Wystan (The Heckmasters) is the first book in a trilogy about three half demon brothers who guard a portal to Hell. Their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a schoolteacher no one asked for, her quirky little sister, and a strange woman they can’t quite pin down.
Today, I want to share the omniscient prologue-that-never-was. This is so embarrassing. No one has ever seen it before, not even my editor, for good reason. *hangs head in shame* Please, feel free to read it in Sam Elliott’s voice.
Berner is a blight on Hell’s backside. It ain’t on a map and ain’t no one would want to visit if it were. There are legends about this town, before it ever earned its name. It was a pretty place, green pastures and clear streams. They called it Hope Valley. But darkness descended on it like a bad storm.
It started with a comely young woman named Eusalace, whose family settled the land where the town is now. She was all set to marry a well-to-do widowed doctor until a stranger rode into town. Called himself Richard Heckmaster and he was liked by folks right off. Clean, well-dressed, and manners to make any mother weep with joy.
He swept Eusalace off her feet and right into the bed roll he’d set up in her daddy’s barn.
Things got funny after Heckmaster came, that’s certain. Livestock died mysteriously, a drought rolled across the countryside, the crops that didn’t parch were eaten by locusts. Some folks started talking, saying a witch had come and cursed them. Fingers pointed, but mostly they settled on Heckmaster and Eusalace. In order to spare their lives, the couple fled and it weren’t long till things returned to normal.
A handful of years passed, and life flourished. Until the day Eusalace rolled into town with a broken down wagon, a half-starved mule, and three round-faced boys tugging at her skirts, no husband or lover in sight.
Months went by before the problems started. Same as last time, milk cows went dry, crops became diseased. The whole mess repeated itself.
Eusalace gathered the boys in the dead of night and prepared to sneak them out of town. The townsfolk had been waiting for just such a move and the second Eusalace appeared with a carpetbag in her hand, they snatched her.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch and they made no bones about helping one meet her end while her boys watched. But if the folks in town thought Eusalace’s death would solve their grievances, they sure thought wrong, because you can’t kill a demon’s wife without paying in blood.
Just like the night Eusalace Heckmaster died with Hope Valley’s citizens chanting “Burn her, burn her!”, the wind still whispers those two mean words. And what was left after the blood bath that Heckmaster brought gained its name. Welcome to Berner, New Mexico. If I were you, I’d get the hell out of town.
When Rhia arrives in a small New Mexico Territory town for a teaching job, she discovers an empty town, no job, and a handsome sheriff who refuses to welcome her.
Son of a demon who dared love a human, Wystan guards a Pit locked with seven seals, and slays any demon that attempts to free the master imprisoned within. He can never be the man Rhia needs. But when the truth behind Rhia’s journey comes to light, Wystan must open his soul—and pray there’s enough love to overcome the darkness rising from the Pit.
Giveaway: One lucky commenter will win a $5 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Wystan (The Heckmasters). Contest ends January 11th at 11:59PM EST.
A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, contemporary, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she’s not writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.
Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that’s gathering dust after it was determined that she’s better at writing fluff than hard news.
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