As promised, it's Teaser Tuesday, an event I'll be holding every week for the forseeable future, as I prepare for multiple upcoming releases. This week it's an excerpt from my short story "The Last Carnivale," featured in the just-released Primetime Anthology. On release day, Primetime shot up the charts to 4th place on the Amazon SciFi Anthology bestseller's list! And don't forget, purchasing this anthology supports no-kill animal shelters nation wide.
In addition to the teaser excerpt, I'm running a contest. The winner will receive a digital copy of the anthology, a hand-beaded book thong, and the playlist that helped inspire me while writing The Last Carnivale. Two runner ups will receive a digital copy, as well, so be sure to enter via Rafflecopter at the end of the post.
Next week begins a series of Angel's Edge Teaser Tuesdays, with more chances to win prizes, so make sure to stay tuned, and sign up for my newsletter with more special offers! And now, the excerpt:
The Last Carnivale
The Last Carnivale
Jessa wondered what hold Sycline Corp. had over this man that he would risk his life like this. She knew Theodric would want him for questioning, and Harker would want to slit his throat. But as she choked down ash and blinked coal from her eyes, she watched him haul himself up for the final run for his prize:
The Beggar Princess. Sovereign of cinders and starvation.
As she knew it would, the roof unpeeled underneath him. Everything slowed down. Even Harker’s shouts behind her took on an unreal quality as the whole roof began to give. Her Captain of the Guard had risked the collapsing beam to get her. She felt his firm terrified hands on her now: one around her waist, another hooked under her arm, dragging her. Jessa screamed to see the beam collapse and with it, much of the roof. Harker found a spot, a safe spot, somehow. Beneath them, she could see almost the whole of the great audience hall open to the dull burnt night. A twisted soldier of metal and flesh lay far below them. From their height, he seemed dusted with toy bricks and shiny glass that might have been pretty, as if he’d fallen asleep in a pile of dangerous toys.
“He’s not asleep,” Jessa whispered. The wind took her words before the depth of the hatred in them could shock her.
“Dammit, Jessa.” Harker pulled her from their safe island of intact roof to the edge of the next building. He never took his hand from her arm. He used his free one to shove her flat once they reached a high enough pile of rubble. “Stay down. It’s not safe. They sent a whole squadron.” Fear and fury radiated off him in equal amounts.
The surface was cold beneath her. In her sleeveless shirt, she shook silently. Without a word, and with the ease of long practice, he shrugged out of his heavy combat jacket and threw it at her. Just as easily she caught it and slipped it over her like a blanket. It smelled of ash and sweat and fear. “Harker,” Jessa whispered, after a long moment of trying, and failing, to stop shaking. She tried out several things in her mind: I’m sorry. Thank you. What happened? But what came out was, “How did you know about the roof?”
His shoulders slumped, as if the sound of her voice made the whole thing real at last. “Do you know how many people could have died tonight, Jessa?” His voice was tight. “Do you know how many of us there are left? Shall I tell you?”
“Too many,” she said softly. “And not enough.” She tried to hold back the sob, really tried because Harker was a soldier and stoic and brave and furious at her, but she couldn’t. She hid in his jacket.
He swore, long and colorfully, before turning to ferret her out of the pile of fabric. “Are you all right? I mean, mostly?” At her nod, he sighed heavily and scrubbed at his ash-streaked face. “Well, fuck all. That won’t last when Theodric gets his hands on you. On both of us.”
She inhaled his jacket again and gave him a slow smile. “You’re smoking again.”
He was silent, his angry glare back her only answer.
She smiled triumphantly. “Give me one, then.” Wordlessly, he shook his head. Sighing, she slipped her hand into the inside pocket, determined to ferret out the tobacco he’d sworn off so many times. “Should we be doing this? Waiting, like this? They’re still out there, the Syncline soldiers.”
Harker gave her that half-smile that made her heart stop. “Well. They obviously have orders to take you alive, so why do you care?” She stuck out her tongue just as Theodric’s gravely voice crackled over Harker’s link, announcing the all clear. She didn’t move, though, and neither did Harker. Instead, Harker’s posture became marginally less stiff, and Jessa slumped with relief against the pile of rubble beside her.