Author’s Note: Blurb updated Dec 28, 2016. It’s a work-in-progress. I’m still not happy with it. >.<
Wooooo! There’s some partying going on around here: Blood Borne’s been picked up by Less Than Three Press. *happy dance* It’s the third book in The Republic series and reveals several things that are key to the series going forward. It also offers both my first asexual MC and first bigender MC.
The contract has come at such an amazing time. I finished edits on the galley for Four (book #2) this week and I’m currently working on book #4, Soulbound. Together with Blood Borne, the three books form a snug trio within the whole series. There’s a lot of spill-over.
More information to come in 2017. For right now, here’s a bit about the book and an excerpt.
About Blood Borne:
For Ress, survival is nothing short of a complicated nightmare. Caught between two masters on different sides of the law, his life is falling apart one bad decision at a time. All he wants is to be is a good person, a loyal family man, and a successful metalsmith—a fantasy he can never obtain while he works for the Shar-denn, the gang that plagues the republic of Kattal with violence and criminal activity.
To make matters worse, he works as an informant for the High Council. He scrapes through both jobs waiting for his last breath, knowing his usefulness is coming to an end. As the Shar-denn motto says: “The only way out is dead.”
No stranger to living complicated decisions, Adren is caught between worlds of cir own. The child of a Shar-denn faction boss, Adren is alone after the rest of cir family is arrested. Desperate and on the run, Adren is determined to punish Ress for turning in cir family. No one betrays the gang and lives. The rules are clear: Ress must pay in blood, even if Adren has to betray everything ce is.
Unless love can save them both.
No one betrayed the Shar-denn and got away with it. No one.
And no one hurts my family without paying for it. Revenge isn’t sweet, it’s necessary. And I’m going to bring so much necessary upon this guy he’ll feel it for all eternity.
Gripping Pade by the collar, Adren tugged him close. “Give me the name. Tell me whose blood I need to wear.”
“Ress.” Pade’s lips curled into a smirk. “If you’re going to do your daddy proud, please tell me I can come with.”
Adren shoved him back. “Be my guest. There’ll be enough guts to go around.”
“There won’t be anything if we don’t shut up and get moving.” Darus growled and snapped his fingers at the quiet, gangly man in the furthest corner. “You, Heweth, get that damn door open.” He sheathed his knife as Heweth obeyed, dragging a short ladder with him from where it had leaned against the wall. “The rest of you run. Don’t look back, don’t give me sad eyes, don’t give me lip. Head for cache houses in any direction that isn’t where we’re going or find one of the other hideaways. When you get there, spread the word that Rivane’s gone down.”
Heweth positioned the ladder beneath the ceiling door and climbed the steps. The door squeaked as Heweth opened it slowly, allowing dim light to creep into the hidey-hole. Adren bit back cir protest as Darus clapped a dirty hand over cir mouth, jerking cir against his chest.
“Shut it,” Darus whispered, tilting his head and stepping against the wall, hiding in the safety of the shadows. No one breathed or moved, the perfect silence in the cellar disrupted by the soft sounds of leaves moving in the breeze. Heweth pushed the door open further and stuck his head out, glancing in every direction he could manage without falling.
“Clear,” Heweth announced with a hoarse whisper, pushing the door open completely. “See you on the other side.” He scrambled out of the hole and disappeared into the darkness, his footsteps heavy on fallen leaves, branches cracking in his wake.
Pade grabbed Adren’s hand and yanked cir from Darus. “Your turn.” He pulled cir towards the steps, gripping cir tight as he climbed the ladder and dragged cir with him.
From behind, Darus shoved Adren up the steps, jabbing cir in the back and pushing on cir legs.
Hands off, Adren almost yelled. If circumstances were different, ce would have turned around and punched him in the throat.
Things are already complicated enough. And that bastard—that unbelievable, cock-twisting bastard of a little bitch—he snitched on us. Us!
Adren snarled at Pade as he hauled cir onto the grass, twigs snapping under their shifting weight. It should have been Mordane standing there with cir. It should have been Tethe pushing cir up the steps. Rivane should have been the first to run, not an overpaid lackey who they would likely never see again. Not one of the men in the hole would ever measure up to the men that had raised cir. For all of Tethe’s inner darkness and inconsiderate impositions, he was the staunch protector ce needed to feel safe in cir own home. When no one else could be trusted, Tethe was the one ce turned to, knowing his scathing hands would settle any danger ce could not ward off cirself.
And when no one else wants to be seen with me, there’s Mordane, the only one who’s ever cared enough to love me for me most of the time. He’s the only one who bothers listening that little bit further. And they’re both gone because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.
As Darus pulled himself out of the hole, Adren flicked cir glance to the sky. Through the gaps in shaking branches and wilting leaves, ce glimpsed the stars, cursing every breath the snitch took. The last time ce had stared at the stars, ce had stood with Mordane and Tethe, laughing at the absurdity of wishing upon the night sky. It was so vast, so consuming, yet untouchable, unobtainable. A sea of cold emptiness waiting to crash down upon them and still people cast their hopes to the stars. Adren had agreed with cir brothers that would never be them, only one of the things they had in common. Stars would never dictate their future. Wishes would never fool them. They would make their own destinies, pulling each other along for the ride. None of them would be left behind.
Now that memory was tainted, muddied by a new memory of standing alone, wishing upon the stars for cir family to survive.
Darus snatched Adren’s arm. “Let’s go.” He pulled cir to the north, charging between bushes without waiting for Amelin to catch up. Pade hurried past them, light on his feet, scanning every direction for danger. So far, the soldiers’ focus seemed to have remained on the estate on the other side of the woods, though their luck could change at any moment.
“And you expect us to go where?” Adren clutched cir satchel, picking up cir pace to match Darus’s.
He sighed loudly, throwing an annoyed glance over his shoulder. “Cache house. We need information. Can’t catch a snitch when you don’t know where he is.”
“And we need a plan,” Amelin added, rushing up behind them, winded.
“That, too.” Darus tugged Adren harder. “But we need to leave now, so keep up.”
When he broke into a run, Adren followed, batting away leaves and tall grasses as they fled with Pade in the lead and Amelin behind. Each step that took cir away from home felt like a blunt saw shredding cir heart. The house ce had grown up in. The family ce loved. Both abandoned, both seized; both in the custody of cruel hands that would respect nothing about them.
Ress would die—a promise, not a hope. He would shed a drop of blood for every memory that haunted cir.
For each comforting image of cir father playing a game with cir, teaching cir about rules and strategy, Ress would weep at cir feet.
For every time ce remembered cir mother’s girlish laughter as they danced barefoot in the courtyard to the dulcet sounds of a string quartet, Ress would feel the lash of Adren’s wrath.
For all the times ce relived the times Mordane and Tethe had embraced cir and wiped the fear from cir soul with the gentlest glance, Ress would scream for mercy.
Ce would teach him what loyalty meant. Ce would bleed him dry.
I can just see him now: a sleazy, greasy, little man in expensive boots with cheap perfume. Not even worth the flimsy rag to wipe his guts from the wall. Or he’s some lazy lowlife of a rodent, toothless and clawing at the scraps. No prospects except to run his mouth. I bet he’s too stupid to hide.
Adren glanced at Darus, his long coat trailing behind him as he kept a steady pace, taking large strides with Pade through the harvested field before cir. They would find Ress and make certain he could never speak again. Any plan, any strategy. I’ll do whatever I have to do to shut him down, and these guys can take whatever shots they want. But the final kill is mine. I’ll make his soul writhe in agony forever then I’ll get my family back. And if there’s one life I’ll end happily, one name I’ll die saying without regret, it’s Ress’s.