Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sneak Peek #1: Dawn of the Red Sun

For those who are curious to see what I'm working on, I'm starting a series of "Sneak Peeks" at my works in progress. My first sneak peek puts Dawn of the Red Sun in the spotlight. This is Book 3 in my Sunscapes Trilogy (scifi/romance)--Book 1 is Last Chance and Book 2 is Here There Be Dragons, just released this past Fall. I'd love to hear what you think, so feel free to comment!

Sunscapes Trilogy
This series is about the epic struggle between two mega companies, deciding the fate of the entire galaxy. The Endgame has begun, pitting Shay Enterprises against Quasicore—the Shay twins, mysterious and dangerous, weave a seductive web for their ruthless, lethal opponent, Webster Griffin, whose hunger for power and control might just destroy all civilization.
Dawn of the Red Sun centers on dark and deadly Kai Shay and Griffin's cool and clever daughter, Liaena. Set on opposite sides of the conflict, their fatal attraction for one another lends a sharp edge to their determination to win at all costs.

Dawn of the Red Sun
Sunscapes Trilogy Book 3


Liaena remembered with crystal clarity the day the Shays came to visit, fixed the fountain, and destroyed an entire art collection. She’d only met them once before, but they’d made an impression—she’d bruised Manakai Shay’s shin for insulting her.

The day of the fountain, she met them again with a sense of dislocation. Years older, they hardly seemed the same children. Her resentful memory of them shriveled in the face of their impossible beauty and charm. Then again, she was not the same either. Her fierce fire had faded, dampened by her father’s endless cold lessons on proper behavior and obedience.

Their father was still as she remembered, a tall, lanky man with ink-dark hair and a reserved smile. His eyes held the same warm green twinkle as his children’s, as if mischievous thoughts ran rampant behind his composed face. He spoke to Liaena’s father with such amazing, fearless ease.

Webster Griffin terrified everyone. Including Liaena. She’d never seen anyone treat him with less than absolute deference. Fascinated, she watched without really hearing their words, studying their calm confidence keenly. Didn’t they know her father was dangerous? Or did they know something she didn’t?

Her father’s heavy hand on her shoulder startled her out of her thoughts. “Daughter, be a good hostess and show the young Shays our Aqualyr.” Then he turned away with Ezekiel Shay, leaving her alone with the twins.

She said nothing at first, unsettled by the adults’ abrupt departure. The twins watched her with their unnerving cat-green eyes and identical faint smiles. They were older than her, taller, intimidating. She wasn’t sure what to do.

“Are you going to kick me again?” Manakai asked with a curious tilt of his dark head.

Liaena straightened with as much dignity as she could muster, face burning. Remembering her father’s lessons, she said, “Of course not,” in an even tone.

Sinsudee slanted her brother a quick look, smile deepening. “Aena, what’s an Aqualyr?”

Liaena blinked at her, distracted. Was that a nickname? But didn’t people use nicknames when they liked someone? She wasn’t sure—she’d never been around other children. “Um, it’s the Water Room. One of Father’s art collections. All the pieces are made of water or have water in them. It’s this way.”

She headed uncertainly down the corridor then gained confidence when they followed her. They moved so quietly, though, she had to keep checking to make sure they were still behind her.

“I like art,” Sinsudee offered in a soft, lyrical voice.

“I’d rather slice,” Manakai said. “Is this water room any fun?”

Liaena shot him a puzzled look. “Fun?”

“Yeah, fun. Like games, a slide maybe. Or hey, it’d be fun to chuck things at my sister. Got any water balloons?”

“You’re a booger, Kai,” Sinsudee declared easily, smirking.

Liaena reached the entrance to the Aqualyr, turning to them with a frown. “What’s a water balloon?”

“What’s a—?” He gaped at her, which should have made him look dumb but didn’t.

“Close your mouth, brother,” Sinsudee said absently, her green eyes studying Liaena with a troubled edge. “What do you do for fun, Aena?”

Having no answer, Liaena shrugged and silently opened the door, waving them through. She watched them as they entered, waiting for the gasps of amazement, the awe and avarice the opulent water room usually wrung from visitors. But the Shays only glanced around with mild curiosity at the hangings, sculptures, and framed art.

“Huh.” Manakai stopped next to the ornate marble fountain in the center of the room, hands on narrow hips. He sent Liaena a grim look. “No slides.”

“This one’s pretty,” Sinsudee commented, gesturing to a water sculpture held together by a film of glowing multicolored energy. “Looks like an angel. I don’t get that one, though.” She pointed to a tangle of tubes with colored fluid bubbling through them, and then made a face over her shoulder. “Is it supposed to look like a pile of guts?”

Liaena felt a strange sensation in her chest like a bubble trying to escape and realized it was the urge to laugh out loud, something she hadn’t done in a long time. They weren’t afraid of her father and they weren’t impressed by his wealth. Her father flaunted this collection but it bored and grossed them out. Crushed under a wave of youthful admiration, she swallowed her laugh and watched them with wide eyes.

“Your fountain’s busted,” Manakai announced, staring at the thin streams of water gurgling apathetically out of hidden spouts. Then his face brightened. “I can fix that.”

Sinsudee winced and swiveled toward her brother. “Um, Kai…”

Manakai bent, searching the base of the fountain. “Just have to find the control panel—yes! Here it is.”

“We’re not supposed to touch things—” Liaena said on a surge of alarm when a panel slid open under his fingers.

“Seriously, brother, this is not a good idea.”

Manakai knelt next to the fountain, studying the panel display with an absorbed expression. “Told you, I can fix it. Dad says I have a natural talent.”

Moving behind him, Sinsudee bent and frowned over his shoulder at the display, her hair cascading forward in a rush of blue-black silk. “Dad was just being nice. You break things more than you fix them.”

“Oh shut it, Sinsi. This thing reads like there’s low pressure. Bet it’s the regulator.”

“It’s just slow not broken,” Liaena tried feebly. “I’m sure maintenance could—”

“Why wait?” Manakai said, shooting her a dazzling smile. “We’re here now. Just gotta find that regulator.”

Sinsudee reached over his shoulder and touched the display, pointing when a schematic of the fountain appeared. “It’s right there. But I’m pretty sure that’s not the problem.”

“Bet me.” He closed the panel and sidled along the edge of the fountain, opening a different slot. “Who put his own slicer together from parts?”

“Oh sure, you did a great job. Does it fly yet?” Sinsudee scoffed. But though her tone was full of sisterly contempt, she didn’t stop him from sticking his hand inside the fountain, crouching to get a look for herself.

Manakai glowered at his twin and mumbled, “Bad parts.” Then his expression lightened, eyes gleaming with triumph. “I found it! Okay, gimme a sec…”

Liaena stared at the two of them, nonplussed. Her father had given her a simple order. How had it gotten so out of hand? Yet she couldn’t stop watching them, absorbing everything about them. Having spent most of her isolated life with adults who either ignored or avoided her, these two were an exotic revelation. They glowed with energy like mini-suns, fearless and vibrant. They reminded her of her mother’s island, of the beaches that had been her playground, of warm light and life.

“There!” Manakai bounded to his feet with athletic grace and made a theatrical ta-da gesture. The fountain rumbled oddly, the gurgle of water lurching to a foaming stream. “Your fountain is fi—”

Water exploded from the spouts, spraying in all directions.

“—ixed,” Manakai sputtered, turning his face away and holding up a hand to ward off the deluge.

Liaena clapped her hands over her mouth, staring in frozen horror at the catastrophe unfolding before her. The water pressure was so great it knocked sculptures off stands, hangings and frames off walls. It ricocheted off the ceiling and drenched the entire room. Cold water soaked her hair, her clothes, dripping down her face like ice tears.

Then Sinsudee laughed. The sound held no malice, no ridicule, just pure humor and lyrical delight. She held out her arms, looking down at her water-logged self. “Kai, you’re an idiot!” she chortled then stepped forward, angled her hand in one of the streams, and hosed down her brother.

He yelped in gleeful outrage and splashed her back. They chased one another around the fountain, laughter ringing through the small room.

Liaena found herself giggling behind her hands, shivering with cold and terrified wonder. The Shay twins had taken disaster and turned it into a playground without a hint of fear for what they’d done. Weren’t they worried about what their father would say, what he would do to them? Instead they were having…fun.

A small part of her remembered what that was and stirred. Warmth spread through her, as though she was dancing on a beach again, listening to her mother’s laughter.

“Aena, grab him!” Sinsudee called in a light, breathless voice. “We’ll show him fixed…”

The door slid open and Liaena froze again, ice shooting like white lightning through her heart. Their fathers stood on the threshold, expressions blank with surprise. Liaena’s father touched a control next to the door. The fountain gasped and died.

For a moment, silence held, broken only by the drip of water off every surface.

Then Ezekiel Shay said in a low, rueful tone, “Oh, Sun’s Blood,” and his children stepped forward together, their laughter gone.

“Sorry, Mr. Griffin, I was just trying to fix—”

“—I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t—”

“—fountain wasn’t working right, so I thought—”

“—never listens, he’s always trying to—”

“—tweak it a little, it’s a mess but—”

“We’ll clean it up,” they said in unison.

“Web, I apologize for my children.” Mr. Shay was gazing at the twins, hands clasped behind his back. Liaena searched his features for disapproval, anger, malice. All she saw was mild censure and furtive amusement. “At this age, they’re twin typhoons. I’ll reimburse you for any damages, of course.”

“No need,” Liaena’s father said with a chuckle, casting an indulgent smile on the twins. But she saw the chill in his eyes and shuddered. “We did send them off to entertain themselves, though this wasn’t quite what I had in mind.” That hard, icy stare flicked to Liaena long enough to freeze her heart with the promise of painful punishment.

Ezekiel Shay made a sound of amusement, his gaze moving to her as well, though his eyes twinkled warmly. “Don’t be too hard on your daughter, Web. Not much can stop these two when they get rolling and I doubt very much she helped.”

“Oh, no,” Sinsudee said hurriedly, stepping forward and sending Liaena an anxious glance. “Aena didn’t do anything.”

Manakai volunteered, “She tried to tell me to leave it alone.”

“Well, there you go,” their father said, mouth twitching with the beginnings of a smile. “Sin, Kai, apologize to your hostess for the trouble you caused her.”

Liaena realized she still had her hands clasped over her mouth and dropped them, shuffling nervously as the Shay twins approached. She tried to speak, to say they didn’t have to apologize, but her voice failed her. Sinsudee reached her first, wrapping her in a gentle hug. Liaena made a squeaking sound, body stiff with shock.

“I hope you’ll forgive us,” Sinsudee whispered in her ear. “And if you want to kick Kai again, that’s okay with me.”

She let Liaena go with a muffled snicker, stepping aside for her brother. Liaena stared up at Manakai, wondering with dizzy horror if he was going to hug her too. Instead, he gave her a dazzling, charming smile and clasped her hand in his. His touch was shockingly warm.

“I’m really sorry, Aena. I hope you don’t get in too much trouble.” Then he bent and kissed her cheek, sending her world into a spin. “It was fun, though,” he whispered with a mischievous grin and a wink.

Then they left her there, wet and dripping, full of unnamed emotion, etching the day on her memory in bright, unbreakable lines.

~Dawn of the Red Sun will be coming soon~



No comments:

Post a Comment