Hi peeps! We have Amy Lane popping in today with her upcoming release Quickening Vol 1, we have a fantastic guest post from Amy and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Quickening, Vol 1
Cory thought she’d found balance on Green’s hill—sorceress, student, queen of the vampires, wife to three men—she had it down! But establishing her right to risk herself with Green and Bracken had more than one consequence, and now she’s facing the world’s scariest job title: mother.
But getting the news that she’s knocked up takes a backseat when a half-elf hunts them down for help. Her arrival brings news that the werewolf threat, which has been haunting them for over a year, has finally arrived on their doorstep—and it’s bigger and more frightening than they’d ever imagined.
Cory throws herself into this new battle with everything she’s got—and her men let her do it. Because they all know that whether they defeat this enemy now or later, the thing she’s most afraid of is arriving on a set schedule, and not even Cory can avoid it. The trick is getting her to acknowledge she’s pregnant before she gives birth—or kills herself in denial.
How It All Began
by Amy Lane
So I know for a lot of people, the “big deal” of Quickening’s release is sort of lost.
Amy writes lots of books. Lots of big books. So?
And let’s face it—this one’s got a girl on the cover, and, yes, well, girls on the cover of an author known for her gay male romance work does not inspire a lot of “HUZZAH!”
But, like with everything, there is a story…
So, once upon a time there was an English teacher who felt compelled to go back to school to get her master’s degree. Why? Well, it was unclear even then. All of her peers were doing it, and it appeared to be the only way to get any income mobility and…
Everybody else was getting their MA in education, the better to become administration, but this particular English teacher wouldn’t touch administration with a barge pole. Ugh. Gross. No.
But learn more about her subject matter? Holy Goddess YES!
So she took a bunch of different classes—an entire semester on Hamlet, anyone? And finally decided that creative writing was where she wanted to be.
And she was in this class, loving it, when some asshole dropped a couple of planes on some buildings in New York, and she had a big epiphany: She’d left her two young children at home during her school time, and they were only six and eight at the time, and she didn’t want to spend her precious moments taking classes to make a quota, she wanted to spend her time with them.
So she dropped out of the master’s program—but she kept writing.
Three and a half years later she self-published the book she’d started during that time in the master’s class. It felt like self-aggrandizement mostly—the master’s project was a finished novel, and hey, she’d done that, so even if she didn’t have the piece of paper to prove it, she had Vulnerable.
This was back when self-publishing was in its infancy, and our English teacher made a LOT of mistakes—a lot of them surprisingly enough, in English.
This was back during a DARK period in language instruction. A time called “whole language” learning—when it was considered unprofessional for an English teacher to so much as request a grammar textbook to teach her students how to write English with any sort of proficiency. They were supposed to just “absorb” that knowledge from the books they read.
For the record—it didn’t work.
It destroyed this particular English teacher’s basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation—all she was reading at the time was student papers.
Which meant when her masterpiece came out, there were some really fucking embarrassing errors all over the goddamned manuscript.
But she didn’t care. Because seriously. How many people were going to read something she wrote? She worked in an extremely misogynistic environment—none of the people in her staff room would so much as let her finish a sentence. She grew up with people who thought she was too stupid to finish college in the first place—and were really confused as to why she’d take master’s classes in something that wouldn’t get her more money just because she hated the job. Her students thought she was okay—but it was an inner-city school, and the ones who didn’t think she was okay told her she was a dumbfuck twat on a daily basis, and her administration didn’t really think that was too bad on the whole.
Her children—whom she adored—both had their own difficulties in school. Obviously her fault, because what did she do wrong to produce a kid with a communication handicap and one with a skewed, Eyeore view of life, even at six?
Nobody would read this book. (Except her outstanding and wonderful Mate.) Nobody would care. It was her accomplishment, and hers alone, and she was really proud of it.
And she was proud of the next one, and the next one, and the one after that. For six years, her Christmas gift from her husband was a chance to self-publish the book she’d written that year between kids and school and soccer and dance and karate and, oh, hey, giving birth to two more children for a total of four.
And then, one day, someone on Twitter asked for a short fic—just a short fic—based on a video of some really hot guys and a dirty guitar riff, and she wrote it, just for fun…
And these people—this publishing company—loved it.
In fact, they had read her books. They loved her stories. They thought she was worthwhile—they wanted to see what else she could write.
And her love affair with writing purely gay romance began.
Now, the last thing she’d written on her own had been the fourth book in her first series—Rampant.
And she’d dropped a helluva bomb at the end of that book. A sort of, uh, BIG cliffhanger. Or two.
And just when her writing career in gay romance took off, her teaching career took a HUGE, devastating, killing hit—and yes, the two things were very closely connected. So suddenly, writing gay romance became the thing she absolutely had to do.
It became her livelihood.
And finishing that series—ending that cliffhanger—that became the last thing on her list.
So… what does this have to do with Quickening?
Seven years ago I wrote a book that ended with a teeny-tiny-itty-bitty sorceress being told some VERY BIG GINORMOUS LIFE CHANGING NEWS.
And people have been waiting to see how that comes out. For seven years.
So I’m going to be writing some blog posts about this book in the next week—and I’m going to be WAY more excited about its release than I think my community is going to be.
But that’s okay—because the first book was something I wanted to do for myself. And this book was a promise I kept to all the people who thought that first book was something special, something that resonated with them, and took the time to tell me that my voice—the one that seemed to be raised desperately unheard for so long—was really important to them.
So it’s possible Quickening isn’t going to take the gay romance world by storm.
But I’m so happy that it’s out, I’m could actually cry.
If you’re interested in the books that started it all, start with Vulnerable—it’s been re-edited and recovered, as have all of the original books in the series.
If you’re a fan of the series already, and you’ve been waiting for the last seven years—you’re the best. Period. I couldn’t have done the last twelve years without you.
Cory’s Got Her Boobs Back
I AM too stupid to live.
“Really?” I asked for the umpteenth time.
Green, my day-lover, the warmest, most patient man I knew, narrowed his overlarge emerald-green eyes in frustration. “Which part of ‘pregnant’ are you not getting?” he asked suspiciously.
I looked from him to Bracken, their extraordinarily beautiful, sidhe-perfect anime features blurring in the face of my complete panic.
“The part where I have tiny humanoid beings growing in my body!”
Bracken grunted and placed his large, wide palm on my T-shirted abdomen, then closed his eyes.
“Holy mother of fuck!”
Bracken yanked his hand away as though burned. Green placed his own hand there, this time skin to skin, and the pain went away.
I caught my breath and looked at my due’alle accusingly. “What did you do to me?” I asked, almost in tears.
He sent me a look full of remorse—and stubbornness. In Brack, that was always a lethal combination.
“You were being obstinate,” he said unhappily. “You know what being pregnant means. You even know how it happened—”
I opened my mouth to protest, then remembered that pain. Green—Green—hadn’t reprimanded him for the pain. That told me more than I ever needed to know about me being a complete pain in the ass.
“I overrode your wills,” I said quietly, the pain adrenaline fading quickly. They’d told me this. In a moment of need—and an assertion of my independence, if I was being honest with myself—I’d lain with each one of them, and….
You know that moment in an argument—any argument—with a loved one, when you actually win?
And then you feel like shit for having forced the issue—because really, how important was it that you were right when you were, in fact, in a relationship based on love, trust, and being considerate of your lover’s feelings?
I’d had that moment.
I was right. I was fully capable of deciding who I would kill for and who I would die for, and that yes, I might have been the queen of the vampires and the ou’e’eir to the leader of all the supernatural creatures between Crescent City and Grapevine, but I was not too precious to risk myself when the cause was worthy.
I was right.
Do you know what being right gets you when you’re in bed with someone whose birth control depends on his will? Do you know what happens when you override that will with being right?
Apparently, it gets you knocked up.
And when you have two sidhe lovers, it gets you knocked up twice.
With one semester to go before your degree.
My degree. I was pregnant with twins, and I hadn’t graduated from college yet. Hur-fuckin’-rah! I was right!
“You did,” Green said quietly. He extended his arm, fully expecting me to cuddle, go boneless, to trust, but I couldn’t.
I turned miserable eyes to him. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Bracken said, surprising me. I felt his hand in my hair tentatively. “You… you were right, and we were being stubborn. But you’re pregnant now. And it’s not just you in there.”
He flicked my head gently, and I managed a crooked grin. “I’m pretty sure that’s not where they’re hanging out,” I said softly. I looked at Green again, and he shook his head.
“Pretty sure you’re right,” he said, one corner of his wide, mobile mouth pulling up.
I took his offer of a hug then. I laid my head against his shoulder, then extended my arm so Bracken could do the same thing.
“Just because I was right,” I said, “doesn’t mean I did the right thing.”
“It took me five hundred years to learn that,” Green said in wonder. “You’re doing very well.”
Bracken nuzzled my cheek and, very carefully, put his hand on my abdomen again. I felt nothing but a little bit of hardness there, like I’d had a very full meal, except lower.
“What did you do? Why did it hurt?” I asked, half-afraid he’d put the pregnancy at risk in an effort to get through to me. I should have known better.
“Just talked to it,” he said. “One of them shares my gift. It was painful to have us talk through your blood.”
I noticed the way he said “one of them.” Elves did not pass down their own traits in the DNA. In fact, nobody really knew how elves and trait heredity really worked. Bracken’s parents were both lower fey. His mother was a pixie—three and a half feet of sex kitten with violet hair. His father was a redcap—same height, but built like the forgotten corner of a rock quarry.
Bracken was six feet six of beautiful, broad-shouldered, mostly smooth, pale-skinned, big-eyed sidhe perfection.
For all I knew, I was carrying a rock quarry and a pixie in my womb—but somehow I didn’t think so.
I blinked very slowly, wrestling with one thing at a time. “Does that mean I’m going to bleed out every time I pop a zit?” Yes, it was a gross analogy, but my skin hadn’t been this cluttered with acne since I was a junior in high school. Click. Oh, hell. Of course I was a big pimply mass of estrogen. Fucking Jesus—this was not going to get better.
“No,” Green said, his eyes meeting Brack’s. “In fact, we’re pretty sure the other one has my healing power. We think it was, perhaps, the Goddess….” He trailed off delicately.
“Trying to make sure I don’t die of my own stupidity?”
The lingering tension that had been present since I’d first gaped at Green and said “Oh fuck no!” began to dissipate.
“Not stupid, Corinne Carol-Anne,” he said softly. “Just very, very young.”
I usually railed at that. I’d finally reached twenty-two, right? Hell, there was a time I didn’t think I was going to live past twenty—and given how many scary things had tried to kill me, getting here was quite an accomplishment.
But not now. I had never felt so young in all my life—not even the morning I’d woken up in Green’s arms and we’d realized that our vampire lover had died the night before, and it was the two of us alone and grieving.
I snuggled in more tightly, and Bracken got a little closer. His hand brushed my breast as he did so, and my nipple gave a little shriek of pain. I gasped but kept it to myself—because hey, what girl hadn’t endured a boob shot when snuggling with one of her ginormous husbands, right?
Bracken grunted and stared at me through eyes the color of a weedy, brackish pond in shadows. “That hurt,” he stated.
“Yeah. The girls have been a little tender ever since Monterey….”
Just that quickly a kaleidoscope of our adventure down by the sea flickered behind my eyes. In particular, there was the moment when Teague, our alpha werewolf, and his husband, Jack, passive-aggressive pain in my ass, had both teamed up to protect me.
“Oh hell. Was that why Jack decided to side with me? Because I’m pregnant?”
Dammit! Of all the…. I’d wanted to win Jack over with my leadership abilities, or with my ability to protect his lover, who was one of my captains and one of my best friends, or even with my friendship with their wife, Katy, whom I both adored and was dazzled by.
“You have a problem with that?” Brack asked curiously. Yeah, Brack’s brain worked along straightforward lines—as long as the result was that I was protected, he didn’t give a crap why.
“I would have liked it if he’d just thought I was a good enough leader to serve,” I grumbled. “I mean, what’s a girl gotta do?”
Bracken pulled out from under my arm, his eyes blazing. He ran a distracted hand through his dark hair, setting it on end like an angry hedgehog, and stared at me.
“That’s what you’re worried about?” he asked, sounding outraged. “Do you know how many dangerous, foolish things we did in Monterey? And you’re worried that Jack followed you for the wrong reasons?”
I shivered—which was one of the by-products of having an emergency field transfusion of his blood, which I didn’t remind him of, because hey—one more thing to be pissed at me for, right?
So instead of arguing, I actually thought about what he was saying. Then I wished I hadn’t.
’Cause, well, we’d jumped out of a helicopter to be caught by my magic and my magic alone, which was a first for me in the flying department. We’d stood up to a gigantic rabid wolf pack with nothing but exhausted, injured werewolves and a few tired Avian shifters as support, and I’d….
Oh God, I’d….
I’d been forced to mass kill again, when I’d sworn I’d never do that. Not on purpose. Not so soon after having to issue a death warrant on vampire children because they’d had the bad luck to be turned by a pedophile and would never be sane, never be safe, never be human again.
In my mind I went back to that moment, the lot of us trapped under the force field I’d erected out of magic and desperation in a back alleyway. We’d been just far enough from the sea for us to lose the smell of hope. The rogue wolves had been throwing themselves against it for what seemed like forever, and I’d been growing tired. I could make the shield lethal. I’d been able to kill with my power from the very beginning, but I just kept hoping they’d see sense, that they’d stop somehow, that I wouldn’t have to waste so many fucking lives….
And I’d been teetering between trying to fight our way out and simply making the shield enough to kill them all, when Teague—my captain, my right-hand man, my friend—had looked at me and whimpered. His back end had dropped then—as it should, since he’d been recovering from breaking every bone in his body less than a week before—and I’d seen it in his eyes.
His mates were there, Jack and Katy, and he wanted them to live.
Or that’s what I’d thought.
Instinctively I placed my hand over my lower abdomen, thinking of what we could have lost there. What Bracken had known I’d been risking.
“You didn’t say anything,” I whispered. I looked over my shoulder at Green. He was gazing at me levelly, with no apologies and no regrets.
“No,” Green said. He and Bracken were staring at each other as though they were reliving a terrible conversation of their own.
“But—” But why? Why would two men who had made my health and welfare their bloody science for the past two years not protest, not try to protect me, not try to talk me out of my own stupid pride when I had their children on board?
“You never would have forgiven….” Bracken looked around the living room like he was looking for words. “Anybody!” he burst out. “Any of us. You, me, Green—hell, the children-to-be. And if, Goddess forbid, anything had happened to Teague, it would have been—” He stood for a moment and flailed his arms. “Cory-ageddon. You would have self-detonated. This whole… baby thing would have begun under a—”
“A black karmic funk of epic proportions,” I supplied, feeling a little queasy just thinking about it. Of course, since I’d been feeling queasy pretty much for the past two and a half weeks, that was no big news. “But….” I could have died? Well, I could have died a lot of times in the last two years. I kept arguing that I would be fine—there were no promises, and my entire purpose was protection.
“I asked for this?” Quiet revelations do sometimes sound like questions. “I did. I… I said I knew best, and… and….”
“And we trusted you to know best,” Green said quietly. “We trusted you with you, and our children.”
I closed my eyes, somewhat reassured. “That’s….” But I couldn’t do it. Maturity had apparently gotten me into this mess. It was time for honesty to get me out.
“Terrifying!” I wailed, and then I dissolved into stupid tears on Green’s chest.
Bracken sighed and plopped behind me, and I cried until I fell asleep.
I remember saying once that I knew how bad things had been before I fell asleep based on how many people were in my bed when I woke up. The worse things were, the more people.
It was somewhat reassuring, then, to wake up and find Bracken—and Bracken only—sitting next to me, reading on his Kindle. (I had gotten him into the habit of romances when I’d been really sick once, and quite frankly, they’d been taking over our home. Since Green’s hill burrowed into the better part of a small mountain and our population kept growing, the e-reader was really a most awesome investment.)
I blinked for a second, disoriented by the nap, then tried to place the time, and then tried to place the entire feeling of wrongness around me.
“Where’s Green?” I asked muzzily. That should clear things up, right?
“Getting reports from Arturo,” he said cagily. Sidhe couldn’t lie—oh no they couldn’t—but they sure could tap dance around the truth like pros.
“Something I should know about?” I asked, eyes narrowed. Sidhe weren’t the only ones who could tap dance.
“Probably,” he admitted, setting his Kindle on the dresser and sliding down to put himself on my level. “But you and me need to have a little talk first.”
Everything inside me—heart, stomach, mood, blood sugar—all sort of sank down into despond in one go. We were going to talk about this now. Now.
“What….” I stopped because his brow furrowed, and I held up my hand. Maturity, right? “Okay, Brack? I don’t want to get into a big hairy argument, okay?” I said quietly. “I mean, I just took a nap in the daytime, and my boobs hurt, and I’m probably going to have to eat in about five minutes because that’s how I’ve been running for the last two weeks, and I didn’t know why.” Okay. Maybe not completely mature. “Anyway, just tell me what you want. I mean… not in a bad way. But you want me to know something or acknowledge something. This is my fault—I get that.”
He held up a finger, and I paused for breath.
“Not your ‘fault,’” he said quietly. “But go on.”
“I just… I need to know what you need from me so I can tell you if it’s something I can give.”
His grim mouth twisted in the corners in what was almost a smile.
“All right,” he conceded. “First of all, there is no blame here. Green and I didn’t see you grow up. It’s that simple. You kept trying to tell us—with words, with actions—and we didn’t see it. We know you better than that. We should have seen it. You needed something from us, and you took it.”
“I was wrong,” I said. Because even when you’re right, “winning” for the sake of winning apparently didn’t do anybody any good. “Wrong to force it. That’s… well, it’s sort of the opposite of what I was trying to prove, actually.”
Then Bracken did a wondrous thing. He smiled.
“Goddess, I love you,” he said baldly. “You…. Just when I’m afraid we’re going to kill each other, you say or do or realize something, or make us see it, and we’re all right again. You asked me what I needed from you?”
Gently he reached out and traced the contours of my face. “Take care of yourself. Not just because of our children. Take care of you. Don’t do the safe things because of the babies, or because Green and I will worry. Do them because you have people who love you and make you happy. Do them because you have something glorious to look forward to. Stay safe and unharmed for the same reason you got pregnant. Because you deserve more than to live in pain or fear or frustration. Can you do that?”
I opened my mouth and then closed it.
All of the things…. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But everything I’d done in my life that I was proud of, I’d done for them.
“I, uhm….” I swallowed and sat up, crossing my arms.
Bracken sighed and followed me, leaning against the headboard. I thought of a piss-stupid question.
“Oh God. If Jack and Teague know—does Nicky know?” Nicky, my accidental lover, had become an integral part of our family—and one of my husbands. Nicky was an Avian shifter, and by a freak accident of preternatural magic, he’d become bonded to Green and me in a giant sexual energy explosion. We’d made the best of a bad situation, and all of us—Bracken included—had come to love Nicky. What the four of us did in our marriage bed was both sublime and unfettered by jealousy.
But it would totally suck for him if he was the last to know.
“Oh yeah,” Bracken snorted. “He knew in Monterey—you almost gave him a heart attack.”
Okay. So Nicky knew. Jack and Teague knew. “Do the vampires know?” They’d been sort of… squeamish about taking my blood lately, come think of it.
And Bracken was nodding slowly, an ironic smile on his face.
“So is there anybody who doesn’t know?” I asked, feeling a wave of complete mortification wash through me.
Bracken nodded. “Your parents and Andres.”
My eyes widened and I threw myself into the pillow next to me. “I get dibs on telling Andres,” I mumbled. The sexy vampire might finally stop macking on me once I got bloated and fat—although he might still mack on Bracken, and I could totally deal with that. Brack and I were bound—nobody outside our marriage bonds got to bed either one of us alone without possibly turning Bracken into a puddle of ectoplasmic goo. (The Goddess spells got weirder the longer you were in the community. That one always seemed particularly cruel.) But if I was there….
Well, I had been there—Bracken inside of me, Andres inside of him—and it had been lovely, and I’d never apologize for it in a million years.
But, uhm, I wasn’t going to be doing that—not full of babies, I wasn’t. A part of me was like, “Oh yeah, sure, Cory, that’s where you draw the line?” But most of me was simply… full. Babies and my husbands. It was a smaller sphere than I was used to. I might get it to expand to accommodate more, but right now, it was perfect as it was.
And Andres would understand. He just would. He was perhaps the kindest man I knew, with the exception of Green.
“I’m not telling your parents,” Bracken said severely, and we might have had that brouhaha right then, except I caught a passing thought from Green—he was worried. He was also almost done.
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
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