I feel like I’ve just been thrashed by the In-Between.

I’m not sure if I have that line in either of my books, but I should because I’m sure this must be the way McKenzie feels after a particularly rough fissure. Worn out. Spent.

Nope, I haven’t been sick. I’ve just been finishing up edits on The Shattered Dark. Actually, I should probably put air quotes around “finishing” because there is still so much work to do on that book. I’m just plain exhausted right now. I’ve been working on it pretty much non-stop, and I need to catch up on life. My family would probably like to eat this week, and I really, really need to shower.

And I need to catch up on emails! I am sooooo far behind on them! I’m so sorry! I will respond to everyone who’s emailed me, hopefully by the end of the week.

Because I’m feeling majorly guilty about being so non-existent online and for being so far behind on emails, I thought I’d post an excerpt from TSD. I’m pretty sure this might be the first excerpt I’ve posted. It’s super hard to find something that’s not spoilery for the first book. I’ve had to redact just a little from this snippet, and this scene probably isn’t in its final form and might not even make it to the book, and yada yada yada, but here it is! From the current Chapter Six:

 

I’ve already locked the door. My back is to the room, but I hear the softest tap, taptaptap, tap behind me. In my rush to get inside, I didn’t even think about the possibility of there being another fae in here.

And it has to be a fae. The tapping is too deliberate to be anything else. I listen for movement – the pad of a footfall, the swish of clothing, or creak of jaedric armor – but the only other sounds come from outside, and while I’m standing here trying to decide what to do, they too, fade away. It’s silent except for the rhythmic tapping.

I stare at the door handle. It’ll take a couple of seconds to unlock it. Some gut instinct tells me not to try it, that it might trigger the person behind me. Slowly, carefully, I turn.

A tall, slender fae woman stands between two backless couches in the center of the room. She’s straight as a board except for her right arm, which is fully extended so she can rest her hand on the hilt of her sword. Its blade is pointed straight down, digging just a little into the surface of a low, wooden table. Aside from one index finger drumming down on the pommel over and over again, she doesn’t move; she just stares.

I stare back, not daring to breath. Pale, wavering bolts of lightning fade in and out on her face and hands. We’re in the Realm. She shouldn’t have any chaos lusters here, but she’s not a normal fae. Even if the lightning wasn’t visible on her skin, I’d know she was tor’um. Something about her feels off.

[redacted]

“Your skin is bright.”

The bluntness of her statement makes me stare down at my arms. White lightning bolts around my left wrist. Another one scurries up to my right elbow. Chaos lusters always appear and disappear quickly, but I guess my skin could be considered bright. I just don’t get why it’s important enough to say out loud, or why it seems to annoy her.

“I told him you wouldn’t turn it off.”

Turn my skin off? I frown at the lightning again, and that’s when I understand. The woman wasn’t born tor’um. Those fae are magically handicapped, but sane. She isn’t. She lost her magic sometime during her adulthood and, now, her mind is broken. Whether that makes her more or less dangerous, I don’t know.

Without warning, she’s in front of me. She grabs my wrist. Her cold touch makes more chaos lusters shoot down my arm. They pool beneath her hand, almost as if they’re trying to keep my skin from turning to ice. I attempt to pull away, but she’s strong, and her dull, dark eyes are locked on me.

“You’re not Paige.”

I go still. Her Fae accent is faint; I’m certain I heard her right. “You know Paige? Where is she?”

“Why aren’t you Paige?” Her hand tightens to the point where it hurts. My back is against the door. I can’t move away when she leans forward, her face coming within inches of mine. Her eyes are narrowed, agitated. “You feel like Paige.”

[redacted]

The tor’um hisses then swings me around with so much momentum, my feet leave the floor. My hip hits the coffee table, sending a sharp lance of pain down my leg, and I slide off the other side.

She’s standing above me with that same mix of anger and confusion in her eyes. My gaze moves to the sword in her hand. Her knuckles go white then back to normal as she tightens and loosens her grip. Then, all the sudden, she looks one hundred percent sane.

She whispers, “Nalkin-shom.”