If I ever get it in my head to release three books in three months, please, put me out of my misery.
But…I turned in the final copy of Badge to my publisher. Woo! Now to wait for the ARCs then it’s cranking up the promo train time.
Celebrate with a quick video where Ink & Daniel debate what pet name to use for Layla.
Okay, okay. I’ll give you another excerpt.
Layla stops by the Witch Shop in town and Ink comes with
“I need to ask you something,” Layla said.
“First, dearie.” The Sybil woman cupped her hand and a blue light rose from the skin of her palm. It solidified into a half-moon shaped glass which she pressed to Layla’s forehead. I reached out to stop it, when the woman said, “Your aura is in dire straits.”
She was an aura witch. Of course. Useless in the fight against the realms’ spawn, even more pointless should nature or man pick up the sword. But they could make pretty butterflies, so most towns put up with them and their wagons of junk potions. I relaxed back on my heels, feeling a fake calm try to sweep through my bond’s panic. It wouldn’t do much, but some wanted the plaster while keeping the scar.
“Shall you balance her humors next? I believe that hair pin would work for bloodletting in a pinch.”
The witch stared up at me, finally noticing that Layla had not come in alone. Her lip curled and she twisted her hands, casting out small bubbles of gold. They whooshed through the air, arcing to splatter on my face. I swept a hand through them, popping each one against my forearm.
Where they landed, the crimson shirt and tan flesh peeled away to reveal the black and red skin of the nether realm. It only lasted for a moment and caused no discomfort. Aura witches were, on the whole, pointless. Still, I watched the shirt stitch together over the exposed skin, hiding away my secret.
It was the Sybil woman who shrieked, “Demon!”
“He’s not a demon,” Layla said patiently.
“Incubus, at your service.” I extended my hand in a friendly manner, before blanching at my overture. “Not your service, thank you. I do have standards.”
She hustled over the counter and swept a protective hand around Layla. My poor bond looked like a cat being smothered in love, the whites of her eyes radiating confusion from between the woman’s hands. “Get out of here, demon. Sin. Whatever you are! You’re not wanted!”
Straining forward, Sybil reached for a yarn-woven god’s eye. With it in hand, she thrust the rainbow yarn wound about four sticks in my face, and I cocked a brow. “I’m sorry, what is this meant to do?”
“It wards off demons,” she said, as if she had sipped from her poisoned chalice by mistake.
“The most that is capable of doing is catching on fire when the villagers grow wise to your miracle elixirs.” I batted it away with the back of my hand and watched the wily woman’s certainty falter.
“He’s fine,” Layla said, shrugging her way out of the woman’s embrace. “He’s with me.”
“You’ve raised a demon out of hell?” she gasped.
“As previously noted, I am not a demon. And she is right, I am bound to her. Even if I wished to entertain your desires—which, believe me, I have no intentions—I cannot.” I clasped a hand to my bosom and stood taller. “My body belongs only to her.”
Layla laughed awkwardly and shifted back. “Thanks…Ink. Look, I’m not here about him. He’s not a problem. I need a spell.”
“Not a problem? Incubi, all the sins, are created to pull the life force from their victims!”
“Ah, so you do know one thing. Color me impressed.” I perked up, drawing the ire of the witch. Was it my fault if her wise woman façade faltered with a solitary question? Perhaps if she studied her ancient writings more and opened the windows in this oppressive, incense-laden shop, her mind wouldn’t be that of a mule farmer who had bent too close to their animals’ hooves.