Guest Post: Syphon's Song (Mayflower Mages #1) by Anise Rae

Title: Syphon's Song (Mayflower Mages #1)
Author: Anise Rae
Publication Date: March 3, 2014
Publisher: Lyrical Press/Kensington
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 359
Word Count: 98,000
ISBN: 978-1-61650-211-9

Synopsis (from Author): Legends say a syphon can drain a mage dry. He’ll brave the danger. Will she?

Someone’s playing pranks. The body of the late Casteel patriarch has been stolen and gifted to the family’s enemy, the powerful Rallises. As far as Bronte Casteel is concerned, they can keep it. She hasn’t spoken to her family in thirteen years, not since they exiled her from society for her lack of mage power. But she’s a syphon mage, able drain another mage’s power. Syphons’ destinies are always the same: death by fiery stake. She hides her secret by living among the Nons--powerless humans and the lowest class in the Republic. When her family orders her to go plead for the body’s return, she comes face to face with the one man who knows her secret.
Colonel Vincent Rallis isn’t letting his syphon get away this time. Not when she’s under suspicion of body-napping and aiding anti-mage terrorists. He’ll prove her innocence whether she wants him to or not, and then convince her they belong together...forever.
Vincent’s help comes with a steep price: Bronte must reveal her power. The inevitable ensuing witch-hunt and trial would be bad enough, but even a tough girl might buckle if her prosecutors are her own parents.
A | B&N | Gr

Bronte faced the senator. “I’m here to ask for your help.” 
“Help with what, Bronte?” The gruff, hoarse words came from behind her, accompanied by a flood of vibes.
She wouldn’t have recognized his voice except for that energy pouring into her. She wrenched around in her seat to see the lion prowl out of the shadows.
His gaze targeted her like she was prey that might escape. “Tell us how we can help you. And then you can explain why you ran away from me.”
Her mind recorded him like a pencil scratching away at paper to save his image—his dark hair clipped short, eyebrows that formed stark lines with a skeptical bent near their ends. A crease pulled between his brows that hadn’t been there before. His rugged face had weathered storms his brother had avoided. Those storms had chiseled away any softness.
She closed her eyes, stopping the mental sketching—a necessity to save her sanity. She turned her whole body back toward the senator and only opened her eyes when she knew Vincent wasn’t in her line of sight.
“Vin!” Happy surprise colored every note of the senator’s voice. “How long have you been standing back there? Your energy is so subdued I didn’t even sense you until now.”
“I didn’t either.” Edmund’s voice was equally surprised. “Miss Casteel, your beauty has distracted us.”
Bronte fought to keep her calm mask intact. Her heart boomed like the senator’s voice and threatened to shake that mask right off her face. She couldn’t let that happen. Diplomatic words and composure were her only weapons in this battle, a quick escape her only viable strategy. She stood, one move closer to getting to the door. At her cue, all the men stood as well.
The closer Vincent came, the more his energy reached out to her. It touched her, filled her in places she’d forgotten were empty. Dangerous memories spilled back. If she knew how, she’d dump his vibrations out of her hidden vessel, turn it over, and sit on it like a metal bucket until it sank into the dirt with the force of her weight. She’d seal her hollow spaces shut and keep him out forever. To do otherwise would only invite death to creep close.
Vincent strode toward her.
She held her ground and looked him in the eye. “I do not need your help. I am simply the messenger. Here on behalf of the Casteels.” She cleared her throat to try again and turned to the senator. “Senator Rallis, my family requests your assistance.”
The senator’s wise gaze locked on Vincent, his expression thoughtful and full of silent words Bronte lacked the power to hear. Curiosity lit the dark depths of his gaze as they landed back on her.
Vincent leaned toward her. “And they sent you as their messenger?” His voice was soft, a caress against her skin. “The most vulnerable and weakest of them all, to fight their battles.”
“I am not weak.” She risked a quick glance at him. “I have plenty of strength to fight whatever battles I need to.” She bit her tongue to stop her aggressive tone. Arguing would not help her cause.
“Vincent, you are making our guest uncomfortable.” The senator’s tone went quiet. Deadly. The boom was much safer, she realized.
“No, I’m not. At least not with my vibes, Granddad.” Vincent’s reply was matter-of-fact. He held all the power between them, and he was going to use it. Running for the door would not help her now.
“My mage vibes do not make her uncomfortable.”
Her hold on her tongue wasn’t tight enough to stop her gasp. She’d messed up. Goddess, but she’d messed up. She closed her eyes for a moment at the realization. Instead of drinking Vincent in, she should have faked a reaction to his power, imitated the jittery anxiousness Nons felt around a mage who wasn’t suppressing his energy. Maybe that would have saved her.
“Vincent. She’s a Non. Of course you’re making her uncomfortable.” The senator’s reprimand was deceptively soft.
Bronte stared at Vincent as desperation swirled inside her. “Please. Don’t.”

“She’s not a Non.” Vincent’s words shattered her hope of escape.

Anise Rae grew up among the cornfields and soybeans of Ohio, dreaming of being a ballerina, an astronaut, and a romance writer. Thanks to her soul deep love of chocolate and a lack of natural grace, her ballerina dreams floated away as high as the moon, equidistant with the astronaut aspiration. She stuck with writing.  
Now transplanted to the south, Anise lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her kids and a dog gifted with the power of finding dirty socks.

Syphon’s Song, a 2012 Maggie Award of Excellence finalist, is the first book in the Mayflower Mages series.
Wings of Change:
If you could be a wild animal, which one would you be?

I am not a rabid animal lover. I’m not one of those people who madly loves all creatures of the furry kingdom, though I’ve always looked at that type of person with longing, wishing I could be that way too. It seems that animal lovers have a bigger soul, more open to love for all than the rest of us. My sister is this way, but I’ve come to accept that’s not my path in life. I’ll look from afar, from the other side of the glass, observe, and not touch.

It’s from the other side of the glass, tucked safe in the backseat of the family car, that I had an unforgettable encounter with that other kingdom. I don’t remember how old I was. Seven, maybe. We’d finally arrived home from a vacation and my dad steered the car into the driveway. It’d been a long drive from wherever the vacation was. I’m sure I remember it, but my mind doesn’t connect the two experiences of the drive and the vacation. 

It was evening time. The sky was still blue, but the sun was setting--not quite twilight, but after dinnertime. During the summer, the northern United States has a long stretch of evening time that has the softest light. The South, where I live now, doesn’t have this. My Southern friends are usually surprised to learn of the lengthy sunlit evenings of the North. They think they rule the summer with their great quantities of heat. They definitely win in that category and I’ve come to love that heat. But the North has light--a gentler characteristic that doesn’t get a bold mention when comparing weather forecasts. 

As we pulled into the driveway, there was a stillness about the neighborhood, as if a heavy rainfall had washed everything clean, and life was finishing the day refreshed. But everything was dry; there’d been no rain. There had been a small earthquake though, one we hadn’t felt riding in the car and we didn’t learn about until later. Maybe it was the Earth’s way of shaking off her dirt and dust and refreshing herself without the sky’s assistance.

My dad noticed the owl first. He stopped the car at the start of the driveway, right beside it. It was a tiny thing, resting in our neighbor’s little tree, very close to us. It sat there, looking. Blinking. As the blue sky deepened in the quiet stillness, it was magic. I’ve carried that magic with me ever since.  

Thirty years later, I had another encounter with an owl, multiple ones actually, all close together. One particular evening as my kids and I were getting ready for bed, I heard a soft whistling and I recognized his call. I’d been listening to it for weeks around the house. I lifted the blinds at the kitchen window and there he was, in the nearest tree. He caught the movement and shifted his gaze to me. I greeted him aloud. “Hello, owl.” My daughter was right there, so I can blame that craziness on being a mom, but the truth is that if I’d been alone, I would have done the same thing. 

My daughter told me to keep talking to it, her tone communicating my rudeness that I hadn’t continued the conversation. “Tell him about us,” she said. So I did. And she matter-of-factly filled in the details of our life that I’d left out, waiting for me to repeat them to the owl. Some of those details weren’t pleasant, not details I would have brought up at that moment, but kids live the good and the bad right along with you. As much as we wish it wasn’t true, the bad is as much a part of their life as the good is.

It was a short conversation, rather one-sided, and we continued getting ready for bed. I dashed upstairs for something, dashing right back down, racing against the bedtime clock that was rapidly ticking. I froze on my descent. There, in the tall windows at our front door, was the owl, sitting on our deck, his face next to the glass, peering in. I sank down to sit on the stairs as he stared in at me. His big eyes carried a soul. It only lasted five seconds, maybe. Then he turned, so close his feathers smashed against the glass, and flew away.

Owls symbolize wisdom and also death…a scary prospect, but death, at it’s most basic, is change. 

If I could be a wild animal, that’s what I’d be. An owl. Carrying grains of truth, heavy with the potential for change, and sowing those seeds among the ones who need them. 

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