June 29, 2014

M.L. Guida’s News: The Romance Reviews Sizzling Summer Reads

Welcome to my blog! Today I have a snippet of A Pirate’s Revenge which will be released in July 2014. For all of you participating in The Romance Reviews Sizzling Summer Reads, you will find out what magical creature William O’Brien turns into:  a) a vampire, b) a kraken, c) a werewolf or d( a dragon? Good luck! If you leave a comment on my blog, I will be giving out a novella.

 

A snippet of A Pirate's Revenge

A snippet of A Pirate’s Revenge

A red-hot pain struck William O’Brien’s gut and he gasped. He doubled over and tried to breathe.

“Are you well?” Doc asked, his voice filled with concern.

William panted and tried to speak, but words failed to form as if invisible large hands choked his throat. He managed to blurt out. “No.” He sat on the double bed. A fiery sweat beaded his skin, his clothes plastering against him like molten tar. “I’m so hot.” He inhaled deep breaths in effort to remain calm. “Doc, can you open the window?”

Doc clasped his shoulder. “William, you’re growin’ pale.”

William motioned with his hand. “Please open the damn window.”

Doc unlatched the French window and pushed open the sides. “Feel better?”

“No, I can’t breathe.”

Doc put his hand to William’s forehead. “You’re hotter than a burning coal in hell.”

“I’ve got to take my shirt off. Bloody hell, my pants are melting into my skin.” Sweat dripping into his eyes, William shed his shirt and tossed it on the floor and then wrenched off his boots. He leaned over and put his elbows on his knees, resting his head in his palms.

“William?”

“I’m dying, Doc. I’ve never felt this hot.” He unbuckled his belt and stripped out of his pants. “What’s happening to me?”

“Maybe da curse is different with you.”

“Not what I wanted to hear. Grand, just grand.”

Doc grabbed a pitcher off the dresser and poured water into a cup. “Here, drink, lad.”

William could hardly take a sip, his hands trembled so badly. The tepid water trickled down his throat, but his stomach revolted as if he had swallowed sea water. He spit it out onto the floor and dropped the cup. Spasms gripped his gut. He bent over and moaned, but his moan changed into a screech.

“’Tis da curse, lad. I’m sorry.”

William shook his head. His long hair fell and stuck to his wet face.

Breathe.

He toppled off the bed on his hands and knees. He arched his back and yelled. The pain was excruciating, unbearable. Muscles twisted, bones cracked and moved beneath his skin as if they were stretching, increasing in size, growing. His skin constricted tighter and tighter.

“My God,” Doc whispered. “Your back…”

William’s shoulders bulged. He threw his head back in agony. Something twisted around in the middle of his back as if a sword pierced bone, tissue and organs. What had Lark done to him? “Something…is…inside me, Doc,” William said, his voice strained. Another burst of pain silenced him, then slowly subsided. He hissed. “Stop it. Before—”

Another wave of torture ripped through him and stomped out his thought.

“I don’t know what to do, lad.”

William’s arms gave way, and he fell onto his stomach. The cold wooden floors failed to cool his sweltering body. A memory of swimming with Kane in a freezing lake on his father’s land in Ireland on a summer day popped into his mind. He wished he could throw himself into the icy water now.

Something tore through the flesh of his back. He cried out in anguish, but his screams sounded more like a vulture’s shriek.

Black wings flapped back and forth, and chilly air swirled over his body. He had wings! What kind of vampire was he?

He shuddered. Tears welled in his eyes.

Footsteps thudded down the hall. Someone pounded on the door. “Doc!”

Kane.

The door slammed open. Kane and Hannah burst into the room.

William turned his head, glad his hair prevented him from seeing his beautiful Hannah. He didn’t want her see him like this, to see the disgust and horror in those brown doe eyes. But he couldn’t help sneaking a peak, only to see her edging closer to Kane and a familiar loss gripped him. She had chosen Kane over him.

His face grim, Kane gripped his sword. “Bloody hell.”

Bones crunched, and William’s nose contorted, growing longer and longer and longer. He swept his tongue along a mouth of razor-sharp teeth.

Hannah grabbed Kane’s arm. “Kane, what’s—”

Kane yanked his arm free and stepped in front of her. “Hannah, get back.”

She slipped around him, her face white. “Kane, he’s turning into a…a…a dragon,” she said, her voice tiny.

No, it couldn’t be. But William was powerless to stop it. Fingers elongated and curled under, turning into talons. His legs lengthened and his chest broadened. Before his very eyes, his skin transformed into black and green scales.

Freedom. A strange voice rang in his head, announcing the word like a trumpet. ’Twasn’t his own. Now, he was hearing bloody voices. Who’s voice was it? Zuto’s? Lark’s?

William’s gut grumbled. His mouth watered. He was hungry. Not just mildly hunger. ’Twas a hunger that made him weak as if he had been lost at sea and starving for weeks.

Kane lowered his sword and took a step. “William, I promise I’m not going to hurt you. Can you hear me?”

Hannah pulled on Kane’s arm. “Kane, stay back. He’ll kill you.”

Her lower lip trembled. Doc pulled his blade slowly out of the sheath. Every muscle in William’s body tightened. He wanted to hide and avoid their stares. He read their faces. Monster. How many times had he recoiled from Kane and his men? This time he was the hideous monster. The abomination. The beast.

“He’s my brother.” Kane pulled free of Hannah’s grip.

William would never hurt his brother. But he couldn’t be sure the dragon inside him wouldn’t.

William crashed through the window and glass spattered around him. The slivers of glass plummeted toward the busy street below, pelting carriages, horses, men and women. Terrified people ran for cover, shielding their eyes with their palms.

Wings flattened against his back, he plunged head-first toward the ground. He gnashed his teeth and stretched out his arms over his head, ready to feel pain. Air whirled around him, and his fingertips brushed dirt. Dust clouded his vision, and grime coated his lips. He coughed and gagged.

Wings flapped, and he was soaring into the air. God almighty!

“The devil’s heading for the sky!” cried a man.

Below, people pointed. “’Tis a demon.”

“No, ’tis a dragon. Run for your lives.”

Panic and fear heralded from their voices. An urge to devour fresh raw meat consumed William.

Slay.

The frightened darted across the dusty street into buildings, but some brave fools aimed and fired their weapons. Bullets whipped past him. He roared, and to his surprise, fire burst from his mouth. He swooped down and men scattered. A white horse tethered to a post whinnied as its eyes rolled backwards. It bucked and pulled on the reins.

Ravage.

William released a high pitch cry and people covered their ears. He landed upon the bucking horse, digging his talons into its flesh. Blood squirted onto his body, soaking him. He bit into the horse’s neck and tore out a mound of flesh. Warm juices squished in his mouth and trickled down his throat. The tender meat was more succulent and moist than any roasted beef or Irish mutton he’d ever eaten. Raw muscle melted in his mouth and soothed his aching belly.

Gunfire cracked and fiery pain hit his shoulder. He jerked his head around. Men approached. Some peered from behind wagons. Others pressed against buildings. All had muskets trained on him.

William wanted to tell them to run to hide. The hunger—God ’twas unbearable. Rather than uttering the words, he screeched, and fire burst from his mouth.

“William, no!” Kane yelled from the window above. “Get out of there before they kill you.”

Beneath him, the horse lay dead. Exposed bone and mangled flesh and blood coated the ground. He was knee-deep in gore.

Muskets fired again. A stinging pain stabbed his back, silencing his breath. Agony blinded him, and he wailed, a wounded wolf howl. An arrow punctured his upper back, just above his wing.

Fear and hate reflected in the men’s eyes, and they inched toward him. William shuddered and jumped into the twilight sky. Air soared around him and he was surprised at how easy ’twas to move his new muscles, as if he’d flown for years. His wings were graceful and his body balanced. But after the encounter with the townspeople, weariness seeped inside him, and each time he flapped his wings, the arrow crept deeper into his tight muscles. Pain throbbed in his shoulder, and he flew erratically. He wanted to rest, but not by the town. He couldn’t face the townspeople, the crew, his brother, Hannah.

He needed some place high, a place hard to find, a place to hide his shame. The mountains. He’d lose himself inside a cave. His stomach was full and heavy. How could he have killed that poor terrified beast? He, who had condemned Kane, was now a true monster. A killer. A dragon.

Below, Tortuga’s buildings diminished as he rose high into the sky. He sped over dark meadows, lush trees, waterfalls and rocky cliffs. The wind rushed over him. The dreaded rising moon laughed at him. Long, dark shadows appeared behind trees and boulders.

William aimed for a black hole in one of the highest peaks. He hoped the cave nestled between jagged rocks was empty. He landed on a narrow ledge and waddled inside. He could barely keep his eyes open and wanted to crawl away from the world, away from the angry townspeople, away from the crew, away from Kane and Hannah. Most of all, he wanted to hide from himself. What if this was permanent? What if he was no longer a man but a beast?

Damn Zuto. He’d find him and tear his flesh from his bones.

Curling his bulky body against the cold jagged wall, William rested his head on his forelegs and groaned. The arrow embedded deeper into his flesh. He twisted his head and gnashed at the arrow, but he couldn’t reach it. Every time he took a breath, anguish spread down his back, and the shaft seemed to move deeper into flesh. Maybe he deserved this. Maybe the arrow would kill him. Maybe this would put him out of his misery.

He lumbered deeper into the blackness. Against a wall, he slumped down and curled into a tight ball. Tears wet his cheeks. He was worse than a vampire. He was a dragon.

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