I know, technically it's not Tuesday anymore because it's 12:04...but still.
Since Odin's been running rampant in my noggin this week, I thought it only right to post an unedited snippet from his book, Eternal Embers. And just so you know, Odin's book is #5 in the series. :)
“You’re about as arrogant as one individual, human or vampire, could possibly be.”
Odin wrinkled his nose. He might have been crude every now and then, might have been boastful on occasion, but he’d never been called downright arrogant before. And the way she’d said it, how she’d sneered at him, lips curled like the universe itself agreed with her every word.
He narrowed his eyes and turned to stare at her. “You’re the last person who should be calling anyone, human or vampire, arrogant. You walk around with a chip on your shoulder like the world and everyone in it owes you something.” He motioned around them. “You’re the arrogant one in this room, not me.”
She returned his glare with a searing hatred he hadn’t felt in years. “You don’t know me. You don’t know whether this world owes me something or not. Don’t think I don’t know what your last name means, or what comes with it. You’ve been handed your vampiric existence on a silver platter. Bloodstained it might have been, but handed none the less.” She uncoiled from the chair and stalked towards him, still keeping a good ten feet of space between them. “Tell me one time, give me one example when something in your life wasn’t orchestrated or fixed by your precious father.”
“You think everything in my life has been perfect just because Stefan Nelek is my Sire?” He took a moment to laugh. “You have no idea what it’s like to be a member of my family. I haven’t had anything handed to me. I’ve had to stand on my own on more occasions than I care to count.”
She didn’t back down. “Name one.”
He folded his arms over his chest. “Early autumn, year of our Lord 1109 A.D. I’d broken from the Napoli army and stopped to water my warhorse in a small fief outside of England. It’d been raining for days, mud was caked on my horse, my armor…damn, it was all over everything.” He relaxed his arms when the memory burst to life behind his eyes, as though he was living it again. “But the rain had finally stopped. I remember looking up at the full moon and thinking it was nice to see something other than swollen black clouds. And the smell.” He closed his eyes. “Damp earth, changing leaves and smoky fires burning in the hearths of the tavern and homes scattered about. That smell just doesn’t exist anymore.”
He opened his eyes to see her standing a little closer, head tilted slightly. Her beautiful blue eyes had relaxed, no longer stinging his skin like red-hot daggers. “Continue.”
He nodded, surprised by her tone. The word didn’t sound like an order this time, but more of a request. “I’d handed the reins to a young boy who’d offered his service, then headed toward the tavern. I could hear the laughter and singing from down the street.” He smiled as the haunting melody drifted through his mind, but let it fade as the sound that followed sent cold tingles racing up his spine. “I was only a few feet away from the door when I heard the scream. It cut through everything. The terrified edge to it…the desperate, almost hopeless pitch. Before I knew it, I was running between homes, following the ghostly echo.
“In between two merchant’s storage barns, in this thin, dark stretch of ground, I saw three figures hunched over. At first I wasn’t sure what they were doing, didn’t know if they were men or children. But when the tearing of cloth rent the air, mingling with muffled cries…I knew exactly what was going on.”
Odin shifted his stance and stared down at the carpet. “Her hair was tangled with sickly brown chunks of mud, blood smeared across her pale shoulders. They’d torn the bodice of her peasant gown nearly in half. The skirt bunched around her waist. I’d no more than unsheathed my blade, ready to return all three men to whatever depraved God made them, when pain exploded in my back. I remember seeing the glint off the tip of the blade as it punched through my breastplate; remember the large arm circling my neck from behind, holding me back the way a parent holds a child. Effortless. Easy.
“I should have known he’d be there.“ He fisted his hands. “Enemies, true enemies, always know where you are. They’re always watching, waiting for ways to lay you low.” He shook his head. “Demetrius. That bastard always knew how to draw my attention. He forced me to watch as his men defiled her. Kept his blade steady, skewering my chest as they abused her. The more I fought against his Ancient power, the more brutal his men were. Eventually, I just froze. For the first time in my life I was afraid to move. I was scared to death of what they’d do to her next.”
Odin pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes as a nauseous feeling churned his stomach. He grazed a thumb across his bottom lip as a bitter smile spanned his mouth. “The scar on my bottom lip was his last gift to me that night. He told me to remember it. Told me that every time I looked at myself, he wanted me to remember I was just a Nelek child…just a flawed copy of a relic who should have died millennia ago.”
He dropped a hand and raked the other through his hair. “I remember what he said, but I remember her even more. She couldn’t have been more than fourteen. The image of her climbing to her feet after Demetrius and his men had vanished, clutching the scraps of her dress to her chest. The tears staining her cheeks, how the crimson fingerprints seemed to glow against the bare skin of her thigh. Every single shred of innocence her eyes should have held…was gone. I failed her. I should have been able to save her…at least help her.”
Odin fisted his hands again, so hard he felt his fingernails digging, burning crescents into his palms. “But in a moment where I wanted nothing more than to weep for her, for what I’d allowed to happen to her, she stood strong behind her tears. And what I remember more than anything, is hearing her say thank you before she disappeared into the night. I recall the sting of her quiet voice as she thanked me for helping her when-”
“When no one else would.”
Odin’s entire body tensed as the quiet voice from so long ago enveloped him. He slowly raised his eyes, finally realizing why the icy blue set staring back at him seemed so damn familiar. No mud tangled Dahalia’s golden hair this time, no blood stained her soft, pale skin…but those eyes, as tear filled now as they were then, hadn’t changed in nearly 900 years.