Snippet Time – Reaper’s Deliverance

Hey, everyone! 🙂 sorry for the lack of posts over the past week or so, I’ve had one of those weeks where you just don’t stop spinning around with work and family. You know the kind of week, right? Anyhoo, to make up for it, here’s a snippet from my new paranormal WIP, Reaper’s Deliverance, and I’ve got a post coming tomorrow about the first line of any book, so keep an eye out! Enjoy! 😀

(Also, my MC here swears quite a lot, but I’ve beeped them out. LOL)

*****

Copyright © Deklofenak at bigstockphoto.com

Copyright © Deklofenak at bigstockphoto.com

This is a joke. A sick joke one of the others is playing on me. Ryder let out a shaking breath, digging his nails into the soft flesh of his palms as he shook his head vigorously. Thoughts tumbled one over the other in his mind, shifting against each other in a flurry of colours and faces. The fear in the pit of his stomach squeezed at him, and he felt the hairs rising up on the back of his neck in response. Limbs trembling, he staggered backwards, away from the nightmare in front of him. The hooded figure simply crooked its finger again, letting out a deep, mournful sigh.

Ryder blew in and out a few calming breaths, drawing himself up and sticking his chin out proudly. Come on, Ryder, what the f*** are you frightened of? It’s a joke. Making the decision firm in his mind, he swallowed back the bile that threatened to erupt from his throat, striding across the hall confidently. His footsteps echoed sharply back to him, the hard rubber soles of his boots hitting the floor with uncustomary heaviness. Stopping just shy of the two figures, Ryder felt a chill travel along his skin, lifting hairs with it in its wake, as he parted his dry lips and passed his tongue across them. “So, who’s the joker? Is it Greg? Matthew? It was Matthew, wasn’t it?” He let out a dry chuckle, his nerves jumping at the croakiness of his own voice.

When no response came from either of the figures gazing down at him with their dark expressions, anger flared in his gut, his natural reaction to anything being withheld from him. It was a reaction every probation officer and police officer had ever seen from him. Temples throbbing, Ryder glanced from one to the other with wild eyes, screaming, “Tell me who the f*** it was!”

“It’s no use shouting, young man. I’m stood right in front of you, and I can hear perfectly, despite my age,” the cloaked man intoned. His voice boomed across the hall, and the resonance of the tone brought memories of worlds long since passed, of lives come and gone in the blink of an eye. He lowered his crooked arm, the fabric of his cloak whispering as he shifted down the steps to come closer. Ryder lifted his boot as if to take a step back, but held his ground, tensing his jaw. The man paused for a second, holding the staff out for the woman by his side to take. She gripped it silently, grasping the wood with both hands as she brought it before her and rested on it.

The man brought his hands up to the hood, pulling it back deliberately. Ryder bit his tongue to prevent whimpering as the deathly countenance of the figure was revealed. His skin was as pale as snow, both eyes milky-white and blind, no hair on his head. Wrinkles covered his skin, but there was something youthful about the way he held himself. “Gilbert Ryder Thompson, I am sorry to greet you here, for one so young. This,” he continued, gesturing around the grand space with raised arms, “is the Hall of Rest.”

“What is this? What’s going on?” Ryder bit out, taking the step back with his boot as he swallowed hard to coax saliva back into his dry mouth.

The figure fixed him with both milky eyes, and uttered, “My name is Ankou, and this is my wife, Morrigan. We are the Guardians of Death. It is our solemn duty to help those who have died…pass over into their next life.”

The words slammed into Ryder like the truck had slammed into his fragile body. Air seemed to evaporate from his lungs, and he clutched at his throat, wheezing for oxygen as his stomach twisted.

 

Taken from ‘Reaper’s Deliverance’, copyright © Miranda Stork, 2014. 

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Teaser Thursday – Creator Of Shadows!

Hello, lovely peeps! 😀 I know, I know what you’re thinking…no, not that thing about the cookies. That I was going to put up a snippet of Daughters Of Brigitania today? Well…I’m not. Muhahaha! I’ve decided it might be nice to give you guys a peek at Creator Of Shadows instead, the third in my Scarlet Rain series. Enjoy! 🙂 

*And as always, this is from a WIP, so remember there might be a few editing errors. 😉

If she tried slamming herself against the door one more time, she was going to break something vital.

Lorenna gave a grunt, and slid down against the polished wood, landing heavily on her butt. She lifted a grubby hand and ran it through her stuck-together hair, rolling her eyes in disgust at the tatters. She slumped back and roved her eyes around her cell, taking in the broken bed and bench. The floor was made up of grey slabs of stone, cold and unforgiving as she perched herself on it.

“You could have at least left me with some water!” she cried out, twisting herself so her shout could be heard outside. Lorenna sighed to herself, and leaned her head against the door once more. She didn’t have a clue where Feoran was. Or why he had taken her—well, no, that wasn’t strictly true. It was because he had the hots for her. Unrequited hots, I’d like to add. But it still didn’t explain exactly why he thought locking her up would help her see him in a romantic light. Stockholm Syndrome might be the closest he would get, and that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

Receiving no answer, the witch rubbed her hands together, firing up her magic. Thrusting her hands out, she attempted to blow a hole through the stone walls…succeeding only in making a few small sparks jump away from her fingers. “Bloody hell!” she yelled in frustration. There seemed to be some kind of barrier in the room, preventing her from casting any spells. Perhaps snatching her away from battle hadn’t been a spur of the moment thing, after all. Feoran had obviously planned this for some time.

As if on cue, keys rattled in the lock above Lorenna’s head. She jumped up in readiness, cursing the lack of protection she had for herself. Her violet eyes drifted over to the bed, a brief thought about trying to snap off a leg floating past. But there wasn’t time. She shuffled backwards as the oak door shuddered open, revealing the ominous silhouette of Feoran.

“Hello, little witch. Enjoying your stay?”

Lorenna gave a sneer. “The views aren’t much, and the food is terrible. I’d rate it a sh***y experience so far.”

Feoran strode into the room, the sconces from behind him casting light across the sharp planes of his face, black eyes gleaming like hot coals. A slow grin crossed his face, and he shrugged casually, meandering across the stone slabs until he halted in front of her. Lorenna flinched, but kept her features cold and unafraid. “Little witch, you’ll find you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you know. I have much more comfortable rooms than this.”

“I’d rather jump in a pit of snakes, thanks.” Lorenna’s mouth drew in a hard line.

Feoran hid a snigger. “That can be arranged.”

Lorenna gave a dry laugh, and tossed her hair over her shoulder, folding her arms. “So what do I owe this immense pleasure to? I’ve got a busy day, you know.”

“Doing what? Making sparks?” The vampire jerked his finger towards her hands. “You can’t do much else in here. I had it specially made for you.”

“How kind,” Lorenna spat, her breathing speeding up with her rising fury. “Let’s cut to it. What the f*** do you want, Feoran?”

He twirled around and made his way to the bed, seating himself on it heavily. Lorenna’s eyes flickered over to the open door, but she knew better than that. Feoran followed her eye-line, clearing his throat to attract her attention back to him. “If you want to put it so bluntly, a f***. What do you think I want, Lorenna? A cosy conversation?”

Taken aback by his words, the witch swallowed anxiously, trying to coax some saliva back into her dry throat. She shook her head resolutely, tightening her grip on her skin. Her violet eyes darkened to purple as she innocently replied, “You know what, Feoran? I think you’re a lot like the Phantom of the Opera.”

“Not quite what you would expect under the surface and into choral music?” he smirked back, letting his tongue run over one fang.

Lorenna’s lips twitched, and she retorted, “No. Just as ugly under the mask and twice as unlikely to get the girl.”

Like this snippet? Why not sign up to my newsletter here, where you can be kept up to date with all my releases, including Creator Of Shadows. 😀

(Taken from ‘Creator Of Shadows’, Copyright © 2013 Miranda Stork. Do not reproduce, use, copy, or include in any way in any format, digital or print, without prior permission of the author.)

Thursday Teaser! Daughters of Brigantia

Hello, lovely folks! 😀 Today is Thursday, and it’s not as easy with the alliteration on this day! Thursdays will alternate between teasers from my current WIP, and ‘Take Over Thursday’, when another author will have a guest post up instead. 🙂

So for today, enjoy a teaser from Daughters of Brigantia, the historical novel I’m working on under my pen name, Kathryn Northwood. Enjoy! (Also, bear in mind this is a WIP…there may be a few typos I’ve missed at the moment. 😉 )

…………..

© Wikicommons

© Wikicommons

Venutius stared down into the valley surrounding the fort, watching the men steadily building up the wooden posts at the far end. It grew every day, and made him worry more about the advancing Romans. Cartimandua seemed to keep more and more secrets to herself every day, and as merely a prince regent, he had little say in the matter. Taking in a deep breath, he let it out again over the early morning mist floating over the landscape.

The sound of someone approaching made him twist around, his heart plummeting like a stone within his chest. Closing his eyes for a second, as though to shut himself against the world, he summoned his courage and turned to face the messenger he knew had brought the bad news. To his shock, Aiia stood with clenched fists before him, her red hair flying wildly in the wind that whipped the strands across her neck.

“Aiia…my boy. Is he…?” Venutius let the sentence sit, his tone tense as he held back his sorrow. He already knew her answer.

Her clear eyes seemed to flicker with something, and she gave a glance to the bodyguard by his side, stood silently with folded hands. “I have something delicate to tell you. We need to be alone,” she replied.

He motioned the guard away, who strode far enough away to miss the conversation, but still close enough to run over if needed. Watching the man as he walked away, Aiia bit her lip and slowly made her way across to her brother-in-law, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. She barely came up to his chest, but there was something very adult in her stance. “I’m afraid…the child has not made it into the world.”

Venutius’ face paled, and he took a staggering step backwards, huffing out a breath. His world collapsed around him and fell into the valley below. My boy…

“There’s something else, which I feel you should know. It…” Aiia licked her lips in a nervous gesture, and paced to his side, placing a soft hand on his arm. “I’m so sorry, Venutius. The child wasn’t yours.”

Thinking perhaps he had misheard her, Venutius laughed dryly, and shook his head. “I beg your pardon, Aiia. I’m afraid I do not understand your meaning.”

Peering up at him with soulful eyes, Aiia repeated, “The boy was not your son, Venutius. My sister has lain with another man, and deceived you.”

A hand flew to his mouth in shock, but a second later it fell to his sword hilt. Dark bark-coloured eyes burning with rage, he hissed, “Who is it? I’ll cut him from limb to limb for this. Tell me, by the gods, tell me!”

“Please, Venutius! It’s not important, he’s just a boy. It was my sister who led him on, not the other way around. She lied to me as well, told me nothing had happened. But the boy…he held his colouring, Venutius, not yours. She admitted it to me.”

Ignoring her pleas, he grew more irate, sliding the sword out with a measured pull. It glinted in the early sunlight, bouncing off the blade with a dangerous ferocity. Aiia drew herself in front of him once more, grabbing both of his arms with a pleading gesture. He glanced down at her worried face, and shook his head, trying to remove her arms.

She clung to them tightly, and only let go of one arm to cup his face with a gentle hand. She pulled his face down to hers, and whispered, “Please, leave the boy be. Do not cause strife because of my sister’s wrongdoing.”

“You’re…you’re right. I am mourning, Aiia, that is all. I apologise.”

“I do understand, Venutius. She lied to me too.” Aiia stared up into his emotion-filled eyes, his strong jaw, his giving lips. Before she knew what she was doing, she let her hidden feelings for him erupt in a passionate press of her own mouth against his. His musky scent surrounded her, and she let out a soft moan.

Venutius pulled back sharply, gasping and holding his sister-in-law back. “No, Aiia, you mustn’t,” he hoarsely managed.

Her lip wobbled, and she clutched his head in her palms once more. “But Venutius, she has betrayed you! I love you, I would never do what my sister has done.”

“No, Aiia.” His tone was firm as he gently removed her hands, placing them back by her sides. Taking a deep breath, he avoided her yearning gaze as he added, “I love your sister. Whatever wrong she has done me, I owe it to my people—and yours—to rule by her side. I cannot pretend I shall forget this transgression of hers, but I must live with it.”

Aiia snapped her wrists away from him, her passion melting into dismay. “Even after what she has done to you?”

Her brother-in-law hung his head. “Perhaps it is partly my fault. I have still not given her a child, and she has gone elsewhere to produce an heir for the Brigantes. You must understand her position, Aiia, it is not her own.”

She let out an anguished hiss, rounding on him, her cloak and nightdress billowing out in the cold wind that picked up. A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance as dark clouds slowly took their place across the sun, as if the gods were agreeing with her case. Venutius gave them a nervous glance, but Aiia never flinched. “I would give you everything I am, Venutius. And yet, you remain with my sister! You deserve to have her. May the gods give you everything you both have coming!” Her voice rose to a hysterical pitch as she finished her curse, turning and sprinting in the direction of Moonbourne. Venutius didn’t even try to run after her, simply letting her go without a backward stare.

She raced faster through the grass and mud, her cheeks flushed with the embarrassment of being rejected, her eyes shining with dark purpose. Meddu ran out from her sister’s roundhouse and tried to stop her, but she simply shook her head and carried on running. Making her way up the hill, she ran full tilt into Gaisio, stumbling drunkenly out after another night of songs and beer.

He frowned when he saw she was still not dressed, and in such disarray. “What on earth has happened, Aiia?”

Ignoring his direct question for the moment, Aiia breathlessly asked, “Where you serious about going to fight back the Roman invaders with our Catuvellauni cousins?”

“Yes. Why?”

She took a careless glance over her shoulder, towards the hut of her sister, and over to the other side where Venutius could still be seen staring out over the valley below. Determination was etched on her face as she replied, “Because you were right. And I’m coming with you.”

Like this snippet? Why not sign up to my newsletter here, where you can be kept up to date with all my releases, including Daughter Of Brigitania. 😀

(Taken from ‘Daughters Of Brigantia’, Copyright © 2013 Kathryn Northwood. Do not reproduce, use, copy, or include in any way in any format, digital or print, without prior permission of the author.)