Today's guest is the lovely Kira Brady, author of the Deadglass trilogy, a series of paranormal romance books set in a very different Seattle. The first book, HEARTS OF DARKNESS, just came out yesterday and it's fantastic. I think you'll be heading to the bookstore after you read the short story that Kira's graciously written for Paranormal Summer Camp, featuring the two main characters from HEARTS OF DARKNESS.
Kira has also provided a giveaway copy of her debut novel so make sure you enter to win a copy!
Hart watched the new campers arrive from the corner of the cabin's porch. Chipper. Pathetic. They strode off the ferry boat like their feet walked on gold pavers, not onto a dirt path well drenched by a week of rain. It might be August, but summer hadn't come to Camp Si’ahl--if it had arrived anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. The small island was an hour's boat ride from downtown Seattle, and the camp was full of noisy, obnoxiously cheerful campers. Hart hunched back in the rocker and chewed on the long grass stem between his teeth. He shouldn't have to be here, but Norgard had insisted. When the boss said jump, Hart didn't even ask "how high?" He just did it. He didn't have nothing to learn about fitting in with the humans. This week at camp might as well be purgatory. He had to get out before the full moon.
A girl walked off the ferry. She had gorgeous skin and a curvy figure. Her hair was in a slick ponytail that pulled attention to her wide brown eyes. Her camp vest drooped with the weight of badges. Sickening. Hart couldn't help checking out her shoes to see if they sparkled as much as her camp spirit. Unlike the other girls, she wasn't arm in arm with a BFF yet. Girls liked to move in flocks like a murder of Kivati crows, squawking away at nothing that mattered and taking up good air space. But this girl held herself apart. She straightened her ponytail, though it didn't need it, and marched right up to the councilor to check in. Though he was a good distance away, his keen hearing picked up her voice clear as a spirit bell.
It was surprisingly throaty. The boy's councilor distracted him from what she said next with the sound of a bullhorn. He cringed at the noise. Gods, humans and their obnoxious gadgets. Standing, he slipped beneath the porch railing and around the back of the cabin. The last thing he wanted was another Lady-be-damned teambuilding activity. They could take their merit badges and stick them where the full moon shone.
After a full day of swimming, boating, and hiking, Kayla was ready to collapse into her hard camp bed and sleep into the middle of next week. The clean air alone made her almost light headed. This little island in Puget Sound smelled of pine and fresh earth and wood smoke. Nothing like the cogged sewers and car exhaust of Philly or the trash and biodiesel of Seattle. There was something wild and primitive about the Pacific Northwest forests that no woods outside of Philly could hold a candle to. Even now, when she should be asleep, she felt the dark trees whispering. She could almost believe there were animals outside her cabin watching her. She'd felt it all day--the eyes, creep on the back of her neck--and that was ridiculous. No one was stalking her. Certainly not animals, unless the squirrels smelled the energy bar in her backpack and wanted a piece. Her sister Desi would have probably stormed off into the woods to investigate, but Kayla held back. Instead, she quietly opened the door to the cabin, so as not to wake the other girls, and slipped out into the moonlit porch. The old wooden rocker creaked under her weight as she sat.
The forest was black. Black and silent. Shouldn't there be birds singing? Tree branches cracking as deer pushed through? It felt...hungry. What a silly notion. Trees weren't hungry. But she thought of all the things that lived in these woods--mountain lions and cougars and bears and wolves--and shivered.
A flash of silver caught her eye. The absence of a light against the dark of the underbrush. Her breath caught in her throat. "Hello?"
The silver moved. Branches rustled, and then a creature slid into the clearing into the light of the crescent moon. Too big to be a dog, but too small to be a bear. Pointed ears and pointed teeth and a cunning in its wolf eyes that seemed far too sharp for an animal. But that was something Desi would say. Wild animals avoided humans. It wouldn't come onto the porch.
"Go!" she said. "Shoo!"
The wolf pulled back its lips, displaying a mouthful of dangerous fangs. She could have sworn it smiled. It took a step toward her. Her heart leapt into her throat. She fingered the badges on her vest. Fire making: not practical unless she had a really long head start. Archery: useless without a bow in hand. Basket weaving: what was she going to do, throw one at him? She could scream and wake the other girls, but the wolf could move faster than any sleepy eyed camper.
Despite the sharp teeth, there was something beautiful about him. Him, she was certain it was a him. Arrogant grace in a powerful body, he practically strutted across the clearing. Black, with a curved white stripe between his ears that mirrored the crescent moon. His fur was thick. It looked soft.
Kayla found herself standing at the railing, hand outstretched. She snatched it back and crossed her arms over her chest. The wolf turned in a slow circle, watching her all the while.
"You're gorgeous," she whispered. He caught her gaze. What kind of animal had violet eyes? The shiver returned, stronger than before, ghostly fingers down her back. There was something very wrong here.
The wolf turned his long muzzle up to the moon and howled a long mournful note. Her legs hit the back of her chair, and she fell into it. The creak startled the wolf, and he bolted into the forest, disappearing without a single snap of a twig. She was left alone with the moon and the empty porch and the sleeping campers in the cabin behind her.
Was it a ghost? A dream? There was something very wrong in the Pacific Northwest. She almost wished she had stayed in Philly, but the thought of never seeing the phantom wolf made her inexplicably sad.
There is not enough beauty in my life, she thought to herself. That was the kind of encounter her sister had all the time. Inexplicable and exciting. Kayla had a hard time believing half the stories Desi told her. With one last look at the moon, she let herself back into the cabin and shut the door firmly behind her. She was a practical girl; she knew an animal couldn't turn the doorknob. But all the same, she slid the bolt home.
That night she dreamed of violet-ringed eyes against a blood red moon.
More about HEARTS OF DARKNESS:
Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally-sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.
Named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Reads of Summer 2012!
There's also a prequel e-novella:
To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Ends Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
(like all of our Paranormal Summer Camp giveaways)
A native Seattleitte, Kira spent her childhood hiking the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest and drying out by the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her real life Prince Charming and promptly dragged him back to sunless Seattle. She fell in love with historic, haunted cities in graduate school. Now she writes about the twisted cities of her imagination, where wraiths and shape-shifters stalk the night and love redeems even the darkest heart. When not writing, she can be found drinking inordinately large mugs of Assam tea, knitting wool socks, and raising a wee heroine-in-training.