North Of Nonesuch Series [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Jane Toombs
eBook Category: Romance/Fantasy
eBook Description: North Of Nonesuch--a magical place in the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula where the real world can be invaded by strange occurrences. From shifters to djinns to vampires, to ghosts, anything may happen here. Danger, suspense and love happens to all who live in or enter this wonderful world.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, Published: 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2009
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2 Reader Ratings:
"With an anthology, there's always the risk that one or more of the stories won't be up to par with the rest in the book. Rest assured, this is not the case with this tome. Toombs delivers three previously published stories (visit RomanticTimes.com for the reviews) and two never-before-seen tales. Each one is better than the last, with a little bit of everything, including shapeshifters and vampires. Plan to settle in for a nice, long read; you won't put this one down until the final page." --Cindy Himler for Romantic Times BOOKreviews, 4 Stars!
"The North of Nonesuch Anthology gives you six action-packed stories of love, acceptance, betrayal and mystery. The heroes are sexy alpha-males, and the heroines are strong, independent women. The paranormal elements involved are intriguing and keep you turning the pages. Each story is rich and entertaining. Jane Toombs packs an emotional punch to her writing that I find highly refreshing." Reviewed by Brianna, Bitten By Books
THE TURQUOISE MASK
What he intended to do was wrong--he knew that. Wrong by his own rules and wrong by Navajo rules. It was all that damn shaman's fault. That damn dead shaman. How many times had he offered money to the ancient Navajo for what he wanted, always raising the ante as he did so? Alive, the crazy old bastard couldn't be tempted. But dead shamans had no say.
He knew he wouldn't be observed as he entered the deserted Hogan. Not just because it was a moonless night, but because no Navajo would come near a dead man's home, especially a shaman's. Tomorrow the Hogan and all of its contents would be burned to prevent the chindi, the avenging ghost, from exacting revenge on anyone coming inside the place and disturbing its possessions.
Shrugging away the sudden chill--hell, it was cold in here--he used his penlight to find the way to the chest where what he craved was hidden. Lifting the lid, he stared down at turquoise of flawless color, even more beautiful than he remembered from the glimpse he'd had of this artifact years ago. Priceless--and his at last. He reached in. As he lifted the mask, something brushed against his face and he staggered back, the chest lid slamming down. Something whispered a long drawn-out, C-h-i-n-d-i. His heart missed a beat until he decided what touched him had been a spider web, and the whisper only the wind sweeping in through the open door. He wasn't Navajo; their superstitions weren't his.
The treasure he'd come for was in his hand. No Native American skin-walker stalked him. Success was his. He had what he'd coveted for years. But a chill that had nothing to do with the night wind iced his bones, making him afraid to bring his prize home. Too dangerous. He'd cache his priceless possession in a place no one could find but him, and recover it later, at a safer time.
The chill lingered after he'd hidden the mask, staying with him as he drove off in his rental car. A dark premonition settled over him. He needed to make a phone call. And, for more insurance, write a letter.
The sunny spring day, with a light breeze ruffling through the Russian olive trees and carrying the scent of citrus blossoms, showed off the Phoenix climate at its best. Gloomy skies and a chilly rain would have better suited Jamie Lowell. Somehow it hurt more to bury her father on such a perfect day. Rain and black umbrellas were more in keeping with how she felt. In accordance with Lloyd Lowell's wishes there'd been no funeral or memorial service, just the burying of his ashes next to her mother's, with no public announcement. Though Jamie had expected to be the only mourner, four of her father's colleagues stood at the graveside. Nearby lingered a tall and tanned younger man wearing his dark hair in a braid. She had no idea who he was. The internment of the urn in the cemetery took so little time she felt somehow cheated, as though there'd been no chance to truly mourn her father. Maybe funerals had a point to them, after all, as a way to formalize death. Make it real.
The four older men approached her to offer condolences. She knew them all, but not well, since they'd been her father's friends, not hers. Even though she'd spent holidays with her father when she was in college and had stored some of her belongings in his house, she'd never truly lived with him or been a real part of his life.
As far as she knew, her father trusted these men. He and they had a lot in common, but she wasn't sure which, if any, had been a close friend.
Harry Masterson took her hand between his. "I know you must be shell-shocked about what happened to Lloyd. Hell of a thing when a man isn't safe in his own house."
Jamie nodded and, after a moment, removed her hand. She'd always felt he tended to invade her personal space.
"We'll miss the old poacher," Conrad Lawton said.
She knew Conrad may have called her father an "old poacher" out of affection, but the words grated on her.
"Have you decided what to do about his collection?" Bill Barrett asked.
Bill's words made her picture jackals skulking around a lion's kill.
Reminding herself she was being overly-sensitive, Jamie said, "I haven't yet thought things through. I'll be in Phoenix for a time, settling everything." It was the truth, and she let it go at that, unwilling to add that she'd let them know if she decided to break up her father's collection.
Greg Dakar nodded and patted her shoulder. "This is a sad time for you. But if and when you do make up your mind to thin out the collection, I'd like first chance at that turquoise mask."
Now the lion was dead and she felt the four of them were circling about his kill, waiting. All she wanted to do at the moment was get away from everyone. "I'm sorry, I can't promise anything."
Only two days before his brutal murder, her father had called her in Ontario to say he'd found the turquoise mask. She'd learned from the police that his house had been ransacked. Whether his killer had stolen the mask--or anything else--she was not yet sure, but she hadn't found it.
Greg said, "Let me know if there's anything I can help you with." The other three added their willingness to come to her aid if needed.
She responded as graciously as she could manage, and the group dispersed. Jamie had forgotten about the fifth man, the stranger, until she arrived at her father's home. There, six feet of well-toned muscle rose from the front steps that led to the screened porch of the stucco house.
He stood and waited patiently as Jamie pulled her car into the drive, not moving even after she parked and got out. From his braid and general appearance, she knew he must be at least part Native American. No doubt he was Navajo and had known her father. Why else would he have come to the burial? Deciding he meant her no harm, she walked toward him.
"Zach Tregarth," he said when she neared. "I apologize for intruding at this time, but I had no choice." His voice was deep, the kind a woman felt in her bones, and Jamie's responded.
None of that, she told herself, and said coolly, "You were acquainted with my father?"
"Yes. No man deserves to die as he did. Even..." He paused and glanced around as though worried about other listeners. "I came to ask you about the turquoise mask."
Jamie tensed. First Greg Dakar, now this Zach Tregarth. Dakar dealt in Navajo art. Zach was a Navajo. What was this all about?
"Turquoise mask?" she echoed.
"As an anthropologist, you must know about tribal customs and taboos. I was asked by a Dine elder to recover the ghost-ridden mask before anyone else comes to harm."
She stared at him. She knew Dine was what the Navajo called themselves, but ghost-ridden? Harm? He seemed to be implying that her father came to harm because he possessed the mask. "I do understand taboos, but how does this apply to my father?"
"The mask was taken from a dead witch's hogan."
Jamie bristled at his clear implication. "My father was no thief!"
Zach shrugged, as though discarding her words. "The elder told me Lloyd Lowell had the turquoise mask."
Her anger at Zach's presumption was tempered by the fact her father did tell her he had the mask during that phone call, but not how he'd obtained it. If the tribal elders believed her father had wrongly taken it, no wonder none of them had appeared at the cemetery. Yet that didn't mean she should she trust Zach. "What elder?" She knew most of them.
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