Jennifer Allis Provost

       Jennifer Allis Provost is a writer of fantasy and horror.

Copper Girl: Book One of the Copper Legacy



Copper Legacy is the first in a four book urban fantasy series:
Copper Girl
Copper Ravens
Copper Veins
Copper Princess


Also available:

The Chronicles of Parthalan: (due for re-release in 2014)
Heir to the Sun
The Virgin Queen
Rise of the Deva'shi
Hunter's Tales: Deleted Scenes from Rise of the Deva'shi
Golem
Elfsong


Short Stories:
Zombie Love Song, published in Hell Hath No Fury: An All Female Zombie Anthology
All In, published in UnCONventional
Stir the Bones, published in Anthology: Year One
Paper Hearts, published in Holiday Magick

Copper Girl, Chapter One:

 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

My office, like most modern offices, cranked the air conditioning down to Arctic proportions during the summer months. Consequently, we workers arrived in the morning dressed in sandals and sleeveless tops, donned heavy sweaters upon reaching our desks, and ended up shivering by noon. Ironically, when our workday ended we were hit by a wall of oppressive heat the moment we stepped outside the main doors. No, this wasn’t a flawed system in the slightest.

That day, I wasn’t having it. I conceived the grand idea of spending my lunch hour outside, away from the icy wind stiffening my fingers and chilling my neck. After I unwound myself from the afghan I kept in my desk (and only used in the summer months), I gathered up my lunch and my phone, and headed out for an impromptu picnic in my car.

What I hadn’t considered was that the office runs the air conditioning so low because it was, well, hot outside. Very hot, in fact. So hot that the cheese was melting in my sandwich and the lettuce looked like something that had washed ashore months, maybe even years, ago. I was parked in the shade and had taken down my car’s convertible top, but I still couldn’t manage to get comfortable. I’d already shed my sandals and cardigan, which left me wearing my sundress and…

Dare I?

I glanced around the parking lot of Real Estate Evaluation Services, the ‘go-to firm for all your commercial real estate needs’, according to the brochures. No one, human or drone, was taking a noontime stroll, and by virtue of my being on the far side of the lot, no cars were near mine. Most of my coworkers didn’t even have cars, so the lot was rarely more than half full. What was more, from where I sat, I couldn’t even see the office.

I dared.

I took a deep breath and channeled my inner wild woman, then leaned the seat back and slipped off my panties. Removing that small bit of cotton made an incredible difference, and the heat became somewhat bearable. Enjoyable, even. Was that a breeze?

Ignoring my decrepit sandwich, I fully reclined the seat, set the alarm on my phone, and closed my eyes. A nap. Now that would make today bearable.

Suddenly, he is there.

Here.

Kissing me, holding me.

I know I’m dreaming, because he’s perfect. His lips are soft but insistent, his hands gentle. I glide my fingers across his back, feeling thick cords of muscle, before sinking my fingers into his hair. It’s superfine, like cobwebs, and when I crack an eyelid, I learn that it’s silver. Not gray or white, but the elegant hue of antique candlesticks and fine flatware.  Cool.

I squeeze my eyes shut again, not wanting the dream to end any sooner than it has to. He kisses me once more, and I can’t help melting against him. His hand travels up my leg, up past my hip… shit! No panties!

I try twisting away, but he already knows. I feel his mouth stretch into a smile, and he moves to nuzzle my neck. “What’s your name?” he murmurs.

“Sara,” I reply. “Yours?”

“Micah.” By now, his hands have traveled to my waist, and he slides one around to stroke the small of my back. “Why did you summon me, Sara?”

“I didn’t,” I protest. “I don’t know how.” I would say more, but he nibbles a trail from my neck to my shoulder , and pushes my dress to the side. Me, I let him

Micah raises his head, and I get a good look at him for the first time. His eyes are large and dark gray, like thunderheads, his features chiseled into warm caramel skin, and his unruly mop of silver hair seems to float around his head. He wears an odd, buff-colored leather shirt, made all the odder in this heat, and matching leather pants and boots. Boots?

“You did summon me,” he insists. “My Sara, you must tell me why.”

“Does it matter?” I ask. I pull him back to me, kissing him with all thepassion I’ve never felt with anyone during my waking hours. Micah kisses me back, fingers deftly unbuttoning my dress while his other hand rubs my lower back. I’ve never felt so free, so alive, as I do in Micah’s embrace, and I have no intention of rushing this. None at all.

My phone screamed for attention, thus ending the best dream that had ever been dreamed. Ever. I fumbled to silence it then shook myself back to reality. I still felt warm and glowy from the dream, almost after-glowy. It wasn’t until I stretched and got tangled in my clothing that I noticed anything amiss.

The straps of my dress had slid down around my elbows, and the dress itself was unbuttoned to my waist. What’s more, my bra was all askew and a nipple was dangerously close to freedom. I shot a quick glance around the parking lot as I fixed my clothing; luckily, there was no one around, either of the human or robotic drone persuasion. I hoped no one had gotten an eyeful of me fondling myself in my sleep.

Some dream. Soon enough, I got the top half of my dress squared away and reached into the passenger seat, only to come up empty. My panties were gone.

Great. Either one of my coworkers had found me sleeping and stolen them, or a randy squirrel had absconded with my delicates. Hoping for the latter, I stuffed my feet back into my sandals and returned to the office and an ever-growing mound of paperwork.

Speaking of the mound, there was a fresh sheaf of reports on my desk, ready for sorting. My title, if it can be called such, is Quarterly Report Collator.

This impressive moniker means that I have the ability—no, make that the responsibility— to place various documents and reports in their proper order, usually alphabetical, but I’ve been known to utilize ascending numbers when the occasion warrants, a feat those who get paid far more than I cannot seem to manage. As long as they keep paying me, I’m fine with my place on the food chain, low though it may be. It sure beats the alternative, a luxurious but caged life as a sellout government shill, performing spells on command as if they were parlor tricks. My family may have lost much, but we still have some pride left.

I dove right into the heap of reports, for once appreciating the mindless work, since it gave me the mental space to dwell on my dream lover. Why would a man in my dream claim that I’d summoned him? And what was with his getup? Micah had looked like he should be playing the part of a swashbuckling hero in a trashy romance novel, not hanging around in the parking lot of a midsized corporation specializing in commercial real estate acquisitions and liquidations.

And his name: Micah. I was certain that I’d never heard it before, which puzzled me. If I were going to create a dream lover, wouldn’t I give him a regular name like Tom, or Joe? A name I was at least familiar with?

I swiveled in my chair and called up my search engine. We are not, under any circumstances, supposed to use this bit of technology that is standard issue with each and every one of our ergonomically correct workstations. I’m not quite sure what the punishment for internet usage is, but I’ve always imagined ninjas dropping out of the ceiling and hauling me off to their lair.  After enduring a mild torture session, I’m given a cup of hot sake and sent on my way.

I could have waited until I got home. I have a nicer computer and better, faster internet access than the office does, but I couldn’t wait. Not while the image of Micah’s thundercloud eyes still burned in my memory, inciting not-safe-for-work thoughts.

I typed in Micah: define, and the results page immediately listed a bunch of Biblical references. Mmm, not exactly helpful. I clicked around for a while until I found one of those sites that specialized in the meaning of names. It read thusly:

Micah ( mī ' kə ) he who resembles God.

 Huh. My dream man was certainly attractive, but I didn’t know if I’d go so far as to call him a god. Then I remembered that there was stone called mica, which also seemed like an unlikely source for me to pull a name from. In the midst of typing mica: stone, I was interrupted.

“Hey, beautiful.”

I glanced up and saw Floyd, the office sleaze, hovering at the edge of my cubicle. Better and better. I clicked off the browser and nonchalantly swiveled away from the keyboard. To throw the ninjas off my trail, of course. “You and Juliana heading over to The Room tonight?” he asked.

The Room is a local hangout, stocked with stale beer and watered-down liquor, not to mention a floor that has never, ever been mopped. Not. Even. Once. But it’s cheap and close to the office, so we all go. Since I had first started working at REES, I’d’ve been a regular. “We haven’t discussed it.”

“Everyone’s going,” Floyd pressed. “C’mon, I’ll buy you a drink. You like gin and tonic, right?”

I heaved the stack of reports from my lap to my desk and uncrossed my legs, squarely planting my feet in order to deliver the Keep Away From Me speech to Floyd yet again, when I remembered my lack of undergarments. Quickly, I snatched my afghan from where I’d tossed it before lunch and spread it across my lower body like a shield.

“Whatever,” I mumbled, which Floyd counted as a victory.

“See you there,” he drawled. I hate him.

I spent the rest of my shift with my thighs clamped together, having mild anxiety attacks whenever I stood. Or sat. Or reached for anything. Needless to say, by the end of the day I was more than ready for something eye-wateringly alcoholic. Juliana, my best friend and REES’ office manager, was game, as she usually was, and we made it to The Room in time for happy hour. Normally, I feel like I’m in her shadow, what with her long, dark hair, matching eyes, and the body of a pre-war pinup girl , but tonight I didn’t care. Right about now, a little overshadowing was just what the doctor ordered.

After a few bowls of pretzels, and more than a few cocktails, I confessed my al fresco state, to which Juliana and I clinked glasses and downed a few shots in honor of my missing panties. Floyd, the scum, welshed on his promise of gin and tonic. I really do hate him.


  

 Excerpt from Heir to the Sun:


Caol’nir entered the Great Temple through the northern door as was proper. While his mind teemed with improper thoughts, he did not need to risk outright offense to the gods. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the dim interior, and smiled once he had found the one he sought.

Alluria sat atop a low bench in the rear of the grand central chamber, her face serene as she sat in quiet meditation. A single shaft of sunlight enveloped her, reflecting off her long chestnut hair and translucent skin. Although closed, Caol’nir knew her eyes were a deep, stunning blue, so rich they made sapphires look like coals. As Alluria sat motionless in the morning light, she was more beautiful to him than any goddess.

He remembered well the day Alluria came to Teg’urnan, not long after the king decreed that all priestesses were to relocate to the Great Temple for their safety. This meant that all priestesses were under the protection of the con’dehr, the temple guard of which Caol’nir was a member. The con’dehr was led by his father, the Prelate. Initially Caol’nir had grumbled over having so many extra charges, for while a priestess is generally considered a kind and gentle being, he also knew them to be righteous and demanding. Neither he nor his brothers, also members of the con’dehr, understood why the king felt that the priestesses in the outlying temples were unsafe, no temple had seen a demon for well over a millennia. Caol’nir forgot his objections when Alluria passed beneath the palace gate, her lovely face turned up to regard the statues of the stag and doe. Her sparkling blue eyes met his, and he lost his heart in that moment.

            Not wanting to disturb her morning ritual, Caol’nir silently approached the priestess and sat before her, his thoughts racing as he watched her contemplate the gods. He was hopelessly infatuated with Alluria, this kind, witty, impossibly beautiful, and utterly unattainable woman. When a priestess took her vows, she became Olluhm’s mate in the hopes that he would visit her and beget a child. This meant that no priestess was to be touched by any man, for any reason, and the con’dehr protected the sisters’ chastity with their very lives. Caol’nir was achingly aware that he could never be with the one he loved, but he could not help his feelings for her. He tried to find contentment in being a part of her life. While he pondered Alluria’s everlasting virginity, she opened her eyes and settled her gaze upon her quiet companion.

            “My most attentive guard,” Alluria said in her musical voice. “What brings you to temple so early?” He rose and offered his hand, as custom dictated he should, which Alluria waved away, also per custom. Caol’nir knew she would not accept his help, but remained ever hopeful.

            “I have the herbs you requested, my lady.” Caol’nir held out a small bundle, bowing his head as he did so.
 

            “Such speed in your errands, warrior,” Alluria said with a smile. He returned it with a wide grin of his own, then quickly tried to regain his composure. Caol’nir knew he must look like a fool, always staring and grinning at her, but he was so smitten he could no longer help himself.
 

            As Alluria accepted the bundle, her fingers lightly brushed across his, sending a jolt through his body as if he’d been struck by lightning. She let her hand linger upon Caol’nir’s for the barest moment, the smile now gone from her face and replaced by…longing? He shook his head, for Alluria would not feel any sort of emotion toward him, surely not longing. If she wanted anything, it was a better supply of herbs, not to touch him in any way. Caol’nir realized that she was thanking him and again bowed his head.

            “I am here to serve,” he replied, then turned to exit the temple.

            “Warrior?” Alluria called after him.

            “Yes, my lady?” He turned back to the priestess, assuming that she must need something else for her work within the temple. Caol’nir was always happy to oblige her.

            “If you care to, you may kiss me farewell. My hand!” she hastily added, then straightened her back as she extended a graceful arm toward him. “You may kiss my hand farewell.”

            Caol’nir bowed low, his thick braid of sandy hair falling over his shoulder as he pressed Alluria’s fingers to his lips; he noticed that her skin smelled of wildflowers, as if she spent her time in a quiet meadow rather than cloistered behind these stone walls. “Farewell, my lady,” he murmured.

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