Happy Holidays – Round Robin

The assignment for this month’s Round Robin Blog Hop was to give something special to our readers writing-wise. And after much deliberation I opted to take a piece of Usurper and post it up here. I’ve given snippets and such before, but nothing of this length and it is designed for all the Trenna fans out there.

Fans of the Sedition series have been stuck waiting for Usurper’s release (which will definitely be in 2015 once I’ve gotten the edits complete) so I decided this was the best gift I could give.

Thank you to everyone who has braved the inner workings of my rather fantastical mind and read my books. You’re all awesome. Happy Holidays, however you celebrate them.

Usurper 

“I kissed Evaliana.” Troy let the statement fall between them and tried not to cringe.

The memory of the heated kiss intruded on him, his body suddenly torn between an aching desire to go find the woman again and the anticipation of violence from the man before him. He fully expected Kaden Dyngannon to fight him over the infraction; one did not kiss Evaliana without her brother taking offense, so Troy had prepared himself for this moment.

Under normal circumstances Troy would have argued that who Liana decided to kiss was her own business, the young woman was far too independent to appreciate the protective nature of her older brother. But because Kaden was his closest and dearest friend, Troy had felt the need to confess.

That and he wanted to do it again.

His fingers could still feel the slight curve of her waist and his mind was suddenly overwhelmed with the taste of her.

“Oh?” Kaden tossed an empty net onto the deck of the ship. “Did she kiss you back?”

The question brought Troy back to the moment. “I beg pardon?”

Kaden chuckled and started spreading the net out, inspecting for holes and the like without looking up at him. “I asked if she kissed you back.”

“You’re not going to hit me?”

“Not unless you want me to.” Kaden laughed, brighter this time and Troy started to relax.

Cautiously, still puzzled at the lack of violence, Troy began to help with tending the net. Their little fishing boat swayed under the light rock of ocean waves, but both men were accustomed to the constant movement. Metallic silver streaks meshed into the otherwise black hair prominent in his friend, a trait that might have looked abnormal were it not for Kaden’s long, pointed ears. Troy kept Kaden in his peripheral vision as his fingers started searching the net for weak spots, but Kaden’s lean, tall form was relaxed, his thin mouth quirked up into a half-smile.

“You’ve throttled every other man who’s gotten close to Liana before.” Troy found a thin bit of rope and reached for the mending kit beside them.

“Bah. They were all dogs. And most of them wanted far more than a kiss.”

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more.”

Kaden stopped what he was doing to look at him, “Just how much more?”

And there was the violence he’d been expecting, sudden and fierce, held under tight control. Troy met his friend’s deep green eyes and fought down his momentary terror. He wasn’t afraid to fight Kaden – he might even win if he tried hard enough – but the repercussions could be devastating. Boyhood friends, damn close to brothers were it not for the difference in races; Kaden was undeniably Eldur and Troy was Human. Regardless, they had a bond. A bond that went deep and could never be replaced.

“Gods honest truth, Kaden, I’d marry the woman if she’d let me.”

All at once Kaden relaxed and gave him a charismatic grin. “I thought so.”

“You’ve been expecting this?”

Kaden nodded and continued his inspection. The man couldn’t simply hold a conversation, he had to keep moving, to divide his focus, which normally didn’t bother Troy but today they were talking about Liana and hopefully a long courtship leading to a possible marriage. Now that he thought about it, this particular conversation probably shouldn’t have been done on the deck of the Bitter Croften with a bucket full of fish guts an arm’s length away.

“The two of you have been dancing around this romance for years now,” Kaden stood and stretched. “A little advice, though?”

Troy finished with the net and followed his friend to his feet, “Of course.”

“Mother won’t mind the kissing but don’t mention it to Da.” Kaden smirked and squinted up at a low-flying gull. “Liana’s his gem and all, you know? He won’t like it.”

Troy glanced out at the harbor where Nelek Dyngannon was headed their direction. “Do you think he’ll hit me?”

With a laugh and a wink, Kaden scooped up the mended net and tossed it onto the growing pile near the center mast. “He might.”

The older Eldur man paused his progression over the harbor to make some laughing conversation with a fellow fisherman. For a moment Troy was transfixed by the blatant differences between Eldur and Human. Nelek Dyngannon was over twice Troy’s age – a ripe twenty-three years – but the blessing of Eldur longevity seemed to tease around Nelek’s person. He was a well-formed man, trimmed with the daily sword practices he demanded of his children; which on most days included Troy.

More often than not, Nelek wore some form of hat or bandana to cover his long, pointed ears. Troy had come to understand it as a matter of safety rather than shame. Many of the Humans on Vakeshmeer Island were friendly with the Dyngannon family in spite of the fact that they were Eldur, but there were a select few who were not. Hiding their ears put the Humans at ease, which lessened the chance of confrontation. At present, Troy noted the beige swatch of cloth tied around Nelek’s head and frowned.

It seemed unfair that the Eldur would need to hide at all.

Evaliana rarely did so. Troy had to fight back another memory as the girl’s father approached. There was something distinctly wrong in thinking about her mouth; sweet and warm and supple under his own, when Nelek was so close. Troy had lived among the Eldur long enough to know that they couldn’t read minds, but both Kaden and Nelek were all too keen on interpreting facial expressions.

“Hello, boys,” Nelek stopped just short of the boat and inspected the deck. “Are we ready for tomorrow?”

“Ready and clear, Pops,” Kaden made a limber jump from the boat to the harbor.

“Excellent.” Nelek paused to consider Troy, one dark eyebrow quirking upward. “You look like I just caught you with your hand in the honey pot, Troy’vest Mavon.”

Kaden’s laugh bellowed over the harbor, which made Troy squirm all the more. Nelek glanced between them and Troy could see further suspicion climbing into the man’s face. Before another question could be raised, Troy leapt from the boat and to the harbor. A hard knot of fear clenched in Troy’s gut for a disconcerting moment, but another form jogged up to them and Nelek was distracted.

“Oy, glad I caught ye.” The familiar, grungy presence of Sessmess Kuhl, Harbormaster, managed to help Troy relax, “Thought as ye might like to know that some newcomer’s asking about yer boy.”

“Newcomer?” Nelek frowned.

“Cesper Villant brought in a boat load of visitors from the mainland.” Sessmess nodded his balding head toward the Big Hearth Tavern and Inn. The building commanded the western side of Harbor Street, its girth expanding out in a massive circle. “Rumor has it there’s just one asking. Male. One of those sorts as you wouldn’t let near your daughter at midday in public, ye know?”

“Human?”

“Aye, but I cannot be sure on his companion. She’s a pretty one but her hood’s stayed up since her arrival.” Sessmess shuddered and wiped the sweat off the back of his neck, “Wouldn’t be surprised if she were Eldur, though. There’s something queer about her.”

“Thank you, Master Kuhl.” Nelek slipped a few coins to the Harbormaster, who grinned his semi-toothless appreciation before moving off.

Troy ran his tongue over his teeth, involuntarily checking to make sure they were still in place. It was rude to think it but, good gods; he prayed he kept his teeth longer than that poor soul. Watching Sessmess’s retreating back, Troy suppressed a shiver and tried to wrap his mind around the information. When he looked back to Nelek and Kaden, the father and son had identical, grim expressions and Troy caught on to the trouble.

“You don’t think this could be that Blood Mage, do you?”

Kaden looked to his father and shrugged.

Nelek squinted at the Inn, his mouth making a firm, straight line across his face. “No, this couldn’t be Noffi.”

“How do you know?”

“Because Noffi was gods-awful ugly,” Nelek smirked at him. “Not a soul alive would have called her pretty. Her teeth alone could frighten children.”

“What is wrong with her teeth?” Kaden perked with interest.

Nelek motioned to his mouth, “They’re pointed.”

“What? All of them?” Troy wrinkled his nose in distaste.

“Hurt like hell when she bit you, too.”

“Ugh. Why did she bite you?” Troy gave the Inn a furtive glance.

“Blood Magic,” Nelek gripped Kaden’s shoulder. “Eldur have to bleed in order for a mage to be useful.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“Shall we go see who they are?” Nelek grinned and waggled his eyebrows. “Hate to have them come all this way for nothing.”

—-

The Blog Hop Continues!

Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Lynn Crain  http://www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Connie Vines connievines.blogspot.com

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2 Comments

  1. Great excerpt! Enjoyed the admission of romance, the tangible traits of each character, and the drama about to develop. Thanks!
    Hope your have a Merry Christmas, A.J., and with another book coming out next year, a great and profitable 2015.

    Reply

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