Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Win A Copy of Hidden Embers!!!
Oh, and just a heads up, but on Tuesday, April 5th (release day) Bitten By Books is throwing me a release party!!!! I'll be giving away a bunch of books and a grand prize, so make sure to check it out!!!!
Here's the blurb:
Deep in the New Mexico desert there is a secret race on the brink of extinction—the pure-blood shapeshifters of the Dragonstar clan. And they have one last, desperate hope for survival…
Quinn Maguire is a powerful Dragonstar healer at a tragic loss, unable to cure the insidious disease killing off his people. Yet even in such dire circumstances the conservative Quinn is secretly disapproving of the alternative: Dr. Jasmine Kane, enlisted by the head of the Dragonstar clan to help abort the virus. She is a wild card. She is an outsider. She is human.
Decked out in black leather and a tough attitude, Jasmine clashes with Quinn in more ways than one. And when destiny chooses her for his Mate, he doesn't know whether to rejoice or rebel. Because while Jasmine makes him burn hotter than any woman--dragon or human-- ever has, their differences make a relationship impossible.
But when a rival infiltrates the clan and attacks Jasmine, Quinn becomes desperate. Jasmine is now the first human to be infected with the disease—and Quinn must do everything he can to find a cure, and save the woman he has grown to love.
And here's an excerpt:
Phoebe reached out a hand to touch him—to soothe him—but he shrugged her off. Arguing he could handle. Sympathy would only make him lose control faster. Already he could feel the rage and pain eating away at his control. He struggled to keep it together, just a little bit longer. It’s not you I don’t trust,” he said in a voice that was way too close to a growl. “And you can’t possibly promise that. Besides, if she’s as brilliant as you say she is, how is she available to do this for us?”
“She was injured during her last assignment. Badly enough that she was flown back to the States and has had four operations in the last nine weeks. She’s better now—or so she says, but still on medical leave.”
Quinn absorbed what Phoebe was saying—and what she wasn’t—then glanced over at Michael’s body before he could stop himself. The last of his anger drained away when he looked at his baby brother, and was replaced by the devastation that seemed to be his constant companion these days.
It was hard to believe that his baby brother was gone, that Michael was gone. He would never crack another joke, never break another heart, never charge blindly into danger simply because he liked a good fight. He was dead—just like their parents, just like their other brothers. All killed in the fight against the Wyvernmoons. Though Michael was the only one who’d been victim to the virus— all the others had died in combat, even his mother who had been trying to heal Dylan’s brother when the Wyvernmoons got her—his death was no less of an attack.
The Wyvernmoons had finally succeeded in wiping out his entire family. There was no one left. Quinn was suddenly, completely, and absolutely alone in the world.
Sadness swamped him. He tried to throw it off, tried to get back to the wrath that was the only thing that had kept him going for far too long. Anger was so much easier to deal with than the despair that threatened to swallow him whole.
“Come on, Quinn.” Dylan’s hand fell on his shoulder, almost as if the other man could see the shift in his feelings. “Come back home with me and Phoebe tonight.”
“Why?” He reached out a hand, ran it over Michael’s hair. Part of him expected his brother to wake up, to pop off with some comment that was as irreverent as it was accurate. Twenty-four hours before they’d been having dinner together, swigging down beer while Quinn teased Michael about his sudden interest in Caitlyn, one of Dylan’s female sentries.
Now he was dead—because Quinn hadn’t been smart enough or fast enough to save him.
“Because you look like hell,” Dylan said with his trademark bluntness. Phoebe gasped and tried to elbow him, but he pulled his mate into his arms before she could do any real damage—not that she was really trying to.
“What Dylan means, Quinn, is that we’re worried about you.”
“Don’t be. I’m fine.” He pulled the sheet over Michael’s head and tried not to remember all the games of peek-a-boo they’d played when his brother was a toddler. His brother had been nearly thirty years younger than Quinn and the responsibility for taking care of him had often fallen on Quinn’s shoulders.
Those shoulders slumped now, the weight of everything that had happened in the past year abruptly too much for him to handle. But he couldn’t lose it yet, he told himself. Not here, in front of Dylan and Phoebe, who were already looking at him as if he would blow a gasket at any moment—or rip a helpless bystander to pieces with his talons.
“I appreciate the offer, but I think I’m going to head home. I’m tired and I want to be alone.”
“That’s a crappy idea and you know it. Come back with us. A bunch of the others will be there, and you’ll be safe.”
“No one’s safe, Dylan. Haven’t you figured that out yet? This fucking disease is everywhere, and until we figure out how the hell to get at it, no one is ever going to be safe.”
The hand on his shoulder grew heavier, and his best friend’s face more alarmed, but Quinn just didn’t have it in him to care anymore. He shrugged Dylan off and headed for the door at close to a run. “Thanks for your help, Phoebe. Tell the nurses I’ll make arrangements for Michael’s body tomorrow.”
“I’ll do it. He’s my brother.”
And then he was out of there, his long legs eating up the winding stretch of hallway that led to the front door of the clinic. His clinic. He’d built it from the ground up fifty years before, after spending centuries working to heal the sick and injured members of his clan. Lately, it seemed that the only time he spent there was with someone in the last stages of this damn disease—most of his time was spent at the lab sorting through notes and blood samples and journal articles, searching for a way to end this thing.
Too bad he didn’t have anything to show for all that time away.
Slamming through the clinic doors as if the hounds of hell were after him, Quinn turned himself over to the night.
To the desert.
To the change that had already begun.
The streets of the sleepy little New Mexico town they inhabited were empty, but it wouldn’t have mattered if they weren’t. Nearly everyone in the town was a member of the Dragonstar clan and shifting was as natural as breathing to them.
As the cool night air brushed against his overheated skin, he stripped out of his clothes, then shoved them into the small pouch he was never without just as his talons burst through the ends of his fingers. He tied it clumsily around his neck, nicking himself with his claws as he did so.
He secured the knot moments before his human side lost the last vestiges of control.
His bones cracked, rearranged themselves and his wings ripped through the muscles of his back. His skin cooled rapidly, slicked over, as fire burned along his nerve endings. It kindled a flame deep inside of him and for long moments, the agony—and ecstasy—of the change ruled him.
When it was done—when he was dragon—he launched himself straight into the air. And then he flew.
Cloaked in the invisibility every member of his race was gifted with, Quinn spun and whirled through the air. He climbed high, then shot straight down toward the ground, pulling up only at the last possible second. Did it again and again as he flew through hundreds, thousands of miles of darkness, his speed rivaling a fighter jet’s. His only thoughts of escape and freedom and fire.
The headlong rush away-- from death, from failure, from himself—went on for hours. Through night, into day and back again. He soared over the beautifully barren deserts of New Mexico and West Texas, cruised over the cement jungles of Dallas and Houston before heading towards the verdant lushness of Louisiana’s bayous. From there, he flew high above the wide, muddy banks of the swollen Mississippi, following it for hours before circling back towards the southwestern deserts that echoed with the same loneliness he felt inside himself.
When he finally returned to his senses, Quinn forced himself to land—he needed food and sleep-- and the pain began all over again.
The shift from dragon to man happened much more quickly than the reverse, but it was just as painful. His talons retracted at the same time his wings did and then he was shrinking, his bones cracking, reforming, knitting seamlessly together. His skin was the last to change, going from green and scaly to smooth and tanned, and within a couple minutes Quinn was dressed and walking down an almost deserted street in search of distraction. He found it in the guise of a large, dilapidated bar standing in the middle of a large parking lot at the end of the street. The half-lit sign above the door proclaimed that he was entering The Lone Star, which meant he was somewhere in Texas and almost home after the flight that had taken him more than halfway across the country.
But where in Texas was anyone’s guess. Navigation had been the last thing on his mind when he was flying and now that he’d landed, the truth was he really didn’t give a damn. He liked the anonymity of not knowing where he was or when he would leave, liked that there were no rules, no responsibilities, no regrets. At least not here. Not now.
Slipping silently into the bar, Quinn did something he hadn’t done in at least three hundred years.
He very deliberately went looking for trouble.
So, that's a pretty good look at bad boy, Quinn. What do you think?