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Charlotte Boyett-Compo



Chapter One


It had been days since Nicholas Cree and his sister, Gillian, had eaten. Their bellies rumbled; their heads ached with hunger; their fingers and toes were numb with cold, their lips blue. The snows through which they were wading had turned their limbs stiff and they could no longer drag themselves through the building drifts.

It had been foolish to try to escape in the dead of winter; they knew that now. The horses had run off the second day, frightened away by the snarling of timber wolves.

Nicholas had lost his direction in the blowing snow and they had been wandering uselessly for several hours. In the whiteout that encased them, there was no glimmer of hope; no light toward which they could guide their tired bodies.

Now, almost to the point of exhaustion, the two young people took refuge beneath a low rocky mountain overhang and sat shivering as they huddled together, trying desperately to blend the dwindling heats of their rapidly chilling bodies. All that was left was the heartless, icy death that awaited them during the long, frigid night.

"I'm sorry, Gilly," Nick croaked through cracked and bleeding lips.

Gilly Cree used what was left of her strength to squeeze her brother's hand. "You did the best you could, Nick," she answered him.

Nick pressed his face against the wet wool of her coat and sobbed, his tears freezing on his chapped cheeks as he cried. He could not feel the trembling of his sister's cold fingers as she stroked his damp hair.

"I don't blame you, Nicky." she whispered. "You tried to help."

The wind whipped past them, sending clumps of pristine white flakes, heavy and damp, cascading over the overhangs its protests to the world around them.

"I didn't want it to end like this," Nick sobbed. "Oh, God, Gilly! I didn't want it to end like this!"

She began to hum to him, a lilting tune from their Chalean childhood, hugging him to her as best she could. Her voice broke now and again as happy memories of their growing up together flitted unbidden across her mind's eye. As she let the tune dwindle away, she imagined she could hear someone calling to them from out of the wind.

But that was just a painful wish, she thought with bitter regret, for no one knew where they had gone. No one, not even their beloved sister, Adele, had been made privy to their hasty plans to spirit Gillian out of Hellstrom Point and away from the unwanted attentions of Rolf de Viennes.

"He'll not find us in Serenia," Nick had sworn to her as he had helped her pack her small valise. "We'll find work in Boreas; change our names. Everything will be all right. You'll see!"

They had left Virago on the night before her wedding to the man her father had decreed she spend the rest of her life with, despite the fact that he hated the de Viennes family almost as much as Gilly hated Rolf.

"It's a matter of honor," her father had shouted at her. "You'll take him to husband and not argue about it!"

"The man is vile!" Gilly had argued with her father. "I can not walk the corridors of the Keep without him trying to paw me!"

"It is past time you were married," her stepmother had said icily. "The de Viennes family is important in the Realm. They are people of means. You could do worse than Rolf de Viennes."

"How so?" Gilly had shouted at her stepmother. "He has asked for the hand of every eligible maiden at court and has been turned down. Can you not see the man is...."

"IT IS SETTLED!" her father, the Duke of Warthenham, had hissed at her. "I owe the Hesar family a debt of honor and I will see that debt paid!"

No amount of honor could force Gilly to accept Rolf de Viennes or make her even consider spending her life at his mercy. His reputation alone, one of cruelty and viciousness, had turned Gilly's heart to stone with fear; but every argument she had made to her father, every tear, every tantrum, every pleading, had been met with stony silence.

"I won't let Papa give you to that lecher, Gilly," Nick had pledged. "Not if my very life depends on it."

As the guests began to assemble two months later at Tempest Keep, the mighty fortress of the Hesar family where members of the peerage had taken their marriage vows for generations, Nick and Gilly had made plans for her escape.

Now, here in this godawful cold; in this desolate place where nothing stirred and warmth was just a fleeting memory, Nick's life might well end because he had loved his sister too much to see her shackled to a man she could not abide.

Gilly lifted her head, hearing the phantom calling once more. she tensed, hoping against hope that it was not a posse sent to bring them back Praying as she hugged her brother closer to her breast that no trackers had been close on their heels when they had crossed over into Serenia.

If they had crossed over into Serenia. Nick was not sure. For all he knew, they might well still be in Virago.

"Do you hear that, Nicky?" she whispered to him, bending down so she could place her lips to his ear. Above the keening of the arctic wind, she doubted if he could hear her otherwise. "Do you hear it?"

"What?" he asked tiredly, his eyes closing against the spreading warmth and lassitude that was beginning to envelop him.

Again the ghostling voice came out of the wind and Gilly pushed her brother away, too tired and cold herself to notice the languor that was claiming her own body. "Listen, Nick!" she told him. "Do you hear someone calling for help?"

"Trackers," Nick stated in a flat, emotionless voice. "They've found us."

"No," Gilly disagreed. "I don't think so." Easing her brother out of her arms, she wrapped her heavy coat closer around her shivering body and leaned out beyond the overhang, ignoring the fat clumps of snow which fell heavily on her quivering shoulders. She squinted into the bright white swirl of snow that spun around her and imagined for a moment she saw an arcing light off to her right.

"Come back, Gilly," Nick pleading. His teeth were clicking together so hard he had to clamp his jaws shut to control them.

"H..el..p m..e p..l..e..a..s..e!"

"There! Did you hear it?" Gilly cried out. "Someone is in trouble, Nick!"

"No more so than we are," Nick mumbled as he pressed his back against the unbearably cold rock behind him.

Once more Gilly saw the flare of light, closer now, and she reached back for Nick's arm. "We've got to try to help, Nicholas!" She dragged on her brother's sleeve. "Nicky, please!"

A part of Nicholas Cree wanted to stay where he was; to close his eyes and sleep; to let the frigid wind lull him into the arms of the Gatherer and keep him there for eternity, but another part of him was touched by the pleading in his sister's voice and he stirred, coming to his knees in the snow, reaching out to restrain her from venturing out from under the overhang.

"How do you know it isn't them, Gilly?" he asked, listening intently for the ghostly voice he, himself, had heard calling for help.

"I just do," Gilly said forcefully. "Whoever it is, he's in need of assistance, Nick, and so are we. Maybe he can lead us to safety."

"He may well be just as lost as we are, Gilly," Nick sighed, but he crawled out from under the overhang, stood, then held his hand out to his sister. "Come on, then. We might as well freeze out here as under there."

Lowering their heads against the onslaught of the pummeling snow and biting wind, brother and sister began trudging their way toward the bobbing light.


Chapter Two


Jasper Kullen lifted his lantern once more toward the thrashing sound coming from the frozen pond and then shrugged indifferently. He turned his head slightly to follow the bolting doe as it wove through the tall spruces and disappeared into the forest beyond, wishing he had his crossbow with him. The doe would have fed his family for several weeks, had he been able to bring her down in the force of the blizzard's wind.

Kullen looked back toward the pond just in time to see the man's head disappear beneath the surface of the water. The broken chunks of ice around where the man had vanished, bobbed for a moment as a struggling hand pushed up from the water, clawing at the ice floe. The grasping fingers slid away from the slippery ice, grabbed frantically at the floe, missed, then disappeared beneath the churning waves.

"Die, you sorry bastard," Kullen spat. "Do us all a favor and die!"

The crack of ice breaking away shot over the howling wind; the pond water heaved, splashing over the ice floe as the man tried desperately to claw himself out of the water once more. Unable to lever himself up, the man sank heavily beneath the waters, thrashing as he did, his hand grabbing feebly at the ice to keep himself from going under again. More ice broke off from the main floe and the struggling man disappeared one last time below the surface, his hand, descending slowly through the cold water, still clutching a jagged section of ice in its rigid fingers.

For a long time, Kullen stood watching the waters subside. When at last the ice was still and the surface began glazing over, freezing solid once more, he let a vindictive smile slowly spread over his weathered face.

"Good riddance," Jasper Kullen said, nodding. "And may the Demons roast you o'er a slow spit."

Hitching up his shoulders into the relative warmth of his great cape, the woodcutter turned and headed back up the path to his hut....




"WindFall" Copyright © 1999. Charlotte Boyett-Compo. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.





Author Bio

Charlee is the author of thirty-five books, the first ten of which are the WindLegend Saga. Married for thrity-six years to her high school sweetheart, Tom, she is the mother of two grown sons, Pete and Mike, and the proud grandmother of Preston Alexander and Victoria Ashley.

A native of Sarasota, Florida, Charlee was adopted at birth and grew up in Colquitt and Albany, Georgia. She now lives in the Midwest.

She is a proud member of the Authors' Guild, National Writers' Union, the Writer's Club Romance Group, Romance Writers of America, EPIC (the Electronically Published Internet Connection), Women for Literature, Ardeon, E-Writers, the Phenomenal Women of the Web, and the first author to be published by Twilight Times Books in 1999. She is a member of Beta Sigma Phi, Ladies of the Heart, Partners of Mary, White Rose Sisters, and is the parish secretary of her local Catholic church as well as the creator and webmaster of its webpage. In 2000, she was awarded Inscriptions Magazine's Engraver Award for Favorite E-Author. She was also profiled in the premier issue of Writer's Digest Publishing Success Magazine.

Her hobbies are writing, watching Australian actor Hugh Jackman strut his stuff, and trying to keep her adorable husband, Buddha Belly, from snoring. She is owned and operated by six cats.

Currently, she is at work on a new anthology as well as the third novel in the WindTorn Trilogy and WindBorn, the third novel in the WindTales Trilogy.

Listen to a three minute interview with Charlee by Radio Free Gallery's Fay Zachary: Radio Interview.

Other books by Charlee available soon from Twilight Times Books:
WindChance - Book Two in the WindTales Trilogy.

Visit Charlee's web site.




To order this book:

Format: Trade Paperback
List Price: $18.50 USD



In Viago, her father the Duke informs Gillian Cree that she will marry her family enemy, the lecherous vile Rolf de Viennes to pay a debt. Though her sire demands that honor is served by the marriage, her brother Nick vows to take her to safety to Boreas, but the snowstorm stops their escape. The siblings find refuge in a bleak manor house in the middle of nowhere.

The dismal home belongs to Prince Kaelan Hesar, who fell in love only to have his Jarl disapprove his choice, incarcerate him and ultimately sold him in marriage. Since his spouse died, Kaelan lives as a recluse caring for no one not even himself. Ironically the woman he loved that started his cycle of doom has now sought shelter in his home. Gillian brings Kaelan back to life and though he is not to even see her, this time he refuses to let her go. They visit a priest who marries Gillian and Kaelan, but though they hope for a long and happy relationship together, their respective families and de Viennes have darker plans for the loving duo.

WINDFALL is a tremendous romantic fantasy that emphasizes the relationships and attributes of the key cast members. Readers will appreciate the second chance at love between the lead couple and the unselfish attitude of Nick, which contrasts nicely with his avaricious father, the depraved Rolf, and Kaelan’s power greedy Jarl. The audience will enjoy this tale with newcomers wanting to read more "Wind" tales from an author that us fans know is one of the best writers of dark heated romantic fantasy.
Reviewed by Harriet Klausner for Midwest Book Review.

Feisty Gillian Cree refuses to wed a lecherous, sadistic nobleman, despite her father's honor, her Jarl's decree, and the machinations of her stepmother. She escapes, only to find herself and her brother at the desolate home of her one true love, Prince Kaelan. Kaelan, disowned and wed to the highest bidder at his brother's decree, has been living in isolation and abandonment since his wife's death five years earlier. More dead than alive, Kaelan reveals how his brother forced his marriage and sanctioned his near-death sentence. Reunited and wed by a renegade priest, Gillian and Kaelan hope for a life together. Unfortunately, their troubles are just beginning.

While WindFall isn't set on Earth as we know it, it is much more of a romance than a fantasy. It delves into the ugly side of human greed and isolation while affirming that love is an important part - if not the most important part - of anyone's life, and that yes, it can conquer all.
Reviewed by Ann M. Beardsley for
Scribes World.

***** Excellent read

Absolutely Fantastic!! If you haven’t read [WindFall] yet, I strongly recommend you grab it and do so. Be careful though, once you open it and start reading, you won’t be able to put it back down until you’ve finished. Ms. Boyett-Compo has packed this book so full that it overflows. There is fantasy, romance, danger, adventure, and mystery, this book has it all.

...This book is completely spellbinding, it grabs you from the first sentence and even after you’ve turned that final page, you still reach for another page. I am definitely hooked and can hardly wait to read WindChance to find out more.
Reviewed by Tracy Eastgate for Word Weaving.

Boyett-Compo is setting the electronic publishing world on top when it comes to books. Her stories exceed expectations and rival print authors….. (she) will take us into the New Millennium on the wings of her stories. We will soar higher and higher with her WindLegend Saga series.

Political intrique, personal power wars, and loveless marriages unfold as friends the three never knew they had come to their aid. This is truly a dark paranormal romance. Once again Boyett-Compo keeps the reader guessing. It is a tale of love and political intrique at its best. Charlotte Boyett-Compo does it again. When she ends the story she sets us up for the next one. WindChance promises to be a great read. Look for my review in future issues and ride the Wind into the New Millennium with Charlotte and me.
Lea Docken, editor Fantasy, Folklore and Fairy Tales.

The first book in a trilogy that acts as a prequel to the nine-volume WindLegend Saga, WindFall gives new meaning to sword and sorcery fantasy -- so much so that waiting for the next offering creates a growing hunger for more of this author's work. Boyett-Compo grabs the unwary reader by the imagination and pulls him or her deeper and deeper into a world of magic, love and treachery that never ceases to amaze, entertain and bemuse.
Reviewed by Patricia White for Crescent Blues.

In WindFall, Charlotte Boyett-Compo creates more unforgettable characters in Kaelan and Gillian, lovers separated by manipulative enemies. Interweaving stories of past and present, a fantasy setting which is both familiar and brand new, and characters whose love and suffering are almost tangible, WindFall is a terrific read.
Reviewed by Kate Hill for Parchment Symbols.




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