Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's Excerpt Time!

Hullo, faithful blogledites! Today I bring you...an excerpt from The Dark Man's Son! Thrilling, yes?

This scene takes place in Jason's grandfather's library. Jason's inherited his grandfather's estate, and that includes a huge collection of antique books. He calls for an appraiser, and by happy (or not-so-happy) coincidence, it turns out to be Alex -- the crazy woman he met last night who claimed a pair of simple muggers were demons.


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He turned away from the door with an angry huff of breath, and she followed him inside. Closed the door behind them. “The library’s through here,” he grumbled. “Do you really know anything about old books, or was this whole thing just some weird set-up?”

She followed him down the short hall and lingered in the library’s doorway to get a good look at the room. “That would be an elaborate plan, even for me,” she said, her eyes trained on the sprawling shelves. “No, the bookstore you called is mine, and I’m the one who does all the appraisals. When I saw your name in the appointment book…well, I figured it was just a funny little twist of fate.”

“Fate has a pretty messed up sense of humor.”

Her gaze moved to rest on him for the first time since they’d come into the library. “Yes. But she’s also a stubborn bitch, and arguing with her is futile. So here I am.”

He crossed his arms over his broad chest and leaned back against the desk. Dark blue eyes narrowed as he watched her set the briefcase on the table and begin to unpack its contents. “Your brother says hi.”

She froze, though only for a moment. “Does he?” she said. He sensed the strain in her voice as she struggled to sound casual; her hands trembled; she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “And how did you two get on?”

Jason gave a lazy shrug. “Not so well, actually. He’s sorta pushy.”

She snorted and seemed to relax. “Nailed it. He’s very impatient, and very ruthless. I am a bit surprised he found you so quickly, though.” She pulled on a pair of white cotton gloves and flashed him a smile. 

“Where would you like to begin?”

“Are you serious about this?”

“You made an appointment, Jason. You obviously have need of my services,” she said with a gesture that encompassed the neat stacks and the mess he’d already made. “I wouldn’t think our prior meeting should have any impact on a possible business relationship, should it?”

“I’m sorry, I just…this is all a bit too weird for me.” He rubbed the tattoo on his upper arm like he did when he was anxious or deep in thought. She caught the gesture, and her eyes narrowed.

“Interesting tattoo,” she said.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. I designed it myself.”

“Did you?” she murmured. “Hmm.” She took a few steps closer, and the whisper-soft feel of her gloved fingers against his skin surprised him. “What was your inspiration?”

“Um, you know, just…life? I don’t know, really. I wanted a tattoo, and I wanted something different. I sat down and started doodling, and this is what I came up with.”

“Hm,” she said again. Her expression turned quizzical, and she cocked her head to the side like a curious bird. “What do you do, Jason? When you’re not being attacked by demons or overwhelmed by an old man’s minutiae, I mean.”

He had to smile at the way she phrased it; it was the first genuine smile he could remember since hearing about his grandfather’s death. His navy eyes warmed and a dimple appeared in his left cheek; a shallower one flashed on the right. Her own mouth curved helplessly in response. “What’s so funny?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he said with a shake of his head. “Everything. I don’t know. But to answer your original question, I work with wood. I guess you could call me a carpenter.”

“Like my brother,” she said.

“That creepy guy’s a carpenter?”

She made an impatient gesture. “No, of course not. My other brother.”

Somehow his mind made the impossible leap, and shook his head again at this new madness. “You’re insane. Are you trying to tell me your brother—”

“I’m a child of the Divine,” she said in that same serene, implacable tone. “So was he. Different, of course, but the same.” She shrugged a little. “There were many before him, a few since, and there will be more. It’s just the way of things.”

He didn’t have an answer to this, but she didn’t seem to expect one. “The creature you met last night—what did he call himself?”

“Luke.”

Her expression turned sour. “Of course he would. Luke. He employs a thousand tiny cruelties. Do me a favor: next time you see him—and there will be a next time, I’m sure of it—call him Cassius.” Her eyes seemed over-bright, and her next words were brisk. “As for carpentry, he’s incapable of creating anything. He exists only to rot and destroy.”

“He called you a bringer of nightmares.”

She wandered away and began to carefully sort through some of the books he’d culled from the deeper parts of the library. “Yes. He would. To his kind, I am a nightmare.”

Jason ran frustrated hands through his hair; scraped it back off his forehead and tugged hard. “Could you please just explain to me what you are? I’ve been trying to find some sort of clue, but it’s like no one has ever heard of you.”

“I told you last night that we keep a low profile. It’s necessary when you’ve existed…as long as we have.”

“Enough with the riddles, lady—Claire or Alex, whatever your name is! I’m tired of these mind games. I just want a straight answer.”

She cleared her throat and stroked a leather binding. “Your grandfather seems to have an extensive collection of books on demonology, mythology, and religion.”

“Yeah, I noticed that. So?”

“Some of these are quite rare. Look at this. I haven’t seen one of these in centuries.” She held up a thick book, its binding dark and cracking with age, but Jason ignored it.

“You mean…no one’s seen one of those in centuries. Like…reports and stuff haven’t mentioned it. Not you, personally.”

Her jade eyes—flashing gold, like he’d noticed last night—met his, and the expression there terrified him. 

“I’m a daughter of the Divine, Jason. Do you have any idea what means?”

“Obviously I don’t. Why do you think I’ve been begging you for a little clarification?”

Her mouth lifted at one corner. “You won’t believe me.”

“I already don’t believe half the shit you say. I don’t know how much worse it could get.”

She turned away and very deliberately set the delicate old book back on the table. When she faced him again, her eyes were entirely gold, no trace of the green. Jason blinked. “Your…eyes…? What…?” A trick of the light, it had to be.

“It’s not a trick, Jason.” She took a step toward him, and he pushed away from the desk and backed up. 

She kept advancing; he kept retreating. She stopped and sighed. “You’ve no reason to fear me.”

“You’re joking, right? I watched you beat up a guy three times your size. I met that freak show who calls himself your brother. Now you’re standing in my grandfather’s library with color-change eyes claiming that you remember a book from centuries ago. Either one of us is seriously unhinged—”

“Or it’s all true,” she said gently.

“I was gonna say ‘or we both are’.”

She pulled the desk chair out for him. “Sit down, Jason.” She claimed one of the chairs near the fireplace and dragged it closer. “We need to have a serious talk.”

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And there ya go! A little appetizer to whet your appetites for the release next week. Are you excited? I'm probably excited enough for all of us, so don't worry if you're just all "meh."

Stay tuned, dear blogledites! I might post another excerpt tomorrow.

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