Friday, June 14, 2013

Dance of the Red Death Week - Exclusive Scene Reveal


As Dance of the Red Death week comes to an end, I have something incredibly special to share. An exclusive scene from Will's perspective that takes place during Masque of the Red Death. I am honoured to be sharing it, and as someone who ADORES Will, this just made me love him even more.

Obviously, there are spoilers if you haven't read Masque, so proceed with caution. Also, please remember to check out the giveaway going to win a copy of Dance of the Red Death (and other goodies).
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     He watched the girl flounce across the courtyard, raising her silk skirts to avoid the mud, seemingly unfazed by the violence they’d just witnessed, flipping her blonde hair. April. She’d been a patron at the club for as long as he could remember. He focused on her because it was less painful than watching Araby climb into the gilded carriage. The last few days, insulated in the tiny apartment, had been idyllic. And now she was leaving.
     Elise’s fingers clawed at his arm, desperate with fear, she wouldn’t interrupt his reverie.  
     He’d been the first to walk away, defeated from the attack, defeated by the knowledge that she would be safer with her friends. But now, he and the children stood in the shadows. Elise was terrified, the way she clutched his arm told him all he needed to know about her state of mind.
    Henry had begun to sob a little, delayed shock from the attack. Will wrapped them in his arm, but didn’t look away from the retreating backs…he let his eyes wander over to Araby, just for a moment.
     That morning, after she’d climbed from his bed, she’d pulled her hair up into a simple twist, but after the excitement of the fight and fire, most of the strands had escaped to her shoulders. Shot through with purple, her dark hair accentuated the delicate line of her neck. She was the sort of girl who drew him, and yet, more than that.
     She was the girl who drew him. Moth style, he wanted to be near her. Wanted her to return to finish their interrupted kiss.
      “I don’t want her to go,” Henry said in a small voice. Will held him even closer.
     “Neither do I,” he said. “But she isn’t safe here.”
      And neither are we. The unspoken words, that they weren’t safe either, remained unsaid, and the children realized that the three of them had been abandoned on the wrong side of town, they gave no sign.
     Elliott handed Araby up into the carriage, his hands lingering too long at her waist. Will waited for her to turn, for her eyes to search for him, the way she’d sought him out at the club. He’d known she was attracted to him. Thought they could get to know one another at a leisurely pace, as leisurely as things could be in a world where disease and death were constant companions. Instead tensions in the city had escalated and swept her away from him.
     Sighing, he led Henry and Elise across a boulevard strewn with broken glass, down a tired street lined with buildings that leaned drunkenly over the sidewalk. Their building, at least, still looked comforting and safe.
     “Will, I left my ball!” Henry’s voice rose as he realized the magnitude of his loss.
     Will turned. The sky was overcast, darker than it should be at this time of day—a lethal combination of arson and gathering clouds. They had to get inside, to safety. Henry was scraping his feet along, stubborn enough to try to pull his older brother all the way back to the park.
     Stopping in the doorway, Will searched for the words to tell Henry that the ball was lost. To promise a new one. Before he could say anything Elise, who was two steps ahead, screamed.
     Will leapt forward, but before he could reach Elise, he was shoved into the wall. For a moment Henry’s hand was still in his own, and then the warmth of it was gone. Henry yelped. Will closed his eyes, trying to make sense of the attack. Two men were holding him. Cold hands held his face to the bricks while more hands were on his shoulders. At least two for him. One for each of the children.
     When the pressure of the hands didn’t ease, he gave in to his first instinct, trying to reach the children. He fought, kicking, elbowing, dropping to the ground to try to dislodge the implacable unseen hands, but then Elise screamed. The fight drained out of him.
     “Don’t hurt her,” he gasped.
     One of the attackers laughed.
     “We won’t hurt them. Not much. Not yet. We want a certain girl. Scientist’s daughter. I think you know her. You’ll bring her to us, tonight. Or else.” As if to emphasize the threat, the man’s fist connected with Will’s chin. The blow was unexpected and his face hit the bricks hard.
     The metallic taste of blood flooded Will’s mouth.
     The pain was better than the realization.
     They wanted Araby.
     The girl he had imagined he was falling in love with.
     “Don’t damage him,” the man holding Elise warned. “Not where it’ll show. We don’t want her to suspect anything.” The attacker contented himself with kicking viciously. The pain wasn’t so bad, but each time the boot connected with his side, he heard one, perhaps both, of the children gasp.
     Will fell back to the floor, shielding himself with his arms, until the attack ended. Raising his head, he realized that he was alone with the original attacker. The children were gone.
     “Bring her,” the man commanded. He leaned close to Will to whisper an address and his hood slid back, just enough to expose a creeping rash on his collarbone. Diseased men had stolen the children. Will slumped to the floor.
     “It’s not so bad as all that. We’ll give them back, if you bring the girl. If you try to follow or find us without the girl, we’ll kill the children.” The diseased man’s bulk takes up the doorway for a moment, cutting off the light. “My master is brutal, he won’t kill them quickly.” And then he’s gone.
      Alone, Will stumbled upstairs. His neighbor’s doors stood open, belongings spilling into the hallway. In his own apartment he changed his shirt, running his fingers over his ribs, almost certain they weren’t broken. He took a knife from the kitchen and a cudgel that he often carried on his trek to the Debauchery Club.
     She’ll help me, he thought. She made her way across town to bring Henry a mask. She’ll help me. We can do this together.
     The walk to the Debauchery Club felt longer than usual, and he felt more alone. His home was empty, as was the part of his chest that should’ve been his heart. He felt numb, cold. Reconsidering his initial plan.
     She’d left him, after all. He stepped around a body, keeping vigilant for black cloaked figures. Smoke rose from inside several buildings, more profuse than if it had been from even an entire row of chimneys. The lower city was under attack. He doubted conditions were so bad in the upper city. The Debauchery District lay between the two.
      It was a long walk, but not long enough to make an impossible decision any easier.
    Will entered the club through a side door. He had all of the keys, after all.
     One way or another, he had to take Araby to the address he’d been given. Once he’d been to the location, he could get Kent, possibly Elliott, and return. He’d rescue her. But Elise and Henry…they were too young to be in the hands of a lunatic. Unaccustomed to masks, Henry was prone to taking his off, to playing an elaborate game of  hiding behind the mask and then pulling it away from his face. Being in the presence of diseased men would be particularly dangerous for them. Araby, at least had the sense to keep her mask on.
      Except when she was about to kiss someone. He felt himself flushing.
     The thought of abandoning her made him ill. He couldn’t trust her completely, not with the risk that she would revert to the spoiled rich girl that he’d seen over the last few months, that she’d refuse to help and then forget the guilt with drugs and alcohol. The fact that he was attracted to her made it worse. No, he couldn’t trust her.
     But he couldn’t leave her completely unprepared. She was too fragile. Too burdened by the guilt of her brother’s death. Somehow, he had to communicate with her, to let her know that life was worth living. To wait for him to return for her. He had to find a way to give her strength. Squaring his shoulders, he prepared himself to betray the girl who had captured his heart.

1 comment:

  1. Loved it!!! Loved book one and cant wait to read book 2 :)

    ReplyDelete

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