**Also Available in "Guardians of a Giant's Treasure" anthology**
William was a soldier until an IED severely wounded and scarred his body. Now he lives a quiet life in a small village in the Black Forest and is the caretaker of the church and caregiver to the local priest. He’s grown fond of the two stone gargoyles on the bell tower and often speaks to them, reminding himself of Quasimodo. But on his thirty-seventh birthday he learns a stunning secret—the gargoyles aren’t what they seem.
Publisher: Independently Published
Tropes: Fated Mates, Interspecies Romance
Setting: Black Forest, Germany
Languages Available: English
That night, William made his way up the bell tower. The Harvest Moon glowed brightly, lending a certain cheer to the night sky. The rich orange color was cheery and contrasted sharply with the menace of the Black Forest and its reputation.
William reached the top of the tower and stepped onto the balcony. He took a deep breath of the fresh air and smiled as he looked over at the gargoyles.
Only… they weren’t there.READ MORE
William froze, unable to comprehend the truth in front of his eyes. Where his stone friends had once stood, now were empty spaces. Breath catching in his throat, William finally managed to stumble forward to investigate, to find anything explaining what he wanted to refuse to believe. It didn’t take him long to find large chunks of stone scattered over the balcony. He nearly tripped over a few before he crouched awkwardly and picked up one large piece. He couldn’t say which gargoyle it had belonged to, or what part of the body, and it was all he could do to keep from crying. His throat tightened as he fought against the tears.
Who could have done this? How? When? Only a few hours ago he was in the courtyard beneath the bell tower, raking leaves and caring for the few bushes and trees offering a bit of life in the house of stone. Did it happened during dinner? But who would dare cause such sacrilege? As far as William knew, the entire community took pride in their church—the architecture, beauty, and history it offered. Did a pack of delinquents break in and do this?
William shook his head. No. He always kept the bell tower locked, and he didn’t any indication of a break-in. And even the youths had respect for the church and especially Father Adler.
A shadow fell over the moon. William jerked up his head and narrowed his eyes. Standing slowly, he leaned against the railing and scanned the skies. It was a large shadow. Or were the night and eerie moon playing tricks on him? It was probably just a bird.
Another shadow flittered and William jerked back. That was no bird. Gripping the railing tightly, William managed to watch the progression of the shadow as it dipped low, turned sharply, then landed in the courtyard below. Even as his mind reeled at a potential answer to what that thing was, another similar figure followed the path of the first and landed next to it. Then, as one, the shadowy figures turned their heads and looked up at him. Their eyes glowed under the light of the moon.
A strangled cry escaped William as he backed away from the edge. This couldn’t possibly be happening! It was inconceivable!
The words of a man long-dead echoed in his mind. A self-proclaimed sorcerer confessed to creating creatures of night.
Before he could decide what in God’s name to do, he heard the distinctive sound of flapping wings—big wings—and the two figures shot up from below. They hovered for a moment before perching on the balcony railing. Two pairs of eyes still glowed, staring at him. Large wings dominated their backs, resting on muscular shoulders. William knew those masterfully carved faces, now illuminated by the moonlight. He realized with a start that he was right—they were brothers, perhaps even twins. They were nearly identical except for the subtle differences in the shape of their faces, the measurements of their bodies. And their bodies… if he wasn’t scared out of his mind, he might have admired the strength, the lean muscle before him. As well as the fact that they were both generously endowed. As statues, that somehow stayed hidden. But now it was all laid out before his eyes.
Some rational, calculating part of his brain took in all these details. The rest of his brain, however, was screaming at him to run. Even as the one to his left lifted a hand, as if trying to touch him, William spun around and fled. He nearly tripped down the stairs but managed to use the wall to stay upright. All he could think about was escaping.
But as he exited the tower and ran across the courtyard as fast as his lame leg could manage, trying to gain safety inside the church, the two shadows—gargoyles—followed him. One landed right in front of him, causing him to stop short, panting. Then the other landed behind him, preventing him from running in the other direction. He turned to the side to keep both in his sight.
The one to his right stood while the one to his left stayed crouched. “I told you he would not recognize us, brother.”COLLAPSE
**Also available in "Guardians of a Giant's Treasure" anthology.**