As promised, below you’ll find a second excerpt from Chapter 1 of Shadowbound. Just a little over a week to go!
Once you’ve read this lil’ tidbit, the first scene of the chapter in which Miranda is having Vampiric Dietary Angst, comment on this post to be entered in our second giveaway – in your comment, give me the title/artist of a song that makes you think of the Shadow World books. Any genre, any age; it can remind you of a specific character or scene, or the series in general; maybe it’s the lyrics, or the piano, or the overall feel; it can be off one of my playlists or from anywhere.
I had intended to do a third giveaway later this week, but realized that by the time the contest ended, I got the winner’s address, and got the book in the mail, it would be much less likely to reach him or her before release day on the 25th. Instead, I’ve decided this time to have TWO winners – two commenters chosen at random will each receive a signed copy of Shadowbound.
The giveaway ends at 7pm, Austin time, on Tuesday, March 18.
Scroll down for the excerpt!
Just another night at the office.
The venue’s stage door swung open and several black-clad security staff emerged, trying to clear a path from the door to the car waiting nearby. Dozens of cameras clicked, lights flashing. A cacophony of voices erupted that drowned out even the sounds of nearby traffic. A moment later, a curly red head bobbed through the crowd, politely refusing interviews.
“Miss Grey! How are you feeling since you recovered from the shooting?”
“Miss Grey, have you started work on your second album yet?”
“Miss Grey, is it true that the man who shot you was killed while in police custody?”
She kept walking, letting Minh and Stuart keep the way open, until she’d passed through the reporters and hit the small knot of fans that had managed to get to the door before her guards blocked anyone else from entering the alley.
Most of them were bright-eyed young women who reminded her so much of herself…when she was mortal…before she’d gone insane.
These were the people who had given her a career. She made a habit of pausing with them for just a moment to sign a few CDs and give a hug captured on a phone camera–the image would be blurry, but with the chaos they would blame the phone itself. It wasn’t much of a stretch; Miranda almost never got a decent shot with her own phone, and hers was ten-years-beyond-state-of-the-art by virtue of her being married to the Fanged Wondergeek.
Finally with a parting smile she took pity on her bodyguards and headed for the car. Harlan held the limo door open for her and she slid in, dragging her guitar along with her onto the seat.
As pretentious as she’d thought it was the first week, she had to admit the limo was a comfortable way to travel; the Lincoln had thrown a rod or something and had to go to an actual mechanic for a change.
The car pulled away from the curb, and she reached into her coat pocket for her phone. The usual patrol status reports were coming in: situation normal.
“Straight to the rendezvous, my Lady, or did you need to stop along the way?”
She had already fed tonight, but as the high from the show began to abate, already her body was whispering pleas for more blood, and she was starting to get that itching, gritty feeling in her veins. Just thinking of fresh blood caused her stomach to lurch painfully.
Miranda sighed. “Stop before we leave downtown, please.”
She’d expended a lot of energy performing tonight. That must be why she was hungry again so soon; she was just getting used to being back onstage. Modulating her energy was different now–on the one hand she was stronger, but on the other, working her empathy through her new power was taking some adjustment. All of that extra power could burn out quickly, leaving her exhausted, if she got it into her head that she was invincible.
But even as she told herself she was just tired and overworked, she wanted to curl up and weep…because she knew it was a lie.
A few minutes later Harlan pulled over. “I believe this area should provide a nice selection,” he said.
“Thank you. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”
It was a warm, humid night at the end of July, a little cooler than average for this time of year but still growing steadily more oppressive. She and David had both switched to lightweight coats made for rain rather than cold–there were few other ways to walk around town concealing a sword, but their usual leather was a bit much for a Texas summer.
Tonight, though, standing on the sidewalk surveying the scene, she felt a chill move through her.
It had only been ten days since the attack on Hart’s Haven, less than a month since she had become…what she was now. Since that first night, since she had woken as this new creature and discovered she had killed someone, she had known that all of this new power had come with a price. She could run faster, fight harder, sense things beyond the perception of even the strongest vampire. A stake to her heart would no longer kill her. She could track a lawbreaker across the entire city without breaking a sweat, and she knew there were other changes she hadn’t discovered yet.
But true invulnerability was impossible. If they were now this strong, this hard to kill, there had to be an equal and opposite consequence.
She left the car and made her way down the street toward a crowded corner where a steady stream of humans crossed from one side to the other. Drawing near, she moved back behind a building and peered around the corner at them, feeling…what, exactly?
Distant. Alien. Hungry.
The distance between her and the mortal world had grown so much in such a short time. She still had friends among them, but night after night she watched humans walking by, completely unaware of the creature whose eyes were sweeping over them, and she felt every inch of that distance, felt a final separation from their ordinary lives…lives that were so fragile, so easily ended.
A pert young Indian-American woman in a business suit caught her eye, and she bent her will against the girl’s, pulling her from the river of mortals and into the darkness, away from her kind, away from everything alive and familiar.
Miranda took the girl’s arm and steered her back against the wall, careful not to hurt her or get her tripped up on the human’s insanely impractical heels. The girl’s face was a vacant neutral, her consciousness wrapped in shadow so it would never occur to her to struggle.
But if she did struggle…if she tried to run…
Miranda’s teeth dug into her lip. She imagined the girl bolting, shedding those stupid shoes and running as hard and fast as she could…running for her life…she imagined giving her a head start, holding on to the wisp of her scent, and then running after her…chasing her.
All of this worrying about injury and tending to their prey’s memories was nothing but a conceit to civility–what her body craved as much as blood was to hunt, to bring the girl down and tear open her throat under the open sky and feel her heart shudder to a stop as her blood soaked into the…ground…
Miranda cried out and stumbled away from the girl, nearly losing her hold over the human’s mind. She wanted to tell the girl to run away as fast as she could, but was that to save her, or to revel in the bright salt-sweet adrenaline that would infuse the girl’s blood?
Before she could panic at her own thoughts, she pinned the girl back and roughly turned her head to the side to take what she had come for.
She understood, though she tried not to think about, why her teeth had changed. The second pair enabled her to get a harder grip on a human’s throat, and caused more damage, four punctures instead of only two. More blood would flow faster…she could finish in half the time. Lions and wolves had more than two pointed teeth. Their teeth were designed to tear flesh; a human’s were comparatively flat and dull. This new design made her a more efficient predator.
It had been tricky but she’d figured out how to change the angle of her head so that she wouldn’t dig in with the second set. The girl gasped and struggled feebly, but Miranda tightened her hold over the girl’s mind and froze her in place. Don’t fight. Please don’t fight. You’ll only make it harder to stop.
The girl tasted so young and innocent…and as she wandered back into the teeming masses of humanity, her hand reaching up to touch her neck, then running absently through her disheveled hair, the Queen watched her from her hiding place, letting the blood run through her and satisfy her…for now…and wondering, with an aching heart, how much longer she would be able to let them walk away.