Of Magic and Scales by Natalina Reis [Book Spotlight – MM Paranormal Mystery]March 5, 2020
With a serial killer on the loose, the baffling mystery of Aiden’s past, and their tenuous budding romance, Aiden and Fouchard tread through a world of magic and myth on padded shoes, terrified to stir up something neither can control or defeat.
Aiden Mercer’s life now centers around lounging on the sunny beaches of his adopted country with a beer in one hand and a coffee in the other while admiring the local male population. After a rough life as a respected detective in DC, playing it cool shouldn’t be too hard, right? With the magical community on his case and dead bodies piling up around town, the responsibility of finding their killer seems fated to fall on him and deny him of his easy living.
Then there is Naël.
Cantankerous merman Naël Fouchard’s life is focused on bringing up and protecting his little sister. When DNA found at the scene of the murders mark him as the prime suspect, Naël seeks out the help of Aiden, whose reputation as a detective grossly belies his lazy lifestyle and apparent lack of ambition.
The chemistry between the strong, stoic Naël and the easygoing Aiden is undeniable, no matter how many walls Aiden builds.
If this unlikely pair can’t come to terms with their feelings for each other long enough to catch the killer, their emotional turmoil might yet allow the murderer to kill them instead.
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But I am not a regular either, because unlike most normal humans, I can see magic beings. By “seeing,” I mean I recognize them as such. Anyone can see them, unless the magicals choose for them not to. I, on the other hand, can always recognize them, unless they purposely hide themselves behind a special magic charm.
I don’t remember not having the ability, so I’m guessing I was born like this. Whatever this is. Good thing that I’m used to it, because seeing magical beings for what they are can be a pretty traumatizing experience, as it was the time I freaked out during a trip to Greece, when I had a close encounter with a minotaur. Nice chap as it turns out but not a pretty sight.
I’ve lived a pretty normal, average life running Bicas R Us, a coffee shop in a small coastal town in sunny Portugal, for the past year or so. After an incident in Northern Virginia that put me on the pages of the local news—don’t ask; it involved a pretty handsome elf and his irate troll boyfriend—I thought it would be better to start again somewhere new. I had visited the tiny nation some years before and fallen in love with its never-ending beaches and kicked-back lifestyle, so I packed my bags, contacted a real estate agent and the immigration office, and got myself a brand-new life.
I had played with the idea of buying a coffee shop on the beach, but I figured it would be a mother to keep the place—and the coffee—free of sand. So, I bought a store nearby in the town square, a short walk from the beach. Portugal is littered with three things: tourists, ancient churches, and coffee shops. Nobody would notice me, the brown haired, blue-eyed American who came to explore the locals’ passion for the hot brew.
The other perk of living here was that magical creatures were not spotted as often. Vampires were virtually nonexistent because of the year-round sunny weather, trolls and ogres were limited to the mountains in the north and, unless you visited the nearby mountain of Sintra that crawled with magical activity, the only thread of magic on the coast was the sporadic water sprite and the beachcombing witches who sold their wares in local shops. All in all, a pretty placid place for someone like me to live in.
I enjoyed today’s cool breeze blowing from the ocean, sitting on a chair in my small esplanade under a red umbrella with a glass of cold beer in my hand. Yes, in this sunny paradise I was allowed to sell and buy alcohol in my coffee shop. Behind my light pinewood counter, the wall shelves were covered in bottles that held more than coffee flavorings. What a great nation this was.
While Cristina, my only employee, was busy serving the few customers who loitered inside the café, I could enjoy the local fauna as they hurried from shop to shop or headed out to the beach. Summer hadn’t quite arrived yet, but the sun had warmed the air enough for the locals to shed their wintry clothes and don more relaxed apparel. From behind my shades, I followed the trek of three young men, all shirtless and in swimming trunks. Hot. Not the weather, the guys—tanned, lean and muscular, shorts low enough on their hips to reveal that sexy vee—
“Olha para ti, a salivar como um cão por um bife.” Cristina had sneaked up from behind and interrupted my yummy thoughts.
“Speak English, woman,” I told her, sliding my glasses down my nose to look at her over the rim. “You’d think you’re Portuguese, or something.”
She slapped me mercilessly across the back of my head and plopped herself on the chair next to mine. “Idiota.”Without so much as a may I, my small Portuguese friend and employee grabbed the glass from my hand and took a long swig of my beer. “Are you going to sit here all afternoon watching the hot guys walking by?”
“And what’s wrong with that?” Cristina spoke flawless English but enjoyed confusing me with spurts of Portuguese once in a while. She pulled up another chair and placed her feet on the seat, her legs crossed at the knees. “What exactly did you call me just now?”
“A dog salivating over a steak.” She took another swig before I could retrieve my beer. “Don’t you have more important things to do with your life, Aiden?”
I wiped her foam mustache with a finger. “Not really. Why do you think I moved here from Virginia?” She blinked her eyes at me, pretending not to know what I was talking about. “Easy living, sunshine, and hot, half-naked guys.”
Cristina laughed, her face turned to the sun. She had skin the same color as the cork in a wine bottle, a honeyed brown made darker since the early spring weather replaced the cool air of winter. “You’re something, Aiden. You have no other dream or ambition? Just basking in the sun and ogling sexy men?”
Not quite correct but part of the truth. “Are you jealous?”
The skin crinkled around her green eyes as she turned her gaze to me. “Only if you flirt with guys I have my eyes on.” She spotted a couple of newly arrived customers and hopped to her feet. “Customers. Unlike you, I have some interest in making a buck here and there. I enjoy having a roof over my head.”
As she walked away, I yelled, “No need. You can always sleep on the beach.”
Guest Post From The Author:
Travelling Back Home
I am originally from sunny Portugal, a tiny country sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Spain, but I have lived and been an American citizen for a long time. When I became a published author, about four years ago, the first question my family and friends in Portugal asked was, “When are your books going to be available in Portuguese?” Of course, that’s not quite under my control so I did the next best thing; I wrote a book set in my country.
Of Magic & Scales series is set in my hometown, a suburb of Lisbon, and I had a blast writing it. Lisbon has changed quite a bit since I moved to the U.S., but I go there often enough to keep track of most of the changes. That said, I still had to do some research in order not to goof on some things. Thankfully my family and a lot of my friends still live there so I enlisted a few of them to help me “investigate” a few things.
No matter how long I’ve been away, some things never change, and I expect they will still be that way a hundred years from now. Portuguese people love coffee. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you there are coffee shops in every corner, and they are always busy. We also love our beaches and sunshine and as soon as the weather warms, sometimes as early as March, we don our summer clothes and flip flops and lounge like lizards soaking up the sun in esplanades and along the beaches.
It was the perfect setting for Aiden with his laid-back, playful personality and owning a coffee shop was by far the best job I could give him. With the first book in the series, the reader’s journey in Portugal’s sunny shores is just beginning. Wait until you find out to which strange and wondrous sites the next two books will take you.
After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.
Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.
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