We've also been back and forth discussing ideas for the WHTF cover. If it turns out anything like what I have in my head, it'll be awesome. Obviously, not sharing any of that yet either.
Umm, yeah... I'm a teaser. I'm just so excited I can't NOT talk about it.
It feels good to be excited about this again. After months of anti-excited about anything writerly, I'm actually sitting down and working every day. I'm still not burning up the road, but I'm motoring along. As of last night, I've edited through pg 109.
And I'm excited about what I'm reading as I edit. It's good stuff, folks, if I do say so myself. Not perfect stuff. JC stills needs to get her awesome little hands on it and make me make it better. But I feel good about it now.
To that end, I hope this will help all y'all get excited about it, too...
Wish Hits the Fan
What in the name of Uncle Hank is it now?
Just when I thought I could maybe sorta kinda take a freakin’ break, Trygvyr was requesting my presence at the back of the warehouse. I gazed around the place as if seeing it for the first time. Not much more than an hour had passed since my allies had come in and kicked Efreet ass. While they were doing that, I was battling my own father for familial fun. They’d won. I’d won. It was over.
I gave myself a good chuckle over that one and then motioned toward the damaged girl genie who’d been sent to fetch me. It wouldn’t be over until I was taking the big dirt nap. And being a djinn meant there were few things that could put me six feet under.
As Raye guided me toward the growing kerfluffle, I could tell we were headed for the cages I’d seen when I entered only a few short hours before. I’d snuck inside to save my friends from the Efreet, so it wasn’t like I had a boatload of time to check out the contents of those cages. In fact, I’d forgotten clean about them.
Until Raye rushed up claiming some sort of things had been found back there. Maybe if I hadn’t been transformed into a mouse at the time, I would’ve sensed what those cages held. I guess what Robert Burns wrote was true, the best laid plans of mice really do often go awry in some way or another.
I mean, the original mouse plan had worked. It got me inside undetected by everyone but my former dog. Then we had defeated the Efreet. And my friends were freed. And I’d kept Zeke from going over to the shady side of the street, even if he did end up turning human in the process. Plus, my dog was back to being my tall, blond Viking friend, Trygvyr, again.
Now? The after-victory party was iffy. Some of the people we’d saved were pissed. The biggest, baddest of the baddies had gotten away. And something freaktastic was awaiting me in the dim recesses of the expanse strung all over with medieval cages designed to hold even the strongest magical beings. After all I’d been through, I really would’ve preferred a nice, long nap somewhere warm and comfortable. Instead, I had more bullshit to deal with.
I pushed past Renee after we reached the cages where my lawyer, Michael, and Hans the bodyguard had been held prisoner by the Efreet menace. Across from those was the one imprisoning my receptionist, Renee, while the evil bastards had visited unimaginable horrors upon her. She’d been pretty bad off, but she’d recovered well. That she had retained her sanity was a miracle, but I could sense the scars she bore. Not for the first time, I wished we still an our in-house therapist. Even that traitor Mena would’ve been better than no one at all to help my friend through this.
The sounds of Raye’s footsteps behind me reminded me that maybe no therapy would’ve been better for her than the half-ass shit Mena had done. When I’d discovered Raye amongst the refugees from Mayweather Antiquities the night Amun attacked my home, she’d been wrecked at the abusive hands of her Master. The amount of time she’d spent at our facilities without any progress in her welfare should’ve been a big clue for me about Mena, but finding out she was a traitor had been a slap in the face. How many people had paid for my ignorance, I had no idea. How many more would pay remained to be seen.
Either way, it sucked.
I stopped abruptly. I could hear Raye bring up the rear, but while I was lost in thought, I’d lost track of the sounds in front of me. Silence may be golden in some cases, but right then it scared the shit out of me.
“Which way?” I asked the girl.
She pointed as she stopped beside me.
“Lead on, McDuff.”
“Lay. It’s ‘lay on, McDuff’.”
“I don’t care if it’s ‘lay off the McDonalds’. You go, I’ll follow.”
She blushed and then took the lead again, this time at a slower pace than I wanted, but I had to deal with it. The poor girl paused and cringed at a cage I remembered well. It smelled of water and death. Natalia, the Rusalka, had been imprisoned inside for longer than I wanted to imagine. Now, she was off somewhere giving some of her own back to one Efreet in particular. As horrible as they’d been, I didn’t want to think about what her gentle ministrations would entail.
Well, maybe a little. Payback is hell, or so they say.
When Raye stopped again, I knew we’d reached the place. I’d been correct in my assumption. These were the cages I hadn’t wanted to remember After my friends transformed me into a mouse to get into the building, I’d scurried past these cages first. I’d been horrified then. Dozens and dozens of cages hung suspended from the ceiling at varying levels. Within each, I could make out a single form. Some of the forms were still bipedal, but some were beasts. Or monsters. Or, in one case, a sick combination of man and monster. I think I screamed. All that came out was a shrill squeak I figured only dogs could hear.
“Why haven’t these people been released yet?” I shouted above my growing dread.
“Oy, love, no need to break the eardrums. We’re right here.” Basil Hadresham had shunned his day-to-day business disguise of a forty-something, tweed-wearing, classic Brit to look like the teen he’d been when he became a genie. He was a toe-haired waif who would easily steal your pocket watch after you gave him a dollar for a lollipop. Right then, I would’ve rather had the older, more comforting model—which is a kind of a mix between Santa Claus and Mark Williams playing the best friend’s dad in those boy-wizard movies rather than my Artful Dodger. “And they haven’t been released because we’re not sure if we have the means to deal with them all yet.”
I gazed at the cages within easy view. Too many bizarre faces looked back at me. Their mouths were moving, but no sounds were coming out.
“We had to block the sound, love,” Basil said, answering my question before I could ask it. “So we could think.”
I saw Trygvyr, my friend and former pet, walking toward us from between the hanging cages. His long, white hair had been pulled severely back at his neck and tied with a strip of rawhide. His eyes pulled at me like twin black holes, where only anger escaped. His wiry body showed a tautness born of rage and I sure as hell didn’t want to be on the receiving end. When he got within a dozen feet of us, I could hear him snarling like the dog he’d spent fifteen decades transformed into.
He moved to brush past Raye and I. Throwing aside any thought of personal safety, I snagged his arm on the way by.
“What gives?” I asked.
With his eyes still locked on a space far ahead of us, he shrugged off my grasp. “There are still Efreet in the cages?” he asked.
“Last I checked.”
Power blossomed over him like he was preparing to go nuclear. “If you want any of them capable of speech any time soon, I suggest you get to them before I do.”
When he tried to shrug off my hold on his arm, I stuck to him like I was glued on. “Whoa. Hang on a second. I’d like to kick all of their asses as much as the next djinn, but we’ve got all the time in the world for that.”
Unless I missed my guess, Tryg was mere seconds from boiling over and saying those little words he’d said once before. ‘I renounce the Rules’ had changed him into an Efreet then and, the way he was acting, they were sure to turn him into one again.
“Talk to me.”
He didn’t even look at me.
“Major!” I hated using the name I’d chosen to call the dog he’d been, but when the big furball had gotten too engrossed in rabbit chasing to pay attention to me, it always worked.
His dark eyes turned toward me, finally focusing on what was real and not the rage in his head. “Yes, Mistress?”
I let out a breath I’d been holding so long my ribs hurt. “That’s better. What the hell is wrong with you?”
Jerking his arm, he tried to free himself, but I wasn’t letting him go until the steam stopped coming out his ears. “The Efreet must be made to pay for their atrocities,” he said
“Not the way you were thinking about making them pay, bud.”
All he did was blink at me like a freakin’ idiot.
“You were this close…” I held my index finger a millimeter from my thumb. “…to giving up being a genie.”
When he shook all over like he still had long fur, and it was wet, I knew I’d finally made an impression.
One hand scrubbed the side of his face while I held tight to the other arm. “Odin’s hairy balls.”
“My thoughts exactly.” I squeezed my hand and pulled him toward me. “Now, I’ll ask again, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Wrong with me? How can you ask after seeing…? You haven’t seen, have you?”
“When I first came into the warehouse, I thought something was hinky. Strange and scary and bewildering. But I was a mouse at the time. Everything’s strange and scary when you’re that low on the food chain. I can’t say for sure whether any of those rodent impressions were real.” I nudged Basil with an elbow. “He was just beginning to shed some light when you showed up all hell bent for leather.”
Yep, another teaser. But it's not a total tease because this will be available for purchase in September - good lord willin' and the creek don't rise.
Maybe by Friday I can untease at least the cover of In Deep Wish for all y'all. I'm not pushing the artist because this isn't time sensitive, so we'll see. As soon as I have the final version, I'll post it. K?
Now, I need to get back to edits. I should have this pass done by the weekend, and a final read-through with tweaking done by the end of next week, so I can get this to JC. Yay.
Any questions? Comments? Stuffs?