I hope everyone’s been following our Blog tour (see a list of stops below the excerpt). We’ve had a lot of great bloggers host us, for which we’re all very grateful. Today,it’s my turn. I’ve decided to throw a bit of a teaser out and give you an excerpt from my novella Blood Tells All. I hope you enjoy it. Witch Hunt: of the Blood is available in either print or e-book versions at:
Alternatively, if you’d like a copy signed by yours truly, follow the link to the right.
Oh, and if you’d like to get to know the authors better, or ask us a question, stop in at Devin’s forum to Chat With the Authors.
Now, without further ado, a short excerpt from Blood Tells All:
Julia hated going downtown, an aversion that had nothing to do with traffic or crowds–neither of which Montvue had in excess–and everything to do with family. As she pulled through the wrought iron gates and up to the front of the Berris family mansion-slash-corporate headquarters, her stomach knotted.
The front door swung inward at her approach, and Corey Broadhurst, her brother’s personal assistant, met her on the porch.
“Good afternoon, Ms. Berris,” he greeted.
Julia scowled. “It’s Mrs. Hawthorne, Corey. It has been for nearly three years now.”
He inclined his head politely. “Of course.” Corey ushered Julia through the doorway and toward the elevator. “Mr. Berris is in his office.”
“Thank you,” Julia said. “But I prefer to take the stairs.”
Corey shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
Julia used the climb up the three flights of stairs to calm her jittery nerves and steel her resolve. Whatever her brother wanted, she wouldn’t oblige. Those days were done. They had to be. She had a growing family of her own now and no room in her life for Berris family manipulations. She took a deep breath and forced calm through her body. Time to cut ties, once and for all.
Julia’s skin began to tingle before she reached the third floor landing–a familiar sensation like cobwebs whispering across her flesh. An irritated growl rose in her throat, and she took the last several stairs as one. She didn’t bother to knock before she shoved Eric’s office door open.
A kitten rolled on the floor, snarling and hissing, its tail caught firmly in its teeth as it flailed about. Julia sucked in a quick breath. She risked its claws and scooped the animal off the floor. Stroking the silken fur, she soothed it with a quiet word, using her gift to break her brother’s hold on it. When the kitten began to purr in her arms, and the last trace of Eric’s manipulative magic slid from it, Julia set it down in the hallway and closed the door.
She whirled on her brother. “Why do you do that?”
Eric sat behind his vast expanse of desk, one leg draped over the arm of his chair, a glass of whiskey in his hand. “Exercise. You have to admit, it’s pretty damn impressive.”
“It’s cruel,” Julia said.
“You aren’t judging me, are you, Jules?”
Julia frowned and ignored his question. “What was so important you couldn’t just tell me over the phone?”
Her older brother ran his fingers through his dark, wavy hair, and studied her with eyes so deep brown they sometimes looked black –a trait he had inherited from their father.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. Is it such a bad thing that I want to see my little sister?” He shoved out of his chair and pulled Julia into a quick embrace. “We used to spend so much time together. What’s going on with you these days that you can’t stop in and say hi?”
“I have a family of my own now,” Julia said. “It keeps me rather busy.”
“Right. How is that nephew of mine?”
“He’s fine. As a matter of fact,” Julia cocked her wrist to look at her watch, “I’ve got to pick him up soon. What is it you wanted?”
“What’s his gift?”
Julia let out an exasperated sigh. “He’s barely a year old. I’m not even sure he has a gift.”
Her brother snorted. “The chances of that are next to none. Berris and Hawthorne—a double-shot of centuries old witch blood running through his veins—he’s going to be something, isn’t he?”
“He’s not going to be a Berris, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Ouch.” Eric put a hand to his chest above his heart. “That hurt.”
“You’ve got two minutes,” Julia said. “Either tell me why you dragged me down here, or I’m leaving.”
“Fine.” He freshened his drink and reclaimed his chair. “Mom was a little upset —- scratch that, a whole lot upset —- when she found out you’d had a saining without inviting any of us.”
Julia tensed. How had they even found out about that? “It was a private ceremony.”
“Was old lady Hawthorne in attendance?”
Julia hesitated. In some regards, not having her family present at Jason’s saining ritual had been the easiest decision she’d ever made.
“Is that what this is about? Mom wants a second saining so she can be part of it?”
“No, I talked her out of that. She just wants to see her grandson.”
Julia took a deep breath. “Look, we’ve had this conversation before. Your beliefs and mine— they don’t follow the same paths any more.”
“And you think they follow the Hawthorne’s path?” He snorted. “If you’re looking for spirituality, little sister, you’re stirring the wrong cauldron.”
“Maybe, at least they’re willing to try.” Julia tipped her chin up. “I’m sorry if it sounds harsh, but my son doesn’t need your kind of influence in his life.”
“My kind of influence?” Eric cocked a brow at her. “My kind of influence didn’t do you any damage growing up.”
“It certainly didn’t do me any good.”
“Because you’ve wanted for so much, right? Your life has been one giant struggle after another, is that it? Geezus, Jules, do you ever listen to yourself?”
“I never said I had it tough. But everything we have is because we’re witches. Because you and Dad used your gifts—everyone’s gifts—to intimidate and manipulate people.”
“And the problem with that is . . . what?”
“If I have to explain, you’re more lost than I thought.”
Eric rubbed his chin and studied Julia. “I’d thought once we got you out of college and away from that purist friend of yours—”
“Leave Culleen out of this.”
“You know, I’m beginning to think you’re being brainwashed or something. I can guarantee your precious Hawthornes have no qualms about using their gifts to further their position, so stop trying to convince everyone they’re so much better than us.”
“I never said they were.” Julia shook her head. Eric just didn’t understand. He didn’t have a child who made him look at things in a totally different way. “You wouldn’t get it.”
“You’re right,” he said. “I wouldn’t.”
The rest remained unsaid as the door opened and their mother walked in. Elaine Berris’s face brightened when she saw Julia.
“Julia! I thought that was your car out front.” She wrapped her daughter in a warm hug, and placed a light kiss on her cheek, then glanced around expectantly. “Where’s Jason?”
“She didn’t bring him,” Eric said. “We’re not good enough to be in her life.”
“I didn’t say that,” Julia protested.
“I’m sure you didn’t,” Elaine said, but the disappointment on her face tugged at Julia’s heart. “Sometimes there isn’t a need for words.”
“Mom, it’s not like that.” Julia glared at Eric and he shrugged in response. “I just—”
“Don’t worry about it, dear. Perhaps you could bring him to the ritual?”
Julia wrinkled her brow, and looked from her mother to Eric and back again. “What ritual?”
Eric looked up at their mother from the papers on his desk. “I hadn’t gotten around to that yet.”
“I told you I wouldn’t be available anymore,” Julia said.
“But our circle is already so small,” her mother said. “Without your energy alongside ours—we don’t have anyone to replace you, Julia.”
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“And yet we’re supposed to believe she doesn’t think she’s better than us?”
“Gods, Eric, stop twisting everything I say to suit your purposes.” Julia clenched her hands into fists, and bit back a scream of frustration. She turned to her mother. “When is the ritual, and what’s it for?”
Elaine smiled. “Next new moon. So you’ll come?”
“What’s it for?”
“Honoring dad’s memory,” Eric said. “You can manage to stoop down to our level to do that, can’t you, sis?”
Julia felt the urge to stoop to Eric’s level and punch him. “I’ll think about it. Anything else?”
“I guess not.”
“You’ll bring Jason?” Elaine persisted.
“No, Mom. Not then.”
Tears brimmed in her mother’s hazel eyes. She looked toward the window and blinked them away. “Do you hate me so much?”
Julia pursed her lips and threw her arms around her mom’s shoulders, pulling her close. “I don’t hate you. We’ll set up a time to visit, I promise.”
Elaine pulled away, wiping a hand across her damp cheeks. She managed a faint smile. “Thank you,” she whispered, and took Julia’s hand in hers. “Come on, I’ll walk you out.”
“Bear in mind, sister dear,” Eric said, before they reached the door. “Blood tells all. The same blood you think to turn your back on taints your children as well. What does the ol’ grande dame of Hawthorneness think of that, hmm?” Julia half-turned to look at him, but Eric didn’t bother to look up from his desk. “Her son married to the likes of you. Her grandson, impure. The old woman must be beside herself.”
Julia jumped at the sharp tone in her mother’s voice, and Eric’s mouth compressed into a hard line, but he didn’t say anything else.
“Ignore him, dear,” Elaine said as they walked from the office, leaving him brooding like a storm on the horizon. “He gets surly when he’s got a lot on his mind. He’s so like your father.”
Blog Tour Stops To Date:
A nice mention on Llewellyn’s Publishing website
A fantastic review by Sean Hayden that’s as entertaining to read as the story itself
J. A. Campbell’s interview with the authors
Anne Michaud and Krista Walsh chat on Musings & Little Obsessions
A fantastically fun Q&A with Jen Wylie
A preview of Krista Walsh’s novella at The Raven’s Quill
An excerpt from Devin O’Branagan herself at her Blog.
And a great question and answer from the awesome Colin F. Barnes.