Release: 2.6.12 from Dreamspinner Press
Cover: Coming Soon (like REAL soon)
From the author of Bear, Otter, and the Kid comes the beginning of an epic new
Set in a world that closely resembles our own, Burn is a story of redemption and
betrayal, of family and sacrifice, all of which leads to the greatest question
of all: how far would you go to save the ones you love?
Fifteen years ago, Felix Paracel killed his mother with fire that shot from his
hands. Since then, he has hidden from forces bent on exploiting him and his fire
and wind Elemental abilities. But Felix's world is about to change, because he
is Findo Unum—the Split One—and his coming has been foretold for generations.
Though Felix's arrival brings great joy to the Elemental world, it also heralds
a coming darkness. No one knows this better than Seven, the mysterious
man who rescued Felix from that horrible fire years ago and then disappeared;
Seven, who has returned to claim what's rightfully his: Felix's heart. But even
as Felix begins to trust Seven and his feelings about his place in the world,
the darkness reveals itself, bringing consequences no one could have predicted.
Cast list: Felix Paracel: narrator, twenty five years old.. An Elemental capable of controlling fire and wind,
possibly the only dual Elemental in the world. Called Findo Unum—the Split One.
Seven Fortis: A non-Elemental, or a "Normal," as they're referred. Also known as
the Luravit Cor to Felix, as revealed in the first excerpt. What does Luravit
Cor mean? Sure sounds like Latin, doesn't it? As a matter of fact, a lot of this
world is based in Latin. Strange.
The Clock Twins, Tick and Tock: Seventeen year old Asian twins capable of
controlling Water and Earth. Also, they are tech geniuses whose hacking
capabilities are unparalleled.
Edna Brunelle: Sixty-seven year old Fire Elemental, one of the more powerful in
the world. As a Magister—teacher—to the Split One, she will help Felix with the
Fire side of his abilities. Has an affinity for younger men.
Dan Evans: A powerful Wind Elemental, the other Magister--teacher--to Felix.
Came to the group after his name came up on a list of Elementals the government
were bent on tracking down.
Otis Moore: An Elemental capable of controlling fire, who also has an affinity
for all things weapon-related. He and Seven grew up together and have been best
friends since they first met at the age of six. Years before the story starts,
an event led to a vicious attack, partly handicapping Otis's mind. He's a
functional adult, but given the brain damage he sustained, he is not the same
person he used to be. Some consider him now to be an idiot savant.
Jason Taylor: Best friend to Felix Paracel (though, he only knows him by Felix's
cover name, Atticus Vanesco, and does not know that Felix is an Elemental). He
is a Normal (a non-elemental) and a cop with the Terra City PD. He's always
considered himself to be Felix's protector, but he can't shake the feeling that
something is coming that he has no control over.
Thaddeus Paracel: Father to Felix Paracel, husband to Felix's mother, who Felix
accidentally killed as a child. After the night of her death, Thaddeus took
Felix into hiding, keeping him away from the world and those bent on finding
Felix. Felix suspects his father knows more than he's saying about the event's
of Felix's life, even down to the point of what Thaddeus does for a living.
Kammy Basileus: Earth Elemental, part of Seven's team of Elementals. Previously
was romantically involved with Seven Fortis, she doubts Felix's capabilities
which she lets him know on a regular basis.
Trailer for Burn (as made by Jennifer Taylor and Nik Simmons):
(Probably a good idea to pay attention to the lyrics. The song is "The Humbling River by Pucifier.)
Link to previous excerpt (read this first, as the second excerpt is a continuance of the same scene: Burn Excerpt 1
And wouldn’t you know, there wasn’t a single taxi out front. I looked left and right and decided to go right. It was more brightly lit and led to other streets that would have cabs. I took off at a quick pace, hoping to put enough distance between me and the bar before the big guy knew I was gone. I rounded a corner and walked faster.
Only then did I allow myself to release the breath I had been holding. My shoulders slumped, and I staggered against the wall of a building that looked a hundred years old. I felt empty and hollow, bright and alive. Thunderstruck. Who was that guy and why do I want to go back to him and apologize for walking out?
Because apparently he’s your Luravit Cor, the voice said, amused.
Whatever that means, I agreed.
I’d never let anyone hold any power over me for good reason: I couldn’t take the risk of being discovered by those who were supposedly hunting me. The conversation with my father from days before still rung through my head. It didn’t seem likely that the big guy knew my mother, as he didn’t appear that much older than me, but what about her former associates? Maybe he was a new hire or something. Maybe everything he’d said was a lie and he was just trying to get me to go with him so he could finally finish what she had started. Whatever that was.
Or maybe he meant everything he said, it countered.
I didn’t know which scared me more. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore, which, to be honest, wasn’t very far. I don’t jog, as I’ve told you. I looked around, trying to gather my bearings, my lungs burning in my chest. I didn’t recognize the street I had turned on, the tall buildings around me unfamiliar. The streets were almost empty. Cars parked on the sides, people here and there. I shivered and pulled the hood of my jacket up and moved forward, determined to find a street sign, a taxi, anything to get me the hell out of there.
Then, a scream.
I jerked my head to the right, toward a dark alley that stretched between the buildings. I could vaguely make out two people, one pressing the other against the side of a building. The one being pressed seemed to be struggling, and a scream came again. I reached down to my pocket to call 911 but came up empty. On my rush to get out and screw, I’d left my phone at home. Jason was right: I needed to control my libido better.
I entered the alley.
I approached quietly, getting closer, the scene before me coming into sharp focus. A man was snarling as he pressed a woman against the brick wall, telling her to shut the fuck up and to just take it, that she was just a fucking whore. And I think she was too: her makeup too thick, running in clumps down her face as her tears wetted her cheeks, her ratty skirt too short, torn leggings and high-heeled shoes. Even if she was a prostitute, she didn’t deserve to be raped in the alley. I got angry very quickly.
“Hey,” I said cordially. “What’s going on, guys?”
The would-be rapist jerked his rat-like eyes toward me. “Get the hell outta here, man,” he snarled. “This don’t concern you.”
“Ma’am?” I asked gently. “Are you okay?”
The bastard still had his hand over her mouth, so what came out was muffled, but her eyes widened, and she frantically shook her head. “I don’t think she’s okay with this,” I told the asshole.
“Kid, I’m warning you,” he hissed. “I’ll mess you up if you don’t leave now.”
“Are you her pimp?” I asked him quietly. If he was, maybe this was how pimps acted. I didn’t know any pimps or whores, so I wasn’t sure.
“Do I look like a pimp to you?”
“No, you look like a fucking loser who can only get what he wants by forcing it,” I said. “I’ve already called the cops.” I hadn’t, but he didn’t know that.
The idiot dropped his hands from the prostitute’s mouth and stepped away from her. She screamed again and took off down the alley. I groaned when she didn’t keep going, but instead hid behind a trash can like ten feet away. Her head peeked over the lid as she watched us. Don’t people run away anymore? Jesus.
“I’m going to fuck you up, kid,” the rat-eyed man promised.
“Well, here’s the thing,” I told him. “I certainly don’t want you to kill me. Why don’t we just call it a day and go our separate ways.”
He shook his head. “You’re a mouthy little thing, aren’t you? Maybe I should get you to suck my cock instead. Would you like that, pretty boy?” He grabbed his crotch and leered at me.
“No, but thank you for offering,” I said. “I don’t like venereal diseases in my mouth.”
“I have a condom,” the prostitute called out helpfully.
“That’s nice, but no thanks,” I told her.
“Okay,” she said.
“You ain’t gonna suck my dick?” the man asked.
“I’ll be honest with you,” I said. “If that thing gets near my mouth, I would probably end up biting it off.”
His eyes narrowed. “You would, huh?”
“Yes,” I promised.
“Well, I guess I’m just going to have to kill you, then,” he said. I knew I was fucked when, instead of rushing me like I expected, he raised his right leg into the air and slammed it down as his hands shot above his head. A four-foot section of concrete rose from the ground in front of him, splitting the ground beneath it, causing the alley to shake. The piece of earth spun wickedly as he grinned at me. The whore screamed. He twisted his upper body to the left and then snapped forward again, pushing his hands toward the spinning boulder in front of him. It flew straight at me, and I dove to the ground, feeling the weight of the concrete as it passed over my head. It shot out of the alley and smashed into a parked SUV on the opposite side of the street. The vehicle flipped onto its side, sliding up the stairs of a brownstone. People began to shout on the street.
“Ah, fuck, you’re an Earthie?” I groaned as I pulled myself to my feet.
“You shoulda just walked away!” he snarled. He raised his foot again, and when it dropped, another section of ground rose through the air, twice the size of the last. Its edges scraped the sides of the alley as it floated in front of its master. I began to get royally pissed off. It was people like this asshole that gave Elementals a bad name.
I heard people gathering at the edge of the alley behind me. I hazarded a quick look over my shoulder. At least ten bystanders. “Get back,” I shouted at them as I turned back to face the Elemental in front of me. Someone noticed the earth in the air and screamed. It didn’t sound like any of the people were leaving.
You should have just gone with the crazy guy in the bar, the voice said.
No shit. Any ideas?
Yeah: don’t die.
There was a moment right before he thrust the wall of rock at me, a split second where I knew I couldn’t dodge it this time. I could either get nailed and spread across this alley in a bloody smear or I could fight back. The spectators at the end of the alley would be squished like bugs on a windshield. I liked being alive. I’m sure they all liked being alive. I decided to fight back.
He snapped forward again and the concrete flew down the alley, scraping and digging into the walls, causing the buildings on either side to shudder. I dropped to my knees a moment before the wall reached me and lay on my back, resting on my heels. As soon as my back hit the ground, I thrust my left hand into the air, and a hurricane burst from my palm as the rock passed over me. The rock shot straight up, rising past the buildings, shattering windows and fire escapes as it flew upward. Glass and metal rained down around me as I rose to my feet, glancing at the man in front of me. His eyes were wide and shocked. Good.
The rock cleared the buildings, and I raised my right hand in the air, fire erupting into the sky, following the path of the concrete. The alleyway lit up brilliantly, incandescent as the swath of fire rocketed upward. The fireball hit the wall of rock right as it reached its apex and began descending. It exploded with a roar and a flash, the shockwave bursting outward, carrying the bits and pieces that remained of the concrete in a wide circle. Little shards began to rain down from the sky, bouncing off the destruction in the alley. I glanced over my shoulder again and saw that even more people had crowded into the alley, and all their mouths hung open. Great.
I turned back to the man in front of me. He gaped.
“So, can you just leave now?” I asked.
“How’d you do that?” he croaked. “I ain’t never known someone who had two Elemental abilities.”
“Don’t worry about it. Just go home, huh?”
He looked confused but nodded and began to walk down the alleyway, away from the crowd at the end. He passed by the crouching whore without so much as a glance. He reached the end of alley and turned right and disappeared. I started toward the woman, but she screamed again and took off running, following her attacker, her arms flailing over her head. Maybe they knew each other after all.
I turned to face the crowd behind me and was unsurprised when my stalker smiled at me from the front of my audience. Funny, I hadn’t seen him standing there before.
“I’m going to my home,” I called to him.
“I know where you live,” he reminded me, his voice highly amused. The people around him suddenly looked at him with newfound respect. They hadn’t expected a second act to this farce.
“I know, but could you just stay away?” I pleaded.
“Do you really want that?” he asked me sharply.
I thought for a moment. “Yes, I do.” My heart hammered in my chest.
“For how long?” he asked.
“You’re not giving up, are you?” I asked him, suddenly feeling very tired. Or resigned. I didn’t know which.
“Never in your life,” he said, his deep voice rough and wonderful. “You belong to me.”
“I don’t belong to anyone,” I told him. The heads of our audience swiveled back and forth like they were watching a tennis match.
He cocked his head. “Oh, you most definitely do. It’ll be easier for both of us if you just stop fighting me on it.” He flexed his arms against his massive body. Bastard was cheating.
I grinned at him. “Where’s the fun in that?”
“Come over here,” he ordered. “Now.”
I didn’t dare disobey. As I walked up to him, our audience turned their heads, watching every step I took. I saw them only out of the corners of my eyes because I was focused on him. I reached him and put my hands on his chest as his arms folded around me, the top of my head barely reaching his chin. His body was hard as a rock, and it felt like hugging human granite. He reached down and rubbed the back of my head through the hood of my sweatshirt. I stared up at him, and he watched me back, and I knew I couldn’t (wouldn’t) fight this again. His face lowered to mine, and his lips brushed against my lips, and I could feel the flash inside me, the flare threatening to rise. But still, our eyes remained open, the ocean looking back at me. I gasped at a thought, a memory—
—but it was lost as he brushed his lips against mine again, never fully pressing, only promising. Nothing in my life had ever been more erotic than that moment: the ghosting of his mouth over mine, the feel of his body under my hands, the way he held the back of my neck. I shivered in his grip. I wanted to climb up him like the mountain he was and wrap my legs around his waist and let him rub against me in the alley. That’s why I stepped back; it’s why I stepped away.
He looked down at me, a knowing smile on his face.
“You said I was your Luravit Cor,” I breathed at him. “And you were mine in return.”
“What does that mean?”
His eyes flashed. “It’s Latin. It means ‘heart sworn’. You belong to me. And I am yours.”
I turned and ran.
“Soon, Felix,” he called after me. “I’ll see you soon.” His voice was sure, confident.I ran faster.