My Kindle Scout campaign for Water Viper is now live! This is your chance to give Amazon a helpful nudge in the right direction. Like my books? This is a free, easy way for you to tell Amazon you think they should give me a publishing contract–and if Amazon selects my novel, you get a copy of the book for free when it launches.
Here's how it works: You'll click this link, give the book a look over, and if you like it, click “Nominate me.” (You may need to sign in with your amazon account to do this!) You can nominate up to three books at a time.)
At the end of the 30 day period, Amazon will tell me if they're selecting the book. If not, sadness happens, but I publish the book anyway.
Nominate, share, and tell your friends. Ask them to nominate. Worse things that happens? I don't get accepted and I keep slogging along. The best thing that happens? Free book for you, and for you, and for your friends, and for anyone else who takes a moment to click and nominate.
I try not to ask for things very often, but if you could take the moment to share with your friend, and click nominate, it would mean a great deal to me.
Thank you so much.
During Starfall, magic flooded the Earth and destroyed most technology, while humans developed magical abilities. Jesse mistakenly chooses to be a woman in a male-dominated clan, ruining her hopes of becoming a hero.
Weary of life as an assassin, she retires to enjoy raising horses and delivering messages. When her plans fall apart, she has one chance to set everything right. Should she fail to redeem herself, she'll lose everything–her friends, her family, and her life.
A black, pitted stone bounced across the bar. I leaned back, picked up my beer, and made way for the rock, tracing its trajectory towards the front door.
The first beer bottle it broke belonged to a mercenary like me, and his wail drew everyone’s attention. The rock smacked into the bar, left a black smear, a gouge, and a few golden sparks before continuing its haphazard flight. Several more glasses and bottles fell to it, and frothy brew decorated the old, dull wood before spilling over the lip to the water pooled on the floor.
Curses chased after the stone, and out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed several men giving chase. They were cloaked, an annoyance for someone like me, who wanted to keep track of everyone nearby in case of trouble.
In the sunken ruins of Miami, where only the brave, the foolish, or the desperate stayed, trouble was plentiful. Today’s variant worried me more than most.
Where a Starfall stone went, catastrophe surely followed. Three men hunting for its sort of trouble meant someone was about to get hurt.
After the day I had, if I lost my hard-earned beer, I’d be the catastrophe. I could fight with many weapons, from staves to swords. In a pinch, I could even use a gun, although I worked damned hard to make sure people never realized combustion technology functioned in my hands.
The man beside me spat curses, twisted his body, and cradled his pint to his chest. Taking another swig of my beer, I kept an eye on the stone and its trio of pursuers. I couldn’t blame the damned thing for wanting to make a getaway. There were dives, then there was Oyster Bay. If one of the usuals came after me, I’d run, too. As though losing hope of escape and finding me the best option in a room full of bad choices, the stone rolled to a halt in front of me.
The barkeeper stared at me, stared at the rock, and swept his bare hand over the bar to send a shower of broken glass splashing into the water washing over the floor of his establishment. “That yours?”
All three men splashed to a halt beyond the range of my sword. I twisted, pondering how much calamity I wanted to rain down on Petey and his wretched little bar if I lost even a single drop of my beer.
I matched him stare for stare. Stupid questions didn’t deserve an answer, and maybe if I got real lucky, Petey would forget he’d asked. After a month of me haunting his bar and renting a space in the communal flop in the back room above the water line, he’d stopped asking for my name.
The name most knew me by would only draw the wrong type of attention. No one liked knowing they shared a bar with an assassin. I didn’t like having to explain why I, a woman, had a man’s name. Jesse could go either way, something I was eternally grateful for, but the instant Alexander left my mouth, the questions started. Why did a woman have a man’s name? Was Alexander really my last name? Why would anyone name a pretty girl something as masculine as Jesse Alexander?
Everyone in the place watched me, and I took another swallow of my beer. If I wanted, I could break the bottle and get to work, turn the sea pink with their blood, and be done with the fetid sinkhole that had once been Miami, Florida. The bottle would complicate things for me, but after the dry spell I’d had on paying gigs, I needed a challenge to restore my reflexes and edge.
Why had I thought moving south would do me any good? The warmth was a selling point, but when the seas rose and every building still standing flooded out, I remembered everything came with a price.
What the ocean claimed, it didn’t like giving back, and in another year or two, there wouldn’t be a Miami at all. Dying cities were a horrible place for a mercenary wanting to make an honest living killing dishonest people.
“No games. That yours?”
I leaned back, and the metal stool shrieked a protest. “If it were mine, Petey, I wouldn’t be using it to waste beer.”
The stone sparked and flared, and blue-white light zapped through the brew spread over the bar. Several of the men yelped, jumped off their stools, and splashed into the seawater on route to the door. Lifting my feet, I hooked my boot heels onto the stool’s foot rest.
When a Starfall stone glowed, wise men ran.
I was neither wise nor a man, so I stayed put and watched the show. Running wouldn’t do me any good, not if the stone decided to burst. It’d shine its light for over a mile or more and likely do so before I reached the front door.
“Fuck!” Petey dived behind the bar.
Two of the cloaked men recoiled, but one darted forward, gloved hand stretched out to claim the stone. I gulped down the rest of my beer, flipped the bottle, and smashed it into his forearm. The glass shattered, reflecting the stone’s light throughout the molding, decaying room.
“You’re in my space.”
The Starfall stone kept sparking, and its glow intensified.
Backing out of my reach, the man shook his hand. Shards of brown glass tumbled into the sea, and beneath the water, they continued to shine with the rock’s blue-white radiance and its golden sparks. “Move, then.”
Most men hated when I defied them. My opponent waited, intriguing me when he hesitated to force me out of his way so he could take what he wanted. Men liked to think they ruled, and in their opinion, the strongest men got the best women, and that was that.
Wise men realized some women conquered their own mountains and tossed off every man who challenged them.
One day, I’d figure out where I stood in the grand scheme of things. I’d been raised to be a man, a warrior above other men, the strength and pride of my clan. I should have become a man when I had turned ten, but thanks to my stupidity, I had ended up a woman instead.
Remembering pissed me off enough I either needed another beer, a fight, or both.
The bar cleared out, and Petey numbered among those bailing. I arched a brow, shrugged, and reached across the bar to snag myself another beer, careful not to touch the Starfall stone. “When I’m done drinking my beer, I’ll move.”
Within a minute, Oyster Bay emptied, leaving me with the three cloaked figures and a man at the other end of the bar too stupid to run or too brave for his own good. When he spotted me looking in his direction, he lifted his bottle in a salute.
Men were a dime a dozen, but sometimes, a pretty one came around, and my flavor of the month was tall, dark, and handsome enough to remind me there were a few perks to being a woman. He smirked at me, likely anticipating the fireworks from the stone or the brewing fight between me and the three men who wanted it.
I liked his mouth, and my gaze locked on his lips before I managed to force my attention back to my trio of unwanted guests.
Outside, thunder rumbled, rain pattered on the bar’s metal roof, and the storm stirred the ocean’s ire, splashing salt water against my feet.
“Move.” The man took one step forward, and his voice remained emotionless and calm.
“Cheers,” I said, lifting my bottle towards my lone spectator. If he wanted a show, I’d give him one, and when I was finished with the three men determined to invade my personal space, I’d leave him a little memento to remember me by. I scooted my stool back, stepped into the water, and met my adversary’s gaze.
I set my beer down beside the Starfall stone. “You’re not going to let me finish my beer in peace, are you?”
He took another step and leaned forward, his breath hot on my face. “No.”
Walking away would’ve been smart. Leaving the Starfall stone to burst and cause mayhem without me in the general vicinity would have been wise. Instead, I unsheathed my sword and rammed the pommel into his gut.
I smiled and went to work. All I’d leave for him were bruises and his life. He didn’t deserve anything else from me, not even a scar.