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Excerpt from Foxblood: A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon
The funeral was a typically sombre affair, alive with soggy tissues and streaky make-up. I stood at the back, letting the vicar’s voice wash over me, and spent the whole time staring at the flower-laden coffin, wondering if the lid would suddenly flip up and a fanged monster would escape to reap its vengeance on the congregation.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen, and as the mourners dispersed in the direction of the pub, I quietly snuck off home. I wasn’t in the mood for crowds and needed time to think, time to try to make sense of at least something, but as I turned to close the door, it was obstructed by a perfectly polished black shoe that belonged to…
“Seb, please,” he said, easing his way through. “Only my father calls me Sebastian.” He checked down the backstreet and closed the door securely. His eyes scanned the flat. “Nice place.”
“I like it.”
“It doesn’t bother you? Living over a funeral parlour?” he asked.
“Why would it? The neighbours are quiet.”
He didn’t laugh at my joke; neither did he comment. He simply stood silently, staring. It was very unnerving and made my legs go all wobbly. Perhaps if I turned away from him, he’d disappear again? It was worth a shot. I forced my jelly legs over to the front window and stared out at nothing in particular. The light was subdued, and the sky had darkened to an air force grey. A low mist was beginning to carpet the distant fields, and I wondered if snow had been forecast.
I knew my little experiment hadn’t worked. He was still there. I could feel his presence and smell his scent, a musky, inviting aroma that filled my senses and sent my head into a whirl, and it was getting stronger.
“Your friends interrupted us the other day. Can we talk now?” he whispered softly into my neck, and his fingertips traced a fiery trail down my spine.
“What’s the point? There’s nothing to say. I wish you’d just leave me alone,” I said, lowering my head in time to see Lara leaving the newsagents. She glanced up with a look of fury contorting her face as Sebastian’s hands reached around either side of me and grabbed the window frame.
“I can’t do that. I’m not that strong,” he said.
I studied the arms now imprisoning me, with their perfectly formed muscles straining against the rolled-up sleeves of his white shirt, and seriously doubted his statement. His stance was predatory and made me feel uncomfortable. I ducked under his elbow to escape, but he caught me around the waist and pulled me against him. Our bodies moulded together perfectly, and the strength of his grip made me feel like a china doll that he’d be able to crush in an instant. He was almost a full head taller than I was, and the warmth of his breath caressed my forehead. How easy it would be to reach up and taste those lips. I imagined the feel of them, and my own parted in an involuntary invitation.
The full Foxblood series can be seen here: http://foxifae.wixsite.com/raquellyon
Hidden Blade excerpt from: The Soul Eater Series By Pippa DaCosta
“I’ve reconsidered,” I called out, following the trail of blood. My boots crunched in the snow, so there was no use in trying to move quietly. “You and me, I can make that work.”
The grinding laughter returned, but the wind gathered it up and tossed it around the rooftop. “You are weak…”
“Says the demon with a hole in its gut,” I muttered. “You’re going to die here, you must know that.”
The demon could shift its shape and escape. Given enough time, it could hole up somewhere and lick its wounds. I couldn’t let that happen. A demon loose in a city like New York would be a public relations nightmare. Naturally, it would be my fault. Most screwups were, if you asked the gods.
“You are not free to make a deal, Nameless One.”
“How’s that?” I inched up against the elevator enclosure and eyed the trail of blood leading out of sight around the corner.
“Your soul is owned by another.” The words tumbled through the air, but their source was close. “I tasted him on you.”
I winced. That truth cut too close to the bone for comfort. If word got out I was Ozzy’s bitch, nobody would hire me. Shit, nobody would come within ten feet of me. If the demon didn’t have to die before, it did now.
Enough talk. Talking with demons—and listening to them—was a surefire way of getting your mind devoured. This one had spent long enough probing my thoughts to pick up on my fears. They were good at that—planting seeds that would later grow into toxic doubts until you fancied yourself a long walk off a short balcony. I hadn’t dealt with a demon of this caliber in a while; clearly, I was rusty.
“Slippery things, souls.” I lifted Alysdair and wrapped both hands around her handle, letting the sword pull on my magical reserves. “They’re surprisingly easy to lose and damned difficult to get back.”
I lunged around the corner and got a face full of contorted demon chest. Alysdair plunged through cleanly, slicing deeper than the metal alone would have allowed for, and sank into that fetid thing inside—its soul. A flicker snagged at my resolve—a twitch from my past, of how good it would be to drink its soul down. It had been a long time, but this was Alysdair’s moment to shine, not mine. A soul that black, I didn’t need the weight.
The demon let out its ear-piercing screech. Its claws raked at my sword arm to cut off the source of its agony, but its red-eyed glow was fading as Alysdair fed. The sword sang in my grip until the deed was done, and the demon collapsed into a pile of loose skin and putrid flesh.
The after buzz tapped at the part of my mind that went to deeper, darker things every time Alysdair got her kick and I didn’t—the what-ifs and just-a-little-bits. With a growl, I staggered back, grateful the snow was swirling faster now and covering up the grisly evidence.
“Poison” blared again from my pocket.
“For Sekhmet’s sake!” I wiped Alysdair clean on my duster coat and drove her home inside her sheathe, snug between my shoulder blades. Then I snatched the cell from my pocket. “Shu, by the gods, this had better be good or I will come back there and shove your little statue of Ra up your—”
Gods be damned, I’d worked with Shukra long enough to recognize that arctic tone in her voice. “That’s my name, peaches. Don’t wear it out.”
Sirens wailed nearby—too nearby. I strode to the edge of the roof and didn’t need to look far to see the blue and white lights bathing the walls of the opposite building. It was too late to clean up the mess.
“There’s a goddess in your office. I suggest you don’t make her wait.”
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