It’s a WIP!: Excerpt from DOWN FINNEGAN’S HOLLOW.

It'sAWipIf you follow my writing posts, you know my struggle with this story. I work on it, and then leave it for months at a time, and then work on it again. I had submitted it to a small press and I think they wanted it, and I did start revisions on their suggestions, but then I had my little accident and it’s taken me a while to get back into this novel. I think I know why too. I’ve decided to change a major element in the plot, which had me killing off characters. I’ve done two complete revisions to this novel, but it seems I’m due for one more to phase in this new plot bunny.

Anyhoo . . . I thought you might like a little taste of what I wrote. It’s a scene between the MC (Marina) her ex-husband (Adam), and their two children (Trina and Jared.) I like it because the dialogue flows and I could see this scene playing out in any household.

~~~~

A flash of reflected light shone through the front window and the sound of an expensive car engine followed. Marina got up and took a quick look outside as a Jaguar pulled into the driveway.

She snorted under her breath. “I can’t believe you bought that.” She walked to the bottom of the stairs, pulling her light sweater tight around her body. Why was a fancy new car the first thing men bought when they had a mid-life crisis? How did Sissy let him buy something that with the wedding in a few months? She peeked through the small bevelled glass window next to the front door. “You better not have used the kid’s college money.” She turned to the stairs. “Kids. Your dad’s here.”

The doorbell rang and Marina shuffled over to a hanging mirror next to the door. She took a quick glance and tucked in a few wayward strands of hair. Adam’s silhouette cut a dark shadow on the frosted glass of the front door. They’d been divorced for just over a year and yet her heart raced each time he came over to pick up the kids. She inhaled slowly as she grabbed the doorknob.

Adam Hart looked good for his age. Almost too good. He took off his sunglasses and opened the screen door. “Hey, Marina. Are the kids ready?”

“As ready as they’ll ever be,” she said, and stepped back.

Adam was foot taller than her with an athletic build. She was pretty sure he was working out at the gym now, and she noticed a touch of grey in his goatee. “When did you start growing that?”

Adam frowned. “Start growing what?”

“Your beard?”

He stroked the side of his chin. “Last month. Sissy says I look better with some facial hair.”

Marina crossed her arms. “I said that too. Ten years ago.”

He shrugged. “Well I didn’t think I did then.”

“And now you do?”

“Yeah.”

Marina rolled her eyes. “But you said they were too much work to keep them looking good.”

He shrugged. “Sissy bought me some beard grooming tools. I couldn’t exactly say no, right?”

She glanced out at the car and at the cute brunette in the passenger seat. She wanted to hate Sissy, but it was hard. The woman was genuinely nice, cared about the kids and about having a good relationship with them. How could she hate someone like that? She was accommodating to Adam too. As far as she knew, Sissy never complained about the kids wanting to be with just him. Even Viola liked her, when she was in her more lucid moments. So why did Marina feel like she had to hate the woman? Jealously? Bitter ex-wife syndrome? Displaced aggression? She un-crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. She needed to follow her own advice. Sissy was a part of her life now too and she’d have to do the adult thing and deal with it.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Trina’s energetic dance down the stairs dressed in yet another miss-matched outfit. Marina shook her head as she looked over her daughter. The rain boots were still in play but the tutu and wings had been replaced with rainbow leggings, one of Jaden’s old rock tee shirts and a belt she was pretty sure came from an old Halloween costume. Marina covered her mouth to hide her grin. She had to admit, the kid knew how to rebel.

There was a look of horror on Adam’s face. “What are you wearing?”

“Do you like it?” Trina turned so he could get a good look at the ensemble. “I think the belt compliments my style.”

Adam frowned. “Your style? You’re seven. You don’t have a style.”

She pranced past him. “Sure I do. And this is it.”

Jaden stomped toward them a few moments later. His hair completely covering his face and wearing enough black clothing to resemble a moving shadow.

Adam smiled. “Hey kid. How’s the new high school?”

“All right, I guess.”

“Make any friends yet?”

“A couple.” A lone eye peered out from between a small part in his hair. “Where are we going for dinner?”

“There’s this really nice restaurant downtown that Sissy wants to try.”

A scowl came to his lips. “Seriously? I thought we were going to a burger place.”

“This is a special night.”

Jaden rolled his eyes. “Why does everyone keep telling me that?” He grabbed his coat and headed out the door. “They better have hamburgers.”

Adam shook his head. “Doesn’t he eat anything else?”

Marina tried to hide her smile. “Nope.”

He glanced down the hall toward the back of the house. “How’s your mother doing?”

She inhaled slowly. “Not good. She eats like a bird when she does eat, and I have home care people coming in twice a day.” She looked past him and out the screen door. “The doctor says it could be any day now.”

Adam put his hand on her back. “I’m sorry. Are you sure you don’t want her in palliative care? I’d pay for it. It’d be a lot easier on you.”

Marina blinked back her tears. “Thanks, but this is what she wanted, and with her memory loss and confusion, it would be too stressful on both of us if she were any place else.”

Adam stayed quiet for a few moments and watched her. “If you need anything, you have my cell number, right?”

Marina nodded.

“I mean it. Day or night. She’s always been good to me. Even after the divorce.”

Marina turned away to him. “She always liked you.”

She gazed into his eyes. The deep blue was still prominent, but there was something missing. That hint of mischief she fell in love with wasn’t as prominent anymore; dimmed with the onset of middle age and maturity. Maybe that’s why he decided to turn their lives upside down. Trying to recapture the spark of youth before it was gone for good.

The horn sounded on his car and briskly turned away and looked out the screen door. “I was wondering if I could keep the kids overnight tonight.”

“Really?”

“Well, this place we’re going to, it’s pretty fancy and we might not get out until late. My place is a few blocks away and it would save me the trouble of driving all the way out here.”

Marina waved her hand. “Sure. I guess.”

“Great.” He opened the screen door without looking back. “I’ll drop them off in the morning.”

Marina nodded as he walked off. She wondered how much of an argument Trina would give him on staying overnight. She wasn’t even sure if Adam’s new place had any of the kids’ stuff. She watched them drive off and shut the door. Reaching for her purse she pulled out her cell phone and checked the battery. She better keep in on all night. Just in case.

 

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Who’s Your WIP? Sean Hayden

Welcome to the first instalment of Who’s Your Wip; an end of the month blog series highlighting authors and their Works In Progress. This month I’m proud to bring you an excerpt from Sean Hayden’s soon-to-be released Abominations; the third book in the Demonkin Series.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Kid, wake up.”

I opened my eyes and Thompson stood over me like a big black tidal wave threatening to crash down on me. “What?”

“It’s an hour after sunset. Why are you still sleeping?”

I closed my eyes and felt around for the sun. Sure enough I could feel it glowing well below the horizon. Most vampires woke and rose with the sun. I’m a little different. My name is Ashlyn Thorn and I was born a vampire. I use that term very loosely. Vampires aren’t born, they’re made. I was an anomaly to say the least. I didn’t burst into flame when exposed to sunlight, but it hurt like a son of a bitch. I had talons instead of nails. My fangs are curved. Oh and when I get really pissed off, I grow horns and my fangs and talons get longer. Yeah, I know. I’m a freak. I’ve been calling myself that for eighteen years. Especially since I don’t eat people, I eat monsters.

The gigantic black man standing over me was Special Agent James Thompson. He had the dubious honor of being my partner. He’s a werelion and a pretty tough bastard, so I haven’t managed to get him killed like everybody else in my life as of late. He actually even kind of likes me a little.

“Sorry, I’ll get dressed. Shoo.”

“Oh, you did not just shoo me, did you?”

“It’s my house, don’t make me sorry I gave you the damn key. Now unless you want an eyeful of naked partner, go wait outside. Be out in a minute.”

Thompson chuckled and did as he was told. I smiled a little at his retreating back. He and I had been through a lot in the past six months. I had charged into a burning building to pull his fat from the fryer. He’d done a hell of a lot more to keep me safe. I couldn’t imagine doing this job without him. A soft sigh escaped from my lips. As of late I had been having trouble doing the job even with him. It seemed the more I tried to do the right thing, the worse I screwed up.

I stripped my clothes on the way to the bathroom and left them lying on the floor with the countless others. It was Wednesday and I would probably be doing laundry all weekend just to catch up. If my aunt, the former owner of the house, were still alive she wouldn’t let me live it down. I glanced over at her picture on her, I mean my, dresser and smiled. I missed her. I missed her a lot. If it weren’t for the Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office, I wouldn’t have this house, the picture of her, or anything else in Chicago.

When she died, I ran. I was recruited by the FBI to smack around the monsters that couldn’t get along with the normal people. I didn’t want her memory tarnished as the lady who hid the freaky vampire, so I dropped my last name and just became Ashlyn. Special Agent in Charge Reese did a little digging into fatal car accidents that happened around the same time I came out of the vampiric closet and put two and two together. Smart man, that Reese. As it turned out, he had all me records changed to show my last name, got the house pulled out of probate put into my name, and gave me more than a home. Thompson and I were originally supposed to be stationed in Washington DC. We’re both from Chi-town. His wife was very happy we were staying here. I was very happy, too. Mostly because I got to take vampire lessons from a hunky French vampire who owned a bunch of nudie bars. Shucky darn.

Thoughts of Marcel made my thoughts drift to Vic. Vic was the first “like me” vampire I had ever made. I hadn’t meant to, it just happened during a “I think your hot let me suck on your neck while you suck on mine” feeding frenzy in California. I had actually fallen in love with another girl. I made her like me. I got her killed. The memory haunted me every minute of every day, but that’s what happens when it turns out the bad guy is the good guy you were trying to protect.

I silent cursed Governor Greer and hoped he was rotting in one of the seven hells. I put him there. I just wish I could have delivered him personally. The problem with that is I might run into dear old dad. Yeah, as it turns out, my papa is a demon. Asmodisomething. I planned on skipping all the family reunions since he wanted me deader than I already was.

I flipped on the light switch in the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked like shit. My cheekbones were sticking out, my eyes were sunken, my flesh was pasty, and I had black circles around, below, above, next to, and to the right of my eyes. I looked like an undead raccoon. I tried to remember the last time I ate and drew a blank. I kicked myself and made a mental note to grab a lycanthrope juicy pouch from the fridge on my way out the door. Yes, I kept werewolf blood in my refrigerator. Oh, and I’m a Scorpio.

I brushed my teeth and fangs and flossed to remove all the unwanted plaque and red blood cells from between my teeth. With half lidded eyes, I rinsed with minty medicine flavored mouthwash. The floor suddenly tilted up at a ninety degree angle to smash me in the face. At least that’s what it looked like as I passed out and fell to the floor.

* * *

The feeling of cold liquid burning like the sun as it hit my tongue, spread a nummy warmth throughout my body woke me from my little nap. Thompson had my head in his lap and was holding a little plastic sack of Chateau de Werewolf Pinot Sangreal 2011 over my face and was squirting copious amounts into my open mouth like a high school football team water-boy. I blinked twice and took the pouch from him and sucked it dry. I didn’t have the strength to move, and honestly, the wonderful feelings spreading through my body were too good to ruin by standing up. I stretched like a cat and ran my hands over my stomach.

“Um, Ash. Ixnay on the etchystrays, okay?”

I looked up at his face and he wasn’t looking anywhere near my eyes. They were transfixed on something about two feet down. I looked down and realized I was still butt naked and rubbing myself in front of my partner, a happily married man. I punched him in the chest. “Get a good look, perv?”

I used the little strength I had gleaned from my juice pouch and shot into the bathroom like a cheetah with a bottle-rocket shoved up its ass. I wrapped a towel around me, choked down the sense of horrific embarrassment threatening to make me curl up into fetal position, and walked calmly back into my bedroom. Thompson still sat on the floor. He had his elbow on his leg and rested his head on his fist. He didn’t look angry or remorseful. He looked worried.

“Kid,” he said without looking up, “Go eat some more.”

“I will. I planned on eating before we left, I just didn’t make it.”

“I mean now. Go.”

“Yes, sir,” I said with a little more sarcasm than I intended. I walked through my very quiet, very clean house and into the kitchen. I heard my bedroom door close and thought I could hear the sounds of a cell phone dialing, but I couldn’t be sure. With the door closed my hearing was good, just not that good. He was probably calling his wife. He had a tendency to do that when weird stuff happened between us. He called quite often.

I opened the fridge and forgot about Thompson. My stomach sounded like somebody tried to flush a screaming squirrel down an airplane toilet. I pulled out three pouches of blood and sat down at the kitchen counter to enjoy my meal. By the time I was done, Thompson came out of my bedroom.

“Were you trying on my clothes?” I tried to sound light hearted. I sounded like a bitch, even to me.

Thompson furrowed his brows. The effect was lost on me. “Kid, you’re a fucking mess.”

“Yeah, well…you’re a big poopie head.”

“Yeah, I figured you’d say that. You’re grounded.”

I rolled my eyes and stood to go get dressed. “Whatever.”

He grabbed my arm as I tried to pass. I looked down at his hand and back up at his face. “Ashlyn, I’m serious. You’re on leave. I called Reese and I called Marcel. You are off active duty until you get your head on straight.”

I couldn’t do anything but stare. I thought he was joking around. He still didn’t look angry, he looked worried as hell. “Jim, I’m fine,” I tried to lie to him and myself. It didn’t work.

“Marcel is on his way. Reese is sending over the bureau psychologist. You’re to remain in Marcel’s care and supervision. That is the standing order. You get to get your head in the game and learn all sorts of vampiry stuff. Got it?”

“And what do you get to do?”

“I’m taking some vacation time, too. If you’re out, I’m out,” he said with a wink.

That sort of sealed the deal for me. It told me how screwed up I really was. If he was going to take vacation time, either the world was going to blow up or he was really worried. I think I would have preferred the whole world blowing up thing. I lost it. I dropped to the floor on my ass and started crying. They came and wouldn’t stop. Wracking sobs shook my entire body and I was helpless to stop them. I heard Thompson slide down the side of the counter and sit on the floor next to me. My eyes were too full of bloody tears to see him, but I felt his arms as the scooped me up and pulled me tightly to his chest. I buried my face in his black suit jacket and cried some more. I did that for another hour before I finally fell asleep with the sun hours away from rising.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Abomination will be released later this year by Untold Press: http://untoldpress.com/

authorphotoBorn the son of a fire chief, Sean naturally developed a love of playing with fire. His family and friends quickly found other outlets for his destructive creativity. Writing is his latest endeavor.

Always a fan of the macabre, mythical, and magical, Sean found a love of urban fantasy and horror. After writing several novels in this genre, he found, fell in love with, and immersed himself in steampunk. He has always wanted to rewrite history and steampunk gave him that opportunity.

Sean currently lives in Florida as a fiber-optic engineer as well as an author. He was blessed with the two most amazing children he could ever hope for, has met the absolute love of his life, who coincidentally is his partner in everything. His hobbies include grand designs on world domination as well as a starring role in his own television sitcom.

Teaser Tuesday; Sympathy for the Demon

Welcome to the first of two new blog series – Teaser Tuesday (obviously), where I will post a short excerpt from one of the three novel WIPs I’m working on, or maybe something from another project. I’m also doing a guest excerpt post once a month as well so keep an eye out for those. It’s another way for me to highlight authors. There are a few guidelines, but if you’re interested, send me an email!

Anyhoo…here is this Teaser Tuesday’s 1,500 word excerpt from book four of THE WATCHTOWER series; Sympathy for the Demon.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Everything all right, sir?” Lucian’s cockney accent was stronger tonight.

Martin didn’t look up. “I’m fine.”

“Well, if ya don’t mind me sayin’, you don’t seem fine.”

Martin raised his head. Lucian was standing on the other side of the open wrought-iron gate. Martin held out his arm. “Here, help me up please.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not…” Lucian waved a hand in the air. “…shall we say corporeal, over there.”

Martin rubbed his forehead in frustration. “What are you talking about?”

Lucian moved his arm through the bars of the gate. As his limb reached out, it became transparent with only a faint outline of his hand. He waved at Martin. “The gate here marks out the perimeter of the charm.” He stepped through the gateway and his whole body became partially transparent. “I can come out here and talk to ya, but…” He held out his hand and swiped it through Martin’s bent leg. “I can’t touch you.”

He stared at his knee in shock. It felt cold as ice when Lucian swiped through him. “But I’ve seen you guys outside picking stuff up and-“

“Amulets.” Lucian said. “Like the one Miss Dole wore to the police station. And they take several hours to charge.” He walked back toward the gate. “You can shuffle your ass over here faster.”

Martin pushed himself back up the wall and walked toward the gate. “I always wondered what this thing was doing here.”

“Yeah, the whole plaza has charms and spells protecting it, but this building in particular has extra stuff.”

“Because of the Acheron portal?”

Lucian looked at him sideways. “You know about that?”

“Yeah.”

“Wasn’t sure if you did or not. The Mistress told us that when it came to you, it was on a need to know basis. Guess she didn’t want you to overload or anythin’.” He frowned. “Are you sure you’re all right? If you don’t mind me sayin, you look like hell.”

Martin trudged over to the large oak desk. He winced as he sat on the edge. His body ached from the pounding and grief. “Honestly Lucian. I feel like shit.”

“Oiy, alcohol’ll do that to ya.”

“No, that’s not it.” Martin glanced down at the floor as tightness gripped his throat. His lip trembled and he swallowed a few times to hold back his sorrow. “One of my friends died tonight.”

Lucian’s posture slumped. “Oh I’m so sorry, sir. Was he a good person? Cos if not, you could give his name to the Mistress. She might be able to put his name on the list. You bein’ friends with him and all.”

Martin gave a slight laugh. The List. He’d forgotten about that. Souls on the list were next in line to enter heaven. “Thanks.” Martin’s voice cracked and he tried to cover his face with one hand as his grief overwhelmed him. “That’s really kind of you.” He nodded. “Yeah, that would make his mother happy. Knowing he made it to Heaven.”

Lucian sat on the desk next to him. “In the end, that’s all it’s about, isn’t it, sir. Makin’ sure people are happy.”

“Yeah, and considering how he died, it would make me a lot happier too.”

“If ya don’t mind me askin’ sir, how did your friend die?”

“Something got him.” Martin’s gaze drifted away. “Killed him right there in the park. Right in front of me.”

“Something as in…”

“Supernatural. Yeah.”  

Lucian’s look of concern turned to interest. “What did it look like?”

“It was a woman, or it was masquerading as one.”

“What did this woman do, exactly?”

Martin composed himself. He didn’t want to recall her face. He was sure have nightmares about her. “She was really beautiful at first, but when I looked at her, like really looked at her, I saw shadows move across her skin.”

Lucian brought his hand to his face and stroked his chin. “Then she was either a half-breed or a vessel. What did she do to him?”

Images of the long talons came to his mind. “She stuck her hand into his back and pulled out some kind of white orb.”

Lucian’s looked worried. “A white orb? That’s not good.”

“Ya think?”

“No, what I mean is, it sounds like she’s a Siren. They lure humans into deals for their soul. Wealth, stardom, beauty, anything they want, but when the deal has been fulfilled, they harvest the soul and take it to their masters to feed on.”

“What are their masters?”

“Usually an Incubus or Succubus.”

“Isn’t Jezryall a Succubus?”

Lucian shook his head. “Half-breed Incubus.”

“There’s a difference?”

“One’s male, the other female.” Lucian stood and walked toward the wrought iron gate. “Are you sure she plunged a claw into his back?”

Martin’s grief erupted into anger. “I know what I saw, Lucian!” 

Lucian raised his hands in defence. “No offence, sir, but I have to know for sure.”

Martin lowered his head. He knew Lucian was only trying to help but his emotions were too raw. He looked up at him. “So the orb I saw…”

“Was your friend’s life-force.”

“And her master would be a creature like Jezryall?”

“A full blood, yeah. Sirens are the Overlords of the Second realm of Hell.” He looked at Martin. “Ya know about the levels, right?”

“A little.”

Lucian motioned him to follow. “Come on, we have to check on this.”

Martin stood and followed Lucian down the hall and past Daniel’s laboratory and the Conference room. This part of the corridor was dark and ominous. The shadows felt darker here and the light from the drippy candles barely lit the hall.  

“You know there are nine levels of Hell,” Lucian said, as they walked deeper. “Each reserved for those who ‘sinned’.” Lucian made air quotes and didn’t look overly impressed. “Now Sirens, they reside in the second level. Nothing too nasty there. Just those souls who succumbed to lust and greed.”

Artemis’s voice echoed in Martin’s mind.

‘Lured by Sirens into a life of their own selfish needs. They put their desire for sexual pleasure, money, anything, ahead of everything else, and at the expense of others.’

A shiver ran through him. That kind of sounded like Mike.

There was a bricked-up archway at the end of the corridor and Lucian walked right through it. Martin stopped and looked around. He snorted and put his hands on his hips. “Hey, how am I supposed to follow you, when you walk through walls?”

A moment later, Lucian stepped through the bricked archway. “Sorry. Forgot. Go down the hall to the wooden door right before the stairs. I’ll meet you on the other side.” He turned and walked back through the wall.

Martin’s heart pounded as he hurried down the corridor. He’d never been anyway other than the two floors, and even though he knew what lay inside the building, he was anxious about venturing into new territory. Anxious, but curious.

He stood in front of the wooden door. This had to be the one Lucian meant. It was the only door between here and the stairs. He recognized it immediately. Something about this door memorized him. He’d been trapped by it way back when Jezryall first brought him to the living quarters. His heart raced at the idea of what could lay on the other side. Was this the doorway that housed the portal? The wood looked the same as the large door that guarded the one at the Spire. He looked into the grain on the wood. The oblong circular knots were hypnotic as they swirled into deep vortices that pulsed to some unheard rhythm. He reached up traced the lines with his finger. They shimmered in silver under his touch.

A hard smack against the back of his head snapped him out of his trance.

Lucian’s voice bellowed from next to him. “I said go through the door, not stand there and stare at it!”

Martin shook his head and rubbed the spot where he’d been slapped. “I was going to. I just…”

“Don’t worry. Not your fault. All the doors on this level are charmed into distracting anyone who looks at them. Keeps unwanteds from entering this part.”  

“Unwanteds?”

“Yeah, every now and then one of those tree-huggin’ Liberal do-gooders manages to sneak past Lizzy and make it up here.”   

“Wait? Live people make it this far?”

“Personally, I think Lizzy lets them get by on purpose. Just to keep me on my toes.” Lucian turned the knob on the door. “I have no idea why they want in, but they sure do give it one heck of a try.” He pushed the door open and walked through. “Door stops them, every time.” The darkness engulfed him and Martin had second thoughts about being so curious. He didn’t need to know what the rest of the building looked like. As a matter of fact, he’d be perfectly fine not knowing.

He squinted into the darkness. “Are you sure it’s safe for me to go in there?”

Lucian re-appeared. “Don’t know. I don’t think any live human has come through here before, but Jezryall wanders around here, and she’s half human so….”

 Again, Lucian disappeared into the inky darkness.

~~~~~~~~~~

Still a little rough in places, but not bad.

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