Genre = Paranormal Women's Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

40 Ways to Tell a Lie

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LENGTH: TBD words, TBD pages (approx)

Am I really angry or having a midlife crisis?

Life is easier when you’re younger. Mulan, the new bestie I never wanted, is in crisis. Rasmus left weeks ago and hasn’t returned, so I’m in crisis. I put a demon compulsion on my ex to make him forget he was evil, so my daughter is in crisis.

All Conn seems capable of doing is laughing at me and my pain. We’ll see who gets the last laugh, though. Mulan thinks dating him violates everything in her life and negates the reason she was given her powers.

Not that I would laugh at Conn’s pain—I wouldn’t. Okay, well, I would, but I’d feel bad about it. Maybe. Men in general aren’t high up on my “things that make me happy” list at the moment, and I confess my attitude is quite fair to my normally very helpful familiar.

40 Ways to Tell a Lie is an exciting paranormal women’s fiction tale from USA Today Bestselling Author Donna McDonald.

Chapter 1
Everybody talks about optimists as if they have glittering winged pixies circling their heads whispering the secrets of positivity to them. That wasn’t the truth at all. A true optimist was someone like me—someone willing to repeat an action a gazillion times no matter what the outcome. Or perhaps they all possessed a stubborn belief that they were right.

I say this because I pushed Fiona to try conjuring fire for the hundredth time even though the first ninety-nine attempts have so far failed to produce even a tiny spark, much less a flame. Now, that was what I called true optimism.

But what else could I do except keep pushing her to learn the lesson I was trying to teach? I was her mother. My daughter possessed a lithe body and an elegance I would never have, but beauty wouldn’t protect ya. Well, she did have a knack for talking her way out of things, but that wouldn’t always save her.

Fiona plopped down in the nearest lawn chair to whine… again.

She did it every five tries and by now, I was mostly immune to her complaints and theatrics. Mostly immune, but not totally. The whining was wearing on my nerves something fierce and I was working hard not to show how much it bothered me.

I gave up standing with my hands on my hips and sat in the second chair. It was hard not to sigh over how tired Fiona’s “I can’t do it attitude” made me.

While my daughter whined, I made another mental list of all the things I wanted to do. For one, I’d been meaning to ask Conn to get the other two chairs down from the garage storage so we could circle the fire pit with them. I only thought about asking when I was sitting out here, which was usually by myself—a situation that didn’t show any promise of changing soon.

Or I kept falling asleep in the guardian’s lap and waking up alone. My would-be lover kept saying all the right things to get my motor running, but he refused to drive me anywhere. His mixed messages were frustrating in all ways and not just the obvious.

No, I take that back. He was frustrating. I’m sure Rasmus had thousands of other more important things to deal with than me, but I had only one life to live. Was I supposed to live it without him? It would be easier to decide if I could have him by my side for longer than two hours.

Fiona’s sigh was a heavy one and the kind only someone her age could bemoan. “Maybe Dad was right. Maybe I’m not magickal.”

“No, yer father’s not right, Fiona. I can feel the power in ya, even when we’re just sitting here. So can Conn. But I am wondering if he blocked yer power somehow. We may have to look into that.”

In order to ask her father what he’d done to her during those seven years I was locked up, I would have to remove the demon compulsion I put on him. Why would I do that? I’d gone to great trouble to make Jack forget he was a cheating, manipulative scoundrel.

The current, demon-compelled version of my ex-husband treated me far more respectfully than the original one. That respect rolled naturally onto my daughter.

Sure, Jack was in danger of losing both his jobs because he wasn’t his old self, but was that really my problem? I was going with a definite no answer for now. Fiona was nearly done with college and would soon make her own way in the world. Wasn’t it time for Jack to finally let go of both of us? Even though ya could say I was forcing that inevitability along, I would argue that was probably the only way I could ever make it happen. The old Jack refused to accept our divorce. I couldn’t allow that to continue no matter what it cost to correct it.

“It’s so odd that Dad had to take a leave of absence to recover from his ordeal. Maybe he needs to see a doctor. Do you think I should talk to him?”

Calling it an ordeal was the catch-all word Fiona chose to describe Jack turning himself into a half-guardian, half-bat monster. I regretted not getting a picture of Jack in his monster condition just so I could show it to her when she started feeling sorry for him. Unfortunately, he’d kept me too worried about whether or not I was going to have to kill him to think about memorializing his worst walk on the dark side with a photo.

A small, furry beast burst out of the back door of the house and ran toward us barking. He jumped up into Fiona’s lap to look me in the eye while continuing his irritating yapping. I glared at him and barked back to annoy him.

I wouldn’t have done that to an actual animal, but the dog barking in Fiona’s lap was not really a dog. The dog was Connlander of the Fir Bolg. Gifted with powers no other demon possessed, Conn was an imp—an imperial demon and my familiar. Once the mightiest king of all demonkind, Conn sold himself into eternal service to my ancestor, The Dagda. The Dagda was the son of the Goddess Danu and the first and mightiest king of the Tuatha de Danann.

Conn saved his species from annihilation with his sacrifice but was consigned to spend eternity at the mercy of his keepers. Not all of them had been witches, but I was one. I’d inherited responsibility for Conn and his demon powers when I was just over twenty.

Before that time, he’d belonged to my grandmother—Grandma O’Malley. No one had told me the history of my inheritance until I’d divorced the wicked man I’d married, not even Conn.

My family had a love of secrets that served no one, but they kept holding them close any way.

The imp was officially my witch’s familiar, but mostly Conn was my friend. Conn and I had been a team for many years, except for the last seven I spent in demon hunters prison. That was water under the bridge now and something never to be repeated, but my anger over Jack putting me there still lingered. I didn’t trust my real ex-husband not to try to imprison me again, which was the reason I had no plan to ever remove the demon compulsion a demoness friend helped me put on him.

I sighed and stared at a barking Conn. “If I swear not to ask about what happened between Mulan and ya, will ya shift back to human and talk to me? Yer constant yapping is getting on my nerves.”

A series of irritated barks was my answer.

Goddess only knew what I’d done to make Conn go totally canine on me. It was his favorite brooding form whenever I’d inadvertently offended him. Maybe I should thank the stars he hadn’t chosen to be a goat or something worse this time. He’d done the goat thing only once before, but once had been quite enough. Ya can’t imagine what it’s like to make up a story to tell the homeowner’s association about why ya have a goat in yer backyard chewing on neighboring fences.

“Do not make me order ya, Conn. My patience is nearly reached its limit.”

When he ducked his tiny, furry head, showed his tiny teeth, and growled fiercely, Fiona laughed and scooped him up to snuggle him close. He licked her face while she giggled and ignored me completely.

“Is it normal for you to let a dog answer your door?”

I swung in my chair and found Colonel Benson standing behind me.

Before greeting him, I glanced back at Conn, narrowed my gaze, and whispered. “Ya could have gotten me instead of just letting him in… traitor.”

Conn barked twice before growling at me again.

I rolled my eyes and turned back to speak to my visitor. Whatever had brought Colonel Benson here couldn’t be good and I didn’t want any part of it.

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