writing gay male romance. Writing about men inserting tab A into slot B didn’t seem the norm for a suburban female teenager. Reading Gordon Merrick, John Rechy, and Larry Kramer helped me fill in the serious informational gaps. Yes, I read those informative books in my bedroom. No wonder.
As the years progressed, I continued writing gay male romance, although the stories progressed from scribbles in notebooks to hiding on the computer. I wrote fantasies, contemporaries, bodice rippers—my muse Diva Faboo refused to let this old lesbian write a F/F romance. Go figure. Someday!
I’m glad I kept the writing faith. I never thought anyone would published my novels. Imagine, my comedy An Elf for All Centuries (formerly from Silver Publishing; now in talks for a new home) was in the running for a few awards. What a thrill!
My life has turned into a fun quandary of too many stories hindered by my slow, two-fingered typing skills. I blunder onward into more trauma, drama, and humor. I just hope I can keep up with sexy men who insist on running off with the plots!
Along with Canes and Scales: the Novel, Dreamspinner is also home to my novellas, assorted short stories, short stand-alones and the M/M romdramedys (romance/ drama comedy) Cupid Knows Best and The Gospel According to Cher.
Love in the Shadows, my first attempt at mixing M/M historic and contemporary with a touch of the supernatural, is at MLR Press.
Facebook: S.A. Garcia