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California Dreaming

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It's time for Olivia to get her Mommy Rage on - and this time, she's killing for three.
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After battling mutant slime creatures, eco-terrorists, and a ruthless mage bent on making her the guest of honor at a human sacrifice, Olivia Mitchell was looking forward to a nice, long, all-expenses-paid vacation in southern California.  Frank is busy training for his role in the latest Warblade venture – a really series called Dungeon Raiders. While Frank learns the skills he’ll need for the show, it’s time for Olivia to decide what she wants to do with her new life.

Olivia planned to relax, do a little artwork, and bask in the glow of expectant motherhood. She forgot that a ‘trouble magnet’ doesn’t have an off switch and relaxing isn’t in her genes. With the help of a powerful mentor, Olivia is taking her magic skills to another level – studying harder than she ever did in college. At the same time a mysterious gallery owner promises to bring Olivia’s artwork to a new audience. It would be fame beyond her wildest dreams – if she’s willing to pay the price.

Television cameras attract all manner of crazy.  Olivia wasn’t prepared to obsessed fans, and she didn’t expect the crazy team politics or would-be romantic rivals. Add a doctor with the world’s worst bedside manner and Olivia's life behind the scenes far more dramatic than anything that's actually part of the show. The chaos also cloaks a very real threat: a twisted mage from another world, intent on putting Olivia and her children on display in his personal menagerie. 

It's time for Olivia to get her Mommy Rage on - and this time, she's killing for three.

Title California Dreaming
Series Crucible of Change Book 3
Author Noelle Alladania Meade
Genre Urban Fantasy
Release November 29, 2016
Designer Eerilyfair Designs
Length 355 pages
ISBN 978-1-77127-867-6
Price $5.99
Tags ADULT CONTENT, magic, fantasy, contemporary fantasy, elves, urban fantasy, murder, alternative reality, parallel universe, online games, role-playing games, trolls, bisexual, lesbian, wizards, magic

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My sister has long told me, “Opportunity knocks. You just have to let it in.” This time opportunity took the form of Lorena Norris and Avalanche Entertainment. The company was only the maker of Warblade, the most popular online fantasy role-playing game on the planet right now, and Lorena was here to make us an offer we couldn’t refuse. When opportunity tracks you down to a hotel in New York City, kicks in the door, and grabs you by the scruff of the neck, how can you argue?

Our very public defeat of an evil wizard back home in Colorado, and Frank’s beheading of said wizard on national television, had gotten us invited to The Morning Show in New York. Lorena had good timing. I’d been let go as a consulting mage with the police due to being pregnant with twins, and Frank had parted ways with his teaching job at the university, mainly because he cared more about rescuing me from being the sacrificial guest of honor of the wizard than teaching paleontology to bored college students.

Lorena had cryptically promised us a chance to be part of the greatest new adventure in the Warblade franchise. Of course we agreed to meet her for lunch.

We arrived at the restaurant a bit before the appointed time, but according to the host, Lorena was already there. Rounding the corner of the bar, Lorena, sitting at a secluded corner table, came into view. I stopped so abruptly that Frank ran into me. Lorena was an actual Damazi from Warblade. She was all blue, with long black hair and sparkling green eyes. Later, I would find she also had the satyr legs and a blue furry tail shading to black. She was truly stunning.

She stood and shook hands with each of us when we reached the table. “I’m delighted to finally meet you in person.”

I wondered if the other diners were looking at us as the set-up for a joke. A Damazi, a Dark Elf, and a Troll walk into a restaurant…The mind boggled.

“Order whatever you’d like,” she said. “Avalanche is picking up the bill.”

After we’d placed our orders, she handed each of us a folder labeled Operation Epic Loot Drop. “Next month at BuzzCon, Avalanche will be announcing a new franchise of Warblade; a live action version, as a matter of fact. The working title is Dungeon Raiders and we’re going to bring television and gaming together in a way that’s never been done before. We have a number of other recruits, but when I saw the footage from the Arsenal, and found the older news footage of Olivia, I knew with the two of you we’d found the perfect pair to lead one of our teams.”

“What’s involved?” asked Frank.

“I have contracts and detailed information in the packets, and we’re about to hold our orientation session,” said Lorena. “I’d like you to take the time to read through the packets but I do need to ask you to sign the non-disclosure agreements first. Mainly they say that you won’t publically divulge information about this venture before it’s officially announced.”

“That seems fair,” I said.

The agreement was the first page inside of each folder. I admit it; I just skimmed through the legalese and signed. Hopefully I hadn’t just promised to sell her a kidney.

“With Dungeon Raiders, we plan to run mixed teams of Humans and Changed through challenges, both physical and mental, in pursuit of a million dollar prize. Our cast will go through an intense training program from April through June and we begin filming in July. We will, of course, be providing all room and board during training and filming. And that’s on top of the pay for being a cast member.”

“How physical are you talking?” I asked. “I’m pregnant with twins.”

“I found that out today during your appearance on The Morning Show,” said Lorena. “Gordon and I spoke, and we would still like you to be part of the cast. You wouldn’t take part in any physical challenges, but we see a great story line with you as Frank’s love interest. We’re not just planning adventures; we want the cast to have background stories that draw people in each week.”

“If you’re starting this in April, when is the orientation?” asked Frank. “We’re halfway through March already.”

“That’s the thing,” said Lorena. “It took us some time to find you and make contact. The orientation in Santa Barbara starts with a cocktail party tomorrow evening. I know the timing is tight, but I feel in my gut that this can be the beginning of a whole new life for the two of you.”

“Wow. That’s really short notice,” I said. “We have tickets back to Denver for tomorrow. I don’t know if we could even get a flight that fast, and that’s if we decided to do it.”

“Avalanche will reimburse you for those tickets,” said Lorena. “I flew out here on a friend’s private jet. If you agree, you can fly back to California with me. The orientation finishes on Sunday. If you join the team, as a signing bonus, we’d like to send you to Las Vegas for a few days of rest and relaxation at The Trove before flying you home to Denver. What do you say?”

“I say…we need to talk about this,” said Frank. “You’ve given us a lot to think about.”

“I have one other small gift I’d like to share with you before I let you go.” Lorena tapped the box sitting in front of her at the table. Inside the box proved to be too smaller boxes. She looked at the bottom of the first one before handing it to Frank. The other one went to me. “Go ahead. Open them.”

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