Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sneak Peek Sunday - 6 Paragraphs from The Circle 2

Today I'm joining author Sara Walter Ellwood in her new creation Sneak Peek Sunday.  The object is to post six paragraphs, no more, no less, of your latest WIP to your blog and then pass the link around.

I'm currently writing book 2 in my Circle saga - which features seven of the sexiest, snarkiest, saddest (some of them) vampires I've ever come across.

The protagonist  Claire, tells the story from her point of view and she's different from the other vampires in her Circle. She possesses Enhanced powers which allow her to influence behavior, read minds and now, in this book, share memories - both her own and other Circle members'.  These are the first six paragraphs of the book which leaves you in the middle of a shared memory, but you'll get the gist, I hope.

As always, I welcome feedback!

Blood, dark and spicy, was warm in my mouth, gulped in a frantic rush from Ursula’s throat.  Her perfume, a tangy mixture of citrus and musk, clogged my sinuses, an annoying distraction even her blood couldn't quite overcome.  Why did she have to wear so goddamn much perfume?  Could she not smell herself?  Everyone else could – from five rooms away.
            The bitch had doused her throat with the shit too.  Christ, I always made sure to avoid my wrists and throat at blood exchanges.  As a courtesy to my vampiric Circle mates so my stupid perfume wouldn't muddy the taste of my blood.
            None of the men wore cologne on their throats or wrists on meeting nights either.  Only goddamn Ursula.  Ugh.
            Grimacing, I swallowed another mouthful. One more and that should do it for our blood exchange this cold, February night.  More of Ursula’s blood rushed into my mouth – blood and something else.  No, oh God no, not one of her memories –
            “Give us a hit, our Jane?” Ursula, young and mortal, holds out her hand for the rolled joint clutched in the fingers of a tall, black girl.
            The black girl passes it obligingly. “Ginger’s late.” Her beaded braids click when she turns her head and expels a lungful of sweet smelling smoke.    

Here's a link to Sara's blog where you can read her 6 paragraphs:  Sara Walter Ellwood's Sneak Peek Sunday

Friday, January 11, 2013

Invisible - Friday Flash


Ever since I could remember I’d followed Billy.  I sat behind him in class, at the table next to his in the cafeteria, high up in the bleachers after school at the ball field.

He was usually smiling and carefree.  A typical boy in a typical small town. But sometimes he got this look in his eyes.  A strange mixture of terror and sorrow that seemed so grown up and inexplicable to me.  Like he was going somewhere I wasn't. Somewhere in his mind where I couldn't follow.

But I always followed Billy. Everywhere he went.  From the first day of kindergarten when I saw him piling blocks on top of each other in the corner of Mrs. Turner’s room to the last time I saw him, senior year, in Shannon Wood behind the school.

Over the years he grew tall and strong and beautiful.  Boys don’t like it when you call them beautiful, but that’s the best word for what he was. 

Just after spring break our senior year, he started going out with Kendra Channing.  She wasn't the prettiest girl in our class, but she had something about her that set the boys buzzing around her.   She chose Billy because he was so beautiful.  I heard her talking about him in the girls’ room one day between classes.

“He is the best looking boy in this entire school,” she said. “And those dreamy eyes of his?  Drives me crazy wondering what he’s thinking.  I’m going to find out.” 

The other girls sighed in envy. My heart was a lump of sick fire choking me, but I managed to keep smiling. Not that anyone even noticed I was there.  Nobody ever did really.

I’m good at keeping to the fringes, standing in the shadows.  Half the kids in school have gone to class with me since kindergarten and at least a third of them couldn't tell you my last name if it meant they’d win a million dollars.  Maybe not even my first name. 

To most people I just don’t exist.

Like Billy.  After that first day of kindergarten when we built block towers together and shared our peanut butter sandwiches, he never even looked at me. His gaze sort of slid past me to somebody else.  I didn't know what I did wrong. Maybe it was because he was a boy and I was a girl. 

He started playing with Karl Jones. They built block fortresses, had food fights, and chased each other around the playground.  

I watched them, my heart burning with jealousy, but they never asked me to play too.

Almost every day after school, it was the same routine:  Out the side door of the school, through the west parking lot, into the dark maze of Shannon Wood he used as a short cut to get to his house on Peach Lane.

We weren't supposed to go into Shannon Wood. Some little kid got killed there years ago using the short cut.  Broad daylight and everything, but it’s dark in those woods.  I always got goosebumps when I followed Billy along the pine needle path and across Thacker’s Brook to Oak Street.  Billy’s end of Peach Lane was only half a block off Oak Street if he took the Shannon Wood short cut. 

I wanted to tell him not to do it because the bad man who killed that little kid might still be lurking behind a tree trunk or in the little hollow in the bank by the falling apart footbridge, but I didn't because then he’d know I was there. 

So I shivered and followed him as closely as I dared without giving myself away.

Fridays after school he always hurried home because he and his family had pizza night together.  They hung out and played board games and watched movies all squished together on the sectional sofa in the living room.  Billy never went out to parties with the other kids from school on Fridays.  You’d think he would get teased about it by his friends, but I think they were as envious of Billy’s tight knit family as I was.

Lots of times I watched through the window while they sat around the dining room table and played Life and Scrabble and Clue. Laughing.  Trying to distract each other so they could cheat until his mom came in with a big bowl of popcorn and said it was movie time.

My family never had pizza nights.  My dad barely acknowledged my mom.  He came home from work, changed his clothes and shut himself up in the den to watch sports.  Mom sat at the kitchen table pretending to read, but really just sneaking gulps of wine.  She was usually drunk and passed out in bed by 9:30 but my dad never went to bed until after midnight so he never knew. Or he pretended not to.  I could never decide.

But Billy’s family wasn't like mine.  His brothers were almost as beautiful as he was and his sister, the baby of the family, was like a blond angel come down to live on earth.   Sometimes I hated her, but most times I just wished I was her.

The last time I saw Billy was a Friday afternoon in Shannon Wood.  All day he’d had that look in his eyes – the one that was part terror, part sadness.

“I know you’re there,” he said just before he stepped onto the footbridge across Thacker’s Brook. 

I froze, my heart thumping so hard it hurt.  How?  I’d been so careful.  Had I stepped on a twig or some dead leaves? 

“ You've got to stop following me. Haven’t you done it long enough, Gina?”

I stepped out of the shadows of a pine tree and his face in the dappled afternoon sunlight slanting through the tree tops was so sad I wanted to comfort him.  But I didn't know how.

“It was thirteen years ago. I was a little kid, just like you.  I couldn't save you. I know you blame me, but I ran for help. I didn't just run away.  I’m sorry I didn't stay and defend you but I was scared. I was five.” His chest heaved as he spoke and his eyes got very blue with tears.

I stared at him, unable to speak. Numb. I was so numb I felt paralyzed.

“Stop haunting me,” he shouted and a bird in the tree across the brook shrieked and took wing in startled surprise.  “I was a little kid and I ran. I couldn't help it that you got killed and I didn't!  Please. Please leave me alone.”

Dead.  Was that what I was?  Is that why no one ever talked to me or acknowledged me or included me in anything? 

I told him we shouldn't go through Shannon Wood. My mommy said to walk home on Carver Street and not go into the woods.  But Billy said he was a big boy and he could cut through the scary old woods if he wanted. 

When he slid down the hill behind the big kids’ school and walked fearlessly into the trees, I only hesitated a moment before I followed.

The man was hiding behind a big rock near the brook. He smelled gross and his clothes were all dirty. 

“Little girl,” he kept saying as he held me down in the dead leaves and did bad things to me. 

But I don’t remember dying. 

Did I blame Billy?  Was the envy that burned in my chest because he was alive and I wasn't and not because he didn't want to play with me anymore?  Was that it?

“Please go away,” Billy said again and tears streaked down his cheeks.  When he turned around and splashed through the brook and out onto Oak Street, for the first time since kindergarten I didn't follow. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Flash - Hide and Seek

Martin was drunk.  He stumbled on the door mat outside my apartment and turned to me with a laughing smile.  I grinned back and before I knew it we were in a hot and steamy embrace.  His breath tasted like whiskey and his tongue was hot against mine.  He shoved me against the door and slid one hand beneath my mini skirt. When he encountered my bare thighs and slid his hand up, I hissed in anticipation.  It had been so long since I’d had sex, this was fantastic.

“Let’s go inside,” he said, never taking his mouth away from mine.  I fumbled for the doorknob which was digging into my back.  

We all but fell into the foyer and once inside he scooped me up in his arms and I kicked the door shut with one high heeled gladiator sandal.  Should I kick them off?  No. I’d wear them to bed.  Sexy.

“Well, this is interesting.”  The familiar voice insinuated itself beneath my skin and I went cold. Brendan. Shit. He’d found me again. No matter how times I escaped him, he always tracked me down. Jealous husbands are like homing pigeons, damn it.

“What the fuck?” Martin staggered with me in his arms and would have dropped me if I hadn't grabbed the back of the sofa.  He dumped me unceremoniously and brought his fists up, his face flushed with whiskey and wrath. “Who the hell is that, Deirdre?”

“Deidre, I might ask you the same question,” drawled the man slouched in my favorite armchair by the window. He had a glass of red wine at his elbow.  Bastard. My forty dollar Merlot. It figured. 

“Martin, you’d better go,” I said.

Martin’s mouth dropped open.  He looked foolish and not very hot anymore.  Anger swirled around him in a palpable mist.

“Are you shitting me?” He took a step toward me and Brendan came to immediate alert. To most people he would have looked relaxed and amused, but I knew him intimately. If the situation warranted, he’d be across the room in a flash and Martin would be toast. Just what I didn't need.  My carpet was off white.  Blood would never, ever come out.

“I’ll explain later. Just go, okay?” Martin didn't seem to hear me; his attention was focused on Brendan. Oh, yeah, there’d be a fight.  Damn it.

“Who. The hell. Are you?” Martin stabbed a finger in Brendan’s direction and Brendan grinned. An ice cold shiver ran down my spine. When Brendan grinned like that, it was best to run.  I calculated the distance between the sofa and my bedroom and didn't like the odds.  I might be able to duck behind the granite counter in the kitchen, but I doubted it. 

“The nightmare you wish you could wake up from,” said Brendan. He relied heavily on clich├ęs and movie lines when he went homicidal and before I could open my mouth to call him off, he’d already come over the back of the sofa.

Martin went down without a sound. He didn't have a chance. Blood spattered over me and my sofa and for a moment all I could hear was the gurgling of Martin’s severed windpipe as he aspirated the last of the breath in his lungs.  He was dead before Brendan began to feed thankfully.  The tearing and chewing made my blood heat and I tried really hard but I couldn't resist the pull.

My hands turned to claws, leathery wings sprouted painfully from my back and my favorite little black dress ripped to shreds.  This was one expensive evening in more ways than one.

Horns burst from my forehead and my mouth wrenched into a beak.

By the time my transformation was complete, that fucker, Brendan, had nearly consumed all of Martin’s intestines. 

With an outraged squawk, I caught the end of one slippery, pink entrail in my beak and pulled.  Brendan had a mouthful of wicked razor sharp teeth and he clamped down and wouldn't let go.

Hoarse growls burst from his throat. I flapped my wings at him and gave one last pull before he abruptly let go.  If not for my wings, I would have somersaulted backwards.  Instead, I snapped up the intestine and gulped it down. Delicious.  Better than sex, but not what I’d intended for Martin.  Poor bastard.  Oh, well.  That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.