Like millions of other people, I rushed out to see Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron. I really liked it (and now I want a Hulk/Black Widow movie to happen) but I have to admit that I liked the first Avengers more. Age Of Ultron followed typical movie sequel format by having more action, explosions, and chase scenes than the first one, and that came at the price of character development, in my opinion. Now, to be fair, there are a LOT of characters. Since many of them have their own movies centered around them, to adequately flesh out each one while still moving the Avengers-as-a-team storyline along is an impossible task, so my nitpicks are just that: nitpicks. Overall, it’s a good, fun movie, and I look forward to seeing the next Avengers, plus the next Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk… you get the picture ;).
May isn’t just the start of the summer movie season. It’s also the time that TV networks renew shows and/or drop the ax on them. I blogged before about how I liked the new TV show Forever, which reminded me of Castle with light supernatural elements, but it’s probably going to get canceled. Revenge, one of my guilty pleasures, has already gotten the ax. I am crossing my fingers that the brand-new show iZombie does not meet these same fates. It’s funny and twisted, with a dash of dark, and I would be so disappointed if it’s not renewed for a second season. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it.
On the plus side, some of my other favorite TV shows are returning soon. I really liked The Strain, although it’s about as dark of a take on vampires as you can get. Defiance is another favorite, although it took me several episodes before I got into it. Longmire will also return in the near future, and I am so glad that it was picked up by Netflix after A&E cancelled it because I was not ready to say goodbye to those characters.
And finally, I’ve been busy writing The Sweetest Burn, book two in the Broken Destiny series, which will release sometime around the end of this year. I posted the description on my website, but I haven’t posted any teasers yet, so now seemed as good of a time as any. Here’s a snippet from early on in The Sweetest Burn. I’ve tried to take out any spoilers, so you’ll see a “censored” in the text, and this scene in the novel is longer. Also, this is pre-revisions and pre-copyedits, so you might see some grammar errors and missing and/or extra words, too. Apologies for those, and I hope you enjoy!
I rolled over and stuffed the pillow in a new position under my head. Useless. The bed was comfy, the RV was quiet, and yet I’d lain here, wide awake, for hours.
My gaze flew to the door, but it was still closed. I hadn’t imagined hearing Adrian say my name, though, so I strained my ears and waited.
“Ivy, come outside.” Adrian’s voice was low but clear, and I realized that he was speaking to me through the exterior wall of the RV. “I need to show you something.”
I got up, mostly because I couldn’t stand to toss and turn anymore. I doubted something was wrong or Adrian wouldn’t be whispering. Plus, we’d parked at the edge of an old cemetery. Demons couldn’t cross onto hallowed ground, so we were safe from them. Hallowed ground wasn’t a deterrent to minions, but there’d need to be a lot of them to pose a threat with Adrian, Brutus and Costa here, not to mention me.
The thought cheered me. I wasn’t the same helpless girl I’d been when this whole thing started. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, I’d had lots of things try to kill me, so by extension, I had to be stronger by leaps and bounds.
Once out of the bedroom, I tiptoed past a snoring Costa, who was on the sofa bed. The lone pillow on the floor must have been where Adrian had slept. He rarely used blankets, having long ago become well-acclimated to the cold. Like Costa, I piled on the blankets to offset my memories of the dark, icy realms, but most of Adrian’s time there had consisted of him being treated better than a king, so maybe he didn’t mind the memories as much.
Adrian had left the RV door open a crack, so it made no noise when I opened it to go outside. He’d moved away from my side of the trailer and stood near one of the old tombstones. It took a second for me to realize that Brutus was perched on top of a crypt next to him. If I hadn’t spotted the gargoyle’s red, iridescent eyes, I might’ve mistaken him for an elaborate statue.
“What’s up?” I said, keeping my voice down although we were the only ones who seemed to have difficulty sleeping.
Adrian wore a jacket and jeans, and until he turned to face me, I didn’t realize that those were all the clothes he had on. The jacket was open, and moonlight reflected off muscles in his chest while shadows gave his abs more definition than they already had. His chest was hairless, but a line of dark gold started at his abdomen before disappearing into the jeans that hung low on his hips. That line invited me to explore everything I couldn’t see, and as he walked toward me, every ripple of muscles reminded me of the lethal power contained inside his stunningly-sculpted body.
“Is this what you wanted to show me?” I asked, a tiny crack in my voice belying the quip. “If so, that’s playing dirty.”
A slow smile curled his mouth. “If I were playing dirty to get inside your pants, I wouldn’t be wearing anything.”
Yeah, I thought, dragging my gaze away from his physique, that’d probably do it. Out loud, I said, “Why did you want me to come out? If it’s about what I said before…”
His smile faded. “No, but now that you mention it, that did piss me off. I don’t care what [censored] thinks of me, but you shouldn’t lie about what you feel, and we both know our lineage has nothing to do with what’s between us.”
“Tell that to every Archon and demon alive,” I muttered, mentally kicking myself for bringing the subject up. I should just keep a piece of tape handy so I could slap it over my mouth every time I had the urge to say something stupid.
“I don’t care what they think, either,” Adrian said silkily, closing the distance between us.
I backed away, holding out my hands to ward him off. “Don’t. If this is why you called me out here, I’m leaving.”
Hard assessment filled his features, as if judging whether I meant that, but he stopped. “It’s not why, but I can’t help it. Don’t say you haven’t missed me, too, or I’ll know that you’re lying.”
“Really? How will you know?” I said, deciding that I’d much rather challenge him than admit to that.
He came close enough to brush my hair away from my neck. I was only wearing a tank top over my pajama pants, and I told myself it was the night air hitting my skin that made shiver. His fingers trailed over my neck, lingering on the spot where it felt like my heart was trying to escape through my jugular.
“Because when you lie, your pulse pounds even harder.”
I moved away. Even his light touch was affecting me. Damn the memories that had come flooding back, taunting me with how his hands had felt when they’d explored other parts of my body.
“You’re wearing the necklace.” The masculine satisfaction in his voice scattered more shivers over me. I closed my hand over the pendant, as if concealing it made that any less true.
“I, ah, had nowhere else to put it yet,” I mumbled.
Adrian laughed, but the knowing sound was nothing compared to the intensity in his gaze. “This time, I don’t even have to look at your pulse to know you’re lying.”
What was I going to say? That I’d taken it off twice, only to put it back on because it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, and I still couldn’t believe he’d given it to me? Better my lame response than admit to that.
Brutus interrupted the moment by hopping off the crypt and stretching out his wings to their full extension. Then he chuffed at Adrian as if to say, hey, pal, remember me?
Adrian threw a rueful look at the gargoyle. “You’re anxious to get started, I know, but your timing sucks.”
I actually loved the gargoyle’s timing. In fact, the next hunk of raw pot roast meat I came across had Brutus’s name written all over it. Then I looked more closely at the gargoyle, noticing that he had something around his neck, too.
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing.
Adrian cast one more look at the diamond in my cleavage. Then, he walked over to Brutus and fingered the straps.
“It’s why I called you out here. You’re about to have your first flying lesson.”
I knew my ears weren’t malfunctioning, yet I still repeated his statement as if I’d misheard him. “Flying lesson?” Are you serious? my mind added in a screech.
He patted Brutus, murmuring to him in Demonish before he answered me. “I’ve had Brutus since right after he was born. He was so small, I could carry him around like a baby, and he broke every fragile object in my house when he was learning how to fly.”
The mental image of baby Brutus learning how to fly was adorable, but it didn’t quell my apprehension. “But I don’t want to learn how to ride Brutus when he flies.”
He shrugged. “The RV’s got its perks, but speed isn’t one of them. That makes it terrible for getaways if we come under attack. Brutus has speed, maneuverability, and his hide is so thick, minions would need a rocket launcher to bring him down.”
Brutus chuffed, lifting his head a notch higher. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the gargoyle understood ever word because then he fluffed out his wings as though he were preening.
“You’re all that and a bag of badass,” I told him, smiling when he chuffed again as if in agreement. Then I returned my attention to Adrian. “I get why you wanted to learn how to ride him, but why do you want me to?”
Adrian fingered the straps around Brutus’s neck, which I now realized was a harness. “It takes strength and concentration. If I were injured, I wouldn’t be able to do it, and Brutus maxes out at carrying three people in his arms.”
I swallowed hard. I didn’t like heights and I hadn’t even been good at horseback riding the few times I’d tried it. The thought of trying to ride on a flying gargoyle’s back made my stomach roil, but the thought of Adrian being left behind again was a thousand times worse. I’d rather puke my guts out than risk that. Hell, I’d rather die, but I’d keep that to myself.
“Okay,” I said, forcing a smile as I approached Brutus. “Let’s get the flying lesson started.”