Monday, June 6, 2011

Launch Party: Excerpt & Giveaway!

More from Dragon & Hawk:


Reyna has overheard Evan talking about her with his brothers in rather heated terms...


Reyna blinked, shocked. She’d heard too much. A part of her understood that the black mood was talking, this was his worst. Must be close to the end. But—such ugliness—did he truly think…?
His words impaled her heart as surely as his legendary prince’s sword. Silent, she walked down the stairs, out the door, and toward the stables, totally numb. No one heard her.
A coyote chewed a tasty morsel of garbage in the alley down the street. She stopped and stared at him as he lifted his head, ears cocked, to stare at her.
She knew Coyote as The Jokester. He alone, of all the animals of Creation, laughed at Man. Sly and cunning, always out to fool someone. Sometimes he was a fool himself, a target of smarter creatures. Sometimes he was a messenger, sent to teach hard lessons.
The one eating garbage in Bisbee in the heat of an August morning lifted his snout to the sky and yowled, yipping in short staccato barks that sounded like a lunatic’s laugh. He looked directly at Reyna and lifted his leg on the dirt. He turned his back on her, lifted his tail high and loped off down the alley to disappear. She stood, stunned. A coyote in broad daylight was a bad enough sign, but one that laughed at her, urinated, and lifted his tail, too? That was a spiritual slap across her face.
Fool. She’d deceived herself. Thought she could handle drying out an addict and stay unaffected. Only trying to help, trying to keep a young man from dying a miserable death. She was fine all alone, didn’t need his friendship.
No. She’d lied to herself.
She’d fallen in love with Evan.

~*~

 “Ma’am, you cain’t take this stallion,” the stable boy said. “He ain’t been ridden in months. He’s gone wild.”
Señor Evan Jones wishes to ride his horse. If you saddle the sorrel gelding for me, I will handle the stallion.”
The boy shook his head, but did as he was told. He led the stallion toward her, alternately dragged and lifted by the prancing, lively horse.
Reyna walked up to the animal, took the lead and laid one hand along his neck. She spoke in soothing, soft tones. Con cuidado, despacio, easy. Calm now. Your owner—su amigo—was ill for a long time. He is weak, be careful with him. ¿Mucho cuidado con él, sí? Por favor.”
The stallion quieted, allowed her to saddle him, and nudged her shoulder gently as she moved away. She patted his muzzle affectionately. The livery boy scratched his head in astonishment. Reyna gathered the stallion’s reins in her hand, swung up into the saddle, and headed out.
Evan was sullen and morose when he answered her knock. “Well, if it isn’t Señora Torture. And what fun, pray tell, do you have in store for me today? The rack? A whipping, perhaps? Or boiling in oil?”
He didn’t see the pain in her eyes. She stood shadowed in the hallway, acutely aware of her manly attire. “I thought, perhaps, you’d care to go riding. If you feel up to it, of course.”
His eyes brightened and he almost smiled. “That’s quite the surprise. I’ll get my hat.”
She rode quietly, regal and reserved while he brooded in the saddle. It wasn’t dangerously hot for the horses this early. They headed toward the Mule Mountains. When they reached open ground, she reined in the gelding and watched Evan gallop away, race into the hills, lost in the freedom of near flight.
~*~
Evan turned and looked back. Look at her sitting there. She’s sad today, as if she’s lost something dear. But then his head throbbed, blackness descended. Heat rose from the sun-baked rocks and he turned the roan stallion around. “I’m tired,” he said when they neared her. “Let’s go.”
~*~
She turned back without a word. They rode to the stables in silence, walked back to the boardinghouse silently, slowly in the growing heat that suffocated the August days. While together at a glance, the distance between them was wider than they’d ever walked before. Her hair disheveled, that one strand that always came out from her braid along her left ear stuck to the sweat along her jaw. Dust adhered to her skin in a fine muddy film. Thirsty, sweat trickled down her back, but pride silenced her discomfort. 
He stepped up onto the front porch, looked down at her with an eyebrow raised, nearly sneering. “You oughta fix your hair, it’s a mess. I suppose you want a lemonade?”
“No,” she replied quietly, “thank you for asking.” Absently tucked the errant strand behind her ear. “You realize you’ll be sore tomorrow from this ride? You’ve used muscles you haven’t for quite some time.” Another reason for him to resent her.
“So? I’m always in pain after being with you,” he said dully. “Isn’t that what you enjoy, what you want?” He paused. “We’ll ride again tomorrow?”
She replied quietly. “You can ride whenever you wish.”
“Nothing to drink, then?”
“No, thank you kindly.”
“Are you coming up?”
“No,” she said. “I have other business today.”
“Suit yourself.” He turned his back on her, went into the house and let the screen door slam shut behind him.
Reyna swallowed and slowly took a deep breath. “Goodbye, Evan,” she whispered.
Here's the contest: 
Comment on this post with the animal spirits mentioned so far in the excerpts and you'll be entered in a drawing to win a pdf copy of my novel! Check back to the Goddess Fish Party after 8PM Pacific Time to see if you've won and how to collect!

~Jude Johnson
 
 Author, Dragon & Hawk
Available from Champagne Books
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4 comments:

carnation said...

The animal spirits mentioned were the Coyote, as the Jokester, and the Stallion, which allowed the kind woman to gentle him and convinced him to allow his master to mount him by speaking to him.
Rina

Maria said...

So far you've mentioned the following animal spirits in the excerpts:

1. Red Dragon
2. Hawk
3. Coyote- the Jokester
4. Rabit

junegirl63(at)gmail(dot)com

Jude Johnson said...

So far so good... Check back at 8PM and see who wins! Thanks so much for playing!

Jude Johnson said...

Congratulations MARIA! I'll be sending you an email very soon!