Midnight Games: Joker’s Deck by Holley Trent

Holley TrentAs one of the #RUDC15 featured bloggers, I get to start the shenanigans early with a few of the fabulous authors who will be up all night in Denver at Reading Until Dawn 2015 by showcasing their many stories. To help do that, I came up with this really fun idea to having the authors introduce us to their characters and world by showing us what it would be like if they were staying up all night, playing games of their own.

Quite a few of the authors took me up on it and today Holley Trent has set up a game between Clarissa and Agatha from the Sons of Gulielmus series, which is available in its entirety in the Demons Undone bundle for just 99¢ through October.

Joker’s Deck

HTrent-Demons UndoneAuthor’s note: this story is set between books 2 and 3 of the Desert Guards series. It contains a major spoiler of the Sons of Gulielmus series that Desert Guards spins off from. Read at your own risk! :D

“You know, you don’t have to be in the room.”

The husky voice startled Clarissa Morton out of her quiet bedside vigil of the comatose fallen angel Gulielmus.

She peeled her gaze away from the barely-breathing giant and locked her stare on her solemn friend.

The wind goddess Agatha leaned in the doorway of Clarissa’s guest bedroom, passing a familiar-looking deck of cards from one hand to the other. Naturally, Clarissa recognized those cards. Her granddaughter Ariel had designed the promotional images on the backsides. They advertised a beer company owned by the entity whose long legs protruded from the foot of the full bed.

Sighing in that way that sounded so much like a summer breeze, Agatha glided into the room and took the chair on the other side of the bed. “How does Go Fish sound?”

Laughing, Clarissa rubbed her tired eyes and leaned back in her seat. “That sounds about my speed, lately.”

“I’ve never known a full-blooded elf to have energy problems.”

“I’m old, Agatha.”

The goddess scoffed and dealt them each seven cards. “Are we going to have that argument again about which of us is older?”

“No one ever wins because neither of us will confirm our numbers.” Clarissa always told her granddaughters that she was ‘older than America, but younger than dirt’ which did nothing to douse their curiosity, but they didn’t really need to know. The number was less important than the experiences she’d gained in all those years.

The guy in the bed could probably guess if he ever woke up. He had a knack for that sort of thing. Schmuck though he was, he’d never called her on it.

Agatha set the spare cards on top of Gulielmus’s slowly-moving chest. “Go ahead.”

“Got a two?”

“Nope. Go fish.”

Clarissa plucked up a card, her fingers skimming over a button of the clean pajama shirt she’d wrested Gulielmus into only a couple of hours prior. Bathing him was a grueling chore, but someone had to do it.

He let out a long, rattling breath, and as always, she held very still.

She was a logical woman and knew he wasn’t going to wake from her touch. He needed a lot more magic than the bit she had left. She could still make things grow and occasionally invaded a fellow psychic’s thoughts, but her magic had mostly vanished when she’d had her only daughter. That was also when Clarissa had started to age like humans. The only reason she looked thirty at the moment rather than the sixty-something her drivers’ license stated was because the man on the bed had turned back her clock.

It hadn’t been out of the goodness of his heart, but she appreciated the youthful appearance all the same.

“Damn. Look at the Joker.” Agatha held up the spare card she’d excluded from play.

It featured a handsome, smirking, blond jackass in harlequin print.

“Looks just like him,” Clarissa said. “Should be expected of a narcissist of his magnitude.”

They went on, making pairs and sharing cards for an hour, not bothering to keep track of wins or losses. It was mindless repetition, and that was what Clarissa needed. She’d grown irritable playing the role of caretaker, and her family grew weary of her unpredictable moods.

She could leave. She didn’t need to babysit Gulielmus. No harm would come to his body as long as he was under her roof, and he probably would never know she’d been there when he woke—if he woke—but she was wired to do things the elven way. Until he was up again, leaving his side would make her anxious. They may not have been of the same ilk, but he could use whatever energy she had to spare. She could keep his mind from shutting down completely as she feared it was threatening to do.

“Got a king?” Agatha asked softly, but judging by her gently nudging inflections, Clarissa guessed it wasn’t for the first time.

Clarissa chuckled. “Not for a long time, I haven’t.” She gave up the card, anyway.

No king. No kingdom. Not anymore. Both were long gone.

“He’s probably going to break your heart.” Agatha stacked her pairs of cards and leaned her elbows against the edge of the bed. “You know that, I presume?”

“What’s a little more heartache? It’s unavoidable.”

“I worry about you. Old gals like us, we don’t bounce back the same way we used to.”

Agatha wasn’t kidding. The number of generations that had passed since Agatha had forged a relationship with a man counted in the double digits. She had no interested in connecting with any man, but…Clarissa did. Loneliness never suited her kind well.

Clarissa scooped up all the cards and tamped them into a tidy stack. “Don’t worry about me. It’ll all work out eventually.”

“I’m positive it will. I just worry about what’ll happen before you get to that point. He’s just not a nice person.”

“I got used to that with my first husband. I fixed him all those centuries ago and I’ll fix this one, too.”

“You didn’t have a choice back then, but you have one now.”

“But that’s the thing, Agatha.” Clarissa accepted the rubber band the goddess passed over Gulielmus’s chest and wrapped it around the cards. “I don’t.”


Meet Holley Trent!

Holley Trent is a Carolina girl gone west. Raised in rural coastal North Carolina, Holley Trent has Southern sensibilities, but in 2011 her adventurous spirit drove her to Colorado for new experiences.

She writes contemporary and paranormal romances ranging from sensual to erotic (and they’re usually set in her home state). Her professional memberships include Romance Writers of America and its chapters Passionate Ink, Colorado Romance Writers, and the Cultural, Interracial, and Multicultural Special Interest chapter.

Contact Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Tsu | GoodReads | Amazon

HTrent-Prince in LeatherWant to purchase Holley’s novels?
Norseton Wolves

  1. Beast
  2. Loner
  3. Idler
  4. Scion

Demons Undone: The Sons of Gulielmus Series
The Viking Queen’s Men (The Afótama Legacy #1)
Prince in Leather (Hearth Motel #1)
Shrew & Company Books 1-3
Vikings Untamed: 7 Modern Viking Erotic, Paranormal and Science Fiction Romances (Sep 22, 2015)
Supernatural Seduction: 5 Paranormal Novellas (Sep 21, 2015)
Ménage à Troys (Den of Sin #1)
Saint and Scholar (Hearts & Mind #1)
Teaching the Cowboy (Storafalt Stories #1)

RUDC15.FAAre you registered for Reading Until Dawn Con this October in Denver, Colorado? If not, why not?! Join us for fun, games, snacks and possibly pants-optional dancing.

REGISTRATION is now open! Come party with the authors who keep you up all night.

Be sure to keep up with all things Reading Until Dawn, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Up All Night Reading Challenge | Pinterest | Tumblr | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


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