Kim McDougall
I got through two and a half years of the pandemic without getting COVID, but my streak is over. Yep. I live like a hermit in the middle of nowhere. I went out of the house once last week and got COVID.

I'm never leaving the house again. And this is a picture of where I'm going to live:

But seriously, this sucks. I feel rotten. Poor hubby, who has been traveling back and forth to our farm so he can work, is now stuck in the city so he doesn't get it too. My kitten, Koko hasn't had her daily walk in nearly a week and she is literally bouncing off walls.

All editing and other work has come to a screeching halt. And my head is so stuffed with mucus I can't form coherent thoughts, so I'm plying you with a snippet from Oh, Come All Ye Dragons, the new Valkyrie Bestiary holiday novella coming this November.

Just before I got sick, I was putting the finishing touches on this one. Oh, the feels! Oh, the dragons! I think this is my favorite of all the spin-off books so far.

But before it get to the snippet, I wanted the audiophiles to know that book 5, Kelpies Don't Fly will be released in audiobook on October 11! You can listen to a sample by the terrific Hollie Jackson on the Kelpies Don't Fly Page.

Book 6, Ghouls Don't Scamper will be out 2 days later on October 13 and Oh, Come All Ye Dragons will be out November 10. Both books are now available for pre-order. You can find them on the Valkyrie Bestiary Page.

And Now for the snippet from Oh, Come All Ye Dragons.
Emil was entertaining our new customer. Ms. Perez-Malone stood when I entered. She was easily six-feet tall. She greeted me with a wide smile. Her skin was a dusky rose. She had wide-set brown eyes and flaxen hair that fell to her shoulders in corkscrew curls. 

“Ms. Greene.” She reached me in two strides—her high heels clicking on the tile floor—and held out a hand. I shook it and my hand disappeared within her large grip. At five-feet-eight and still carrying some baby weight, I wasn’t a small woman, but standing next to Carmen Perez-Malone, I felt tiny. 

“Please, call me Kyra.”

“Perfect. And I’m Carmen.”

“And please excuse me for being late.”

“Oh, yes, Emil was just telling me you have a new baby at home. How delightful.” 

Her smile was genuine, but somehow, I didn’t believe Carmen thought babies were delightful. She was dressed in a blouse and skirt that was just a bit too short for standard office attire. Her manicured nails shone with perfect, red gloss. They weren’t the nails of someone who made baby food and gingerbread cookies.

She returned to her seat and folded one long leg over the other. She didn’t wear nylons and didn’t need them. Her legs were smooth and brown and without blemish. When I wore a skirt, I had to wear opaque nylons just to cover the scars and bruises. 

Despite her size, Carmen pulled off the chic business look with sleek grace. Jealousy wasn’t normally one of my vices, but I glanced down at my worn work pants and flannel shirt with a little less admiration than normal. 

Emil brought us steaming cups of tea. He made it dark and bitter, but it still couldn’t compare to coffee. I made a face and put the cup down.

“Sorry, our coffee rations were cut again.” 

“We all have to make sacrifices these days.” Carmen waved away my concern, but she took only one small sip before setting the tea down too.

“So how can we help you?” I asked. 

Carmen laid a trim black case on her lap, opened the silver clasps and handed me a sheet of paper with the Roden & Hogg logo embossed on the top. A bunch of legal jargon filled the rest of the page. She handed another to Emil. As he read it, his eyebrows rose so high they were lost under his mop of curls. Carmen saw our reactions and smiled. 

“It’s a standard nondisclosure agreement. We put it on paper so there’s no electronic trail.”

Interesting. I rubbed the sheet between my fingers. It wasn’t real paper, but even synthetic was expensive these days. 

“Do you need a pen?” Carmen held out a ball point pen and pulled off the cap with a smile. “You press this end to the paper.”

“Thanks. I know how to use a pen.” I just hadn’t seen a disposable one in over fifty years. The scavenging business had its perks. 

I read through the NDA. It was standard legalese stating that anything discussed here in conjunction to a possible consultation job with Roden and Hogg Reclamation services was strictly private, including any information about R&H excavations and bulla sites. 

That part was interesting. Bullas were time capsules that Terra coughed up on occasion. They could be a single house or an entire village and usually erupted from the ground perfectly preserved as if the people once living there had just stepped away. Large reclamation companies rarely bothered with them, but they were priceless to homesteading scavengers who picked them clean of medicines, furniture, gasoline and anything else they could use. The big companies spent their money on excavations, looking for industrial sites that could be repurposed. If they were interested in a bulla, it had to be a big one.

The last paragraph of the NDA threatened law suits, fines and even jail time for leaking any R&H secrets. 

I finished reading it to find Emil watching me with a curious smile. He did love a good drama.

I put the paper down on my desk and tried to order my thoughts. 

“Can I ask how you heard about us?” I said. “We’re pretty small time and this,” I waved at the NDA, “seems big time.”

“On the contrary. Valkyrie Pest Control has quite the reputation. You’ve a long history working for Hub, I understand.” Carmen’s frank gaze assessed me and I nodded. “But I even interviewed representatives from the three parliamentary parties before coming here. The fae, in particular, had nothing but praise for your work.”

Two years ago that wouldn’t have been surprising, but since Merrow took over as Prime Minister, my relations with the Winter Court had been strained. 

And if Carmen had interviewed reps from Hub, that could mean this job had military implications. I really didn’t want a job with the military. 

Oh, what the hell. All the NDA had done was make me more curious anyway. I took the pen and signed my name at the bottom. Emil did the same. 

Carmen took the papers and tucked them back into her case. She folded her hands over her lap and favored me with a smile that was calculated to charm and pacify all at once.

“Now, tell me what you know about dragons."

Pre-order Oh, Come All Ye Dragons now!

Every month, I participate in several Online book fairs.  I also will be doing some craft fairs again this year! Yay! It's so nice to be out in the world again, assuming I can keep out of Covid's way. I do only local fairs, so I'll be in south eastern Ontario and south western Quebec if you'd like to come see me and get a signed book. You can see the list of upcoming events as well as all the Online opportunities to snatch up great books at discounted prices on the Book Fairs Page.

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