About Ghost's Dilemma
by Morwen Navarre
"Moon shine on me, Ghost. When you look at me like this, how can I even think of anything but making love to you?"
Ghost is content to spend all his free time in bed with Gerry. But scandal and hate surrounding Ghost's appointment as the first male witch and a deadly epidemic force Ghost to make choices that might cost him Gerry's love.
Spurred on by a message from his mentor, Ghost embarks alone on a journey through mystical underground tunnels and lost civilizations to the frozen lands of his origin, seeking a way to neutralize the threat back home. While he struggles to find a balance between his duties as a witch and his calling as a seer, all Ghost really wants is to return to the haven he has found in Gerry's arms.
Warm. Warm, strong arms surrounded him. Ghost smiled and moved closer, burying his face in the hard muscle of a shoulder. He knew he needed to get up to tend to his patients, but he was still so tired. He nuzzled deeper into the shoulder that was… clearly not Gerry's.
"The little one wakes." A deep, rumbling voice pierced his fog of sleep.
Ghost shoved hard against the arms holding him. He wriggled free and sat up. He heard a door close somewhere behind him. "Let go of me," he growled. He was wide awake now, his heart pounding against his ribs.
The man belonging to the arms was bare-chested, as was Ghost, to his chagrin. He was quite relieved to see he still wore his breeches, though relief didn't stop him from glaring at the man in the bed with him.
"You're fierce, little one. This is good to see. It means you are not too soft, like the rest of the outlanders from down below." The man sat up as well. His long white hair was bound back in many braids, each one tipped with a bead carved from the red wood of the South. An intricate black tattoo covered both his arms. The man's blue eyes watched Ghost with undisguised amusement. "You have jewels in your head, little one. Did the woman decorate you so?"
"What woman?" Ghost retorted, watching the man for any untoward movement. "Are you talking about the Witch? Is she here?"
"Outlanders do not ask. They listen. And answer." The man's voice dropped to a warning snarl. "Hair and eyes do not make you one of us, little one. Do not presume you have a place here."
"I don't want a place here," Ghost snapped. "I want to talk to the Witch. She may have the solution I need. The people of my village await my return."
A large, calloused hand clapped Ghost's shoulder as the man barked out a laugh. "There was not a single question in all your words. This is good to know. You are both fierce and can listen."
Ghost snorted, moving out from under the hand and off the bed, the central feature of the room. The walls were timber, broad planks lacquered to a glossy shine. White hide curtains closed off a small window. Below the window was a carved wooden chest with a rounded lid, painted as elaborately as the man's tattooed arms. He looked around for the rest of his clothing. "Makes one of us," he muttered, not looking up. He tried to ignore the laughter from the bed as he found his thick linen shirt and heavy leather tunic tossed in a corner.
Getting dressed made Ghost feel much better, and finding his tall boots more so. He looked around for a place to sit to put them on, but there was only the large bed with the muscular Norther in it, and Ghost had no intentions of getting close to the man again. He sat on the floor and tugged the first boot over his foot.
"Will you talk about the stones?" the big man asked, crossing thick arms over his broad, muscled chest.
"Only if you tell me why I was in bed with you." Ghost stood, peering around the room to see if he could spot his pouches and his beautiful cloak. If this oaf of a Norther had taken his cloak, Ghost was going to figure out a way to inflict a proper curse on the bastard.
"Which earns you my name. Not many people would bargain with me. I am Njall, son of Falkor. Do you have a name, little one?" The man watched Ghost with open amusement.
"I am Ghost, mate of Gerry, witch to my village." Ghost eyed Njall. "I'm still waiting for my answer."
"You were found in the snow, half-frozen and asleep, little Ghost. You tried to make a shelter, which was wise, but you slept before you were done. Not so wise." Njall shrugged. "Your pretty cloak marked you as an outlander almost as much as the unfinished shelter. Now, my answer?"
"I'm not sure what woman you mean," Ghost replied, not looking away from Njall. "But if you mean a woman with three joined spirals in red on her forehead, then yes. She gave me my witchmark." He crossed his own arms over his chest. "She is who I came to find."
"The woman with the triskele, yes. She is an outlander, but she is fierce as well. She came to speak with Falkor, and when I mistook her for a thrall, a serving woman, she slapped me." Njall laughed his rumbling laugh. "I like her, although she is too old to give me sons. She had a boy with her, though."
This reminded Ghost of his own missing items. "I'd like my cloak back. And my pouches. The cloak was a gift from my mate. He made it with his own hands. The pouches hold my healers' supplies, and I need those for my people."
"You will get your items back, little Ghost. We are not savages, to steal from guests in the halls of our clanhold." Njall threw back the thick quilts, naked as the day he had been birthed. He grinned at Ghost with abundant cheer, and Ghost growled and turned away.
"So, tell me, why did you come to find your woman with the triskele? I am told she calls herself Witch. A name as well as a title?" Njall rustled about, and Ghost risked turning back, to see Njall fastening woven breeches.
"The Witch contacted me to tell me she might have information about an illness ravaging my village. I was her apprentice and took her place when she moved on." Ghost watched Njall, the Norther curiously graceful as he pulled a linen tunic over his head. "This malady is not a typical illness, and witches commonly ask each other for aid and information when a crisis occurs, such as an epidemic."
"Do your people still hide from books, little Ghost? Do the shamans speak against the old knowledge?" Njall pulled on boots and gestured for Ghost to follow him into a well-lit hallway walled in whitewashed timber.
Ghost tried to puzzle out the word Njall had used. "We don't have shamans," he said. "I don't know what they do."
"Speak to the gods, or so they say," Njall said with a shrug. "More often, they meddle in matters not of their concern."
"Godsmen," Ghost said, nodding in understanding. "Yes, the godsmen still say the old learning is what brought down the world once. They only tolerate the witchsisters because we can use some of the old relics to heal."
"Witchsisters, is it? When I held you close to warm you, I was quite sure it was not a girl's desire which pressed against my leg, little Ghost." Njall rumbled a laugh as Ghost glared at him. "I jest with you. Well, not so much, since you did press against me, but the reaction was only what a man's body will do and not the heat of desire. I am not such a savage as to mistake the two."
"I never said you were a savage," Ghost countered. "And I'm the first male admitted to the ranks of the witchsisters in many generations. I'm not exactly popular with all of the sisterhood, but I passed their tests and took the vows. I suppose if you don't have witches, your shamans heal you, then."
"Yes and no." Njall opened a carved door painted in shades of blue and gestured for Ghost to enter. "We have healers of our own, both men and women who are called to such service under the guidance of the shamans. They deal with issues of the body, and the shamans deal with the concerns of the soul. But our gods are not your soft outlander gods, little Ghost. Our gods will eat your liver raw, and this is only if they like you."
If you liked this book you might like: Ghost's Sight by Morwen Navarre, Emerald Fire by A. Catherine Noon & Rachel Wilder and Out of the Woods by Syd McGinley
Other books by Morwen Navarre