Holy wow! With an incredible number of votes on both sides, Tristan won his first match in the NA Crush Tourney! Hugely! You guys are the BEST. FANS. EVER. The UK and the rest of Europe and then Australia kicked us off with a ginormous (as Dorian would say) lead before the US even woke up, and then the US brought it home. A worldwide effort! How freakin’ cool is that?!
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
Next week Tristan takes on #4 seed Rush from Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines. At #20 (last) seed and going up against a NYT bestseller, Tristan is the major underdog. But I have no doubt you all will give Rush a run for his money! If you want to get more involved, follow this link for information on Team #KnightRiders: http://alifeboundbybooks.blogspot.com/2013/06/cover-teaser-book-five-in-soul-saver.html
For now, Tristan and I want to show our appreciation for this win, as promised. Here’s a special scene, written from his point-of-view, to say “thank you.” Many readers have said they’d like to know what Tristan was going through all that time he was gone between Promise and Purpose. Well, here’s a small glimpse. Enjoy!
***WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
If you haven’t read Promise and Purpose, you probably don’t want to read this. It spoils A. LOT.
I stood in the center of the round cavern, my gaze locked on the wall in front of me where shadows and lights danced. Hearths filled with colorful flames circled the room and the Ancients’ throne-like chairs sat in front of them. Red eyes glowed from the dark hooded figures standing near the fires or sitting in the chairs. Those same eyes once appraised me. Those same demons once revered me as their star—their prizefighter. Now they glared at me with malice.
Wearing old, ripped-up cargo pants, combat boots and nothing else, I stood with my feet shoulder-width apart, my hands clasped behind my back, my eyes forward. But rather than throwing my shoulders back and jutting my chin up, I let them droop slightly. The way my pants hung low on my hips, I knew it looked like I’d lost weight. Of course, that was impossible and they knew that, but the effect was still there. I even flinched when Lucas spoke.
“Have you had a change of mind yet, Seth?” he demanded in the Ancients’ old tongue never used outside this chamber. His clear-blue eyes lasered into me, as if he could force my mind to alter to his will. I kept my face stone-still. Continued glaring at the wall. I’d given up on forcing them to call me Tristan years ago. “Ready to return to where you truly belong?”
“Always,” I said through a clenched jaw, responding in their language. I finally moved my eyes, cut my gaze to return his glare. “I belong with Alexis and the Amadis.”
Zardok, the Ancient Vampire, suddenly stood in front of me. His words filled the room like a loud bass drum, and his sour breath blew the hair back from my face. “YOU ARE A FOOL!”
I returned my focus to the wall, ignoring the disgusting bloodsucker. He returned to his chair just as fast as he’d come, his anger pulsing off of him in palpable waves.
Lucas clucked his tongue. “Tsk, tsk. Such a shame to have to keep doing this. But if you refuse to rejoin us, you leave me no choice.” He turned his back to me, his white-blond ponytail writhing like a snake between his shoulder blades. “We have a new potion, yes?”
One of the hooded figures by a hearth nodded. “And a spell along with it.”
Lucas raised his right hand to shoulder-height and snapped his fingers. Four werewolves surrounded me—two at my front, two close to my shoulders. A sorcerer stood in front of me, and I braced myself as he raised his staff and slammed it back on the ground.
A fiery current shot through my feet and into my body, an electric charge zinging through every nerve. My muscles seized, and I stifled a gasp. He brought the staff down again, and the pain racked through me once more. I nearly doubled over. The third time sounded like thunder cracking through the cavern. My gut clenched. My lungs seized. A growl rumbled in my throat as the instinctual urge to fight back rose from within, but I wouldn’t allow it. Instead, I let myself fall to my knees.
The sorcerer’s hand flicked. My back arched and my head fell back, forcing my bare chest upwards. The Weres—in their burly human forms—each took a limb to hold me down. Lucas stood over me, one hand grasping a foot-long, curved blade, its honed point dripping with some new poison for them to try on me.
“Where do you belong?” Lucas asked again.
“With the Amadis,” I said, my voice purposely hoarse.
“Wrong answer,” Lucas replied, and he thrust the blade into my chest.
I bit back another gasp of pain. Their potions were getting nastier, their spells meaner. This one hurt like a son of a bitch, acid pouring through the layers of skin. Again, I suppressed the urge to fight back.
“Who do you serve?” Lucas demanded, his voice rising as he held the knife half buried, the point very near my heart but unable to penetrate.
“God,” I rasped just as loud as him, ensuring everyone in the room heard me.
White-hot spikes of agony shot under the skin surrounding my heart. Fuuuuck! A shudder wracked my body as Lucas dug the knife in deeper and slid it downward. Breathing became more difficult to control and my chest rose shallowly as I began to pant. But even as he severed the skin and tendons, everything knitted back together right behind the blade. He pulled the knife out, then plunged it in again.
“Who—owns—you?” Lucas yelled as he pulled and plunged the knife between each word. A noise I couldn’t control rumbled in my chest—a growl of anger mixed with a groan of pain. When that was my only answer, he continued slicing my skin with the poison-covered blade, carving gashes into my chest, setting my nerves on fire. “WHO. OWNS. YOU?!”
“ALEXIS!” I finally bellowed. Pain blinded me. Electric current shot through my veins, seizing every muscle, before letting go. I fell forward to my hands, my breaths still coming in shallow pants. A thin sheen of sweat covered my face and body. I leaned back on my heels, and blood slid down my chest and over my tight stomach muscles, although the wounds had already sealed. My hair clung to the sides of my face and neck as I rolled my eyes up to look at Lucas and lifted the corner of my lip in a snarl. My voice, however, now came out clear. And low and deliberate, letting them know they’d never break me. “Alexis owns me.”
Whatever came at me, I let it hit me. Let them think they were bringing me down. Making me weak. Just not completely broken. That was the plan.
It knocked me out.
I awoke to my boots bumping along the rocky dirt floor as two brick-house vampires dragged me through a dark corridor to my own personal cave far from the center of Hades. Rocks and the uneven terrain kept catching my legs, tearing new holes into my pants. Their stone-like hands gripped around my shoulders like vises with enough pressure that a Norman man’s bones would be pulverized. My head bobbed as I watched them carefully through the curtain of hair that hung in my face. I could have walked on my own volition by now, but I wasn’t about to make their job easier.
I let them throw me into my dirt cave and even gave them a show by crawling to the far wall, into the shadows, and curling into the fetal position. They snorted and snickered as they trotted off. When the time came, they’d be the first I’d kill. But not now.
Right now, I was buying Alexis time. As long as Lucas and the Ancients had me to play with, they’d leave her and our son alone. In the meantime, I’d let them think they were getting to me. They obviously couldn’t kill me—they’d already tried everything and continually failed—but as much as Lucas’s attempts hurt, I could deal with it. Patience was a virtue and Lucas was anything but virtuous. He’d eventually grow bored of torturing me and find a different technique of trying to get me to fight for them again. But that would never happen.
I fight for you, Alexis, I thought as I rolled onto my back, my eyes closed. I pulled at a cherished memory of our time together, her beautiful face clear as day as she gave me a shy grin. We sat on the beach near Sophia’s house in the Cape, watching the sunset together for the first time. My insides took a beating as the Ancients’ monster within me tried to come out, but the urge to kiss her, to touch her skin, to feel her body against me was stronger. But I couldn’t take the chance. And she obviously wasn’t ready.
I moved onto another favorite vision—the two of us sitting on the motorcycle on Gasparilla Island, watching the sun set over the water.
“I love you, my sweet Tristan,” she whispered against my ear, her full lips sending sparks straight to my dick, but it was those words that I treasured. Words I’d never expected to hear in my long life.
“I love you, too, ma lykita,” I murmured back, and I moaned aloud at her content sigh in my head.
One day, I vowed, we’d share those words again. One day, I’d make good on my promise.