>Friday Free: Free Book w/ Excerpt
Poppet provides us today with both a free read in the form of an excerpt from her recent release, DUSAN, and a link the the free book!
Poppet loves jelly beans and has a closet Lamborghini fetish. She also writes under the name Gemma Rice, and has the following books published: Tart Shorts, Blindsided, Dusan, Strike, Clawback, Darkroom, Seithe, and the non-fiction book The Celtic Tree Zodiac.
Visit Poppet at www.gemmariceandauthorpoppet.com
Dusan is on a feeding frenzy after twenty-five years of hibernation. As a soul eater, he cannot kiss without killing.
He crosses paths with Aine while being hunted by the Phoenician priest Gregori, and soon discovers Aine is also on the hit list. Falling for her fast, while trying to discover why she’s also marked for death, the ultimate soul eater’s Armageddon is about to happen.
Excerpt from Dusan
The firs are tall, like giants from another age. She phantoms between them over dropped needles.
Pausing, she looks around, sure she’s alone, she begins to sway. Moonlight waxes her arms as she begins to dance like a feather gusting on a breeze. Wafting gently to the right like a sapling stretching for light, gliding, her arms flowing around her, her skirt answers, moving like a sail on the high seas.
Glossy hair sparks with moonfire, flickering Morse code through the shadows, calling to me. Skipping to a rock, on tiptoes soothed with moss, my waif twirls a tantalising spell, weaving entrancing magic before my eyes.
Spellbound, I watch her swoop to the ground, a triumphant arm rises with a hand clutching a flower. Movement snatches my attention away and I observe a deer peer cautiously through foliage, watching the earth spirit communing with her nature. Riveting my focus back to her, my body adopts rigor mortis, winding the coil around my heart tighter as every muscle tenses like a spring desperate to release.
Skyclad she swirls, cartwheels, and prances around trunks, playing hide and seek with her own shadow. Except, I get the impression she’s not alone, that these magnetic trees do commune with her. Her movements are seductive, like a mermaid in water. This is her element.
Sprinkling petals she tilts her head back, spine bowed for the archer, thrusting undulations outward and into prominence like the carving on the bow of a Phoenician ship, then she swans forward, into the brook.
When she disappears behind rocks, I do a quick survey again, watching more shadows in the woods moving toward her. A mouse rushes up the rock to peer over, worried his mistress is in danger. A flirtatious laugh blows over me. The mystery in this forest is enjoying taunting me, echoing her voice between boughs and trunks, gathering her followers to h
The Sidhe stands, glossed from head to toe with crystal mountain water. She belongs in God’s gallery.
She glows from within. I’ve never seen a soul reaching out like hers does. The corners of her mouth are permanently curled up, like a pixie with a secret. I came so close to kissing her and she must surely wonder why I didn’t pursue the kissing when she initiated it. Does she think she was shunned?
Fuck, I hope she doesn’t think I rejected her.
The deer rushes forward, skittish it bolts. Aine halts like a mime, eyes drawn where I cannot see, arms wrapping defensively before she dashes to snatch up clothing and return her modesty.
A presence tenses the air. Like a foreboding wind it sucks out the sound and life before it the way a twister does. The owls, insects and creatures hold their breath, waiting.
This time shadows fall from the sky. Nylon lines whiz as red beams slice across my mirror princess, shattering her ethereal moment with violent light.
The tension in my body requires an outlet, and Tanit damn him, tonight they will die.
Clawing rapidly through the trees, I drop in front of her, knowing it puts me centre stage for the freak show. “Run. Now.”
Turning toward the threat, I thrust with frustration off the ground, bounding up to the closest cloaked villain. Snapping his neck, I ricochet backward, pinning the shadow behind me to his spruce.
Retracting the blade, I don’t slow down, bounding, thrusting, flying, claws and horns out, my lust for blood is two hundred years overdue.
Projectiles whistle in flight, but I am beyond the physical at this vibration. Their murderous efforts are futile and a waste of decent ammunition.Slicing, impaling, cracking and punching are over before they really began. What a waste of mortal life if this lot are considered professional mercenaries. A throat strike with the claws out is quick and effective. Bodies dangle from zip-lines between the trees like macabre Samhain decorations.
Vacuum thick stillness engulfs the vicinity. Rotating, slowly, deliberately, I wait to see what I’ve missed. Whatever lurks has nature in hibernation, stricken with silence for survival.
The flurry of activity is deafening in contrast. A thick cloud of thousands of moths take flight. A rising mist of Black Witch moths with their ethereal moonstone blue striated wings catch the moonlight, like falling glitter glinting, they ascend to the heavens, when I see more.
I’ve never seen anything like it. Moths which look like hummingbirds, darker, rising like black fog. They elevate, blocking out the light, blanketing the forest in a tomb of dark. I recall now, Sphinx moths.
How many moths is that? A million? More?
The feral scream of a wild cat draws my immediate focus. Scanning with the first tingle of fear, I spy the animal facing off into the dark. Its position is defensive, hackles raised and incisors bared.
The love-phobic prick is right there. His absence of life makes him as obvious in this forest teeming with it as a lighthouse in perdition.
Leaping into the air, propelling myself with reversed polarity, I descend immediately in front him. I have no fear of cats.
“Dusan – ”
I’m in no mood for pleasantries, harnessing every atom of anger coursing through me, I dip and bodily thrust him with my shoulder back into the trunk of the Douglas fir behind him. He deflates like an ancient accordion.
Using the moment of his weakness, I question, “What the fuck are you doing here, Gregori?”
“No, your name is Gregori.” The claws spring out making a reverse suction sound and I use them effectively to hold through his arms. Increasing the pressure, “Answer the question.”
“What about her?”
Annoyed with his lack of vocal capacity I ease some of my weight off his chest. “Go near her again and I’ll cut out your heart and offer it to Kali.”
His laughter infuriates. Head butting him back into the tree, the satisfaction of the abusive sound cut short gives me a smile. I do it again, rewarded with the crunch of a breaking nose. It’s so dark now as the night turns apocalyptic that it could be blood spurting down between us, or something more sinister.
Withdrawing one hand, the slick skimming of horn and bone is all that warns him, I thrust it deeply into him, again and again, until he slumps to the point where holding him up is hurting the claws.
“Fucker.” I dismiss his unconscious form.
He won’t be following me.
Turning, I survey the cat which hasn’t moved and is watching me. Its eyes glint like fire on chrome, and the unexpected lick of its lip mid-purr unnerves me. That’s when I notice the hand on its nape, softly stroking from within the wildcat’s den.
Her face appears from the shadow shrouded entrance, she nods, her expression tense, unsure, afraid, guarded, a hundred women at once.
Her demeanour shames me, instantly drained of fight, my knees fold as if I am forced to kneel to her. “I’m sorry.”
I don’t know why I’m apologising, but it seems right. She’s fragile, and if she witnessed what I’ve done, who I am – I’ve lost her before she was even mine to have.
Reaching a hand out to her, “Come with me.” My voice is thick, like forcing dry porridge into the mouth of an infant. I sound foreign.
I just killed the Silkie, the mystery, the moment of innocence. I know I can’t undo this. What she’s witnessed will change her – us – forever. Despairing, my head drops as if my neck no longer has the strength to be proud.
She crawls toward me on trembling arms. Leaning forward I lift her, wrapping arms around the quaking body and holding her tight.
The cat growls at me, hackles raised, spitting.
Aine drops her head heavily on my shoulder and it’s instinct to smooth her hair, “Shh.”
Keeping my voice even instead of begging, “Will you come home with me?”
She doesn’t respond and I lift my head off hers to look into her eyes. They aren’t focusing.
Alarm thrums through me and I begin inspecting her. The black of her shirt masked the wound. Lifting my hand from her waist, it’s painted with the colour of war.