“There’s that guy again.” Sprawled facedown over the black vinyl chair, I had a perfect view of West Broadway through the storefront window of Get Inked. “What guy?” Tyler muttered as he hunched over my bare shoulder with his two-coil tattoo machine. Someone had to come up with a better name for that, other than ‘tattoo gun.’ Most ink artists hated calling it that. “That guy … from the pizza place two days ago. The guy who tried to buy me a slice of pepperoni, like I eat meat.” I didn’t point. I wasn’t stupid enough to move my shoulder and risk ruining the ink. All Tyler had to do was look up and he’d see the guy drinking a venti Starbucks and leaning against the pockmarked concrete wall of the convenience store across the street. A tall, skinny guy wearing black jeans and a knit hat in an attempt to look like a hipster, but really just hiding stringy, dirty blond hair. I was serious about the ‘dirty’ part, as in actual dirt. If the guy let his teeth yellow any worse, they’d match his hair. At least he hadn’t actually smelled when he sidled up to me a couple of days ago. “The daisy would look so much cooler with some color,” Tyler muttered. He wasn’t easy to distract once he had the two-coil in hand. Normally I liked that about him. “Red … pink?” “It’s a peony.” “What?” “A peony. And daisies aren’t red.” “Fine. I’ll stick with the boring black, as usual.” Tyler snapped a used cartridge out of his tattoo machine and plugged in a new one. Then he started filling in the edges of my newest design. I’d copied my peony sketch onto transfer paper about two hours ago, and Tyler and I had argued over its placement for another hour. It had taken me three months to get the flower design exactly right — as perfect as I’d seen it in my head — and ready for its permanent place on my shoulder. I had a tattoo of barbed wire with various things snagged in the spikes running up my left arm. The ‘things’ were eclectic — keys, spiders … even a black-and-white Canadian flag. With the addition of the peony, I was getting Tyler to extend the tattoo over my shoulder now. Eventually, it would meet and intermingle about two-thirds of the way across my back with the ivy leaf pattern that ran up my right arm. “I don’t like him,” I said. The guy across the street was playing with something, rolling something silver around in his hand. Pedestrians were steadily passing by him in either direction, but he hadn’t once bothered to glance up from his phone. West Broadway was a major artery through this part of the city. It ran all the way from Burnaby up to the University of British Columbia, which was pretty much as west as it got without running into the Pacific Ocean. As was typical for January in Vancouver, the day was gray. Despite the cloud cover, I kept catching flashes of silver when the light hit whatever the guy was fooling around with. It was probably some creepy magic trick with coins or something. “He tried to talk to me.” “He must be insane then. Who would want to talk to you?” Tyler was joking, but it wasn’t that far from the truth. I could count my friends on one hand. If I included my social-worker-of-the-day, I’d have to use my thumb.
– I See Me (Oracle 1), Chapter 1
(tentative) Release Day: Thursday, November 6, 2014 – but only if I have it available everywhere
Want to be the first to know? Make sure you’ve signed up for the new release mailing list.
First person to answer the following question correctly wins an advanced ebook copy of I See Me (Oracle 1). Leave me your answer in the comments below (and make sure to fill in your email address, so I can contact you).
Warning: this is probably only winnable by people who have read the Dowser books fairly recently or someone with a wicked memory.
Who is the creepy guy that Rochelle sees across the street? Answer (supplied by Becky first): HOYT
I came up to the office today after two whole days off and found that my chocolate orchid [Oncidium Sharry Baby] had bloomed.
Oracle 1 update – I See Me is with Leiah, the proof reader. I’m still hoping to have the ebook version published by the end of the week, but it’s getting a little tight and I don’t want to put it up if it isn’t as perfect as I can make it.
I noticed that a few visitors to my blog found this piece of flash fiction from Sept 20, 2013 today. I’d practically forgotten all about it. I think I’d intended on writing more shorts, but then just focused on the novels. I thought you might get a kick out of it, so I’m reblogging.
This 1300 word flash fiction — inspired by the Spin the Wheel of Conflict challenge issued by Chunk Wendig — is set three weeks after the events in my urban fantasy novel, Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic. As such, it contains SPOILERS for that story. Please read the following at your own risk … wow, that sounds ominous.
Also, this has not been professionally edited or proofed (yet), but I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse of Jade in between novels none-the-less.
A Difficult Funeral
I hadn’t been sure what shoes to wear. What shoes I was supposed wear to the funeral of the man my sister murdered and then ate.
Actually, I had that order wrong — consistently — in my head. But I couldn’t seem to bear the understanding when I reversed it.
So, yeah. Shoes. And cupcakes. I baked cupcakes. A new recipe, but I didn’t mention that part to anyone.
It wasn’t really a funeral, as in a ceremony set in a church or anything formal. Rather a day set aside by the family for grieving … for saying condolences.
Gran had insisted we make an appearance. But now, faced with the dingy around the edges Georgian mansion of the Novaks, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I wasn’t sure I’d make it out in one piece. Mentally. With Gran and Scarlett by my side, no one would lift more than a sneer to me. If that. The Godfrey coven was formidable. A fact I’d only just learned even though I’d been a de facto member for twenty-three years now. I’d chosen boots instead of shoes. My black Babycake Minis, to be exact. The Vancouver spring had been unusually warm and dry. But today, it was appropriately threatening to rain.
“Ten minutes,” Scarlett murmured to my right. I was getting a crook in my neck from staring up at the house. The Novaks were old money, as old as money got in Canada. But I hadn’t known that until Scarlett turned the car towards Shaughnessy five minutes before we’d arrived. I’d hoped the drive would take longer.
Scarlett brushed her fingers down my arm. Her charismatic magic tingled in a wake across my skin. I should have worn a sweater, not just a black lace scarf. And the boots were wrong too. Not formal enough.
Gran stepped forward, and I automatically followed. She’d rolled her long gray braid in a bun today. That was as formal as she got. Scarlett, of course, outshone us all — in her navy dress that was cut just so and the perfect length — as always. Her strawberry blond hair gleamed against the gray backdrop of the cloudy day.
“Should we be here?” I asked and not for the first time. No one answered me. They’d stopped after the first two times.
Other cars lined the curved driveway. We’d parked at the curb. Vancouver boasted a very small Adept community, but this was still a tiny turnout. And we were late.
As we approached, I could feel the magic of the Adept gathered in the house even with the familiar taste of Scarlett and Gran beside me.
Something caught my eye and I looked toward the blooming rhododendron bushes edging the property. The vampire, Kett, showed himself to me and then slipped further into the shadows. His presence didn’t help. Sienna had tried to kill us all not three weeks ago. I didn’t need the reminder.
A necromancer opened the door. Not Rusty’s mother or sister, who I’d never met, but some familial connection. I could tell by the underlying taste of her magic. An aunt, perhaps.
She smiled tightly at Gran. “Pearl. Thank you for coming.”
“We won’t stay,” Gran answered.
We stepped into the entrance way. It was marble. Stairs, the carpet runner down the middle worn with use, swooped up from in front of us to the second floor. A few more Adepts — their magic tingling my senses — stood through an archway that led to the drawing room. They’d all stopped to pretend they weren’t staring at us.
Someone — deeper in the house — was weeping. The handle of the plastic tray I was holding cracked in my hand. The cupcakes tumbled to the side. Three landed on the ground before I steadied the tray. A boy, his features painfully similar to Rusty’s, darted forward to pick the cupcakes up.
“Oh, so sorry,” the necromancer aunt said. “I should’ve taken those. You’re lovely for bringing them.”
Her apology hit me in the gut. I smiled. My clenched jaw shot pain into my temple, which was good as it cleared my head a little. “My condolences,” I said as I passed the tray to her. I kept the broken piece of plastic clutched in my left hand. The boy — a cousin I guessed from my little knowledge of the familial line — placed the three squashed cupcakes on the tray and then carried the whole thing through to the drawing room.
The person — a girl, I thought — was still crying. It was obvious that no one but I could hear her.
“Those cupcakes won’t last five minutes,” the necromancer said. I was fairly certain I was supposed to know her name though she was from out of town.
I wondered if she was here for moral support during the tribunal that was set to start Monday. I hoped so.
“Danica?” Gran asked.
“Of course. Please, this way,” the necromancer said. She turned to lead us into the drawing room.
I followed Gran. Scarlett stopped to speak to someone I hadn’t even noticed as I passed. I felt muffled, as if I was wrapped in gauze. Even all the magic swirling around me barely made an impression. Normally, I’d be getting a buzz off being around this many of the Adept.
The room was filled with pictures. Literally every inch of the wall and table space was covered in family photographs. Some black and white dated way back. Some showed the characteristic yellowing of the seventies. Even more were obviously recent additions. And if they weren’t of Rusty then they contained someone who looked like him. Obviously, genes ran true in the Novak clan.
Gran bent over a woman sitting on an overstuffed, floral print armchair by a bay window that overlooked the lush green of the side yard. Danica. Rusty’s Mother. However, it was me Danica locked gazes with over Gran’s shoulder. Her red-rimmed eyes were the shape of Rusty’s, and her hair a shade lighter. The underlying tone of her magic — sugared violets — the exact taste of her son’s. She wasn’t the person weeping. The weeping that was suddenly all I could hear, but then maybe that was just because everyone had just dropped the pretense of conversation.
The boy from before passed Rusty’s mother one of my cupcakes on a china side plate. She accepted it and didn’t drop my gaze as she bit into it. Then she smiled at me. A tight smile full of pain.
Some people thought I laced the cupcakes I baked with a bit of my magic. These chocolate carrot cake with chocolate cream cheese icing cupcakes I called, Solace in a Cup.
I turned and left. It was rude and probably unforgivable according to Gran, but I still couldn’t hear anything but the weeping. My own tears were lodged in my chest, collected around the permanent pain that was all I had left of my sister, because how could I cry? How could I mourn for a sister who’d murdered her boyfriend all because she wanted to be special? Because she wanted to be more special than me. So Rusty was dead because of me. Because I was stupid, slow, and foolhardy.
And still I couldn’t cry.
I stepped out into the fresh air. It had started to rain.
I began to walk home. The vampire followed never showing himself, but always at my back.
It was cold comfort.
I looked down at the piece of broken plastic in my hand. It had sliced the skin of my palm — cut that would have needed stitches on a human. The wound, released from the plastic shard, instantly healed.
I wished that Sienna had stabbed me through the heart instead of twice in the gut, because at least that would have a chance of healing.
Before she ate and then killed Rusty.
Well, at least I had the order straight now.
The day I turned nineteen, I expected to gain what little freedom I could within the restrictions of my bank account and the hallucinations that had haunted me for the last six years. I expected to drive away from a life that had been dictated by the tragedy of others and shaped by the care of strangers. I expected to be alone.
Actually, I relished the idea of being alone.
Instead, I found fear I thought I’d overcome. Uncertainty I thought I’d painstakingly planned away. And terror that was more real than anything I’d ever hallucinated before.
I’d seen terrible, fantastical, and utterly impossible things … but not love. Not until I saw him.
(tentative) Release Day: Thursday, October 30, 2014
Want to be the first to know? Make sure you’ve signed up for the new release mailing list.
It’s my birthday today. To celebrate, I thought I would share the cover of I See Me, Oracle 1 with you as a treat.
I’ll have a synopsis and release date for you next week (hopefully), but for now, you (and I) will have to make do with your first glimpse of Rochelle:
More treats to come …
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, INDEED!!
What do you think?
I have been exceedingly blessed in the last few years by lovely readers who have become supportive friends, some of whom I haven’t even met in person yet. I’ve talked about Gertie and her cupcake support committee here, here, and here (one for each Dowser book). I also still have Karen’s trinket hanging on my monitor where I get to see it every morning.
And then there is lovely Kelly. She sent this:
<3 I’ve made a screensaver out of the above image <3
I knew a treat was coming, because Kelly and I had been trying to meet for a hot chocolate last month – yes, we know each other in real life, however our paths do not naturally cross :( But life was insanely busy with moving and family. Kelly finally convinced me that she should just mail the package to me as a house warming gift.
This is what was so brilliantly packaged inside – yes, brand new chocolate!!!
Five freaking kilograms of Ocoa by Cacao Barry to be exact!! That’s 11.02 pounds for my American friends. I, of course, immediately opened, poured, and tasted :)
This huge box of “support” will get me through writing a couple of more Dowser books, at the very least. I’m thinking of making brownies, cupcakes, and perhaps some Chewy Gooey Chocolate Cookies with it.
In fact, I’m designing up some new cupcakes for Dowser 4 and I’m seriously thinking of using this chocolate to make them, then sending tasters to Kelly for her approval. That won’t even dent this box of goodness – yes, I’m greedy and selfishly-bent when it comes to good chocolate.
Thank you Kelly, for all your support and the chocolate. It is – you are – very appreciated and cherished!