I promised you the first extended excerpt from Breaker once we reached 1000 adds on GoodReads…and you guys did it!!
I got so excited I even decided to hold a special Halloween giveaway 🙂
Before I share all of that, a quick reminder:
Now, here’s that excerpt you’ve been waiting for – enjoy! 🙂
We turned down a dirt trail that wound into Acadia National Forest. Maple and spruce trees cocooned us, their straight trunks casting shadowy masts in the moonlight. The car’s lights flashed across several abandoned cottages. Darkened windows stared at us like empty eyes.
Frances took another left and the pull of the ocean strengthened as she cut toward the coast. Soon, the dirt trail smoothed into paved asphalt and the tree density lessened until the forest abruptly ended.
According to Jeeves’ debriefing, Merbais had been here for hundreds of years, long before the French arrived and named the island île des Monts Déserts because of the craggy cliffs towering over the sea. While it wasn’t the wealthiest or most populated community, it possessed a striking landscape of mountains, rivers, lakes, and bluffs against the powerful Atlantic ocean. Winters were harsh, but the community lived in perfect balance between nature and sea.
No boundaries or gates separated it from the surrounding beauty. Even the paved road sloped and lilted, meandering as if following an invisible course laid out by the island.
Merbais almost seemed to have sprung, perfectly formed, out of the ground.
Frances slowed the car. Shards of glass littered porches and front steps. Smashed doors hung off frames. Broken windows and damaged wood marred once pristine cottages.
To our right was a small, boxy building with a crimson handprint smeared across the bright white siding. The sign above the door read “Merbais Sundries” in neat letters.
A small exhale from behind me. “Oh.”
Ahead, a cluster of cars and buildings indicated the town’s main junction. Frances pulled over and parked a few blocks away.
“The losses…” Her fingers tightened around the wheel. She cleared her throat. “The losses are high.We had to covert our Academy’s cafeteria into a makeshift morgue.”
Hesitant, she glanced at me then at the rearview mirror. “You need to know.”
The warning wasn’t for me.
Patrice sat still and tall, pale hands folded on her lap. Her perfectly pressed teal designer suit appeared starkly out of place against the ripped fabric of the truck’s back seat.
The usual haughtiness hardened her face into ice. But what reflected in her eyes was a fear I’d once seen in a glittering white palace cradled on a bed of rugged cliffs.
Just as I was about to suggest she remain behind, she spoke. “I understand.”
She opened her door and I slowly exited the car after her. Maybe Julian’s mother had a stronger spine than I thought.
Patrice straightened her suit, expression smoothing into the kind of professional blankness you saw in career politicians.
Wariness quickly replaced my surprise.
Maybe she had something else planned.
Frances led the way. Patrice’s heels clicked against the sidewalk, the precise rap echoing down the empty street. The area had already been cleared, but stains of violence remained. An overturned garbage can. A bloodied hammer. A child’s shoe.
Stifling, overpowering currents of emotions surged against my Virtue as we neared the town square. I slammed my filters down, steeling myself for what lay ahead.
Worst of all was the silence. A thick blanket of grief suffocated the night, punctuated only by the occasional cries of utter despair.
This wasn’t an attack.
This was an annihilation.
Bodies lined the side of the road, covered in sheets and tablecloths. A few residents, their faces gaunt with shock, aimlessly staggered between corpses. Others collapsed beside cloth-covered shapes, haunted eyes blankly staring at the lumps and contours of the dead hidden beneath.
An ondine lay sprawled on the ground outside a café, her neck twisted at an awkward angle. She couldn’t have been older than twelve or thirteen. Her hair, a beautiful shade of flaxen gold, spilled across the sidewalk beside her, the tips tinged crimson from the blood pooling beneath a nearby body.
Nausea rose, flooding my mouth with an acidic taste.
She looked like Helene.
Someone hurriedly covered her with a cheerful, floral-patterned curtain.
Chevaliers and gardinels moved among the carnage, movements efficient and expressions numb. Blaise’s white-blond hair gleamed under the streetlamp beside a sign for the Merbais library. He and Ethan dragged a body toward a waiting truck.
A chevalier ran to Frances and whispered. She frowned.
“Is everything all right, Marquisa?” Patrice asked.
“An infrastructure problem I need to deal with.” Uncertainty flashed across her face. “Maybe you’d like to —“
“I’ll join you.” Patrice tilted her chin. “I’m sure my experience on the Council can prove useful in some way.”
Frances looked at me and I shook my head. “I’d like to take a look around.”
Patrice shot me a pitying glance. My political diplomacy skills clearly left room for improvement.
Frances didn’t take offense. “Come by my office when you’re done.”
After they left, I slowly picked a path through the debris. Here, in this vicious destruction of beauty, the Shadow had left something for me.
It was a certainty resonating deep in my bones, an instinct as strong as the stench of coppery blood, salty sea, and loamy mud assaulting my nose.
I stepped around chunks of wood, the edges jagged as if they’d been clawed off. On my left, long scratches marked the front door of a two-story home. A demillir’s head lolled on the porch near the front steps. The rest of him slumped by the door a few feet away, fingernails bloodied from his attempts to get in.
A slight movement came from the window. Ivory lace curtains shifted and a pale, wide-eyed child stared at me. What was etched into his face was a scar that would eventually fade over time. But it would never completely disappear.
He released the curtain and sank back into the darkness.
I pulled aside a nearby chevalier and gestured. “Kid’s in there.”
And because his job demanded it, the chevalier entered the bowels of the house and pulled back from the abyss yet another child who’d experienced something that never should’ve happened.
Stopping a recurrence meant ending this war.
But how do you find reason behind senselessness? How do you uncover logic behind depravity?
Where are you?
I scoured the eight blocks of the town center, desperate frustration mounting with each passing minute.
Nothing spoke to me.
No iris, no cryptic message, nothing I could use to understand what had happened here.
There was only death, raw and potent, an unadorned, merciless display of what he was capable of.
A SPOOKTACULAR GIVEAWAY
Halloween is just around the corner. In celebration of the season and as a thank you to my readers for getting us so quickly to our goal, I’m holding another giveaway!
One winner will receive the following prize pack:
- Signed paperback copies of Whirl, Billow, Crest, and Ondine Quartet Companion Works
- Signed swag
Contest is open US only and will end November 1, 2014. Winner will be announced here on this post and will be notified by e-mail. Winner will have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Author is not responsible for lost or damaged prizes.