Hello, and welcome to the second installment of Wee-Bit Wednesday, where I parrot the ever-popular Teaser Tuesday posts on a different day with a different title. :)
This week I thought I’d spare all of the people who aren’t crazy about mushy romance scenes and give you a scene from Chapter Two. I’ll apologize in advance for the length (it’s a bit more than wee), but this was really the only good way of starting and ending the excerpt in order to avoid confusion and give it a nice hook at the end (even though that’s not the end of the scene in the book).
This excerpt is (almost) directly after Chapter One, which I’ve posted on my blog many times to show you how I work through my drafts and create my revisions. If you’re interested in reading what happens before this excerpt, you can read the entire Chapter One here. Now I’ll shut up and let my Wee-Bit do the talking. (As always, honest crits are welcome…specific crits are appreciated!)
**Warning: The following excerpt uses strong language.**
A wave of icy water slapped Dom to full awareness.
He sputtered and choked on the water that managed to invade his airway. Despite his efforts to get to his feet, a strong force held each of his limbs down. He blinked over and over, trying to bring his surroundings into focus through the cold rivulets that streamed from his hair and into his eyes.
A single torch bathed him in a circle of light, taunting him with the harsh reality of his grim situation. He lay on a metal table with his wrists and ankles locked down in iron shackles. Cool, damp air met his wet skin and raised his flesh in a fair imitation of brail. The thick, musty odor of dirt walls assaulted his nostrils and lay heavy in his lungs. An archway was carved into the packed earth across from him as the only means for entry into the room. The stacked wine barrels in one corner provided a weak argument that he was in a storage cellar and not some surreal cave-like dungeon.
Breathing fast and heavy, adrenaline coursing through his veins, Dom met the eyes of his captor. All at once the memory of his walk home slammed to the forefront of his mind. He hadn’t been slipped a Mickey after all. Just knocked out like he’d pissed off Mike fucking Tyson.
The man – Griffin, he recalled – stood holding the bucket that had no doubt been carrying the frigid water only moments ago. Wincing with the pain in his head from the man’s mean right hook, Dom struggled against his bonds. He desperately wanted to beat that fake-fanged smirk right off of him. “What’s the matter, asshole? Afraid to fight me like a man?”
Griffin answered with a patronizing laugh. “On the contrary, Dominic. I can’t wait to fight you once we’re on equal ground. I’m sure you’ll make an excellent punching bag.”
“You son of a –”
Dom looked past Griffin to where the new voice, ringing hollow and cold, emanated from the doorway. Griffin’s cocky attitude fell dead away, like a child being scolded by his father. He bowed his head in reverence and stepped away from the table, allowing the other man to step into the fiery spotlight.
He looked older than Griffin, maybe in his forties, but still possessed the same huge frame as the younger man. His long hair was jet black with occasional interruptions by streaks of silver. It draped over his body like a dark tunic that covered the top half of his crimson robes. His pallid skin was bloodless, devoid of any sign of life. But it was the man’s eyes that made the hair on the back of Dom’s neck stand on end. His pupils were lost in rings of matching obsidian and the reflection of the orange flames danced in the black depths of the soulless pools.
Dom’s breath caught in his throat. The man reeked of malice; his very presence exuded an evil energy that suffocated Dom like an invisible pillow against his face. He concentrated on dragging air into his lungs as he studied his newest captor and obvious leader of whatever deranged group was holding him.
“Let. Me. Go,” Dom managed between clenched teeth.
His newfound enemy smiled that same fangy smile. “Over your dead body, I’m afraid.”
Dom felt his control snap. “What the fuck is going on!”
“Where are my manners? Apologies. I am Lysander, Lord of the Diabolus Umbra. You are a guest in my humble lair,” he gestured with his palms upraised, arms opening to the sides, like he was showing off a luxurious home. “Welcome.”
“Guest? Guests usually receive invitations in the mail, with the option of declining. They aren’t kidnapped and held in a cellar. If I’m a guest then let me off this goddamn table,” he said, jerking on the iron bracelets.
“I am sorry for the restraints, but I can assure you they are only temporary. Once the change has been completed, you will not only be freed, but you will have the honor of being my second in command with much power.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Dom ground out through a clenched jaw. “If this is some kind of twisted sacrificial ritual for you guys, I suggest you get a fucking goat!” He again tried pulling free, this time using one prolonged contraction of every muscle he possessed. He growled against the tremendous strain, his veins rising in webs under the stretched skin of his biceps and forearms. With his muscles burning and his strength depleted, Dom let his body go limp and his head fall back to the table with detested resignation.
“I will explain more fully when you have an open mind, however, I am willing to enlighten you with the abridged version.” The older man tented his fingers in front of him and lifted his empty gaze to the ceiling. He began to move with contrasting grace, practically gliding around the table as he spoke. “I am a very powerful Being. Your kind would call me a vampire. I have need of you to join my clan in order to get close to the one Being I need as my queen.”
Any hope of reasoning with the man just flew right out the proverbial window. He was obviously Lord of the Loonies. A delusional man who thought himself Dracula on the hunt for his very own vampire bride. The pure insanity of his situation caused a small amount of amusement to overshadow his fear. “Let me see if I can get this straight,” he began to clarify. “You’re a vampire, and you need to make me a vampire, because I’m the only one who can get you the woman you want as your queen.” A chuckle escaped from Dom and echoed through the dank space. “Ever consider E-Harmony? I hear they do a bang-up job of finding you the perfect mate. And the upside is there’s no felony involved.”
The corners of his captor’s mouth lifted and his lips parted, once again displaying the freak-show fangs he was wearing. “Ah, you have a sense of humor. I find that quite refreshing. I am sure it is a trait my queen-to-be admires in you, as well.”
“Okay, look, pal. I’m not convinced you’re anything more than a lunatic with a God complex, but for the sake of argument I’ll play along with your insane little theory.” Maybe he shouldn’t be taunting the man, but he couldn’t help himself. The whole situation was just too much and this guy was a complete whack-job. “Let’s just assume for the moment that what you say is true. Who is this chick you want as your queen that I’m the only one who can bring her to you? I’m pretty sure that Big, Tall and Ugly over there would be able to get whoever it is for you just fine. Or he could tell Johnny, to tell Steve, to tell Becky that you like her. Here’s a tip: if she starts doodling your name inside hearts all over her notebook, you know she’s hooked.”
He heard Griffin growling in the shadows. By the sound of it, Dom didn’t think he was endearing himself to the man. Like he cared.
Lysander completed his orbit around the table and resumed the study of his captive through narrowed eyes. Black, horizontal slits pinned Dom in place, much like his metal restraints. “You have a very sharp tongue for someone who is in such a precarious situation. There is a time and place for that humor of yours. That is something you will learn quickly.”
Dom heard the underlying threat in the man’s voice. It was the type of thing he’d heard on a daily basis growing up. A switch flipped in his mind and he responded in an equally threatening tone. “Actually, I’ve learned that if you’re going to get a fucking beating one way or the other, you might as well speak your mind. And no matter what kind of beating I get, I always make sure to return the favor.”
A wicked smile formed on the man’s pliable mask of a face. “Very well, I will tell you. Not because you ask, understand, but because I shall enjoy your reaction. The girl that is fated to be my queen does not yet know of her Destiny. According to my sources, she must come to my bed willingly to set the proper wheels in motion. I feel that with you at my side, that would be an absolute certainty.”
Dom gave him a humorless laugh. “Sorry to disappoint you, but no female likes me that much. I’ve had my share of intimate escapades, but girls typically start to despise me once they realize my non-committal attitude isn’t about to change. You’ve obviously got the wrong guy.”
Lysander studied his claw-like nails as though he were bored. “You are quite mistaken, dear boy. I know for a fact that the female I need would quite willingly follow you anywhere. After all,” he threw Dom a malicious sneer, “Angelica trusts you with her life.”
Dom’s eyes widened, his nostrils flared. Terror filled his veins with ice, immobilizing his body even as his heart threatened to send him into cardiac arrest. “I’ll fucking die before I let you go anywhere near her,” he said in a low voice.