Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Sorry I haven't posted in a while; I have been absurdly busy with my day job, grad school, and life in general. One of the other things I have been busy with, however, is writing! I have knocked out another three and a half chapters since I last posted here, two of which were in the last two weeks alone. I'm set to finish yet another chapter today, which leaves--cue drum roll--just four more chapters before the first draft is done. Complete. Finished. You can't see it, but I'm doing a major happy dance over here. Thus, to make up for having not posted in a while and because, close as I am to finishing the manuscript, Hidden still won't be published until the end of the year, I've decided to post below a little excerpt for you. There's a wee bit more romance in the second book than there was in the first. I didn't plan it that way, it just keeps happening. Sometimes it's rough when your characters have minds of their own. Enjoy!
The full moon hovered just above the western mountain range. Necria leaned out of the window and stared at it, remote, cold, a reminder of winter on a midsummer night. The wind carried her the scents of the first harvest, of peaches and cider, of all the fruits her family and neighbors had labored to grow throughout the previous months and all the fruits that had yet to ripen. She closed her eyes and smiled.
Her demon was coming.
A breath of bittersweet incense cut through the fragrant wind, announcing his presence, but she continued staring out the window. She felt the familiar hands, cooling as ever, wrap around her waist. “I’ve brought you something, my love,” the necromancer whispered.
“You always bring me gifts, yet I have nothing to give you in return.” She finally turned around in his grasp to face him, her eyes still full of the moon.
He withdrew his hands and conjured a long, thin box from the air. “You give me plenty,” he said.
“What is it?” she asked, clutching the box to her chest but unwilling to open it just yet.
“Something nearly as rare and precious as you,” he replied. “I brought it from my homeland.”
“You went back home? I wonder if I’ll ever go there…”
He looked through her, off into the distance. “No, I can’t go back. I can only bring things over.”
“My poor angel,” she breathed. “Why can’t you go home?”
“It doesn’t matter.” He glided to the bed, drawing her behind him. He gestured for her to open the box. “I was able, at least, to acquire this for you. Take it, as a token of my love.”
Necria untied the ribbon securing the lid. Her fingers explored the contents, feeling soft petals, leaves, a stem. She pricked a finger on a thorn. She held the flower to her nose; the petals grazed her lips and left numbness behind. She gasped. “This scent, it’s so unique,” she murmured. “I’ve never smelled anything quite so sweet, like sugar and honey and…and something else, something I can’t name.” She turned the bloom over in her hands, cautious lest she touch another thorn. “I can’t wait to see it by the light of day. I’m sure it’s beautiful.”
“As I said, it’s rare,” he reminded her. “This particular flower only blooms at night, and only once every hundred years.”
“Then I’ll never get to see it,” she lamented.
The necromancer held his left palm before him, then arced his right in a circle, coming to rest next to the left. In his cupped palms flashed a spark of lavender. The spark grew into a flame, expanding, illuminating the flower as well as his face. “Perhaps, dear Necria, you shall see it after all.”
The flower forgotten, Necria studied the face she had only ever glimpsed by the light of moon or stars. Hollow eyes, drops of ink suspended in ice, returned her gaze. His skin was white as bone; his bones, sharp as obsidian. Yet the thought drowning out all others was that he was beautiful. “I knew you were an angel,” she said at last. “Creating fire from nothing.”
“Not so. But power, yes, that I have.”
At length, she tore her gaze from his face and inspected the flower. Five silken petals, amethyst tips descending to ebony bases, surrounded a single stamen. “Of course,” she said. “You must have power to keep visiting me, secretly, coming and going on the silent wind.”
He extinguished the flame. “One day you shall understand.” He rose, gathering his cloaks around him to leave, but Necria clutched the fabric before he could fade from her grasp. “What do you wish?”
“You hold flames in your hands, but bear no burns,” she remarked, offering him the blossom. “Can you preserve the flower? Can you make its blooming last?”
As his fingertips passed over the flower, a soft glow in the same color as the snuffed flame followed his progress, encasing the flower in light. When the light faded, the flower had turned to glass. His hand shifted from the flower to Necria, his fingers brushing along the edge of her cheek. “Is there anything else you wish?” he asked.
She closed her eyes against the touch and nodded. “You haven’t told me what the flower’s called,” she urged. “If you still won’t tell me your own name, at least tell me the flower’s.”
“Sife Darahnthin,” he whispered.
She repeated the phrase then asked, “What’s it mean?”
He bent down to press his lips against her forehead. “The Necromancer’s Kiss.”
In the next breath, he was gone.
Necria returned to the window. “My angel,” she mumbled. “My demon.” In spite of the humid summer air, she shivered. “You’re beautiful, but cold. Like a winter river. Like an avalanche. I wonder what destruction will follow in your wake?”
The indifferent moon gave her no answer.