As much as I'd love to tweet these out, you can't tweet anything meaningful in 140 characters and I don't like breaking apart content just to tweet them out in stages. So here's my solution... I'll blog it, then link it. Between the first eight chapters I've made available for free under Sample Content and the writing excerpts here (all protected under US copyright laws I might add) potential readers should be able to get a very good feel for my writing and what to expect when they make that commitment to buy the book. If you like what you're reading here and in the sample content, it's only going to get better for you as you begin to read everything and understand the full scope and context before you, as well as the immense character development that went into this story. I promise you'll be able to tell a stark difference between this and other Self-Published books you've read. If it doesn't feel like a professionally published book to you, please let me know and I'll fix it, but I believe you'll agree with me that this comes across as something from TOR, or RandomHouse, or Harper Collins Publishing.
So here are some of my favorite excerpts not available in the Sample Content PDF file:
From Chapter 12-Banthis:
"Dawn still a couple of hours away, they stood and talked, continuing their conversation from inside—where they first met so many centuries before. He was still in awe every time he met with her—her dark elven skin perfection incarnate. She was quite literally the definition of a living Goddess.
Lithe, dark, and beyond beautiful Evanyil stood there basking in moonlight with her radiant platinum hair and unique violet eyes, batting them at the doer of all doer’s. No one—not in all her lifetimes—could compare to Damon’s ability to get things done. That made him the only possible candidate for this task—the only one she could trust to get the job done right the first time. And with this task, there would be no second chances. They would either all succeed and reap the benefits, or they would all suffer a fate far worse than any death that could possibly be imagined.
Damon stood there in his full mage regalia, letting Evanyil caress, or rather pet, the top of his hand as she peered into his black mirrors of the soul. They were so amazing lit up the way they were in that cool smoky aura backlit by the moonlight. He was an amazing specimen. She did love him—truly so. It wasn’t just physical love, or lust, between them. It was love of trust, love of reliability, love of dependability, love of so very much history together, and the love of rescuing one another more times than either could count. They had been a team from the very first moment they met. They knew each other’s thoughts and could complete each other’s sentences, and they were just opposite enough to attract without driving each other insane. Well, Evanyil would fit the definition of insanity already—with, or without, Damon. Even that he loved about her. She was just sane enough to be surprisingly lucid at times, and just crazy enough to come up with the most brilliant and unconventional thinking that frequently dovetailed perfectly with his order and structure.
The vines and dogwood masked the entrance entirely to the untrained eye, but they had been here so many times, they knew right where they were going—physically and otherwise.
“Sweetie, I’m not saying it has to be now-now. I’m saying I know it takes time to plot something of this magnitude, and I’d like to start the planning now,” so unusual coming from her—the realization of planning something like this. Evanyil was the act first, solve problems-on-the-fly personality. But, if she, of all people, was realizing the need to plan something like this, then she truly did have an understanding of the consequences at play.
He was trying to keep his thoughts focused and ordered as she continued stroking his hand, leaning her perfect body into his as she blinked at him with those magnificent violet eyes of hers. He knew he wasn’t being used—not really at least. Was he? It was the briefest of thoughts crossing across his consciousness as he replied, “Look, I’m just saying my biggest concern has always been about what happens after. I mean, we’re going to bring enough to this fight, I’m pretty confident we’ll win. The question is, in the massive power vacuum that follows, who gets what, when, how, where, and why are all extremely important questions that need to be asked and answered before the first spell is cast in this war we’re about to start. There has to be a viable path to a lasting equilibrium. That’s all I’m saying. And forgive me for saying this, but you’re not the ‘share my toys’ type.”
Evanyil feigned insult pouting, but she knew where Damon was coming from. He had a valid point—he always did. “You’re suggesting a meeting between myself and your wifey.”
A huff of derision at the thought from Evanyil. She didn’t hate Banthis. They had largely stayed out of one another’s way all this time, but Banthis took Damon away from her. It wasn’t a jealousy thing between Evanyil and Banthis. More like, Damon and Evanyil were best friends, teammates, traveling companions till the end, and then one day Banthis came in and changed all that. She detested the change that came with Banthis in Damon’s life more than she detested Banthis herself. Evanyil knew she wasn’t the marrying type and neither was Damon and yet he’d done it—more than once already. Their relationship had been violently hot, then cold, then hot, then unbearably distant, then ethereal, then… The one constant between them was that they could count on one another, particularly when commitments were given.
He could see the wheels of chaos turning in the half-psychotic mind of hers, and thought better to interrupt her train of thought before someone got killed—or worse. “Look, you two need to figure out who gets what when this goes down. I’ve known you a lot longer than I’ve known her but don’t ask me to choose between you two. That won’t be good for any of us.”
“And what if I am asking you to choose me?”
“Evanyil, please don’t. Please.”
A batted eyelash, then a look down at the lush grass beneath them bathed in moonlight as her spiders stood sentry around them made Evanyil consider her options if it came down to it. “I miss the old us.”
A broad smile from Damon—she loved his smile—caused Damon to reminisce. Thoughts of their first meeting flooded his mind…then their first time together in combat…then all the years she spent with him at his manor. They covered a lot of ground together—shared tremendous history. Cupping her magnificent face, he kissed her—really kissed her—like their lives depended on it. Was that because it did, he wondered. “If this works, we’ll have all the freedom to be whoever we want, to forge, or reforge, whatever state of relationship we desire. And, for the record, I miss the old us too. You mean…,” he paused thinking as a lump formed in his throat, searching for the words, “…more to me than words can describe. You’re my last real living link to the past—at least that part of my past I remember with fondness. I adore you, Evanyil. Please don’t ever change.”
It was a strange, and rare moment, seeing a tear streaking down the cheeks of a living Goddess, but she had what she wanted—for now at least. She had Damon’s commitment to execute the plan that would set them both free. Though, here with him tonight in this perfect moonlit night, she wanted more. She wanted a future with Damon…without Banthis."
From Chapter 18-In The Thunder's Wake:
"Rain and thunder battered at the grounds and gray stone keep of the old Lockhart Manor. Lightning strokes, nearly on the keep’s grounds, invoked smoky motes of crimson mist, barely visible against the storm-woven tapestry of the night air. The wind rustled through chimes strewn about the grounds, swinging the old iron gate this way and that ever since the latch had broken long ago. The chime intonations concatenated with the moaning and metal gnashing of the gate into frightening howls carried on the night air. Between the thunder strokes, porch oil lamps hung from overhang just inside the main gate, noisily swung to and fro, tossing their light in schizophrenic patterns on the porch and in the weather-beaten courtyard.
Inside, burning purple, red, black, and white candles of every size and shape rendered a dark backdrop against virgin white silk and lace window treatments.
Slamming the heavily embossed door behind her with a deafening quake that shook the entire manor to its foundation, Michelle stormed her way up the spiral staircase in the main foyer, ripping her silken dress from her body as she made her way to the master chambers. Lamenting over the loss of her beautiful clothes, she stepped out of the dress and her undergarments as she entered her bedroom, scanning the room for a towel to dry her long wavy blond hair."
From Chapter 24-A Confluence of Events:
"The trimaran USS Independence littoral combat frigate, the very latest of her design, cruised sea-side abreast the USS CVN Ronald Reagan just astern the Arleigh Burke Destroyer, the USS Michael Murphy. The Reagan’s battlegroup contained some eight ships in all, including the two submarines USS North Dakota and the prototype USS Seawolf. Congress loved the Virginia Class submarines, but the Navy loved the Seawolf; so did the new President, who immediately ordered it back into service. The Independence was forced to cruise all ahead two-thirds while the rest of the Carrier Battle Group cruised all ahead standard just so she didn’t leave the group behind. The Chinese man-made island housed a military installation about a thousand yards off the port bow. Captain Harry Chastain didn’t know what to make of the politics of it, but he knew this was going to piss off the Chinese. Sure, technically they were in International Waters since they were more than the designated twenty-five miles from China’s mainland to qualify as such, but he supposed if the Chinese didn’t want this level of push-back, then maybe they shouldn’t have built their man-made base more than thirty miles off-shore. Such thinking was above his paygrade. He had plenty to worry about as he called out commands from the Captain’s chair on the bridge housing the latest and greatest of American ingenuity, “TAO, keep that RAM warm,” the Captain’s reference to the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) not going unnoticed as he garnered concerned looks from around the bridge.
“Aye, sir.” Tactical Action Officer (TAO) Lieutenant Agatha MacDonald confirmed, keeping close observation on her Aegis-com-synchronized threat matrix, her long red hair, a reflection of her Scottish and Irish heritage, stuffed under her cap. She felt the tension oozing across the bridge too, but she had a job to do.
“XO, you’re with me,” Captain Chastain ordered to his Executive Officer (XO) Dallas Kent, motioning for Kent to leave the bridge with him. “OOD, you have the Conn.” The Captain’s matter-of-fact tonality was a direct reflection of their intensely hostile surroundings.
“Aye, sir, OOD has the Conn.” Officer of the Deck (OOD) Larry Zummwalt, a surname synonymous with generations of Navy heritage, proudly puffed out his chest, looking out over the bow of the ship through the slim-profiled stealthy Conning Tower.
Quickly opening the door to his Captain’s quarters, seeing the 6’4” intruder with shoulder-length black hair and black eyes, wearing jeans and a Led Zeppelin T-Shirt, Captain Chastain didn’t have time to call for help before unseen hands silently dragged him and the XO into the Captain’s quarters. The door slammed behind them. Both felt themselves being gagged by something they couldn’t see, feel or touch; yet it was there, in their throats, silencing them immediately. Circling the two broad-shouldered Navy line officers, the tall, dark, and handsome man spoke to them with his thoughts—his lips never moving.
I’m not here to hurt you, the thoughts forced into the Captain’s and the XO’s mind. If I wanted you dead, I would have killed you already.
Casting Suggestion, Damon wormed his way into the deepest recesses of their minds, probing for exactly the right place to plant his suggestion. His right hand, over their forehead in succession, starting with the Captain, Damon leered as he probed, finding just the right place, just the right moment for the implant. The seed of hate and doubt would propagate like a tidal wave internally, providing just the right level of justification for his needs. Casting Forget, they both collapsed to the floor. He needed to wake them up, but remotely.
From the far side of the Portal, in his living room in Austin, Damon used Telekinesis to slap the two line officers awake, closing the Portal with a whoosh as they were coming to. The rest should take care of itself.
Captain Chastain didn’t remember how he had gotten to his quarters, nor why his XO was with him. The last clear memory he had was being on the bridge watching for the damn Chinese to make their move. Can’t trust any of them, he thought to himself, memories of his father, killed by Chinese Triad mafia, flooding his thoughts. “Come on,” Captain Chastain ordered, hastening his pace back to the Conn, XO in tow.
“TAO, what targets are you painting?” The Captain asked, briskly walking into the Conn.
“Painting, sir?” TAO MacDonald didn’t understand. She hadn’t been asked to paint any ‘targets.’ She had a pair of Chinese J-31’s barely showing on the scope, somewhat impressed by the very limited size of their stealth signature, but she sure as Hell wasn’t about to start ‘painting’ them without a good goddamn reason. “I have two J-31’s broadcasting on international frequencies, warning us about approaching too close to their base. Would you like us to respond?” Typically, the Admiral of the Battle Group, aboard the Carrier or his flagship, replied on behalf of the Carrier Battle Group. She knew that. So did the Captain.
“Yes, I would,” Captain Chastain replied, climbing into the Captain’s Chair. “Paint them with the RAM.”
“You heard me, TAO.”
“Aye, sir,” TAO MacDonald looked between the scowl of the XO and the outright glower of the Captain, wondering, What the Hell is going on? “Painting now, sir.” With precision and care, she placed the target finder on the lead J-31 while the Admiral responded over the comm, “Chinese Fighters. Chinese Fighters. This is Admiral Deed, aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. Our Battle Group is cruising through International Waters with no intention of conflict. Please confirm your intent.”
* * * *
The conflicting messages of being painted by the US frigate combined with the benign message of Admiral Deed caused Captain Xiang Min indescribable concern. This could go sideways at a moment’s notice, then there would be war. Motioning to his wingman to check his Attack Control Systems, he wanted to get confirmation they were being painted. He wanted someone else to make this decision.
* * * *
“Do you have him yet?” Captain Chastain hurried his TAO, practically standing over her even while seated some sixteen feet away in his Captain’s chair.
“Sir, I have him painted as ordered.”
“Weapons Free, TAO.”
“WHAT?” Realizing how inappropriate and derelict her tone was, Agatha MacDonald quickly regrouped internally, recalling her training, “Sir, rules of engagement state—”
“You heard me, TAO. You are Weapons Free. Shoot that bastard out of the sky! RIGHT NOW!”
Before she could protest, the XO pulled her from her chair, squeezing the trigger on the black plastic joystick, releasing the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile for a clean kill only two seconds later.
A moment later the lookout could see aircraft parts dropping from the sky through his tactical binoculars as the remaining Chinese J-31 could be heard calling home reporting the shootdown, asking for instructions. Suddenly his message was cut off mid-sentence, as the USS Independence registered another clean and confirmed shootdown.""
From Chapter 29-Pulling Back the Curtain:
"After days on end with her sixth-sense pegged at maximum, Michelle’s head pounded relentlessly: forcing her to act against her own will, and better judgment, at this point. Working in the shadows, as if she was trying to observe some grand Prime Directive or something, hadn’t changed a thing and clearly wasn’t doing any good either. Lawna would be furious with her, but a different approach was required. She watched from her chair in the corner of Radin’s room as he and his ‘girlfriend’ started to wake. If she was going to leave unnoticed, it was now or never. Was she ready to pull back the curtain already?
Too late. Radin looked her dead in the eyes, giving Elise a good shove to make sure she woke fully with one good push.
“Hey,” she exclaimed pulling the covers to her face then noticing what, or who, Radin was staring at in the corner.
“Don’t scream,” Michelle cursed herself internally. Bad choice of words. She sounded like Dexter, or worse. You can do better than that. “I mean, I’m not here to hurt you.” She offered in the most genuine tone she could muster, “I thought you could use my help.”
“And you couldn’t just knock on the door?” Elise ripped the sheets off Radin, unintentionally leaving him naked on the bed in front of this ‘woman,’ wrapping the sheet around her body as she walked to the dresser for her clothes.
“Fair point, but you’re in more danger than you can possibly imagine at all hours of the day and night, and you needed surveillance.” She visibly cringed at the use of that word. Bad Michelle, she chastised herself trying not to look at the naked young man before her while he reached down feeling around for his clothes on the floor—never taking his eyes off the intruder.
Elise immediately took notice of the use of that word—surveillance—pivoting from where she was about to open the top drawer of the dresser, now staring the beautiful buxom blonde dead in the eyes.
“I mean you needed someone to watch over you—especially throughout the night.” Not good. This isn’t going like planned. Maybe she should have listened to Lawna after all. “My name is Michelle, and I’m here to help.” She paused again. “I’m at your service,” she actually curtsied to a nude Radin, still fumbling for his clothes.
Elise practically choked as she tried to prevent the vomit threatening to come up right then and there.
Radin looked between the two beautiful blondes, though Elise was more strawberry blonde. They could have been sisters. Roughly the same age. Similar features. At least they couldn’t intimidate each other with their looks, as woman so often did to one another. He swore, he’d never understand women! “Are you two related?” He had to ask. He just had to!
“What!” it was a simultaneous reply from both of them as they both pivoted to him now.
Great, they were at each other’s throats. Now they’re both at yours! Women! Silence was the best response. They did gradually return to face each other instead of him, but it took a moment, and the silence was unbearable.
“So, Michelle, you said,” Elise was going to go there, and Michelle’s brow had already furrowed preemptively warning. “My that’s an unusual name. Wherever did you get such a name?”
“From my parents.” Too smartass, she wondered.
“And what lands might they be from?” There it was.
“Far, far away.” Suitably smartass from Michelle, enough to cause a smile to adorn her beautiful face.
She’s magnificent, Radin reflected. “I don’t think that’s all that important right now.” He was trying to refocus the discussion on what mattered—the threat at hand. “Why do you feel I’m in so much danger? And, it’s not as if I doubt you. I don’t. I believe you’re right about the threat. I’ve seen it,” pausing. “In one manner or another. I’m just curious if you might know a little more about the ‘why.’”