Michele Notaro has a new MM urban fantasy out: The Scars that Bind Us. And there’s a giveaway!
Sometimes the worst scars are the ones you can’t see.
Growing up in the magi compound was far from easy. I didn’t think I’d ever get out of that horrid place, but eighteen years ago, my world changed. I was allowed freedoms I’d never had before, although, even today, I was still at the Non-Human Specialties Operations’ beck and call.
Which is how I find myself on a team with my best friend, five shifters, and a human.
Now, I have to figure out a way to work with others—with shifters. I’ve never been one to trust easily, and I don’t see that changing, but this shifter pride has a way of getting past my walls. Unfortunately, all that means is now I have even more people I need to protect against the evils of this world, and I really don’t know how I’m gonna do it.
All three species have been at odds for more than a century, but maybe Cosmo—a lion shifter—and I can put aside our differences to work together and keep everyone safe. And if I’m secretly crushing on the guy, well, I think I’ll keep that to myself.
The Scars That Bind Us is a 115K word novel and the first book in the MM urban fantasy series, The Magi Accounts.
*Intended for adults only. Warnings: Violence, mentions of past abuse, hints of past sexual assault (nothing on-page), oppression of magi and shifters
Michele is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
Exclusive Excerpt from The Scars That Bind Us (The Magi Accounts 1) by Michele Notaro
Charlie screamed in pain, and without thought, I took off toward him.
Jude was right beside me, and I pushed our shield forward with us—we had practice moving this way. The other taragorian’s sphere was anchored to the ground, so it would stay there even though Jude and I were on the move. That spell went to the back of my mind. My only thought was getting to Charlie and helping him.
Cosmo attacked Red with a new ferociousness, drawing it away from Charlie, so the young lion shifter wasn’t underneath the red taragorian anymore. With Red far enough away, I stretched my shield over Charlie just in time. Red barreled into the edge of my shield, trying to get to its injured prey. When it realized it couldn’t eat Charlie, it turned and ran back for Cosmo. Red was gigantic, even for a taragorian, so I wasn’t surprised the shifters were having trouble killing it.
I slid on my knees beside Charlie. He was on his side, cradling his leg as best he could. His breathing was harsh, and when I got a look at his leg, I gasped. It was crushed. Absolutely flattened. It looked like… it looked like he didn’t even have any bones left.
This right here was why taragorians were so dangerous. Simply from stepping on Charlie, it had decimated his poor leg.
I grabbed his shoulder, and he flinched before he realized it was me. Jude dropped down on the other side of him as I asked, “Can you shift?”
“Don’t know,” Charlie answered through gritted teeth.
“Keep an eye on Red and the others,” I said to Jude, but he was already watching them. I took in Jude’s chest for a short moment, then activated four runes there. Tranquility, mend, restore, and pain relief. I made sure to add a second pain-reducing rune to the spell. As soon as the spell was weaved together, I laid it over top of Charlie’s leg, then let it seep into him while continuing to power it.
Charlie whimpered, but I saw the moment it took effect because the tension in his body lessened, and he was able to take a deep breath.
I knew shifters were tactile creatures, even more so than magi, so I put my hand on his head and gently petted his hair, saying, “It’s okay. You’re okay.”
He leaned into the touch, and I swallowed thickly before meeting Jude’s eyes. He sent me a fond smile before turning away to check on the others.
I kept petting Charlie’s hair as I powered the healing spell, but I turned to concentrate on the fight as well.
Cosmo was on Red’s back, his hands grabbing Red’s horns, and he was pulling back with a strength I didn’t know he was capable of. He was pushing the taragorian’s spine with his feet as he pulled back, moving the thing’s neck at a terrible angle. Kulani came up and slashed his claws across the taragorian’s neck, but Cosmo didn’t stop pulling its head. In only a few seconds, Cosmo decapitated Red and dropped its head on the ground beside its lifeless body.
Then he ran quickly back over to us, asking, “Is he okay?”
I met his eyes so he’d know I was telling the truth. “He’s fine. He should probably shift soon, but he’s alright.”
Cosmo looked his pride mate over, and Charlie mumbled, “I’m okay. T-take care… of the last one.”
“You sure, Char?”
The alpha nodded at me. “On my count?”
He, Kulani, Dare, and Zara ran to surround Green.
“Three. Two. One. Drop!”
I dropped my sphere, and this time, it only took them a minute to kill the monster.
With the threats gone, I dropped the shield covering Jude, Charlie, and me. Cosmo ran really freaking fast to Charlie, sliding onto his side until he was lying on the ground beside him, nearly pressed into his side. He was careful not to touch Charlie’s leg, but he did start petting Charlie himself. Our hands touched, and Cosmo sent me a worried smile over Charlie’s head before he concentrated on his young pride member.
“Char,” Cosmo breathed as he gripped Charlie’s neck.
I dropped my hand away and started to move back, but Kulani was standing right behind me. I had a brief moment of panic at being blocked in, but then the quiet shifter put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a gentle squeeze before he moved out of the way. When I stood and met Kulani’s eyes, he nodded, and I took it as a thanks, so I returned the gesture.
Cosmo’s deep voice quietly rumbled around us, saying, “Can you shift?”
“I think they healed me enough to,” Charlie said, his voice weak.
I glanced over at Jude, found a third pain-relieving rune, and activated it, weaving it into my spell. Once it was set, I asked Charlie, “Is that better?”
“Yes,” he murmured. “Thank you.”
I waved that away. “After you shift, I’ll slowly pull the spell back, but I’m going to need you to tell me if you need help with the pain, okay? I can keep this going for as long as you need.”
Cosmo’s gold eyes found mine. They were intense and filled with something I couldn’t put a name to. After a long moment of staring at me, he said fiercely, “Thank you, Madeo. Thank you, Jude. Thank you for saving my brother. I owe you.”
My eyebrows rose at the I owe you. That was considered a pretty huge thing in the shifter culture. At least that was what I was told growing up. “Don’t worry about it,” I finally said after being caught in those eyes for so long.
Michele is married to an awesome guy that puts up with her and all the burnt dinners she makes—hey, sometimes characters are a bit distracting, and who doesn’t plot when they’re supposed to be cooking? They live together in Baltimore, Maryland with two little monsters, three-legged and four-legged fiends, and a little old man (aka their two sons, their two cats, and their senior dog). She hopes to rescue another cat soon, and if her hubby wouldn’t kill her, she’d get more than one… and maybe a few more dogs as well.
She loves creating worlds filled with lots of love, chosen family, and of course, magic, but she also likes making the characters fight for that happy ending. She hopes to one day write all the stories in her head—even if there are too many to count!
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