Sneak Preview of Mom's Last Stand

I'm excited to release a teaser to the final book of Magical Midlife Mom! I hope it surprises you with its twists and turns, keeps you guessing until the end, and you enjoy how I wrapped everything up.

(From Chapter 1 of Magical Midlife Mom, Book #4. NOTE: This preview has been modified to minimize spoilers.)

I pushed the spin button on the slot machine one more time. The brightly colored lights on the screen flashed, tinkling with happy notes as they landed on three bars. It was a small win to recoup my losses. Yawning, I hit the button again.

Since the casinos didn’t have clocks to encourage the gamblers to keep spending money, I was forced to check my phone for the time. Two a.m. I wouldn’t last much longer before I fell asleep drooling over the slot machine. I collected the ticket with my meager monetary remains and walked over to Gabriel at the poker table.

Once I reached his side, I whispered into his ear, “It’s getting late.”

“Any luck on our mission?” he asked, equally as quiet while the businessmen next to him chatted.

“Nope. And the only thing I won tonight was a gallon of soda.” I squirmed from the mounting pressure in my bladder. “Speaking of which, I need to use the bathroom.”

“Okay, I’ll play one last hand and call it quits.”

“Sounds good.” I brushed my hand against his jacket sleeve as a parting gesture. A magical heaviness settled into my body. Interesting.

I skirted around the table and made my way to the women’s restroom. Behind the swinging saloon-style door, I found a small but clean space with three stalls and two sinks. The industrial soap couldn’t erase the lingering essence of smoke, but it smelled better than the gaming rooms. I entered the farthest of the three empty stalls.

I heard someone enter the bathroom outside the stall as I finished up. I unlocked the door and found a male custodian between me and the sinks. His rolling garbage can blocked the closed door in the narrow space.

“Excuse me,” I said, trying to get around him to wash my hands.

He paused for a long second, but he finally moved, letting me pass.

I tried not to look at him in the mirror as I slathered soap over my hands. He was staring at me. The guy’s waiting for me to clean up, I reminded myself. No big deal.

I shook water from my fingers and leaned over for a paper towel.

He blocked me with his shoulder. “Where’s your daughter?”

My adrenaline spiked. “What did you say?”

“I asked, where’s your daughter?” He took a menacing step forward, his dull brown eyes flashing a shiny red. “I know who you are, Melissa Hartley. Everyone is searching for you.”

I gasped. “You’re a fae.”

“Half fae. My family won’t let me forget it.” He snapped his fingers, and embers sparked on the tips.

I retreated a half step, the counter digging into my side. “You look plenty powerful to me.”

“It’s not enough for my uncle,” he shot back. “He says if I were full fae, I could do so much more than start a few fires. If I capture you, maybe they’ll finally respect me.”

“Please,” I said, channeling reason into my voice. “I won’t go willingly, and there’s no way the casino will let you drag a person out of here kicking and screaming.”

His eyes blazed a full fire engine red. “You won’t scream after I choke you. Then I’ll stuff you in the garbage bin”—he gestured at what I now realized was quite a large can—“and take you wherever I want. Maybe I’ll even torture you to tell me where you’ve stashed your kid. My uncle will never pick on me after that.”

He lunged at me.

I anticipated his strike and dodged right. I kicked at his legs, trying to knock him off balance, but I missed.

“Stop squirming,” he hissed, waving a flaming hand in my face.

There wasn’t a lot of room to step aside, so I had to move slightly toward him to avoid being burned. He used that proximity to shove me to the ground. I tried to get up but slid on the tiles. He bore down on me, pinning both of my wrists to the floor, our faces close together as his fire ignited with both hands. I flinched, anticipating pain, but my void magic nullified its effects.

The custodian noticed, dumbfounded. “Why aren’t you burning?”

“You’re not the only one with powers,” I said before headbutting him.

He yelped, the blow taking him by surprise. Unfortunately, it made me see stars too. I tried to aim a knee into his groin but couldn’t get enough leverage. He recovered faster than I expected, his hands coming around my throat, full of flames.

“Whore,” he seethed, squeezing my airways shut. “You’ll pay for that!”

I struggled against him, the sickening smell of my burning collar filling my nostrils. I managed to land a few solid punches to his sides, but he wouldn’t let up.

I couldn’t keep up a good fight without air. My lungs ached as my vision went in and out of focus. My body felt like it was slowly detaching from me as it became heavy.

Too heavy.

Traces of Gabriel’s stone magic still hummed in my veins. With my last ounce of will, I summoned the sensation to my right hand and struck the custodian’s face.

The punch landed with a solid thwack. He cried out and loosened his grip.

I didn’t waste the opportunity. I shifted Gabriel’s stone skin magic to my right leg, then thrust upward, right into his groin.

He gave a high-pitched squeal and keeled over.

I panted over him, pulling that stone skin back to my hand, ready to smash his skull in. But as he whimpered, I held back. Not only had I never killed anyone, we actually wanted this sick jerk alive. He’d tell other fae that he’d seen me, which was the entire point of our mission.

I couldn’t walk away without one final threat, though. “If you come anywhere near my daughter, I’ll rip your junk off.” To emphasize my point, I slapped him with my normal left hand.

He sobbed as I left through the swinging door.

Magical Midlife Mom Paranormal Women's Fiction Series

Single mom Melissa Hartley discovers that magic exists in the worst way possible: through her teenage daughter. Follow along as she navigates the world of the fae to protect her child from an ancient prophecy.

Until next time, happy adventuring!

-DM Fike