Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ascension: An Excerpt

Ohmigosh! I can't believe how close we are to our debut! (insert shiver of excitement and terror here.) In just a little more than a month, Ascension will hit stores and we're going to hit the pharmacies for anti-anxiety meds. But for now, we wanted to share the first scene of the book right here at the Underground. And the winner is . . . Casey H. Congratulations! Thanks everyone who entered.


CHAPTER 1

St. Augustine, Florida

Despite the chaos of war around her, she couldn’t help but hum Queen’s We Are the Champions in her head. Of course, We had become I as she’d twisted it to fit her mood for the night. She had an irresistible urge to flex her muscles, or strut, or . . . Something equally tacky.


It had been a long night, but a successful one. Most of the Chosen were safely tucked Below. The one her minions, Farrel and Crag, now carried was the last of the living on her list. The rest would be found . . . And buried . . . At daybreak. But what had her feeling as smug as a pig in dog shit was not the number she’d managed to find and save, but the who.

Jordan Faye. One of the most crucial finds on the Ancients’ list of Chosen.

Kyana slipped her daggers back into the sheaths at her back and boot and reached for the flare gun tucked in its holster on her hip. Behind her, Farrel and Crag grunted and whined about the burden they carried. Every Vamp within the Order of Ancients had minions to assist with the grunt work. Sadly, Farrel and Crag were hers. One look would shut them up, but she was in too much of a hurry to bother.

When they neared what had been the Castillo de San Marcos’s pay station only a week ago, she fired the flare gun and waited for the fiery burst to explode overhead and dissolve into a flurry of white dust that would alert the sentinels manning the gate. Like tiny puffs of smoke, the name Kyana slowly formed in the night sky, and the newly-working drawbridge lowered in recognition.

The Castillo was the oldest piece of stonework in North America. That it had held up against so many attacks over the years had made it the best choice for the Order to set up headquarters in the southeastern United States the moment the war between Hell and Earth had begun seven days ago. Sentinels walked the bastions, ready to fight to the death at any sign of trouble, and in the old storerooms beneath the sentinels’ patrol, Mystics had opened a portal to Below where the Chosen were taken for safety.

The night Tartarus opened and unleashed masses of Dark Breeds onto Earth, the residents of St. Augustine and neighboring cities had flocked to the old fort. Most of the Order argued to save as many as possible, but Kyana saw the folly in such emotionally-driven suicide. Sure, she didn’t want the world wiped clean of innocents any more than the gods of Olympus did, but, there was no way they could all be saved. Wiser to focus on the Chosen first, make sure they had a safe place to lay their heads. Then the Order could see to the everyday average Joes and Janes.

Behind Kyana, wails and shrieks, both human and non, had become the city’s soundtrack. There were Dark Breeds nearby. She could smell the scent of urine emitting off the demons, feel the blighted Vamps, and taste the sulfuric, restless souls that had been uprooted from their earthly graves to become what humans called Zombies and the Order referred to as Leeches. Kyana’s body itched to return to the streets and hunt, but she couldn’t. Not until she’d safely placed her catch inside the fort.

“Take her in,” she said, waiting impatiently for Farrel and Crag to adjust the weight of the woman they carried and shuffle up the walk toward the gate. Her gaze didn’t waiver from the unconscious body they toted. Other tracers had declared Jordan’s trail cold days ago, but Kyana had been too stubborn to admit defeat. There was a reason she was the best at her job. She had something other tracers lacked—the ability to hold onto a scent for days without it losing its potency. Jordan hadn’t been home in days, her trail had grown cold . . . For the others. But Kyana didn’t rely on tracking perfumes and other unstable, common odors. She clung to a particular pheromone and could follow it to Hell and back, no problem. One tiny trace of left-over fear in Jordan’s bed had led Kyana all around St. Augustine, and finally, to the damned garbage bin behind St. George Street that had smelled so foul it had nearly tripped Kyana up.

Though there was no tangible reward for doing their duty, competition among the tracers to find those at the top of the lists was high. Only one other tracer had ever come close to besting Kyana. But not tonight. She couldn’t wait to see Geoffrey’s face when he learned she’d been the one to find and rescue Jordan Faye.

As though summoned by her smug anticipation, Geoff stepped into Kyana’s path at the gate and cast a glance at the body in Farrel’s and Crag’s arms. “Another wee Mystic, I’m guessing?”

The spotlights bordering the walls of the fort cast him in an eerie glow. His small fangs glinted like freshly sharpened daggers and his dark blue eyes danced in the moonlight. At well over six feet, and broad enough to strain the threads of his black t-shirt, Geoffrey oozed danger. Her hormones kicked into overdrive. He reminded her of those exotic dancers at an all male revue she’d stumbled across once while on the hunt—hot and ready to deliver on a girl’s fantasies. As usual, Kyana was torn between strangling him and shoving him against the wall to see if he was just as thrilling naked as he was clothed. But sadly, Vamp-on-Vamp action was forbidden by the Order.

Geoff might be off limits for her sexually, but taunting him was its own form of entertainment.

“Actually, it’s Jordan Faye,” she said, keeping her gaze on him to watch his reaction.

His pale face strained with shock.

Kyana smiled, offered him a sarcastic salute, and followed her quarry down the stone steps and into a hollowed room. Jordan’s new quarters looked more like an ancient jail cell sans the bars, but the cauldron of glowing blue ointment glittering in the corner smelled bad enough to make any prison piss pot proud. Farrel and Crag clumsily placed Jordan’s limp body atop a dusty blanket spread out on the floor. She was a pretty thing with an elegant, long pale neck that brought a hollow ache to Kyana’s belly. Eighty years since she’d fed on fresh blood, yet the desire was no less than it had ever been.

When Farrel and Crag left the room, Kyana addressed the Mystic kneeling at Jordan’s side. “Looks like she’s been shot. Tend that wound first.”

Too many of the Chosen they’d found had been shot by the very police they’d hoped would save them. Cops had been ordered to kill on sight, not taking the time to make certain those they targeted weren’t human.

Kyana forced her gaze away from Jordan’s throat and settled it upon something far more interesting. At first, Kyana thought it merely a shadow falling on the white breasts hidden beneath Jordan’s lacey black bra, but as she stepped in for a closer look, her night’s victory took on a whole new level of triumph.

“I’ll be damned.” She knelt and pushed down the bra to get a better look.

“Please don’t disrespect my patient.” With a slight shove of her hip, the Mystic scooted Kyana away from Jordan.

Kyana growled. Rather than cower, the Mystic glowered right back. Slightly impressed by the lack of fear, she readjusted Jordan’s bra and stood. “Someone stays with her at all times, understood? I’ll be back shortly.”

In long, determined strides, she made her way around the plaza courtyard to a larger room where war memorabilia from colonial times were stored for peppy little tourists to examine. Two sentinels stood on either side of yet another hole cut into the coquina walls, but rather than lead to another cell, this one was hollow. Should someone try to enter without permission, they would spend eternity spiraling through a black void.
“Let me through,” Kyana said, staring up at the towering men. They stubbornly blocked her passage.

“Hands, please,” the sentinel on the right said, holding out his own hairy fingers in her direction.

She grumbled and placed her right hand in his, offering her left to his partner. “I’m in the bloody fort. How could I be in the bloody fort if I’m not already cleared?”

“It’s the law, Dark Breed.

She gritted her teeth. Yes, technically, she was a Dark Breed. But her decades of loyalty to the Order should have earned her the respect not to be addressed so degradingly.

Kyana snatched her hands away from the sentinels and sneered. “Are you done? You smell like cow shit.”

The sentinel’s cheeks grew as pink as his bald head. “It’s a poultice for my stomach pains.”

“Whatever. Am I clear or not?”

The one on the left stepped aside. “Go. I hope you linger on the other side, Dark Breed. The lot of you should never have been brought into our circle.”

She jerked her head toward him and flicked her tongue over her fangs. She leaned toward him, flaring her nostrils as she breathed in the scent of him. “You don’t smell like cow shit. You smell like dinner.”

He stumbled backward and clasped his hands over his thick neck. “It’s forbidden by our laws!”

Kyana smiled and straightened. “Lucky for you I’m not in the mood to break the laws. Who knows how I’ll feel when I return, hmm?”

She fanned her fingers in a silent farewell and stepped through the portal.

13 comments:

Terri Garey said...

Awesome excerpt, guys, and I LOVE the fact you set it in St. Augustine! That Kyana is one tough cookie!!

Vivien said...

Fabulous excerpt! Loving it!!

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Sharon S. said...

Wonderful book! I have a review posted over at goodreads. Kyana is a kick-ass heroine, which means there is a smexy alpha-male somewhere, you can't have one without the other ;)

don't enter me. I got a netgalley ARC

SandyG265 said...

I like what I read.

sgiden at verizon.net

Cath's Chatter said...

Sounds like a winner!!!

cbcowley@gmail.com

Stephanie said...

I love the excerpt. I love her confidence and strength and cannot wait to see what happens next.

smccar1 at hotmail dot com

Annette said...

I liked what I did read, had wondering just who and what she had brought in with her.

susan said...

excellent excerpt!!been waiting for dis for awhile...... defo my kinda book

susanharris112@hotmail.com

Jolene Allcock and Family said...

Wow, amazing exerpt!!!

june111(at)att(dot)net

Danielle Gorman said...

I can't wait to read this book. As soon as I was made aware of this book it instantly went on my wishlist. I loved the excerpt.

iqb99@yahoo.com

Casey H said...

I can't wait to read it!!!!!!


c4casey(at)comcast(dot)net

Anonymous said...

Shivers went down my spine as I read this exerpt! Can't wait to get my hands on this book. Who needs a kinght and shineing armor when you have such a strong kick ass woman on the loose! I feel the need to twist Queen one more time "you are the champions!" My countdown to when I will own this book has started!

LadyVampire2u said...

Love the excerpt! Definitely count me in for this one. Thanks!

LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com