Excerpt Monday

Excerpt Monday time! 😀 The following is an excerpt from Severed Spirits Rising, a prequel to my urban fantasy / paranormal romance Shadowguard series with LSB. 🙂

~*~

I made my way to the bar, squeezing my way through the throng of people. “I hate crowds,” I muttered under my breath, strengthening my shields so I didn’t enter the TMI zone. Sometimes being an empath sucks.

Eventually, I got to the bar and let out a sigh of relief. The bartender came up to me, a cheery grin on his face. He almost had to yell to be heard. “What’s your poison?”

“None, thanks,” I yelled back. I fumbled in my pocket for the picture of Nancy and held it up to him. “But I was wondering if you recognized this woman?”

He took a closer look. “Oh, Nan! Yeah, she’s a regular here. Doesn’t dress like that, though.”

I glanced at the frilly white pinafore she wore in the picture and laughed. “No, I would suppose not. When’s the last time you saw her here?”

He held up his hand and walked over to the other bartender and said something to her. She nodded, and he came back to me. “Let’s step outside, where it’s quieter.”

“Great idea,” I said, and followed him outside and down the street a bit. I shivered; it wasn’t that cold outside, but compared to the heat of the club, it might ‘s well have been the Arctic.

“By the way, I’m Jared,” he said with a smile.

“Arielle,” I offered in return, then decided to get the discussion back on track. “So when’s the last time you saw Nancy?”

Jared rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Last Saturday. She didn’t show on Wednesday, which had some of us concerned. She almost never misses a day unless something’s really wrong.” His eyes snapped to me. “Is that why you’re here? Did something happen?”

I bit my lip. Great. Time to drop the bomb. “Nancy died Wednesday night.  The cops ruled it a suicide, but her boyfriend and I don’t think that’s true. We think something else happened.”

His face went pale as a china teacup. “Oh my god. I had no idea.”

Oh, great. Jared looked like he was about to cry. I felt awkward as an anorexic hippo performing Swan Lake. I don’t do comfort well. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I wish there was something I could say.”

His eyes snapped to mine. “There isn’t. But there is something you can do.”

“What?”

“Find out who did this and bring them to justice.” Jared set his jaw, eyes blazing with fury. “It’s too late to save Nan, but maybe you can save someone else from ending up like her.”

“That’s the plan.”

~*~

Check out a few of the other Excerpt Monday pieces here:

Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal  (PG)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal  (PG 13)

Evie Byrne, Historical Romance (R)
Grace Draven, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cate Hart, YA- Paranormal  (R)

Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal (R)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic – Fantasy (NC 17)

Excerpt Monday

I’m participating in Excerpt Monday, organized by the lovely Bria Quinlan and Mel Berthier from Romance Divas. The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming paranormal romance novella from Liquid Silver Books, The Twilight Deception:

~*~

Jackson stared at me like I’d grown a second head, then his expression softened. “She’s beyond help, Arielle. I tried to help when I first found her, but she attacked me and would not relent. I touched her mind. There is nothing there but a frenzied beast.”

“So there’s nothing that can be done?”

He shook his head. “No. The first twenty-four hours are critical. I found her too late.”

“I don’t believe it,” I said flatly. “You’re just trying to make excuses cause you didn’t have the balls to help her.”

Jackson snarled. Faster than I could track, much less counter in my state, he grabbed my shoulders and swung me off the toilet. My back slammed against the wall, and he held me a good foot off the ground. Pissed off, I aimed my knee at his balls, but he moved to the side and slid his hip between my legs, preventing me from striking out again–and exciting me more than a little bit. Bastard.

“I am only going to say this once,” he hissed, eyes wild with fury. “If there had been any hope of it, I would have saved her. Do you think I like what he’s done? He has no respect for human lives, nor those of his own kind! She was beyond hope when I found her, yet I tried anyway. There is nothing that can be done to save her.”

I struggled against him, trying to free myself. Not like it did any good. I’m not weak by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m not a vampire, either, and he had a good advantage on me. “How do I know you’re telling me the truth?”

His mouth distorted into a grimace. “Are you questioning my honor?”

Oops. “Look, I don’t know what it’s like on your world, but around here, honor’s just a dead horse that a few old geezers keep beating.”

Jackson tilted his head, blinking with obvious confusion. “Your people … have no concept of honor?”

“Oh, we have the concept. We just decided it was antiquated and tossed it out the window. We replaced it with Egocentricity 9.0.” I hesitated a moment. “Can you put me down now? This isn’t exactly the most comfortable position, you know.”

His anger given way to shock, Jackson lowered me to the ground. “I hear your words, but I … I cannot believe…”

“You really haven’t been around here long, have you?”

Jackson shook his head mutely, looking totally bewildered. Great. So not only is he an alien vampire, he’s a Klingon vampire with a bad case of culture shock. How lovely.

I clapped him on the shoulder, deciding to ignore the whole pushing-me-up-against-the-wall deal. At least for now. Like it or not, we had to work together if we wanted any chance at finding the dude. Afterwards, on the other hand … “Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it. Now. About that girl and tracking Eliro…”

~*~

If you’re interested in reading more snippets of great work, check out these other Excerpt Monday blogs:

Aislinn Kerry

Elise Logan

Crista McHugh

Kirsten Saell

RF Long

and check out the main Excerpt Monday page for a full list of participants! Enjoy! 😀

Regarding the novellas…

I mentioned awhile back I was working on developing a couple of novellas potentially for FB. I’ve been working the most on the Valkyrie idea, but I’ve been beating my head into a brick wall on it the past week or so. I think … it needs more simmering time. There’s something “off” and I’m not quite sure what.

However, the main problem I had with the second one — a follow-up of sorts to Waking the Shadows — just clicked the other night. I wanted to write when Arielle and Jackson first met and continue later, but I wasn’t sure how to do it… but I figured out an external plot that I think will mesh nicely with it.

So, I talked to Faith about it. For some reason, I don’t think outlining is the best way to go with this. I’m going to write the novella — which I think should end up around 30kish — and then submit it. 🙂

I think it’ll also be easier to switch between this WIP and Stronger, as they’re both in the same setting. Anyway, I finished the first chapter at 2510. A short snippet:

Reynolds nodded curtly, then his face softened. “You’re the best we’ve got, Ari. We’re stuffed to the gills with psychics and hearthwitches, but you’re the only one with enough power to take down a vampire.”

Yeah. A vampire. One shouldn’t be a problem, even if it’s a sanguine. But if it’s a whole coven, I’m going to be screwed like a sorority girl doped up on Rophynol. With the entire football team. Yeah. So not looking forward to this.

Progress + Snippet

I didn’t finish the chapter, like I’d hoped I would, but I got a good 1622 words in it. Adding that to what I’d written earlier puts me at 3046 for the day. It’s been a bloody long time since I’ve written that much. I’m … very pleased. Exhilerated, in fact.

I’m quite proud of a specific bit of writing I did during the Word War with Amme and Morgan. Snippeting because I want to share:

Conflicting thoughts swirled in his mind as he prowled his ebon palace, his domain. Now, without the demon’s influences, he could see changes … slight changes in the atmospheric matrices. Part of him thought he should stop thinking about her–after all, it wouldn’t change anything–and return to his duties as Dragonlord. And yet … There is so little time. I can’t lose her. I can’t.

But he already had. Soon, she would be leaving, and there was nothing he could do to stop her. Over. The thought repeated in his mind, driving him into a downward maelstrom of inner torment. His heart felt like a fragile statuette on a wobbling pedastal–even the slightest nudge would send it shattering to the floor below. It had only been what, a matter of days since he first met her? And now he could not imagine life without her? Without her laugh, her smile, her witty and talented tongue? Veren smiled at the thought, but it was an expression marked with deep sadness.

I never had the chance to get to know her … to know who she is, deep down, at her core. And yet … their souls had touched, in that brilliant moment when she’d sacrificed her virginity, her sanctity by some definitions, to restore him unto the world. He knew her, in a way he had known no other woman alive. Even if he did not know the specifics of her life and origins, he’d touched the beauty, the strength and jubilation, the passion and pain, truth and honor and justice and all that was good but also the darkness, the wild bestial lust of her feline self. The second skin, the darker side of her soul.

He’d hunted with her. Brought down their prey, tasted its blood together, shared the joy and rapture of the kill, made love soaked in the remnants of its life force. Partners. Not master and servant, like the humans with their bonds, but equals.

That was the difference. She, in all her dark glory, was equal to him, like no other ever had been.

And he was about to lose it all.

I’ve been writing for several years, and I have never had description flow as quickly, smoothly, and overall well as these two chapters. Seriously. When I did description of this sort for Wings of Steel last fall, I had to struggle for it. This is just … flowing.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s just… a surprise. Especially since I hadn’t worked on this specific WIP in almost three years. By all rights, it shouldn’t flow like this … but it is.

Wow.

And … with that, I’m headed off to bed. I’ve been up near 24hrs this point, and I need to get some sleep. I’ll pick up the WIP in the morning, I think, finish off the chapter, and then work on Stronger.

Love to all! 🙂

Wordage

Wrote 563 words in At the End of the World, the story I’m doing for MuseMuggers. Feeling rather shitty at the moment (had a really bad hypoglycemic attack earlier), so I think I’m going to go off and take a bath. We’ll see how I feel afterwards; I may write more, or I may crawl off to bed. (Methinks it will be the latter, but who knows?)

Small snippet from the WIP:

“What is your business here?” Laesha, Archmage of Pyre Tower, shot an annoyed glance at the ruffian on her doorstep. He might’ve been handsome, were he not covered with dirt and grime, hair touseled with sea salt. His eyes caked near shut by the muck, she couldn’t even tell their color.

The man stared back at her, rubbing his eyes with the sleeve of his salt-stiffened, water-stained coat. It looked to be of better quality than someone such as him could possibly afford. Her lips quirked as suspicion rose. “Have ye been unaware of the storm, milady?”

“I have not.” Did he think her an imbecile? No one could possibly have ignored the waves crashing against the island’s high cliffs, nor the wind blasting against her tower’s walls, and certainly not the lightning striking down trees which had stood untouched for centuries. Realization dawned on her. “You were out in the middle of that and survived?”

“Aye.” He ducked his head in a nod. “I did. My crew did not.”

She tightened her lips, lowering her head in an expression of sympathy. “I am sorry to hear of your loss, sirrah.” Thunder rumbled across the sky and lightning crackled. Even though she did not trust this man, she couldn’t just leave him at the mercy of the elements. Laesha extended her hand, beckoning. “Come. You have my hospitality until the storm passes.”