The purpose here is to spotlight a few lines or a few paragraphs from a new release or backlisted title. This way my readers get to sample some delicious snippets and I'll do my best to tease, titillate and tantalize you into the weekend.
This week I'm teasing from IN DEATH'S SHADOW, my new release fantasy romance, and Book 3 in the Rifts series. Princess Maia and Master Assassin Quinn Tarlen have made it out of the cave and up into the hills. But the weather's getting worse and they have to make a choice.
Maia had no idea where they’d gone after they’d left the cave. Her attention had been centered on the constant uncertain footing in the deep snow and the bone-breaking chill. She only knew they’d arrived somewhere when she ran into Quinn’s snow-shrouded back.
“I’m sorry.” Maia raised her gaze from the unrelenting white and gaped.
Gray veined walls of marble mirrored the cliffside, so well camouflaged she could barely make out the outline of the door. Snow flurries disguised the odd scrollwork on the portal and an eerie feeling skittered down her back. Quinn surveyed the doorway then shot a look at her.
“Do we go in?”
“Why would we stay out?” Her mind couldn’t quite grasp why he’d asked.
He sighed. “Is the energy of the artifact directing us inside?”
Oh. She glanced at the eerie door again. “Yes. In there. That’s where we have to go.”
“Yes, why?” She frowned.
“Because you don’t look like you want me to open the door.” Quinn grasped the hidden latch and yanked. Despite the air of abandonment, the door swung open on silent hinges. “After you.”
He didn’t have to tell her twice. She trudged past him and he pulled the door shut, closing them in a deafening silence. Not even the scream of the wind cut the thick quiet. The air smelled stale and dry as if the door hadn’t been opened in unmeasured time.
“Where are we?”
Her voice echoed and Quinn struck a match, the hiss bouncing off the vaulted ceiling.
“It appears to be a sepulcher.”
Maia swallowed against bile as she took in the hideous construction before her. Skulls and limb bones of humans created a macabre chandelier and garlands around the ceiling. Four pillars topped by cherubs drew supplicants toward an altar in an alcove. A single angel stood upon a carved pedestal bearing a trumpet and a sword.
“Goddess above, this place is creepy.”
“There’s no justification for that assessment.”
Maia swung toward Quinn with surprise. “What do you mean ‘no justification’?” She waved at the morbid décor. “Those are human skulls. They were people once.”
Quinn shrugged, his expression serene. “They’re dead. The soul has long fled and they’re nothing but bones. No vengeful spirits, no walking dead. Just old bones gathering dust. Quite peaceful, actually.”
He’s lost his mind.
He caught her look and raised his eyebrows. “Certainly better than being out in the howling wind.”
“I’m not convinced of that.” She glanced up at the bone chandelier and shivered. “Who do you think built this place and…that?”
“You don’t know much about this world, do you, Princess?”
Maia dropped her chin. “I’ve been a lamp, remember?”
“And enlightenment didn’t come with it?”
She stared at him and he cracked one of his rare smiles. “You know, you should be careful. If you start making more jokes, you could be in danger of becoming friendly.”
“We wouldn’t want that.”
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