So, I just finished my first paranormal novel, Dark Embers (the number one reason I was a bad blogger for two weeks there). It's the beginning of the Dragon's Heat series-- a series about dragon shapeshifters who live in the caves under New Mexico's deserts.-- that I will be writing under the name Tessa Adams. Because it's a series, I started with the king book-- or in my case Prince. This was particularly difficult for me as I'm never a fan of this book in other series-- whether its Wrath from J.R. Ward or Mikhael from Christine Feehan or someone in between, that whole princely thing just isn't my cup of tea as a reader.
So, as I wrote Dylan (my dragon prince) I played around with what it means to be Prince. I asked myself questions like what if he was the second son and never meant to rule? What if his guilt over his older brother's death is still eating away at him? What if he really has no desire to be Prince but has to because his clan is in a particularly precarious position? As I answered these questions in the manuscript, Dylan emerged-- and I liked him. To be honest, I loved him. He's dark and dangerous, tortured and filled with a determination to save his people.
The book comes out in July 2010, and I hope you like him-- and the woman I paired him up with-- as much as I do. In the meantime, here's an excerpt to get you going ;)
Dark Embers Excerpt by Tessa Adams
He’d failed. Again.
Locked inside his head, tormented by shades of might-have-been, Dylan MacLeod stepped into the night and closed the heavy, wooden door behind him.
He paused for a moment, sucked in a deep breath full of heat and sand and misery. Told himself it was no big deal. Part of him even believed it.
After four hundred and seventy years, he was damn good at lying to himself.
Shoving away from the small house with the cactus garden and stone swimming pool in the front yard, he walked the deserted street rapidly. It was three a.m. and his only company was a scorpion or two. The desert was quiet, the night solemn.
And he had failed again.
With each step he took, his conscience grew heavier.
With each footfall, his heart grew colder-- until he was once again at that place without hope. It was where he usually existed, where he’d spent the last century, mired in guilt and rage and a fear he refused to admit.
That he was here now was his own fault for trying to break out of it, for believing even for a moment that she might have been the one.
Agitation had him walking faster until his boots were pounding the pavement in rhythm with his too-quick pulse. Self-disgust had him blanking his mind until all he could think of was the night.
The moon shining brilliantly over the desert.
At least until his jeans sagged around his ass.
With a muttered curse, Dylan yanked the faded denim back into place. Slid the button through the tab, jerked up the zipper.
What did it say about him that this latest encounter had left him so desperate to get away that he hadn’t stayed long enough to even get his clothes on properly? Worse, he hadn’t bothered to say good-bye to Eve—Eva? Eden?
For a brief moment he struggled to remember her name, what she looked like. Then let it go, as it mattered less than nothing. It wasn’t like he’d be seeing her again. Within moments of slipping inside of her, he’d figured out that she wasn’t the one—none of the signs were there.
No instant connection between them, as his clan mates spoke about.
No burning as the tattoo around his arm shifted to reflect the presence of his mate.
No searing pain as a part of her soul arrowed into his.
Nothing but a mediocre orgasm that had barely given his powers a pulse. Before she’d rolled off of him, he’d been plotting his escape and by the time the shower had kicked on in the bathroom he’d been halfway to the front door.
God, he was a fucked-up bastard. Cold as ice, despite the fire that raged within him. Hot as flame, despite the glacier that had taken up residence in his stomach. Was it any wonder, then, that he couldn’t find her?
He didn’t deserve her.
His laugh, when it came, was anything but humorous. That had to be the understatement of the year. The decade. The new millennium and probably the old one as well. Why else would it have taken him this long to do what everyone else managed in the first two centuries of their existence? Why else would he be doomed to failure night after night, encounter after encounter? He had screwed up generations ago and now he—and his clan—were paying the cosmic price. Big time.
His boots ate up the streets in the sleepy, little town, as he struggled to put distance between himself and his latest sexual escapade. Wind whipped around him, played with the tails of his shirt, caressed his bare chest. But Dylan didn’t bother buttoning up-- what was the point when he was headed right back to the bar to find yet another female shifter interested in taking it off?
Hope sprung eternal.
As he walked, he scanned the desert around him. Checked out every brush of the wind against cactus, narrowed his eyes at the rustle behind a random pile of heavy rocks. Then shook his head as a low, deep howl split the air next to him. A lonely coyote was the least of his problems.
If someone had told him four hundred years ago that he would be here, in this place, he would have laughed at them. If they’d told him he would grow tired of night after night of hot, anonymous sex, he would have told them they were insane. But youth was like that—arrogant, seemingly invincible, convinced the world was theirs for the taking. Or at least, that’s how his youth had been.
He’d spent centuries gorging on women, taking them each and every way he could. Glutting himself on their scent and taste and feel until his powers were at staggering heights. Devouring whatever they gave him with a grin and a wink and a softly whispered thank you.
He had plenty of time, he’d told his father when the man had told him to settle down. He was trying to find the right woman, he’d promised his mother when she’d fretted about the future. And then, from one heartbeat to the next, everything had changed.
His brother had been murdered. His parents had died soon after. He’d been crowned prince. And just that suddenly his people, his legacy, were without an heir. Bad enough that the second son was now the Prince. That he couldn’t find a mate, couldn’t deliver on his family’s legacy, was a nightmare.
There were others—his sister, his niece—who could take his place if he fell. But it wouldn’t be the same. The line of succession—which had remained unbroken for over three thousand years—would fall with him.
One more fuck up from a man who had never wanted to be Prince in the first place.
Dylan shoved the thought away—what he wanted didn’t play into things anymore. What was best for his people was the only important thing. And what was best for them now, was that he provide them an heir.
He should already have done so, should already have guaranteed his people’s survival through this millennia and into the next. God knew, he had tried—for nearly four hundred years, he had tried. And he had failed.
No mate meant no heir.
No mate meant night after night of anonymous sex as he searched for her.
No mate meant a dwindling in his powers that was not just concerning, but downright dangerous.—for himself and his people.
His was a precarious state of events for any centuries-old dragon, but for him it was an out and out disaster--particularly considering the state his clan was in.
Not that an heir would solve all the problems, but it would solve the most pressing—including the fact that it had been far too many years since a dragon young had been born to Dragonstar.
Far too long since they’d had something to celebrate.
His cell phone vibrated in his pocket and for one brief second, Dylan considered ignoring it. The day had been dismal enough— any more bad news and he might just take flight and never return. The idea was far more inviting than it should be, far more compelling than it had ever been before.
In the end, he grabbed his phone and flipped it open. Barked hello in a voice he knew was far from welcoming. He was Prince of the Dragonstar clan and as such could never be unavailable to his people. That didn’t mean he had to like it—especially tonight.
“Dylan, come quick.”
A shot of uneasiness worked its way down his spine at the panic in his best friend—and second-in-command’s—voice. As a rule, nothing fazed Gabe.
“It’s Marta. She’s—“ Gabe’s voice broke. “She’s sick.”
His stomach plummeted to his boots. “Are you sure?”
His brother-in-law’s voice was hoarse. “I’m sure. I tried to deny the symptoms, to ignore them, but that’s not possible any more. I don’t think—“ His voice broke. “I don’t think she’s going to make it through this.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Dylan was already running, his boots echoing in the deserted street as he stripped his shirt from his body. He didn’t bother with the pants or boots—they would take too long. Just blurred his image as he started to shift.
Pain—red-hot and intense as bones broke, reshaped, grew longer.
Pleasure— acute and all-consuming as he became what he was meant to be.
He ignored both sensations, concentrated instead on making it through the change. One more second. Two. And then he was in the air, his wings spread wide as he soared through the star-bright sky.
Not Marta, not Marta, not Marta. The simple phrase was a mantra in his head as he sped towards his lieutenant’s house, making sure to stay invisible despite the panic racing through him. So many of his friends—so many of his clan—had been taken from him in the last years. He couldn’t stand to lose his sister, Gabe‘s wife, too.
Please, God, not his baby sister too.
But when he landed in Gabe’s yard, he knew his prayers had, once again, gone unanswered. He could smell the blood from outside the house, could hear his sister’s non-sensical mutterings through the walls of dense stone.
Marta was bleeding out.
Probably already paralyzed.
If her illness followed the same pattern all the others had, she would be dead before the next moonrise. And there was nothing he could do about it.
Inside him the power sputtered to life, surged through him. The need to heal, to fix, to do what he was destined to do. But he’d tried it so many times before—on so many of his clan-members—and each time, he had failed. This disease was an enemy he didn’t know how to fight.
Rage and anguish welled within him, crushing his lungs and twisting his spine into hard knots. Throwing back his head, Dylan roared with all his pent-up fury—then went inside to watch his baby sister die.