Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Excerpt 1: Immortal Illusions

I decided to post the excerpts I keep promising to post. The first set are from Immortal Illusions, and here's installment #1. Seth, by the way, is the Egyptian God of Chaos. And if you want to read chapter one, follow the links from my web site, or the link on the sidebar. (I plan to post three more, and one of them is full of men. Actually, most of them are full of men. What can I say. I must be addicted or something.)

Oh, and guess #3 is taking shape. Trust me when I say you will be as surprised as I by the hero.

Ah, enough digression. Here, read about what happens when you start doing what ever you think you need to do to get the thing you think you most want to have...

Excerpt 1: Immortal Illusions

Ramon laid a well-manicured hand lightly on her shoulder. “When you agreed to act as Jack’s mystical surrogate, the bargain included certain terms.”

Rain’s throat went dry. Oh no. Oh Gods no. What more did they want of her? “It did, yes.”

“Your awakening was incomplete.” Ramon’s voice was soft, almost caring. But she knew him to be as self-serving to the cause as any of the Elder Wardens. “Jack has requested you be fully opened and Seth has agreed to perform that task.”

The bottom of her world fell out from beneath her feet and she dropped into a dark, endless abyss. “Do I have a say in any of this?” she ground out as she struggled to gain control over the fear exploding inside of her.

Jack stirred. “If you say no, I’ll be forced to find another surrogate. Your bargain, including your shot at knighthood, would go down the drain.”

The fire in his gaze had chilled to ice. Her own blood cooled and her palms started to sweat. Panic curled tight in her gut. “I can’t be a knight if I’m running magic in my blood.”

Jack straightened and leaned forward. “How bad do you want this, Raine? Remember what I told you earlier, about how I play?”

She remembered, like it was burned into her brain. She should have expected this of him, to ask for every last ounce of everything she possessed, and then come back for more. To ask to awaken the worst of her Elven side—to turn on the dormant sorcery residing inside of her, it was beyond reason. She’d be hard pressed to hold back the Elven insanity in her, to remain herself, under her own control. She turned to Ramon, knowing she couldn’t trust anyone in the room, but knowing at the same time he was the one most likely to give her a straight answer. “Will I become one of them?”

Before Ramon could answer Jack erupted like a nuclear bomb hitting ground zero.

“One of them?” He snorted with derision, a look of disgust curling his sensuous mouth. He leaned even closer, pinning her with a gaze that cut her to her very core. “I have news for you, sweetheart. You are one of us. There is no ‘them’. You can run from that, but you can’t hide. Not even with the clipped ears and the prissy manners.”

The sound of her slap rang in her ears. She’d acted on pure impulse, giving into the rage his words provoked, and whacked him. Nothing could be more repulsive, more Elven, to act without thought, to indulge whatever whim crossed the mind or riled the blood. She drew back her hand and stared at it, mortified, as if it belonged to anyone but herself.

Jack sat back, a satisfied smile on his handsome face, her handprint a red streak on his fair, otherwise unblemished skin. “That felt good, didn’t it?”

“No,” she said more to herself. What had she gotten into? It was starting already. The madness…

“It’s human to feel, Raine. And Elven. You’re both. You shouldn’t be ashamed.” Jack’s voice penetrated her thoughts. “I’m not your uncle. You don’t need to hold back with me.”

“I’m not holding back.” She stood and stepped away from the men. How far would she go, how far would they push her, to gain her dream? “I’m not one of them. I’ll never be.”

Elves were hedonists. They did whatever they pleased to indulge their whims, regardless of consequence. All that mattered was the moment. Wasn’t that what she was doing now? Giving in to fancy, living in the moment? No. This was no whim. She was doing what she needed to better serve the Covenant, to realize her dream, and prove to everyone once and for all she was more than her ill-fated birth. After this, she’d no longer be the outcast half-breed.

There really was no choice. “When?”

Seth shoved his hands in his pockets. “Now.”

Raine sat down again, defeated. “Ramon, I think I’d like that drink now. Scotch. Neat.”

The occupants of the room fell into a stiff silence while Ramon poured her drink. Only once had Hugh mentioned the sorcery in her bloodline, when she was very young and he was very, very drunk. It was her birthday. He’d railed against her mother, his brother Edward, and the evils of sorcery that some Elves seemed to possess by virtue of inheritance. Then he’d cried into his empty whiskey glass, and passed out, the blade of his dagger clutched in his hand as if he’d planned to use it in defense, or, attack. They’d never discussed the incident afterwards. So much went unsaid between them. Sometimes that was good, mostly, though, it made her sad.
Ramon handed her the cut crystal glass and she downed the liquid fire in one shot.

“Why?” She looked to Jack. She suspected he needed her as much as she needed him. “The truth, Madden. You have one chance to get this right. Lie to me and I’m out of here.”

“Thanks to Kerr, I can’t touch the power that was once mine. Not only will I never ascend beyond demi-God, the best of my sorcery is lost to me.” His words were laced with raw pain and blatant truth that hurt to hear. “Even the simplest of tasks requires new methods for me. I have learned to use bush magic to aid the mystical-seeking exercises that we’ll need to find these artifacts. To be most effective, though, I need you, Raine. All of you. One hundred percent, not the fifty you’ve decided to show the world.”

“It’s so easy for you to be who you are, Jack, consequence be damned.” She put her glass down harder than expected. “I don’t have that luxury.”

His next move surprised her. He reached for her, held her hand, and covered it with his other in a protective gesture. His gaze held hers for a moment, searching for something, and when he spoke, it was as if she was the only person in the world who mattered. “You have the luxury to be complete with me, Raine, as long as the op lasts. It’s not as sexy as knighthood, I’ll grant you that. It’s not even something you’ve ever considered desirable, but I guarantee, once you’re whole, you won’t want to go back to living in pieces again.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.” She shut her eyes for a moment, steeled her courage, and pulled free of his grasp. If she was to do this, it had to be on her own. “I’m ready.”

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