a Rafflecopter giveaway
For this hop, Entangled Publishing authors will be giving away great prizes for our visitors at the end of the hop on Halloween, so be sure to visit the blogs of all the Entangled authors participating in the hop (click on the link above to get the list). That's over 50 so far! I will be giving away a $20 Amazon.com gift card and a cameo necklace to one lucky reader. I was going to say "randomly drawn" reader, but that sounded like I was going to have an artist here doing random drawings of readers. Or, possibly, drawing them in a random way. Which, as a former English teacher, I found disturbing, grammatically speaking, so "lucky" it is. But I digress.
In my latest book, Dark Angel: A Gothic Fairy Tale, it is an interesting coincidence that the climactic scene in the book takes place on All Hallow's Eve. I hadn't planned it that way, but when I checked the calendar for when the Great Charter Storm occurred along England's coast back in 1859, and which is a trigger for my story's events, turns out it was just a few days before Halloween. So, being a clever writer, I figured I'd take advantage of that spooky day for my somewhat spooky final scene.
But in this scene from Dark Angel, my heroine Catherine Briton, a former nurse who served in the Crimean Theater with Florence Nightingale, has just washed up on the shore of Ynys Nos, an island somewhere in the middle of the Irish Sea—or so she believes. This is the first time she meets the hero, and a dramatic meeting it is.
Twilight was bleeding into the darker black of night. Shouting in the distance made me turn my head. It pounded ruthlessly, bringing on an almost overwhelming nausea. Fighting it back, I blinked hard. A rush of wind rose above the sound of the waves and a shadow passed over me.
I tried to follow the shadow with my eyes. The mist parted, and for a moment, I saw something move along the edge of the shoreline: a sleek, powerful beast, its fur black as midnight, its pale gaze fixed on me, its enormous body swaying as it stalked closer.
Fear possessed me, made me dimwitted with terror.
My vision wavered again, and a dark form loomed over me. I tried to scream, certain the beast was about to lunge for me, but my lungs would not draw breath. I turned to face it, but the creature was gone. Instead, a man was there, reaching for me, his large hands clasping mine and pulling me just beyond the waterline and up onto the beach.
“I have you,” he shouted.
He hung over me, sheltering me from the biting wind. Intense eyes beneath a slash of dark brows stared down at me from a lean, striking face—a face hewn out of wilderness and shadows, more frightening than beautiful, and yet somehow both.
I closed my eyes.
It did not matter who he was. I was safe.
“How in bloody hell are you here?” The deep voice above me sounded utterly perplexed. “How the devil did you accomplish it?”
I coughed out more water and said the only thing that came to mind. “Please do not—swear at me, sir.” A spasm of pain seized me, and I flinched.
“Well,” said the bemused voice. “You’ve spirit, at least. Good. You will need it.”
My tenacious grip on consciousness loosened, and I fought to retain it. I looked up at him with a sense of urgency pushing me on. I had to warn him. “A wild animal…I think—it might attack…”
His unblinking gaze reminded me of the creature’s fixed stare. “There was no animal when I arrived. You must have imagined it in your distress.”
“I must move you,” he said. “Be brave.”
He lifted me and I cried out, my side screaming in agony.
He shifted me in his arms, tucking my head beneath his chin, warming me with his body heat.
Memories assailed me of the captain’s terrified face, of the futile push of oars against a raging sea, of bodies tumbling past mine in the water, of someone reaching out, capturing my hands, dragging me to the surface—
I struggled to lift my head and battle back the darkness long enough to ask him about my fellow passengers. My throat was raw with the seawater I had swallowed. I forced my head up. “Did you…save the others?”
He paused in midstride, then resumed walking. I heard the great weariness in his voice when he spoke again.
“There are no others.”