31 Days of Halloween – Dianne Hartsock – Win a copy of PHILLIP’S WATCHER

Gargoyle on Zagreb CathedralCroatia  

Happy Halloween everyone! Don’t you just
love autumn? It’s my favorite time of the year. And Halloween is one of my
favorite holidays! This year I’d like to talk a little about Gargoyles and why
I chose one of them to be my hero. Gargoyles are said to
scare off and protect from any evil or harmful spirits.

Legend of La Gargouille
Gargoyle Notre-Dame d’Amiens, France 
A French legend that
sprang up around the name of St. Romanus (AD 631–641), the former chancellor of
the Merovingian king Clotaire II who was made bishop of Rouen, relates how he
delivered the country around Rouen from a monster called Gargouille or Goji. La
Gargouille is said to have been the typical dragon with batlike wings, a long
neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth. There are multiple
versions of the story, either that St. Romanus subdued the creature with a
crucifix, or he captured the creature with the help of the only volunteer, a
condemned man. In each, the monster is led back to Rouen and burned, but its head
and neck would not burn due to being tempered by its own fire breath. The head
was then mounted on the walls of the newly built church to scare off evil
spirits, and used for protection.[4] In commemoration of St. Romain the
Archbishops of Rouen were granted the right to set a prisoner free on the day
that the reliquary of the saint was carried in procession.
Gargoyle at the St.-Petrus-en-PauluskerkOstendBelgium 
Fascinating story! And I’ve always been intrigued by the
idea that something so twisted and wicked looking could actually be on the side
of good. In my m/m fantasy ‘Philip’s Watcher’, the gargoyles are the guardians
of the world against the magic users bent on controlling and corrupting all
others.  My hero Adrian has been given
the task of protecting the young heir Philip from the evil ones. A bond forms
between them, but will their love be enough to keep them safe?
Comment below telling me who/what is your favorite Halloween
character for a chance to win a PDF copy of my m/m fantasy romance ‘Philip’s
Watcher’. Don’t forget to add your contact information! This contest is open to
everyone and the winner will be announced November 1st.
for stopping by! Happy Haunting.
Bio:  After growing up in California and spending the first ten
years of marriage in Colorado, I now live in the beautiful Willamette Valley of
Oregon with my incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours I
spend hunched over the keyboard letting my characters play.
I have to say, Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting
in which to write my slightly twisted tales. There’s something about being
cooped up in the house while it pours rain outside, a fire crackles on the
hearth inside, and a cup of hot coffee warms my hands which kindles my
Currently, I work as a
floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for me.
When not writing, I can express myself through the rich colors and textures of
flowers and foliage.
Philip’s Watcher
m/m erotic
Darkness is
spreading in the world with only the powerful Agenor family to oppose it. In
the guise of a stone gargoyle atop the castle walls, Adrian has protected Philip,
the young heir, since birth, watching him grow from childhood into a strong but
lonely man without love.
When the clan
chief, Philip’s father, is murdered by those he trusted, Adrian resumes his
human form to better protect his beloved Philip. And finds his love returned.
As lovers, their passion is all-consuming, but as they fight against treachery
from within, will their love be enough to stem the dark tide sweeping the land?
And will it be enough to keep Adrian’s heart alive…              
Philip chewed his lip as he watched the storm clouds
gather in the leaden sky. The wind picked up, cold and heavy with rain. It
whipped the hair from his face and distracted him from the study of the
desolate landscape spread below his feet. How he longed for spring! But winter
lingered long past when it should have given way to new growth in the valley.
He guessed the reason for it, and a cold finger of dread touched his heart.
An icy gust buffeted him on the exposed balcony, and
Philip gathered the long strands of his hair and tied them at his neck. He bit
hard on his bottom lip to stop its tremble and welcomed the pain against the
ache in his heart. “He’s not coming back, is he?” he whispered as the first fat
drops of moisture struck his face. He pounded a fist on the stone railing in
frustration and impotent fury. “Father should have let them come to us, where
we’re prepared.”

But their enemy had thrown down the gauntlet, and in
his pride, Philip’s father picked it up. Jonathon Agenor had always been that
way, as far back as Philip remembered. He supposed the gravity of being the
Agenor Chief had made his father distant. The man kept his own council and
wouldn’t listen to Philip’s cautions against a trap. The bait had been a threat
against Philip’s life, something the proud man couldn’t tolerate. His life had
been the forfeit. Philip closed his eyes and let the grief wash over him.

 The rain
swept against the walls of the stronghold, and Philip leaned his head against
the stone statue on the railing beside him. “I still have you, and that’s a
comfort.” He turned his gaze to the familiar face. There were many gargoyles on
the high balconies of the castle, but this was his favorite. The onyx eyes
glittered as if in sympathy. Distraught, Philip trailed a finger along the crack
in the stonework from the creature’s forehead to its muscular chest. He
flattened his hand over the cold heart and willed it to beat as he had hundreds
of times before. The stone stayed firm under his palm.

“I know one of you is my Watcher,” Philip said, and
he searched the stone eyes for any flicker of life. They remained fixed on some
distant point, and he sighed. He rested his head on a powerful shoulder, which
supported the draping wings and ran his fingers up and down the strong arm
nearest him. Philip remembered arms holding him, once upon a time, soft and
warm and comforting. He’d felt safe and loved in his mother’s embrace. Philip
tilted his head to the creature’s ear. He’d whispered his secrets to this
gargoyle all his life and saw no reason to stop now.

“I miss her,” he confessed. “Every day. I’ve
been…lonely. But more than that, I could use her wisdom, now more than ever.
With Father gone, my enemies will come here. What if I’m not strong enough to
hold them back? They can’t be allowed to make a stronghold here.” A frown
creased his forehead. “Why are we enemies, Gargoyle? Can you tell me that?
Mother explained good and evil to me. Good wants to protect and cherish the
earth. Evil would seize power and bend nature to its will. But which am I? I
don’t know the earth. I’ve lived my life in these protected walls. Perhaps evil
lives in me as well.”

Philip turned his head, hoping to catch a response
to his outrageous statement. The stone remained cold, and a fey mood came over
him, desperate. “You remain silent?” His gaze swept the heights of the castle.
Dozens of statues stared down at him or looked out over the land his family
protected. He laughed, and it sounded bitter to his ears. Rain pelted the
castle and struck his face, and Philip railed against a fate he had no control
over. Was he a mere puppet in this war for power? He had seen his family killed
one by one. Would he be next?

In defiance, he climbed up on the balustrade and
opened his arms. The storm seemed to increase in fury. Rain pounded against
him, the wind seemed bent on pulling him from the wall. He shouted and shook
his fist at the sky.

“If I fell, Gargoyle, would my Watcher catch me?”
Rainwater poured from the spouted demons on the towers down to the valley far
below. Mother had said he had a Watcher, a protector given to him at birth, but
he’d never seen him. Never felt his presence. Alone, bereft, Philip wondered if
he shouldn’t step off the edge…

At once a blanket of warmth engulfed him. He was
cherished, guarded, needed. And beneath that he sensed love, deep and pure.
“Come down.” A voiced thrummed inside him, full of fear. Philip climbed onto
the balcony and stood with his back to the storm. He hung his head, ashamed of
the childish, dangerous act.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. The knowledge that his
protector was near was a balm to his sore heart, and he straightened. He took a
steadying breath. “Evil is moving in the world, Gargoyle. Father had gone to
see the wise woman in the village to see if she knew who threatened me. Perhaps
I should go see her myself, when the storm passes.”

He ran a hand over his face, cold and discouraged.
He touched the gargoyle’s arm. “I’m young and naive to the ways of the world. I
need guidance, and if you are my Watcher, dear friend, then it’s cruel not to
tell me.” Philip sighed when he received no answer and retreated to the empty
rooms within the thick walls of his home.