As a special Halloween week treat, I’ve decided to release the prologue of Relapse!!! Please keep in mind that this is the version before the final copy-edit, although I don’t think there are any egregious errors.
You’ll quickly pick up on the fact that this isn’t written from Siobhan’s POV, but most of the book is from her POV, so don’t fret. ;-) You may remember Apate as one of Eric’s minions and the goddess of trickery. I posted a character profile for her awhile back. She’s kind of becoming a demanding character…I’m pretty sure she wants a bigger part in the next book, or maybe even her own book. (Oh, look, I’m starting to talk about my characters like they’re real people now.)
Anyway, without further ado, the prologue of Relapse:
I throw open the door to The End, thunder crashing behind me as I duck inside. Closing my black umbrella sends a shower of water droplets onto the gunmetal gray tiles. I stride up to the bar through a haze of dim lighting and cigarette smoke.
As I perch on the black leather cushion of one of the bar stools, I catch a glimpse of myself in the horizontal mirror lining the back wall. A black mini dress clings to me like a second skin, its plunging neckline dipping even further as I sit down. Silky hair falls in an obsidian curtain around my pale face, cascading down my shoulders to brush the swells of my breasts. My green eyes shine as brilliant as emeralds even in this dull light.
I look hot.
At the sound of my name, I abandon my reflection and look over at the pair of sunglasses glowering at me from behind the bar.
“Hey, Lou,” I say, curving my lips into a wicked smile. “That is what you’re going by these days?”
Lou raises an eyebrow. “I thought I told you and lover boy to stay out of my bar.” He furiously wipes out a shot glass with a white rag.
I let my grin fall into an exaggerated pout. “That hurts my fweelings.” As I cross my legs, the hem of my dress rides up, revealing a few more inches of fishnet stockings and thigh. “A Dark and Stormy, please.”
Lou slams the shot glass down so hard I’m surprised it doesn’t shatter. He makes a point of dropping the damp rag in front of me before turning to mix the drink. His thick, curly dark brown hair bristles as he shakes his head slowly back and forth, muttering to himself. The muscles of his arms twitch underneath his black t-shirt as he pours and stirs. Tight jeans hug his hips and taut buttocks. Light from a single naked bulb dangling from the ceiling glints off the silver, winged-shaped spurs on the backs of his black leather cowboy boots.
“Nice ass,” I call over to him.
He spins around, picks up the rag and plants my drink down in its place, ice cubes clinking against the glass. “You get one drink. Then I want you out. Eros, too—if he’s here.” Lou’s head scans the crowded room.
“He’s not. That’s why I’m here.” I scoot in closer to the bar and lower my voice. “He’s on the other side. I need you to send a message to him.”
Lou’s head had started shaking before I could even finish the sentence. “No can do.”
I suck up some of the cocktail through the stirrer, the ginger beer prickling my throat as it slides down. “You can, and you will. It’s only kind of your job.”
Lou chuckles. “I don’t work for you, honey. And even if I did, I can’t risk it. The membrane between the universes is thinning. All of the traffic back and forth over the last six years has made it unstable. Any more—even the slightest disturbance—and it may break down completely. All thanks to you and your…friends.”
“Anytime.” I finish the drink in two more gulps, and then shove the empty glass toward him, a stamp of wine red lipstick on the rim. “Thanks for the drink.” I set a one dollar bill on the counter.
“That drink is seven bucks.”
“Give me a break, Lou,” I plead. “You know I’m a poor grad student.”
Lou purses his lips, jaw trembling. He takes the bill and shoves it in his pocket.
“Oh, and thanks for your help,” I add as I pop off the stool.
There’s a hesitant pause before he says, “I didn’t help you.”
“You’ve helped me more than you know.” I wink, and Lou shudders as though I’ve just slapped him. “’Bye, Lou.”
“Good riddance,” he grumbles behind me.
My eyes dart from table to table as I search for a glimpse of bright red hair. I catch a few of the patrons considering me over their drinks, bloodshot eyes climbing up my body. Only one pair of wandering eyes actually makes me pause and look over. They belong to a boy leaning against the wall, balancing a guitar against his hip.
Once his hazel eyes reach my face, I catch his gaze and welcome him with a smile. His Adam’s apple bobs as he gulps, the defiant frown on his face deepening. Now I remember: He’s the lead singer of that band that always plays here—Psycho’s friend. Eros hates him. I think he’s kind of cute. He might be a fun new toy to play with, but I can’t let myself get distracted. I need to find Sam. Reluctantly, I break eye contact with him and continue to weave my way between tables.
Barking laughter coming from a corner booth pricks my ears. Sam and five of his Sigma Iota brothers are crammed into it, guffawing over mugs of beer and slapping each other hi-fives across the table. The one called Alec sees me first, his laughter dying in his throat with a choking noise. He rakes his black hair out of his dark, almond-shaped eyes and sits up a little straighter.
“Pat,” Alec says loudly. The others stop laughing and turn to watch me pull up a chair on the end, next to Sam.
“Hello, boys.” I give them a sheepish, toothless smile and a small wave. “Please, don’t mind lil’ old me—Sam and I just have some business to discuss.”
They hesitate for a moment, exchanging uncertain glances. Alec blinks rapidly a few times and shakes his head before continuing with whatever conversation I interrupted. “So, anyway, Carly and I are in the basement, right—”
“Did you guys do it yet?” one of the brothers cuts him off.
“No, this isn’t—”
“Of course they didn’t,” another puts in. He’s stuffed in the booth between Alec and the wall, his belly peeking out from beneath his polo shirt, straining against the button of his jeans. “She’s a frigid bitch.”
Alec’s mouth falls open in disgust. “Bro, that’s my girl you’re talking about. Have some respect.”
“I thought the Gammas were supposed to be sluts. Their social chair is fucking, like, three guys right now—” The last word dies on the fat one’s lips. He opens his mouth to say more, but no words come out. The brothers look on in panic as he clutches his throat, his lips flapping futilely.
“What the hell, Pat!” Alec cries.
I roll my eyes. “Relax, bro.”
“Fix him! Give him his voice back!”
“He’s fine,” I insist. “He just thinks he’s lost his voice.”
“Well, whatever it is you’re doing—stop!” Alec pleads.
“Just a second,” I promise. Keeping the noose of my illusion slung tightly around the boy’s throat, I lean into Sam. “I found a way to get Eros back,” I whisper, letting my lips brush against Sam’s ear. He shivers as my fingers graze the back of his carrot red hair.
“You did?” His breath hitches in his throat.
I put two fingers under his chin and lift his freckled face up to meet mine. “I’m up here, sweetie.” Without looking away, I reach into my black sequined purse and pull out a folded up piece of yellowed paper. “A ritual. An ancient ritual that will allow us to open up a portal from this side to wherever Eros is.” Sam’s hand clutches the edge of the table. I pry it off and gently place the note in his palm, closing his fingers around it. “There’s just one, tiny caveat.”
Sam’s blue eyes glance down at his fist, then back up at me. “What’s that?”
“The ritual will require…a sacrifice.”
Relapse releases December 2, 2014!!!