Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sneak Peek: Blood Moon

Happy Sunday! I was trying to come up with a fun post idea on this lazy chilly morning and thought, Hey, maybe my readers would like a little glimpse into the next Jane book. So here you go, folks. A tiny peek at Blood Moon. Enjoy!

The clang of metal rang through the hills behind the ranch. Anyone within earshot must have wondered when they were ported back to fourteenth century England and why anyone was fighting in the dead of night. I panted as I lowered my sword and raised a hand for respite, trying desperately to catch my breath. An image of Ado's last moments flashed in front of my eyes and I gritted my teeth. Shaking my head to clear the thought, I glared up at Felipe.

"Please tell me again why you're making me learn to use such an archaic weapon?"

He was stretching in front of me, his own sword nestled snuggly in the sheath by his side. "It is important you know as many forms of defense as possible. You never know when you'll need to use something that isn't going to blow a huge hole in the side of a building."

He flashed me a glimpse of his perfectly white teeth and I melted at his winning smile. He was lucky he was cute. Sighing, I raised my sword again and squared off. "Alright, let's do this."

Felipe's grin grew and he slid his sword from its home, bringing it arcing around and toward my head in one swift motion. I barely got my own weapon up in time to block the blow and I could feel the vibrations through my arms as the two swords met.

A loud buzzing noise brought a premature end to our bout. Scowling, Felipe lowered his sword and plucked the cell phone from his hip. "Yes?"

"Hey man, it's Jax. I need your advice on something."

"I'm a little busy at the moment. Can it wait?" Felipe rolled his eyes, ready to hang up the phone.

"Yeah, I guess." I could hear the stress in Jax's voice through the phone and gave Felipe my best 'your friend needs you' look.

My wonderful husband opened his mouth to argue with me, then sighed and rolled his eyes again. "Hang on. I'll be back there in a few."

Jax's tone perked up noticably. "Thanks man. I'll be on your porch."

Felipe closed the phone and glared at me. "You just don't want to spar anymore."

I smiled and wrapped my arms around his waist, letting the flat of the sword slap playfully against his backside. "Well, that is definitely an added bonus. But he sounded upset. And it won't hurt to take a break. We've been out here for over an hour."

"Alright, alright. I'll see you back home soon." He kissed my forehead and disappeared into the trees surrounding the field where we sparred.

I plopped down into the grass, gazing up at the moonless night. The stars shone brightly, but without the moon, it was dark outside, even to a vampire. A glimpse of light drew my attention and I watched the little glowing ball bounce up and down as it grew bigger. It followed the path through the woods from the house and I could easily see the shadow behind it, even from that distance. I waited where I was, resting my head back into the soft pillow Mother Earth provided, examining the heavens above. The light grew bright enough where I had to squint until it suddenly went out. As it did, I felt the grass move beside me and heard a snort as someone settled down.

I let my head flop to the side, raising an eyebrow at the scrawny boy. It took me a minute to remember he couldn't see my raised eyebrow. "What's up, Robbie?"

He let out a soft sigh before answering. "Oh, nothing."

I laughed a little. "You're out here in the middle of the night when I know you're afraid of the dark, and you have a pretty big frown on your face. What's up?"

The young man turned his head and glared at me. I shot him a grin that he couldn't see before he turned back to look at the stars. He was quiet for a bit and I didn't push.

Several minutes had passed before he spoke. "Jane, how do you deal with it?"

"Deal with what?" I knew exactly what he was talking about, but I needed to hear him say it first.

"It." He had a hard time getting the words out, but once he wrapped his mind around what he was trying to say, they flooded out. "You know, death. Losing someone so close to you, losing someone who means more to you than the world. He was my best friend, he was my mentor. He was like my father. I never had a dad, but when he took me on as his assistant, he didn't just treat me like I was an employee or a grunt. I've seen the way the other assistants were treated. He didn't treat me like that. He was always there for me whenever I needed him. Even when I didn't want him to be. He was..."

His voice broke and he turned over, burying his face in his arm as sobs wracked his body. I sat up and placed a hand on his shoulder, waiting until his tears receded enough so he could hear me. Finally, he sat up and wiped his face.

"Sorry, Jane. I didn't mean to do that."

I wrapped an arm around his shoulder and pulled him close to me. "Don't ever be sorry about that, Robbie. Losing someone you love dearly is one of the worst things you could ever go through. I thought losing Steven was going to kill me. Oddly enough, I guess it kind of did." I frowned at that thought, then shook my head. "Anyway, what you're going through right now is normal. Don't ever be ashamed to feel that kind of pain. Don't try to hide it, and don't try to make it go away. It will get better with time, but it's necessary to grieve for those you've loved and lost. Don't let anyone ever tell you it's not."

He sniffled and I'm pretty sure he wiped his nose on my shirt. I tried my best not to gag or yell at him. "But Felipe and Jax never cry. They were like statues at Father Bellini's funeral."

He pulled away and crossed his arms, a look of pure anger on his face. I brushed his cheek with my finger, wiping away some of the tears. "They were, that's true. It was all they could do to keep from killing anyone who spoke to them. They locked their anger and hurt inside, and it was almost destructive to both of them. But they both wept, as well. They wept privately, where few could see. And they both still suffer greatly, but they're finding ways to deal with the hurt. Sometimes their ways could be better," I said as I glanced toward a splintered tree at the edge of the woods. "But they're trying and learning."

Robbie sighed again and drew up his knees to wrap his arms around them. I rested my chin on his shoulder and my forehead against his ear. We sat there for awhile in the still night, listening to the sounds of the dark and watching the stars. A light wind came up and rustled the grass. On the brief gust of air, I noticed a smell--one we had been taught to be aware of and keen to. One that we were supposed to kill.

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