A Lalura Chantelle Valentine

“Wings in the Attic,”
a Big Bad World Valentine’s story
by Heather Killough-Walden

February 14th, not too long ago….

Lalura stopped in the open attic doorway, her small bent frame and surrounding dust motes outlined by the hall light behind her. She stood still for several long moments and gazed into the darkness. The stark blue of her eyes was hidden in shadow, just as were the remnants that waited in the corners and piles of the rickety shelter. It smelled of cedar and memories up here.

Cedar and dust and memories.


Lalura’s intelligent gaze narrowed on the darkness of the neglected room. It seemed a challenge, almost. There were whispers inside, from old friends and enemies; they pushed at one another for a chance at her ear. There were flashes of things she’d tried a thousand times to forget, like bits of torn movie reel flung before a projector light. There were old songs in there, and even now she could make out their faint notes, piano keys and violin strokes from long, long ago.

Lalura lifted her chin. She took a slow breath, filling her ancient lungs with both dust and courage before releasing her breath into the past once more. Then she spoke a harsh, magic word, and extended an arm.

An old-fashioned gas lantern appeared in her gnarled grip. Its yellow, flickering flame cast dancing shapes across the long floor boards in front of her. She stood there in the under-used doorway for several more long moments, and then took the first step past the threshold that she’d taken in seventy years.

At once, the atmosphere of the room changed. The dust lifted away, the darkness turned to light, and the past greeted her with the jubilance of an old friend. She moved through the attic, leaving behind her a trail of dancing couples and bridesmaids in a line and little girls learning to ride their bicycles. Winters, springs, summers and falls blossomed to life, froze to silence, and fell by the wayside with every one of the witch’s slow, steady steps.

She moved with resolution, her blue eyes trained on the end of the attic, where a man stood at the windows that looked out over a snow-covered world. She didn’t see him, though. She saw past him, she saw through him, her far-away gaze trained on yesteryears and bygones, her heart trapped in what might have been.

But he saw her. His handsome face was clean shaven, his tall form was draped in uniform, and in his hands he held the hat of an air force colonel. His blue eyes matched the blue of his station; he was tall and regal, and the very air about him spoke of good deeds done. He was a hero. He was her hero.
Once upon a time.

Lalura smiled now as she remembered.

You’re a fool, she’d told him. Such a romantic. A proposal on Valentine’s Day of all days. Only you would brave the crowds, Conrad. Only you.

Is that a yes?

She could hear the nervous tremor in his deep voice. She’d held her breath and tried not to giggle. It wasn’t like a witch of her growing stature to fall to giggling. But her heart had grown wings – wings like the ones on his chest.

“Yes,” she whispered now, echoing her response of long ago.

Beneath the dusty window with its cobwebs and peeling paint sat a music box. Lalura made her way to it as the echoes died down and the memories settled and the world became still once more.

He watched her in his ghostly silence as she stopped before it and reached for its latch with gnarled, weathered fingers. It slid back and away as if it had not been seven decades since she had opened it last. A spell kept it safe. Dusty, but safe.

“I love you, Lana,” he told her now, his long-dead voice reaching into the empty spaces of the attic to grace them with remnants of another time.

Lalura closed her eyes as if she’d heard him – this ghost of the man she’d once promised herself to.

A moment later, she opened her eyes once more, and then opened the box. She gazed down at the small collection on the single velvet pouch that sat within it. The music of the box began to play, its crisp, lilting notes filling the air with bitter sweet harmony.
On the pillow sat a pair of wedding rings, as shining and smooth as the day she’d slipped them inside. Neither of them had ever been worn.

Beside the empty rings rested a set of metal dog tags and a single sterling silver pin. Lalura picked up the pin with trembling fingers and gazed longingly, rememberingly, at the small propeller and set of angel-like wings. “I love you too, Conrad,” she whispered. Snow swirled and curled outside. The wind rustled the branches of a nearby tree and brushed the wind chimes hanging from the porch rafters. Somewhere, violins joined the music box notes, and a symphony soothed Lalura’s tired soul.

The handsome soldier looked on. He always had and always would.

Lalura, or Lana as her fiancé had once called her, closed her eyes and held the pin to her heart. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Lalura Chantelle is a crotchety and much beloved character in Heather Killough-Walden’s Big Bad Wolf spinoff series, The Kings.
Look for book ten in The Kings series: The Shifter King, coming SOON.

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The Shifter King – coming soon!

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“The strip of leather across his eye was like a whip against her skin, dangerous, painful… sexy.”

Coming late winter.

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The Shifter King (A Teaser)

Sam knew she had lost Raven’s attention when the girl’s eyes shifted from hers to something over Sam’s shoulder, and then glazed over. A beat passed, and the music literally changed.
Heat bored into the back of Sam’s neck. She felt it move through her body, inching its way into every nerve ending before flooding her veins with something somewhere between anticipation and fear.
Slowly she turned, and the world held still for her. One step, two. Until she stood facing the doorway across the vast, noisy room, nothing between her and the exit but Jack Colton. He was a dark shadow against the night, no small feat but one he accomplished with frightening ease. His suit was expertly, precisely tailored, black and expensive, and it hugged every intended curve of his six-foot-five frame. The collar of his black shirt, crisp and sharp, brushed the dark blonde curls he almost never bothered to cut and set off the equally sharp black image of his leather eye patch. One ice blue eye lit up the shadows, stark and unavoidable.
“Holy hell, sister. That is one beautiful, scary, beautiful man,” whispered Raven beside her.
“He can hear you,” Sam whispered back.
Across the room, Jack Colton smiled. And it was a beautiful, scary, beautiful smile.

-The Shifter King, by Heather Killough-Walden
Coming soon.

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Heather Killough-Walden Reading List

For anyone who hasn’t yet seen it or was wondering about series order, here is a list of my works currently in publication. Also, just a heads up – On November 17th, the first two books in The Kings series will go on temporary discounted sale. So if you haven’t yet begun this BBW spin-off series, that would be your chance! 🙂

Heather Killough-Walden Reading List

The Lost Angels series:
Always Angel (eBook-only introductory novella)
Avenger’s Angel
Messenger’s Angel
Death’s Angel
Warrior’s Angel

The October Trilogy:
Sam I Am
Secretly Sam
Suddenly Sam

Neverland Series:
Forever Neverland
Beyond Neverland

The Big Bad Wolf series:
The Heat
The Strip
The Spell
The Hunt
The Big Bad Wolf Romance Compilation (all four books, in chronological order)

The Kings – A Big Bad Wolf spinoff series:
(in order so far)
The Vampire King
The Phantom King
The Warlock King
The Goblin King
The Seelie King
The Unseelie King
The Shadow King
The Winter King
The Demon King
Coming Soon: The Shifter King
(future The Kings books TBA; 13 total)

The Chosen Soul Trilogy:
The Chosen Soul
Drake of Tanith
Queen of Abaddon

Redeemer (stand-alone)

Hell Bent (stand-alone)

Vampire, Vampire (stand-alone)

A Sinister Game (stand-alone)

The Third Kiss: Dorian’s Dream (stand-alone)

Note: The Lost Angels series (not including Always Angel, Warrior’s Angel and Samael) and the Big Bad Wolf series are available in print and eBook format. All other HKW books are currently eBook-only.

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Why Bother Voting?

Around this time, we’re bombarded with posts reminding us that we must vote. We get lists of “one-vote wins” that boggle our minds. We are wowed with one-vote tales.
None of them are true. So why do people send out these falsities? Why go to all that trouble, when in actuality, one vote has less of a chance of making a difference than you have of winning the Powerball Lottery? No, Adolf Hitler was not elected by one vote. No, we never even had a vote to determine whether we would speak German or English in the US. Look it all up. One vote is not that much of a deciding factor.
So why bother trying to convince people? Why bother voting?
BECAUSE, damn it.
Because people suffered horribly to give you the right to vote. This is especially true for women. Most women today have no idea what our female ancestors went through to bring us our right to vote. Women (and a few great men) fought for ONE HUNDRED YEARS for voting rights. They were imprisoned, tortured, force-fed, and a myriad of other physical injustices, to say nothing of the slander and public ridicule they endured.
They did this because they knew that alone, we might not produce much of a voice. But TOGETHER, we are a bellow that can be heard across the globe.
So do it, already. Just get up, find the ridiculously-easy-to-find location where you can cast your ballot, and DO IT. Not because one vote counts, not because it alone might make a difference, not because you want one candidate over another (everyone knows no one wants any of them) but because if you don’t vote, it means you don’t care that so very many people in your past risked life, reputation, and health to bring you this right. And because when your voice is multiplied, when one vote becomes a thousand – that’s when you make your mark.
What you are proving when you walk into that office or library or supermarket and make your way to the machine that will accept your opinion is that you are WORTHY of all of the work and sacrifice that came before you. Because you are not taking it for granted.
You are going to make your voice heard.
So go vote already. It takes five minutes. I think it literally took me three. Just do it.
Make your ancestors proud. And make yourself a little proud too.

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The Demon King, Now Available!

Dahlia Kellen has been through hell. Raised in a fae society that slowly drove her mad, she turned traitor against her people and was cast out. But in an act of heroism that clearly exposed her for the good she was, she rose up against the true evil threatening her people, and in her efforts to stop that evil, she was terribly transformed. Now dark, different, and feeling truly exiled in her soul, Dahlia has a chance encounter with a man in Boston. A man whose gaze is as dark and haunted as her own… and whose craven desire for her and dangerous, powerful bloodline will show Dahlia that for her, hell is just the beginning.

“I’ve come with a message about your father,” said the stranger.
“You’re speaking of Marius.” Marius was dead. Laz would know; he’d killed him.
But the messenger smiled. “No, no. Not quite,” he said, white teeth gleaming in an unholy grin. “Think bigger. Think badder.”

Steven Lazarus is a seasoned detective with the Boston police force who has always served and protected, and done so by the book. But the Akyri King’s insides are heating up, a painful yearning is tearing away at him, and his tall, strong body has become capable of a dark, violent magic he can barely control. His dangerous past has caught up with him, and he can scarcely stand to look at his own reflection. He doesn’t recognize the man staring back at him, and that terrifies him.
Because he knows the powerful, hungry man in the mirror wants Dahlia Kellen just as badly as he does. And if he has to, he’ll raise hell to claim her.

The Demon King is the 9th book in the best selling The Big Bad Wolf spinoff series, The Kings, by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Heather Killough-Walden.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-King-Kings-Book-ebook/dp/B01LWVKYPK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473999368&sr=8-1&keywords=the+demon+king+heather

Barnes and Noble:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-demon-king-heather-killough-walden/1124606166?ean=2940156982486

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The Demon King (Teaser #2)

She wasn’t human. And if he wasn’t mistaken, there was just a hint of something sharp revealing itself when she spoke. Vampire? Akyri? She felt like both and neither. Not that it mattered. All that mattered to Lazarus at that point in time was getting her out of that warehouse and to some safer, less conspicuous place where they could be alone.

But now he was staring down at the animal standing between them. It was a dog of all things, and one that was obviously ready to rip his leg off. Dogs weren’t something he would have pegged as a companion for a creature like the stranger before him. Dragons maybe. Or some sort of unicorn-bunny-kitten mix. Something sparkly, at the very least, with really big eyes. Not mutt dogs. And he was pretty sure this one had fleas.

Confusion joined the vexation of his growing impatience. He forced himself to remain calm. “A friend of yours?” he asked, looking back up. Locking eyes on her was like an immediate reward. But the dog’s growl intensified.

The woman’s brow furrowed. She blinked as if she were coming out of something, and his fight or flight instincts kicked in. He prepared to do the former because he was afraid she would do the latter.

“Yes,” she suddenly said, and her expression changed. Fierceness slipped into her eyes, and her jaw set. She looked from the dog back up to him, and as she did so, she placed her hand lovingly on the dog’s head. The animal let out a soft whine, licked its lips once, then slid back into warning mode, baring its teeth at Lazarus. “So if you don’t mind, we’ll be leaving now,” she asserted.

Laz’s attention spiked. “Oh, I won’t argue with that,” he said.
She would be leaving, just not without him.

– The Demon King, by Heather Killough-Walden
Coming summer, 2016

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The Demon King (Teaser)

She quickly pushed herself up. At once, the pain was back. She winced and again inhaled sharply, hissing hard through clenched teeth. Clearly, the spell was designed to punish resistance. With each passing second, Dahlia was more convinced that attacking the hooded figures had been the right choice. She didn’t let up now, despite the pain. Countless years of being forced into a kind of servitude to her Tuathan bloodline and the sexual demands it made on the physical form had taught her well that she was simply not born to be obligated or beholden to anyone. Ever. There was little more precious to Dahlia Kellen than her freedom. She had learned that lesson the hard way.

“Watch it, back off!” It was the same man who’d spoken earlier, warning those who had drawn near to her.

Dahlia’s vision once more shifted, contrasts sharpened, and her hands flooded with power. She cried out as the spell that had been cast on her threatened to crack her bones in half and the malicious cold continued to spread. She glanced down at her body, viewing it through battle-tones and fully expecting it to be blue and covered with rime. But it looked no different than usual.

No damage, then, she thought. Only pain.

The spell was designed to hurt, not harm. For some reason, that made her even more furious. The fire building in her palms leapt with height and took on a reddish-purple cast. It had never done that before. She could feel it draining an inordinate amount of strength from her form, but at the same time, the darkening of her magic’s flames eased the strain up on her eyes a bit, allowing her to better see her targets. It also felt better. At first it was hard to put her finger on it, but Dahlia realized, as the magic continued to build, that it was lessening the pain of the spell that had been cast on her. It was negating it, warming her from the inside out like a hot drink of coffee in a snow storm.

She smiled, allowing her fangs to show. She didn’t even care that she was being drained by this new dark force. It was worth it.

Across the warehouse from her, a single hooded figure slowly pushed back his hood. Piercing blue eyes glowed with a different menacing fire, locking onto her with their own kind of darkness. No, Dahlia thought. Not darkness. This is wrongness.
She would know it anywhere.

The Demon King, by Heather Killough-Walden
Coming Summer, 2016

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Human Nature

My daughter, who is eleven, likes to do texting role play with her friends. They literally take on the roles of characters and write dialogue and descriptions back and forth and have been doing so in an on-going story that has lasted months. I have had the opportunity to read some of this, and I gotta tell you – it’s good. Better than most of the stuff out there on shelves today. So I say to her as frequently as I can without being pushy: “You know, you could so easily just print this stuff out and slap a good cover on it and sell a billion copies. You’ve got the talent of an author.”
She always shies away from it: “No, this is different. We’re just having fun.” But this last time, she added, “And it’s all cheesy romance stuff anyway.”

I laughed. Because yeah – all you can do with something like that is laugh. She’s right; her texts are filled with power plays between dark, dangerous characters and female protagonists. But… that’s the point. She obviously has no idea how popular romance is. And she obviously has no idea why.

So I went ahead and explained it to her: “Sarah. Do you know how the female old brain is programmed? It’s programmed to seek out the most handsome, most intelligent, most powerful and wealthiest male version of our species and have a child with him. Do you know why? Because the better looking the man, the better looking the baby will probably be. And beautiful people stand a better chance of survival because others are more likely to give things to a beautiful person.”

I can’t tell you the number of free things my little girl got when she was younger because she was so damn cute. I could have freaking died and she would have been well cared for. And that’s the point. She stood a better chance at survival because she was adorable.

I went on: “The more intelligent a man is, the more intelligent his child will be. Which obviously also increases their chance of survival. That one’s a no-brainer. Ironically.”
She laughed.

“Finally, the richer and more powerful a man is, the more capable he is of providing sustenance for both the mother of his child and that child. I.E. – another point in the chance of survival slot. Everything our old brains tells us we want is a trick to make certain that we pass on our genetics to the next generation. It’s human nature. It can’t be avoided. So why be ashamed of it? Embrace it.”
She thought about that in silence.

“I know that society likes to make us feel bad for the things we naturally want to do,” I told her. “Like have sex or eat ice cream or stop our pain with medicine. And I’m not sure why it wants to do that. Maybe misery loves company. But it’s important that you know that there’s nothing wrong with any of it, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting the ‘perfect’ man. That’s natural and it’s perfectly alright.”

She looked at me and then at the hotel bathroom door, beyond which my husband was taking a shower. I knew what she was thinking. I married a man with a less than perfect body and at a time when neither of us were gainfully employed. We were dirt poor. Why did I choose him?

So I continued: “Where we go wrong as women is when we fail to realize that the world is populated by imperfect people. More than seven billion of them. There is no such thing as perfection. That is the cruelty of nature. It makes us crave something that doesn’t exist. There are very few handsome, intelligent, wealthy and powerful men out there, and most of the ones who do exist know they are ‘all that’ and they’re assholes because of it. Which marks them off the viable list immediately. So, Sarah – that’s where people like me… and one day maybe like you, come in. We know that it is impossible to meet the criteria that nature wants us to meet. So we satiate nature by creating books that cater to its demands. We fantasize. And then we move on to our wonderful, kind, loving husbands who are amazing fathers and thoughtful partners and we realize… that this is what we really want. And nature can go screw itself. We know that the next time it rears its picky little head, we can feed it some literature and all will be well.”

I could tell she was getting it then, because that comprehensive shine had cast over her eyes. But she smiled. “Well… this is still just for fun.”

I’m laughing as I share this with you because that is exactly how I was at that age. It was just for fun. And now I’m here – sharing with all of you.
– Heather Killough-Walden

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