What’s a WIP you ask? Simply a work in progress. And the Snip? You get the chance to preread a sample of my newest book or get a look at something already out there! Check in once a week for a new taste of paranormal…
Today I’m sharing the first chapter of book twelve of the Hayle Coven Novels—Queen of Darkness!
The giant wave crashed over my head about a second after I turned to see it coming. Blue water closed around me, the fading sun shining through, dispersed as I went deeper, shoved down to thud against the sandy bottom as inertia took over. My lungs spasmed, body begging for air I hadn’t had time to draw before going under. The brightly-painted surfboard rocketed to the surface without me, tether line jerking on my ankle as my body tried to figure out which way was up while the foaming rush of water drove me down and rolled me forward, head-first into the gritty bottom.
I suppose I should have panicked, considering. Anyone else would have, I’m sure of it. But even in that moment of mortal terror, my logical mind shrugged.
Immortality had its benefits.
My demon wasn’t quite so calm about the whole thing. She started to shriek the moment we went under, clawing for freedom while Shaylee screamed at me in counter-point. I barely had time to catch myself as I began to flip, butt over end before my demon shredded the edge of the veil and threw us all into it.
Sometimes sharing my body with three other consciousnesses was a bit of a pain in the ass.
I hit the dry beach hard as she dropped us free only feet from the edge of the surf, coughing up the bit of water I’d managed to inhale. There was screaming, yeah, I was familiar with screaming, heading my way, my name being called in panic.
Strong hands grasped me, flipped me over, a pair of arctic blue eyes fading from human to wolf staring into mine told me I was in a world of trouble. Charlotte growled softly under her breath, my ever-faithful bodywere recovering from yet another freak out I caused her.
Hardly my fault. Surfing had been Sashenka’s idea.
My college roommate and best friend fell to her knees beside me, her concern clear on her face as she reached for me around Charlotte, even when the weregirl snapped at her with her teeth as a warning to stay back. I pushed Charlotte aside and sat up, spluttering out a mouthful of sand, looking down in disgust at the mess of me.
“I’m fine,” I said.
Seriously, how embarrassing. Sashenka’s surfer friends had come to crowd around and check on me too. And while I really wasn’t interested in any of the guys, my love life about as complicated as I was willing to have it, it still kicked my ego hard in the soft place knowing how much of an idiot I’d made of myself.
No more surfing. My demon chuffed her full agreement.
The gang backed off with cheery comments: “Great ride, Sydilicious!” “Watch those big ones, Syderino!”, before running off to leap once more into the brink of yet another gigantic wave.
I tried all week to learn to surf, and though I’d even thrown in a little water magic as a cheat, I just had to admit there wasn’t an athletic bone in my body. Outside soccer. And I’d given it up years ago.
Sashenka stayed with me, her hand lifting the severed tether, surfboard nowhere to be seen. “Tallah’s going to kill you,” she grinned. “That was her favorite board.”
I grinned back, wiping at the abrasive sand covering most of my body. “Good thing I’m immortal then, huh?”
Charlotte was not taking this well. “That’s no excuse to pull a stupid stunt,” she snarled. Her accent was stronger than normal, a sure sign she was losing her temper.
“I didn’t purposely try to drown, Charlotte,” I said. “The wave just took me by surprise.”
Her eyes narrowed, the wolf in them restless and full of anxiety. “You might be immortal, but if you get hurt doing something like this again, I’ll kill you myself.” She stood and stalked off, grumbling and muttering to herself in her native language. Had to be swearwords.
Had to be.
I sent Sashenka off to keep surfing, taking a quick dip to clean off the sand before lying back in the dying daylight to watch the others ride the waves. I wasn’t sure why, but as I did I thought of Trill and Owen. The Zornovs had been gone about two months with no word from them. And though I knew they had their own destinies to deal with, that Trill was hopefully busy building a maji army now that we knew the Brotherhood was planning a world and plane-wide takeover, I still worried about them.
There was a time when family didn’t mean much to me, my desire to get out of the witch lifestyle and leave it all behind the driving force in my life. But since I’d regained control and taken over half-leadership of the coven, family meant more to me than I expected. And now that I knew I was immortal, thanks to my demon blood, the Sidhe princess and vampire essence living inside me, being part of something bigger was even more important.
I didn’t even want to think about what Trill said, how I was turning into maji—not just one of the blood line but an actual maji like the meddling Iepa—nor consider what being a creator would mean. Hard enough knowing I’d outlive every person I loved. Well, almost. I had a few undead and demon family members who shared my longevity. And yet, I couldn’t help but worry about them, too.
They were long lived, yes. But I was immortal. Never grow old, never die.
Made me want to curl up under the covers sometimes and hide from the world. Or hug my family so close to me they’d never be free. The truth was so big, the reality of it overwhelming. I just couldn’t deal.
So I shoved it down and pretended nothing changed even though I knew everything had.
Besides, most people would kill to have what I did. And here I was, complaining? Maybe if being immortal came with a quiet, peaceful lifestyle, I’d be less anxious. But mine tended to the ‘nothing, nothing, nothing, save the world before it explodes, nothing’ variety.
Sashenka and Charlotte finally returned, the Hensley second carrying her board, my bodywere lugging the one I’d lost in the surf.
“Saved by the werewolf,” Sashenka grinned, bumping shoulders with Charlotte who looked startled at the contact. “Tallah will forgive you now.”
I climbed to my feet, grinning at the weregirl. Not very often did someone catch her off guard. “Thanks for saving me,” I said with a perfectly straight face.
Sashenka had to go and ruin it by giggling.
Charlotte shoved the board into my arms and snarled, stalking up the beach to the house, body tense and motions jerky and abrupt, a far cry from her normal flowing walk.
“I didn’t mean to make her angry.” Sashenka and her empathy. I winked and hefted the board, following Charlotte’s path with my best friend beside me.
“Trust me,” I said, “she’s having fun. She gets to punish me for all of this later.”
Sashenka’s laughter shattered the last of my pensive mood and, waving together at her friends, we headed home.