Hi guys! We have Jenya Keefe popping in today with the tour for her new release The Musician and the Monster, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic Powell’s GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
The Musician and the Monster
Hatred is a spell only true love can break.
Ángel Cruz is a dedicated session musician, until loyalty to his estranged family forces him to work for Oberon: the feared and hated envoy from the Otherworld. Overnight, Ángel is taken from his life, his friends, his work, and trapped in a hideous mansion in the middle of nowhere, under constant surveillance, and with only the frightening fae for company.
Oberon’s poor understanding of humans combined with Ángel’s resentment and loneliness threaten to cause real harm to the pair. Then a long winter together in the mansion unites them in their love of music. Slowly, Ángel’s anger thaws, and he begins to realize that Oberon feels alone too.
Gradually, these two souls from different worlds form a connection like none other. But hate and prejudice are powerful things, and it’ll take all the magic of their love to stop the wider world from forcing them apart.
“You’re selling me to the elf-lord?”
This house, the one Ángel Cruz had grown up in, looked exactly the same as always. A small, old house in Jacksonville, it was shaded by the serpentine branches of oaks and had last been decorated in the early 1980s. It was immaculately clean and redolent with Ángel’s childhood memories.
But nothing was the same, not after the bomb his father had just dropped.
Both his father and mother were present, which was alarming enough. Ángel hadn’t seen Victor Cruz and Abigail Barrington in the same room together since his high school graduation. And then there was the stranger—a red-haired white man—occupying Victor’s chair at the head of the dining room table. Victor never ceded that chair to anyone.
And for a third—they were selling him to the elf-lord. Ángel was dumbfounded.
“Don’t be melodramatic, Ángel.” Victor could have patented that sigh, the one that said, Why is my son always so tiring? “Sit down.”
Ángel sank into a chair. He’d been summoned up from his apartment in Miami for an emergency family meeting this morning. After his grueling six-hour drive he was sweaty, smelly, and tired.
He caught the red-haired man glancing between him and his father. People often did because they looked so much alike: both small-boned, skinny, and brown. Nervously Ángel toyed with the woven rainbow bracelet on his wrist, guitar-string calluses catching in the threads.
He’d been prepared for a confrontation, but there was no way he could have prepared for this.
Victor said, “This is simple. Your family has generously supported you for your entire life. You have been provided with the best of everything, including an excellent education that you decided to throw away. You chose to waste all your opportunities and live like a child. Now your family has money troubles, and for the first time, you’re being asked to contribute a little.”
“Money troubles?” Ángel glanced at the man who sat in his father’s chair, and then back to his father. “What does the elf-lord want with me?”
“He prefers not to be called the elf-lord,” said the stranger, fussing with the cuffs of his good gray suit. “He is the cultural envoy from the Otherworld.” At Ángel’s baffled stare, he added, “My name is Neil Jeremy. I’m a senior special agent with the Department of Otherworld Relations. The envoy is not fond of the term ‘elf’ in general. He prefers ‘fae.’”
“The trouble,” continued Agent Jeremy, casting a scalpel-sharp glance at Victor, “is that Mr. Cruz has been indicted for attempting to run a Ponzi scheme on the cultural envoy from the Otherworld, and is now facing a prison term of up to fourteen years, not to mention liquidation of all assets to partly recompense the losses of his victims.”
Ángel stared at him. Then he looked at his father, who didn’t meet his eyes. “Excuse me?” Ángel said.
Agent Jeremy explained, tersely, that the FBI had been gathering evidence on Ángel’s father’s financial crimes for quite some time. A few months ago, Victor had contacted the envoy from the Otherworld with promises of extraordinary returns on a risk-free investment, and the envoy, apparently not an idiot, had alerted the DOR.
And now here they were.
The DOR agent said, “The envoy pledges that he will personally contribute ten million dollars in restitution to the other victims of your father, and the most serious charges against him will be dropped, if you, Ángel, are willing to live with and work for the envoy for six years.”
Ángel reeled back in his chair.
His father, a crook? It was inconceivable. Sure, Victor Cruz was a proud man, and sometimes a bitter one. He could be bad-tempered and judgmental. His divorce had dealt a blow to his pride that he’d never recovered from, and certainly his son’s open homosexuality had not brought him joy. But he lived by the immigrant’s ethic: hard work, education, Church, and family. Take faithful care of those, and the American Dream would fall into your hands. It had never occurred to Ángel that Victor might be dishonest.
“Ten million dollars?” Ángel’s voice squeaked when he was finally able to speak.
Jeremy said calmly, “Your father stole over seventeen million dollars from over thirty different investors.”
Ángel glanced around the room. The house was nice—everything worked perfectly, his father made sure of that—but no one had poured seventeen million dollars into this house.
Victor said tiredly, “Just cooperate, Ángel.”
“What would the el— What would the envoy want me to do?”
“The fae live communally, in large groups of family and friends,” said Jeremy. “As the only fae on Earth, the envoy is—well, he’s lonely. He doesn’t have anyone to talk to. You would be his companion. There would be a salary, of course, and room and board.”
The silence in the room was deafening.
After a moment, Ángel said, “He’s paying ten million dollars for company? Is he angry? Will he— Is he going to punish me for what my father did?”
Victor scoffed. “Now you are being absurd. The envoy is a man of honor.”
“Perfect target for a thief, then, no?” flashed Ángel at him. “Absurd was you trying to rip him off. And now you want me to save your ass.”
Agent Jeremy said blandly, “Six years is less than half the minimum prison sentence your father could expect for fraud.”
“I’m not the one who committed fraud,” said Ángel, standing up.
“Ángel,” said his mother. “Please sit.”
He looked at her. Abigail Barrington had married a short Cubano electrician in a burst of adolescent rebellion, and then, thinking better of it, had divorced him and moved back to Savannah, leaving her son behind. She looked out of place here in her ex-husband’s Jacksonville home—pale and blond and slim.
He’d spent summers with her other family in Georgia, where he’d always felt, at best, like a guest; at worst, an embarrassing reminder of an episode everyone would prefer to forget. But he did remember happy times too. She had taught him to dance in the dining room of her house. They’d pushed the table and chairs up against the wall and turned up the radio to waltz to “She’s Always a Woman” by Billy Joel. She’d laughed as they danced.
She wasn’t laughing now. “No matter what you do, your father is going bankrupt. His business is gone. He’s going to lose this house, and his retirement account, and the money he put aside for you. He’ll be publicly disgraced before all his friends. He’ll lose friends, the people who trusted him.”
This was horrifying. In spite of himself, pity for his father rose up in his throat. He still couldn’t believe that Victor would ever do this—his father wouldn’t know how to contact the envoy from the Otherworld.
But he bet his wheeler-dealer stepfather would. “Did you know?” he asked. “Were you in on it too?”
“But if you step in,” she went on, not answering him, “that’s where the damage stops. Your father won’t go to prison. They won’t come after my family, or your brothers. Ned won’t lose his home, Michael will be able to stay in school—he’ll need to get loans, but he’ll be able to do it. Think of Ned and Michael. Think about Ned’s children.”
“You did know.” He stared at his mother. “I bet it was Bill’s thing all along, wasn’t it?”
“That doesn’t matter now.”
God. His mother was married to a man named Bill Harrington, who’d made bank in Hilton Head real estate development, who talked big about money and deals and how you had to spend in order to make. Maybe he’d lost his shirt. Maybe that’s where the seventeen million had gone: into Barrington’s pockets. Rescuing his ex-wife from her husband’s financial disaster—that would appeal to Victor. But then someone had gotten stupid, gotten caught, had brought them all down. “Doesn’t it? I might pay for Papá’s fuckup, but I’m not going to pay for Bill’s.”
Agent Jeremy said, “Bill Harrington hasn’t been indicted for these crimes. The evidence points to Victor Cruz.”
His mother twisted the knife. “It’s not as though you have a career or a family of your own.”
I do. Ángel didn’t say it out loud though, just stared at her, seeing only the lack of love in her blue eyes.
His father loved him in his way, or had once. When Ángel was outed at seventeen, Victor had raged, wept, begged him to pray for forgiveness and change his ways. But his mother had simply turned away, with a coolness that suggested she never had loved him. Whatever happy memories she cherished from his childhood weren’t happy enough for her to keep in touch.
He had defied them both. He hadn’t changed his ways. He’d quit college to make a living as a musician. He would rather play and sing for los turistas at the Manatee Bar in Ormond Beach than pursue a career in engineering or medicine, like his brothers, or to become an electrician and work for his father.
He’d somehow cherished the hope that his parents still loved him. That they would someday come to accept him. Their queer boy, their session musician.
Now those hopes tasted as bitter as aspirin dissolving on his tongue. This was his parents’ assessment of his actual worth. His life, his relationships, the career that he’d been building, held nothing of value to them. He was expendable, and they’d sacrifice him to save themselves.
But he couldn’t just abandon them.
He turned to the Agent Jeremy. “Two years.”
“Four,” said Jeremy instantly.
Ángel sighed, looking again at his family: his mother, blonde, with her family’s sky-blue eyes, so lacking in warmth. His father like an older mirror image, brown and lean.
Neither of them quite met his eyes.
“Done,” said Ángel.
An imperceptible sigh of relief from his parents. Maybe from Agent Jeremy too. Then his father said gruffly, “Thank you, retaco.”
“You haven’t called me retaco since I was seventeen,” he snapped. “You don’t go back now.” He transferred his glare to Agent Jeremy. “Four years. And after this, all debts are paid. We are done and done.”
Agent Jeremy snapped open his briefcase and pulled out a fat contract. “Have a look,” he said, passing it across the table. “Let me know if there’s anything else that you’d like us to change.” Ángel began to read, heart breaking, eyes burning. He vowed that he would never return to this house, or speak to these people, ever again.
Jenya Keefe was born in the South. She has an advanced degree in European history, and has spent much of her life working the kinds of jobs a history degree qualifies you for: gift shop employee, lumber grader, classifieds clerk, hot glass artist. She currently lives in the Seattle area, where she works at a library. She has always written stories.
To celebrate this release, Jenya is giving away a $15 gift card to Powell’s City of Books!
Powell’s is an independent bookseller located in Portland, but those not in Portland can still shop online.
Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
(Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 4, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.)
Check out the other blogs on the tour!
Erotica for All
Love Bytes Reviews
MM Good Book Reviews
Tuesday, October 1
Boy Meets Boy Reviews
Book Reviews and More by Kathy
Wednesday, October 2
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
TTC Books and More
Bayou Book Junkie
Thursday, October 3
Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
Friday, October 4
La Crimson Femme
My Fiction Nook