The Last Night Witch: Lilyann

LastNightWitch,the_LilyAnn

A Russian Night Witch searching for her place in the world. An American soldier fighting against evil. Can they combine their strengths in time to defeat Hitler?

After a near-death mission and ultimately grounded from flying with her fellow Night Witches, Lilyann Volkov helps the Resistance until she can return to the skies. Uncovering vital information that could turn the tide of war for the Allies, she makes a fatal mistake and crashes again. Before the Norse goddess Freyja can find her and offer her a new life, her soul attaches itself to a handsome soldier.

Charles Duquesne is an American soldier with a go-get-’em attitude and a secret. He sees spirits walking the Earth and, after a lifetime of denial, must embrace his ability and accept their help in the war effort. When he is fatally shot, Freyja forces him to accept the drink of immortality, which saves not only himself but also the beautiful Night Witch he’d just buried.

No longer knowing what is reality and what is not, Lilyann and Charles embark on a quest to discover who is weaving magical chaos into the human war. Will they be able to stop the forward march of the Third Reich or is the German war machine unstoppable?

Excerpt

Prologue

Idunn’s Cottage, Asgard

Freyja stopped under the vine-covered archway leading into her best friend’s yard and stared in confusion at the sight in front of her. Sitting in her designated chair at Idunn’s small table was her twin brother, Freyr. Across from him, Idunn leaned forward and laughed at something he said, the sound reminiscent of glass wind chimes tinkling. As usual, Idunn’s laughter lightened the constant worry weighing her down, and Freyja couldn’t help but wonder what he had said. She knew he could be charming but rarely saw that side of him. He was her brother, after all. Studying Idunn’s glowing face, she decided she had never seen her so lovely and felt the beginning strands of dread appear. She hoped whatever was making her best friend so happy wasn’t because of Freyr.

Throughout Asgard and the other Nine Worlds, ladies swarmed around him, no matter the race. His handsome face and quiet manner seemed to draw everyone to him. Not a day passed that he couldn’t have his choice by his side. Although, she doubted they were anywhere but in his bed. How could Idunn fall for that? They had sworn off men together, even going so far as to perform a ritual.

Freyja tilted her head and chewed on her bottom lip as Freyr leaned in, his hand resting momentarily over Idunn’s. Feeling more like an intruder, she immediately turned to leave.

“Freyja, come join us!” Idunn’s musical voice stopped her forward motion, and she slowly turned to face them once more.

Freyja shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t want to interrupt whatever this is.” She waved her hand toward the table, for the first time noticing the steaming teapot and tray of muffins. Out of thin air, a dessert plate appeared, and Idunn placed it in front of the empty chair between them. A muffin floated from the top of the mound to land in the center of the small plate. Beside it, a cup and saucer also appeared, and Idunn gracefully poured the steaming tea. The hint of lavender filled Freyja’s nostrils, easing some of the stress gripping her heart.

“Come and sit,” Idunn requested. Lifting her topaz gaze, it was easy for Freyja to read the worry in their depths.

With a small sigh, she forced her feet to move toward the table and sat, resting her folded hands in her lap and stared at the muffin. Of course, Idunn would provide her with her favorite—apple strudel. Now, all she needed was butter. In a blink, the muffin divided into two parts, the small chunks of cinnamon-coated fruit disappearing under a thick layer of warm, yellow deliciousness.

Her mouth watered, and she was powerless to stop herself from reaching for it. At least that’s what she told herself as she bit into the decadent treat. Chewing, she rolled her eyes, closing them with a low moan. “So delicious and just what I needed.”

“I know.”

Freyja pretended not to notice the inflection of smug satisfaction in Idunn’s tone. After taking a second bite, she carefully placed the muffin back on the plate and dropped her hand back onto her lap. “So, I didn’t realize you two were on such good terms.” She met her brother’s pointed stare then turned her own sharp gaze to Idunn, who had the sense to not look up.

“Let’s just say, we are getting reacquainted with one another.” Freyr held her gaze. “I have been away for quite some time and felt the need to talk to someone. Idunn always made such delicious treats; how could I not come by for a visit, sister.” The last word said with a distinct bite to it. “What did you come here for?”

Freyja pressed her lips together, but the slight twitch refused to be controlled. She rolled her eyes. “Fine, I came here for the same reason.”

Idunn reached over and patted Freyja’s clasped hands. “Of course, you did, dear.” She leaned back, mimicking Freyja. “Now, tell us what’s wrong. You’ve been less stressed since Raisa was able to drain some of Ă“Ă°inn’s power.”

“That was more than three months ago. Quite enough time for stress to build back up—just like his power, I’m afraid. We need to think of how to get Raisa close enough to siphon more of his power without his knowing, which will be next to impossible since he seems to know everything.” Turning her gaze to her brother, she studied his familiar face and noticed his slightly fuzzy locks, the normally unruly mane now tamed back into a neat ponytail. She frowned, studying the auburn strands lying over one shoulder. What’s gotten into him?

Freyja, what’s gotten into you?”

Shaking herself from her wayward thoughts, she answered Idunn’s question with a shrug, noticing the worry in the swirling blue depths of her best friend’s gaze. “Truthfully, I have no clue. The end of the year on Midgard is speeding toward us, and there’s an unsettled sensation growing inside me.”

“Take a deep breath and focus. Your concern for Natalya’s sister has grown over the past couple of months. Does this feeling have something to do with Lilyann?” Idunn’s steady gaze held hers as both she and Freyr waited for an answer. The silence in the glen lengthened, a heaviness weighing on her shoulders and down her back as she replayed the events from the God’s Glass—those same events that had driven her here in the first place.

She exhaled and picked up her teacup. Blowing over the cooled liquid, steam once more appeared, and she sipped the reheated tea. “I believe so. I witnessed a disturbing scene in the Glass and came here straightaway. I’m not sure what it meant.”

“Explain it, sister,” Freyr said. “Every detail.”

She gulped down the hot liquid, relishing the slight burn as it descended along her throat. She set the empty teacup on the table. “As you know, the battle in the Belgian Ardennes Forest is underway, and it’s not going well for the Allied army. Until the American commander realizes what he’s up against and sends in help, the Germans will retain the upper hand.”

“Yes,” Idunn agreed, “but what has you so concerned. I doubt that single battle is causing you distress.”

“It is and it isn’t.” Freyja leaned forward and placed her crossed forearms on the table in front of her. “If the Germans get the upper hand in this battle, their advance toward the port at Antwerp will be unstoppable. The British commander holding the port has a bit of an ego and is more concerned about what the American leaders, specifically General Patton, are doing instead of reinforcing his own location. I don’t have to tell you what losing Antwerp would mean to the Allied Army.”

Idunn’s expression turned blank as she stared at her. “Let’s say one of us doesn’t understand what that means…”

Freyja stared back in mock horror while Freyr chuckled under his breath. Idunn’s pale cheeks flared a bright pink. “Really, Idunn, how am I supposed to confide in you if you don’t pay attention to our endeavor?”

The blond goddess rolled her blue eyes. “Seriously, Freyja! Why would I need to understand the battles when you are the one strategizing every step? I just sit here and wait for you to demand my presence and my potion.” With a loud huff, she crossed her arms over her chest.

Instantly contrite, Freyja laid a hand over Idunn’s arm. “I’m sorry. I sometimes forget others don’t follow the wars as I do. You are always by my side, ready to provide me with anything I may need without hesitation or a single thought of your own well-being. Thank you.”

“I do try to follow the war on Midgard. Natalya, Aleksandra, and Raisa are equally important to me, as are their men. I just can’t stand to see so much hate.”

Freyja smiled. Idunn had such a gentle heart. She sent a quick warning glance to her brother. If you ever hurt her, I will never forgive you.

His grin disappeared and he dropped his gaze. This is just as new to me as it is to her, sister. You know my track record with women, so any promise I make will be suspect. Only time will tell where this goes, but Freyja, I care very much for Idunn and will never intentionally do anything to cause her pain. That is a promise I can make.

Her gaze met his and through their shared feelings as twins, she felt his growing adoration for her best friend. So be it then. Turning her attention back to Idunn, she gave her friend’s slender arm one last squeeze before pulling away and once more laying it over her other arm still resting on the table in front of her. “As the Germans’ power grows, so does Ă“Ă°inn’s. Raisa and Ailuin have finished tracing the Nazi’s entire southern escape route. They actually traveled its length with a group of Germans who were escaping to Italy then on to South America.”

“What will the Germans do in South America? Will you send Raisa and Ailuin there next?” Idunn asked.

She shook her head. “No. We cannot afford to have Ă“Ă°inn’s power return to its previous level. I do not think we would be able to defeat him or Hitler if that should happen. Raisa and Ailuin will return here. Only she has the power to siphon Ă“Ă°inn’s powers without him knowing. Her touch is so subtle; it’s truly amazing to behold. Ailuin will be able to protect her, as will Heimdall. It seems he’s taken quite a liking to my niece.”

She leaned back in her chair, her eyebrows drawing together once more. “As we speak, Natalya and Mikhail are traveling with a young American woman stranded in Paris when France capitulated to Hitler. She is aiding the Resistance. Something tells me she will be important somehow—as are the two soldiers she’s meeting. The scene I witnessed—the one that drove me here—is about young Lilyann. Well, that, and the fact that the Germans are rallying and shouldn’t be. The original scene I watched in the Glass showed the Allies rapidly advancing toward Germany, and that is not happening.”

Freyr’s gaze moved between the two women. “Who is Lilyann?”

“Keep up, brother. She is Natalya’s little sister and was with her at Stalingrad. She was also injured in the same crash that claimed Natalya’s life. Unfortunately, Lilyann was no longer able to keep up with the magnitude of physical effort that’s required to fly so many sorties every night and found a new home with the Resistance, although she still dreams of returning to the Night Witches. Mikhail’s old friend and group leader, Bernard, took her under his wings and tells us she is quite adept at spying.”

Freyr’s brow rose. “You wouldn’t be talking about the same Bernard who is, at this very minute, training with Lamruil and Alva, would you?”

She nodded. “The same. Lilyann has been following the ratlines leading out of Spain—from the Spanish monastery at Montserrat, to be precise and a major U-boat hub at Vigo. She was able to obtain photographs of the port of Cadiz, verifying it as the home port of the Nazi U-boats. She sent the information to Aleksandra and Jakob, who are heading to a rendezvous with a military contact with ties to Bletchley Park—a secret English stronghold where they do all sorts of spy things.”

Idunn’s eyes twinkled, her lips pulling into a smile. “All sorts of spy things? Really, Freyja.” Her laughter once again tinkled like melodic wind chimes. “The vagueness is so unlike you. You usually go into minute detail about anything related to war and spying.”

Freyja rolled her eyes and chose to ignore Idunn, although she was pleased to see a smile reappear on her friend’s beautiful face. “As I was saying, I watched a scene in the God’s Glass that was very unsettling. I saw her biplane flying through a winter storm, easing in and out of the heavy cloud bank with ease. I’m not sure what happened next, but suddenly the plane crashed.”

Idunn sat up straight, her blue eyes darkening with emotion. “If she died, then why isn’t she here? I’ve been expecting her arrival any day and have my potion ready. It’s my best yet, but it won’t last much longer. You know there’s only a small window of opportunity when it comes to blending magic with just the right ingredients, especially when Mimic’s water and my blood are involved.”

Freyja’s cheeks puffed out as she blew out a heavy breath. “I know. She isn’t here because I can’t find her.”

Idunn’s gaze darted to Freyr then back to hers, her pretty features morphing into a bewildered frown. “I’m not following you at all. Why can’t you find her?”

Freyja clamped down on her own heightening concern and tried to force her pounding heart to slow without success. “It’s not that I can’t locate her, Idunn, it’s as if her life force—and body are no longer on Midgard. I have searched through the Multiverse but to no avail. Lilyann has ceased to exist.

N. N. Light (Vine Voice)
N. N. Light (Vine Voice)
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The Last Night Witch took my breath away. From the characters to the plot to the romance to the descriptive narration, The Last Night Witch is a brilliant masterpiece. The plot is equally balanced between the fantasy elements, action elements, and romantic elements. I was astounded with what took place and thought hard about the book long after I finished reading. If you love your fantasy epic, you'll want to read The Last Night Witch. If your reading preference is fantasy romance, pick up The Last Night Witch. This is hands down, the best book in the series. Highly recommend!

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