Monday, August 8, 2011

Heather Kuehl: How I learned character development

Dear Reader,

Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just finished season five and I’m starting season six. I’ve watched this show and its sister show Angel over and over again more times than I can count and it has taught me so much. And not just life lessons. It’s taught me now to create awesome characters.

My favorite Joss Whedon character, development-wise, would have to be Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. When he first stepped on the scene in season three of BtVS, he was a pansy of a Watcher who didn’t have a clue how the real world worked. After Faith went crazy he was fired from the Watcher’s council, and the character transferred from BtVS to Angel. From there, his evolution is just amazing. By the time Angel concludes Wesley is like a bad-ass Giles, carrying a gun and wielding magic in a way no one thought possible back in season three of BtVS.  Seeing this character’s development over the course of the show has taught me how a character should be written. It’s showed me that change takes time and it has to be believable. If a character changes too much over night, readers will never identify with him or her.

Now I can’t write about BtVS without gushing about my favorite character - Spike. I love Spike; I can’t get enough of him. Yep, I’m a Spuffy fan. I think it’s because I started watching BtVS at the end of season three, so I never really cared about the whole Angel and Buffy relationship. But Spike…yummy, hilarious, and a bad boy with a romantic middle. Oh and he writes poetry. Gotta love a bad boy who can wield a pen.

If you are a fan of Joss Whedon, please feel free to tell me who your favorite character is and why. Mal? Echo? Willow? Dr. Horrible? I’m curious.

And, of course, it’s time for my shameless promotion. :o) Please check out my new releases, Dream Lover and Epiphany.

Dream Lover blurb: Denna Rainerd has dreamed about Warren Connelly for the past ten years, their relationship in the dream world hot and passionate. Pity he isn't real...or is he? Warren wishes that Denna was in his real world, but a human in his world would be a liability. He's a Hunter shapeshifter; sworn to protect his world from the darkest of creatures while he's focused on revenge for the death of his brother. Their worlds collide when Warren saves Denna's life, setting up a chain of events that will change their lives forever. Will Denna be able to accept Warren's supernatural secrets?
Buy link:

Epiphany blurb: Everlena doesn't usually go out to clubs, but one night she decides to, on a whim. She meets Mika, a man who is as mysterious as he is delectable. Everlena doesn't know that Mika has plans for her, or that dark forces are out to get her. Mika is the Fey-King of the Unseelie Court. He's trying to find the princess of the Seelie Court, and is shocked to find her living life as a human. Even more shocking is that this human has no clue Mika’s world even exists. Mika must get Everlena to safety while convincing her that a union between her light court and his dark court is the only way to end the violence. With danger around every turn, will Everlena be able to leave her human life behind and take her place as a princess of the Seelie Court? Or will the feelings blossoming between Everlena and Mika get in the way?

And don’t forget to check out my other books at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heather Kuehl's Top Ten Paranormal Hotties

Dear Reader,

Please welcome Heather Kuehl!

There is nothing readers love more than a super sexy hero or heroine. Here’s a list of my ten favorite paranormal hotties in no particular order; it was way too hard to choose just one favorite.

Eric Northman (Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris; True Blood) – He’s yummy and a real Viking. While he’ll lie and omit details to get his way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise since this is the type of person he is. But even then, a girl could be happy with a guy like him (and let’s not forget that sexy shower scene in Dead to the World).

Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – The fan fiction books and the season eight comic (published by Dark Horse) has led me to adding Spike onto this list. Even before he won back his soul, Spike was a teddy bear hiding behind his bad boy exterior. Heck, not even Buffy could resist the purr of his British accent in her ear. What makes you think anyone else could?

Rachel Morgan (The Hollows series by Kim Harrison) – It’s no surprise that this ginger witch made it on to my hottie countdown. Not only is she bad ass, but she does so while wearing the sexiest clothes ever described. While she hooks up with almost every eligible bachelor she meets, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she hooks up with Ivy at least once. They’ve been going at the cat-and-mouse game since Dead Witch Walking. It’s about time to give readers what you’ve been hinting at, Ms. Harrison.

Mercy Thompson (Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs) – She’s Native American, turns into a coyote, and works as a mechanic for a living. How is she not hot? Even after finding out that the cover art took liberties with her looks (Mercy only has one tattoo, not the full body artwork the covers depict), I still love her attitude.

Adam (Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs) – He won me over in Iron Kissed. Originally I thought that he was going to be another Richard (from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series); a tortured werewolf who wants to be nothing but human again. Happily, I was wrong. Adam turned out to be a strong alpha wolf who’d do anything for the woman he loves.

Spade (Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost) – Do you want a tortured vampire in need of some love? Read First Drop of Crimson to see why Spade fits that request easily. While scrumptious Spade can be a bit over protective. To me that is the only down side with this mysterious vampire. I can deal with from protective issues if it means getting to be in his arms for the night.

Zarek (Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon) – If anyone ever needed a hug, Zarek would. Trusting no one, Zarek does his best to stay away from everyone. Because of his inability to follow orders, Artemis has him isolated to Alaska where he can be closely watched. Reader can’t help but pull for him in Dance with the Devil, hoping that Astrid will be able to see the man beneath the monster and make him whole.

Micah (Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton) – Kind, understanding, and loyal…what more can a girl want? With yummy chartreuse eyes and tawny build, this wereleopard could keep me warm on any night of the week.

Jane (Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer) – While I’m not a huge Twihard fan, I must say that Ms. Meyer had a stroke of genius when she created Jane. Jane has no good side to get on, and loves using her ability to inflict pain whenever she can. To me, there’s nothing sexier than a dangerous bad ass in sheep’s clothing.

Pam (Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris; True Blood) – As Eric’s right hand woman, Pam is one not to underestimate. She may like pastels and dress like a girly girl, but she’ll throw down with the best of them. But she has a soft side too, one that comes out when she’s around Eric or Amelia. I wouldn’t mind having Pam at my back during any situation.

This list was harder to compile than I first thought it would be. I wanted a variety of authors, but quickly discovered that the hottest paranormals in fiction were usually created by the same author. And with the hundreds of paranormal hotties out there, I knew that I had to leave some out. So tell me, who would you have on this list and why…

Check out some of my other favorite hotties (a biased opinion…I know) in the Sarah Vargas Series. Books one and two in this series, Fade to Black and Malevolent Dead, are available now from Eternal Press. Book three, Blood Moon, is due out on March 7, 2011.

Fade to Black blurb:

Werewolf bounty hunter Sarah Vargas has only one goal in life; to kill the Were that attacked and changed her. However a slew of werecreature murders send Sarah and her partner, Jared Fontaine, on the mission of their lives, ending with a discovery about Jared’s past that might destroy them both.

Malevolent Dead blurb:

Werewolf Sarah Vargas thought all she had to worry about was the Blood Moon Corporation's retaliation. She never dreamed that another vampire would arrive, disputing Damian's claim over the throne to Charleston, SC. To make matters worse, he is no ordinary vamp; he's a vampire necromancer. He's exceptionally hard to kill, and Sarah will have to do what ever she can to keep those that she loves safe... Even if it means doing the unthinkable.

Blood Moon blurb:

After she broke her contract with the Blood Moon Corporation, Sarah Vargas knew that it was only a matter of time before they came for her. What she didn't know is what lengths they would go to make sure that she had no where to run. Everyone Sarah has every relied on is in danger during a time when friends become enemies, and Sarah quickly realizes that the Blood Moon Corporation will never give up until she is dead. The Blood Moon Corporation is coming, and even Sarah doesn't think she can make it out alive.

Buy Links

Malevolent Dead: Book Two of the Sarah Vargas Series, Eternal Press

Fade to Black: Book One of the Sarah Vargas Series, Eternal Press

Promises to Keep, Eternal Press

Coming Soon

Blood Moon: Book Three of the Sarah Vargas Series, Eternal Press (3/7/2011)

All proceeds from Blood Moon will be going to MUSC Children's Hospital. Please visit for more information about this wonderful children's hospital.

Visit Heather Kuehl online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coming Soon; The Foxworth Coven, Book One, Death Of Innocence

The Foxworth Coven, Book One, Death Of Innocence

By Kayden McLeod


Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance (Vampires, Deities, M/F)
Publisher: Silver Publishing


Release Date: May 2011


Even unconditional love cannot always banish an eternal nightmare


The Foxworth family has blazed a trail through human and vampire history alike, changing the ways of both races in Canada for all time. The Council has demanded a full report for the long and twisted tale of how the Surrey Coven had come to be the most powerful and feared; an assemblage that anyone would question before coming up against.

The Leader of the Surrey Coven, Canya recalls how her family came to be. A story filled with pain and heartache, until she meets Gregory Foxworth: a debonair CEO to the family shipping company. Gregory remembers taking her away from a life that shocks him, hoping to shelter and love her. But little does he know all he has done, was make her a target for a sadistically warped man. One who will have her and his own personal brand of vengeance. Sometimes, a grudge isforever.

Excerpt One (Rated PG):



Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

June 3 2010

The sky was overcast, grey and temperamental, much like my mood. The ocean was the flat colour of slate, reflecting the drab clouds above, while the waves lapped at the long expanse of sand making up the beach.

I loved my house in White Rock, a nice city in British Columbia within the Fraser Valley. It was our main residence, but we owned a lot of property all over the territory that was ours to tend.

I sat outside, on my patio with expensive white paper and a pen, with Gregory at my side. His hand was on my shoulder in a show of support, a silent partner, until it was his turn to write his account. The beginning, where we started, was my words. But I wasn’t sure where to begin. When a story went on for decades, where does one start?

I thought of my family to give me strength.

The Foxworths had grown and changed so much in the last century. They too were asked to tell their parts of the tale, but they’d decided that it was when I discovered the new world, remaining even now in shadows that this story should begin.

It was almost a century to the day, when we finally ended what plagued my family for so long. Was a hundred years too long to hold on to hope that your loved ones would eventually survive and thrive, even if some had to die in seeing it happen?

The Council, our governing body, paid me a personal visit yesterday. Though it had been an official visit, I didn’t have a great track record with those appointments. I was respected, but all in my Coven were also feared for their individual reasons, their individual pasts.

Over the years, our Coven had been allied with some of the most powerful entities this world would ever know. We have the forces of nature on our side, the power of dreams and the most feared monsters that make humans run and hide under their beds.

The Council only “requested” this document, because it is unbelievable, as it sounds. I believed they wanted to watch us fail to give the facts; to prove beyond doubt that what we said was real.

And we do have proof of all of our accomplishments. But I still suspected they don’t believe some of what my family and friends claim. Even to us, who are vampires and know of all sorts of real magic, our story is very far-fetched. Our experiences rip apart our own beliefs, not just the human view-point, and then stitch them back together again. To know the real truth of what lays just out of even our sight.

For a race with our real origin of beginnings, you’d think that they’d believe our tall-tale.

Personally, I wouldn’t have ever chosen to put this to paper, but when the Council decrees something, you refuse or disobey at your own risk. So, I will do so for our own well-being, and finally admit what we really are.

Some think the Foxworths were lucky for our “good” fortune. Others consider it a curse on top of the Curse that all vampires already share. I didn’t know which side to follow in that.

As a race, we’re the damned that had at one point been blessed. We were the ultimate oxymoron and the personification, if you will.

Our kind has seen both sides of the balance, and now we were precariously hanging by our fingertips, trying to protect mankind from ourselves. Most of us moved steadily forward to evolve with everyone else, but outlawed Rogues kept trying to throw us back into the dark ages.

Even so, we would always stand between the evil that rears its head within us, and the good in everyone else. Though we cannot protect humankind from their own forms of evil, we could do our part to keep the harmony on our end.

That was the Foxworth Coven’s mission statement.

We lived with humans, not just among them. We tried not to abuse our power, and assimilate into humanity the best we could. We raise our children with those beliefs, in hopes that one day we’d have real freedom and understanding. It was only one small step in the face of many, and so far, our ways had set the standard for Canadian ways.

We must be doing something right.

Possibly this record of our family would convince a few more of our kind that just because we are at the top of the food chain, manned with more power then any being had a right to, didn’t mean vampires had the right to abuse it.

Maybe it will show that no matter how bad life appears at the time, hope is always at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it will just take a little time to get there.

I knew this better than most. In the end, I knew just how lucky I’d been.

As a child, I’d known real love existed out there—somewhere. But my parents had never been examples of that. They’d almost hated each other, and liked me even less. It was a match for necessity and nothing more.

Years ago, my cousin had told me, I’d been born to be a servant. Since the time I had been old enough to clean and mind the cattle, it’d been my life. Being taught to cook simple meals before turning the age of ten, I was expected to serve them nightly.

Under my mother’s watchful eye, I grew up alone and afraid. My father had been a big, burly man who was far too gruff to ever have children. I believe he had me, only because it had beenexpected of him. After me, they’d never tried for a boy. Something that enraged my father and something I had to suffer for continuously.

But it isn’t my childhood hell that begun my long journey, nor my terrifying family legacy. For generations my human family possessed magical gifts, but these required us to keep them quiet for our own survival. The differences between those who are gifted and those who did not understand them were vast in the early twentieth century, more so than they had in the nineteenth.

As a teenager I’d been starved for love and affection, something that all of my friends had received and gave so easily. I’d searched far and wide for it, a way to leave my past behind me. To finally get out from under my parent’s thumb or I would surely go mad.

They didn’t want me to go. They’d made no move to marry me off. I still believed that if the occurring events of my early life hadn’t taken place, they would’ve found a way to keep me tied to them forever.

Near the age of twenty, I was practically an old maid when I’d met Thomas. For months we had come together in secret. I’d thought nothing of it. Those were the times then. Plus, I didn’t want my parents to know, until it was too late to stop me.

I went to Thomas willingly, time after time, needing to feel human and liked. So much abuse from my parents made me desperate to jump into anything that would bring about my escape far too quickly. My normally intelligent mind hadn’t had the time to warn me of the impending dangers, in direct relation to the hard-pressed decisions.

I had mistaken lust for love, and that really had been my downfall, and breakthrough for survival.

If I hadn’t met Thomas, I doubted I would’ve met my true love.

Every cloud has a silver lining, even the darkest and most deadly ones.

* * * *

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Cornwall Coven Book Tour

Book Two, Carnal Magnetism

Released by Silver Publishing on: January 15th 2011

More Information:

Cover Art by: Reese Dante

Book Three, Demonic Pandemonium

Release by Silver Publishing on: January 29th 2011

More Information:

Cover Art by: Reese Dante

Carnal Magnetism
Demonic Pandemonium
Book Tour Dates

February 3rd 2011

Cindy Jacks' Bad Girl (And Bad Boy) Writer's Block
Giveaway and blog-post

February 10th 2011

Fang-tastic Books
Giveaway and blog-post

February 17th 2011

Love Romances and More Yahoo Chat Group
Contest and Author Chat

Monday, December 13, 2010

Coming Soon...Martyr of the Flaminian Gate

Martyr of the Flaminian Gate

Valentine's Day Story, released within the Heart And Soul Anthology (M/F)

Kayden McLeod

Publication Date:

February 12th 2011


Erotic Romance




Silver Publishing




A love that spans through the ages


In the times of the Roman Empire, it is declared that no solider would marry to distract them from battle, and their duties to their Emperor, Claudius Gothicus. Jacobus de Voragine hears these orders, but does not heed them. He seeks out a priest who would wed him and his love, Petronia. And that one decision of devotion causes them both unimaginable adversities. But there are some forces in this world not even the Emperor can circumvent. The priest, Valentio sees the good in the hearts of men, especially Jacobus. And gives him a chance of a lifetime: to love purely and freely, no matter who tells him he can’t.

Excerpt One (RATED PG)


269 AD, the Roman Empire

Valentio stared up at Claudius Gothicus from under the brush of his eyelashes with an unpleasant glint inspired from these indecencies.

The guard had forced the martyred priest to his knees, chained in shackles and presented to their ruler—though he wasn’t Valentio’s. The priest followed his faith in honour, love and God. But the Roman Emperor had deemed it necessary to eradicate what Valentio held sacred, and impose his own to replace it.

“Do you still persist in these foolish notions, Saint Valentine?” Claudius’s index finger danced along the rim of his wine-filled goblet. “Has your incarceration not been enough? You have had ample time to reconsider.”

The priest bit his tongue in an effort not to laugh at the label some called him, in all ignorance. A saint he may be considered—but none here had any idea what responsibility this imposed on him. Miraculous occurrences would always happen and missionaries like Valentio and those akin to him distributed some, but not all.

“I persist in nothing that is foolish—nor have I ever. I will not convert to your ways. If you so choose to follow in your own beliefs, fine. But extend me the same courtesy. I do nothing wrong.”

The guard around the Emperor laughed—with a clear fake ring to it. They did not wish to anger the very man who held their fate in his hands, the power to do unto them, as what was done in the priest’s position.

At least, some of them. A few among these strong and intimidating men had come to change their faith—no longer seeing Christianity as offensive: not like Claudius had deemed it. But they would not allow the Emperor to have this knowledge, for it would only get them prosecuted. Valentio did not hold them accountable for this.

No one but Valentio would be to blame for his predicament, whether that was true or not. He had given himself up in many ways, all to save another who proved himself worthy of his specific attentions.

“Valentio, I am fond of you—your fortitude and rigid loyalty. It is why breath still fills your lungs and your heart continues to beat beneath your breast. However, is it possible you like living your waning life in chains, in a blackened cell? Because until your dying breath and the last beat of your heart that is how you will stay, if you do not come to see my way of things. Do not mistake my charity in your recently continued life to be my foolishness. I will kill you without a second thought.”

Valentio felt the cold weight of the metal binding his hands and feet. No, he did not care for the atrocities and the belittling of being bound in such a way. There’d be little doubt it would be his impending death, if his soul-deep convictions remained unchanged.

Yet, none of it mattered. To alter such a thing would be to lie to one’s self about fundamental needs. And that was something he would never do.

It took everything within Valentio not to snarl and rail against the injustice of this. Why could Claudius not see there should be freedom in religion? That people should have a choice?

“Then so shall it be. I will not have another way of life, thinking and being forced upon me. I will not go against who I am to please anyone—nor will I find variance in who I am, just to survive a pitiful existence of dishonesty. I hold true to fidelity in my faith.” Valentio calculated his words, though near reaching the end of his rope. “Perhaps it is not me that needs to look inward and see who or what is wrong.”
Claudius’s eyes filled with anger. “You dare question my beliefs?”

“You question mine. One does not judge another, until one judges himself first.”

“I do not have to judge myself. I am ruler here—what I say is to be heeded as the utmost authority. You are trying my patience, and I will not have that. Do you wish to spend another fortnight in the cells below, perhaps to gain some common-sense before I decide what your end will be?”

“I will spend the time there—but I will acquire nothing but hunger and friendship with rats. There will come a time, Claudius Gothicus, that you will see my ways are not as depraved as you have come to believe. You will see damnation for what you have wrought—and it will not be me who kneels before you, manacled to what he values. We all have a higher power to answer. You are not and never been mine. I sincerely hope yours has more clemency than you do.”

Claudius laughed at Valentio’s words. “You imagine that the Emperor of the Roman Empire will genuflect before a mere priest of a Christian Church? Who has knowingly gone against my dictates and wed my soldiers? It is you, and only you who will be arbitrated for these heinous crimes against me.”

“Those soldiers have want of families—children. Do you not desire for them to broaden your domain, and strengthen your rule? It is not fair to deny them a most basic principle—something all men covet. They fight for you, give their lives for your campaigns. Yet you will not give them a loving touch waiting in their homes, when it causes you no harm?”

Claudius snorted with distaste. “They are my legions—borne to violence and bred with a devotion to protect my lands. That is a much greater good than siring a few brats—who along with their women will distract them from battle, taking their focus away from what ismost important.”

Valentio took the chance for a sideways glance to the guards—those same soldiers who were condemned to live out their lives alone, barring brief visits to bordellos and rare contact with females, whom cared nothing about them, except for what lined their pockets.

The priest’s gaze strayed upon one of those—but not too long—lest anyone notice.

Jacobus de Voragine.

No one could know they were still friends after all that had happened. All the horror and pain Claudius had put him through—all the agony Valentio allowed him to continue to visit upon him, while the priest plotted out the best way to bring about the events destined to the solider.

Even if it was the very last thing Valentio did—and more than likely, it would be—he would see Jacobus’s family restored.

“I have had enough of this,” Claudius said, his voice a strange mix of musing and anger Valentio did not care for.

He had been jailed by the Emperor and his actions for too long not to know this wouldn’t turn out well for him. His gaze strayed back to Claudius, while everyone else in the room held their breath in anticipation of what punishment would be handed out this time.

“Decide my fate. We all know in the end, you will do so anyway.” Valentio raised his bound hands to display this fact.

“And what do you think I will do?”

“Kill me for impertinence.”

Claudius Gothicus regarded his prisoner with something broaching respect in the face of what would come. “While tempting, that will not be today, Valentio. I think I will try one more thing before condemning you to such a conclusion.”

“And what would that be?”

“My loyal guard—those who always serve me without question, will take you out into the street and flog you to show my people what will happen when I am disobeyed. If you come out of it alive, we will convene again. To think of all your attempts to convert me will do you no good. I will teach you that it is better to listen than to ignore.”


Excerpt Two (RATED PG)

It was her. His Petronia in the flesh.

Her chestnut hair was sheared off, brushing her shoulders and gently curling outward at the ends. Petronia watched him like she didn’t know him, when all he wanted was to take her into his arms and hold her close.

To have thought her dead! And then to have the priest tell him all of that nonsense and being idiotic enough not believe him—to this! It was incredible, even to someone who had jumped damned near two-thousand years forward in time, just three days before.

Then Petronia snapped her fingers in front of his face. “You still in there?”

“Terribly sorry, my lady. My name is Jacobus de Voragine, and this is my daughter…”

“Aelia. We’ve met.”

“Do you know her?” Jacobus asked with hope. Valentio had promised she wouldn’t remember them at first, but something in her eyes said she wasn’t as ignorant as she put on.

A woman bustled past them, wafting Petronia’s sweet, seductive perfume his way. And that was all it took. His cock hardened for her right then and there. Thank the gods his pants were baggy enough to cover it! How would he explain it to her if she happened to look down and see his straining erection?

“No,” Petronia replied, an odd note to her voice, eyes downcast like she was uncomfortable. “But your daughter does look so familiar to me.” She shook her head, taking a half-step back. Jacobus held his breath, needing her to recognize them. “But I suppose many children took a like.”

Aelia looked up between them with a sweet, innocent expression before she took off into the aisles of clothes to play. His heart filled with joy to see her carefree and unburdened. It was hard to reprimand her and order Aelia back to his side when she wanted freedom she’s never had.

“Stay where I can see you!” Jacobus called.

Aelia giggled, weaving through the displays in figure eights, around and around again. He watched her, unsure what one would say to his unknowing wife.

“You sound so formal—dignified. And you stand so straight, like a general of some great army. Different from anyone I have met here.Petronia said it as if it were praise. He turned back to her. “You haven’t been in Canada long, have you?”

“Only a few days. I come from a place that is so diverse in comparison to here. I am completely lost, despite promises on how easy it would be. There is so much to learn, and it’s quite overwhelming.”

“Aelia seems to have adapted.”

His breath held. “My,” oh, how he wanted to say our, “daughter has had to come to terms with a lot lately, and I am so proud of what she has accomplished. Her mother—died, I suppose.” Petronia’s brow lifted at that. “And then Aelia was cured of two maladies, only to be whisked away to this new land, where she knows nothing. I am pleased she does not struggle like I do, but I know it is still hard for her.”

* * * *

Petra winced at hearing the immense pain behind his words. Something about him tugged at her heartstrings, making her want to reach out to him and his daughter. Enough that she almost placed a comforting hand on his arm to try and dispel the darkness which had crowded his eyes as he stared off in the direction Aelia had gone.

“Children are resilient little people, who are capable of amazing feats.” Petra fidgeted, feeling nervous. Not of him per se. She just felt off-centre, like she’d known him forever and a day, but couldn’t recall a thing about him.

But that was impossible.

“Father!” Aelia called before she raced out of the store, back into the activity of the mall.

Jacobus launched forward to follow her, Petra close at his heels. His pace picked up as he weaved through the crowds, worry etching his features as the young girl stopped in front of greeting card shop. Valentine’s Day decorations adorned the windows in hues of red and shades of white. Pink streamers coiled across the ceiling in the store, with hundreds of holiday related items to entice the passersby to buy them for their loved ones.

“Are they not pretty, father?” Aelia pointed at the hearts in an array of Medias, which sat beside helium-filled balloons and stuffed animals. It was like she’d never seen anything like this before. “What are they?”

Jacobus’s stern appearance melted into affection at her excitement. “I don’t know. Decorations of some sort.”

“Haven’t you heard of Valentine’s Day?” Petra asked in surprise. But Jacobus’s confused look confirmed he hadn’t, not to mention that he winced at the reference. Why did he look so haunted?

“No. What is it?” His reply came out hoarsely.

Petra’s brow furrowed, wondering how best to explain it. She assumed it wouldn’t be as extravagant where he’d come from. Possibly, it would lean more toward the real origins of the date.

“Nowadays, it’s about buying gifts of chocolate, cards, stuffed animals and flowers to pass between lovers and school children, who pay twice as much for them.”

“But you know better, don’t you?”

“It is supposed to be in commemoration of Saint Valentine and the sacrifices he made. But today, too few remember that, only seeing flashy sales gimmicks.”

“And how do you know about this Valentine, if no one remembers him?”