Sirens is currently available for free dl on Smashwords and soon on B&N for the holiday season!
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Time has gone by faster than I thought--wasn't it just the first of November? I still hope to have Dancing With Monsters out by t he end of January 2015. In the meantime, enjoy a sample of Chapter 3!
“She’s an angel,” I looked at Ben, “an actual angel?”
“Not the kind of angel that humans have painted for centuries. There are many kinds, but Yolanda is an earth angel. She can travel to different realms, and is in the class of guardian angels of humans.”
I ran my fingers through my hair trying to absorb everything.
“Yolanda, she’s an angel,” I repeated what Ben had explained. “But she smoked a cigarette.”
Ben chuckled. “Yes, they can do that.”
“And she came for a muffin recipe?” I asked with raised eyebrows.
Ben’s face paled. “It’s no ordinary recipe, and one that I wished I never created. Sometimes an artist doesn’t know that they are creating masterpieces with the element of fire, and Yolanda is trying to keep me from getting burned.”
I looked at Ben’s kitchen with every possible utensil in it, hundreds of spices displayed like knick-knacks on the rack that hung on the wall, and fancy stainless steel appliances. He liked to cook, but what kind of recipe did he create that was so important.
“That must be some special muffin recipe.” I gazed steadily at him hoping he’d elaborate.
“Yes, it is, and that’s why Yolanda took it.” He walked into the kitchen. “Let’s finish breakfast, and we’ll talk more about this later.” Ben smiled as he tried to pacify me.
“No,” I raised my voice. “I want to know what this is all about now!” I demanded as Ben looked at me with his brown eyes and shoved in a forkful of hash browns into his mouth. I took a deep breath and tried to calm my insides. “A week ago I was at an institution called Sunrise Acres. I was there because my mom gave me up when I was four, and I have been in countless foster homes since then. But no matter where I went, the darkness followed me. I thought I was crazy, then I met you and you…I don’t know how to explain this and I know to trust a stranger is insane, but my insides tell me that I should.” Ben looked away then back at me with sympathy. “I want to know everything because I deserve to, and you have the answers to my entire past.”
I finally had the answers in front of me, and I didn’t want to take it slow. I revealed something about myself to Ben hoping he’d do the same.
“That was no muffin recipe you gave to Yolanda, it was something else. And where is this sanctuary at that we’ll be going in a week? You know I’m no stray cat you picked up, and can take wherever you want to go without telling me.”
“You’re right,” he said folding his hands together. “There are many things that you should know, because there are many things the darkness holds.” He motioned for me to sit beside him.
“The man in the woods, the one I had to eliminate,” he looked at me with his gentle brown eyes that looked like they didn’t have an ounce of killer in him. “He consumed one of my muffins.”
“So you had to kill him?”
“I did because he was human, and he would turn into something that should have never been created. Death was the humane thing to do.”
“What exactly would he turn into?” I asked.
“A killing machine that demons would use to take over as many realms as they could,” Ben said and took his plate over to the sink. “Demons have been trying for a long time to create an army that would do battle for them. They are confined to the shadows and that limits them. They tried to use humans by inflicting them with their poison—biting as an example,” he motioned towards me. “But that doesn’t always work. Then, one day, a genius,” he shook his head, “came up with a serum that could turn humans into the army demons have been trying to create for centuries.” Ben turned to me with a mixture of bitterness and regret swirling in his eyes.
“Your muffin recipe,” I said putting everything together.
“My muffin recipe was never designed for that purpose. It was supposed to enhance only monsters abilities, not transform humans into hybrid monsters. It was never intended for them. To make a long story short, I needed ingredients not of this or any world. I needed things that only grow in the shadows of demons. I made a deal, and knowing they were conniving creatures, I had to give them compensation. They demanded a sample of my serum. I gave them a different version of my serum that I thought would do nothing for them, but I found out differently.”
Ben began to do the dishes.
“That’s why you can’t stay here, and by giving Yolanda the recipe, she is giving you protection.”
Ben looked at me from over his shoulder. “She is giving us protection. You are involved as much as me now.”
A rush of anger filled me. “So you dragged me into this as well? Why?!” I stood beside him and glared as he casually finished the dishes.
“You were involved in this long before I found you.” Ben’s voice was calm compared to mine. “You know that.”
“What did you do, see me and think I would make a nice traveling buddy?” Ben turned to meet my eyes that could have burned holes through him. “I have enough troubles of my own, and I could’ve found some other way to escape.”
“No, you would only find demons that will follow you until they are satisfied. By me finding you and taking you with me, is your escape.”
I let out a sigh and ran my fingers through my hair. I began to pace the floor and then walked over to the window. Ben leaned against the sink with arms folded across his chest, and watched me.
“I know you’re right,” I said meekly. “The darkness is always there and getting closer.” I gazed out the window admiring his view of the Mississippi river framed in the array of trees changing into the colors of autumn. “I haven’t felt it looming behind me since I met you.”
“I can help you April Snow, you just have to let me.” Ben stood behind me.
I felt the heat from his body seep into mine. My body tensed as I had never felt that way before. It was as if someone had turned on a light inside of me, and I was viewing things for the first time. The connection I had with Ben was going beyond just coming from the same race. It was changing into something I had never felt before.
I turned to face him, and he was inches away from me. My eyes searched his like a frightened animal. Was he going to hurt me, suck life from my body, or kiss me? A shock wave rumbled through my body. I had never been with a boy, much less a man before. I was sixteen, and never thought about guys—only how to escape the institutions I was imprisoned in and the darkness that always loomed around me. I never had time to think about boyfriends or what a normal teens’ life was. This was new, exciting, and….something I wasn’t ready for.
I pushed myself away and plopped down on the couch. Ben cleared his throat and went into the kitchen.
“I will go and get you some warmer clothes today and some proper shoes. You’ll be safe here.”
Ben left and I locked the door behind him. I leaned against the door for a moment. Yesterday I was living at an institution, and today I’m staying at a guy’s house who claims to be a monster, can move at the speed of light, and suck the life out of humans. But Ben also knew about my tattoo or mark as he called it, and with a swipe of some kind of oil, my cuts and bruises on my bare feet had disappeared. If I wasn’t crazy before, I would be soon.
I decided to get a shower while Ben was gone. The warm water was welcoming, and I felt human again, or should I say monster. I gazed at myself in the mirror. I stilled looked like me with long brown hair and dark eyes. I looked human, but always felt something inside of me was different. I would have never guessed it would be called monster, but something about the word fit.
I put back on my clothes and decided to wait for Ben on the couch. It was nice to be in a home-like setting instead of the sterile surroundings of Sunrise Acres. I wrapped a blanket around me and clicked on the television. I flipped channels for a while and found a travel show on the Bahamas. I wondered where this “sanctuary” was at, and if it was anything like the show I was watching. I turned off the T.V., and sat there staring into the blank screen.
“Am I gullible of stupid?” I asked myself.
Ben hasn’t done anything to hurt me, and has been nothing but nice, but what was I doing letting him take me to some place I didn’t know where it was at. Yes, his house was a lot nicer than outdoors, but what would the future hold for me? I had to think long-term, not just in-the-moment. My gut told me to trust, and since I’ve been with him, I never felt so secure in my life. My head and commonsense told me different.
I rolled up my sleeve to expose my mark when a sudden chill curled around me.
I got up and turned towards the front door expecting to see Ben returning, but no one was there. The sunlight blasting through the windows ceased, as the familiar darkness filled the room. Shadows deepened, the air crystalized with floating ice particles, and the wood floors creaked from invisible feet.
I tightened the blanket I had around me, and wished the thing away, but I knew it would never leave. It wanted me, and it would always find me.
With my breath fogging in front of me, I scanned the room with my darting eyes. The darkness was here, and it was stronger than ever, but…so was I. My skin began to tingle around my mark. I pulled my arm out, and could see it pulsating with a river of light.
Suddenly the pots and pans that hung like ornaments over the island in the kitchen, clanked together as if someone had ran their hand through them. A couple fell to the floor, and then hurled through the air as if the invisible feet had kicked them.
The air began to hum with whispers as the ice particles that hung motionless, swirled with movement. Was there more than one demon here?
I had to get out of here, and turned towards the door when I ran into something solid. They wrapped their arms around me and grabbed my wrist exposing the mark that looked like it had been electrified.
“You can fight them,” Ben’s voice whispered in my ear.
The ice crystals churned faster through the air as if someone had put them into a blender.
With Ben’s hand holding my arm in the air, I stared into the blizzard of crystals. My mark burned with electricity. I felt alive, strong, and for the first time, brave. I had something to fight back with, and I was going to use it to its full potential.
Ben’s strength joined mine, and together the ice crystals began to swirl together forming a sphere of crystals. The taunting whispers turned into a hurtful moan.
I stepped away from Ben, and stood closer to the sphere.
“You can’t get me, and you never will!” I yelled into it just as a face, lion-like, formed in front of me.
I pushed closer with my arm extended as the lion-face opened its mouth in a silent roar, and with a loud pop, disappeared as if it was never there.
Silence filled the room. I stood motionless hardly believing what had just happened.
“Next time don’t step away from me. They could have taken you.” Ben twirled me around so I could see his angry eyes glaring at me with concern.
“Yeah, but they didn’t,” I said with amazement. “I fought them off and won.”
“They will never be done fighting, April.” Ben warned. “They will keep coming back until you kill the one that bit you. That is the only way you’ll actually win.”I looked at him with steady eyes. “Then that’s what I’ll have to do—kill it.”
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Now through Sunday, November 30, 2014, Sirens, The Librarian's Daughter The Story of Sage Greene & The Story of Abi VanHaven, are available for free download on Smashwords! Get them while you can!
The Librarian's Daughter The Story of Sage Greene
The Librarian's Daughter The Story of Sage Greene
Thursday, November 6, 2014
I still hope to have this one out by the end of the year-key word is hope. In the meantime, enjoy a sample of Chapter 2 of Dancing With Monsters.
“Please!” I managed to yell out. “Don’t hurt me!” The man gazed at me with his glowing eyes.
He stared as if he was studying me, summing me up, or just waiting to digest his last meal before he had dessert. He didn’t blink his illuminated eyes as they seemed to penetrate through me. I stared back and waited for the life to be sucked out of me.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” His voice was soft and eloquent, the opposite of his appearance.
He grabbed my wrists and pulled me to my feet. I stood shivering from cold and fear. The sound of trucks rumbled in the distance, and beams from car headlights cut through the trees in waves of light. I could scream, but the chances of someone hearing me were slim. We faced one another as the wind carried the smell of gasoline into the barren forest.
“Please let me go.” My lips trembled.
He snickered. Suddenly, bright lights flashed from the highway behind us. His attention turned to it as I caught a glimpse of his face. His wavy hair nearly reached his eyes that still slightly glowed. His face had a roundness to it that made him look harmless. Even his grip had softened. In the matter on seconds, his whole appearance changed into something softer. If I didn’t witness what he had done, I would have never guessed him to be a murderer.
“Running away are we, fledging, then you’d better join me. They will be coming for you, and I’m not waiting.”
Bright lights suddenly blasted from behind us, and burned through the cold air. Was I hallucinating all of this, or was it real. Whatever it was, it was unnatural. No one can suck life out of another human being and leave them as bits of tissue paper.
“If you doubt me, don’t.” He pulled back my sleeve exposing my wrist. “This isn’t just some tattoo. This is a hexmark.”
I looked at the tattoo my mom made me get right before she gave me away.
“It’s for our protection.” I could still hear my mother’s words.
I closed my eyes. A veiled woman gave me the tattoo. We had gone to what I thought was a carnival, but through the bright colors, balloons and performers, was a dark feeling that made me want to run.
“I’m asking, are you coming with me or not?” He shook my wrist bringing me to my senses.
In that split second, I had to make a decision that could mean escape, death or going back to Sunrise Acres—I’d never see the sun again if I went back there. He knew of my tattoo, and maybe about the things that lurked in the darkness. I had to take a chance. Voices from the search party echoed around us.
“I’m coming with…” Before I could finish, my feet left the ground, and trees whisked by like speeding cars.
The truck stop lights faded in the distance. I had no idea where I was or what direction we had gone. We moved like flashes of lightning through the timber and then we stopped as quickly as we had left.
He put me down and my feet landed on a paved road. A log cabin home washed in moonlight stood before me with a split rail fence surrounding it. A light shone through the window beside the door making it look like a welcoming house.
“Are you coming?” He asked standing on the opposite side of the road.
I could run, but I’d never make it five feet away from him. It was unnatural to move that quickly through the woods, and without tripping or getting slapped in the face from low limbs. Even if he did know about my tattoo, I still felt uncertain.
“You moved…” I took account of my surroundings. We were in a wooded area, and with no other houses in sight. I couldn’t possibly outrun him to get help.
“I moved like anyone of our kind can move, and I can teach you how, if you like.” He spoke so casually. “And like I said, I’m not going to hurt you, and you are running away, aren’t you?” He looked back over his shoulder at the house. “This is my home, and you are welcome to come in if you like, or you can take cover in the forest. It’s up to you.”
He turned and walked up to the house while searching his pocket. He pulled out a set of jiggling keys, and glanced back at me as he whistled.
I crossed the road and stood at the edge of the brick paved sidewalk. What was I doing? He had just sucked the life out of a man, and we had run through what seemed like miles of timber in the matter of seconds. I should get the hell out of here, especially since he was going into his house and leaving me outside.
“You can go if you want, fledging, but I’m curious about the mark on your wrist. Not many humans have those kind of marks,” he said glancing over his shoulder at me as he cracked open the door.
I gingerly curled my fingers around the small tattoo on the inside of my right wrist. I remembered getting it from an old lady that my mom took me to right before she gave me up. How did he know I had it, and how could he had possibly seen it covered up by my sleeve.
I took a step forward followed by another. He waited for me letting me enter the warm house first.
I stepped inside just enough to let him in. The interior was pretty much what you’d expect a log cabin house to look like. It was a rustic home with a stone fireplace, richly stained beams that was the skeleton on the home, and an open ceiling with a loft overhead. It wasn’t a large home, but looked like it came out of a magazine as it was neat and showed no person artifacts, like pictures.
“Have a seat right here,” he said twirling an office chair around and shoving it towards me.
I looked at the chair then at him.
“Your feet are bleeding, and I don’t want blood all over my rugs any more than it already is.”
I looked down at my bare feet and at the bright red splotches dotting the dull orange rug.
“Sorry,” I said.
“Don’t be, just sit down. I just bought those rugs.”
I sat down and he pushed me into the kitchen. Stainless steel appliances and cabinets made out of knotty wood, made the kitchen look like a professional chef lived here. There was an abundant supply of spices above the gas stove, utensils hung over an island in the middle of the kitchen, and a wine cooler, fully stocked, displayed bottles of wine from behind a glass door.
He went to a tall cabinet and got out a towel and a small, brown, glass bottle.
“So, what’s your name? Mine is Ben.” He glanced up at me as he gently took my right foot and placed it on his bent knee.
I couldn’t give him my real name. “Beth,” I finally said.
Ben snickered as he wiped off the bottom of my foot with whatever was in the brown bottle.
“No, it isn’t. You are a terrible fibber, fledging, and my assumptions were right about you.” Ben wiped other foot. “If you were totally a human girl, you’d be screaming in pain.”
He put the bottle away and threw the towel to the sink.
“If I was human?” I questioned and looked at the bottom of my left foot. There were no scratches or cuts.
“Your mark, and the fact I just used serpent’s oil on you, tells me otherwise.” Ben crossed his arms and smirked at me. “You’ve witnessed some pretty remarkable things tonight, and I’m sure you feel it’s all a dream, but it isn’t. Our kind has a way of …connecting for lack of a better word.” Ben’s image blurred, and then disappeared. I rubbed my eyes wondering if it was the aftereffects of whatever he used on my feet.
I felt my insides tighten, and wondered if I had been drugged. Then, suddenly, Ben materialized in front of me on bent knees. “I found you, and you found me for a reason.” His eyes searched mine as I could barely breathe. “Did you see your wounds?’’ he asked and I nodded. “Serpent’s oil can only be used on one type of being.” He smiled. “You and I are monsters, Beth.”
“Time’s running out,” Ezra stood in front of me running her pale fingers over mine. “I want to stay together. I’m tired of meeting this way.” Her blue-black eyes lifted to mine. “Join me.” Her words slithered like snakes around me. “Join me here, and we can be together.”
“Ughhh!” A female voice yelled like a battle cry behind me. “Let him go nymph!” The unmistakable sound of Nessa’s voice demanded in the distance.
I felt that pull again. Each time I talked to Ezra, I felt a distance slowly separating us. She begged me with her eyes to stay as she reached for my hands.
I had to, but hesitated. Ezra tightened her grip on my hands. It wasn’t only Nessa who pulled at me to come back to the living, there was something else.
I let go of her hands, and gave into that unknown and invisible force that kept pulling me away from the girl I had planned to marry.
“Hey!” I yelled as something burned on my right shoulder. What were they doing, setting me on fire to quit seeing Ezra?
I opened my eyes to see Uncle Hes’s scowling face peering down at me along with Nessa. He held a branding coin in his right hand as Nessa placed her hands on her hips.
“Nessa said you’re being haunted by a dead lover. That mark ought to put a stop to that, or at least slow it down until she gives up.”
I sat up, and should have been furious at them taking such extreme measures without my consent. But, I wasn’t. I looked at the triangle shaped mark filled with intricately weaving lines.
“I know you’re mad at me, but this has got to stop.” Nessa’s eyes were a mix of sternness swirling with concern. “Seth, I had to do something, and if you go on like this, it will jeopardize our mission.”
“Yes, it will,” I buttoned my shirt. “You’re right to have done this. I know you have my better interest in mind, and are trying to help me.”
Nessa’s mouth hung open with surprise. “So, you’re not mad?” She asked.
“No, and I can’t explain why. I should be, but there’s something, I don’t know what it is. Fate is pulling me in another direction.”
“So, Nessa doesn’t get full credit for putting an end to you seeing Ezra, and ending up on your bad side?” Malachi asked shoving a piece of bread into his mouth.
“It isn’t fate,” Uncle Hes said before Nessa could reply as he poured himself a cup of something steaming. “Here,” he gave me the cup of hot liquid. “It’s destiny that is ‘pulling at you’, as you describe, though destiny doesn’t pull, but guides.” He gave Nessa and Malachi cups of the dark, hot, steaming liquid.
All of us looked at it and took whiffs of the strange aroma.
“It’s called coffee, and you drink it, not inhale it. I got it on my last visit to earth, and it will keep you alert. I’ve discovered a very strong liking to it.”
I took a sip of the bitter tasting beverage, but drank it out of courteousness to my uncle.
“What’s the difference between fate and destiny? Aren’t they the same thing?” Malachi asked.
“No, they are not.” Uncle Hes defined each word. “Fate is something you create, tempt, or manipulate by the decisions you make. Destiny is what was woven through the passages of time by someone far greater than us. It has its own plan that sometimes you can find written, and sometimes not, but whether conscious of it or not, destiny will always be followed.”
We left in the cover of blackness. The city was quiet, as if it had taken a moment of peace before the sun came up. With Uncle Hes’s map safely tucked in my satchel, Malachi, Nessa, and I slinked through the streets.
“Bagels, do you smell them?” Malachi stopped and smelled the air with a satisfying sigh.
“They have bagels where we’re going.” I continued walking with Nessa beside me.
“Yeah, but these are the best.” He insisted. “Come on,” he tugged on my shoulder. “One last stop before going on our quest,” he said in a deep voice mocking my uncle.
I turned to him ready to explain the importance of everything, and why this wasn’t a field trip as Uncle Hes explained. It wasn’t just a quest, but something I had to prove to him.
“How about some for the road?” Nessa asked looking up at me with her innocent eyes.
I smiled and shook my head. “The shop is just around the corner.” She took a few steps away from me, and disappeared around the corner with Malachi in tow.
I stood there for a moment, lowered my head, and could hear the displeased voice of my uncle. The first thing in being a leader is having the respect and control of your team. I had neither, and at this point, probably wouldn’t.
I went into the empty bakery. Malachi and Nessa were gazing through the glass case with all the bakery’s delectable goods displayed. It was full of pastries, doughnuts, and of course, our much needed bagels.
I waited close to the door, and looked down at my watch. We needed to get out of town before the sun came up. They made their selection and paid the clerk, when I felt someone behind me. I turned around, and saw nothing but the glass door slowly going shut. Someone had just left very quietly, and by the scent that loomed in the air, an angel had been here.
Angels didn’t come to Iethia very much, and when they did, it wasn’t to take in the sights or visit friends.
“What’s wrong?” Nessa asked reading the concern on my face as she took a bite of her bagel.
“We have to move before I lose the scent,” I said going out the door and letting my nose guide me.
We looped through the streets as if the angel was trying to evade us. But all angels knew that monsters had extraordinary senses to track anyone at any time, or maybe this one didn’t. I wondered what they were doing here, and if they had a connection to the drug that was being manufactured to turn innocent humans into monsters. My uncle had worked with angels before on cases concerning portals before he retired from the portal guardianship. I wondered if the angel we were following knew my uncle.
The scent led us out of town, and then suddenly stopped. I stopped and peered into the darkness.
“Malachi, can you see anything?” Malachi didn’t have the acute sense of smell like me, but he could see in the dark.
“A rabbit, squirrel in a tree, and birds still nesting in the trees—that’s it.” With his eyes still glowing, he shrugged his shoulders. “What were we following anyhow?”
“An angel, I could smell them.”
“An angel?” Nessa asked in disbelief. “What would they be doing in Iethia?”“I don’t know, but we need to move.”