Bennu Bright has a new MM alt-history fantasy out (bi/pan, intersex, poly), Infinity 8 book one: The Demon Lord of California. And there’s a giveaway.
A Slow Burn Meet Cute!
Baker. Wizard. God of Space and Time. Cupcake enthusiast. How long will it take to fan the flames and enrage this gentle phoenix? Start counting.
What’s a wounded and lonely little cinnamon roll to do? Stripped of his psychic powers, Calico Winghorse flees his homeworld and travels to 19th century Earth via his inter-dimensional portal. As a mixed-blood phoenix trapped in human form, he opens a bakery in the San Francisco Bay Area and quietly nurses his wounds. But the unique method of his arrival draws the unwanted attention of Infinity Corporation.
Representing this angelic-run company is Agustin Chavez de la Cruz, the Demon Lord of California. Even though Agustin is IC’s heir, he finds himself demoted from his duties to concentrate on his new assignment: take absolute control of Calico’s portal.
But Calico refuses to sell at any price. He is also very busy ensuring that the good people of the city are getting their fill of baked goods.
Before Agustin can formulate a more gracious avenue of acquiring the gateway, the demanding head of IC interferes, further complicating matters. So as negotiations stumble along, Calico and Agustin come to realize they both want more than a stuffy business arrangement.
However, due to Calico’s injuries, the portal remains vulnerable to the darker forces that want it at any cost. Agustin will have to push both his angelic heritage, as well as his own psychic powers to the very limits to heal this sweet baker, who is also the portal world’s God of Space and Time.
The Demon Lord of California is the first book of an LGBTQ+ paranormal-fantasy series. You won’t want to miss a first love found, hidden worlds, and a recovering workaholic grasping at his second chance. All centered around the control of an otherworldly portal. So curl up with your favorite beverage, and hang out with Cal and Gus for a while. You’ll be happy you did!
Warnings: Mature readers. Robbery and assault. Mentioned sexual harassment/assault. Mental abuse from a parent. Fire, burning, burning alive. Possibly implied prostitution, and suicide (by fire).
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“Please,” Calico called out, hands waving at chest-level. “Please, wait.”
The raucous noise of the motorcar’s engine ceased. The gentleman stepped down from the vehicle. “You wished to speak to me? Is it about the order? I can reduce the amount of—”
“Oh, no, no,” Calico hurried to reassure. “My brothers and I are most capable, and we will have no difficulty filling and delivering your baked goods. On time. I…” He could do this. He had to do this. His loneliness would drive him mad before the curse could ever eat him into a permanent demise.
Perhaps it would be easier if they did not have the driver as an audience. Calico extended a hand to show his customer the way to the small strip of greenery next to the bakery. He could not be sure exactly what his intentions would entail, by waylaying a most important customer in this manner. It was indecent. Immoral. But Calico felt if he did not, he would lose something, or a moment, that was so dire, he would die.
He would die anyway… Calico bit his lip.
It was well and good his gentleman customer seemed to be interested in his most unusual inquiry. So that provided additional courage. Which came as a surprise.
In the heart of this little park next door to the bakery, his customer artfully arranged himself on the bench beneath the gaslight pole. Sitting straight and tall. Sophistication and elegance radiating just as strongly as the furnace of his elemental aura.
The haziness cast from the street lamp created a most wonderful island against the coming twilight. It strangely made this rendezvous cozier. That alone bolstered Calico’s courage another notch.
When the gentleman looked up at him expectedly with those mismatched eyes, Calico felt mesmerized. Say something, he demanded of himself. Something witty and clever, so he will think me just as gentlemanly and important.
His customer appeared to be fighting the smile on his lips before clearing his throat. He turned his head—just for a second, before facing him again, expression polite.
Say something, Calico pushed himself. He is waiting. He will think me daft and even more unsound than I already am. Alright then. Here I go.
“We are both fire elementals.” The clumsy inquiry had Calico’s cheeks heating in embarrassment. He bent his head at his failure.
“One moment,” the gentleman said. He collected a small item anchored into his top hat and held it up. A blue gem embedded into a silver clip glowed, and the light circled around them like a curtain. Returning the jewel to its place on that magnificent hat, this man languidly leaned against the backrest and angled himself more in his direction.
Calico felt encouraged to pursue a friendly connection, but this intriguing magic had to be investigated. “What was that?”
“A spell my company uses. We call it the Curtain. It keeps our dealings private and unseen from the mundanes—ah, the general non-magical populations, I mean. Usually the humans.”
“That is most ingenious magic,” he exclaimed, leaning in. “I wonder how it compares to my Mirror Bubble?”
There was that smile again, most gentle, and prompting. “You wished to speak of magic? Or something more?”
“Ah, my apologies. Not magic. Will you show it to me?” Calico asked, knowing himself too eager. He tried not to wring his hands and appear desperate.
His customer’s brows rose high, and Calico knew it was in utter surprise, and perhaps curiosity. “Show you… what?” The question was somewhat wary with a touch of amusement.
“Your elemental flame. You see, I too, am—er was once gifted with the flame. I am a phoenix, you see.”
The man blinked. “A phoenix without a flame?”
Calico felt himself turn pink, and put a sheepish hand against the back of his head. “It is a most embarrassing admission,” he rushed. “I did not plan on being so forward. I apol—”
There was a quiet whoosh. Another small circle of light rose, and Calico sensed the heat instantly. There, dancing calmly inches above the gentleman’s gloved palm, was a tear-shaped flame. Flickering in shades of orange, reds, and yellows and blues. And… and yes. White.
He sucked in a breath and suddenly couldn’t breathe. It had been so long since he’d seen such a flame. Curling, writhing in all its glory. Since he was cut off from his ability, Maars did not use his out of sympathy. At least in a sensory view.
Calico swallowed the hitch in his breath. How could this gentleman carry so many colors within? Was he that powerful?
“You’re shaking, Mr. Scrivens.” The flame disappeared, and there was a steadying hand at his shoulder. “Are you well? Perhaps you should sit down.”
Calico touched that hand, as if to anchor it in place. “Yes, yes, I should.” The wooden bench was chilly against his rump. “It-it is quite cold this evening. May I see it again?”
The request was granted. Calico just stared at the dancing shapes. Wishing. Forever longing.
A few seconds passed before the gentleman spoke. “How long has it been since you were unable to create?”
Create. It was an elemental term Calico had heard bandied about as he eavesdropped upon conversations among the local wizard shops. The question sent warm tingles and shivers of fire down his spine.<
Staring at the flame so snug and content curling about the gentleman’s gloved fingertips, Calico suddenly found himself saying, “Sixteen months, two days, seventeen hours and 26 and a half seconds.”
The gentleman cocked his head to the side. He lowered his hand, and the summoned fire faded. “That’s quite precise.”
Indeed! He should not be able to access any of his psychic powers. “I am the God of Space and Time,” Calico said offhandedly.
There was a pause that almost became awkward. “Well, yes. About that. Mr. Scrivens, while we are here, alone, I’d like to take the opportunity to discuss your delivery further.”
“Oh, yes,” Calico replied with renewed energy. “What is it? Would you like to add my famous cupcakes to the order? It is no trouble.”
“N-no. That’s not it. Well, the baked goods are for a recruitment campaign.”
“Yes. My company has need of your skills.”
Calico paused before he made a silly fish out of himself. As much as his mind was centered upon his magic, what if this man merely wanted an extra baker on his payroll, and not a wizard? He had to allow the man to formally extend the offer.
Hi! I’m Bennu Bright. Fantasy and paranormal tales have always felt like home. And I’ve always adored getting into the gritty details of a character’s goals and relationships. With my newfound zest for the craft of writing, my work has joined the ranks of romance and the romantic.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I spend my days nose to the keyboard, or attempting to revive an ancient passion for drawing.
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