How about a few excerpts? Just for a lazy Sunday. What’s coming down the line over the next few months. Don’t forget to enter The State of the Rhys Giveaway on The Novel Approach if you haven’t already.
All Rook could smell was blood.
Hot. Metallic. Dirty. Blood.
It stung his senses, an angry hornets’ nest of odors he couldn’t outrun—even as he pounded down one of Hollywood’s tight back alleys. Rook could hear shouting, piercing rushes of sound caught in the maze of brick, glass, and cement behind him.
A sun-faded aluminum can crinkled when he stepped on it. Folding up over the edge of his high-top, it clung to his foot for a stride before gravity dislodged it. Nearly tripping over his own feet, Rook stumbled, then caught himself with a grab at a rolling trash can, tipping the enormous black receptacle to the ground. Garbage poured out of the heavy bin, foul, sticky liquids gushing out from its depths, and as Rook jigged around the stream, he was very aware of the sounds of footsteps closing in on him.
He’d be damned if he let them catch him.
The river of garbage he could outrun. The blood was something else. It coated his hands and then his pants when he tried to wipe them clean. The bottom of his shoes were probably clotted thick with it from walking through the dark pool he’d found on his store’s main floor, driving the drying, viscous fluid deep into the grooves of his faded black Chucks.
A groaning drew him deeper into the store then. He wasn’t sure where it’d come from, but Rook would swear on a pack of Bibles signed by God himself, he heard it. It was a rattling sigh that made him pause and look again. His curiosity would be the death of him, Hawkins once told him.
Which was absolutely, ridiculously true, because when he came around the corner of the display case filled with horror flick memorabilia, he stepped directly on a dead woman’s hand.
Ink and Shadows
Old arguments hung between them, heated tensions folded more times than they could count and tempered by the passions of the blond man, who sometimes pushed too hard. Death was a contrary player in Ari’s games, permissive just far enough to whet Ari’s appetites.
The fruit’s rind parted under Ari’s thumbs, tearing free from the flesh with a gush of juice.
Sucking at the white membrane left on his thumb, Ari handed the fruit back, grinning widely at Death’s wrinkled nose at the bruised segments.
“You’ve killed it.” Pulling the juicy sphere apart, Death gave a mock grimace at the shattered cells, popped from Ari’s aggressive tearing.
“You’re too gentle with things.” Ari sniffed, tugging the towel closed where it threatened to tumble from his hips. Most of his body was still damp, his long dirty-blond hair just starting to dry at the ends. Leaning on the marble counter, the tips of his fingers dragging along the outer edge of Death’s knee, Ari quirked one eyebrow at the immortal. “Sometimes you just have to tear things apart. It looked like you were making juice inside of that rind.”
“Sometimes you have to coax them along,” Death replied, trying to separate out a piece of orange.
“I’ve tried coaxing. It doesn’t work as well as tearing,” Ari said.
Turning, Ari gazed at the city below, the penthouse’s west expanse of windows reaching out over downtown and toward the bay. “City looks nice tonight. Fog might roll in early.”
“It might.” Death nodded.
A shuddering wraith wove past the window, then slammed into the glass, startling the two Horsemen.
Its reptilian face was screwed up into a pout, eyes running down an elongated face as it howled soundlessly at them. White and pasty, it pressed hard against the glass, wanting some sort of recognition from the men living just beyond its reach. A flash of opal, and the Veil thickened, shoving the specter away from the immortals. It plunged it back into the shadows where other creatures lurked, then circled back around, a wisp of pale gray against the sky.
“What the fuck?” Ari straightened, sliding his hand around Death’s waist, ready to pull the other Horseman off the counter and into safety. “What the hell is that doing up here?”
“It’s been hitting at the windows for the past half an hour.” Death shrugged. “I thought I’d worry about it if it breaks the glass and gets in.”
The creature circled around the upper floor of the building, drawing in close to Mal’s windows.
Ari grinned at the youngest’s startled shout, dangerously excited by the wraith popping in and out of the darkness outside. He laughed into Death’s shoulder, a wicked grin on his face. “Guess it surprised Cooties.”
Marshall’s Amp was right where Rafe’d left it, sharing a wall with The Sound recording studio on the corner of bad memories and regret. He’d missed his first gig as Rising Black’s bassist because he’d gotten into a fight with one of the studio musicians, a slimy asshole with light fingers and a drug habit Rafe’d been amazed he could find his own nose to shove coke into. He’d been sorry to hear about Frank’s death, even sorrier to find out Connor Morgan’d hooked up with the blond kid who’d drummed there.
“Not sorry,” Rafe corrected as he got out of his Chevelle. “Surprised. Fucking surprised. Didn’t know Connie even liked dick. Shit, I’d have tapped that back in high school if I’d thought it was open season.”
That was a lie. Connor Morgan was so far above his reach in high school Rafe might as well have wanted to have threesome with Pussy Galore and Godzilla. His running alongside the Morgan boys and their cousin, Sionn, was as close to cool as he was going to get in those days and even then, he’d been the one to steer the four of them right to the edge of gone-too-far.
It usually was Connor who’d dragged them right back.
The neighbourhood changed since he’d seen in last. Trendy looking townhouses lined the street opposite of the Sound’s parking lot, petunias and pansies fighting for space in narrow window boxes hooked over wrought iron balcony railings. There were a few nods to San Francisco’s pre-earthquake architecture, bits of concrete embellishments meant to age the structure but its youth peeked out in its fake tree cell tower poking up out of a stand of pines. The restaurants’ back door on the other end of the parking lot were as grubby and oily as Rafe’d remembered and a line of old dumpsters still leaned up against the coffee house’s back wall, their lids splattered with seagull shit and food specks. A new coat of paint and a power wash did wonders for the brick building and at some point, a sturdy gridded metal and wood staircase replace the rickety wood steps stairs leading up to the crappy studio apartment over the Sound.
What was missing from the picture was Frank’s old RV with its concrete blocks and plywood porch and the umbrella, table and seats he’d liberated from a burrito shop’s trash pile.
The parking lot seemed odd, echoingly still in Rafe’s mind. He couldn’t remember a time when the Sound’s parking lot hadn’t smelled like patchouli and sweet tai smoke and the sleek, polished deep black was at odds with the faded grey memory of patchy asphalt and crooked lines Frank’d painted for parking spaces around his Winnebago palace.
It was funny what an empty space on a parking lot could do to a person’s insides.
The inside of Marshall’s Amp was like stepping into a blue police box and coming out in another era. Or a movie set in the 60s. White tile gleamed, throwing moonlight reflections up onto wood and steel under and around squishy spaceship chairs and sweeps of tables. If there was music playing, Rafe couldn’t hear it but he caught snatches of guitar threading through the murmuring crowd noise. The splashes of colour around the coffee shop was nearly as loud as the cop chatter filling it and the smell of brewing roasts and sweet pastries made Rafe’s mouth water.
“Shit, there’s a lot of cops.” And only a few of them were Morgans.
He’d been about to search for Connor or Sionn in the sea of Irish and badges when a frill of eye-bleeding red hair appeared at someone’s shoulder and Rafe stopped dead in his tracks. The exit was cut off from him. He’d gone too far into the shop and was too tangled in its crowd to beat a hasty retreat. Another flash of crimson and Rafe’s belly turned to ice, melting slightly when he spotted the face beneath the hair.
“Fuck, thank God. That’s Kiki.” He exhaled hard, turning back around to grab some coffee and smacked right into the stuff of nightmares—Brigid Finnegan Morgan.