Magic’s Muse is the second book in my Hidden Places series, and was published in 2012. Although the book I’m writing now—One Word—is the third book in this series, it’s a side novel to the first book, Cat’s Quill.
So why choose Magic’s Muse as the blast from the past?
Although Cat’s Quill ties up quite a few loose ends, and may seem on the surface to finish the story, it’s just the beginning of the journey for Cathal, Tomas and their friends. With Cat’s Quill being only from Tomas’s POV, I wasn’t able to explore Cathal’s world in much detail. The readers only ‘saw’ what Tomas did, and his perspective of everything was very much that of an outsider seeing everything briefly for the first time.
Magic’s Muse picks up those threads and runs with it. As well as finding more out about Cathal and his world, and getting to know some of the other characters a bit better, a few more dangling plot threads are introduced in this book as their story is far from over. In Cat’s Quill, Cathal’s sister, Irene, had warned Tomas that there will be a price to pay for their escape. That time is coming, and sooner than they think.
But in the meantime, in Magic’s Muse, there are more immediate concerns, like how to rid Cathal of the magic that binds him to the tree, and the fact that, in our world, his cousin Christian is still a cat.
Sequel to Cat’s Quill
Tomas and Cathal have escaped from Naearu, Cathal’s mystical homeworld, but happily ever after is never as straightforward in real life as it is in books. Then again, most people don’t deal with the complication of a lover who’s magically bound to a tree or have an interfering cat for a cousin.
With Naearu’s police force, the Falcons, still after Cathal, he can’t go home. Now that he and Tomas have consummated their relationship, Cathal’s abilities are evolving and changing to the point that Tomas can sense them. And until the oak portal closes, Cathal—and his new life with Tomas—are in limbo as Cathal can’t expect Tomas to stay with someone who can never venture past the property line. Will he and Tomas ever get to follow through on their engagement?
A pitiful meow, although it could be better described as a squeak, filled the air, followed by a frantic scrabbling of claws. Cathal slid further out the window, so that one foot was resting on the roof, and focused on the direction of the noise. Without the window frame obstructing his view, it was easier to look around for the culprit. Further down the roof, on the overhanging part near the drainpipe, sat a tiny gray tabby kitten, growing more distressed by the moment. “I think it’s stuck,” he decided, when the cat’s meows became louder.
“It probably jumped out there when it saw us and then couldn’t figure out how to get back.” Tomas studied the kitten. “We can’t leave it up there. I’ll go find a ladder.”
“A ladder won’t reach that part of the roof.” Cathal squinted, working out the distance between the kitten, where they were, and the ground. He slid his other leg out of the window, finding his balance while he still had his back against the outside of the attic wall.
“Cat?” Tomas tried to grab Cathal’s arm to bring his back inside, but Cathal took another step further out onto the roof, just out of reach. “You can’t go out there. It’s dangerous.”
“I’ll be fine.” Cathal was already working out the quickest way to reach the kitten. At least it wasn’t about to move, but hopefully it wasn’t so scared that it would try and attack him when he got there.
“Let me do it then.”
“So it’s dangerous but you’ll do it?” Cathal snorted at the sensible way in which Tomas had gone from one conclusion to the other. “Your ankle is still tender. It makes more sense for me to.” His voice softened, realizing Tomas was concerned and scared for Cathal’s safety. However, that did not mean he should risk his own in the process. “It’s okay, love. I’ve been on this roof before, and I know the safest way to do this. Why don’t you go find that ladder? We might need it.”
Tomas hesitated. “I could help you here,” he offered.
“There is less chance of scaring the kitten this way.” The kitten meowed again. Cathal didn’t need his ability to know how scared it was. “I’m not leaving it out here, Tomas. Ladder, please. Now.” A ladder would work in that spot. He just had to get the kitten over there. “The drainpipe is closer than the outside stairs, but I don’t know if it’s still in good repair.”
“Drainpipe?” Tomas looked between Cathal and the kitten. He paled. “You are not going down that fucking drainpipe with that kitten. Promise me?” Without waiting for a reply he was gone, calling for Donovan.
“I promise,” Cathal said softly. This looked more dangerous than it was, but Cathal was not about to take any unnecessary risks. He’d done this before, on more than one occasion, the first time just to see if it could be done, much to Christian’s amusement. Alice had ripped verbal shreds off him after she found out, and then Christian too when he’d laughed at her reaction.
There was a light breeze, but nothing that would cause any problems. Cathal stood for a moment, enjoying the freedom of being so exposed to wind and sun with nothing between him and the elements. He’d forgotten how good it felt being up here like this, despite the cold, especially after a decent amount of rain, the air crisp and clean. It always smelled better up higher for some reason, closer to the sky.
The kitten squeaked. It was watching him cautiously. He projected reassurance and comfort, figuring that even if the animal couldn’t feel the emotions at least it would keep himself calm. His brother, Kane, had used the strategy once when rescuing a cat from a tree. It had worked for him, but being able to project his emotions onto others drew on the strengths of his ability rather than Cathal’s.
Cathal edged further out along the roof, choosing his footing carefully. There was more moss on the tiles than there had been the last time he’d done this, and it occurred to him that perhaps the roof might not be in as good repair, being that much older. Still, he’d got this far and wasn’t about to give up yet.
Below him, he heard voices. Tomas would be organizing the ladder. Cathal hoped it wouldn’t be needed, but the idea of having it as an option was beginning to feel very welcome. Six more steps and he’d reach the kitten. Another meow, but this time it was accompanied by a loud purr. “You know you’re going to be rescued, don’t you?”
Up closer, he could see just how tiny it was, barely weaned from his mother at a guess. It must have wandered away from the litter wanting to explore, and got out of its depth very quickly. How had it got up here? Perhaps it had found its way into the inn through an open window and then onto the roof from there. Maybe from the attic, as Tomas had originally suggested?
His foot slipped, the feel of the firm roof beneath him disappearing as he scrambled to find a foothold, barely managing to right himself.
Heidi screamed. Tomas swore loudly, his voice carried by the wind.
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning. In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.
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