First two chapters of Chained by Darkness

As promised, I’m posting the first two chapters from Chained by Darkness for you all.  I also want to announce that I’m going to be giving away prizes during the month of October for fans.  Most of the contests for them will be held on my Facebook page (found here), but I’ll go ahead and start the first one on my blog.

Anyone who comments on this post (not on Goodreads) between now and October 10th at midnight (Eastern Daylight Time-US) will get a set of bookmarks and postcards for the sensor series.  International participants are welcome.  Just be sure to leave a valid email address in the appropriate field so I’ll be able to contact you for address information.  If your comment doesn’t go through right away, not to worry, I’ll come along shortly and approve it.

This is an example of what the bookmarks look like:

Darkness Haunts bookmark singleDarkness Taunts bookmark singleChained by Darkness bookmark single

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the chapters (beware there is explicit content in them).

*****

Chapter One

There comes a time in a man’s life when he looks back and wonders what he might have done differently.  When he realizes a series of events brought him to a point where he can no longer alter his course.  Death is easy.  It’s the waiting to die that proves difficult.  Endless weeks spent in a black hole, deprived of every sensation, and Lucas still didn’t know how he could have changed anything.  He wasn’t a man to wallow in regret, but they’d left him with far too much time to think.

His body had long since gone numb.  The bite of the chains, holding him suspended in four directions, were the only reminder that he still lived.  Not even oxygen reached this hellish place.  He’d have killed for a breath of air, but his lungs had caved in as soon as his captors sealed him inside the dark tomb.

Total sensory deprivation.

His enhanced vision couldn’t see a damned thing and the manacles were spelled with magic to suppress every one of his powers.  The frigidity of the place kept his naked body uncomfortable, but he could handle that.  It was the endless waiting that was getting to him.  He fought to hang on, to not lose his sanity—for however long it took.

He felt certain this was his longest stay in the hole yet.  Remiel and his angelic cohorts should have killed him already, but Lucas suspected they wanted to make him suffer before the end came.  The fools seemed to forget he’d been a regular guest in Purgatory for centuries.  He could endure it, so long as he didn’t think of her.  The memories might have helped keep his mind occupied during the endless hours, but they also reminded him of everything he’d lost. He needed to stay focused if he was to get out of this current predicament.

A loud screeching noise broke the monotony of silence.

Lucas lifted his head as the heavy door sealing him inside opened.  A rush of air surged into the room and he sucked it in, savoring every bit as it entered his lungs.  It took several short breaths before he could fill them completely.  He squinted against the light filtering in through the doorway.  Even with the shadowy figure blocking much of it, he still needed a moment to adjust from the darkness.

The first thing he noticed was the man’s swirling gray eyes.  They glowed with an eerie light common to his kind.  Then he saw the wild mane of silvery hair that ran past his shoulders—a less frequent trait.  Lucas knew exactly whose hulking form stood there.  Kerbasi.  The man in charge of all living prisoners in Purgatory.

Fucking bastard.  If ever there was a man that needed killing, it was him.

“I do hope you’ve calmed that temper of yours down.  I’ve never seen you quite this…out of control upon arrival,” Kerbasi mused.

There may have been a minor altercation when they brought him in—he’d definitely not gone gently into this good night.  Before, they’d always sentenced him first and then taken him to a prison cell before anything else happened.  He’d hoped for a chance to argue his way out of confinement and hadn’t been too pleased when that opportunity got shoved into the dark.  They’d changed the order of things this time around.

“Free me from these chains and I’ll show you control,” Lucas growled.

Kerbasi stepped forward.  “Something about you has changed since your last visit.  What could it be?”

Lucas cleared his mind of any telling thoughts.  They would only be used against him.

“The only thing that has changed is my tolerance for you, guardian.  It now ranks somewhere between mosquitoes and YouTube commercials—annoying and practically unavoidable.”

Kerbasi shook his head.  “You say the strangest things, nephilim.”

The guardian pressed his cold hand to Lucas’ forehead.  It felt as if hundreds of needles pierced his skull as Kerbasi worked to penetrate his mind.  Lucas gritted his teeth and focused on food.  Not a difficult thing to do.  He was hungry enough to rip a cow open just to get a chunk of steak out of it.  Too bad this place didn’t have livestock—or any native animals for that matter.  On the rare occasions they did serve food, he couldn’t identify it.

“You never cease to amuse, nephilim.  Is our hospitality not up to your expectations?  Not to worry, I’ll provide an opportunity for you to win a meal soon enough.”

“I’m sure you will.” Lucas knew what the guardian had in mind, but he didn’t care.  Anything would be better than sitting in this black hole for much longer.

Kerbasi pressed into Lucas’ mind with more force.  “I have been informed you’re here because you failed to protect your sensor.  Did you finally give up on your duty after all this time?”

Images of Melena flashed through his mind before he could stop them.  The look on her face just before he’d been taken away.  How she’d tried to argue with the archangel, Remiel.  Lucas had wanted to resist leaving, but she would have joined him in the fight if he had.  Watching her die once had been enough.

She’d become important to him and seeing her lifeless body after the demon attacked her had almost driven him insane.  Willingly going with Remiel had been the only way to keep her safe, especially since he and his brother had used forbidden methods to resuscitate her.

“How very intriguing,” Kerbasi said.  His eyes scrunched closed as he continued to penetrate Lucas’ innermost thoughts.  “After centuries of hatred for sensors, you’ve grown feelings for this one.  I never thought I’d see such a thing happen.”

“Get out of my head.”  He tried to think of something else—anything else.

Kerbasi latched onto a thread Lucas had worked to hide more than any of the others.  The guardian used his considerable power to pull it loose.  Lucas had grown strong over the past two and a half millennia, but in his weakened state he couldn’t protect his mental barriers against an attack like this.  It was undoubtedly one of the reasons he’d been kept in this black hole for so long.  It took a lot to weaken him to the point he couldn’t defend his mind.

“Her name is…Melena,” Kerbasi said, shifting closer. His robe brushed against Lucas’ bare chest.

Hot and raw images poured out so clearly they had both men sucking in their breath.  The mind-meld must have amplified their intensity.  Lucas could feel his hands gripping Melena’s hips as he buried himself deep inside her body.  He could hear her screams of pleasure and see the look of rapture on her face.  She’d been tight and wet, wrapping herself around him until he couldn’t tell the two of them apart.  He’d never felt sparks flare between him and another woman, but with her it was like an explosion of fireworks.  In a way he couldn’t quite explain, it was as if she was made for him.

If he’d known it would be that way between them, he wouldn’t have been able to resist her for over eight years.  It was those images of her that had helped him get through the past weeks.  They’d only begun to put aside their differences before he left, but those last days with her had changed him.  All the burning hatred they’d had for each other had turned into passion.  He’d spent much of his time in the black hole examining their time together and wondering where it might have led.  Would things still be the same for them if he ever got out?

“You enjoyed her body very much,” the guardian mused.  “I can almost feel the immense pleasure you had from mating with her.  These physical desires…they are strange to me, but I must admit she does have a certain appeal.”  The guardian’s hold loosened ever so slightly.

There wouldn’t be a better opportunity to strike.  Lucas jerked his neck forward and smashed his head into Kerbasi’s face.  The man leapt back and swiped at his nose where an outpouring of blood ran down.  It only took moments for him to heal, but even giving the guardian a brief taste of pain satisfied Lucas.  Not many prisoners got a chance to hurt Kerbasi.

“Touchy about her, are you?” he asked, rubbing his bloody hand on his dark robe.  Amusement reflected in his swirling gray eyes.

“Stay the fuck out of my head.”

Lucas had no shame when it came to Melena, but that didn’t mean he wanted to share his memories of her with a man who’d only use them as a weapon.  Especially a man who’d never even had sex.  Who knew what he might dream up at night with those images in his head now.

The guardian’s gaze ran down his naked form, still stretched out by chains.  Lucas had inadvertently grown hard while he’d relived the memories of Melena.  He refused to feel any embarrassment about that either.  Let the dickless man before him look.

Kerbasi shook his head.  “You have it all wrong.  I’m no more impotent than you are.  The difference between us is that I do not feel the need to succumb to pleasures of the flesh.”

And that was exactly why Kerbasi was such a tight ass.  Too many millennia without getting laid would do that to a man.

Lucas lifted his lips in a feral grin.  “Are you sure it isn’t the lack of available females around this place that curbs your appetite?  Perhaps it’s just as well—I can’t imagine any woman would willingly touch you anyway.”

The guardian frowned.  “I will not allow you to draw me into these pointless conversations.  We have more pressing matters to attend.”

“Found a new method of torture you wish to try on me?” Lucas asked.  It wouldn’t be the first time he’d pulled him from the black hole for that.

Kerbasi’s lips curled up.  “Oh, no.  We must get you ready.”

“For what?”

The guardian stepped out of the room and came back with a large cauldron.  Lugging it closer, he swung it out at Lucas.  Ice cold water splashed over him and ran down his body.  It couldn’t have been more freezing if it had come from an Alaskan river in the winter.  He had to fight the urge to shiver.

“Today marks the beginning of your trial.  They tell me you have a strong chance of being executed after it’s over.  I am most interested to see if you can talk your way out of it this time.”

Chapter Two

Bright light blazed ahead as they rounded a bend in the tunnel.  It shone like a beacon of hope and freedom—a mockery Lucas didn’t find amusing.  The chains binding his hands at his back prevented him from reaching up to shield his eyes.  He bowed his head instead and kept his attention on the ground as he made his way past the loose rocks and chunks of ice that kept cutting into his bare feet.

It had been a long journey to the topside of Purgatory through frigid tunnels carved into the earth long ago.  Fissures in the ceiling allowed rivulets of water to fall into a light stream along the path before sliding away.  Steam swirled around his legs.  He had the uncomfortable sensation of being hot and cold at the same time.

Kerbasi had given him a dark robe to wear and nothing else.  Even the permanent residents of this hellish place didn’t wear much more—the fools.  If they spent even one day in the mortal realm, they’d never want to come back.  Heaven would lose its ignorant minions in a New York minute.  Now there was a thought that deserved exploring.  Then again, even the humans didn’t deserve to have the natives around here thrust on them.

A stoic guardian with wavy black hair stood at the tunnel exit, holding a spear upright in his left hand.  He wore his dark gray wings out and visible, though he was smart enough to keep them folded at his back.  Kerbasi usually kept his hidden.  Lucas’ lips twitched in memory of the time he’d nearly ripped one of the guard’s wings off.  Over three centuries later the damage could still be seen in the jagged line where the feathers didn’t grow properly.  That particular guardian served below, but he’d learned to keep his distance and rarely exposed his plumage anymore.

Kerbasi and Lucas stepped through an invisible shield.  It fizzled over him, reminding him he’d only made it through because they allowed it.   The heat wave that came next scorched his skin.  It would burn a human body and leave them dead in minutes.  As it was, his normally golden tone turned red quickly since he didn’t have the strength to fully protect himself.

His eyes and body adjusted after a few concentrated moments.  He swept his gaze around his surroundings and saw nothing had changed since his last trip through.  Ethereal forms, representing human souls, moved at a sedate pace on the towering mountains behind him.  They had a soft glow and were shaped similar to their former bodies.  Lucas knew they were up there cleansing themselves of misdeeds too minor for Hell, but too immoral for a direct trip to heaven.

He’d never been allowed near them.  The guardians must have suspected he’d be quick to inform the souls they were wasting their time trying to please divine beings who had no concept of how to live a real life.  Why bother?  It was nothing more than a ridiculous game as far as Lucas was concerned.

A crunch of sand drew his attention.  The archangel, Remiel, landed a short distance away on the beach that stretched between the mountains and sea.  His pearly white wings tipped with gold flared out as he took a few steps to slow his momentum.  They gleamed in the bright light before he folded them behind him.  If Lucas ever got a chance to fight that one, he wouldn’t bother with the wings.  He’d go straight for his chest to test the theory on whether he had a heart or not.

Remiel’s eyes reflected the same golden light that could be seen on a nephilim—except the archangel’s were more intense.  The other features of the two races varied, but that one characteristic was always the same.  Such as where Lucas had blond hair, this particular archangel had auburn.  He’d started cutting it closer to the head.  Lucas assumed he liked the orderly appearance it gave him.  When he’d worn it loose and down to his shoulders it had looked wild and disorderly.

Melena had a similar shade of hair to Remiel’s, but hers was glossier and had darker undertones.  It had always felt silky when he’d run his fingers through it.  He missed taking her hair into his hands and watching her eyes turn soft when she’d normally kept them distant.  It’d been his own fault she’d been reserved around him.  He’d put her on guard since the moment they met.

Lucas shook his head.  He needed to stop thinking of her if he wanted to keep his mind on the matters before him.  She had a way of distracting him even when she wasn’t around.

He and the guardian closed the distance from the archangel and stopped a handful of paces in front of him.  If a human could observe them, they’d see three large men—all close to six and a half feet tall wearing robes that did little to hide their muscular bodies.  Power radiated in waves from the two unshackled males so that any supernatural could feel it. Lucas knew that though he’d been weakened for the moment, he could still scare the piss out of a mortal if the urge struck him.  The wary looks Remiel and the guardian kept shooting his way told him that much.  He preferred to choose his moments of rebellion carefully.  This wasn’t one of them, but they didn’t know that.

Kerbasi nodded at the archangel.  “He’s all yours.  I’ve weakened him sufficiently so that you shouldn’t have too much trouble.”

Lucas fisted his chains in his hands.  The guardian was a fool if he thought he’d truly subdued him.  Kerbasi shot him a look that said he’d caught that thought.  It didn’t matter.  Lucas could shield his mind from him at a distance if he needed to, but it was a waste of energy for the moment.

“I’m not concerned,” Remiel said, grabbing Lucas’ arm.  “We have our own method for keeping him under control.”

Perhaps they did, but without their special powers they’d be nothing against him.  The fools rarely fought against real adversaries.  Their lack of experience made them weak as far as he was concerned.  Even now, Lucas had to struggle against the urge to pull away from Remiel’s hold.  He needed to be compliant around the angels until he could come up with a plan.

Kerbasi’s gray eyes swirled lazily.  “Ah, yes.  You prefer to freeze them so there is no struggle at all.  It takes the fun out of things.”

Lucas had to admit, the guardian at least had a sense of adventure.  The angels were pathetically boring.

“It’s expedient,” Remiel said.  “Some of us have more important duties than torturing nephilim.  I’ll leave the fun you describe in your capable hands.”

Kerbasi’s body tensed.  He’d never handled the insults the angels threw his way very well.  It hadn’t resulted in a physical fight yet, but Lucas held out hope.

“Good luck,” Kerbasi said before turning away and heading back toward the mountains.

Lucas gritted his teeth, knowing what was coming next.  Remiel froze him—the only power that could keep a nephilim like him controlled—and pulled him close.  They thrust up into the sky, with the archangel’s wings beating hard, toward a portal linking heaven and Purgatory.  Lucas hated the feeling of vulnerability that came with not being able to move.  Worse than that, he loathed being in close proximity to anything angelic.

He breathed an inward sigh of relief when they touched ground after crossing through the glowing portal.  Remiel let go of him and released the “freeze” spell, though he stayed within arm’s reach.  The archangel wouldn’t want a despised nephilim getting loose this close to heaven’s gates.  Lucas knew they were around here somewhere, but with all the thick clouds distorting the landscape he didn’t know exactly where.  Old St. Peter sure would get a surprise if he ever found him.

The spongy ground squished under his feet as they walked across an open area toward a pearly white building reminiscent of Roman architecture.  It stood by itself with nothing around it.  He knew the structure was far older than those similar to it on earth.  Lucas had wondered more than once if the angels had exerted their influence on the human version of the design.  It didn’t appear very large on the outside, but his previous visits had revealed it would open up disproportionately once they went inside.

They walked up the front steps and crossed under an arched opening.  There were no doors.  He supposed robbery and vandalism weren’t a concern here.  Lucas had never been a fan of graffiti, but the endless white walls, both inside and out, had his hand itching for a can of red spray paint.  The sheer lack of color and radiating light (with no apparent source) had him missing the dark hole he’d been pulled out of earlier.  If Kerbasi ever discovered this bothered him more, he’d be stuck in glowing white rooms for the rest of his stay in Purgatory—however long that lasted.

Remiel guided him to a marble bench set in the middle of the cavernous room.  Then he grabbed a set of shackles bolted to the floor and began attaching them to Lucas’ ankles.  They were made of the same metal as the ones holding his wrists.  He could feel what little power he’d reserved dwindle even further.  His chest tightened, as if that could somehow keep it inside.

They always took extra precautionary measures since an incident at one of his trials many centuries ago where he’d lost patience and kicked one of the archangels in the face.  They hadn’t expected him to leap across the room to pull off the move.  There’s something to be said for the satisfying crunch that comes with a broken nose when it’s directed at an archangel.  Too bad the bastard healed from it as fast as he did.

They’d tacked on another five years to Lucas’ sentence as punishment and Kerbasi had put the extra time to good use.  Having his flesh peeled from his body every week made it difficult to decide whether it had been worth it.  He tried not to think of that period of his life too much.

Lucas glared at the four archangels, three men and one woman, assembled at the marble table before him.  They had no expression on their faces and sat as still as statues in their white robes.  The urge to do something to make them react gripped him, but he kept still.  For the first time in his life he had someone more important to consider than himself.  Every day they kept him from Melena was one more day she could be attacked or killed.  She’d amassed too many enemies since moving to Alaska and he didn’t know if those left behind to protect her would be enough.

Even worse, he could no longer feel her life force anymore.  Lucas had never paid much attention to the emptiness that came every time they severed his soul from a sensor, but it’d almost gutted him to be separated from Melena.

Before, he’d always known if she was in grave danger.  He could even track her whereabouts and “see” her in his mind.  It wasn’t something he did more often than necessary, but he did it enough to ensure she wasn’t planning something too dangerous.  If she’d died permanently, he would have as well—one of the reasons their souls had been tied together.  It’d been insurance that he’d keep his end of the deal with the angels, though after a while it had turned into a whole lot more.  She was the one sensor he’d begun to want to protect.

Remiel finished locking Lucas’ leg shackles and moved toward the other archangels at the table.  The room only had benches for seating—most likely because all of the others present had wings and needed the space.  It was the one thing he envied about them, that they could fly.  Even master vampires could develop the ability to levitate far off the ground.  The gift had skipped nephilim altogether.

With the flick of Remiel’s wrist, a scroll appeared on the table.  The archangel picked it up and unwound it.  He scanned the contents for a moment before he spoke.

“Lucas of Pistiros, you have been brought before divine authority today for breach of contract—an agreement you signed three hundred and twenty-five years ago and consented to uphold without benefit of a termination date.  Eight weeks ago you failed to protect your assigned sensor and allowed her to die, albeit temporarily.  This is a grave violation of the terms and one that cannot be ignored.”

Remiel looked up from the scroll.  “How do you plead?”

Lucas ground his jaw.  “As you know, there were extenuating circumstances.”

“The circumstances you speak of are the primary reason your trial has been delayed until now.  After careful consideration, we’ve decided the evidence is strong enough to move forward with the proceedings.”

How convenient that he was left to rot in a black hole while they sat on their angelic arses twiddling their thumbs over what to do with him.  The whole thing was a joke.

“Let’s not pretend this trial is modeled after the American court system, or some variation thereof.  This is nothing more than a superficial attempt to make yourselves feel as if you’ve acted in a fair and just manner.  I don’t know why you haven’t skipped straight to the execution that we all know will inevitably come at the end of this, but I’m not going to pander to what you most likely consider an excellent idea for entertainment.  If that’s what you want, I’d suggest hiring a rock band or renting a movie.”

Remiel set the scroll down and strode forward to stand before Lucas.  He clasped his hands in front of him.  “You may not wish to believe me, but we are seeking to do what is best for you.  Centuries ago you wouldn’t have been given this opportunity.  Now we are attempting a different method in dealing with your kind in the hopes that you, and the other remaining nephilim, can contribute to the mortal societies in which you live.”

“Hope for me?  For the humans?”  Lucas leaned back on the bench.  “Aiding the humans is a waste of energy.  Give them a little more time and they’ll destroy themselves.  I’ve merely helped them along in their endeavors.”

“That is the point.” Remiel narrowed his eyes.  “They don’t need your violent contributions to what is already a growing problem.  This is exactly why we were forced to rid the earth of so many of your kind in the past.  Nephilim have abused their powers and made matters worse.  You must be held accountable for your actions, regardless of your personal opinions.”

Lucas stretched his legs as far as the chains would allow.  “I’ve most likely killed hundreds of humans in my life…”

“Thousands,” Remiel interrupted.

“At least someone is keeping count.”  Lucas muttered.  “What I fail to understand is how you could be less concerned over the thousands of deaths I’ve caused while focusing so diligently on this one incident.  Let us not even get into the other violations of the contract that I’ve made over the years.  Most of those didn’t even warrant a trial and only merited a brief stay in Purgatory.  Why is this near-death so much more important?”

Ironic that he was being prosecuted because of Melena when she was the one mortal he didn’t want to see die.

Remiel narrowed his eyes.  “You failed to hold your end of the bargain with the most important element of your contract.  All the other stipulations were merely there as guidelines for your behavior, but none of them were as critical as keeping your assigned sensor alive.  By not protecting her, you crossed the red line.”

The archangel’s hands shook as he said the last part.  Lucas had finally managed to crack his stoic facade.  Under different circumstances, it might have amused him.

“You’ve been watching too much of the human media, archangel.  This isn’t about weapons of mass destruction.”

“Lucas of Pistiros, you are a weapon of mass destruction.  Whether you choose to see yourself that way or not, it is my duty to keep you contained.”

“For the humans’ sake,” Lucas drawled, “let us hope you’re more effective at it than the United Nations.”

Remiel glared.  “Your lackadaisical attitude toward death is what makes you even more problematic.  Your presence in Melena Sanders life has been less than positive.  Are you aware she has a higher kill rate than you did at her age?”

Lucas smiled.  “I’ve found that to be one of her more endearing qualities.”

If he didn’t know better, he could have sworn the archangel had steam coming from his ears.  The ivory skin of his face had certainly turned an unbecoming shade of red.  Remiel paced back and forth several times before he relaxed his shoulders and reclaimed his normal veneer of stoicism.

“Her one saving grace is she is more particular about who she kills.  You, on the other hand, are less discriminating.  We have considered that there may be a reason for that.  Your destructive tendencies began quite early in life, which gives us a clue as to what might have set you on the wrong course.  It is possible you developed a case of what the humans call PTSD due to traumatic events during your childhood and that this condition may have contributed to your path of destruction as an adult.”

Brilliant.  Heaven was moving toward becoming more politically correct.  Hell must have frozen over and they needed an excuse to “save” him.

Lucas leaned forward.  “Do not attribute human weaknesses to me.  I can assure you I have enjoyed every moment of my so-called path of destruction and do not believe my childhood has had anything to do with it.”

Now it was the archangel’s turn to smile.  “Nevertheless, we have ordered a psychological evaluation to determine whether or not this is the case.  I’d suggest you cooperate to the fullest extent because his findings will help us decide if you will be allowed to live and perhaps one day return to the mortal realm.”

Remiel looked over to his left toward a doorway Lucas hadn’t paid attention to before.  A man who could only be described as a younger version of Denzel Washington stepped through, wearing a tailored gray suit.  He had somewhat broader shoulders than the actor, but the dark skin tone and height were about the same.  The look in his eyes made Lucas think he could see right through a person to the parts they didn’t want observed too closely.

“To make the evaluation more palatable for you,” Remiel said, turning back to him, “we called upon another nephilim who specializes in psychology to speak with you.  Eli is an excellent example of someone who does well performing his civic duty to the mortal race, rather than harming it.  You’d do well to cooperate with him during your sessions.”

They’d clearly been planning this while he’d been stuck in the black hole.  The arrogant bastards really thought he’d go along with this?

“Your own lack of a childhood must be clouding your judgment, archangel.  I understand.  No Easter Bunny or Santa Claus or even a friendly little Tooth Fairy to collect your baby teeth.”  Not that those things had existed when Lucas was a child, but that wasn’t the point. “It must be traumatic for you that you missed out, but drawing attention to my life isn’t going to solve anything.  I DO NOT need a psychologist.”

Eli closed the distance between them.  He walked with a slight swagger that didn’t match the professional appearance he was trying to convey.  Who was this guy?  Lucas hadn’t met him before, which was surprising, considering there couldn’t have been more than four dozen nephilim left alive.

“Tell me, Lucas.” Eli cocked his head.  “What is it you really want right now?”

Whoever this guy was, he couldn’t be very old.  Lucas wasn’t a sensor like Melena, but supernaturals could still pick up on the power levels of each other.  It felt like a static charge and Eli didn’t have much.  He probably wasn’t more than a few centuries old.

“That’s none of your business, collaborator,” Lucas growled.

The psychologist didn’t even blink.  “Perhaps I should ask Melena if she can provide any valuable insight about you.  It’s early evening in Alaska right now.  I imagine she should be home.”

Lucas leapt to his feet and took a menacing step.  The chains kept him from moving any farther, but he was close enough he could have grabbed the younger nephilim’s neck if his arms had been free.  “Stay the fuck away from her.”

Triumph lit Eli’s eyes.  He turned to the archangels.  “And that, my friends, is the Achilles’ heel you’ve been looking for.”

Visions of ripping the man’s head off swam before his eyes.  Lucas had never wanted to kill anyone more than this guy right now.  His arms strained against the manacles binding him until they bled and began dripping on the floor.  There was nothing he could do.  The cocky man had him.  Lucas needed to find a way to protect Melena and cooperating with the psychologist would buy him time to figure that out.

“You want to ask your ridiculous questions, collaborator, then go ahead.  I’ll play your little game, but go anywhere near the sensor and I’ll find a way to kill you.  Do not doubt it.”

Eli put his hands up.  “All I’m asking for is a little cooperation.  You can keep up the tough guy act as long as you talk.”

Remiel put his hand on the psychologist’s shoulder.  “We’ll adjourn for now and you can meet with him again in a few days.  I believe he needs some time to cool off.”

Lucas gritted his teeth.  What the archangel really meant was he could look forward to visiting Kerbasi in his torture chamber.  They’d want to make sure any time he spent with Eli would be preferable to what he faced in the depths of Purgatory.  It didn’t matter.  Lucas could handle it for as long as it took to get what he needed.  After that, he’d face whatever punishment they meted out.

 

Cover Reveal for Chained by Darkness (Sensor Series, 2.5)

As promised, I’m revealing the cover for Chained by Darkness today.  Hope you all like it as much as I do!  I’m also including the official blurb below and plan to provide the first two chapters of the book during the first week of October (most likely the weekend of the 6th).  Be sure to be on the lookout for them if you want to get an early sneak peek.  Those who had to wait for Darkness Taunts to release will recall I did the same thing for that novel and plan to keep the tradition up.

The official release date for Chained by Darkness is still October 30th.  If I can get it out earlier, I will, but no promises.  For anyone who wants to make sure they get an alert as soon as the book is available on Amazon, go here and click the email prompt on the top right hand side of my author profile page.  I’m not sure if the same service is available for other Amazon country sites, but UK buyers might want to check my profile page here to see if the option is available.

Now for the cover…

Teresa Yeh Photography Proofs

Blurb:

The longer a man lives, the greater the chance his actions will cost him in the future.  When that man is an immortal nephilim, the misdeeds can really pile up.  Lucas has paid for the crimes of his past for centuries, resisting any close relationship that might make his life even more difficult.  Until Melena.  Only she could begin to melt the ice shielding his heart, but then he was captured by his greatest enemies—angels.

Now imprisoned in Purgatory, he’s awaiting trial for his latest crime and knows the verdict will not be in his favor.  Lucas is resigned to the fact his life might be over, but fears without his protection Melena may not survive for long.  She’s got her own enemies back in Alaska and her mortality makes her easy prey.  Whatever happens to him, he must find a way to keep her safe.  No matter the cost.

 

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*For a Q&A about the book, click here.

*Goodreads users can add Chained by Darkness to their TBR list here.

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Sensor Series reading order and purchase links:

Darkness Haunts (book 1)-   Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Kobo

Darkness Taunts (book 2)-   Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Kobo

Chained by Darkness (book 2.5)

Sign-up for Cover Reveal of Chained by Darkness

I wanted to give any readers who have blogs a chance to sign-up for the cover reveal.  It’s going to take place on September 18th.  I promise the cover looks really good and all I’m waiting on now is the typography.

Anyone who hasn’t read this post (which gives a lot more information on the book) may not be aware that this is a novella with Lucas as the main character.  He is the one on the cover, along with a depiction of how I see him in Purgatory.  Honestly, it turned out even better than I imagined and I think you all will love it.  The same designer handled this one as the previous two.  I did arrange a photo shoot with a  professional photographer last month (it was tough going through all those photos afterward, let me tell you) so you won’t find the model pose on any other book.  It does show his face, as a hint.

For anyone who doesn’t have a blog, not to worry.  If you’re subscribed to this one or follow me on Facebook/Twitter, I will post the announcement and you’ll get a chance to see it on the reveal date.  I’ll be updating the cover on Goodreads as well so you can add Chained by Darkness to your TBR list if you have an account there and haven’t done so already.  This is the link.

Bloggers who want to participate-I need you to send me a message via the contact form.  Be sure to include your name and blog URL (it should be an established blog).  I’ll respond as soon as I can to let you know you’ve been added to the list to participate.  A couple of days before the reveal I’ll send you all the materials you need to put up your post.  I do ask that you do not share it with anyone until the assigned date.

Thanks in advance to those who sign-up!

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On a related note, I actually bought the rights to two model poses after the photo shoot.  I’ll be using the second one for promo material.  At the end of this month I’m going to work with the designer to create some post cards and book marks (they will vary since I want some depicting the other novels in the series as well).  If people show an interest in posters, I may even see about getting those as well.  They probably won’t be ready until late October/early November, but I will be holding contests on Facebook to give them away.  If you’re interested, make sure you follow me there so you don’t miss your chance to win!

Info on Chained by Darkness

As promised, I am posting the details for Chained by Darkness, book 2.5 of the Sensor Series.  Please do not read this if you have not read Darkness Haunts and Darkness Taunts yet.  I don’t want the ending from book two spoiled for you.

First off, I realize there are very few UF series with female leads in first person where a male takes over for a book (or novella in this case).  This was not something I originally planned on doing until I was in the midst of writing Darkness Taunts and realized there was no way Lucas would recap much of what happens to him while he’s in purgatory.  If you’ve learned anything about him, you know he tends to keep his revelations short and to the point (when he gives information at all).  It would be extremely out of character for him to say much about what occurs off-screen from Melena.  This leaves me with giving him his own book as part of the progression of the series.  The events that take place do affect future books considerably.

Now on to what to expect.  Lucas is going to be a prisoner in purgatory, which is usually reserved for the dead, but the angels find it a good jail for nephilim (which are one of the few types of immortals who could survive there).  During his stay he will also be undergoing a trial that will be convened by a panel of archangels. His life will be at stake.  Despite that, expect some belligerence on his part.  He has no faith in the system and sees no reason to cooperate.

Other questions that may be running through your mind:

Will Melena appear in this novella?

The short answer is yes.

When does Chained by Darkness start on the Sensor Series timeline?

Approximately six weeks after the end of Darkness Taunts (after the epilogue).  It might also be good for you to know Darkness Divides (book 3) will take place well after Chained by Darkness ends.  There is no overlap of books.

How long will the novella be?

My estimates as of right now are 40-50k words.  It’ll really be closer to short novel length.

What is the POV?

Third person limited (only Lucas will narrate).

Can this novella be skipped?

I’d say it is a bad idea to skip it because, once again, much of what happens in it will never get recapped.  Having said that, the most important details (such as the outcome of the trial) will come out over the course of Darkness Divides in bits and pieces, but not nearly in the detail you’d get from this book.  Skip it only if you really don’t want to read from Lucas’ POV and don’t mind going into the next book missing some information.  Plus parts of his history/background are revealed in this installment.

When will Chained by Darkness Release?

At the end of October at the latest.  As I get further into writing it, I’ll have a better idea.

Who will be on the cover?

Lucas will be on the cover by himself.  I have already coordinated with a professional photographer in Boston who specializes in fantasy work (she’s done some of Samantha Young’s covers as an example).  She will be holding a casting call in August so that we can select the right male model.  We will look for the one who most closely resembles how I see Lucas in my head.

The actual photo shoot will take place shortly after that.  Once we’ve picked the right photo (no, I’m not revealing what pose I have chosen for him, you’ll have to wait and see) it will be handed off to the same cover designer who has done the previous covers in the Sensor Series.  She’ll do her magical thing that makes them look great.  Then it goes off to the typographer (yes, I have a chain of people for this stuff).  If all goes well, I’ll do a cover reveal sometime in mid-September along with an official blurb.

This will not be cheap for me, but I really want exclusive photos that fit Lucas’ appearance in the pose I think will look the best for the book and its content.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy the picture I’m seeing in my head once it’s come to life!

What will be the retail eBook price for Chained by Darkness?

Despite the costs, it’s still a shorter book than the previous ones so I’ll be setting the price at $1.99.

Will there be a paperback version?

After the eBook release, I’ll work to get both Darkness Taunts and Chained by Darkness formatted for paperback versions so those who’d be interested in picking them up may do so.  I will probably do a giveaway of some sort for them as well.  Obviously print versions cost more than eBook versions, but I won’t know how much they will be until they are ready.

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I hope this answers everyone’s questions well enough.  There isn’t much more I can say without going into spoilers, but you are free to ask questions.  If I feel I can answer them, I will, or at least tell you I can’t.