Title: In Mage We Trust
Author: Heidi Vanlandingham
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Dragged into a magical realm, a sassy college student’s magic surfaces when an emotionally hardened demon gifts her part of his soul to save her life. Johnna longs for her family, but when a rogue mage goes on a killing spree, her internal alarms are buzzing—and not just because of her growing attraction to the demon.
When murders plague his realm, the head demon enforcer is ordered to stop them, but Niki can’t concentrate on tracking the rogue mage when the rebellious Johnna wreaks havoc during their hunt. She insists she can help, but it’s all he can do to avert destruction—and not kiss her senseless.
Together they must learn to trust each other and work together or the realms of Dark World and their true mate bond won’t survive as this magical ‘Alice’ goes up against a demon queen of hearts.
I slowly came to, lying on wet brick pavers and trying to recall what had happened. A chill crept over me. Even with the clammy sheen of perspiration coating my skin, the fine hairs on my arms stood at attention, although I couldn’t remember where I was or why I should be afraid. My main concern at the moment was the fact I couldn’t see anything. With the world around me as black as the deepest cave in the world, I focused on staying positive and not panicking, failing as my heartbeat tripled into heart attack levels.
Ditching my microeconomics class this morning had been a no-brainer. Until now. Losing my coffee, fat bats, and now a zombie?
I tried to sit up but couldn’t seem to make my arms or legs move. Was I dead? I didn’t think so, although with the way my luck seemed to be going today . . . I’d always figured the first thing I’d see when I died would be the legendary white light. But, me? Hell no. I got a zombie with a face resembling month-old, moldy, pockmarked cheese.
Like a mask had been torn from my face, my vision returned. I blinked several times, swirling my overworked eyeballs around in their sockets for an escape, without luck. In my current position, seemingly attached to the ground, fighting was not one of my options.
What had the zombie done to me? Why couldn’t I move or, at the very least, talk?
I gave myself brownie points, amazed at my calm demeanor in light of the situation. I glanced down to where the creature knelt beside me and noticed he wore a dark gray shirt tucked into tight-fitting black jeans. At least they looked tight in his current squatted position. His clothes were awfully clean for a zombie.
I watched the mesmerizing motion of his bobbing head. His gaze, however, seemed focused on my bare stomach. I now regretted my decision to wear my favorite midriff-revealing, pink tank. Panic welled inside my chest, my recently eaten honeybun helping it along.
I’d read the right stories growing up. Zombies ate people. I tried to recall more details from the tales my brain had purposely shelved under childhood fantasy and found nothing. My brain was empty. Wait a minute . . . Oh. My. God. He already ate my brains.
Now was as good a time as any to panic.
“You ate my brains, didn’t you? I’m brainless!” I now had something to be thankful for. I could speak again.
The zombie stared at me. The cold, dead sensation disappeared from my body, and in its place raged an inferno, burning through my veins and tightening my skin until it felt as if it were going to split apart in a thousand places. Great. Not only was I probably dead, I was internally combusting. Well, at least I could talk again.
“Could my day suck any worse?” I muttered.
A scratchy, snuffly noise dragged my attention back to my immediate problem; fixing to become a zombie appetizer. I refocused on his cheesy head sniffing around my stomach.
“I should warn you—when I’m stressed, I’m not nice.” I frowned, my thoughts drifting away though I forced my brain to refocus. “Or so I’ve been told. Just so you know, whatever you’re doing down there is starting to piss me off.”
I scowled, giving him my best badass look, but was more afraid I just looked constipated. His eyes never left my midsection as his withered hands moved in a strange pattern above me. The burning sting of my building frustration settled down, slowing to curiosity. I felt the same as I had before having my tonsils removed, weightless and relaxed. His movements reminded me of something I’d seen my workaholic, forgetful father do when I was a child, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was exactly.
And when I needed his help the most? Where was good ol’ Dad? Getting myself to school each day and making sure I had a place to sleep and enough to eat, I could handle. At least most days. This was my last day as a twenty-two-year-old, for gods’ sakes. Most of my college-aged friends still had parents paying for everything. Zombies playing with my insides wasn’t something I even wanted to try to handle by myself.
“Will you at least tell me why you’re picking on me?” I asked, not caring much either way. “What did I ever do to you—wait, don’t answer that.” No response. “Seriously, dude, there are two questions floating around you unanswered. I think I deserve to know why this is happening.”
My patience—what little I had—disappeared, and my lethargy morphed into something very different as I refocused my remaining panic into anger. I had no desire to find out if the zombie liked the way I tasted. From out of nowhere, the cover of the last romance novel I’d read popped into my mind and destroyed what anger I’d mustered. I glared into the zombie’s golden eyes.
As the dim light hovering in the alleyway faded, I wondered if this was the end. I tried to relax. I closed my eyes and imagined my personal happy place—my local coffee shop, of course—and waited. Several minutes ticked by, and my eyes popped back open. The filthy alley and my new cheeseheaded friend were not going away.
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Have you ever read a book where you laughed out loud at the characters’ antics and then found yourself crying with them in their pain? This is that kind of book. In Mage We Trust has nonstop action, suspense, family issues and meddling gods, snarky humor, and tingly romance.
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Heidi Vanlandingham writes action-packed stories that take place in war-torn Europe, otherworldly magical realms, and the Wild West. Her love of history finds its way into every book with enjoyably diverse characters, and every relationship is filled with a little sweet, a little heartbreak, and lots of love. Heidi’s stories transport the reader to a different place and time for understanding, compassion, and most of all, love.
Growing up in Oklahoma and living one year in Belgium gave Heidi a unique perspective regarding different cultures. She still lives in Oklahoma with her husband and youngest son. Her oldest son is in the autism spectrum and is working toward his own dreams. Heidi’s favorite things in life are laughter, paranormal romance books, music, and long road trips.
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