I read a review of THE GIRL the other night and the reviewer loved the book but complained about the ending and the fact that she had no idea how long she would have to wait for the next book in the trilogy. Which got me thinking and led to my decision to update THE GIRL eBook with a bonus sampling of the first three chapters of THE BOY.
Then today I was telling my friend, Corey, about the eBook update (to which she said I was being too nice and should just make people suck it up and wait) and she suggested since I’m giving the three chapters to people who buy the eBook, I should also offer it on my blog to everyone else who already bought the eBook or the paperback, but did so prior to my update.
So here you go…you can thank Corey.
The first sense awakened was smell; the first familiar scent was jasmine. It was not overpowering, as it tended to be at times, but rather just a hint in the air, enough to arouse a memory.
Shopping in the market and the vendor giving her a string of flowers for her hair. She wanted to weave them into her braid but there was no time. They were simply wrapped around her neck, a sweet-smelling chain, but not half as pretty as they would have looked in her hair.
The green grass.
Her sight returned next and she thrilled at the vision before her, the tall grass of her home, so lush and brilliant. So soft to her
which followed and soon she could feel her body returning to itself, feel the ground below her and hear the life around her.
The water of the channels, lazily rolling along, the birds calling to one another in an endless conversation of nonsense and the branches of trees, swaying in the wind, scratching against each other.
And finally taste.
She wiped her mouth and the back of her hand came away red.
She sat up and spit. Bright red against the brown of the dirt. She didn’t care. The blood was insignificant; the boy was of much more importance.
The fact that Dev could sit up at all was amazing, a testament to her minute learning curve. Only her second time toying with portal travel and she had no broken bones, not even a scratch she realized as she studied her arms and legs. She stood up slowly, her legs feeling a bit shaky, and wobbled around like a newly-birthed colt. She stretched her arms above her head and shook them out, needing to get the blood flowing through her limbs properly. All the while, she scanned the area for his dark hair, his fair skin.
He suffered a fatal wound at the hands of Max Breslin during their battle in the park but with the help of that bizarre vampire, Darvin, she had been able to temporarily close his chest and make it to the portal. Dev walked back through her steps, certain she had strapped Wyatt tightly to her before allowing the portal to suck them into the ether. She was positive he was somewhere close by, she just needed to calm herself before setting out in search of him.
Breathing deeply, Dev slowed her pulse and began methodically taking in her surroundings, from the blades of grass to the animal life. She stretched out her mind and became one with her environment, feeling every living organism in her vicinity, searching for a blank.
Wyatt was the blank. She had never been able to read him, so knew any black space would be him.
Unless he died. Then he would be missing altogether.
Dev shook her head as if to rid herself of the negative thought.
He was here. Somewhere. She knew it.
He had to be.
Walking the field in wide circles, Dev noted the fact that her family home, which once stood on the very spot where she exited the portal, was completely destroyed, obliterated, nothing left behind but ash. Max Breslin had evidently taken fireflame to the entire compound and the bodies of his victims, her mother, father, brother, and best friend prior to his departure, ensuring should she come back to the location, Dev would find only wide, open space.
But that was a concern from a different lifetime, for a different girl; Dev really just wanted to find Wyatt.
As she walked, the panic started to rise again in her chest, threatening to overtake her senses and render her useless. Dev stopped where she was, stood stock still and inhaled deeply, calming herself.
She closed her eyes and waited.
Several minutes later she could be seen slowly walking southeast of where she exited the portal, near the water’s edge, bent low and then altogether disappearing. Seconds later the still of the afternoon was pierced by her animal-like howl and her soul-crushing cries for help.
Before she saw him, Dev saw her. Wyatt’s precious blade, the weapon that so valiantly protected him for years, the same one he left with her that first night in the park. She glinted in the long grass, as if calling to Dev, calling her to Wyatt.
She walked over slowly and picked up the blade, holstering Odara at her hip then continuing her search for Wyatt, convinced he was near. Certain of it. Willing it to be true.
Then she saw him.
Looking back on that moment, Dev would never be able to remember what registered first: his arm, his boot, his hair. She had no idea. All she knew and would ever know was that Wyatt was lying near the water, bloody and still.
She was upon him in seconds, first checking the wound Darvin had closed for her, that gaping hole in Wyatt’s chest, then checking Wyatt’s breathing. She watched his chest for a second and when she saw no movement, listened for any breath sounds. Hearing nothing, Dev pounded lightly on the warrior, hoping he would respond; when he didn’t, she beat on him desperately, despite knowing he was already gone. Portal travel was a brutal experience, the main reason why Sanctum trained for years to handle the effects of time and space, but it was especially treacherous when one was already severely wounded. Dev knew this when she jumped into the sky and allowed the ether to swallow them, but she had little choice.
Dev cried for help, knowing none would come but calling out anyway. She was well hidden in the backwaters, just as her parents intended when they found the perfect location for their home, miles away and glamoured from the nearest human and warded from most Magicals.
Help was not on its way.
Gathering herself the best she could, silent tears streaming down her face, Dev continued with her plan. It was Wyatt’s only hope. She pulled his damaged body into her arms, ignoring the multiple broken bones and collection of gashes and bruises he amassed as they traveled through the portal, pushed his hair out of his eyes and kissed him softly. Wiping her face with the back of her hand, sick to death of crying, Dev hardened her resolve, held tightly to Wyatt and channeled Rinshun Palace, Qi’s ghostly Ramyan residence.
The first step in her training as a Ramyan warrior had been to “see” like the warrior, which, in large part, meant learning to realize the Palace and physically channel oneself in and out of it. What she had never learned, and figured there probably existed a sacred prohibition against, was how to bring along a guest.
But Wyatt Clayworth was not just any guest. He was a Class A Warrior for The Sanctum, descended from a long line of distinguished and celebrated warriors. He was Founding Family, his parents were members of The Circle of Ten, heads of the New York Academy and friends to all Magicals.
And he was hers.
That had to count for something. At least entrée beyond the front gate.
Dev held her breath and prayed Qi was on the premises, for he was her only hope.
The clearing in the park still hummed with magic. Her magic. And her scent. It was why he kept coming back to the same spot every night, just for a whiff. Then he could go about his business, whatever that might be.
Darvin Lucius Jefferson was one hundred and ten, going on seventeen. He was a wealthy, bored teenager who became a wealthy, somewhat bored vampire. There were a few things in this life that brought him joy, piqued his interest: from the very first day he saw her, Jools Clayworth, and as of nine days ago, that stunning thing her brother was running around with before he died.
Of course, Darvin had no idea whether or not Wyatt perished subsequent to his ministrations, nor did he care. He simply assumed the too-good looking, sanctimonious warrior was dead, for his wound was hideous and he seemed to be breathing on borrowed time. Darvin had told the pretty thing as much that night, then he’d returned to his perch atop the Dakota and watched her strap the warrior to her back and escape into nothingness.
What a feat that had been.
One moment she was there, in all her stunning beauty and tortured agony, the next she was gone.
As if she’d never been there at all.
Darvin went to the spot that night, less to follow her than simply explore. It was glamoured to avoid human detection but he found it easily, having watched the warrior and his best friend, Ryker Morrison, comb the area many a time over the past year. But try as he might, Darvin could spot nothing to hint at an escape hatch or portal. Whatever the pretty thing had used to vanish into thin air, it was long gone, hidden from prying eyes. All that lingered was her scent, that hypnotizing, intoxicating essence of her that Darvin wished he could bottle and keep hidden in his pocket. Away from Darby.
The one and only.
The dark queen of New York.
The southern belle from hell.
He cringed as he thought of her. He knew he needed to check in with Darby, especially after everything that happened in the park, all that he witnessed and yet, Darvin spent the last nine days making every excuse in the book to avoid her.
And now he had been summoned. God only knew what she wanted but one thing was certain: she would take one look at his face and read him like a book.
Darvin still remembered his first encounter with Darby like it was yesterday, despite having known her more than a full century. She came to party at his parents’ upper East Side mansion, waltzing into the foyer as if she owned the place and proceeding to terrify and electrify every single person in attendance.
He had found her performance excruciatingly painful and tedious. The brutal Southern accent, the wicked humor, the I’m-a-petite-firebrand nonsense. Darvin just wanted her to go away. Or shut up.
Darby had spotted him as soon as she walked into The Vine Mansion House, the grand home originally owned by the LaValle family, but passed to Darvin’s family, via marriage, generations ago. He was young, seventeen at most, brooding and sullen, with dark eyes, full lips and beautiful hands. His hands caught her attention, with their long, graceful fingers and perfectly buffed nails. She appreciated a man who took care of his hands. It meant he paid attention.
Throughout the night, Darvin went out of his way to avoid the tiny vampire, detesting the sound of her voice, oblivious to the effect she had on those around her. She finally cornered him after dinner, sauntering up and sitting on his lap as if it was no big deal. As if he invited her attention.
“Darvin Jefferson, I believe I detect some derision in those pretty eyes of yours.”
Darvin leaned away from her, understanding exactly what she was and that she could kill him if she so chose in a matter of seconds.
“Miss Winthrop,” Darvin began politely, “you are one hundred percent accurate in your analysis. I find almost everything about you to be abhorrent.”
The shock registered on Darby’s face made having to listen to her voice the entire evening almost worth it. Not quite, but close.
“Well shut my mouth,” Darby hissed, “you are a piece of work, Mr. Jefferson.”
“Call me Darvin,” he insisted, his voice tinged with tedium.
“I will call you whatever I so choose, little boy,” Darby replied coldly, “thank you very much.”
Darvin met her icy stare with what one could only assume was his version of a glare, full of apathy and boredom.
“Miss Winthrop, I am sorry if I have said something to distress you,” Darvin began, “but you set yourself up for it, coming over here and sitting on my lap like some two cent whore on the Bowery.”
He suspected it was that moment when she probably decided to turn him. She very easily could have slapped him for the lack of respect he displayed, made a scene, played the woman-wronged card, but he expected such behavior, invited it even with his actions and words, and she probably knew as much. He remembered her smiling sweetly at him, hypnotizing him momentarily with her vampire charm before leaning close to whisper in his ear.
“You insolent little bastard. No one, and I mean no one, speaks to me that way. Your insufferable parents might ignore your horrible manners and the lack of respect you show your elders, but I will not,” she hissed as she dug her nails into the back of his neck, drawing blood, all the while smiling as if engaged in the most pleasant of conversations, “you will change that attitude. Trust me, young man.”
She then stood up and smiled down at Darvin, wiping her bloody nails on his handkerchief which she tossed in his face as she made her departure, swearing to kill him and make it plenty painful.
Which was precisely what she did two weeks later, spying him down by the docks, too late at night to be up to anything good. She followed him for a moment, grew bored quickly and attacked, making sure he saw her face before she ripped his throat open and fed on him in a most vulgar manner, certain to cause inordinate amounts of pain.
Darvin cried out, tears streaming down his face, his heart constricting with the effort to pump blood through his body. Darby was going out of her way to make his experience horrendous, determined he remember how hideously evil she could be when pushed.
Then suddenly she stopped, shoving Darvin away from her like a piece of trash. He crumpled to the ground and lay still, nearly all of the life drained from him. The last thing he remembered was Darby searching his pockets for a handkerchief, cleaning herself up and then grabbing him by the foot to drag him east to her townhouse.
Hours later, after being buried deep in the cold earth of Darby’s cellar, Darvin rose, languidly pushing through the dirt, looking almost as bored undead as he appeared in life.
“Pardon me, Miss Winthrop,” Darvin addressed her flatly, “pray tell you have something for me to eat.”
That felt like another lifetime, Darvin thought to himself as he took the longest route possible downtown, walking leisurely, slinking around corners and through alleyways until finally, he was at the bottom of Darby’s stoop on East Fourth Street. Gazing up at the doors, Darvin dreaded his meeting with her, knowing it was unavoidable, hoping the affection she felt for him played in his favor.
“Git your scrawny butt inside, Darvin,” Darby came up behind him, silent and deadly, “now.”
He watched her march up the steps, unlock her door and disappear inside, never once turning back to see if he was following, expecting he was, fully confident he wouldn’t dare defy a summons from his dark queen.