Gifts of the Blood is the first book in the Angel's Edge series. In case you've been sleep-reading my blog and missed it somehow, I'm chocolate unicorn excited about its November 11th release. Which is less than a month from now.
Did I really just type that? Yep, I did. I am not sleep-blogging, apparently. November 11th is real and imminent. Like my books. But not chocolate unicorns. Those aren't real. Merely tasty.
So, for your reading enjoyment, I have a teaser from the first book. Plus a blurb. Oh, and a contest. Don't miss the contest!
A dying brother. A young man with soaring planes of light on his back. A blind chess wizard. An insane, once-angelic kidnapper in flamboyant red leather. A town with more secrets than stoplights. Waking up with eyes the color of moonlight.
Before her world tilts towards impossible, Caspia Chastain thinks the only strange thing about her is that she sometimes draws the future. Only her brother Logan, fighting his cancer diagnosis, knows what she can do. When she draws a man surrounded by brilliant light, dark wings, and frightening symbols, she can only hope the vision won’t come true.
As a stranger named Ethan appears, determined to protect Caspia and her brother from dangers he won’t explain, she’s not sure what to think. Strangers almost never come to Whitfield. They certainly don’t follow her around, frightening her one moment and treating her like glass the next. And they certainly don’t look exactly like the subject of her most violent drawing.
What Renaissance idiot first painted angels as chubby, diaper-wearing infants with bundles of feathers on their backs? What idiot ever painted wings as feathers at all? As if angels were human-bird hybrids? As Ethan slammed into one of them with his shoulder, sending him sprawling on his back, a detached part of my mind studied these creatures and their wings as hard as I could. It seemed to me that what the human mind interpreted as wings was more like a glimpse into some place I could only think of as Other. They weren’t wings at all, but more like openings into the places they came from. These beings carried one world on their back while they walked in yet another. Was I the only person who saw them this way? Did other people truly see feathers and babies in diapers? What made me different?
Ethan’s jeans seeped blood in long gashes down one thigh. The angel in the brown leather jacket had just shredded his sweater from shoulder to forearm. I could see deep bloody gouges down his arm. “Ethan!” As I broke and ran for him, I realized his name had come from my own throat.
“Run, Caspia,” I heard him call. There was fighting again, too fast for me to follow. “You have to…”
“Oh no you don’t,” whispered a voice as calm and cruel as dull knives. An arm clad in blood-red leather held me around the waist, squeezing me against him. The angel hauled me backwards, deeper into the trees, loosening his hold enough to let a thin trickle of air down my lungs. Cold, cold terror swamped me as I realized I was going to die. I was going die before Logan. Who would look after him, then? I was supposed be the strong one, there for him no matter what. I would not let these Dark creatures take that from him. I would not. For no good reason at all, my fingers tightened on my messenger bag, full of the night’s deposit.
“You must be very embarrassed,” I heard myself say. I surprised even myself by speaking. It hurt to talk. My lower ribs ached as if smashed, and I was glad I’d been too busy at work to eat dinner. I would have thrown it up by now. Birds moved restlessly in the trees around us. I could not see the sky through the branches. I didn’t know where we were in the park, or even if we were still in the park at all. Given how fast Ethan could move, we could have been on the outskirts of town for all I knew.
“Pardon me?” Just like Ethan, the beautiful black-haired angel moved without me seeing. One second he had a death grip around my waist, dragging me backwards, and the next he stood facing me. He held my forearm between us, gripped painfully between his fingers. I narrowed my eyes when I noticed his fingernails, long like talons and dripping blood.
I took a deep, steadying breath. “I only meant that I would die of shame if I had thousands of years of pictures of me in a diaper with feather dusters on my back.”
For a moment his grip on my arm got tighter, his nails digging so deep I was sure I had puncture wounds down to the bone. I whimpered and his diamond-bright eyes locked on mine. Then he did a terrible, unexpected thing: he threw back his head and laughed. His laugh deepened and echoed, disturbing the birds in the trees around us. Worst of all, the wing shaped void at his back rippled and bulged, exactly as if it was laughing, too.
I kept my face perfectly still as he pulled me very close. He was cold where Ethan had been warm. He gripped me tightly around the waist. “I think I like you, Caspia Chastain,” he hissed right into my face. “I think I’ll let you live a little bit longer. Just long enough to paint me as I really am.” He smirked, and I hated his dark and terrible beauty.
I hated the artist part of me that wanted to capture it even more.