Today is one of those rare days when I have the house to myself. It’s disconcertingly quiet.
To celebrate my “free” time, here’s a short excerpt from chapter 1 of my current work in progress, SANYARE. Enjoy!
“Quiet,” Rie snapped, patience gone. A headache throbbed behind her forehead. She needed to focus.
Two men stood on the beach, directly in her path. Still at least fifty yards away, they seemed out of place without the surfboards or exercise attire that marked the usual early morning crowd. Rie paused, assessing. The blond one crouched, taking something out of a bag in the sand. He flipped it once, a shard of light glinting into Rie’s eyes. The throbbing in her brain burst in white-hot light, leaving her blind to the real world as she entered a vision.
The blond man stands, facing her. He pulls his arm back, a knife whistles toward her. Blood streams from her belly, her shirt soaked in seconds, the sand absorbing the overflow. The sky is all she sees, expansive gray-blue dotted with thin wispy clouds. A small hand taps her face. Niinka’s wide black eyes float into view, then darkness.
Rie gasped, coming out of the premonition. The blond man rose from his crouch, facing her. His arm pulled back.
Sending her thanks to the gods for the warning, Rie spun to the left as a knife passed through the air where her body used to be. Dropping into a crouch, she scuttled behind a large rocky outcropping, just as another knife hit the sand at her feet. She picked it up, absentmindedly testing the weight.
The pixies let go of their hiding spots, chattering in the clicks and whistles of their native tongue. Rie ignored them, focusing instead on her surroundings, and her options. Stairs wound up the cliff to her left, heading toward the street above, but a hundred feet of open space stretched between her rock and the first step. No matter how fast she moved, she’d be an easy target. If she ran back toward the arch, she’d be similarly open to attack.
Rie grabbed a handful of sand with her left hand, while her right hand reached behind and traded the unfamiliar throwing knife for one of two eight-inch khukuri blades in the horizontal sheath at her lower back.
“What are they doing?” she asked Hiinto, the little pixie climbing on top of the rock, his translucent wings pulled back and skin camouflaged to match the color and texture of the sandstone.
“They’ve split up, one on each side. They’re creeping along now, not sure what you’re doing, I think. What are you doing?”
“Which one is closer?”
“The one near the cliffs.”
“Fifty feet, coming closer.”
“Are you two hungry?”
Hiinto grinned, revealing a mouth full of sharp, serrated teeth, while Niinka rubbed her hands together. “Humans taste almost as good as the elves and greater fae,” she whispered.
“Wait until they are close. I will deal with the cliff-side man, while you two take a bite out of the one on the ocean-side.”
“Yum.” Hiinto licked his lips.
Sliding a foot or two to the left, closer to the cliffs, Rie listened for the man’s footsteps in the dry seaweed. When she guessed he was within a few feet, Rie lunged sideways out from behind the rock and threw the sand into his face. He sputtered, his hands dropping their weapons and rising to his face. Rie dodged into range. Her right arm snapped out and up across the man’s body, drawing a horizontal figure eight across his torso, the razor-edged khukuri knife sliding through the soft tissue of his unprotected belly like a spoon through pudding. She pulled back and away, but not before a loud pop echoed off the cliff face.
Rie’s right leg came out from underneath her. She fell to the ground, blood saturating the cloth around a hole in her upper thigh. She rolled away from the dying assassin. Sand exploded from the impact of another round, but Rie tucked in behind a driftwood log, waiting for the second assassin to make another move. Blood seeped into her leggings, staining the blue denim a dark burgundy. The wound wasn’t fatal, but the blood-loss was already making her feel faint.
Rie peeked out from behind the log. The pixies were nowhere in sight. The man drew closer, carrying his gun out and away from his body, held loose as if he had all the time in the world to deal with his target.
“Thanks for taking care of Grant,” he said, a wicked grin on his face. “I hated his constant bragging, and now the bounty’s all mine.” Rie kept silent, thoughts frantic for a plan.
He took a deep breath, exhaling on a groan. “You smell delicious. I can’t wait for my first taste.” His tongue slicked out across an extended fang. Blood sidhe, otherwise known as vampire. Shadow Realm hunters of humans.
Ten yards, and closing in. There was no way out, nowhere to go, not with a wounded leg and open beach.
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