Happy Sunday! Oy, what a week. Day job shenanigans. Uncooperative book characters. Insomnia. You name it, we’ve had it this week.
But this begins a new one, right? So let’s start with a scene snippet from Allegiance (The Penton Vampire Legacy)!
This is an early scene that takes place at an accident site, where part of the new Omega Force training facility has collapsed as the result of sabotage. One dead, one injured, and no one has a clue who did it. If you’ve read Storm Force, you already know bout Robin Ashton, the eagle shifter, and Nik Dimitrou, the Army Ranger who has psychic abilities the Penton gang doesn’t know about yet….
Nik had left them to kneel next to the pile of bricks from the collapsed wall. He clutched one in his hand, his dark eyes looking at something a million miles away, not unlike the million- yard stare soldiers developed after too much combat.
Mirren joined them, the three of them standing in a row like see-no-evil monkeys, watching Nik as he looked at . . . what?
“Don’t tell me he’s a head case,” Mirren said. “What the hell’s wrong with him?”
“Hush.” Robin’s voice was soft and her expression worried. “Give him a couple of minutes. The faster he does this the less painful it is for him.”
Whatever “it” was. But Cage had seen that kind of unfocused stare before, on the face of their little child vampire Hannah, when she was having one of her visions. If he had to guess, their new friend Nik might not be as much of a plain-vanilla human as he’d originally thought.
God knows Robin Ashton wasn’t plain-vanilla anything—though her protectiveness of her “convenient” bedmate Nik was another sign of the sweetness he’d glimpsed earlier. They might not be a couple, but she cared about him. It showed in the softened lines of her face, the worry that darkened her eyes.
A few more seconds passed before Nik began picking up bricks one at a time, holding each one for a few seconds and then tossing it aside. He still hadn’t spoken.
Robin knelt next to him and looked over her shoulder. “Help us. He needs to touch as many of the bricks as he can. Don’t talk to him. Anybody got a sheet of paper and a pencil?”
Cage walked to the back side of the wall structure. Earlier he’d spotted the clipboard from the job site on the ground near the extra bricks, and, sure enough, there was a pen attached. He flipped the pages to turn blank sides up, clipped them back in, and handed it to Robin.
“Thanks.” She touched Nik’s arm and held the clipboard in front of him. He nodded and tossed another brick aside.
They worked another thirty minutes. Robin would hand a brick to Nik; he’d hold it for two seconds, or four, or half a minute, sometimes with his eyes closed. Then he’d hand the brick to Cage, who’d set it aside and wait for the next one while Nik took the clipboard and sketched furiously.
Finally, Nik stared at the last sketch a few seconds before thrusting the clipboard atRobin, struggling to his feet and lurching behind the building. Where, by the sound of it, he was retching his guts out.
“You need to help him?” Cage asked Robin. Whatever kind of abilities Nik had, he paid a physical price for them.
“No, he’ll need to sleep it off. He hasn’t done this in a while.” She scooted next to Cage and held out the clipboard. “You might need more light to study these, but he gets images off things he touches—things that happened in the past. Here’s what he got from your bricks.”
The top drawing was an amazing likeness of Max Jeffries, laughing. “This is Max,” Cage said, “the other Ranger living in Penton. Rob was his best mate.”
Several drawings appeared to be from the brick manufacturer. Another one showed Mark, and another showed Rob himself, looking happy and very much alive. There was a scathe member Cage didn’t know well, but the guy was bonded to Mirren.
He flipped to the last drawing, an image of a wild feline—a mountain lion, maybe, or a jaguar. There was no context, so it was hard to tell how large it was.
He held it up to Robin. “What does this mean?”
Before she could answer, Nik stepped back around the corner, looking like death’s last victim. “If you don’t recognize it, I’d say it means Penton has a shape-shifter you don’t know about.”
Did you win a book this week? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you see your name and give me mailing info (or email for digital books). I’m on deadline at work and at home right now, so patience, chickens, if I owe you something. I hope to catch up after next week’s madness ends.
MIKI…won a $5 gift card for commenting over at Lady Scribes on Friday. Since you’re outside the U.S., go shopping at Book Depo and send me the link of what you’d like in that general price range (okay to go over a little).
NAT CLEARY won this week’s Reader’s Choice contest, and selected The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Creamer. Choice of digital or print–let me know your preference and mailing info if print.
SUE won a copy of either Storm Force or Lovely Dark and Deep for commenting on Paranormal Unbound last week when I wrote about serial novels. Choice of digital or print, although LDD won’t be available in print until June 24, so there will be a wait on that one.
That’s it for now….Come back tomorrow for a new Reader’s Choice Contest!