Rhia Duke - She's the oldest Duke and dedicated to taking care of her little sister. She's made some bad choices about employment in the past and now she's on the run. When she sees an ad in the newspaper for a teaching position in tiny Berner, New Mexico Territory, she thinks she can escape her past. She can't know that she's just traded big trouble for bigger trouble. She and Wys are at odds immediately--he doesn't want her there and she has nowhere else to go. She may seem like a stuffy little teacher, but Rhia is also an expert shot with her trusty Springfield rifle. And super protective of her sister and her friends.
He put his hands on his hips. “Rumor has it Eban’s courting you. Or tried to.”
The shovel hit a rock and jarred her. It almost fell out of her grip. She grasped the handle hard and willed herself to be calm. “Where did you hear that?”
“Tell’s spreading the story.”
“What!” Rhia tightened her hold on the shovel, wishing it was Tell’s neck. “Why would he do that?”
“Settle down. He only told me. I couldn’t get a word about it out of Eban. Which leads me to believe you don’t want to be courted.” He shifted his weight to his other leg and gave her a look so penetrating, she shivered.
“Schoolteachers don’t marry. I need this work. Without it, Sylvie and I will starve.”
“He has money, Rhia. You wouldn’t go hungry and barefoot with Eban for a husband.”
She glared at him and pushed the image of Wystan’s roving hands out of her mind. “For a man who’s trying to talk me into seeking his brother’s affections, you were certainly friendly the other day.”
Sylvie Duke - Sassy and never shy, Sylvie is about the only reason Rhia keeps going. She's a smartypants, a serious student, but always up for mischief. It's no wonder she's drawn to Tell and he to her. She doesn't have a huge role in Wystan, and she's totally useless when it comes to demon slaying, but she's still an important part of the series as a magnet for trouble.
“I was out all morning hunting a pair of barghests. Pie and schoolhouses were the last things on my mind.” Wystan dropped into a chair at a table across from them.
Sylvie took Rhia’s hand under the table. “Sheriff, Miss Lois still has plenty of dessert. Eban was just teasing.”
Wys offered her a faint smile. “I know all his tricks, Sylvie. I’ve got my eye on him.”
“Did you catch the barghests? Can I see them?” Sylvie leaned forward as though searching Wystan for any signs of damage he’d sustained in a fight. “Rhia told me about them so I wouldn’t be scared. I’d be less scared if you let me look at one. I’ll bet you’re a real good sheriff and you’ll make sure we’re safe.”
Wystan’s eyebrows rose almost to his hairline. “I didn’t keep the carcasses—er, bodies. Maybe another time.”
Beryl Brookshier - A mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a...sorry, I forget how that rest of that goes. Beryl is a woman Rhia and Sylvie picked up along the trail. She can't remember her background, can't tell anyone where she's been or what she's been up to. At the beginning of the book, she has pleurisy, which keeps her out of the majority of the story. She also has a bigger secret--she's possessed. Eban vows to help rid her of the demon--one he conveniently witholds the truth about. She's in love with him almost from the minute she meets him. Obvs, she's the heroine of his book. When she's not bedridden and frail, the demon riding around in her head takes over and wields a mean hatchet that used to belong to the Heckmaster sister, Sandra.
Cassandra Heckmaster - What? There's a Heckmaster sister? Um, duh. Who do you think put that name curse on Tell? Damn him for being an adorable baby who took away her parents' love. Or, at least that's what she thought he was going to do. She was born between Wys and Eban and was the sensible one who decided they had to take over their father's role as protectors of Berner and the world. She's the one who procured the weapons for them, although it meant owing a debt to a demon prince. Unfortunately, while fighting for the innocent, she was possessed by a parasite imp. Her life didn't end well.
On the lip of the fountain, where he’d first kissed Rhia, Sandra trailed her fingers through the water. She smiled, but didn’t look up. In profile, Wystan saw she hadn’t changed. She was still the fifteen-year-old version of herself, a shadow of his past. He tensed, waiting for the moment she transformed into something else.
“Sit with me, Wys. We don’t have much time.”
Sandra shook her hand, sending water droplets flying. She smiled at him in a way that made her look luminous. Long brown hair framed her face and fell over her shoulders. Blue eyes sparkled with joy. She managed to look both prim and slightly mischievous as she waited for him to join her.
“What is this? A trick or a dream?”
For a moment, she looked hurt. “Neither. I know it’s difficult to accept. No one wants to at first. This is a holding stage before death, big brother.”
He grappled with her words. “I’m dead?”
Pity softened the joy on her face. “Not quite.”
Confusing and not helpful. “If you’re really my sister, tell me something Sandra would know.”
She lowered her gaze. “I stole the Lesser Key of Solomon from our father days before Tell was born. It’s my fault we can’t say his true name. My fault his demon side can’t be banished and mustn’t be called.”
There you go, the all-important ladies of Berner. Look for my next blog post, about the bad guys of Berner. And don't forget to pre-order Wystan (The Heckmasters).
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