Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do You Believe in Magic?

I do.  Because after six long, LONG years... I have a new story that I'm in love with.

Today marks the publication of The Magician's Assistant, a novelette about darkness, desire, atoning for bad decisions... and, yes, real, bone-deep magic.

It all starts when a young man named Rain answers an employment ad.  Seeking, the ad reads, a discreet young man to assist master magician in live performances.  Apply in person...

But when Rain arrives, he finds himself interviewing for far more than a job.  This magician is no charlatan.  He's as hard and cold as his magic, magic than can send a sword through a man's heart and leave it beating.  To take that sword, his assistant must possess unique qualities.  Obedience.  Loyalty.  Trust.  And maybe... love.

If Rain can give all that, and somehow persuade the magician to offer it back, he might just find the life he's been searching for.

The Magician's Assistant is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, iTunes, and just about everywhere else ebooks are sold.

And now, being properly exhausted, I shall leave you with an excerpt.

**Adult material - not for readers under 18**

“Are you quite comfortable?”

Rain smiled slightly.  His spine stretched unnaturally against the drag of his own body, his toes just barely brushing the floor.  Chains ground against his wrist bones, and already the strain made his shoulders ache, set his arms on fire.  “Not… exactly.”

The magician nodded.  He adjusted neither chain or hook.

And that, at least, was exactly what Rain had expected of him.  His smile hardened.  So the magician wanted to hurt him?  Good.  He could handle it.

The magician circled him, chin tipped down.  His hair fell forward to shadow his gaze.  “The sword,” he said, “is a tool in many tricks of illusion.  But this is not a trick.  I do not practice illusion; my business is magic.  Do you believe in magic, boy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“In truth?”

“I believe, sir.”

“Then if I were to put this blade through your belly, you believe that I could do so without causing harm to your body?”

Rain sucked in a labored breath.  “Yes, sir.”

“There is only one matter remaining then.  Trust.”  The corner of the magician’s mouth lifted in an acerbic half-smile.  He bent to retrieve the mended scarf he’d set aside earlier.  It trailed silken and sin black from his hands.  “Do you trust me, boy?”

Rain stared at the scarf.  In four years, he had never been blindfolded.  It was his only hard limit, the one thing he would not allow.  He would do anything, give himself over to anything—as long as he could see it coming.

This was his last chance to walk away.  Even with the shut door and the chains locked around him, the magician was giving him one final chance to leave unscathed.

But he couldn’t.  Because there was the word, trust, and that was what it all came down to.  Did he trust this man?

Arctic eyes gazed back at him with scarcely veiled amusement—and challenge.  The gaze and the half-bitter smile told him he was a fool to trust.  Rain thought he might be just that, because for the life of him, he couldn’t walk away now.

“Yes, sir.”  He let his eyes slide shut.  “I trust you, sir.”

The air stirred in hot currents as the magician stepped in close.  Silk whispered against Rain’s cheek and then settled into place over his eyes.  He could smell the other man on the fabric, a scent of orange and clove that teased him, that made him wish for the touch of impossibly warm skin against him.  His heart beat hard and fast.  But the magician didn’t touch him.  Not yet.

It was cold steel that found his skin.  Cold steel that touched and kissed him.  Not slicing, not stabbing, though his body reacted as if it did,  muscles contracting in an instinctive effort to pull him out of harm’s way.  Instinctive and futile, as the chains clanked and pulled tight at his wrists.  The sword went on as if he hadn’t moved at all, the tip of it grazing the ridge of his hipbone, rising to slowly count his ribs.  Light as a breath, the blade traced over his chest, circling each nipple with a deliberate closeness that made Rain’s breath catch.

“And still you trust me?” the magician murmured.

Rain forced a hard exhale.  “Yes.”

The rapier stroked a straight line down from the center of his chest, sharp point coming to rest in the indent of his navel.

“And now?”

A flush crept up Rain’s neck.  His groin flooded with heat.  “Yes.  Always.”

“Good,” the magician said, and pushed the sword forward...


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Waiting for the Sun

It occurs to me this morning that I have spent a great many nights sitting awake with my heart pounding, waiting for some sign that the sky is lightening, that dawn is coming.  Which is strange, because I'm not afraid of the night.  I find it quite lovely and peaceful.  The vast spread of glittering constellations,  the ghostly arc of the moon.  The call of whippoorwills and the great horned owl that lives in my yard, the wild shrieking of a passing coyote pack.  These are the things I love about the nocturnal hours.

Things I don't love:

Bears.  Last summer I was alone at my family's mountain cabin, getting ready to take the dogs for their 10pm walk, when a snuffling sound outside alerted me to the presence of two half-grown black bears in the yard, scarfing down seeds I'd stupidly left out for the chipmunks.  I scared them as badly as they scared me, and they bolted.  Probably to sleep somewhere nice and cozy.  I however, stayed awake all night, jumping at every noise and shining flashlights out into the woods, positive they were going to send their mama bear to get me.  (They did not.)

Door-to-door salesmen.  You hear all kinds of horror stories about criminals pretending to be salesmen in order to gain access to your house.  So when I encounter one who's a bit too chatty - oh, do you live alone here, ma'am? - I immediately assume they are canvasing the neighborhood and will return under cover of darkness with crowbars, locksmith kits, and bad intentions.  Which means... I stay up all night, all week, with lights blazing and special booby traps set up in front of the front door to alert me in case I actually do fall asleep.

Also, freezing weather.  I never feared this until this winter.  But then, for the last seven years I've lived in a Manhattan apartment building where the big winter problem was that they cranked the heat up to eighty.  Here in the country?  Pipes freeze.  Even, apparently, if you leave the hot and cold water dripping overnight.  Hence you wake up at three in the morning to use the bathroom and discover that your upstairs cold water pipe has frozen.  Hence you spend the next several hours wide awake, terrified your pipe (which is buried somewhere in the wall) is going to burst, your landlord is going to make your pay for it, and oh, yeah, he's going to kick you out while you're supposed to be watching the place for your mother who's spending six months in rehab after having part of her leg amputated.

Hence I am awake this morning, exhausted, and still trying to warm my house up enough to thaw this goddamned pipe.  Did I mention the electric heat chose last night to stop working?  And we are expecting a fresh snowstorm to commence in three... two... one...

And, hence, I was awake once again to watch as the night lightened to gray, and color crept slowly back into the world.  Dawn is, possibly, the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

If it's common knowledge that that darkest hour comes right before the dawn... I will be here.  Waiting up for it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tequila Is the New Tequila

So, Tequila Angel.  It was first published in 2009 but had been up on FictionPress before that, and readers seemed to either love it or loathe it.  I loved it, but you know I'm biased.  It was a little bit of an experiment, originally written in second person over the long boring hours when there was nothing to do at my then-job.  The style was heavily influenced by all the Sin City graphic novels I was reading at the time.  If, of course, the Sin City series had featured gay rock stars having sex instead of thugs and dames with guns.  So, yes, it's overblown.  But I still love it, possibly because the main character Dave is my truest alter ego thus far.  I love Dave.  He's a dick.  But naturally that's because he's so misunderstood and vulnerable deep down inside.  Right???

In any case, I want to make Tequila Angel available across all platforms, but have to wait for its current enrollment period in KDP Select to expire.  So of course I thought, why not use up the last of the freebie days in the meantime?  Who doesn't love free?  I love free.  I have a gazillion free books from BEA, RT, and RWA, not to mention free kindle books, that I'm still trying to slog through from 2014.  So yes.  By all means, let's do THE FREE THING.

Have you any desire to do so, you can snag a free copy of the short story over here on Amazon, from today through Sunday, February 8th.  And if you are lamenting because you have no kindle/kindle app, fear not, I shall imminently announce availability on Nook and other platforms.

This is the incorrigible and ever hopeful L.F. Blake, signing off.