Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (3 of 3)

This is the third and final "book that wasn't" in the Garnet Lacey series. Ironically, when I finished writing this proposal I realized I'd neatly come up with a point which could have been "the end" for the entire series (although I stressed to my agent that was NOT my intention.) After receiving these proposals my agent wondered if Garnet was sustainable now that Sebastian and she were married. I argued strongly that they could have been. After all, in my personal life, I believe that real romance starts AFTER the "happy ever after," but, you know, the divorce rate in this country suggests I'm in the minority.

Anyway, without further ado, here's the book that might have been Garnet Lacey #8, which I had titled OVER MY DEAD BODY:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense.

In the back part of her mind, Garnet Lacey knows that vampires aren’t homebodies; it’s just not practical. After all, how do you explain the fact that you never age to your friends and neighbors?

Yet Garnet figures that concern is far in the future. Right now she’s got such a great life. She has a cadre of awesome friends; a house in the country that she shares with her husband, the day-walking vampire, Sebastian Von Traum, and two magical cats; and she owns her own business, Mercury Crossing, Madison, Wisconsin’s premier occult bookstore and herb emporium. In fact, things are going so well that Garnet decides to celebrate by hosting a pagan festival/psychic fair through the store.

Organizing the event took months, and finally the big day is less than a week away. Garnet has hired a big name in the Witchcraft community to give a keynote address and perform a women-centered/life-affirming ritual. There will be nearly fifty different vendors selling everything from amethyst crystals to zinc health pills. She’s got energy massage workers, astrologers, tarot readers, and even a few Morris dancers to liven things up. It should be quite the do. Everyone at Mercury Crossing is excited, especially William, Garnet’s co-worker and best guy pal, who’s become sort of a local celebrity and Irish shamanism expert since his abduction by the fairy folk several months ago.

Meanwhile, Sebastian has been out hunting... for a new house.

And the new life that comes with it.

After a very public battle with a vampire Queen, word has gotten out. The vampire hunter blogs are abuzz. There’s even some footage of his fangs on YouTube. Ghouls are flocking to Madison hoping to score. And Sebastian’s accountant Larry suggests that the time is ripe for the usual identity do-over so that Sebastian and his family can go back to a life of relative anonymity. Maybe this time in Ohio or perhaps even South Africa.

Garnet is busy with preparations for the festival -- put the Reiki therapists next to the crystal dealers, or? And who are these people claiming to be “Elementals”? – when Sebastian surprises her with a gift. She tears open the wrapping to uncover a key. To their new house, ehm, in Spain.

Sebastian’s offer is met with stony silence. Garnet can’t understand why they would EVER leave Madison. Her store is here! Her friends! Things are finally going well. No zombies in at least a week! Besides, the worst moment in Garnet’s entire life was the day she’d been forced to leave behind her previous life and start anew after the Vatican witch hunters murdered her coven. How dare Sebastian ask her to do that all over again. Besides, Garnet doesn’t even speak Spanish.

She puts her foot down; she’s leaving over his dead body.

Sebastian points out he’s already dead.

And already packed.

He plans to leave for Spain at the end of the week, with or without her.

She feels utterly betrayed. Don’t their vows mean anything? They do -- only for Sebastian, who is a thousand years older than feminism, what a husband says should be the law, at least in matters of life and death, which he insists this is.

Lilith, Garnet’s resident goddess who is more ancient than male supremacy, disagrees. But, when Lilith gets mad, Garnet has to get going. Or there won’t be much of their marriage left at all, much less anything else.

Ignoring the crisis at home for the moment, she throws herself into to work and the final arrangements for the pagan festival. Garnet had been hoping for relief, but nothing seems to be going right at the bookstore either.

William, who is running a very popular workshop track on faeries, has come down with a sudden and terrible fever. The parks and recreation site manager calls Garnet to report that a flood has damaged their proposed event location. When a freak gust of wind causes Garnet to lose some important paperwork, Garnet is instantly suspicious – she’s been through this sort of stuff many times before.

Magic is afoot!

But who, what, and why?

Garnet’s investigation into the supernatural forces at work is interrupted by the arrival of Mátyás, Sebastian’s no-longer-immortal-half-vampire son. He sympathizes with Garnet about Sebastian’s ultimatum. Mátyás doesn’t want to leave town either, but he’s been through this situation before. He likens the experience to being an army brat – sometimes you just have to relocate.

Well, she didn’t sign up for that. In the middle of their discussion, however, four very strange people enter the store. Garnet sees all kinds at Mercury Crossing, but never such devotion to color coordination. There are two men and two women, and each has chosen clothes of a single color: red, white, blue or black (with hair to match!)


Turns out they’re a rock band calling themselves “the Elementals.” William, who has struggled into work despite his fever, jokes that they must do covers of “Earth, Wind and Fire” then, eh? The woman in blue notes that doing that excludes water, and so no, not so much.

Okay. Weird and humorless.

Anyway, the band was passing through and heard about the pagan festival. Is it too late to audition?

When Lilith growls, Garnet considers the fact that all the disasters that have befallen her lately have been related to the elements: William’s fever is heat-related, the site was damaged by flood, and the strange gust blew away her papers.

Could it really be that obvious?

Garnet doesn’t have time to figure it out because William faints. The band offers to help, but Garnet shoos them away with a promise of a try-out later. Underneath her skin, Lilith jitters.

William mutters in Gaelic, a habit he’s picked up from his time on the other side, but eventually comes around. When Garnet presses him, he confesses he’s passed out before. He says it’s been happening a lot since his last big class at the store when they did an exercise to conjure a Brownie. When Garnet and Mátyás look at him curiously, he explains not the Girl Scout kind, but the Irish faerie which supposedly will clean your house in exchange for a bowl of milk.

She asks William if they were successful. He asks her if she’s seen his apartment lately? It’s still a tip. No, William is certain that it was a dud. But, it is kind of weird that he’s been plagued by poor health since. He’d been planning to see an expert at the pagan fair. Garnet shakes her head at him in dismay, but thinks nothing more of it as William seems to have things under control.

When she arrives at home, Sebastian is chasing fringe-pagan blog papperatizi off their lawn. The bloggers threaten to camp out in the nearby field until he consents to an interview (with the vampire, get it!?) He nearly bleeds them all on the spot, but a little Lilith show of force scatters the bad-punning hooligans.

The second Garnet and Sebastian step into their living room, their fight starts up again. Even though the harassment Sebastian is suffering is obvious, Garnet is near to tears when she looks around their home and sees all the memories in each piece of furniture and do-dad collected over time. Sebastian understands, but this is always what he’s done to survive. There’s a reason he’s been so successful for so long, he reminds her.

They sleep on it, though fitfully. The wind and rain rattle the window, and Garnet wakes up to see a shadow outside that looks like someone prowling around. When she goes out, she encounters a mud creature. Another elemental?

Garnet tries to talk to the muddy blob, but it attacks. Téreza, the almost-dead-almost-vampire-all-crazy ex of Sebastian’s, helps her and Lilith fend off the monster. When it shatters into dust, a corn dolly falls to Garnet’s feet.

She’s seen this before, too, and she realizes that she was distracted by the rock band. This isn’t elemental magic; it’s the damn faeries again – the same troupe that first stole William.

Despite the late hour, she and Téreza rush to William’s apartment. He’s sound asleep, but, after they wake William up, Lilith “smells” something She doesn’t like. Garnet has to fight to keep Lilith under wraps. Garnet tells William about Lilith’s reaction and they determine that maybe his Brownie spell worked better than he’d thought.

Garnet has learned to be cautious with her magic, and though her first impulse it to just banish the little imp, she takes a wiser first step. Along with Téreza, William and Garnet draw the faerie out into the open in order to find out more about what it’s doing here.

Turns out, the Brownie has a bit of a crush on William and has ever since he was abducted to the other side. She wants bring him back home with her, and hasn’t figured out how yet. Despite the nice offer, William says no thanks. That enrages the tiny fairy, and William’s fever gets exponentially worse. The Brownie plans to kill William. If she can’t have him, no one will.

Lilith, Garnet and Téreza leap to William’s defense. A huge magical battle ensues. The Brownie might have won, except for one detail. Garnet has become much wilier about her own magic, and, when they first drew the faerie out, Garnet cleverly trapped it within a magic circle.

Without further ado, the trio sends the Brownie packing. Afterward, they do a general sweep of the rest of William’s place to clear it of stray bits of faerie (and there’s a lot.)

After the pixie is taken care of, things at the store settle down. The guest of honor for the festival arrives without hiccup, a new site is found, and all of the vendors are relatively happy with their assigned booths. Of course, there are a few headaches, but nothing of the supernatural kind.

Knowing she’ll either be leaving for Spain the next day or saying good-bye to Sebastian, Garnet can’t quite enjoy the event. Besides, ever since the faerie battle she’s been thinking about the destructive power of possessive love. Garnet considers letting Sebastian go on his own. She heads home depressed and reminiscing about all the great times she’s had with Sebastian. She remembers that first time they met and how they’d done a blood spell to convince the witch hunters who had been chasing them that they were dead.

That’s it!

Garnet explains her plan to Sebastian. They’ll weave a spell that will disappear them from the minds of all the fringe types. After all, most people know vampires really exist, but they just live in a state of denial that Garnet calls the Veil. Her plan is to strengthen the Veil around her and Sebastian. That way they can stay in Madison forever.

The only drawback is that everyone – even her friends – will forget that Sebastian is a vampire and that she’s harbors the Goddess Lilith. Garnet’s gotten used to the support from her friends about the odder parts of her life, but she thinks a price worth paying. Sebastian agrees with one caveat – one sign that the spell is broken, and they leave, no fighting, no questions asked. Garnet agrees.

The morning after the spell, Garnet is back at work, cleaning up after the festival. All her friends are there, and with a casual reference to Sebastian’s supernatural side, Garnet realizes the spell worked. They don’t know her secrets any more. Garnet feels a sense of loss, but, when William says something silly, her heartache eases. She knows that in time, it will all be okay again, and, at least, for now, she’s still at home.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (2 of 3)

Here's the synopsis for the book that would have been Garnet Lacey #7, which I'd called LADY IN DEAD:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense. As you'll see, each book builds on the last, which I thought was mighty clever. ;-) Also, I thought this one was going to be one of the funnier ones....

Ever since an incident when her Book of Shadows went missing and endangered her first vampire lover, Daniel Parrish, Garnet Lacey has been trying to practice a lot more caution in her Witchcraft. To that end, her day-walking vampire husband, Sebastian Von Traum, has been teaching her his precise, scientific art of alchemy.

Too bad she sucks at it.

Garnet, who harbors the immensely powerful dark goddess Lilith inside her body, isn’t used to not being instantly successful, particularly in an aspect of the occult arts. But when it comes to mixing potions and distilling herbal essences, she’s a disaster.

She’s blown up part of Sebastian’s sanctum sanctorum, broken countless beakers, and, worse, nearly poisoned the cats. When Garnet’s latest attempt starts a small fire that almost destroys the grimoire that contains the magic formula to Sebastian’s vampirism, he’s had it. His patience worn thin, Sebastian declares she’s the worst student in the history of alchemy.

Garnet knows he’s right. But she’s so angry (at herself, really,) that she has to stomp off for fear that Lilith will erupt and cause even worse damage. Lilith has been particularly on the surface lately, too, because Garnet secretly took a vow not to practice any magic at all until she could be careful enough to wield that kind of power responsibly. She hasn’t attended a coven meeting in months, and it’s starting to put pressure on Lilith, who needs the release that magic gives Her.

Garnet is standing firm, however. She took the oath because she wanted to be able to prove to Parrish that he was wrong about her. After the incident with the lost book, Parrish made it very clear that he considered her thoughtless and, in fact, dangerously careless. He hasn’t spoken to her since.

Now she’s afraid he might be right.

Dejected, she wanders around the farm for a while, but lately Teréza, Sebastian’s almost-dead/almost-wife who’s entirely crazy, has been acting even stranger than usual, ranting about The Mother and portents of doom. Whatever that means.

So, to escape the crazy that is home, Garnet heads to her usual safe haven -- Mercury Crossing, Madison, Wisconsin’s premier occult bookstore and herb emporium which she owns and manages. William, her co-worker and best guy friend, has finally found his niche. After having been abducted by faerie folk, he’s been teaching Irish shamanism as part of his duties at the store. But, even seeing William fails to cheer her up... after all, it was her fault that he was taken in the first place!

Strangely, it’s bad news that finally snaps Garnet out of her self-pitying mood. Her friend Izzy, who has started dating Parrish, comes into to Mercury Crossing completely freaked out. Seems that Parrish’s Blood Sire (actually, Blood “Mistress” in his case,) is in town and demands an audience. Having dated Parrish, Garnet knows how much Parrish fears this woman and also that he can not disobey any order she gives. Izzy fears that this other vampire-woman will take Parrish away for good, and she’s desperate for Garnet’s help in the matter.

Normally, this is where Garnet would randomly and thoughtlessly cast some kind of spell to try to keep Parrish and his Mistress apart. She’s determined not to use the easy way out this time, despite Izzy and William’s insistence that she just DO something NOW. Lilith doesn’t help either, as she’s ready to blow. There’s got to be another way, says Garnet. There must be something that she can do that will not only help Parrish in his predicament, but also prove once and for all that she can be trustworthy and prudent.

Garnet decides the first thing she needs is more information. Why is Parrish’s Mistress in town now? What does she want? Garnet doubts that the Vampire Queen would just answer the questions of a mortal, but maybe she’d have some respect for a thousand year-old vampire. And, Garnet just happens to know one of those!

Of course, Sebastian has no interest in helping Parrish one iota. They’ve been rivals for Garnet’s affection and, though he wouldn’t admit it, Sebastian is jealous of Parrish’s current relationship with his ex-almost-wife-now-zombie-slash-vampire, Téreza. Garnet is able to use that last bit to convince Sebastian, however. If Parrish disappears thanks to a Vampire Queen, someone will have to take care of Téreza, and that gets complicated awfully quickly if Sebastian gets involved.

Besides, Sebastian is a bit curious. Since he can travel about in the daylight, he hasn’t had much contact with the traditional vampire community. They decide that’s their in: as the eldest vampire in the Wisconsin area, Sebastian extends a dinner invitation to Parrish’s Vampire Queen.

She accepts, and the night comes for them to meet. Sebastian and Garnet have been preparing all day long, though they’re not entirely sure for what. Will she be expecting carrots or people to munch on? Does one address a vampire queen as Her Royal Majesty or Her Bloody Nightmare?

They decide the wisest course is to be expecting anything, so they have munchies in the form of veggies and ghouls (including Izzy and William, who refuse to be left out of the excitement, even if it means they might be someone’s snack.) Mátyás, Izzy’s ex and Sebastian’s half-vampire/dreamwalking son also insists on being part of the gala event, despite the awkwardness of seeing his old girlfriend with her new beau, Parrish.

The Queen finally arrives with Parrish as her consort. There are, as it turns out, many courtly rules of entertaining another vampire that Sebastian knows nothing about. Despite a rough start, the Queen warms to Sebastian (though she completely ignores Garnet and the other “mere humans.”) The Vampire Queen has heard of Sebastian by reputation and also because Parrish once promised her a copy of Sebastian’s secret elixir of immortality.

When Sebastian presses her as to why she’s come into “his” territory, the Queen tells him that she has two reasons. The first is to punish Parrish for his indiscretions. It seems he killed a LaCrosse Witch who briefly had control of him, (thanks to that missing Book of Shadows of Garnet’s again!) The murder was uncovered by local authorities and making the case go away took a lot of effort on the part of the Queen, who complains of having to cover for Parrish’s sloppy mistakes a lot in the past. Garnet bites her tongue, but gives Parrish a “ha, you’re not perfect either” glance.

The second reason is that Parrish has failed to reproduce. Everyone looks at Izzy, and William notes that it’s not from a lack of trying. Awkward silence follows that remark until the Queen explains that she gets her power from her progeny’s blood-children. Parrish has never made another vampire, and the time has come for him to do so. It is, in fact, a requirement for his forgiveness for his past. The Queen gives Parrish an ultimatum, make a vampire out of someone in forty-eight hours, or return with her to Europe as her slave.

Sebastian is confused -- didn’t Parrish turn/heal Téreza when she was caught in-between life and death?

As if on cue, Téreza shambles into the room and rushes to the Queen. Sebastian thinks it’s an attack and leaps to stop her, but the Queen embraces Téreza as her “child.”

Everyone is shocked, though Garnet remembers the strange things Téreza said about “the mother” coming. Sebastian is livid. Not only is he angry that his ex is under the thrall of someone associated with Parrish, but also that this vampire queen must have been sniffing around Madison for at least a year.

His fangs descend. The queen snarls back.

Lilith explodes everywhere.

The party is officially a disaster when the Queen is forced to flee in retreat, vowing vengeance on the house of Von Traum.

Parrish stays behind to help pick up the pieces. Garnet asks him why it is that he never made a vampire. He reminds her that his own transformation wasn’t by choice. It was an accident when he robbed a stage coach. He wouldn’t wish eternal twilight on anyone.

Meanwhile, several of the ghouls that Sebastian rounded up in case the Queen expected blood are desperately throwing themselves at Parrish, begging him to turn them into immortal bloodsuckers. Parrish and Izzy have a loud fight. Izzy thinks Parrish should just bite someone and be done with it; Parrish doesn’t want to be stuck with a stranger forever. A mumbling Téreza wanders around reminding everyone just how heavy that burden can be.

Despite having more information, things aren’t any better. In fact, Sebastian is convinced that it is worse. William notes that Garnet tried holding back, and the whole thing fubared. Izzy agrees that maybe it’s time for some old-fashioned, on-the-fly irresponsible magic, after all. Lilith murmurs that She’d be a whole lot calmer if some serious magic went down.

While everyone is distracted, Téreza is taken hostage by the Queen.

In the panic that ensues, the pressure on Garnet to break her oath is huge. But Garnet persists and says no way. She doesn’t want to make things worse.

The gang pursues Parrish’s Mistress. As they follow her trail throughout the Madison area, Garnet begins to realize that she has been irresponsible – though not the way she first thought. She admits to herself that her reasons for hanging on so tightly to her oath are less pure than she’d like. She’s scared. It’s been so long now since she’s done magic (and the focus has been so much about her screw ups), she’s too petrified to do anything.

When the gang finds themselves the victim of a frustrating wild goose chase, Garnet unveils her plan. They will do magic. Sebastian, Parrish, Mátyás and she cast a blood spell that enhances their ties to Téreza. The four of them, Garnet hopes, have more pull than one stranger, even if that stranger is the vampire who turned Téreza.

When they finally uncover the queen’s hideout, a big battle between vampires ensues. Parrish’s Mistress is able to use her powerful glamour over Parrish to turn him against Sebastian, Mátyás and Garnet. Just when it looks like all will be lost, Garnet’s spell kicks in. Téreza surprises everyone by betraying the Queen. Plunging a stake into her heart, Téreza “dusts” her maker. Parrish spends a few frantic moments expecting his own demise, but instead he’s suddenly infused with the mantle of power. As the eldest existing progeny of his queen, Parrish becomes the new “monarch” of his family line.

Unfortunately for Izzy, Parrish’s new responsibilities will take him away from Madison from time to time, but Parrish reminds her that vampires are ramblers by nature. It’s impossible to live in one place forever.

Meanwhile, Garnet’s confidence in her magic (and her ability to be responsible) is restored. She and Sebastian agree that he can keep his alchemy and his sanctum sanctorum to himself.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (1 of 3)

Some time ago, I promised to post the proposal for the Garnet Lacey books that didn't get the greenlight. Here's the first one, which would have been book 6, which I called DEAD AND MARRIED:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense.

Do you ever have one of those days when you can’t find anything? You put down your keys for a second and poof! They’re gone. Garnet Lacey has been having one of those months. But, really, given everything she and her husband, the day-walking vampire Sebastian Von Traum have been through lately, losing a few little bits and bobs doesn’t seem like anything to worry about.

After all, everything has settled down since the honeymoon she and Sebastian tried to take to Austria (they ended up in Minneapolis and chased by an ice giant, but that’s another story.) Garnet is looking forward to just relaxing and starting fresh. Her new motto is: no looking back, only forward!

Except the past has a way of haunting you, especially when you’ve been careless, doesn’t it?

In fact, Garnet’s history resurfaces on eBay, of all unlikely places. One day, while bored at the occult bookstore she manages in Madison, Wisconsin, Garnet flips through various listings for magical items for sale online. In amongst the tarot cards and Ankh necklaces, she sees a listing for a Witch’s Book of Shadows containing spells that sound strangely familiar.

When she takes a closer look, Garnet is stunned to discover that the book is none other than her own personal journal that she was forced to leave behind in Minneapolis the night she fled the murder of her coven at the hands of the Vatican witch hunters, the Order of Eustace.

Worse, it seems that her book is already sold to someone whose online handle is “righteous1” which sounds suspiciously as though it might belong to someone from that very group. If a member of Order of Eustace has her book... well, that could mean real trouble. They have magic users called “sensitives,” who could turn her spells against her. Not only does the book contain Real Magic, but, if Garnet remembers correctly, there’s also secret information about her first vampire boyfriend, Daniel Parrish.

Garnet must get the book back!

After doing a bit more research with her co-worker William and enlisting the aid of “Slow Bob,” an employee who happens to be ABD in Computer Science at UW (and a bit of a hacker), Garnet uncovers a name and address for “righteous1.” As luck would have it, he lives only a few hours away in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Garnet had been planning on closing the store for a few days for remodeling work that week, anyway, so she and William plan to head off for LaCrosse first thing the next morning.

Sebastian, however, is a bit miffed to discover that Garnet plans to swan off for a few days on what seems to him to be a grand adventure. He’s been stuck at home with his no-longer-immortal-half-vampire son, Mátyás, who has been driving everyone (including the house ghost, Benjamin,) crazy moaning about his recent break-up with Garnet’s friend, Izzy. Garnet suggests Sebastian could come along, but he insists someone has to “mind the store.” Thus, Sebastian agrees to stay behind and watch over the contractors ONLY if Garnet takes Mátyás along with her. Convincing Mátyás it would be good to get out of the house is another matter entirely. Only after Benjamin, the poltergeist, quite literally pitches a fit, does he concede to join them.

Before they go, however, Garnet wants to warn Parrish about the possible breach in his security. She searches for Parrish, who has been babysitting Sebastian’s ex-fiancé, now-mostly-dead-zombie-vampire Téreza. It’s not hard to find Téreza since she all but lives in their barn. But according to Téreza, Parrish has been absent for several days. It’s just Garnet’s luck. Parrish is one more thing that seems to have gone AWOL lately.

In the early dawn of the next morning, they’re ready. The plan is to take Sebastian’s car, but Garnet can’t find the keys (again!) She kicks herself for being so thoughtless, but William offers his car. Once everything is ready, they’re off.

Garnet is a bit grouchy and groggy, having had nightmares the night before. The dreams involved the genie she loosed by accident in Minneapolis many years ago, as well as an errant faerie troop. But, she shrugs the whole thing off as her guilty conscience talking. You see, all of the spells-gone-wrong were in her missing Book of Shadows. If only she’d been more careful as a young witch!

She broods about the indiscretions of her youth until they stop for breakfast in Fort Douglas near the Wisconsin Dells and come out to discover someone’s stolen their car. It would all seem like a case of extreme bad luck except for the strange little corn dolly they find in the spot where the car had been, almost as if left in trade.

Faeries enjoy making exchanges like that, don’t they? Holy coincidence, she’d just been dreaming about faeries! And, faerie mischief would also explain all the missing baubles of the past few months! Garnet connects the dots. All her misplaced stuff started just about the time “righteous1” got his (or her) hands on the book!

After filing a police report (William insists) and while waiting for Sebastian to come pick them up, the trio ends up exploring a very strange standing rock park containing caves and caverns. As she’s wandering through a section on her own, Garnet encounters another dolly in the middle of the path.

At the same moment, William goes missing.

This time the dolly contains a cryptic message in Gaelic (faerie language, apparently,) that implies what Garnet already suspected. The new owner of Garnet’s journal has done something to send the faerie after her. Garnet knows that spending time in the land of faerie can be extremely dangerous. William must be returned to his own reality as soon as possible.

Despite the risks inherent in doing deep magic on the fly, Garnet and Mátyás try using a spell to retrieve William. They can glimpse William on the faerie side, but they can’t quite grab him – William’s leather bracelet breaks off into Mátyás’ hands – and he slips away.

Garnet determines that there’s an element to the original spell cast by “righteous1” that she can’t reverse because it must be performed exactly as she had written it years ago.

Now they’re desperate to rescue William and the book. When Sebastian arrives, they resolve to hurry to LaCrosse. Knowing William is in serious trouble, the tension is high. Luckily, Mátyás discovers that he can contact William anytime thanks to the bracelet. Faerie land is, in many ways, a dream, and Mátyás is the boogieman and can dreamwalk. In this way, they’re able to let William know that help is on the way.

However, as they drive, they must dodge faerie dust storms and the ubiquitous springtime construction of Interstate 90. Sebastian and Mátyás start to snip at each other in the way of fathers and sons, and Garnet is ready to abandon them both at the soonest opportunity.

With the help of Garnet’s inner goddess Lilith, they make it to LaCrosse mostly uninjured (Sebastian’s classic car is scuffed a bit by the dust.) Now they have to play detective to find the location of “righteous1.” Despite constant bickering interrupting her thought process, Garnet tracks “righteous1”’s campus address through a little social engineering. Seems “righteous1” has a bit of a reputation. He’s set himself up as a warlock, though it seems more to attract the ladies than anything else.

The women Garnet chats up at the college center say that Sylvan (aka “righteous1”) hangs out at a bar on Third Street every night. They give Garnet directions and wish her luck. With all the delays, the sun has set. Sebastian says he senses another vampire nearby.

It’s Parrish. He’s been on the hunt for Sylvan/”righteous1” for some time. Seems Sylvan might be a practitioner, but he’s not adept. He’s triggered Garnet’s old spells haphazardly, including the faeries and some that affect Parrish personally. Garnet used her Book of Shadows to detail everything she learned about vampires through her love relationship Parrish, and some of it is more than personal, it’s damaging.

Parrish is ready to kill. Garnet thought she was tormented by the silly tricks of the faerie, but Sylvan has been ruthlessly (if stupidly) playing with his power over Parrish.

Sebastian doesn’t want bloodshed. It’s too risky, especially since Parrish has a reputation as a sloppy killer. At the implication of carelessness, Parrish reminds Garnet that none of this would have happened if she wasn’t so casual about her magic.

Garnet sputters, but slowly realization sinks in... she’s not unlike Sylvan. She’s been very incautious about the very real power she wields. It was her that originally loosened the faerie in Minneapolis and, the more they hear from William, the more it becomes clear that it’s her the faerie have targeted – not on orders from Sylvan so much as a personal vendetta for disrupting their lives.

Later that night, they find Sylvan. He’s obviously a sad poseur, but Parrish still wants to see him dead. Sebastian has to hold Parrish back, but it’s too late. Sylvan spots them and unleashes a djinn from Garnet’s Book of Shadows. They end up fighting the djinn off and it chases them to the place where three rivers meet at Riverside Park. Everyone works together and they’re able to turn the djinn to their own purposes and retrieve the book.

Once they have the book, Garnet finds the faerie spell. She’s appalled at what she sees. She’s every bit as sloppy as Parrish proclaimed. But she puts that aside for the moment and carefully, precisely unwinds the spell to free William.

William comes through all right, though with a new penchant for Gaelic. Parrish, however, is furious at having been denied a kill and the satisfaction of destroying the book. Garnet rips the book to shreds and tosses it into the river, but Parrish doesn’t care. He’s still angry with her for having exposed his secrets. He refuses to forgive her and storms off into the night.

Garnet, Sebastian and Mátyás head back to Madison. Garnet is dejected, mostly because she feels Parrish’s point is far too valid. On the way home, Sebastian reminds her of a previous offer he’d made to teach her alchemy. She asks how that would help. Sebastian explains that alchemy is a precise science, and if she can learn it, she will learn to be thorough and meticulous.

Heartened, Garnet agrees. Mátyás, meanwhile, has hooked up with one of the women at UW-LaCrosse. Seems everything will be all right, after all.