Thursday, August 27, 2015

Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams Deleted Scene #3

This is the third piece of the sequence that began with Jade's ill-fated hike in the Connecticut woods. This scene also contains one of my favorite pieces of dialog that didn't make it into the final version (when Jade makes a wild and somewhat humorous attempt to educate Nias on the meaning of 'free will'). As I posted earlier, there was just no way to get back to this tavern, why it is here, and why no one seemed fazed by the scene that Jade and Nias create.  So it will, at least for now, remain a mystery.

* * *

The way he sauntered around and spoke with such arrogance, and the fact that he knew and liked how hot he was, had the unfortunate result of making him quite unattractive to her.  Add to that the fact that she still didn’t know his name, and this situation was even more unnerving.  She was once again nervously twirling the ends of her hair, and she watched the sway in his overly masculine gait as he walked back through the darkened room to join her.  The dirty black boots he wore seemed to somehow simultaneously clomp yet glide across the floor in slow motion.  He held a large wooden tray on which sat a steaming blue ceramic bowl, a chilled glass, and a delectable biscuit.  His intense gaze was focused on her and his destination.  When he arrived he offered her the bowl of soup, the biscuit, and a glass of ice cold water.
She realized just how hungry and thirsty she was and devoured the meal.  He just sat in calm repose, lounging like a cat waiting innocently to pounce, quietly with his hands folded on the table, and watched her eat.  His body was quite still but his eyes roamed over her, her face and her eyes, her lips, and then her hair.
“Stare much?  I know my curls must be unruly by now.  It takes a lot for me to get my hair to cooperate, okay?” She made a ‘leave me the hell alone’ scrunched face, “and if I spend too much time outside it gets all big again.”  She knew she was sitting there with a mass of giant red curls overwhelming her head and running rampant around her shoulders.  She put her spoon down, perturbed.  His silent stillness was making her nervous, making her ramble and wrap curl after unruly curl through her fingers.  “I feel like I’m little red riding hood looking into the big bad wolf’s glaring eyes.”  Glaring and dreamy, gold eyes, if it had had big dreamy gold eyes.  Fine I guess he isn’t that unattractive after all.  Which is probably another reason why I can’t stop rambling. 
“I’m no wolf, Jade, I have come to obtain your help.  My name is Nias.” he said flatly with no trace of emotion in his tone or face.  But despite his calm demeanor, his proximity allowed her to feel emotional confusion rolling off of him, and a surprising slight hint of anxiety.  Until then, she thought she was the only one.  Order up, two servings of confusion for table three, please.
“Okay, let’s assume, just for the fun of it, that I am actually the girl you meant to find… in the forest… lost…where no one could possibly expect to find me,” she said with sarcasm dripping from her every word.  “How can I help you?” She purposely made her voice sound like she was taking his order in a fast food restaurant.  This was such a surreal moment that Jade’s sarcastic defense mechanism was kicking into high gear.  Then she cocked her head to the side, raised her brows and gave him a little smirk.  “Go ahead, this ought to be fun.”
“The situation I find myself in, who I am, and the circumstances I have to explain are quite serious.”  Although they were both seated at one of the large wooden tables, he managed to look down on her; trying to intimidate her, she suspected.
His rough hands started alternating between fists and extended flexed fingers, as though he were irritated that he had to explain himself at all; the first physical sign of the anxiety she had been feeling radiating off of him.  The brow between his sparkling eyes furrowed.
“Because of your lack of knowledge of my kind, you’ll most likely think I’m insane.  However, I insist you hear me out.  You will listen, and make your decisions after that.  Do you understand me, Jade Shear?”  
Dear God, he makes it sound like the entire world depends on me.  “What I understand, so far, is that you may be some kind of stalker, you are as conceited a man as I have ever met, and on top of it all you are way too bossy.”
Then it hit her.  The strangest thing about this conversation was that she could tell he wasn’t lying.  She could always tell.  She got a feeling when someone lied to her.  Almost like sharpness at the back of her neck and behind her eyes, like a fierce headache was coming on. And she wasn’t getting it from him.  So there were only two possible conclusions; one, he believed what he was saying so strongly that it didn’t come out at her as a lie, which meant that her half-sarcastic comment was correct and he really was quite insane.  Or two, he was being truthful.  Surprisingly to her it wasn’t the possibility of the former, complete insanity, that worried her the most; she had met her share of strange or even crazy people in her day and she could deal with that; it was the possibility of the latter, that his story could reflect the truth, that caused the bubble of nervousness and trepidation to rise up from her gut like a bit of bad fish.
“Cease talking, infuriating woman and listen.  I come from an … unusual … family, we know who you are and we are well informed as to what you can do.”
Jade pulled and twisted her hair back with a flip of her hand and studied his face.
“Unusual huh?  How could you possibly know anything about me, about what you think I’m capable of?  Maybe you’re just misinformed.  Have you considered that?”  His hands again became the tightly balled fists.  He exhaled, brow furrowed; seemingly a bit exasperated, but continued to answer her questions with a strange, but strained patience. 
“The Gifts you possess came because one of the Goddesses granted them to you.  She suspected that someday those Gifts would be of use to us.  That day has come.”
Oh my God he really is crazy.  “Why?” She blurted. “Even if I were to believe your cockamamie story, why me?”
“Goddesses cannot go where we must go, and so, for some reason you were blessed with the Gifts of empathy and projection.  I cannot tell you why you in particular were chosen.  It makes no good sense to me.”  His face touched on pained when he said this.  “You must come with me; that I know for sure.  You need to do exactly as I tell you.”
How can he know about this?  She paused, considering his statements.  “You said I should listen, and I have, and I believe the answer is no.” She supposed he decided to ignore her, because he went on.
“You’ll have to train first; unfortunately it will be me who does your training.  And we need to begin immediately, oh yes,” the man actually said in dead pan, “it will be extremely dangerous.  Now, what is your decision?”
“You actually seem serious; you believe what you’re saying, don’t you?”  He was sitting there waiting for an answer.  “Wow, neuroses really can be an all-consuming thing.” She would know.  What the hell, she decided to reply as if she were taking him seriously.
“NO, I’m sticking with, NO.”
After all that delusional crazy talk, she hoped he hadn’t poisoned her food.  She stared down into the empty bowl inspecting it for signs of nefarious activity.   Like I would know, I haven’t gotten my CBS crime investigation degree yet.
Jade stood up pushing the chair back with the back of her legs, turned and calmly walked to the bar, and asked politely if she could use the phone to call a cab.  She refused to even look back at what unfortunately had turned out to be a complete nutjob. 
The next thing Jade knew, someone’s giant hands gripped her around the waist, and with absolutely no effort at all, heaved her straight up into the air and threw her over his shoulder.  Now, ass pointed to the ceiling, face looking down at his backside and the floor, she was being carried away!  Omigod, omigod, he’s going to kill me now!  Why isn’t anyone stopping him?!
“PUT ME DOWN!  You freaking Neanderthal, I don’t care what kind of insanity you suffer from!  You can’t just abduct people!  I said PUT ME DOWN!”  Apparently her screaming had no effect on the man, or anyone else in the establishment, because he simply walked, at his leisure.
“I have tried being reasonable, I gave you an honest chance at free will, and you failed to use it.”
“Hello large deranged man, allow me to edify you on the finer points of free will, because there is no part of that definition which states, ‘when a person decides against doing what you want them to, you then have the right to throw them over your giant, stupid controlling body and walk away with them!’ ”
As her red curls now flopped below her head bouncing off the man’s waistline, Jade fisted her hand, and even though she knew it wouldn’t stop him or deter him from his purpose, she slugged him several times and bashed her legs wildly as hard as she could.

Calmly and smoothly, he walked to the door with her over his shoulder and put his hand to the knob, turning it and swinging the door open.  Even as the noise level of the crowd died down and they watched him walk out with her, they did nothing to even try to stop him, and he stepped out into the chilled night air. 

Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams Excerpt #3

After Jade is rescued, Nias takes her somewhere safe to heal her ... and things get a little heated ...

* * *

She couldn’t help it as his touch sent a tremor through her and she began shaking. She was completely aroused, covered in this man’s blood; he had his hand practically at her throat and she wanted more. More of all of him, cocky bastard that he was. He had taken her full circle, from being attacked and nearly killed to a state of euphoria. And now she was face to face with a man, a seriously erotic one, who looked even better than the ones she loved to dream up and thought were perfection, and she looked like she’d just been murdered. It was a lot to take in all in the same day, much less in an hour.
“Thank you?” She asked it as a question in a breathy voice. Her wounds did feel better and she glanced down, seeing some of them miraculously starting to close. She had definitely lost control of herself and the situation.
“You’re welcome,” he said looking dreamily and directly into her eyes.
“Criminy, that was the sexiest ‘you’re welcome’ I’ve ever heard.” The words fell from her mouth before she could stop them. His voice was soft and deep. But the tone … the tone managed to stroke her entire body all over again. The electricity was palpable between them.
Then she thought back to his previous behavior; what an arrogant ass he’d been and how she had detested him. She thought about getting up and walking out, since she wasn’t having the sharp pain anymore. But her body seriously objected; it had gone to the dark side and it was staying.
She drank him in; this was much closer than she had been to him before. He had a chiseled strong, square jaw and full, kissable lips, but they were completely outdone by the intensity of his exotic golden eyes. She took in the entire length of him again; he had an energy emanating from his body and demanding attention. He somehow managed to be sleek, long, intensely muscular and amazingly masculine all at the same time; like a panther, a big sexy cat, staring with his intense yellowish gaze.
“Are you warm enough?” he inquired in a deep, sexy drawl; he had a hint of an accent she hadn’t noticed before. She couldn’t place it, but the sound of it slithered out, wrapped around her, and slowly whispered “sex”.
Her mind betrayed her next as she thought about her books and her dreams. What usually happens at this point? Should I begin running my fingers through his hair, do I stroke him? Should I … and then he leaned in and kissed her.
His hand was back to her belly, and he turned in and lightly brushed his lips against hers. She had wanted this so badly in her dreams and now she felt horribly nervous. With all of her wishing and dreaming and hoping, and even with the aroused state she was in, the fact that she had no practical experience at being intimate, and barely any at kissing, was all she could think of right then, and her body tensed. She began to tremble and wonder what came next, as the fear, excitement, anxiousness, and desire all came to her at once.

Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams Deleted Scene #2

I am told we are being somewhat ... courageous, I suppose ... in allowing you, the readers, to see the scenes that, to use film-making parlance, landed on the cutting-room floor. But we figured, why not? Writing and publishing a novel is a process - so we let you in on a little bit of that process ;-)

This is a continuation of the sequence that started when Jade was lost while hiking and was 'rescued' by the mysterious Nias, who is supposedly leading her to safety. He brings her to a strange tavern seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

I can speak for myself here in that I liked the whole hiking/tavern sequence. There was only one problem - we never could get back to it, and it brought up questions that couldn't be answered in the context of the rest of the story. So, even though it was a fun scene to write and edit, it just didn't fit into the final version of the novel.

* * *

Jade kept following him, but she was beginning to feel like this trek was taking much too long.  “I really need to find my way back to my car, and you are starting to freak me out with the whole creepy I came for you thing.”  Just get me the hell out of here.
He led her to a small well lit building.  As they got closer it looked like a restaurant or a bar.
“If this were a movie,” she laughed despite the situation, “locals would be calling that place a tavern in some strange accent.  Unfortunately the movie might just be ‘The American Werewolf in London’, where soon after the lost travelers find said tavern they are attacked by a man-eating monster.” This time her laughter was a little nervous and she decided not to follow that train of thought through.
“Come on, you’re going to be fine,” He said as he looked back quickly, cracking a small smile and chuckling softly to himself.  It was actually quite endearing, the way she rambled when she was nervous.
“You thought that was funny?” Jade was surprised to hear a bit of an amused tone in his voice.
“Yes, I suppose I did.”  He slowed so she could catch up with his long strides and turned his entire body this time to smile at her again.
The tavern was on a small forested dirt road which looked like it wasn’t frequently used.  There were a few older cars out front, which made her feel a little better, but not much.
“Thank God,” she mumbled.  Regardless of the look of the building she was grateful to be out of the woods.
Jade could hear her new guide give a small laugh under his breath, but it didn’t sound like he thought she was funny this time; it sounded just a touch menacing like he knew something she didn’t.  She thought, well actually hoped, that it was her head running away with itself again.
She began moving swiftly toward the door really hoping there was a phone inside. He opened the heavy beat-up door and let her walk in before him.  The inside was low lit.  It had an old medieval, shadowy feel to it.  The tables were made of thick distressed wood planks.  The chairs surrounding them were heavy wood and brown leather with metal rivets, very King Arthur’s court.  Giant mugs of beer were being served by a waitress who could have been anywhere between thirty and fifty; her demeanor was insouciant at best.  Jade inhaled the distinctive aroma of some kind of hearty man food and it seemed to be coming out of the back.
“It smells like heaven in here.  I’m starving.”  She looked to the back of the dining room and saw where the food was coming from.  “It’s been forever since I ate.”  Tall and beautiful was looking to her with some kind of questioning glare.
Jade figured it would be okay if she sat with her rescuer for a few minutes and ate.  Then she would call herself a cab.  Although, she wondered why he brought her here and not to her car, since he seemed so sure of his surroundings and where he was going.
Once she got past the smell of the food, she realized the energy in this place was off; that is the only way she could explain it, off.  It felt similar to the bookstore the day she had first seen the man; the people seemed suddenly nervous, uneasy.
“Um, hey,” she said to him as he pulled out one of the large wooden chairs for her.  “My name is Jade by the way, Jade Shear, thank you for helping me out of there, I was so lost.”  He glanced down at her and smirked, but didn’t offer his name in return; he just turned toward the kitchens, leaving her at the table.  She was again struck by how he looked; at this point staring at his firm backside.  “Fine don’t tell me your name then,” she called after him, wishing she hadn’t been as open with her own identity.
There was something feline about him, a smooth indifference. And yet he was completely masculine, definitely arrogant.  She couldn’t really explain it if she’d tried, how they meshed within him, but the end result was dark and strangely delicious.
She knew she shouldn’t, but she wanted to get a feeling from him now that being lost in the woods wasn’t her major concern.  She realized she was face to face with one of her dream guys; the man could have just walked out of her mind and into the woods to find her, the hero already.  She really wanted to know if she was dealing with a disturbed psychopath or the sweet, gentle, knight in shining armor who had just rescued her.  She wanted to get inside his head, find out what was going on in there.  She found that she was staring at him, again.  She argued with herself over whether she should deprive him of his autonomy and steal a taste of his feelings.  She realized he noticed she was checking him out, considering him.  He looked like he was enjoying it.  He turned full toward her, his giant beautiful body in what she thought must be his signature languid slant, just leaning against one of the tables.  He cocked a dark brow and gave her the most arrogant smile she’d ever seen and actually said “Go ahead, look all you like, I’m quite used to it.”
The rebellious independent woman in her reacted immediately, without thought or preamble.  “Agh, did that just come out of your mouth?  Does that kind of cocky attitude make women want to jump your bones?  It makes me want to tell you what an arrogant ass you are, possibly pick up something large and hard and whack you with it, several times.”  Scowling at him, she wondered why the universe would give all that hotness to such an ass.  He straightened up and walked toward the bar and she couldn’t help but think, umm, but I bet he is large, hard, and that is a perfect ass.  My God Jade, pull it together. She heard her new guide give a small laugh under his breath.

A wave of his emotion struck her - conflicted?  Was that what it was, or did he just throw her off kilter, she couldn’t tell.  But she didn’t trust him any further than she could hurl him.

Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams Excerpt #2

After Nias lets Jade leave his apartment, she is immediately captured by Nias's enemies and realizes she is in even bigger trouble ...

* * *

Next thing she knew, someone slapped her across the face so hard it split her lip and flung the other side of her face into the beam. She would have registered immense pain, except what was in front of her stole every bit of her attention. She sensed the emotions coming off of the person joining her in the cavernous space. If pure evil were a feeling, this would be it; hatred, jealousy, rage, loathing, greed, mistrust hit her all at once, and then she tried to shut them out. She pushed against it with her mind, despite the throbbing in her head. She had minimal success, making it slightly less overwhelming. She could make out a shadow of someone hunchbacked. From what little she could make out, it looked like he, or she, had been born with some hideous deformities. It seemed lopsided. One arm appeared to be longer than the other. Its breath smelled like putrid sewage … no that wasn’t it; it smelled of death. She could also hear the voices of several others behind her, but they weren’t speaking a language she understood.
Then a high, whiny voice spoke in English. “How is it you know Nias, what business does he have with you, human?”
Fuck, fuck, fuck, did it just say human like it wasn’t one? She only wanted to go back home. She wanted to wake up from this whole nightmare. She began crying again, and she couldn’t breathe right. The chains were too tight and she couldn’t calm herself.
She was screaming again!
“Stop!” It slapped her, hard. “What is your business with Nias? Answer me or I will not continue to be so kind,” it whined in a macabre, singsong manner.
Although fearful, she felt compelled to lie. “I don’t know who that is! I have no idea who…what do you want from me?” she managed to choke out through the blood running from her mouth.
It tore through her shirt with a razor-sharp claw, drawing down her chest, diagonally over her breast, across the chains, ripping across her stomach. She cried out and then bit her bleeding lip. The nails made a scratching noise as they pulled over the last of her bindings. Sharp pains were now emanating from her torso in concert with the continued pulsing in the back of her skull.
“Do not lie to me, I saw you transcend in with him! You were in his home; I saw you converse. What did you discuss?”
Her vision was hazy and she wasn’t sure what she should say. She didn’t want to make it angrier, but she had the feeling giving it too much information was definitely a bad idea. Actually, she couldn’t think of a good idea at all.
“Speak!” It ran one of its razors slowly down her arm.
It was horrifying, but the feeling of being trapped and powerless over the situation was starting to make her angry, despite her terror. She clenched her teeth and began to struggle again, but this time with fury. She shoved aside the pain and pushed back at it with her mind, grabbing the emotions within its head and twisting them. She attached herself to the darkness within it and it consumed her; she knew it would, but she also knew it would only last until she gained control.
When attempting to alter someone’s emotional state, she used the opposite emotion to push it out. Her success varied. It depended a lot on how in touch with the opposing emotion she could get, and how strong the target was. Although the utter darkness and pure hatred was heavy and difficult to move, she found its self-doubt and the creature allowed her manipulate it; at least, she hoped, enough to get it to stop injuring her. She tried her best to channel pleasure until she could feel its hate dissipate, if only slightly. Unfortunately, she was finding it a little difficult to find any pleasant images to pull from. She only wished hate could move hate. She was feeling plenty of that and channeling it could have knocked the fucking thing on its putrid ass.
Jade thought she would try to trick it into letting her go. She tried to speak evenly. “I was taken by the man you’re referring to, but I’m not sure how.” The best lies were always the ones that contain at least minimal truth. “I have no idea what he wanted from me. What is it you want from me?” Her anger and pain were starting to make her breathless.
“I need to know what the Djinn are planning. They are a bad lot. They hurt people, did you know this?” It continued in its high-pitched, unholy melody. She could sense immediately it was lying to her but decided to play along.
“I didn’t, but I knew when he abducted me that he had bad intentions. I was afraid for my life.” Yeah, does this stupid thing not get that I am afraid for my life now?
“Yesss,” it hissed, “you were right to fear for your safety, you are much safer now.”
Really? Did it really just rip its claws through my body and tell me I was safe? She had to get out of here. The pain in her head was abating, but it was starting to swim now, probably from blood loss.

Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams Deleted Scene #1

One of the hardest things we found about writing a novel and the subsequent editing process is that sometimes you have to make the tough decision to remove a scene or sequence that you really enjoy. There was an entire sequence early in the book that starts when the main female character, Jade, decides to leave the city to go hiking in order to relax. There she gets lost and encounters the male lead, Nias, for the second time. This scene and the subsequent scenes in the early stages of the novel fell victim to the need to move the story along - but some of the conversations found their way into other parts of the book because we really enjoy the banter between these two characters.  We hope you do too!

* * *

After trying to find her way out of the fog-bound surroundings for around forty-five minutes, her frustration stopped her.  This day, simply meant for her to unwind or sort things out, had now lasted much longer than she originally intended. The light was almost gone and the woods which had been so warm and inviting were taking on a wholly different appearance in the quickly dimming light. Her attempts to locate some landmark were proving futile. The light breeze which had gone from warm and playful to unseasonably chilly teased her hair now and seemed to claw at her clothes with icy fingers. ‎
A howl, sounding less like a wolf and more like tearing metal echoed across the forest and went right through her soul.
“I’m so friggin lost,” she mumbled and kicked at the leaf-covered ground beneath her.
There was a rustling in the bushes to her right, and she turned quickly backing up a few steps trying to see through the soupy air.  Jade could see nothing beyond a few feet.  She felt her heart hammering in her chest as she scanned the ground for something, anything, she might use to drive off whatever it was that was coming at her.  It’s probably even hungrier than I am right now!  Her mind went wild with all of the possibilities.  Bear?  Wolf?  Bigfoot?  Damn, I’ve been watching the Discovery Channel too much.
Suddenly, but almost as if in slow motion, out of the mist a man came through the thick white air.  He was moving straight toward her.  He seemed quite tall; 6’4” maybe even 6’5”.
Immediately she noticed that he looked quite similar to the men she dreamed about in her fantasies.  Oh my god, he looked even more similar to the hot slice of man from her bookstore.  But it couldn’t be!  She was immediately suspicious of herself, of her crazy mind.  Her head made her feel more off kilter than most anything life could throw her way.
He had black hair with hints of brown throughout.  It shone and fell quite a bit below his shoulders; his extremely well-built shoulders.  His eyes looked dark as well until he got closer and she noticed they were actually an intense deep gold laced by black lashes.  Large muscled arms exploded out of the sleeves of his well-fitting t-shirt.
It was so like her to be focused on how great he looked instead of the precarious situation she was currently in.  Her heart was beating hard, though not with fear, with excitement; all thoughts of the sounds of the forest were lost to her now.
Then she snapped back to the reality of her plight - eyes, hair, height, hello crazy lady, she realized she was currently alone in a dark creepy forest with a large stranger.
These eyes, the ones she had been examining for color, were a little sinister and were focused right at her.  He had his eyes locked into hers, and she was finding it hard to look away.  She felt stuck in place, like somebody planted her feet in a bed of cement.
“Have you lost your way?” he asked as his perfect although still dark glare reached her.  It was definitely him, the man from her book store.  Even if she tried to deny it, there was no way around how her body reacted to him; she shivered, and … oh that is definitely him.
“Huh?” was the first thing that tumbled out of her gaping mouth.  Nice, he must think I am such a spaz.
Her body was tense, but alert at the same time, although he didn’t really frighten her.  His presence seemed calming; she felt safer.  She knew she shouldn’t feel this way; she wasn’t getting an accurate sense of him at all.  She should have been freaked, but she wasn’t, and that in and of itself was out of the ordinary.
Not sure how long she had been staring at him, finally she replied, “I’m … I’ll be fine … I’m just going back to my car.”  She gulped visibly, unable to move her feet.
“Don’t worry, I have come for you.”   He squinted slightly and moved closer to her. 
What the hell is he talking about?  Maybe he’s just as crazy as me or maybe he’s some kind of psychotic stalker! 
 “You couldn’t be, I’m not waiting for anyone.  You must have me confused with someone else.  No one even knows I’m here.”  Jade kicked up dirt from the ground this time.  Oh my god, why did I say that?  Now he can do anything he wants and he knows I won’t be missed.  Stupid!  Stupid! 
She could have sworn he smirked at her.  He slowly looked her up and down, from her boots, to her jeans, even slower over her tank top, and the straps of her backpack, and then up to her face locking on her eyes for just a moment too long.  Then his gaze slithered back down her hair, stopped completely this time, at her alert breasts, and then continued all the way down to her boots.  She should have been terrified at the way he was looking at her, instead she was just irritated.
“Hey that really wasn’t my outfit you were appraising was it?”  She cocked a scolding brow at him, and put her hand to her hip.
At this point she saw his expression change.  Now it was saying something like, you look as tasty as I thought you would, and he gave her a devilish half-upturned smile, which was clearly saying I believe I might like to fuck you right here.
Her mouth fell open, and she could see his apparently oversexed and overconfident smirk, thinking to itself, I know what to do with that as well.
“Excuse me!!”  She gasped, a little too loudly.
“Yes?”  He questioned with all the innocence of a school boy.
Yeah, a naughty one!  Her heart began pounding and she felt a hot wetness rise up from between her legs. He really is exquisite.  My body is such a traitor.  She slowly snapped out of her haze, after a few more seconds of staring.  She suddenly remembered that she was lost, and taking a deep breath, decided she was going to have to trust him, but only a little.
“Can you tell me how to get out of here?”  She said trying to change the unspoken conversation.  He shifted his gait and his t-shirt moved over his firm and muscled chest revealing a V formation to his upper body which made his finely muscled physique even more amazing. She swallowed, gulped really; his physical beauty made her nervous.  He grinned again knowing she had given him a prurient approval.
“I would love to.  Please, follow me.”  He turned, and began a strong feral saunter through the forest, just like a large dangerous cat, looking like he knew she was enamored with him.

Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams Excerpt #1

This scene is from the introductory first chapter where we meet Jade in her bookstore and she sees Nias for the first time ...

* * *

A gust of hot air blew up from the floor behind her. It seemed to come from nowhere. Jade inhaled as the fragrance of dark sandalwood and a dirty masculinity wafted into her nostrils. Her eyes closed and as she breathed in, her mind was abruptly flooded with the image of all the sex she wasn’t having.
Matt’s lowered voice invaded the darkness of her shut eyelids. “Oh, my Lord, no, I am not looking at you, not anymore, now I’m watching that!” She opened her eyes and saw the look in Matt’s eyes glaze over slightly as he motioned to something, or someone, behind her that had now consumed his attentions.
“Do not turn around quickly, but girl, turn the hell around. Slowly, I said, do not startle it and make it run away,” Matt hissed as he placed a hand on her shoulder.
“What are you talking about now? Is there some kind of animal in my shop?” Jade turned and not twenty feet away, he stood.
Legs crossed, a gorgeous man leaned against a bookshelf, his cocked head resting against it in a lazy pose. A long stream of dark, almost black, hair fell below his extremely well-built shoulders, contrasting with the lighter red of the cherry wood. This man was making no attempt to hide the fact he was staring right at her, assessing her. She felt some disdain for his audacity, but honestly his stare caused her to catch her breath, and then consciously begin breathing again. Rather than turn away, she stole another peek. Jade’s eyes met his and they seemed to grab and pull her in. His eyes contained darkness, but she saw that they were actually an intense gold laced by black lashes. As she trailed down his body, large muscled arms exploded out of the sleeves of his black t-shirt.
His emotion came upon her unbidden and she felt a sudden wave of lust crash over her. She unintentionally released a breathy sigh and clenched her teeth as the pure animal nature of him surrounded her in an all-encompassing cloud of arousal. Between this force and her body stood only a flimsy white tank and it apparently was going to provide her no protection. Her breasts and nipples tightened and became overly sensitive to even the slightest movements she made. The lower regions of her body went moist and warm and she crossed her legs; the clenching, however, made the feeling even stronger.
“Holy cow,” fell softly out of her mouth.
And Matt concurred, “Yes, ho-oly cow, girl.” Her mouth had apparently remained open because, keeping his gaze stuck on the tall hunk of man before them, Matt put his hand under her chin and popped it closed.
Trying to shake off the lusty arousal, she turned and tried to take on the look of the professional establishment owner she was, and took a tentative step in his direction.
Of course, that didn’t work out; instead she tripped on the edge of the Turkish rug beneath her, twisting her foot and breaking the heel off her favorite Jimmy Choo knee-high boots.
“Damn it,” she said under her breath, “I saved for months to buy those.” As she bent down to pick up the broken heel, she tried to take a step backward and stabilize her still sexually stunned body against the wooden counter.

Naturally, being that she was Jade, her hand landed at the base of a stack of returned books, sending them and herself tumbling to the floor. She was now red-cheeked, with hair strewn across her face and in her mouth, on her hands and knees. She lifted her head to wait for the typical Matt-like wisecrack, which surprisingly never came.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chance and Opportunity: How Collaboration Happens

Leading up to the August 20 release of Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams, Dawn and I reminisce about how our collaboration got started ...

Aaron

For me, Dark Dreams started a little over four years ago.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long! But the story started a while before that.

Dawn and I first “met” as part of an online roleplay writing group.  Such are the wonders of the virtual world.  Although we rarely had occasion to write together directly, I was always impressed with the humor and sensuality Dawn wrote into her character.

Early in 2011, Dawn approached me with a manuscript she had been working on, the first in a series she had called “Children of Sheol”.  She needed an editor, and thought to come to me for assistance.  Now, I’d never edited anything, although I did have a deal to get a short story published with another writing partner.  So after literally warning her of my lack of experience, I got to work.

I immediately enjoyed the read!  It was obvious this was a labor of love for her, and I committed myself to doing the best job I possibly could to help her make her dream of becoming published a reality.

We talked, exchanged edits and ideas, and then amazingly, I was asked to come onboard the project as a co-author.   The first submittal we made was into the Harlequin “So You Think You Can Write” competition, where we submitted the first chapter and it was voted on by readers. Although we didn’t quite make it into the final round (we were close), Harlequin still wanted to see the full manuscript.  They eventually passed on it, but the experience was invaluable.

Then we discovered that HarperCollins was starting a new imprint called HarperImpulse, a digital-first imprint that was looking for new submissions and seemed like a good fit for Dark Dreams. We bit the bullet and went for it, and our lovely editor Charlotte Ledger decided to give us a chance!  She suggested a change to the series name which we took to heart, and Children of Sheol became Progeny of Sin.

Make no mistake about it, Progeny of Sin is Dawn’s story.  I will be forever honored that she came to me to help her bring it to life.  It’s not like she had a shortage of great writers to choose from.  I consider myself very lucky to be a part of it.  It has been an amazing ride that hopefully has only just begun!

Dawn and Aaron finally meet in San Diego, months after
completing the Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams manuscript

Dawn

I began the process of writing Dark Dreams as a solo writer.  I was going through a time in my life when I was seeking an escape.  After reading 38 novels in eight months, I closed the last book and decided it was time for me to set out on my own adventure.

Two of the heavy influences for Dark Dreams were Dante Alighieri’s Inferno and Paradise Lost by John Milton.  As a lover of everything dark, creepy, sexy and intriguing my mind began to do two things.  Fall in love with the power and intelligence of Milton’s Satan and all his demonic underlings; and wonder what it would be like to follow a “good” version of this character through Alighieri’s layers of Hell.

Let me stop here and explain that my comprehension and patience for endless poetry written in a way I can barely understand only went so far.  I suppose in some ways this is a good thing, my remedial grasp of the literature allowed me the creative freedom to take the basic concepts and twist them into that sweet spot where love and romance intertwine with the darkness in my head.

So, how does any of this relate to being a partner in a writing duo?  Well, I wrote my vision, I created what I think is the perfect man, tall, dark, demonic, slightly controlling and sexy as Hell but deep down you know that this being would rescue a kitten from a house fire.  When I finished my journey was 86,000 words…and a total catastrophe.

This is when I found Aaron.  Aaron’s role-play character was the boyfriend of my sister; hilarious I know, role-play can be so much fun.  I started reading everything Aaron wrote.  I was pulled into his character because of the detail with which he thought out his scenes and the organizational skills he had as a writer and a group leader.  I tried for a year to edit Dark Dreams.  It was not in me.  This piece needed another person, someone who had skills I did not possess.  It needed Aaron.

I asked Aaron to take a look at Dark Dreams as an editor at first, and quickly realized that he could add to it and give it a shape it just didn’t have.  I asked him to join me as a partner and he went through it once, twice, three times, I lost count.  He is now a piece of this work.  We go back and forth with ideas and usually agree about the direction the story should take.  

HarperImpulse not only will soon release Dark Dreams but has also purchased its sequel tentatively titled, Dark Fate.  Aaron and I are excitedly working on this piece now.  It will include the same delicious daemons you will fall in love and lust with, during the first novel, and a whole new dark escape to fall into.  Until then…


Progeny of Sin: Dark Dreams will be released on August 20 and is now available for pre-order!


The Devil wants his due … The Daemon wants his out … and Jade just wants it all to be over. You don't always get what you want.

Jade Shear is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary ability that’s literally about to send her to Hell. When Daemons discover Jade’s power to read and manipulate others true feelings, they force her to assist with the rescue of their sibling; thrusting her from her everyday normality deep into the Underworld with the tall, dark and deliciously demonic Nias Hu’dor assigned as her guide.

All Nias wants is to live out his life without being involved with anyone else. No more emotion, no more connections, especially to pain in the ass humans. But when he sees Jade twisting a long curl of her wild red hair, and showing off the most amazing backside he’s ever been privy to; Nias just knew he was staring at a world of trouble. How could his family have enlisted him to obtain this girls help to traverse Sheol?

This dark paranormal romance takes you from Jade’s everyday existence into the world of the Djinn Sentry; an army of demonic solders determined to protect the human race; and then plummets you straight down into the seething malevolent Underworld where a multi-levelled caste system of Shaitan and the Devil himself welcome you.