“In Darkness” – Excerpt from CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS (Legends of Tirum)

A friend’s quest for identity sends Telyn and her party into a land long draped in secrecy and legend. The truth they find staggers them all, because when the next Chosen is revealed, her identity will leave Telyn questioning her own fate, and the choices she’s made. And when Telyn’s life is upended by a disaster she never saw coming, she finds herself up against the most important question of her life: Is her pride and fear worth the cost, if that cost is everything she loves?

Nacaris gave half his life, and all his heart, to a woman he’s afraid he might never convince to become his wife. As the Chosen and their companions follow the trail of a friend’s desire to learn his past, Nacaris finds himself in a position he never imagined, with a decision to make that could change his life forever. Can he accept his destiny as Fire’s companion, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he’s ever asked from her?

“In Darkness” — Excerpt from CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS (Legends of Tirum, Book 6)

Telyn and Nacaris moved through the darkness, him taking cue from the motion of her shadowy form, aware she could see as clear as day even with just the muted light of the twin moons, this close to Moon Dark.

They moved silently, so attuned to one another Nacaris could barely recall what it was like to either approach or attack a fortification without Telyn at his side. She glanced his way, and her glowing lavender eyes conveyed the same certainty. Nothing ever solidified their relationship more than times of danger, when they relied on each other for safety and stability.

“There.” Telyn’s whispered acknowledgement, as much as the tilt of her head toward the fortress, sent his attention to their target, where a flickering light glowed in the Western tower room. “Sala says the boy’s definitely in that room.”

“And the Pearl?”

A moment of silence, during which Telyn stood frozen, stretched between them, before she shook her head. “Sala says Artu will be able to tell us. The Sea Witch has been trying to force him to use it.”

Nacaris stopped, recalling Sele and Brunnari’s fake Phoenix Book. His gut clenched. He nearly lost Telyn forever that day. Watching her fly into the wall and collapse, unbreathing, never left him in all the Summers since. Blessed Sheli, were they walking into another trap?

“How could he?” Nacaris rasped. “I thought only Water’s Chosen could use the Pearl.”

“Properly, aye.” Telyn’s grim tone was far from reassuring. “But as with all the Aerai Majin‘s artifacts, they can be misused easily enough, whether with the best or worst of intentions.”

Those words told him she was remembering the same events he was. He always wondered what must have gone through her mind in the instant she was catapulted into that wall, and where she went that allowed her to kill a man even as she lay dying on the floor. Telyn was very closemouthed about the details of what happened, and he knew they pained her even all this time later, so he never asked. When she was ready, she would tell him.

Now, as they stood facing a very familiar threat, he had to know one thing. “That… Whatever you did in Brunnari’s tower. Can you do it again, if you need to? Come back, I mean.”

She refused to look his way, and Nacaris’ gut clenched in fear. Then, in a grim, quiet voice, she admitted, “I don’t know.”

His brow furrowed. “Maybe you should go back.”

Her gaze did come his way, then, full of confusion. “Why? I’m just as capable as you, and I’m less vulnerable to physical attack–“

“And we have a daughter who needs her mother.” He wasn’t sure he could convince her how much risk she was putting herself at. But one thing he did know, she would never risk Sheylan’s safety or welfare.

She paused for a moment, then shook her head. “This is important, Nacaris. Sheylan is in good hands, and I need to see this through. I just have this feeling…”

If there was one thing he learned very quickly to trust, it was Telyn’s intuition. She was Chosen, and the fiery heart of their world spoke to her in words even she didn’t always understand.

“All right. Any brilliant ideas how we get into that tower?”

Telyn wasn’t listening, her attention focused on something else, before she started moving toward the far end of the fortress wall. “I have an idea. Follow me.”

A wry smile tugged at his lips as he jogged to catch up with her quick stride. She didn’t have to ask him to follow her. Didn’t she know yet that he’d follow her anywhere?

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“No Boundaries” – Excerpt from COME WINTER’S PALE (Chronicles of a Dragon’s Realm)

image by bogglyeyes

image by bogglyeyes

Today, I thought I would share something completely different, for me. This is blast from my past, reinvented. When I was a kid, I started researching and writing a series of Arthurian Legend inspired books. My original intention was to be historically accurate, and write a series of historical novels. However, as I grew older, and my writing style became more defined, the historical novels I began in my youth began to evolve, as well. In the case of this series, I began to shift toward Steampunk, bringing together the history and details of the legend as I researched it with a Steampunk world. In essence, I recreated the Arthurian story in a Steampunk world.

“No Boundaries” – Excerpt from COME WINTER’S PALE (Chronicles of a Dragon’s Realm, Chapter III, Book 1) –

Some things just aren’t meant to be.  Kata LurAine had heard the phrase her whole life.  Sitting at the knee of her stern, proper grandmother as the old woman taught her to stitch the painstaking designs into the coverlets for her hope chest was the first time.  Or, more properly, just after she’d about turned the white silk red with her blood from pricking her fingers.  That was when Granddam Maralaese decided that Kata was a lost cause – destined to never marry.  A failure.

Kata snorted to herself as she dropped the faceplate of her welding mask back over her face and lit up the torch.  Like she needed some dainty little cross-stitch pattern to make her life whole.  Like she even needed a man.  She was content here in her workshop, surrounded by metal that hummed and whirred with a life dear Granddam would never have understood.  Never mind that metalcrafting wasn’t a woman’s world.  And, okay, so most men turned their noses up at a woman with grease smudges and soot on her face, and sporting helmet-head hair from her welding mask.  But she didn’t care.  She couldn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t.  And it wasn’t a big deal, right?

The torch lowered, and the flame clicked off as Kata rested her palms flat against the scarred steel of her workbench.  She had to quit lying to herself.  It did matter.  It mattered a lot that no one saw Kata – not the real Kata, anyway.  Not that being seen was her goal in life, she told herself stubbornly as she flipped the mask down again.  But it would be nice.

She kicked the torch back on, and let the flash of flame against metal soothe her as  the machines in her shop hummed and whirred on.  If this was her lot in life, she could live with it…

A sound startled her out of her zone, and the torch flame skipped up, searing a long line of sooty copper along the face of the steamship she was working on.  Irritated, she shoved up the mask and whirled toward the source of that sound.

“You should know better than to sneak up on a woman with a torch!”  She glared up into the face of the stunned-looking gentleman – he in his just-so waistcoat and gloves, a dark cane resting between his arm and side that she’d bet any of her machines he didn’t actually need – standing in the stable doorway that served as entrance to her workshop.

He blinked again, clearly nonplussed, and she was left to wonder if he was a little thick in the head.  Then, he opened his mouth, and she was certain he was.  “You’re a woman!”

She rolled her eyes and muttered, “Thought we’d established that, already.”

He shook his head, and stepped forward.  “No, you’d don’t understand.  I was told this was the place to go to commission an airship.  They said you’re the best around.”

She peered at him through narrowed eyes, assessing if he was pulling her leg.  She stalled on his face, again.  He had angular features with just enough smoothness to blend them together, dark hair cropped to his collar in current high fashion, and forest green eyes that were arresting in their intelligence and perception.  Something twisted in her chest, and her throat closed up for a moment.  She hated that feeling – the attraction that zinged through her – knowing there was no future for it.  There never was.

They talk a lot,” she managed gruffy, yanking the mask back down to conceal her face.  “Just who are they, anyway?  For that matter, who are you?”

“Jarath Pherson.”  He doffed his Homburg and strode further into her personal domain, raising Kata’s hackles.

“Never heard of him.”  She set her jaw, determined to ignore him.

He coughed.  “That would be me.   Tarsak Memkno recommended you.”

She froze.  Tarsak?  The little gnome was her idol, her mentor – the man who knew everything there was to know about airships and landracers.  Adrenaline rushed through her.  Tarsak really thought she was good?  A grin spread over her face, and she turned toward Jarath as she lifted the mask again and shut off her torch.  Finally, her chance to prove herself once and for all – convention, and what she should be doing, be damned.

“Well, then, what are we waiting for?”

“The Case” – Excerpted from ANGEL OF MERCY (Angel)

tarotThis week, I’m trying something all-new.  I’ve never written in First Person, before, but I’ve always wanted to try it.  And now, I have a Steampunk PI series that just seems to lend itself to First Person.  I thought I’d share a litle gift with you, and give you a peek at a never-before-seen scene from a never-before-seen series I’m working on… Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think! 🙂

“The Case”  – excerpted from ANGEL OF MERCY (Angel, Book 1) –

The cards are warm and smooth in my hands, the subtle tingle of energy coming off of them feels like a familiar friend, and a little like touching a live low-voltage wire.  Usually, I’m not even aware of them in my hands, I’m so used to the feel.   But this meeting’s boring, so far, so I’m focusing on the motion.  Shift one card up, then over, then back into the deck, while maintaining this pointless staring contest with Mutt and Jeff.  It’s a trick I learned when I was just a kid, playing card games with Father Archibald.  I miss him.  He’s gone now, but I like to think he’d laugh to know at least one thing he taught me actually stuck.

A sigh pushes through my chest, and I look between the two men seated in my client chairs.  Mutt and Jeff.  I call them that because one’s tall, thin, and looks like he’s been sucking on sour lemons all morning. The other is short, fat, and sweating all over my good leather chair like a race horse after a turn at Seven Downs.

Mutt looks nervous, his eyes darting right and left, and his thick lips making a disgusting smacking sound.  Jeff just looks bored and disapproving of everything.  Wonder if he’s ever gotten laid.  I bet I’d be sour, too, if I never got any.

“Gentlemen, how about we cut to the chase?”  The cards make a hiss, then a clack, as I drop the stack onto the desk between us.  “You’re obviously not looking for a lost puppy, or a missing relative.  Why are you here?”

Mutt shakes his head, and  the leather squeaks as he shifts in his seat.  Great.  Looks like I’ll be paying to have the leather professionally cleaned.

“We’re from the Holy Council.”

Jeff clears his throat, and his frown deepens – I wasn’t aware the human face could sink that far into itself until now.  It’s pretty clear Jeff would rather stick an electro-stick in his eye than give up anonymity.  Too bad.  If he wants anonymity, he should have hired Gabriel.

He heaves this prissy little sigh that says he knows the cat’s out of the bag, and it looks more like someone let the air out of his face.  “Gideon sent us.”

As if Gideon’s name alone means I’ll hire on.  If it wasn’t in total poor taste for a P.I. to laugh in the face of a potential client, I’d give in to the urge.  For now, I just raise one eyebrow and listen.  They’ll have to do better than name-dropping to interest me.

“And I repeat myself:  What do you want?”

Squeak.  Squeak.  Mutt shifts around in his seat.  Spirits of Sarant, he must go through a dozen of those wool suits a day!

“We want you to k—“

“We would like you to terminate a threat,” Jeff breaks in, and now he looks nervous, too.

I can’t hold the laugh in, anymore.  I already knew this wouldn’t be a simple request.  I pretty much figured they were looking for a hitman, not a P.I.

“I think you boys have the wrong Mercurio.  You should try Gabriel.”

Jeff’s face is back to looking like he’s sucking lemons, and he’s huffing those prissy little sighs, again.  Followed by a disdainful sniff.  Interesting.

“Gabriel is too… unstable.”

Gabriel is a psychopathic killer with a bloodlust I’ll never understand.  Sounds like a perfect match, to me.  “He works cheap.  I don’t.”

Mutt squeaks in his seat again.  “Money isn’t an issue.”

“Really?  When did the Holy Council start padding its coffers with blood money?”

And that’s got them eyeing each other warily.  Round one to me.  But I have a bad feeling the next round won’t be anywhere near as much fun for me.