My guest today is Melora Johnson, author of the paranormal romance novel Earthbound. In a first for the Naughty Corner, she’s brought a demon along with her, so this could get very interesting (and makes me wonder whether I should have brought demon repellent with me). Welcome, Melora and Zyriel!
Melora: Thank you very much for having us here today. I’ve brought along Zyriel so everyone could get to know him a little better. Say hello, Zyriel.
Zyriel: (with a toothy smile) Hello, Ladies.
Melora: There may be men in the audience too.
Zyriel: Ooo, hello, gentlemen.
Melora: (hissing) Zyriel.
Zyriel: (eyebrows raised) What?
Melora: (clears her throat) My purpose in bringing Zyriel along is to let everyone know that there’s really nothing to fear from him. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Zyriel: Hey, now! I am a demon.
Melora: Really, he’s a pussycat.
Zyriel: (smiling slowly) Well, I do like…pussies.
Melora: (glaring, points a finger and mouths a word)
Melora: So, you like cats. Is that why you offered to take care of Ally’s cat?
Zyriel: (glaring) I didn’t offer. She recruited, seduced, connived. Anyway, I only made sure her co-worker got the cat. I didn’t actually take care of it myself.
Melora: Well, that was very nice of you anyway. (beams at him) Now, Zyriel did leave heaven because of a little problem with…lust.
Zyriel: It’s not a problem for me.
Melora: Which is something, as humans, I think we can all understand. Who hasn’t had a little problem with that once or twice in our lives, right?
Zyriel: (grinning) I’m willing to help anyone with that problem.
Melora: (under her breath) You’re barely in the second book and I can yank you right back out.
Zyriel: You never let me have any fun.
Melora: (shaking her head) So, you and Ally met some time ago when she tended your wounds.
Zyriel: A very long time ago.
Melora: And you became friends?
Zyriel: (grinning) Very good friends.
Melora: (aside) You want a book of your own? You’d best behave or I will not be writing your story.
Zyriel: You said if I came along we’d have some fun. This is not fun. I want to have some fun.
(Zyriel waves his hand and the buttons begin flying off Melora’s shirt one at a time, starting at the top. She clutches the shirt together and jumps up to exit the stage. Zyriel leans forward to the microphone with a grin.)
Zyriel: Now I can have a nice chat with all you lovely ladies and gentlemen out there.
Melora: (from offstage) Zyriel! They’re turning the microphones off!
Zyriel: (sighs) Well, it was a pleasure to meet you all. I’m sure I’ll be seeing some of you again very soon, hmm?
I had been eleven when I realized I might have something good in my hands, despite what had happened. The school bus had dropped me at the end of my street along with a couple other kids. We weren’t friends, but they weren’t mean to me either. They simply took little notice of me.
Sometimes I got invited to birthday parties, sometimes not. It wasn’t malicious. They just never invited me over to play. My mother considered birthday parties for family only. I honestly wondered if she would have remembered mine at all if it weren’t for my grandmother.
The other kids trotted down the street toward their own homes. I dragged my feet, enjoying the warmth of the Indian summer and the sunshine on the autumn leaves after several days of rain. Greens had given way to rich scarlet red, golden yellow and a cheerfully brilliant orange.
When I got to my front yard, a mourning dove sat on the ground under a tree, but it didn’t fly away as I approached. It just flapped around then stilled, its little feathered chest heaving for a minute.
I set my book bag down then moved toward the bird one careful step at a time. It hopped away from me.
“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you.” I hope. It turned its head to focus one black bead of an eye on me and stilled. “I just want to help you.” I didn’t know what I could possibly do, yet I had this overwhelming need to try to do something. Maybe I could take it home, nurse it back to health. I couldn’t take it in the house. Mom didn’t allow animals in the house; she said they carried dirt, fleas, and dander. Nobody ever went in the tool shed out back, though, because we had gardeners who came to take care of the lawn. They brought their own tools.
I knelt down, slid my hands around the bird, then gently lifted it. An intense longing to heal it seized me, and a jolt flew through my fingers, like walking across a carpet then shaking hands with someone but ten times stronger. I involuntarily squeezed the bird, then dropped it. I held my breath, scared I might have hurt it more, but then it cooed, stretched out its wings, and shook itself before taking off as if it never had been injured.
It was hurt, wasn’t it? Maybe I had been wrong or… a thought began to take shape in my head. Maybe, just maybe, my wish had actually healed the bird? Like in a fairy tale.
Her healing touch could start a fire.
Ally Reynolds is a veterinarian specializing in raptor rehabilitation in New Hampshire. Other than one horrific incident in her childhood and a little extra “spark” for healing in her hands, both of which she has kept secret from even her best friend, her life has been singularly boring. It has also been extremely lonely. Ally longs for someone to share her life with, but how can she trust anyone with her secret?
Matthew Blake, an ornithologist at Cornell University, calls Ally, asking for her help with an injured raptor. Matthew grew up in New Zealand and has lived around the world. He has read about Ally’s high success rates in raptor rehabilitation and suspects there is more to it than is generally known.
Matthew has some secrets of his own; he is a demon hunter. He suspects Ally’s healing powers could benefit him. He wants her to join him and thinks they’d make a great team.
Can Ally trust him or is he just using her? Matthew definitely has more secrets, and some of them are about Ally.
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Melora Johnson is a poet and novelist living in Upstate New York with her husband, daughter, a black cat, and quite a few chickens. Her most recent published work includes A Sanctuary Built of Words: Poems of Peace, Grief, and Passion, and publication in The Sexuality Poems from Foothills Publishing. She also runs a large and thriving writer’s group for adults. Of course, into every life a little rain must fall as well as the occasional tornado, but you’ll find that amply covered in her writing. Find out more about Melora and her writing:
Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card With Earthbound!
To mark the release of Earthbound, Melora is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with Rafflecopter. To enter the prize draw, simply click on the banner below to be taken to the Rafflecopter site, and good luck!
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