A Heart of Salt & Silver: Deleted Scene

I promised, and now, it’s time to deliver. When I started to cut things from A Heart of Salt & Silver, I saved them all in a separate document. Some things were made redundant by later scenes. Others were eliminated completely because they no longer fit with character personalities.

This scene still fit with the character’s personality, but Elias was going to have to tell his story to Ness later. Including this scene and his later conversation with Ness would have been repetitive. It also got cut because Astrid and Alva (Elias’ mother and sister, respectively) don’t feature in the rest of the book outside of his thoughts and memories.

But I can show it to you here and give you a glimpse of his personality and my writing style.

***

“Elias, could you bring me your sister’s veil?” my mom calls from her bedroom.

“Of course, Mom,” I answer, grateful for something to do.

She and Alva have been locked in there for nearly two hours already, marking up the necessary adjustments to make Mom’s wedding dress fit Alva. They insisted I be present to see it pinned up, but of course, I’m not allowed in the bloody room until they’re done.

I’ve already tidied up, hauled in everything I could pick from the garden, and split some wood for the fireplace. I even stacked it carefully against the cozy, little house I grew up in.

What else am I supposed to do?

The delicate lace veil rests atop my mother’s writing desk, a dangerous spot considering the bottle of ink nearby. The cork sticks out of the top haphazardly, not at all secure. She never quite closes those things right.

Carefully, I lift my sister’s veil from the desk. I reach for the ink bottle, intending to close it properly, but stop mid-reach. Looking around, I search for a spot to place the creamy lace, but find none.

Oh, well.

I slide the band over my head.

Perhaps I’ll wear the damn thing into the room with them, get a little laugh.

I grab up the ink bottle, close it, and place it back on the desk. A stray drop, slopped over the side of the rim by the messily placed cork, falls on a letter, apparently written just before I arrived.

“Damn it all,” I whisper.

Reaching down to dab away what I can with my sleeve, my eyes notice the words next to the droplet.

“Dearest Everett,” it begins.

My brows furrow in confusion. Why, after all, would she be writing my father a letter? He’s been dead for 25 years, now.

Though prying isn’t normally my style, my hands lift the letter free of the desk, and my eyes roam the page. Not that it clears anything up. What difference is it going to make, telling him about Alva’s wedding?

He can’t exactly come. The Etherrealm doesn’t typically grant day passes.

The door behind me opens, and my mother gives a great chuckle. “I asked you to bring it here, son, not wear it,” she admonishes with another laugh.

Still holding the letter, I turn to face her. Across the small kitchen, I watch her face fall. “Oh, Gods,” she whispers, hand rising to cover her mouth.

My frown deepens. “Why are you writing to Dad?”

Taking a deep breath, my mother falters beneath my gaze. Her eyes fall to the floor, and sadness overtakes her features, pulling her entire face downward. “I forgot I’d put the veil just there,” she whispers, shaking her head.

Exhaling, she puts her hands on her hips, considering. When she finally meets my gaze, her eyes glisten with tears she won’t let fall. “Come in here. I’ve something to tell you.”

Hands falling to my sides, my mother’s letter dangling uselessly in my grip, I follow.

Stunning in cream satin and lace, Alva stares at us, mouth hanging open, as we enter the room. “What’s wrong?” she begs, dark eyes shining with worry. Blonde hair swept up hastily, bits and strands hang loose about her face.

I shrug and hand her the letter, hoping she can make more sense of it than I have.

“What is this?” she asks, looking to our mother.

Pulling in a shuddering breath, she closes her eyes to fortify herself. “Please, sit down.”

We do, pushing fabric aside, and clearing a spot on the bed. The lace of the veil tugs oddly as I sit, catching between my knees and the edge of the bed. Pulling it off, I offer it to Alva.

“Thanks,” she murmurs reflexively. Her fingers worry at the edges of the lace as we wait.

“Your father,” my mother begins, clearly struggling for words. She paces and turns her back to us. One hand on her hip, she dips her head, using her free hand to wipe tears away. “Oh, please, don’t hate me,” she whispers.

My heart clenches. In an instant, I’m on my feet, pulling her into my arms. “Mom, we’re not going to hate you. Just tell us. We’ll be fine. We’re tough.”

Her ribs expand with a massive breath, and I loosen my arms to accommodate her. The long braid which hangs halfway down her back pulls tight under my arms, so I lift it free.

Bending my knees, I stoop to look her in the eyes. One hand on her face, wet with tears, I say, “Mom, really, we won’t hate you.”

Long lashes sparkling with tears, face red from partial breaths, she nods. “Your father isn’t dead.”

The world around me stops, it must, for nothing outside this room exists, nothing beyond my mother’s face and the words still hanging in the air.

Behind me, Alva asks, “What?”

Yet, I still can’t form a coherent thought. My mind is a blur. Confusion and anger fight a vicious battle in my chest for, if he’s alive, where’s he been all this time? Why would he leave us to fend for ourselves? Why would he leave his children, two and three years old? Why would he leave his wife?

“At least,” Astrid goes on, “I assume he isn’t. Killing him is a rather difficult thing.”

Brows knitting themselves together, I find words, finally, “What do you mean?”

“Come, let’s have some tea. I’ll explain everything.” Then, she amends, “Well, I’ll try.”

We venture to the kitchen, and my sister perches gingerly in one of the chairs at the table, not wanting to dislodge any of the pins they’ve put into place in the dress. My mother begins to put on the kettle, but her hands shake.

Grateful for the activity, I offer to take over, pleading with her to sit.

“You’ve got to know that your father… Everett was, I mean, is a good man.”

Clearly.

He only abandoned his family.

I slam the kettle onto the stone counter a little harder than I intend. Trying to still the rage which boils in my blood, I grit my teeth. Pulling some herbs from the cabinet, I pour some into a little cloth pouch and tie it off. The string nearly rips as I tighten it.

Deep breaths.

He must have had a good reason to leave us.

I roll my eyes, thankful my back is to my mother. With everything prepared, I venture to the fireplace, careful to keep my expression neutral so she doesn’t assume I’m mad at her.

Setting the kettle by the fire, I sit on the hearth. Eyes closed and chewing away at the inside of my cheek, my temper flares. Every rough winter, all the times Mom had to work her fingers to the bone stitching away to scrape in enough coin for food, every hardship flickers across my eyelids.

All those birthdays, missed. All those nights, Mom was alone. And for what?

That bastard…

Shaking my head, I tap my fingers on the stone.

“Do you know why he left? What makes you think he’s alive?” Alva says, voice weak and small.

Finally opening my eyes, I see my mother shake her head. Bits of sunlight slip through the windows to glisten on the tears that stain her face. “I don’t know why he left. But he was part of the Pack. They don’t die easily.”

“The Pack?” I ask, incredulous. “Are you serious?”

She nods, and my world collapses around me.

“We lived with them, at first. Then, we had you two. The first full moon after your first birthdays, neither of you showed signs of having inherited it, and werewolf children don’t exactly play like normal children,” she says, words tumbling out now that she’s finally resolved to explain.

“Neither of you would have survived, so we moved here. He went back and forth, staying here most of the time, but he had to be there for every full moon, and a few days before and after them.”

Leaning her head forward into her hands, she goes on, “For a week before he left, he acted so strangely. I think it may have just gotten to him, being so far from his Pack, from his Alphas. I don’t know. There were a few others in the Pack that managed just fine living in town…”

My head spins.

Dad’s a werewolf?

He’s a werewolf, and he’s probably alive?

It just… doesn’t seem right. All this time, he’s been in the forest, just…not showing up for his family?

“You two were used to him disappearing for a week or so at a time, and you were so young,” she pauses, drawing the word out. “But two weeks in, a month in, I didn’t know what to say, anymore. It didn’t look like he was coming back. Eventually, after months of telling you over and again that he’d be back soon, after months of you asking when he’d be back every day, I just told you both that he was gone. I didn’t want you to think badly of him. If it was because of what he was, he couldn’t help it.”

“And if it wasn’t?” I ask.

Beside me, the tea comes to a boil. Mom notices first, rising to her feet and gathering cups from the cabinet. She kneels beside me, pouring tea into the cups. “I don’t know, son.”

“That’s not good enough,” I say. Standing, not bothering with the tea, I rush for the door.

“Where are you going?” my mother asks, concern lacing her words.

“I’m going after him.”

“What?” my mother and sister say in unison.

Alva stands abruptly, pushing her chair back with the motion. It nearly topples over behind her. “You can’t be serious!”

“This isn’t right! We deserve answers. He should BE here,” I say, voice rising with every word. Then, tone softening considerably, “He should be here to see his daughter get married.”

“So you’re going to confront a werewolf? Are you stupid?” Alva asks.

“Sometimes,” I say, placing a hand on the doorknob. “Obviously, this is one of those times.”

“What do you expect? Do you think he’s going to apologize? To offer to be a part of our lives now, after all this time?” Her voice breaks with pain.

Mom sits, hunched over the kettle by the fire with a cup in one hand. Her eyes are tight, and her braid hangs over her shoulder. Mouth working uselessly, she struggles for words.

“I don’t know what he’ll do,” I say. “But I have to try.”

Mom drops the cup, and it shatters against the stone. Pushing herself to her feet, she rushes to me and throws her arms around me. “Please, just let it rest. I’ll send the letter. There’s plenty of time for it to reach him. The wedding isn’t for another three months.”

Her tears stain my shirt, but I know I must go. My bones, my very blood cries out for answers. “I have to see him. I have to know.”

“It’s dangerous, though,” Alva pleads, approaching me slowly. “What if you don’t come back? I can get married without him. I can’t get married without you there.”

“I’ll come back, I promise. I wouldn’t miss your wedding for anything.”

I pull her into my arms, smashing her and Mom to my chest. Their shoulders tuck nicely under my arms. They fit there so comfortably, like they’re a part of me.

But I have to do this.

***

And then, he set off, all by himself with very few provisions. He ran into the Forest of Immortals, intending to cut through to save time on his journey to Tor, the city the Pack calls home.

Only, his trip didn’t quite go to plan. If you’ve read the blurb, you know that he and Ness meet while he’s being chased by a vampire… nowhere near Tor.

If you want to know more, A Heart of Salt & Silver is officially available at all major retailers. You can even ask for it at your local bookstore or library if you want to help support them.

If you want to stay home, chilling in your jammies, click here for the Amazon link.

Don’t forget, I’ll be live on Instagram at 3pm CST for a reading of the first chapter followed immediately by a Q&A session. Follow here to catch the live stream.

And as always…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Heart of Salt and Silver: Inspiration and Process

Do you ever struggle to turn your brain off when it’s time to sleep?

Like… it just keeps going, anxious and desperate to pick something apart, and all you want to do is sleep because you have things to do the next day and it’s already so late and it isn’t getting any earlier, except that it sort-of is because now it’s early morning instead of late at night, but that thought doesn’t really help, it only makes you more anxious, which only makes it harder to sleep.

That’s the kind of evening that A Heart of Salt & Silver is born of.

Or rather, a series of those nights.

You see, there’s this little thing that I do on nights like that, a little trick to calm my restless mind.

I curl up and close my eyes. I picture a character, just fabricate them on the spot. Then, I drop them down in the middle of my head and see where they end up. My brain starts scrambling to put together a world for them rather than scrambling to assemble a to-do list for the next three months.

And then, I just watch it play out in my mind, letting that character wander through some random scene, some random event.

And it centers my mind.

Gone are the worries of the day. Banished are the stressors that have yet to hit me, the arguments that I’ve never had and never will have that my brain insists on playing out.

All that remains is that character, that scene, that world.

And I relax.

And eventually, I fall asleep.

If I have several of these terrible nights in a row, or if I have one a few weeks later, and happen to like the person my mind conjured, I’ll pick the scene up where I left off. Because my mind is a bit of a steel trap for these things. I’ll pick up the thread, and follow it wherever it goes until I decide that I like it enough to start actually writing.

And that’s how I got this book.

I imagined Ness, this demi-demon hiding in plain sight, disguised in human form, out in the middle of the forest. I conjured a man being chased into the little meadow she was trying to relax in, crashing through brambles and sprawling across the ground. I pictured the bandits chasing after him, one of them even stabbing him.

Then, Ness unleashed hell.

And I had to write the book.

Now, I don’t plan my books. But of all my books, I knew less about this one when I started writing it than with any others, with the exception of my current WIP.

What I said above is all I had.

I didn’t know why Ness was trying to relax in that meadow or any of the things in her past that she was hiding from. I certainly didn’t know the route her thoughts were travelling or the… act she was about to attempt, laying there thinking about her ex, Nolan. I didn’t know Nolan was werewolf.

I didn’t know that the bandits weren’t bandits, that one was a vampire and the other his pledge, a Nether witch, or why Elias was wandering through a forest chock full of dangerous immortals to begin with.

I just knew that those lives all converged at that one point, and I wanted to figure out why.

So, I started writing.

I got a few chapters in and realized that one of the bandits was a vampire, so I had to go back and adjust the first chapter to reflect that. Then, a few chapters later, I realized that the “bandits” were assholes.

More adjustments in chapter one.

And it just kept going. I found out more about the characters’ internal lives and even the premise for the book in chapter two, or at least part of it. I started pulling at that thread, and quickly realized that I didn’t have the whole plot yet.

About halfway through the first draft, I had an epiphany about the characters, one that solved all the problems I was struggling with at that point. It, quite humbly, stared me in the eyes and demanded an entire rewrite of everything I had, including the complete elimination of a few chapters, one of which I’ll be sharing with you tomorrow.

Things just kept spiraling, and what I thought would be a simple romance novella that just happened to be set in a fantasy world with immortals quickly became a dark and gritty novel with stakes so high that their world could shatter and so many fucking love triangles that it was more like a square with an X inside.

Normally, I hate love triangles, but the story had many demands. They were just one of them.

And it actually ended up being one of my favorite character dynamics in any of my books, because it isn’t just a simple “Oh, no, two hotties are into me, how will I ever choose?” type thing. (Btw, if that’s what you like to read, go for it. It just isn’t my thing.)

These love triangles are rooted in genuine psychological and emotional struggles.

And if you’ve read any of my books, you know that psychological and emotional struggles are always at the heart of every story. They’re my bread and butter. They’re the thing that hooks me.

The ones in this book, though not the darkest I’ve ever written, certainly aren’t light.

But I love the way they turned out.

It’s been such an amazing journey getting this book written and edited and ready for you to read. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Release day is tomorrow! Can you believe it? I can’t.

I’ll be posting a deleted scene tomorrow around noon (CST) and going live on Instagram for a reading of the first chapter and a Q&A session. Follow here so you don’t miss it.

Preorders are available here.

And as always…

Keep writing. Keep reading.

Later.

A Heart of Salt & Silver: Excerpt and Playlist

Holy shit. There’s just over two weeks until the release of A Heart of Salt & Silver!

November 3rd is so close, and I’m freaking excited. So much so that I can’t resist sharing some more with you.

Down below, you’ll find an excerpt from this dark and brooding Paranormal High Fantasy Romance, as well as the playlist I listened to while writing.

Shall we start with the excerpt?

I pulled this one from chapter 12, taking you deep into the action. Ness and Elias are in some trouble, but since she’s immortal and Elias isn’t, she’s facing down a pack of Howlers (animals in a state of suspended/delayed death under the magical control of our big bad evil guy) all by herself.

~

Behind me, the alpha struggles to gain its feet, slipping in its own gore over by the tree. I turn to show it mercy, but the remainder, a small black wolf, grabs my right thigh in its jaws. It shakes its head back and forth, pulling my leg out from under me.

The ground rushes up to meet me, and I feel my nose break with the impact. Pain explodes through my skull. Blood gushes out, pouring down over my lips when I roll onto my back. The Howler drags me toward its alpha, arching its back and jerking as it does.

Thrashing, I swipe a hand at its face, desperate to end the pain for the both of us. My slash falls short, merely catching the flesh of her muzzle with my nails. It tears away in a bloody hunk. The poor thing screams, and the sound is just a bit too human.

It pierces my soul, sending shivers through my body.

But she lets go of my leg.

Scrambling upward, pain exploding through me with every move, I pull the wolf’s head to my chest. Holding her still against me, I take her head in both hands and snap her neck. She goes limp in my arms, and I set her gently on the ground.

Her eyes shine with nothing more than firelight, finally lifeless in death. As they should be. The bone around them glows against her black fur, matted down with dried blood.

Finally gaining its feet, the massive alpha charges, barreling into me as I wipe tears from my face. Its teeth find my left arm, sinking in deep. Lightning bursts of agony explode across every fiber of my being.

Pulling my hands apart, I pry the Howler’s jaws from my arms without ever touching the beast. A single twirling finger secures its jaw with a Nether binding, a thing I probably should have done from the start.

Another thing I’ll regret later…

Pulling the great grey beast against me, I hold it tight, despite its thrashing, finally finding a use for my unnatural strength. Staring into its eyes, I see pain.

And fear.

With one hand on the side of its face, I fill my own eyes with compassion, letting my emotions seep into the beast. Another seldom used ability. I’m much more likely to keep my feelings to myself.

But here, now, it soothes this poor creature. The beast lays down across my lap, staring up at me.

Snarls become whimpers, and howls morph into soft whines. I feel death in the poor thing. His body is cold, and thick blood drains from its gaping stomach. Eyes like caramel stare into my soul, aching for release.

Twirling one finger counterclockwise, I release Elias from his Nether binding in the tree and free the wolf’s jaws. He won’t bite me, now.

With tears streaming down my face, I place my right hand atop the wolf’s head. My savaged left arm lies limp across the beast’s side. Stroking gently and hiding a grimace of pain, I try to show this poor animal a bit of comfort.

Then, I place one nail over the top of his head. He whines softly, and I make gentle sounds of reassurance.

“Shhh… It’s okay, now,” I whisper, petting the poor animal slowly and driving my talon through his skull.

Black blood oozes out around it, but for a split second, before the life fades from his eyes, he finds peace. His muscles go limp, finally relaxing as they should have when he first died.

Heaving a great sob, I haul the massive wolf’s head to my chest. My cries drown out the sounds of Elias climbing down from the tree. I hug the cold, dead wolf to me, weeping into matted fur.

My body shakes with sobs, and my chest aches. My world goes black, wiping the stars and the moon from the sky. My breath catches in my throat as my fingers tighten around dirty fur.

~

Can I just say that I cried writing this scene?

God, the poor animals. They went through so much. And they tore Ness up pretty badly before she could put them out of their misery.

Needless to say, there are some truly sad songs in the playlist. There are also some happy ones, some songs full of romantic tension, and a few that just sound fucking bad ass.

So, if you’re looking to broaden your musical horizons, the playlist below (assembled on YouTube Music) has 94 songs from all different genres. If you don’t have YouTube Music, I’ve also included screenshots of the playlist.

Who knows, you could listen to it while reading.

If you haven’t entered my preorder giveaway, it’s open until release day. Preorders are still available.

Links are down below.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Heart of Salt & Silver Cover Reveal!

Hi, guys!

It’s finally time to show off this cover!

Dark supernatural high fantasy romance novel cover art

I’m so freaking excited to get this out there.

Here are a couple of excerpts to give you a sneak peak at the book!

Excerpt one:

“Unhand us, witch!” the vampire shouts.

The mortals, apparently far smarter than this vampire, remain silent. Even the vampire’s own pledge seals his lips shut. A wave of Nether wafts off him, marking him as a Nether witch.

But fury sparks within me, and a dark grin overtakes me. I lower my arm, setting the blades down gently in the middle of the clearing.

“What was that?” I ask, daring the vampire to repeat himself.

Stupidly enough, he does. “I said, ‘unhand us, witch!’ Let us go quickly, and I might not kill you.”

Arrogant fool.

I laugh quietly, and all the birds fly away, deserting their treetop perches. A dangerous glint shines in my eyes as I saunter within arm’s reach.

“Witch? You think me a witch?”

“How else could a pitiful, puny little woman like you do all this?” He jerks his head at the other two men, unable to move his arms. Cheeks flushed with anger, he draws back and spits in my face, dark eyes flashing, all the while.

Nearby animals sense my anger reverberating on the Nether, and the woods fall completely silent. Fury roils within me, and visions of blood fill my mind. Everything in me demands his evisceration.

Or perhaps the removal of some limbs

With eyes narrowed, I lift one hand. He flinches, and I smile, baring my teeth. His spit floats into the air, leaping happily from my skin. My spine shivers with disgust and hatred as I force the spit to smear itself over the vampire’s face, over his eyes.

Slowly twirling one finger, I tighten his bonds. Air rushes from his lungs, and his soft face goes red as he struggles to breathe.

“You underestimate me. I don’t know a single witch who can do everything I’ve done without at least three days of spell and potion preparation. Not to mention the difficulty of lugging all those ingredients out here.”

Lifting one average looking fingernail to his face, I trace one of his cheekbones, then the other, splitting the skin wide. A line drawn down the center of his nose, from bridge to tip, releases still more blood.

My eyes flutter as the darkest parts of me savor the sight.

“As for spitting on me,” I whisper, knowing my voice will carry to the others, echoing in their bones despite its low volume, “that was a grave mistake. Most of my kind would have killed you on the spot, simply for the disturbance.”

Voice suddenly a hiss, I say, “You’re lucky I’ve learned patience.”

My soul riots for revenge, and my blood boils in my veins. I fight the damnable words, hating my own weakness before my rage, but still, I say, “But ignorance must not go to seed. Your family line will end with you. You will never again create, or prolong, life.”

And I shift the Nether to make it so.

“Your kind? What are you talking about? What makes you think you can curse me?” All bluff and bluster, the vampire tries to appear brave and defiant.

But I feel the fear leaking off him. I smell it in his blood, acrid and spoiled. I hear it in his sputtering heartbeat, slightly more erratic than those of the others.

Again, I say nothing. Drawing a deep breath, I close my eyes slowly.

Thunder roars through the clearing, rumbling in all our chests. I open my eyes, glittering gold sending light reflecting back at the vampire, and my skin grows paler. Fingernails become golden talons, embedded in black skin which reveals hues of purple as it fades to white just above my wrist. My eyelids are colored similarly, pulsing with the Nether that reaches out through my skin.

Black horns burst from my skull, sticking through locks of deepest red. My horns twist as they taper off, curling back over the top of my head.

The color drains from the vampire’s face, concealed as it is by his blood. Sick glee spikes through me.

“Did you know you would feel my revelation in your blood? Did you know the very air would tremble with it?” I ask, knowing the answer to be a resounding “no.”

“You’re a…” he trails off, unable to speak for lack of air.

“Demi-demon is, I believe, the word you’re looking for,” I say, smiling malevolently. “Now, I’m going to untether you, and you’re going to run. Before I change my mind.”

***

Can I just say that Ness is pretty OP? Lol. She has her flaws, don’t get me wrong. She isn’t perfect. But she’s powerful as hell.

And because I just can’t help myself, here’s another excerpt:

With my good arm, I pull my leg up to bend the knee. Hiking the hem of my dress up, I reveal torn muscle and shredded skin. I wince as the fabric moves over it, tugging flaps of skin in directions they aren’t meant to go.

Elias’ hands set to work, scooping water up, and pouring it over my thigh. Each drop, gentle as the administration of them may be, pulls a moan of pain from my lips. Wrapping fingers tightly around a stone, I do what I can to bear the pain without making Elias feel worse.

The blood washes away, revealing the true devastation wrought by the dead wolf’s jaws. My leg hangs open, dark muscle showing itself to the sky as it was never meant to do.

“Itand have mercy,” he whispers, calling on the goddess of fortitude.

But she’ll spare no blessings for the likes of me.

“What do I need to do?” he asks. His eyes roam over me, and one hand finds its way to my cheek. Brows knitted together, he clearly longs for something to do, some reassurance that I’ll be ok.

Does he want me to be alright for the sake of spending more time together? Or merely for the sake of having an escort for the rest of the trek?

I hope for his sake that it’s the latter. But the well of loneliness within me wishes for the former.

Either way, there’s nothing he can do.

“My body will mend itself,” I tell him. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll mend. It’s already started.”

His eyes drop to my arm, my leg. The bleeding has stopped, and the cuts aren’t as deep as they were mere seconds ago. Had he seen it when the wounds were first inflicted, he likely would’ve been sick.

“I wish you would’ve let me help,” he murmurs, sliding his hand along my jaw until his thumb finds my earlobe.

Exhaustion pulls my inhibitions low. Despite myself, despite the guilt churning within me, I lean into his caress.

Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.

My heart shrinks from the thought, and I close my eyes, nuzzling my cheek into Elias’ palm.

“Letting you help would’ve been a terrible idea. They could never kill me. They had no salt, no silver. They couldn’t say any incantations.”

I pause, squeezing my eyes tight against the horrid images which flash before them. I don’t want to see the ways they could’ve hurt him. I don’t want to watch them tear him to shreds. I don’t want to see his blood on the ground.

“They could’ve killed you, though,” I whisper.

Suddenly desperate to see him alive and healthy, to ease my conscience just a bit, I open my eyes. Sure enough, he’s there, face inches from mine. The moonlight glows in his magnificent eyes, but the blood of the Howlers still adorns his face.

Reaching for his sodden shirt, I lift a corner of it to his face. Wiping away the dried blood, I memorize the strength in his jaw, the kindness in his eyes. I trace the small kink in his nose, a remnant from a previous fight.

From a distance, it’s almost impossible to notice, but this close…

My eyes drop to his lips, full and soft. They part, but only to speak.

Confusion wrinkles his brow. “If they couldn’t kill you, why were they sent after us? To maim you and kill me?”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. I stifle a groan as my thigh stitches itself together. “They sent them to find us. They know where we are, now. They know which way we were headed. They’ll find us.”

Those words sew our lips shut, for we both know. This won’t be the last of the vampire and his pledge. And if this was just the search party, what awaits us down the path?

***

The things awaiting them down the path are pretty intense. Just so you know.

Subscribe and/or follow on social media to stay up to date on all things A Heart of Salt & Silver. It’s officially set to release on November 3rd of this year, and preorders will be available soon!

Stay awesome.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.