Sorry! I’m a day late with this excerpt. But here it is!!
Do not read if you haven’t read Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1) yet.
Tangled Echoes (Reconstructionist 2): an excerpt from Chapter One:
Even though this was my seventh time seeing her, it still appeared as if Ember had just moved into the corner office with its pretty peekaboo view of the water. Her degrees and artwork remained propped against the walls, ready to be hung except for the apparent lack of time and tools to do so. Instead of books and knickknacks, boxes cluttered the shelving matching the desk on either side of the sofa. The swanky space had apparently come with a recent promotion that Ember barely acknowledged, even when she’d been congratulated by a visiting senior partner during my second appointment. Given the state of the office, it was fairly obvious she hadn’t fully embraced her new status within the firm.
The only personal item set out in the entire space was a framed charcoal sketch, which was placed facing outward on a credenza behind the desk. The arresting image had drawn my attention the first time I’d entered the office, and I still found it exceedingly difficult to tear my gaze away from it.
Rendered in smudged yet fierce and unfettered lines, the image contained behind glass was of Ember. Or, rather, a grisly depiction of her apparent death. Gouged throat, lifeless eyes, and all.
But even though the ghost of a smile on Ember’s face — forever immortalized in charcoal — was haunting, I couldn’t bring myself to ask her about the sketch. I had an instinctual sense that if I lowered the personal shields I diligently maintained, the sketch would be seething with magic. And it was rude to ask another Adept about her magic, or any magical items she possessed.
Though why Ember Pine would choose to display such a gruesome, foreboding image in a place of honor, especially when her prestigious law degrees were gathering dust in the corner, I had no idea. The gesture was completely at odds with the uptight, focused young woman I’d first met in the Academy over a decade ago and to whom Kett had directed me when he gave me the contract.
I was, however, completely certain it was absolutely none of my business.
Ember finally looked up from her notes, seemingly surprised to find me pacing rather than seated in one of the chairs before the desk.
“I’ve still been unsuccessful at finding another example of a contract with the Conclave,” she said without any preamble. “Not in any of the vaults of any of the branches of Sherwood and Pine. Not even in the London office. And everyone knows that London is held by the oldest vampire in existence, along with his brood. His …” — she paused to scan her notes — “… his shiver.”
“Not everyone,” I said wryly.
Vampires were largely enigmas in Adept society. And though I might hopelessly wish that they had continued to remain a mystery for me — and for the only two people I held dear in this world — that was not to be. My name, placed without my permission on the contract now spread across Ember’s desk, irrevocably associated me with the vampires — a part of the magical world universally feared and scorned by the rest of the magically Adept.
Ignoring me, Ember shuffled through her notes. “I’ve uncovered accountings of such contracts, though. Written histories. I apologize for it taking so long when you’re on a relatively tight timeline, but I had to dig deep. Others have taken notes, though they had no more luck replicating the exact wording of the contract than I have.”
One of the first things I discovered upon meeting with Ember three months ago was that the contract completely blanked out if anyone else touched it while I was more than a few feet away. The second unfortunate discovery was that no copies could be made, magical or otherwise.
“The senior partners are still incredibly excited about it,” Ember said. “I’ve managed to contact every one of them, and from Washington State to New York to Amsterdam and London, they’ve all confirmed that it’s unbreakable.”
“But I didn’t sign it!”
“Your coven leader must have a talent for true naming, then, or for tying spells to specific targets. Because usually the names have to be spoken out loud during the construction of a spell. Oh! Maybe he did evoke your names while he was inking them.” Ember grabbed her pen and excitedly jotted down more notes to herself on a legal pad. “That’s more of a sorcerer-held talent, of course. But the magic contained in the parchment, let alone the ink and the specific wording, is remarkable. So perhaps whoever drafted it aided your uncle with the binding.”
I sat down, suddenly unable to keep pacing the office for another moment. Three months later, and I still couldn’t believe that I was once again entangled in my uncle’s machinations. He’d found a way to reach me, to rip away the freedom I’d sacrificed everything to obtain. He’d insinuated himself into my carefully constructed life simply by jotting my name on a piece of parchment.
To be continued …
I’m launching the Tangled Echoes release week festivities with a live reading on my Facebook Page of Catching Echoes, book one in the Reconstructionist Series this upcoming Thursday, April 27 at 6pm PDT/9pm EDT. YAY!
I’ll be giving away ebooks of Catching Echoes and eARCS of Tangled Echoes, as well as series postcards. And, everyone who asks me a question or participates in the live event will be entered into a giveaway for an autographed paperback of Catching Echoes. The winner will be drawn by random number generator after the reading.
So pop by my Facebook Page on Thursday and comment on the live feed if you have a moment.
Do not read if you haven’t read Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1) yet.
Tangled Echoes (Reconstructionist 2)
I was pacing. Again. Despite the early hour, my mind was already whirling with unarticulated thoughts and unanswered questions. The same as it had been for the past three months. That was why I was at the legal firm of Sherwood and Pine at eight in the morning on the eleventh of January. Seeking answers. For the seventh time.
Hence the pacing. And the ever-mounting frustration.
I strolled across the width of the brightly lit office for the umpteenth time, turning back at the front edge of the black leather sofa. Then, avoiding the matching set of chairs situated before the large oak desk inlaid with curly maple, I steadily wore the tightly woven beige carpet in the other direction.
I was aware that pacing made me appear weak, or worse, indecisive — though I was neither. Plus, the witch seated behind the desk wasn’t paying any attention to me.
As it had been for every single one of our previous visits, Ember Pine’s attention was riveted to the magical contract carefully laid out across her desk. I’d presented the magically imbued sheets of black-inked parchment to her three months before. Conveniently, her office was situated in a business tower a few blocks north of my apartment in downtown Seattle. Inconveniently, the only way she could read the document that had turned my entire life upside down was while I was in the room. The contract went blank if I was more than a few feet away.
Hence my perpetual pacing.
Ember’s straight-edged nose was so close to the page she was holding gingerly at the edges that her bluntly bobbed dark-auburn hair brushed against it. Wary of disturbing the magic embedded within the contract, she’d worn cotton gloves during my first three visits.
She was murmuring quietly, peering through her gold-rimmed glasses from the tiny black lettering of the contract to her notes as she worked through what had to be her third pass on the document this morning.
Seven visits. Thousands of dollars in legal fees. My life in the balance. And evidently, the application for membership into the vampire Conclave — signed by my uncle and presented to me by Kettil the executioner in my bathroom at the beginning of October — was unbreakable.
As in, on pain of death.
Ember unfortunately hadn’t been able to figure out yet whether that meant the demise of the signatories — aka Kett and my Uncle Jasper –- or if it also included the only other names remaining on the contract — Declan and me.
I was seriously hoping for the former, blaming the vampire for this predicament almost as much as I blamed my power-obsessed uncle for offering up the entire Fairchild coven ‘For Consideration.’ Presumably that was to cement the deal, though he wanted the immortality for himself.
Speaking of being obsessive, I’d prepared for each of these meetings with Ember almost as carefully as I would have if I’d been about to come face to face with my maker. Given the context of the contract, the dark humor of that sentiment wasn’t lost on me. But nevertheless, I had smoothed my blond hair into the simple French twist I favored, double-checking that my nails were perfectly French manicured and that my navy-blue tweed sheath dress was pristinely pressed.
I hadn’t seen the vampire since he’d given me the contract. And though I had no intention of reaching out to him myself, I kept expecting Kett to abruptly appear, demanding my acquiescence while I traversed the few blocks from my apartment to Ember’s building.
And when he didn’t, I ignored the nagging disappointment that lingered for the rest of the day.
To be continued …
I never got involved in the dirt and the details of an investigation. I never let my preconceptions muddy a reconstruction. And I steadfastly refrained from ever allowing my past to dictate my future.
At least until the one person I couldn’t lose went missing.
Because then I’d relive every dark moment of my childhood, confront every heartbreak, and even sell my soul if that was what it took to get her back.
Because I couldn’t accept a future — not even a promised one of immortality and unbridled power — that didn’t include one of the only two people I’d ever truly loved.
PREORDER NOW AVAILABLE
Each of the Reconstructionist novels is paired with a prequel short story narrated by another, often minor, character. The stories contain slight spoilers for the main books, so if that bothers you might choose to wait and read the shorts/novels out of order.
The prequel to Tangled Echoes (Reconstructionist 2) is Dawn Bytes. Everyone who preorders Tangled Echoes, and emails me proof of their preorder, will be sent a link to download the short story for free. FUN!
Every entry wins! To receive the short story, Dawn Bytes, email proof of preorder or library request/reservation and your preferred email address to email@example.com
Proof of preorder: email a screenshot and/or your actual electronic receipt (with any personal information struck out, if you wish). Please include your preferred email address, and check your spam folders if you don’t hear back within 72 hours. Email is the only way that preorders will be accepted.
Library reservation/request option: it may take a couple of weeks for your local library to get access to the preorder of Tangled Echoes (Reconstructionist 2) via Overdrive (or wherever else they get their ebooks). If that is the case, please feel free to email proof of reserving/requesting the first book in the series, Catching Echoes. All my ebooks are available to libraries for free via Overdrive, Library Direct, Baker & Taylor Axis 360, and Odilo.
Notes/Rules: OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. Every entry that follows the above guidelines will receive an ebook copy of the short story, Dawn Bytes. One entry per person. Email addresses are not collected for any purpose other than notifying the contest winner. No purchase necessary (see library reservation option).
Each email will be acknowledged within 72 hours. If you do not receive an acknowledgement please feel free to resend.
Giveaway closes THURSDAY MAY 5, 2017 at midnight PDT.
Are you new to the Adept Universe and/or the Reconstructionist Series?
Book one is Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1).
And here is the reading order of the Adept Universe.
Of a future without the trappings of the past.
All I had to do was abandon those who loved me.
All I had to do was die.
– Wisteria’s and Kett’s story continues in Tangled Echoes, Reconstructionist 2 on May 4, 2017.
Coming May 4, 2017
The Reconstructionist 2 preorder giveaway launches April 3, 2017.
While I’m not a fan of white chocolate personally – though I always requested a white chocolate Easter bunny when I was younger – Michael is, so I when I want to make a treat that is just for him I often do so with white chocolate.
I snapped some pictures so I could throw together a recipe for the blog at the same time. 🙂 Though – a reminder to my lovely readers – I’m not a chocolatier, just an amateur enthusiast.
Pistachio, Cranberry, and White Chocolate Bark
200 grams (0.44 pounds/approx. 7 ounces) white chocolate*
1/4 cup pistachios (shelled) (heaping)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (heaping)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the chocolate to a large heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove bowl from the heat, wiping the bottom (if you get any water in your chocolate it will seize). Stir chocolate until it is completely melted.
Mix in cranberries and pistachios.
Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, using the spatula to spread it to desired thickness. Sprinkle with extra nuts and fruit, if desired.
Refrigerate the baking sheet until the chocolate sets. Once the bark is firm, break it into pieces. Store in the refrigerator.
I had to shell the pistachios because I couldn’t find any unshelled! Remember that nuts do go bad so please use the freshest you can find.
*I used Zephyr by Cacao Barry (34% cocoa – a lightly sweet white chocolate with an intense milk taste). Feel free to switch out the chocolate but Michael gave this flavour combo a massive thumbs up.