We’re taking a break from our normally scheduled programing for the next three days. Last week my debut novel, Possession is Nine Tenths – Ardeur, was shipped to several eBook retailers including Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, Diesel and Kobo. It’s a paranormal romance with some dark elements, a sweet love story and a villain you’ll hate to love.
Here’s a quick description of the book. If it doesn’t interest you, come back on Monday for more sexy reads by our team of writers.
Cagey and insecure Ardeur Lisle, a 25 year old necromancer, is desperate to get rid of the chaos demon possessing her.
After a devastating accident, Ardy finds herself at Mount Angel Abbey where she reunites with werewolf Brody Callaghan, her childhood crush, and discovers he’s been searching for her since she disappeared 19 years ago.
When Ardeur strikes a bargain with Azrael, the Angel of Death, to evict the hitchhiking demon, she doesn’t know that she’s about to trade one form of dealing with the dead for another as a Reaper.
Ardeur and Brody must fight against Death to save not only their lives, but those of their unborn twins.
Keep reading for an uncut look at the first chapter of Possession is Nine Tenths – Ardeur.
** Text in italics indicates telepathic speech.
The chill from the cement floor seeped through the thin mildew scented pallet that was my bed into my skin and bones. I cowered, curled in the fetal position in a corner of the small, fetid space. My eyes were shut tight against the ghostly occupants of the warehouse. I refused to acknowledge them again or the taunts they threw at me.
Who names a child such a ridiculous thing? One malevolent voice snickered. Not really a child though, are you?
Necromancer. Nephilim.. Nephilim. She smells like an Angel. The words reverberated around me and I curled tighter around my knees. I had no idea what they meant but they frightened me all the same.
Ardeur Blaise? Another angry voice snorted. As if. They should have named you Frosty or Chilly. Look at you, shivering on the floor all blue lipped and shit.
Ignore us all you want. We won’t go away until you give us what we want. Yet another voice from the hordes that hid in the darkness. We could tell you what’s waiting for you out there. Pray that you starve to death before you find out. Or don’t – It’ll probably kill you like it did us anyway. Wonder what happens to a dead Nephilim?
There were no windows in the dank cell that had become my home. No portals to let in the sunlight so that I could count the days. No blanket to ward the chill from my tiny body or food to ease the cramping in my stomach. The sobbing and tears eventually gave way to wracking shivers and, finally, the oblivion of unconsciousness.
With the blanket of insensibility upon me I relaxed and dreamt of the events that had led me to be in the dark, dirty cell that I’d been shoved into like a discarded piece of trash.
The morning of my twelfth birthday dawned bright and sunny. The birds chirruped outside my curtain-less window and I woke up to the sounds of my parents bustling about in the kitchen, singing and laughing like I’d never heard them before. The smell of frying bacon had set my empty stomach growling and the warm, vanilla pancake scent filled my mouth with saliva.
If I had died and gone to Heaven during the night, this surely would have been how I imagined it would sound and smell.
I was given a bubble bath, something I had never experienced before and dressed in my best clothes. The blue and white gingham dress I wore to church functions had been washed and pressed. A pair of new, white tights and black patent leather shoes sat, still in their packages on the chair next to it.
Once dressed, I was fed pancakes and bacon for breakfast with a large glass of orange juice. Maman even took the time to braid my waist length golden blonde hair and tie a new satin ribbon that matched my dress over the elastic to hide it.
I was given everything a normal child would have during that seemingly innocent road trip. Songs were sung in the car. Permission was given for me to roll down my window and enjoy the wind rushing over my face. Lunch at a fast food restaurant was provided when my tummy rumbled from the backseat. Stops were even made when I needed to use the restroom because my system rejected the greasy food it wasn’t accustomed to digesting.
To the casual observer, my family – the Lisle’s – appeared to be enjoying a casual outing. How wrong they were was soon to be all too apparent.
Our car turned into a highly industrialized area that looked nothing like the shopping malls and retail stores I had been fantasizing about for hours. Instead, what I saw were ramshackle warehouses, abandoned buildings and the odd unsavory character darting from one outcropping of concrete to the next.
My parents returned to their usual quiet selves as they scanned the buildings for addresses and, at last, located the one they wanted. The building the car pulled up to had rusted green corrugated metal siding and the windows were mostly boarded up; the ones that weren’t showed no sign of occupancy to anyone’s eyes but mine.
Ghostly faces peered out of the windows back at me and I cringed into the soft leather of my seat as I questioned why we were there. Maman shushed me. They parked the car in front of a dark doorway where two men stood waiting under the blinking light of a bulb that was threatening to go out any minute. “Ardeur, silence. We have something to do with these here gentlemen and then we will go.”
One of the men was tall and lanky with greasy brown hair that fell in uneven hanks to his shoulders. The knees of his greasy faded blue jeans were gaping holes. His lumberjack’s shirt was covered by a grubby denim jacket that bore patches from various gangs. The other man was a few inches shorter and had the look of evil about him. Beady brown eyes, short graying hair and a pot belly covered by grease stained shirt and jacket. His pants had fared no better than the other man’s and displayed a variety of holes and clumsy patchwork.
Tall and lanky stepped away from the door and addressed my father. “Lisle?” My father grunted his ascent as he came around the car to open my door.
I was only a child, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that something bad was in my very near future when my father hauled me out of the air conditioned car. When my struggling became too much I was brusquely thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and taken into the warehouse. At ninety pounds, I wasn’t very heavy but I fought like a champion prize fighter to stay in that car. “Put me down Daddy. I don’t want to go in there.”
“Ardeur, stop fighting. We’re doing this for your own good, ma chère.” Try as I might, I couldn’t crane my head around enough to see my mother as she said what amounted to her version of goodbye to my retreating back. It may have been a good thing that I couldn’t see her face and the lack of tears on it as her only child was carted off to who knew what followed.
The sound of masculine snickering followed us as the two unsavory characters followed Daddy inside. My kicking and screaming was ignored by anyone who might have heard it. In this area, mostly inhabited by criminals, drug addicts and prostitutes, those sounds were as commonplace as the wailing of sirens in the night.
Directions were given in hushed tones and I soon found myself deposited on a crude metal table below a naked bulb suspended from the ceiling. The thin material of my dress and the tights I wore could not keep the chill from leaching through to my skin and bones. “Daddy? What’s going on? Why are we here?”
My blue eyes were wide with fright. I tried to see through the gloom outside of my small pocket of light and failed miserably. I could hear the wind howling through the upper levels of the warehouse and the skittering of unidentifiable creatures across the dirty floor.
Years of going undernourished and mistreated had stunted my growth and at the age of twelve I had reached the height I would forever remain. My body would eventually fill out into that of a woman but I would never be taller than the five feet four inches I’d reached. In that moment, I looked every bit the small china doll that my parents had intended I look like in my checkered blue dress and beribboned braid.
Daddy stood with the two men on the cusp of the circle of light the bulb cast around me. My eyes strained to make out the exchange of a large bag between them before my father strode off into the darkness beyond. “Daddy. Please come back. I don’t want to stay here. Please? Maman? Daddy? I promise I’ll be a good girl from now on but, please come back.” There was no goodbye, no admonishment to be a good girl, no see you soon called out from the doorway. I was left in the cold, vile smelling room with the strange men. The fear that had settled into the pit of my stomach exploded into full blown terror as they approached where I sat and began to circle the table as if inspecting the prized blue ribbon pig at the county fair.
“Well aren’t you the pretty one? Better than they expected, eh Boyd?” This came from tall and lanky as he reached out and flicked the end of my braid where it laid, golden and gleaming, against my back.
The smell of stale cigarettes and alcohol assaulted my nose as rough hands reached out to grasp my chin and turn my face up to the light. Another set of hands set to busily unzipping the back of my dress and stripping it from my tiny frame. “I think we got ourselves a steal with what we paid those two for the kid Wes. A real dolly this one is.”
I was stripped down to my brand new day of the week underwear and the ill-fitting training bra that I’d outgrown several months before while Wes and Boyd inspected me from every possible angle. Cold fingers, rough with calluses touched my skin and I heard things like porcelain doll and angelic whispered between the two men while I shivered in the cold and fetid air.
When they were satisfied that their money had been well spent I was quickly shuffled into a small room and locked in with nothing but a grimy mattress and the sound of my frightened sobbing to keep me company. Wes, Mister Tall and Lanky, sneered at me while I cowered in the corner. “Behave and we might feed you. Maybe.”
Hunger and cold had never been strangers to me, but this, this was new. Soul starving gut wrenching deprivation was my constant companion in that tiny space.
Boyd and Wesley came now and then to rattle the door to my cell and whisper obscenities at me or laugh at my tears when I wailed and begged to be let go despite the knowledge deep down that I would never really be free again. They could have saved themselves the trouble though. The spirits that lived in the building where they kept me were not happy ones and when I made the unfortunate mistake of looking at one of them, they all descended upon my dark, putrid little hole in the wall and the true torment began.
Come back tomorrow, October 16th, 2010 for a look at Chapter 2 of Possession is Nine Tenths – Ardeur.
Copyright © 2010 Danielle Gavan
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.