I have been total poo at blogging this week. I couldn't think of anything. And my mind is still totally useless on the subject of topics, so I got you an excerpt, randomly chosen, from Eban (The Heckmasters, Book 2). There's some language, so if you're not a fan of that, you might want to pass it over.
In the shadow of the angel statue, Eban hung his head, resting it in his palms. Jesus, everything was a mess. He’d convinced himself sitting for a couple of hours at Rhia’s table for Sylvie’s sake was doable, but he hadn’t been able to force himself past the foyer.
Instead of the walk clearing his mind, it seemed to make things muddier.
Eban looked up into Tell’s scowling face.
How his brother had found him was a mystery, but Tell’s talents for knowing things never ceased to amaze him.
“Come to drag me back to the party?” He slouched more, unable to summon the energy to sit up straight. “There’s nothing you can say that would make me go back there.”
“Eliakim showed up. He’s going to tell her everything.”
Eban jerked upright. “You’re serious.”
Tell rolled his eyes. “As a parasite imp.”
“How did he know where she was?” He got to his feet, then turned toward the street again.
“Angel, remember? It’s your job to make sure he stays away from her. That means you can’t run off and pout because Wys got the girl you were never supposed to have.”
Tell all but shoved him along the street.
“I wasn’t pouting.” In fact, he’d been imagining sharing a bed with Beryl. She loved him—he could see it on her face—and it scared the hell out of him. “Just thinking. Not that you’d understand. You just carry your brain around to store information about monsters, not about other kinds of problems.”
“Comes in handy, don’t it?”
They found Wystan and Eliakim standing beneath the cottonwood tree. The angel looked bizarre in his cowboy gear, especially considering his resemblance to Seere, who never wore anything but custom-made suits.
To Eban’s surprise, Wystan didn’t look the least bit threatened. His knife was tucked away and he leaned against the tree with a casualness he seldom displayed.
“What’s going on?”
Wystan jerked his thumb at the angel. “I’m explaining the intricacies of a little girl’s birthday party to Eliakim. The presents, the cake, the food. It’s a special day, or so Rhia says.”
“Beryl said the same thing.” Eban rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn’t imagining his older brother getting along with a heavenly being they’d all been certain would slay them without a moment’s notice.
The door flew open and Beryl emerged. Rhia was right behind her.
“You called?” The harsh voice that left Beryl’s throat belonged to Rosemar. She didn’t look at the rest of them, her gaze pinned on Eliakim.
“I desired company, but my thirst for the blood whiskey you gave me has been slaked for the need to see a party on the day set aside to celebrate the child’s birth.”
“I don’t think inviting him in is the answer here, Wys,” Tell protested.
Eliakim glared at him. “I was not requesting an invitation.”
Eban studied Rosemar. “I don’t think you’re needed here anymore.”
Rosemar pouted. “A birthday party and I’m not invited?” She sidled up to Eban. “No matter. I’m sure there a couple of other things we could do instead.”
Her hand landed on his abdomen just south of his bellybutton. It was hotter than the land around the Pit. Eban pulled away.
“Bring Beryl back.”
“She has all the fun. It’s my turn. I left her alone last night, after all. Not that I didn’t see and feel everything that happened. I must say I enjoyed it as much as she did. You’re a better lover than I imagined.” Her smile widened. “I hope we can do it again tonight.”
“You slept with her?” Wystan demanded.
“It was Beryl! She wanted to—she asked me. I didn’t coerce her into it.”
But was it Beryl?
Rosemar smiled innocently. “Maybe she asked, and maybe she didn’t.”
Tell and Wystan fixed him with withering glares.
Eban glowered at Rosemar. “I think it’s time you headed back to the clinic.”
“You want to spoil my fun. I think it’s fair that I get to wish Sylvie a happy birthday. Beryl did.”
“You’re not coming in the house. Not until you bring Beryl back.” Rhia stood next to Wystan, her arms folded and her eyebrows drawn in a harsh slash.
“I’m welcome here as long as we’re fighting demons. The rest of the time no one wants anything to do with me.” Rosemar pouted again. “What an unfriendly bunch of people. The only one who likes me is the angel.”
“I am merely curious about your intentions.” Eliakim eyed her.
She sneered. “I know you’re all up to something. You mean to be rid of me, but Seere won’t tolerate it. I’m his servant and I won’t be dismissed by the likes of you. By all means, tell Beryl a demon is using her as puppet. See if doesn’t drive her to madness. The truth will destroy her in ways I never could.”
“Is that true?” Eban demanded.
“Her mind is weak, filled with dark spots. She’s weepy over a past she barely remembers. She’ll never be able to take this news, but I insist. Tell her.”
Bile rose in his throat. He couldn’t imagine what the knowledge might to do Beryl. “She’s stronger than that.”
Rosemar poked her finger into his chest. “Your only chance of having her is accepting me as well.”
His stomach churned at the idea. “There must be another body you could take.”
Her lips pulled back in a snarl. “I want this one and I won’t give it up. When Prince Seere has collected his favors, there won’t be any of you left, but I’ll still reign inside the lovely Beryl.”
Hatred for the demon burned away his disgust. He knew Tell itched to take her head and rid the town of her mischief, but he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Beryl.
“Stay and enjoy cake and lemonade, Eliakim. I’ll be at the saloon.” Rosemar tossed her curls over her shoulder. She passed by Tell, giving him a lascivious smile. “If you’d rather join me, you’re quite welcome, Har—”
Tell’s action was a blur. Before Eban could blink or think to protest, Tell caught Rosemar in his arms.
“Did you hit her?” Eban asked.
“I can’t stand that bitch,” he growled. Her head lolled as he passed her to Eban. “I think you’re excused from the party now.”
Eban looked between him and Wystan. He wanted to punch Tell for hurting her. Dark anger made his vision red.
“Go on, Eb. Make sure she’s all right.” Wystan’s voice was soft and urging.
“You’ll pay for this,” he snapped at Tell.
“I’m trembling inside.” Tell gave a mock shiver. “I didn’t hit a woman, I hit a demon. You know I wouldn’t have done it, but she was fixing to take off for the saloon again, and Beryl doesn’t need that.”
Eban ignored him. Eliakim watched with a solemn expression. He didn’t offer any insight about whether he agreed with Tell’s actions.
“I think she can do without your help in the future.”
Tell pushed his hat up on his forehead. “You watch your back around her. She ain’t to be trusted. And stay away from her bed until we know Rosemar is gone for good. All we need is for her to bury her talons in you.”
Eban winced at the implication, but his anger was far from soothed by his little brother’s concern.
Vanquishing it won’t be as simple as sharpening his demon-hunting sword. The clever creature is hiding inside his best friend’s head, and she has no idea of the havoc she’s been wreaking, especially with his body.
Beryl suspects Eban knows why she’s been waking up with no memory of where she’s been or what she’s done, but he’s not talking. But when she inevitably learns what he’s hiding—or rather, what’s hiding inside her—she wonders if her love for him is real, or an illusion created by the demon’s lust.
Eban is losing the battle to hold his rising desire in check. There may be only one way to extricate Beryl from the beast entangling her mind. Call upon his demon blood...and offer it as a sacrifice.
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