Title: Releasing Chaos
Author: Lexi Ander
Series: Sumeria's Sons #6
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Categories: Gay, Paranormal, Poly, Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 132,000 words
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Everything Tristan, Ushna, and Brian have fought for comes down to the moment they face Inanna and Marduk. Before then, Ushna must embrace his destiny and be transformed by Tiamat. But he returns with a fractured mind and will need the help of the new firebird or he'll be lost to the insanity of a primordial God. If he's lost, so is the balance Brian and Tristan sorely need.
Tristan has vowed to care for his ex-Flame, Theo Sullivan, who is doomed to forget more and more with each use of his new ability. When not dealing with his stubborn ex, Tristan must free the warriors stolen by the government and devise a trap for Inanna.
And that's only the start of the challenges, and everything that can still go wrong.
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Thank you for having me on the blog today! Releasing Chaos is the last book in the Sumeria's Sons series. For the final sendoff, I have put together a series of flash fiction pieces that happen near the end of Dragon's Eye or in between Dragon's Eye and Releasing Chaos. These are little on-the-side scenes that don't have an impact on the plot arc of Sumeria's Sons so you won't encounter any spoilers for the final book. Here Tristan learns that his horse, Dancing Socks, is expecting but this isn't a normal pregnancy. This takes place before the end of Dragon's Eye. Enjoy!
Something Saéna had said recently bugged me. After Brian and I returned from Stasis, we'd all came home to the ranch. I had been greeted by my friend, Corleone. The Shirdal had been angry. I didn't call on him to fight by my side when I believed Daniel had kidnapped Ushna. In my defense, I hadn't known he could fly from Oklahoma to Georgia in seconds.
After greeting him, Saéna had teased Corleone about currying my favor. Claiming it wouldn't keep me from plucking his feathers when I found out what he did. There was only one thing Corleone could do to piss me off…
So at the end of the day, I made some time to go down to the horse barn to see my girl, Dancing Socks. Since day one, Corleone had been sweet on her. It was strange because Dancing Socks was only a horse, but I was very protective of her. Don't get me wrong, I'm protective of all the animals in my care but, with her, I felt as if I was protecting my daughter. I didn't question why, only went about shielding her virtue from Corleone's growing amorous attention.
The whole situation was strange. Our recorded history of the Shirdal adamantly said they, and the Greek Griffons alike, despised horses. They went out of their way to kill them. Even though the stories didn't specifically say so, I sensed a visceral hate Shirdal held for horses. But Corleone had adored Dancing Socks from day one. Once a Shirdal chose a mate, they mated for life. Which was romantic if you were into that kind of stuff. It was a rare occurrence, a Shirdal taking a horse for a mate, but the text from the medieval period claimed it sometimes happened. The offspring, if there were any, were revered.
I, on the other hand, remembered a story from my youth that claimed the offspring, the hippogriff, was dangerous. The memory was fuzzy and I didn't recall who impressed upon me how perilous having a hippogriff was, so I had to have been very young. But the words of caution had stuck with me, causing panic to rise when I thought of Dancing Socks having Corleone's… foal. What I recalled of the long ago conversation warned that hippogriffs hated Shirdals and would attack, unprovoked. I didn't want that for Dancing Socks or Corleone. To protect them, I warned Corleone away, forbidding him from courting Socks.
In the beginning, I had no real worries because Socks ignored Corleone, frustrating the Shirdal. But Saéna had hinted at Corleone doing something I wouldn't like. Had Corleone won Socks over while I was gone?
Walking into the barn, I flipped on the lights. Some of the horses had their heads over the stall doors, not asleep as I had expected. Every one of them turned to look at me and I swore they all had a guilty expression. Then more uncannily they all looked to Socks's stall. What the hell?
Unlike everyone else, Dancing Socks wasn't at her door. "Where's my girl?" I called, keeping my voice light as trepidation snapped at my heels.
I know I'd been gone a while but Dancing Socks always greeted me with excitement. When I stopped outside her enclosure, she had her back to me. The angle hid nothing. As I had feared, she was pregnant and not merely a few months. She looked as if she'd drop any day now, which wasn't possible. A horse's gestation period was eleven to twelve months. Even if Corleone got her pregnant before I left, or even sooner, when I became pregnant myself with the triplets, she wouldn't be this far along. I knew for a fact that she refused to have anything to do with Corleone before I left for Bahbelle. Which brought me back to how could she be this big?
Socks looked back at me and then turned away as if I wasn't there. I never expected that to hurt, but it did. Before I could unlatch the gate, I caught sight of a large yellow eye peeking at me through the top slats of the next stall over.
"You!" I growled.
Corleone's head jerked up before he ducked back down, as if I hadn't already seen him.
Dancing Socks spun around and butted her head into my chest, knocking me back a couple of steps. Several horses nickered and I felt as if they were laughing at me.
"Why are you defending him? You were ignoring his feathered ass before I left." I opened my mouth to say more and suddenly realized I was speaking to my horse who couldn't talk back and probably didn't understand me.
The door to the empty stall next to Socks's swung open and Corleone's head peered out, low to the ground, looking out at me. He attempted to appear innocent but it was an expression he could never pull off. Corleone always looked like a cat that ate the canary and wasn't sorry in the least. I glared at him.
"I don't have feathers on my ass," Corleone sent to me through the ground.
Dancing Socks's whinny sounded like a chastisement, drawing my attention to her. I was trying to keep a lid on my anger. Really, it was my terror that fed my rising ire. Corleone's antics only fed the fire, pissing me off more.
Spinning on my heel, I stormed out of the barn. I didn't like losing my cool in front of the horses because it made them upset and skittish. I ground my teeth together until I reached the wood pile around the corner of the building.
"Motherfucker!" I screamed, kicking the pile before I gave in and picked up a piece of wood and threw it. I felt his presence but didn't turn around, choosing to chuck a couple more pieces from the wood pile. "Why?" I snarled. "I asked you to stay away from her. You are a sentient being and she's… she's… she's my horse." She was more than that to me but I couldn't put to words what I felt.
I swung around to glare at Corleone. He sat ten feet away, his wings tucked close to his sleek lion's body. The night caused his feathers to gleam almost black, the moonlight glinting off his polished beak.
"She is not merely a horse. Dancer is very special. She is my mate. I would give my life to keep her safe."
A small wolf slunk through the deepest shadows, around the corner of the barn. I narrowed my eyes, ready to tell Justus to go to bed but he didn't hang around. More the pity because I didn't want to deal with this issue Corleone caused.
"Have you given thought to the consequences of mating her?" I challenged, my anger bleeding away until only my worry remained. "Hippogriffs are dangerous."
"There are more consequences than you could possibly know." For a fleeting moment, Corleone sent me a stream of images. Some of them were his own worries and others I had difficulty making heads or tails of. "The hippogriff is no more dangerous than any other being. I can scent your fear and concern. For Dancer. For me. I am honored you wish to protect us. But I am your friend, not yours to protect nor yours to command."
I sat down heavily on the chopping block and Corleone moved closer.
"She chose me." Corleone puffed up, the old arrogance showing through.
I gave him an incredulous glance and he only stared back as if waiting for me to catch on. I grimaced. "She's special." I didn't let on that I had always thought so.
Ever since the day I laid eyes on her at an estate auction, I'd been drawn to her. She was in a herd that had been neglected, left to run amuck in some asshole wanna-be-rancher's field. Their hooves were in terrible condition and were suffering from malnutrition. She'd come up to me where I stood on the corral fence trying to get a better look at them as a whole. I'd been talking to Randy about how much it would cost to get them healthy again, an expense we had no business taking on. She strode up to me, no more than a year old, skittish of the buyers, and part wild, I suspected. I was caught in her brown eyes and I could almost hear her plead with me. Help us. I couldn't say no. We bought the whole herd, even the ones that had been separated and slated for the slaughterhouse. I brought them all home and Dancing Socks stayed at my side every step of the way. She became my girl and now Corleone claimed her as his mate.
"Yes, very special." The way Corleone tilted his head made him look dreamy.
I covered my eyes because I didn't want to see Corleone look lovesick.
"Why does Socks look so big?" I asked without glanicng at him.
I peered through my fingers.
"She prefers to be called Dancer."
I frowned. "How would you know?"
Corleone clacked his beak in annoyance, as if I missed the obvious. "She told me."
"How?" I didn't hide my disbelief.
Corleone raised his beak imperiously. Whatever his secrets, he wasn't going to share that one with me. Fine.
"Dancer," I gritted out. "Why does she look as if she's going to drop her foal any day now?"
"Hippogriffs are not horses. They are birthed in half the time. My offspring will be the first born in many centuries." I felt the immense satisfaction of Corleone's pride in being a father, the affection he held for Socks—Dancer. I wanted to smile but I still worried. I didn't know how to deliver a hippogriff. Was it different than a foal or calf? I wasn't sure what could go wrong. How did I plan for something I didn't know anything about?
I was staring at the ground, lost in thought when one of Corleone's hawk's feet stepped into view. Sitting up straight, I was face to face with him.
"Truly, how mad are you?"
"I'm worried," I confessed. "She's my girl, my responsibility."
"She's my mate now," he reminded me.
That was going to take some getting used to. I sat still as Corleone pressed his beak into my shoulder. He wouldn't ask but I knew what he wanted and I scratched behind his equine-shaped ears.
"You want to explain why I can understand you better than I used to?" Before, I had to decipher the impressions he sent to me. Now he spoke in full sentences mixed with the images that I'd already understood how to read.
"I smell the godhood you carry in your blood and the dragon. In my experience, dragons have always been good with language." Corleone's reply made sense, I guessed.
"Come on." I sighed. "I would like to see Dancing Socks and thoroughly check her over."
When Corleone backed up, I stood and walked back into the barn. All the horses were staring at the entrance when I stepped through. All of them except Soc—Dancer. I didn't pause outside her enclosure but went right on in, leaving the door open for Corleone.
"Hey girl," I cooed, running my hands over her swollen sides before rounding the front to look her in the eye. "How have you been? Corleone says you are mates." I leaned in closer to her ear as I stroked her neck. "But you'll always be my baby girl." Whatever else I'd planned to say to draw Dancer out of her ire was cancelled when she pushed her forehead into my chest. I tried to sense what Corleone could, probing her through the earth hoping for… something. Perhaps images like I'd received from Corleone the first time I'd met him or something similar. But all I received in return was an overwhelming sense of relief and joy. "Yay, I missed you, too."
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About the Author
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
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