Tuesday, March 3, 2009
RED-HEADED STEPCHILD by Jaye Wells
Pre-order from Amazon
Visit Jaye's blog
In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she's on. She's never brought her work home with her---until now.
This time, it's personal.
EXCERPT FROM RED-HEADED STEPCHILD:
"Sabina Kane." His voice had this odd echo effect, as if it came from another dimension. A reptilian smile hovered on his black lips. This wasn't a social call. I crouched low, ready for battle. I'd never fought a demon, but damned if I was going to stand there like some scared woman waiting for whatever he planned.
"I'm afraid I can't do that," he said—at least I think it was a he. The black leather codpiece kind of hinted in that direction. A wooden stake appeared in his claw, the tip whittled down to a single spear-like point.
That didn't bode well. "Who sent you?" I slowly stepped to the right, trying to find a way to the exit. The demon's eyes tracked me.
He didn't answer, just moved a couple of steps forward. I held my ground, but tightened my grip on the gun. I didn't know if the apple bullets worked on demons, but they might slow it down. I glanced at the stake. The demon would have to get in close range to use it, whereas I had the gun. I pulled back the slide and squeezed the trigger twice.
The bullets ripped through the demon's chest. He blinked and looked down at the two rapidly healing holes. "That wasn't very nice." The stake disappeared and a crossbow took its place.
Panic froze me to the floor. My brain screamed at me to move, move, move. Instead, I watched the demon lift the crossbow as if in slow motion. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out. The arrow flew through the air so fast I barely saw it before it slammed into my chest. My body flew back as the arrow went through my body and speared me to the wall. I registered the impact on some level, but my mind was too busy dealing with the fact I was about to die. Any second my body would burst into flames and I'd be gone. Poof. Nothing left but a pile of ash.
Hot tears rolled down my cheeks as I closed my eyes and waited. There was no pain. Just shock and a dull sense of inevitability.
"Why haven't you exploded yet?" The demon was closer now, only a few feet away. I opened one eye to look at the arrow. Blood bloomed from the site of impact, just over my left breast.
"I—I don't know." Holding myself up became difficult as the seconds passed.
"Hmm. I wonder if I should stake you just to be sure."
"I'd really prefer it if you didn't," I said. "I'm sure I'll ignite any second."
I focused on the pain, which had just started to register. It didn't feel like I was about to combust though. It felt more like a freaking arrow had ripped through layers of muscle. Not the best feeling in the world, but I had to imagine it paled in comparison to having my immortal soul sucked from my body in a fiery death.
The demon came forward without warning and jerked the arrow from my body. The damned thing had lodged itself so deep it took a couple of good pulls to get it loose. I grunted against the pain and cold sweat broke out on my forehead. The tip of the arrow finally came free with a disgusting sucking noise. I collapsed to the floor and curled up into the fetal position in the puddle of spilled beer.
From the corner of my eye, I saw the demon hold the arrow up to the light. It lifted the tip to its mouth and his forked tongue darted out to taste the blood. My blood.
I groaned and squeezed my eyes shut. At that point, I almost hoped he'd stake me. No words exist to describe the pain.
"Well, I guess that's that." The demon's hooves click-clacked against the hardwoods as he walked to me. I felt him hovering close. "You okay?"
My eyes snapped open. Already, my heightened healing powers were making quick work of the wounds. "Am I okay?" I barked. "You just shot me through the heart with an arrow!"
"Hey, it's nothing personal."
Answer the following question for a chance to win a free copy of RED-HEADED STEPCHILD:
If Cupid's arrow through the heart makes you fall in love, what would a demon's arrow through the heart make you do? Extra points if it gets you arrested.
Please drop in and say hi, and hang a while with Jaye! She's an uber cool person and makes strong drinks.