This quote comes from The Last Hero. Check out the book HERE
I picked an excerpt from The Last Hero. There’s two books I’ve written that are VERY dear to me, this being one of them. Maybe newer fans don’t know my attachment to this book. It’s actually the first book I EVER queried to publishers, one of the last books I ever signed (to SCP, they had almost all my books at one time), and it was the first book I had a hard cover of. That’s a HUGE milestone for an author. It made me feel like my dream was real—that I could call myself “an author”.
The Last Hero, in my opinion, is one of my best books, but because it’s fantasy, it never sold very many books, which is unfortunate. I’ve never had any luck with my fantasy novels unless they have a vampire in them. If you haven’t read it, you should 😉
Cole breathed rapidly, his teeth clenched tightly. Thick smoke filled the bullet-strewn hallways. His lungs drew in the tainted air. He could hear the screams of his comrades echoing throughout the tight space. The ceiling was crumpling, and the drywall fell upon his head like a fine snow.
The structure was heavily damaged, the fighting inside leaving it unstable. Even though Sebastian had already retreated, Cole didn’t turn back. He had to save the rest of his team.
Hearing cries from a nearby tunnel, Cole followed the sound to its source. The heavy buckles on his boots bounced steadily as he ran. Before entering the room, he stopped and rested against the wall. He surveyed the area cautiously, making sure to stay perfectly still.
Shadowing his slow gaze with a readied weapon, he was prepared to shoot anything that moved. This mission was anything but routine, and he had been out of his element since he had arrived. This new enemy seemed unstoppable, and Cole had watched helplessly as his friends had been slaughtered.
Swallowing hard, he tried to calm his racing heart. Through his scope, he could see a large mound of bodies. There were hundreds of them, piled up like discarded garbage. These were the men he had grown up with. The horrid sight ignited rage within him.
A greenish smoke rose from the corpses, the room filling with the metallic stench of death. He was about to do another scan of the room, but a low growl made his back stiffen. It was a beast-like sound, definitely not human.
Spinning quickly, Cole unsheathed the sword on his back. He quickly aimed it at the new threat. It was more subtle than his gun, and he hoped not to draw any attention to himself by firing a shot.
But then, he saw the man’s face and recognized his own uniform. Cole’s expression softened. A deep pain filled his chest that felt like a dead weight crushing his every breath.
“Richard?” Taking a swipe at the empty air, Cole’s features hardened. He then readied himself to attack. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you attacking me? It’s me, Cole!”
Richard released a barrage of bullets, but Cole artfully dodged them.
Cole tried to reach out to him one last time. “Get a hold of yourself! Stop this madness right now! Don‘t let it control your mind! Fight it, Richard! Please! Stop!”
But Richard didn’t respond. At this distance, Cole could see the green light reflected in his comrade’s eyes. He knew what he had to do, even though his heart was against it. The virus had contaminated Richard. His friend was gone.
“Cole,” Richard hissed, as a few soldiers came and backed him up. Cole’s eyes quickly darted over their faces. Each one had that hellish green light residing in their eyes. “It’s your turn to die.”
Charging forward, Cole halted Richard’s words with a quick slash of his sword. He fought until they all lay lifeless at his feet.
Wiping his nose roughly, Cole sniffled. Disbelieving, he studied the bodies of his friends. A few seconds of silence passed, as he tried to grasp what was going on. But he didn’t have much time to think. The soldiers he thought he had killed were rising up and preparing to attack him again.
This was impossible. Some were missing limbs. Others pawed at the floor as they dragged their bodies along it. Terror flashed in Cole’s ice blue eyes, his breath quick. He had never seen anything like this before and had no idea how to fight back.
Turning abruptly in the direction of the voice, Cole glared at the man standing behind him. His enemy wore a long, green robe. The flames that ravaged the building illuminated his face. A black dragon cradled his left eye, a dark tattoo that intensified his sparkling blue eyes. He wore a twisted smile, an unnatural expression that bathed his features in an evil light.
“So, you have finally arrived.”
“Who are you?” Cole’s weapon shook in his hands, but he swallowed his fear as he followed the man’s advance through the scope.
“You don’t remember me?” The man’s eyes narrowed on Cole. There was fury seething through his every word. His hands were fisted and trembled slightly.
Cole’s gaze scanned the Virus soldiers that stood behind the man. None of them were attacking him. “You…” He paused, his gun making a quick pass around him. When he saw no one, he pointed it at the man once again. “You’re one of them, aren’t you?” He took a few cautious steps backward.
Look what I got in the mail today. I love packages like these 🙂
Okay, here’s my first “Teaser Tuesday”. I’m doing mostly graphic work today, but in-between that I’m working on edits for CK2. Here’s a small tease from the book. A little tidbit–“the list” is a hit list given to the vampires.
He handed the list to her. “Go to Caron and find Master Vallore. He’s the leader of the vampires. He’s the only one who can help you with this. Find him fast enough, and you may convince him to pardon someone on this list.”
Taking a deep breath, Addison snatched the paper. She opened it up and looked at the names, which were in alphabetical order by last name.
Covering her mouth when she read a name she knew, she began to cry, big tears rolling down her cheeks. She tried to hold them back, but couldn’t dam them.
He plucked the list from her hands and put it back in his pocket. He was observing her tears with silence, his expression hard. He spoke softly. “Make a decision, Miss Collins. You can’t outrun fate.”
He motioned with his head toward the hospital. “Choose your leader wisely. The time has come for your life to change. No more running.”
“I’m not ready.”
“Get ready, because you’re out of time.”
I’m doing another author reading from one of my books. So….which book would you like to see a reading from? Fill out the survey below with your pick. If there’s a specific scene you’d like to hear me read, write it in the blank space where it says “other”. And thanks for your participation!
Blurb for the CK Prequel:
While restoring a ceiling mural in Jenson, Addison meets Christian, who commissions her to do a painting for his employer, Master Vallore. It seems like love at first sight for the pair, and he seems like “the one”. There’s something a bit odd about her love, though, but she’s fallen so hard for him, she tries to ignore her silly suspicions. Her perfect man couldn’t really be a vampire, could he?
Like I promised, here’s an excerpt from the Christian’s Kisses prequel. I picked a romantic excerpt this time 🙂
I’m still struggling to find a title I like for all the books, so the prequel is untitled right now and this is only a working blurb.
The series will be self-published so it will take me a lot longer to polish the books than if I had contracted it to a publisher. So, bear with me, because release dates for them will probably have long gaps between them. There is currently five books in the new series, plus the prequel, so…almost six books (maybe seven if book 4 is split into two).
Okay…onto the excerpt! I hope you enjoy it!
With the handle of a brush paused near her lips, Addison’s expression was stern as she studied her work. She had to make sure it was artistically accurate to the original piece and it’s artist, but since there was no documentation on what it looked like, she had to guess.
A few people entered the room, their arrival quite distracting. Two large men flanked a very important looking one in a suit. He was now talking to her boss, Father Caspian, his bodyguards seeming on high alert as they scanned the room. Her eyes flitted cautiously to the visitors as she snuck a quick peek.
The guards didn’t keep her interest much, but the man in the middle did. He was wearing a fine gray suit with a light, baby-blue dress shirt hiding underneath. The way the fabric clung to his muscular frame, and his perfect gentlemanly stance, gave him a regal quality that made her heart flutter.
The visitor had turned many heads since he arrived. She wasn’t sure who he was and she wondered if he was one of the donors for the project.
Cocking her head to the side, Addison glared at her work. But it wasn’t because she was angry, but because she was analyzing it. The patch near her was now brightly colored. The face of a woman had been revealed by her hand, a cold, distance stare in the woman’s eyes as Addison brought life to the ancient piece.
She could sense someone approach, and slipped out her earbuds when he took the seat next to her. She sent him a shy smile, as she looked downward. It was the handsome man she had been eyeing.
She observed her work with him, her hands neatly in her lap. “What do you think?”
“It’s very good.” She recognized the voice. It was her friend, Christian. This was a very good surprise. He sent her a knowing grin and held out his hand. “Nice to finally meet you in person, Addison.”
“You, too, Christian,” she said softly. She narrowed her eyes on her work. “Do you think the blue is too overpowering in her scarf? It matches the color on the printout, but….I don’t know. I think it may need tweaking. What do you think?” Reaching to her side, she snatched the paper that lay there and showed it to him. It was a rough, colored depiction of how the painting should look when finished.
“I think it should be slightly more teal in hue, and the veil a lot lighter than her dress. Let’s test the color against your skin and see how it’d look against hers.” He took her hand and curled his fingers into her palm, his grip light. He plucked her brush gently from her fingers.
Dipping her brush into the paint on her mixing board, he gathered some blue and smeared it on the surface of her skin. He added a hint of white, lightening the color. “Better, don’t you think?”
She shied from his eyes, his hands warm, and his touch making her cheeks flush. She took her brush as she whispered sweetly, “That’s a bit on the light side, I think.” She smeared a bit of blue onto her skin, the color changing slightly.
“Ah…a subtle change, but I think it makes a difference.” He looked at her hand, then to the painting. His eyes narrowed on the woman’s face as if thinking hard about it. “And there, near her eyes, it should be darkened just a hair. The way you have her depicted is too soft, you need to age her a bit.”
Addison’s eyes darted over the piece and she made a mental note of his suggestions.
“But, otherwise, I think it looks amazing.” He picked up a damp cloth and wiped away the paint on her hand. Her eyes ticked to his, her breath quickening a bit. When her skin was clean, he wiped at the tip of her nose. “I have heard that an artist who wears her art shows great dedication to the craft.”
Addison licked her lips nervously as she tried to find her voice. He had her very flustered. “Thank you.”
“You seem to have more here, as well,” he said softly. He wiped at her cheeks, Addison now staring into his eyes. They were a crystal blue that sparkled under the lights and were set off by dark lashes. He took care of her with such a light hand, a soft, gentle touch.
Struck, she tried to calm her racing heart, the tension between them thick. Her feelings wore on her face, as she felt the heat pumping through her flush her cheeks, every inch of her seeming like it was burning.
“Like unveiling a hidden underpainting, to reveal your beauty is like finding one of the world’s greatest treasures.” With his words, he tapped her nose with the cloth, then wrapped her hands around it. “Brilliant work, Addison. I cannot wait to see the final piece.”
“Thank you,” she whispered. He hadn’t let go of her hand, their gaze locked as she fisted the cloth. Her heart was racing as she took in deep, quick breaths. She was struck, and from his flirty gaze, she hoped he was too.
“I can see why so many people speak so highly of you.” He cupped his hand over their joined hands, sandwiching her hand between his. She felt the heat that passed between them, the tension thick and causing a fog around her. She swore time had stopped, this moment belonging only to them.
He moved closer, Addison watching his lips form the words as he whispered. “Not only do you captivate me with your art, the sweetness that radiates from you has trapped me. If this moment is a dream, then never wake me. For I never want to take my eyes off the most beautiful creation God has ever created. Now that we share the same breath, and I see you in the flesh, you are better than any vision I had conjured of you—perfection greater than any painting.”
Addison couldn’t speak and had been struck by this silver-tongued prince. He had her reeling, her eyes watering as she tried to stop the great emotion deep inside her that this man evoked.
He chuckled lightly, and as if catching that he had paralyzed her with his sweet words, he made a joke. “Even the great Master Vallore would feel the same way if he met you, I bet.”
Shying from his eyes, she bit her bottom lip, putting a wrinkle in her shy smile. “Well, he does like some ugly art.”
Letting out a hearty laugh, Christian shook their joined hands a few times before releasing her fingers. “That’s not what I meant.”
“I’d rather not be in his sights anyway.” She fidgeted with the cloth, her answer soft. Her eyes fell on his hands, the large watch around his wrist catching the light and sparkling. It appeared to be inlaid with diamonds, the band a crisp silver. “I’m not a fast runner.”
He moved closer, putting his hand on her knee. She felt a rush of heat move up her legs, then to her bottom, and up her belly. Everything tingled under his touch, Addison feeling light headed. He whispered, “I am.”
“Maybe I should be worried about your intentions, as well.” Now, only a few inches from his face, Addison whispered back. She captured his wicked gaze. “Runners are not good men to play with.”
“I’ll carry you to the finish line if you can’t reach it, sweetheart.” He squeezed her knee. When he smiled, she saw he had a flaw. He had big teeth, kind of like a horse. She stared at them, his abnormally big overbite catching her off guard. His teeth looked unnatural at this distance. Was he….a vampire? She shivered at the thought but tried to push away the assumption.
She turned back to his eyes and quickly overlooked this imperfection. “Even if I make it five steps into the race and fall on my ass?”
“I’d carry you the whole race and we’d still win.”