Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You=2 0don’t have to be published to participate–just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site! or click on the banner above.
I participated last month with my contemporary fantasy romance, RULING EDEN. Since that time it has been released from Crescent Moon Press and is available both in e-format and in print format from Amazon. This December, I thought I’d give you another taste of the novel. First off, here’s the blurb:
What if a modern woman suddenly learns she is heir to the throne of a magical realm hidden in our world and is the most powerful magical being on the planet? Growing up an orphan, Rachel always assumed she’d be going it alone, until the night before her twenty-fifth birthday when she was thrust into the realm of Eden’s Court.
Her new job description? Unite seven contentious magical races in order to prevent the destruction of earth. But learning to rule is easier than facing her attraction to Gabriel, half-angel, half-demon. Born of a forbidden love between mortal enemies, Gabriel is convinced he is a political liability to Rachel. Once Rachel stops denying their chemistry, she must convince him to pursue their love. Although Gabriel is willing to help her solve a murder, avert a war, and learn to use her overwhelming magic, accepting their destiny together is another matter.
And here’s my excerpt:
This is a scene from RULING EDEN between my heroine and hero, Rachel and Gabriel. They’ve connected, but Gabriel is resisting the relationship. Rachel is recovering from a bad run-in she had with a vampire and Gabriel, as her guard, is checking on her.
I came awake suddenly, bolting upright in my bed. The tiny hairs across my body stood on end, telling me someone was in the room. A flash of fear that Tomas had come for revenge swept through me. Irrational, because I thought I’d immobilized the vampire for days.
“It’s Gabriel.” His chocolate voice spoke from the darkness and he stepped out of the shadows. It was still difficult to discern his features, but my shoulders dropped in relief. Light from the full moon filtered into the chamber from a window. The wind shook the limbs of an old tree outside the glass, blocking the light for long moments at a time, chasing shadows in and out of hiding.
“Damn it, Gabriel. My heart stopped for a moment.” Still groggy and not sure of the hour, it felt like I’d gotten a good stretch of sleep. “What time is it anyway?”
“After two in the morning. You have been asleep since four this afternoon. I needed to check on you.” The slight hitch in his voice made my toes curl with warmth and brought a smile to my lips. His worry was endearing, as much for the vulnerability it exposed as a confirmation of how much he cared.
“You are run down.” I heard the frown in his voice.
“Lack of sleep will do that to a person. But I only need eight hours, so I’m already caught up.”
“You need to care for yourself better,” he scolded.
I didn’t want to fight with him, although he might be trying to pick one with this attitude. “Well, I couldn’t get to sleep last night.”
He was quiet for several more heartbeats. “I am sorry.” His apology filled the hush of the early morning.
I sighed. “What exactly are you apologizing for?”
He looked to be considering my question and a shadow pass away from his face as the tree shifted once more, highlighting the fullness of his lips, the sleek smoothness of his jaw line. He was beautiful.
He bowed his head and then raised it again, his gaze piercing my soul. “For letting things go too far, too fast. For causing you to believe, at the end, that I did not… care about you.” I was sure he was about to use a different word. “For hurting you,” he finished.
“You do not have to apologize for going fast. You didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do. I don’t usually jump into sex so quickly. At least, not anymore.”
After sharing a piece of my soul, this man knew me almost as well as I knew myself. I shifted on the bed to get comfortable and grasped a pillow to my body as I leaned back against the headboard. “The other part, well…it did hurt. Being rejected is not my best thing.”
“I did not reject you. I do want you. Only…”
“So, not me, but the relationship. It’s all the same. It still hurts.”
“You do not make this easy.”
I watched the shadows surrounding him shift, as if he were uncomfortable and searching to put his body at ease.
“I am not good at closeness or emotional intimacy,” he continued. The confession sounded awkward, stiff. “I have had sex with countless females, but never intimacy until you. Do you understand?”
It sounded like he hoped to hell I did so he wouldn’t have to explain any more. I squashed the urge to reach over and turn on the lights, force him into full view to face me. But as much as I’d resolved to pursue him, a part of me felt comfortable hiding in the dark.
“Yes,” I said. “That comment about countless females didn’t help, but I do understand. It was different for me, too. I wanted to tell you, to talk about it, but all of a sudden, you put up a wall.”
He frowned, looking down as if considering the thought. “I have gone over it in my head. I admit my intention to leave may come as much from my fear of this bond between us as from my wish to protect you.”
“I was afraid, too,” I admitted.
“Of what?” He seemed surprised.
“Afraid to expose my heart only to find it trampled. That’s why I didn’t tell you. Ironically, I found out that it didn’t feel any better because I avoided the words.”
“What words?” His tone screamed caution and he looked afraid to ask that question, afraid to hear my answer.
My lips couldn’t help but curl up, and I tried to send him my heart with my gaze. “I think I’m falling in love with you.”
There, I’d said it. I hid the tremor in my hands underneath the bed sheets. How strange to be having this conversation across the room from each other, too distant to touch. Silence grew again. I reminded myself I didn’t care what he said in response. I wanted him regardless of how he felt toward me right now. I was sure his feelings would grow. My visions of our children told me so.
“Rachel,” he began. “I must be honest. Even if I could put away my fears of our intimacy and its consequences, I still need to leave. You need all of your political capital to do your job well.”
I scrubbed at my eyes, determined to ignore his rejection and keep my goal before me. “Do you always have to be so forthright? Can’t we pretend for just a bit that nothing else exists but us?”
“I cannot tolerate pretense. If I had succumbed to comfortable self-delusion during my life it would have been easy to fall into the worst behavior, lose my integrity which was the only thing keeping me sane most of the time.”
My stomach fluttered as he claimed his intolerance for lies. But the secrets I kept were necessary. They weren’t lies, exactly.
“As hard as it may be for you to hear, and me to say, I will tell you I need to leave. I am a liability.”
The pain in his voice was excruciating to hear, but a part of me felt like shaking the man to make him see how little his political concerns meant. He wasn’t half-angel, half-demon to me. He was wholly Gabriel. There had to be something else he feared causing him to run. “That’s funny.” I loosed a bitter laugh. “After council today, I was thinking I was my biggest liability.”
“That is not true. The bastard was attacking you.” He certainly sounded sure about that.
“His attack wasn’t physical.”
“Nevertheless, it was an attack. You demonstrated to the council that they cannot abuse you to meet their own agenda. You are stronger than any Mother Heir in their memories.”
“If I’m so strong, then it doesn’t matter if you stay with me.”
He snorted with exasperation. “You must be blind.”
“Gabriel, you’re staying. I’m keeping you. I want you to be my consort.”
“By Lillith’s honor, you are the most infuriating woman. It is not possible!”
“I say it is. Tell me what you like, but you’re staying. I’ll repeat it until you understand.”
“I cannot. There are reasons…” He shook his head, not finishing the thought.
He’d either share his reasons or not with time. Right now, I knew what I wanted and I refused to get irritated over his obstinacy. “Come on.” I held out my hand. “Join me over here. I’m feeling lonely.”
“You cannot seduce me into remaining in the guard.” He crossed his arms over his chest.
“I’m sure you’re right. Join me anyway.” It takes two to fight and I wasn’t about to cooperate. I’d already won. It was just going to take him longer to realize it.