It’s Excerpt Monday again, organized by Bria Quinlan and Mel Berthier from Romance Divas.
Today’s excerpt comes from my fantasy romance novel The Exile. This story is an experiment in progress for me as I normally prefer to write in straight third-person, but the story is shaping into a complicated first-person narrator frame around first & third-person scenes that play with perception and unreliable/reliable narration. Whew. If I can pull it off, it should be a nice suspenseful read. If not, at least I had fun dreaming it up. Is there a market for fantasy-romance-lit fic-suspense? lol
I wearily fell onto the bed beside my sleeping wife and pressed a kiss to her cheek, my eyes already shutting. It was so good to finally be hom—
The vision unceremoniously drop-kicked me into a moonless night-land. Looming shadows a soft and impenetrable black.
The fierce white lamps of the gods brought far too near flooded my dreamscape, every manicured leaf and petal turned to crystal silver in cold unnatural starlight. I pressed my hands to shield my eyes, but the light streamed through my bones and flesh as easily as it did the air.
The radiance faded to mimic normal starlight.
Damp gravel pressed against my palms and bare feet. A familiar briny tang filled the warm night air with behind the rich perfume of summer flowers. I crouched at the center of an unfamiliar formal garden somewhere near a sea I could not hear. Rain had fallen recently. Drops clung to the foliage, bejeweling leaves and tendrils and blossoms around me.
A dark hedge bound the garden, with a glowing gate set in one black wall.
Thank you, blessed Hse, not a nightmare, so far.
I cautiously stood and let the breath ease from my lungs. Above, southern constellations filled the deep, gentle stillness of the night.
The vision pressed against me, nudging me through the gate and along soft gravel paths and through ornate gates. I kept to the paths that were lit to me. Other choices were hinted at, but darkened as I neared.
A final gate opened to a terrace and a view of sleeping coastal city and the dark sea chased with shimmering silver.
A man stood by the terrace wall, so still I thought him a statue, his form uncertain and indistinct. Then he turned. A jolt of fear burned cold through the fresh scars from my last dreamwalk encounter. I halted, unable to turn back, unwilling to go forward, until he spoke.
“Who are you?” he whispered in a harsh, wary voice.
In the way of dreams I understood he meant what was I, not the simple identity of my sleeping corporeal body, but my purpose.
“I am,” I began, but the words seized in my throat.
He stepped away from the wall. His hands were empty. That was a relief. He stepped closer, half laughing, half desperate. “I don’t suppose you know who I am?”
I studied him carefully, for he was the one thing I could not fix in clearly in my sight, as if he were a ghost in my vision, but he was not the malevolent being of my other walks. “I don’t believe we’ve met before.”
“Why are you here?”
“That is my question as well.”
“I am dreaming, I think. This is a dream, yes?”
“For me it is.”
“That’s no helpful answer. I suppose two might meet in a single dream. Well, at least you are no nightmare. That is an improvement. Do you have a name?”
I tried to reply again, but in this vision I was struck nameless. Not one of my names would come forth. “Listener,” was all I could give him.
“Well, if you are a listener, that means perhaps I am to speak. What shall I say?”
“What you wish.”
“What I wish? What I wish is to know myself again, who I was.”
“Who are you now?”
“Lost. They tell me things, but those things feel untrue. I can’t trust what is real or not. They seem to tell the truth, but – I think I must be going mad, for my nightmares and dreams strike even while I am waking. I was walking. I swear I was awake. But here I am, with you. There is something I must do, fight, but it is hidden from me. I cannot free myself.”
I knew that feeling.
“I don’t know who I am.” His voice cracked with despair. “I think I am gone, or what I was, is gone forever, rooted out of me, like the tree that once stood in that spot there.” He pointed to a barren raked-over patch in the terrace garden. “They hacked it down, cut it up, took it away and burned it. It is no more. They dug up even its roots. Nothing of it remains.”
I walked over smooth paving stones to the bare plot of dirt, a dug-over, blighted spot in the otherwise lush garden where we stood, bare ground surrounded by hard. Not a leaf, twig or blade of grass remained.
I squatted, picked up a handful of the dark and damp soil. This rich soil clung to my hand, vibrating with potential, so different from the thin soil of my youth, the coral reef sand of my homeland. “They’ll plant something here?”
“No doubt, but it won’t be the same.” He stood beside me, looking down. “The tree is gone. I don’t know why. It had been tall and strong, but then, gardeners know their business, so they must have had a reason. But now it is gone as though it never was.”
As he spoke, the dark, troubled ground rippled and shuddered. A shoot, a sprig, lifted itself up out of the black soil, small and delicate, a first pale leaf lifted, unfurled and spread and the plant grew as we watched, open-mouthed, flushing healthy green and glowing gold even in the dangerous silver light of the stars, until a small sapling stood before us, the sturdy ivory trunk unfurling lithe branches tipped with spring green and fast-forming buds.
A strange ache centered over my heart. “A sapling of the former?”
“No– this is different. Something new.” He touched the glossy leaves reverently. “Something new.”
Everyone wants to play along with Excerpt Monday! If you’d like to join in, visit the Guidelines page for more details.
Excerpt Monday links:
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.
|Mel/Alexia Reed, Urban Fantasy (R)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
AJ O’Donovan, Poetry (PG13)
Stephanie Draven, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Heather S.Ingemar, Dark Fantasy/Poetry (PG13)
Cynthia Justlin, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Ansha Kotyk, Middle Grade Adventure (PG13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG 13)
RF Long, YA Paranormal (PG13)
Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG13)
Shawntelle Madison, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Crista McHugh, Contemporary Erotic Romance (PG 13)
Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Megan S., Paranormal (PG13)
Dara Sorensen, Historical Paranormal (PG 13)
Bethanne Strasser, Historical Romance (PG13)
Melissa Aires, Futuristic Romance (R)
Melissa Blue, Contemporary Romance (R)
Jax Cassidy, Contemporary (R)
| Christina DeLorenzo, Futuristic Sci-Fi (R)
Maya Doyle, Parnormal Romance (R)
Ginny Glass, Paranormal (R)
Amber Green, Romantic Suspense (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal YA (R)
Kinsey W. Holley, Erotic Romance (R)
Ali Katz, Erotic Paranormal Romance (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Fantasy (R)
Inez Kelly, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Contemporary Erotic Romance (R)
Rebecca Savage, Romantic Suspense (R)
Fae Sutherland, Contemporary Erotic Romance (R)
Stephanie Adkins, Paranormal Erotic Romance (NC17)
Evie Byrne, Erotic Historical Romance (NC17)
Ella Drake, Erotic Contemporary (NC17)
Dawn Montgomery, Erotic Paranormal Romance (NC17)
Lauren Murphy, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Kim Knox, Erotic Paranormal Romance (NC17)
Emily Ryan-Davis, Historical Western Romance (NC17)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic Fantasy Romance (NC17)
Jeanne St. James, Contemporary Romance (NC17)
Photo: Matteo Pescarin