Not much writing is getting done this week due to preparation for traveling (i.e. new hair cut!). I’ll be flying out to Daytona on Thursday for Coastal Magic Con. There will be a signing that’s open to the public from 5pm to 7pm on Saturday. If you’re in the area, definitely stop by!
I’m looking forward to the flight on Thursday so I’ll have some uninterrupted and undistracted writing time. I’m still hard at work on my urban fantasy set in space (you can read the first few pages of that on my guest post on The Darkest Reader (scroll halfway down)), but I keep toying with my other urban fantasy (You could think of it as a New Adult Urban Fantasy). I thought I’d post the first chapter here for a rare Teaser Tuesday from me.
First draft, rough draft warning. This might not end up in the book at all.
For the first time that semester, I wanted to be sitting through one of Dr. Campbell’s lectures. Boring was good. Boring was safe. Boring meant I wouldn’t say the wrong thing and start an interspecies war.
I picked up a pen from my parents’ desk, clicked it on and off, and Nora Lehr, the only daughter of Octavian Lehr, the alpha werewolf of the New England Territories and quite possibly the strongest alpha on the continent, turned away from the arched window and stared at me over the desk, waiting.
“Could you say that again please?” I asked, making my voice as sweet and naïve as a freshman taking a seat in her first college class.
Nora’s green eyes narrowed. When I didn’t look away, she clenched her teeth and her jaw jumped. Spiders crawled up my spine, not because I was intimidated – her dominant-gene juju didn’t work inside the hotel – but because I could practically hear the warning my mom gave me over and over again when I was a kid: Don’t antagonize the paranorms, Kennedy. They can eat you on the way to school.
They could, but they wouldn’t. I’d learned that in 6th Grade P.E.
Nora lifted her chin and straightened her shoulders, her signature alpha-stance. Her posturing had always annoyed the hell out of me in high school. Apparently, two years of college hadn’t made it any less irritating.
I really wanted to be in Campbell’s class right now.
“On May 16th,” Nora said, leaving a small, but pointed gap between each word. “I will be wed in the Garden Courtyard. The reception will immediately follow in the Silver Ballroom. You will reserve a block of sixty rooms and twelve suites. I’m prepared to pay all costs now. In cash.”
I held her gaze for another three seconds, just so she knew I wasn’t intimidated, then I set my pen on the desk, taking the time to make sure the Hotel Rain logo was face up.
Those weren’t the words I needed Nora to repeat. It was the other part, the part where she said the name of the prospective groom, that had me inwardly freaking out. Outwardly, though, I couldn’t let her see I was rattled. Don’t show weakness in front of the paranorms, Kennedy. That’s what my dad had taught me.
I took a few extra seconds to make sure the pen was lined up precisely parallel to the edge of the desk.
I adjusted it half a millimeter.
Then half a millimeter more.
“You will do this, Kennedy Rain.”
I looked up. Nora was such a snob. So privileged. She expected everyone to do what she said, when and how she said it. The aggravating thing was, everyone dropped what they were doing to make her happy. Yes, part of the reason for that was people – or, rather, paranorms and a very tiny group of humans – knew her father was in charge of the Northeast Pack, but men and women who had no clue about the underworld went out of their way to follow her orders. Not only had she been born with the alpha-gene, but she’d been born beautiful, too.
I had every right to resent her. Even if it wouldn’t cause an interspecies war, I wouldn’t want her getting married in my parents’ hotel.
But, it’s never a good idea to say the word “no” to a paranorm, so I tried to hedge.
“Would do this,” Nora cut me off. “It doesn’t violate the treaty.”
Technically, no, but good God. Her father would flip. Jared’s master would flip. The hotel, its workers, and my family would be caught in the middle, treaty or no treaty. This was not a decision I could make.
And it was not a decision I should be dealing with. I should be across town in Campbell’s class while my parents handled this lunacy.
My parents excelled at handling lunacy.
I glanced at my cell phone. My mom still hadn’t answered my text. I didn’t know where she and my dad had run off to. Just that it was somewhere with very poor service. They’d been gone for over a week and all I’d received was a handful of texts saying they were busy.
The last time I’d received a handful of texts saying they were busy, they’d been on a second honeymoon.
Or a third or fourth one. I didn’t ask details. I didn’t want the details I already had. The only reason I had them was due to a tragically timed pocket dial – one of them had apparently rolled over in bed.
“At least they still love each other,” my roommate had told me, laughing. I’d thrown my phone at her head.
I kind of wanted to throw it at Nora’s head now. She didn’t have her supernatural reflexes inside the hotel. I bet I could hit her.
“Put the date on the schedule, Kennedy,” she said.
I rolled my eyes toward the computer screen. May 16th was, unfortunately, wide open.
“Can’t you just marry somebody else?” I asked.
Nora’s smooth expression finally cracked. That made her look more human than stepping into the hotel’s null-zone.
“Seriously?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, standing. “Seriously. Jared’s, what? Three centuries old? You can’t have anything in common.”
“He’s two centuries old,” Nora snapped. “And we have everything in common. You don’t know him.”
“I know he’s a vampire.”
“He’s a person.”
“He’s Arcoro’s scion. His second in command. His freaking henchman. Your dad will kill both of you.”
“I’ll handle my father.”
“Really?” I asked, skepticism riding heavy on the word. “Because I doubt that. I’ve met your dad. He’s kind of a hard ass, Nora.”
“And shouldn’t a man who’s two centuries old ask permission to wed someone’s daughter?”
“I don’t need to ask permission.”
“Jared does. Come back when he has it.” Or, come back any time later, when my parents are back home and I’m across town sleeping through Campbell’s class.
I rolled the chair under the desk, intending to walk around it and show Nora the door, but before I took a step, she grabbed the briefcase she’d brought with her and slammed it down hard on the desk.
“Just put us on the damn schedule.”
Her green eyes blazed with so much fury that, for a moment, I thought the null-zone might have shattered. It was almost intimidating.
A second later, when she opened the briefcase, it was intimidating.
“Um,” I said so eloquently, “I don’t think we accept cash deposits.”
I held her gaze, she held mine, and I could suddenly hear the ticking of the clock on the wall behind me. If my parents chose this moment to walk into their office, my mom would freak out. She’d tell me I was asking for trouble and go on and on about how fragile the peace between the paranorms was, and how this hotel – our hotel – would become a battleground if the treaty was ever broken. All the paranorms wanted The Rain. It was the only place on Earth where vampires could see the sun rise and where werewolves could stay human during the full moon. If Lehr or Arcoro broke the treaty, the hotel would burn to the ground, and the vamps and wolves would lose their oasis forever.
Or so the legend said. I’d never seen the treaty. I wasn’t even sure it existed, but if it did, I’m sure the whole burn-to-the-ground thing violated all sorts of fire codes.
The briefcase of money lay open between me and Nora. I wanted to look at it – I was, after all, a starving college student – but I’d stopped submitting to paranorms years ago. I might not live in The Rain anymore or be immersed in the world of vamps and wolves, but I wasn’t about to back down.
“Please,” Nora said on a heavy exhale of air. She still held my gaze, but since I was fairly certain she’d never uttered that word before, I took it as a submission.
And as a sign of something else.
“You’re really in love with him, aren’t you?” I asked.
Her nostrils flared, and I swear to God her eyes turned glassy.
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t,” she said quietly.
“And your father doesn’t know? Arcoro doesn’t know?”
Nora closed the suitcase and straightened. “Not yet.”
I caught a flicker of fear in her eyes.
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. I’ve always a sucker for tragic love stories. If she and Jared were really serious about each other, it could turn out to be Romeo and Juliet to the extreme.
“I’ll put you on the schedule,” I told her, “but my parents will take you off.”
“They won’t,” she said, lifting her chin and sounding one thousand percent confident. Welcome back, spoiled little rich Were.
I countered her chin-lift with a raise of an eyebrow. “Don’t tell me you printed up save the date cards already.”
She gave me a tight-lipped smile. “You should check the hotel’s financial records.”