Saturday, March 02, 2013

WHAT DARKNESS BRINGS Coming Tuesday, March 5th!

What Darkness Brings, the eighth book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, will be released this Tuesday. I thought you might like a sneak peek at the first chapter, so here it is....

Chapter 1

London: Sunday, 20 September 1812

The man was so old his face sagged in crinkly sallow folds and Jenny could see pink scalp through the thin white hair plastered by sweat to his head.

“The irony is delicious; don’t you agree?” he said as he slid a big, multi-faceted piece of blue glass down between the swells of her breasts. The glass felt smooth and cool against her bare skin, but his fingers were as bone-thin and cold as a corpse’s.

She forced herself to lie still even though she wanted desperately to squirm away. She might be only seventeen, but Jenny Davie had been in this business for almost five years. She knew how to keep a smile plastered on her face when inside her guts roiled with revulsion and an exasperated urge to say, Can’t we just get this over with?

“Think about it. ” He blinked, and she noticed he had no lashes fringing his small sunken eyes, and that his teeth were so long and yellow they made her think of the ratty mule that pulled the dustman’s cart. He said, “Once, this diamond graced the crowns of kings and nestled in the silken bosom of a queen. And now here it lies…on the somewhat grubby breasts of a cheap London whore.”

“Go on wit’ you,” she scoffed, squinting down at the pretty glass. “Jist because I’m a whore don’t mean I’m stupid. That ain’t no diamond. It’s blue. And it’s bigger than a bloody peach pit.”

“Much bigger than a peach pit,” agreed the old man as the glass caught the flickering light from a nearby brace of candles and glowed as if with an inner fire. His dark eyes gleamed, and Jenny found herself wondering what he needed a whore for, since he seemed more excited by his big chunk of blue glass than he was by her. “They say that, once, this stone formed the third eye of a heathen—”

He broke off, his head coming up as a loud pounding sounded at the distant front door.

Before she could stop herself, Jenny jerked. She was lying on her back on a dusty, scratchy horsehair sofa in the cavernous, decrepit parlor of the old man’s house. Most men took their whores in the back rooms of coffeehouses or in one of the city’s numerous accommodation houses. But not this man. He always had his whores brought here, to his spooky, cobweb-draped old mansion in St. Botolph-Aldgate. And he didn’t take them upstairs either, but did his business here, on the couch—which suited Jenny just fine, since she never liked being too far from a way out of trouble.

He muttered something under his breath she didn’t understand, although from the way he said it she figured it was some kind of curse. Then he said, “He wasn’t supposed to be here this early.”

He reared up, straightening his clothes. He’d had her strip down to her stockings and shift, which he’d untied so that it gaped open nearly to her waist. But he hadn’t taken off any of his own clothes, not even his fusty, old-fashioned coat or shoes. He glanced around, the blue chunk of glass held tight in one fist. “Here,” he said, gathering her stays, petticoat, and dress, and shoving them into her arms. “Take these and get in—”

The knocking sounded again, louder this time, as she slid off the couch with her crumpled clothing clutched to her chest. “I can leave—”

“No.” He moved toward the looming old-fashioned chimneypiece that stood at one end of the room. It was a fantastical thing of smoke-darkened wood carved into tiers of columns with swags of fruit and nuts and even animals. “This won’t take long.” He pressed something in the carving, and Jenny blinked as a portion of the nearby paneling slid open. “Get in here.”

She found herself peering into a dark cubbyhole some six or eight feet square, empty except for an old basket and a couple of ironbound trunks lined against one wall. “In there? But—”

His hand closed around her bare upper arm tight enough that she squealed, “Ow!”

“Just shut up and get in there. If you let out a peep, you won’t get paid. And if you touch anything, I’ll break your neck. Understood?”

She supposed he saw the answer—or maybe her fear—in her face, because he didn’t wait for her reply but thrust her into the little room and slid the panel closed. Whirling around, she heard a latch click as a thick blackness swallowed her. She choked down a scream.

The air in here was musty and old smelling, like the man and the rest of his house, only nastier. It was so dark she wondered how the blazes he thought she was going to steal something when she couldn’t see anything but a tiny pinprick of light about level with her head. She went to press one eye against the speck of light and realized it was a peephole, contrived to give a pretty good view of the room beyond. She watched as he nestled his pretty piece of glass inside a velvet-lined red leather box. Then he shoved the box in the drawer of a nearby console and yelled, “I’m coming, I’m coming,” as the knocking at the front door sounded again.

Jenny took a deep, shaky breath. She’d heard about hidden cupboards like this, in old houses. Priests’ holes, they called them. They had something to do with Papists and such, although she’d never quite understood what it was all about. She wondered what would happen to her if the old goat never came back to release her. And then she wished she hadn’t wondered that, because it made the walls seem to press in on her, and the blackness became so thick and heavy it felt as if it were stealing her breath and sucking the life out of her. She leaned her forehead against the wooden panel and tried to breathe in sucking little pants. She told herself that if Papists used to hide their priests in these cubbyholes, then they must have contrived a way for the panel to be opened from inside. She began feeling around for the catch, then froze when she realized the voices from the front hall were coming closer.

Pressing her eye to the peephole again, she watched as the nasty old codger backed into the room. He had his hands raised funny, sort of up and out to the side, like a body trying to ward off a ghost or something. Then she saw the pistol in the hands of the old man’s visitor, and she understood.

The old cove was talking fast now. Jenny held herself very still, although her heart thumped in her chest and her breath came so hard and fast it was a wonder they couldn’t hear it.

Then she heard a new pounding on the front door and someone shouting. The visitor holding the gun jerked around, distracted, and the old goat lunged.

The gun went off, belching flame and pungent smoke. The old man staggered back. Crumpled.

Jenny felt a hot stinging gush run down her legs and realized she’d just wet herself.


Linhie said...

Only 3 more days!

Thanks for the sneak peek! I'm so ready and contemplating being a bad student and playing hookie for a day. =D

LOgalinOR said...

Thank you for the preview of "what is to come" for WDB and whet our appetites for March 5th. I'm still amazed myself, that a year ago, at this time, I was just starting to read What Angels Fear. I was hooked and started reading the next books, in sequence. I almost stopped reading altogether with the breakup of Kat and Sebastian's longtime, passionate love affair. After mourning a time, I continued to read and become engrossed with Hero and Sebastian, under your writing and superb storytelling.
As a result, I did not have to 'wait' a year this time for your next book, as many of your fans and readers did. But thinking ahead, I cringe at even the thought of waiting a year for the next book after WDB.....sigh ; ((

Anonymous said...

Oh, how you tease. I can't wait. I'm a little distressed, however, as my day off was supposed to be Tuesday so I could read. I've had to move it to Friday. I'm not sure I can bear to wait, but I know once I start I won't be able to put it down. Hmmm....maybe I can try just a chapter or two a day. LOL - like that'll happen. Can't wait! Sabena

Unknown said...

I came across the Sebastian books about 4 years ago while looking for a different book in B&N. The cover of What Angels Fear caught my attention and I bought it instead. After finishing it, I immediately ordered the next two (and not so patiently waited for the releases of all the others). I then started in on the Tobie books. Love all the books; love your (y'all's) writing; can't wait for Tuesday!!

cs harris said...

Linhie, it really would be nice if they released the books on a weekend! I'm not sure why the publishing industry traditionally uses Tuesday as a release date.

LOgarlinOR, I always love it when I discover a series that already has lots of books out. And now you'll have a year until the next! I was under the impression they were going to release KINGS a month early since I had to turn it in by 1 February, but unfortunately they've decided to stick to the same old March pub date.

Sabena, that is rotten luck!

Unknown, thank you. It's interesting that it was the cover of ANGELS that caught you eye--it's always been one of my favorites.

Charles Gramlich said...

Intriguing opening. My mind is already whirling with possibilities!

Cez said...

So look forward to receiving my copy woohoo Carey

nana said...

*fangirl minute*
OMG!! I just received the book!!! BEST birthday present!!!!!
OMG Totally a surprise!! was saying I would not receive it before end of march!!! OMG I'm so happy!! (well I had bought the kindle version of course to read it soon it was out but) YAY I can read it one day before & on my Birthday!!! Woot!! I'm a happy bookreader!!
*end of my Fangirling minute* :)

Now I'm going to try not to read it too quickly & enjoy it, we have after all one year to wait for the next one. :)

Linhie said...

Nana... Fangirl/fanboy moments are more than welcomed. I'm just waiting for tonight or morelike tomorroe morning to get my kindle version. Or maybe my book is already delivered... I am all giddy with anticipation.

Anonymous said...

There is no Kindle version, is there?
I can't get the ebook in the UK anywhere!
UK Nook doesn't list it.
Why is this not issued as an ebook?!!!! All books are these days, it's so strange.

Linhie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linhie said...

Whoops, didn't mean to delete it...

@ Anonymous

There is definitely a Kindle version of "What Darkness Brings" in the US (I pre-ordered mine months ago). As for the UK, I am not sure if it is available - I don't see why it wouldn't though.

My question is when will it be released in audio? I love listening to Davina Potter!!

GOT WDB in the mail just now! NOTE TO FAMILY: I'll be in my room - DON'T YOU DARE BOTHER ME!

Anonymous said...

Can not see one on either as an Australian. Disappointing.

Jan Power said...

I am staying up tonight until the Kindle version downloads! I dasn't mark up the ARC and I'm itching to highlight my favorite parts ( in other words, a few prepositions and articles will be left as is). All best, Candy, I know it will be a smashing success!!!

PS How does it work...will there be a spoiler thread somewhere or do we just wait a good piece to allow time for us stalwarts to finish?


cs harris said...

Charles, that's always a good sign!

Cez, not long now...

Nana, I'm glad you didn't have to wait, but it is odd!

Linhie, I think they go out at midnight.

cs harris said...

Anon, there are weird rules regulating where they can and can't sell the ebooks. It's really a shame because a lot of readers in Europe and Australia would like to buy the ebook but can't. It doesn't make sense to me that they can sell the hard copy but not the electronic version.

Jan, I don't know; what do you suggest?

Anonymous said...

OK - only had time this morning for a quick read of the first three chapters before I have to get ready for work. It is just so fun to be reading about such beloved characters again. Had to already look up two things: Taffy and Walcheren fever. I'm in heaven!!! As far as the blog goes, maybe we can all restrain ourselves with specifics of the plot for about a week. That'll surely give us die-hards enough time to read it. Oh happy, happy day!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oops - forgot I'm anonymous in blogger. That last comment was from Sabena.

cs harris said...

Sabena, I'm glad you're enjoying it! I think I'm going to open up a new thread so that those who've read it can discuss it without fear.

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