Kira Brady


Jun 27
2012
Cache directory "/nfs/c08/h01/mnt/126726/domains/kirabrady.com/html/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Hearts of Fire: live and in color!

Yesterday was the release day of Hearts of Fire, my very first story. This Romeo & Juliet novella is a prequel to the Deadglass Trilogy (but you don’t have to read it first). Available for Amazon kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook for a buck.

To celebrate, here’s an excerpt from the beginning of Hearts of Fire. It’s set a century and a quarter before the events of Hearts of Darkness (book 1).

HEARTS OF FIRE, a Deadglass Novella

Seattle, 1889

She didn’t want to like him. The stranger was too pretty, for one. Too arrogant, for another, and the last thing she needed was another arrogant man trying to manage her life. Alice watched the cocky set of his shoulders as he directed men to unload his wagon in the middle of town. Looked like a lot of useless bags of sand. Didn’t he know that no amount of sand could dry out these streets? He didn’t get his own hands dirty, just waved them around like some bossy Easterner. She would have moved on past and laughed as the mud splattered his boots, but the sun chose that moment to break through the ever-present clouds and illuminate his hair in golds and ambers and strawberry wheat. Lady be. What hair! Everything about him was golden, like the sun Changed to human man and come down to walk among them. He wore no hat. His hair curled free to the nape of his neck. He cast their surroundings in the dull, lifeless colors they truly were. Moss green. Brown. Gray sky and gray sea and gray distant mountains. Ye gods, he lit up her world like a thunderbolt.

Hair like that should be outlawed. It could cause a person to lose all sense and fall off her horse. No wonder he’d fled here to Seattle. He’d probably caused pandemonium back east.

There was nowhere farther west to go. Seattle had been awash with new arrivals hard on their luck: gunslingers, cowpokes, gambling men driven to make it on the new frontier. They were so much worn grist for the sawmills, shingle mills, and mud-soaked pile of logs they called a city. Alice didn’t mind it, because it was her town and her land and she knew the deep places beneath her feet were more than a match for these money-mad humans with their saws and hammers and constant noise. Her people had been here since time began.

She could tell this stranger was no ordinary cowboy. He wasn’t the first Norseman to arrive. There were half a dozen men like him: tall, blond, and arrogant as sin. Their hardness set them apart from the other Scandinavian immigrants; they seemed chiseled from the glacier’s edge. As if Vikings had walked off the pages of her history book and onto the wet Seattle streets.

Next to her, her cousin Hattie fanned herself. “Another one. I should have bought more smelling salts.”

“Look at the way he moves,” Alice said.

“Uh-huh. All that coiled grace. They have to be shape changers. There’s no human that can walk like that.”

His eyes were turned away—Alice couldn’t tell the color—and she was glad for it. Already her skin felt tight. Her stiff corset was the only thing that propped her up. Please, let his eyes be some muddy, forgettable shade! But she could see from his golden glowing skin and his golden glowing hair and his arrogant stance that her poor heart would be jerked again when she caught sight of those windows into his soul.

“Alice! Watch yourself, child. You’re daydreaming with your new gloves in the street, and we are late.” Aunt Maddie clucked her tongue and bent to pick Alice’s parcels out of the road. Nathaniel, their Thunderbird guard, scowled behind her. “What could be capturing that attention of yours?”

“That’s the man I’m going to marry,” she said.

“What?” Hattie said. “I saw him first.”

“Who?” Aunt Maddie straightened and craned her neck to catch a glimpse. “Your father will be so pleased you’re finally . . . that man? You can’t be serious.”

“That’s the one.”

“He’s not one of us,” Aunt Maddie snapped. Nathaniel growled in agreement.

Alice turned and gave her a sympathetic smile. Her aunt’s black mourning gown shadowed what had once been a welcoming soul equal to her father’s. After a loss, some folk closed up and hid away their hurt, like Aunt Maddie. Some folk went the opposite direction—drinking and dancing until their feet bled as if they could fill that empty spot with noise and laughter and constant motion. Her father was one of those. Maybe that’s why he welcomed the new arrivals with open arms. After her mother died, he’d been more than ready to join the wider world and the stifling noise that came with it. The economic opportunities didn’t hurt either.

“A wager we can’t hope to lose, Ali-girl,” her father had said. “Can’t fight the future. We gotta hit the ground running and play this game that we were meant to play. What hope does a human have against the intellect of the Raven?” And he’d ruffle her hair like she was eight again, not eighteen and a woman grown. Halian Corbette was all big plans and overflowing optimism.

Alice knew life was precious and short. She wasn’t going to waste a gift from the Lady, even if it came wrapped in an unknown package. Especially if it came with a gorgeous, golden, glowing bow on top. “And so?” she asked Aunt Maddie. “He is my destiny.” As the words left her lips, she felt their truth ring deep in her bones.

“What about Will?” Maddie asked.

“What about him?” Alice focused all her attention on the Aether—that sparkling river that surrounded all matter and wove the fabric of the universe—and managed to send a small ripple of energy toward the golden stranger. It snapped and crackled through the damp summer air until it sparked against his cheek.

His head jerked around, and he saw her. His eyes were the color of the winter sky at dawn. His cheekbones cut like arrows to frame those pale blue eyes. Ancient eyes. Eyes that had seen more of the world than she, miles and miles of suffering and blood. But the world-weariness dropped away as he focused on her.

Inside her half boots, her toes curled. A little flutter like a moth took wing in her belly. It climbed until it flittered at the curl of her lips, seeking the warm glow of him.

She let her smile convey hello.

***

Brand tried not to stare at the ebony-haired woman in the sky-blue dress who was most improperly staring at him. He was used to looks from woman everywhere—what Drekar wasn’t? —but this one punched him in the gut. He felt suddenly sympathetic to women everywhere who became hysterical at the first sight of him or his kind. The Drekar were gorgeous. Stunning. Not an ugly one among them. But inside was something not human. Something dark and dangerous that liked pretty, shiny things.

This girl was certainly a pretty, shiny thing, sparkling in the freshness and newness of her soul. He felt old suddenly, because he didn’t want to be the one to dim that spark. But he was unable to keep away. The dragon coveted.

Her companions dragged her off, evidently knowing a bad thing when they saw one. That warrior with her wasn’t human. Brand would bet his entire hoard on it, which meant the quartet probably belonged to the native supernatural population that lived here: the Kivati. Norgard had warned him to steer clear for the moment. This was a chance at a new life. Brand wouldn’t let the chains of his past catch him.

The west was wild. It took a fearless heart to thrive on this lawless frontier. Perhaps here he’d find a woman who didn’t mind the risk involved in being with one of his kind.

He watched the retreating back of the Kivati woman and felt a lick of hope that he hadn’t let himself feel in a good, long while. Another supernatural race. She was used to magic, to scales and claws. His true form wouldn’t be a surprise. She might not run screaming into the night.

Ye gods, but that was a dangerous thought.

He shook himself and ran his hand over the lump in his vest pocket, where the Deadglass lay quiet and still as ten tons of lead. It wouldn’t be much use out here, not where so few people had passed through the Gate to the Otherworld. The ghosts would lie quiet in a place like this. Easy graves, not like the teeming, angry wraiths in the tenements he’d left behind. Not like the bitter souls of the old world where centuries of the dead had worn the paths through the Gate into deep grooves.

He would drop the Deadglass into the bottom of the Pacific, but Norgard had insisted he bring it. So here he was. Ready to plant his stake in the new city the Drekar Regent was building. Norgard had rescued him from a black funk, and Brand was grateful. He might still be back in Sweden mired in that despair, or worse. He already felt more hopeful, and for the first time in five years he was excited to start work on a new project. He envisioned a grand chandelier made of glass icicles and lit inside by those new electric lights. A work of contradiction and contrast: ice that didn’t melt, fire that didn’t burn. He could already see the glass inflating at the end of his blowpipe, feel it mold to his design.

It would be good to work again.

Seattle was his chance at a new life. No more hiding.

 <end>

 

HEARTS OF FIRE
by Kira Brady
Paranormal Romance
Kensington Zebra, 2012
ISBN 13: 978-1-4201-3137-6

(an ebook exclusive novella)

Available for [Amazon kindle] and [Nook].

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