Death Defied (Valerie’s Elites Book 2) Snippet #1

It’s time for the first snippet from book two of the Valerie’s Elites series. Justin and I are thrilled at the response to book one, and we can’t wait for you to read the second volume.

Without anymore preamble, here’s the cover:

Now onto the snippet!

[Unedited]

Chapter One

Planet Tol

Days spent on Tol were nothing like back on Earth, and it wasn’t only because Valerie had just helped institute a successful coup. While on Earth she had hidden in the shadows, forced to try and keep the status quo of not too many humans knowing about the existence of Weres and vampires—of which she was the latter.

Up here though? Here she was a hero, the liberator of the people. As much as she insisted it hadn’t been only her, and even tried to push the credit over to Kalan, where much of it was due, the Skulla and Norral were hard to convince.

It wasn’t only a matter of them listening to her on this matter, there was the issue that, until Valerie had come along, the Norral were slaves to the Skulla. Now this whole system was being reworked, with Sslake as the new leader, trying to put the pieces together of this metaphorical vase she’d broken.

Of course, in the process of breaking it, she’d made it ten times better than it had been. No more slaves, no more people having to fight for their right to live here or to rise up in society.

What the new system would be like, Valerie wasn’t trying to influence. If Sslake needed them, he would ask for their help.

At the moment, she just wanted to find something to eat that wasn’t the local variation of flowers or Rantu, their version of panther. It was their local specialty, but after having been friends with a Were-puma for the year or so before leaving Earth, she just couldn’t see herself eating any animal that even remotely resembled a cat.

“Maybe the Norral have a better diet?” Garcia offered, as he and Robin walked with Valerie through the bazaar. They made their way over toward the Norral tables, not happy to see that, even though they weren’t slaves anymore, their sales tables were set up in the back and with very little room.

Too bad Kalan and Bob had to take off so soon, she had a feeling Kalan’s tastes were much more in line with her own, and he probably knew where to look.                

A shot went off and everyone ducked—everyone except Valerie, who turned and scanned the crowd looking for the shooter. She didn’t have to look hard, because there was a tall Pallicon, standing at least a head above all of the Skulla that had dove for cover. His pistol was aimed right at Valerie, though he’d clearly missed.

“Wandrei skum!” he shouted, about to shoot again, when an enhanced Skulla tackled him, two more joining a moment later.

“Looks like our friends haven’t abandoned us,” Robin said with a raised eyebrow. She nudged Valerie and nodded to the far curtain of the bazaar, where Warlord Palnik stood watching, arms crossed. Several more of those large-armed Skulla stood by as his bodyguard.

In spite of everything that had changed, there were still classes here, and Palnik was still one of those at the top. If not for Sslake, in fact, he might be at the top. Before it had been Warlord Charbon, who Valerie had taken out as part of her mission, and the top warlord who had called himself the Bandian, after a race of aliens who, it turned out, Kalan actually belonged.

“What’s he doing here?” Valerie wondered aloud.

“Looking for trouble,” Garcia replied. “Maybe I’ll bring him some.”

Valerie held out a hand, then used it to wave to the warlord. In response, all she received was a scowl.

“To be fair, you changing the system essentially stripped him of any real power,” Robin pointed out. “You could see why he would be annoyed.”

“And we saved lives when we did so.” Valerie started walking toward him, motioning the others to follow and simply ignoring the shooter. “I’d say he either starts living in the system or gets out of it. Pretty black and white, if you ask me.”

Palnik waved his guards off at Valerie’s approach, walking over to meet her halfway.

“I trust you’re finding a new way to entertain yourself?” Valerie asked, referring to the fact that the fighting arena was closed now.

He sneered, then turned that into a frown. “Sslake’s looking for you, asked me to locate you. Looks like I get to be his personal errand boy.”

“You must love that,” Garcia said with a chuckle.

“Maybe I break your legs and we see who’s laughing?”

Garcia took a step toward Palnik, and to the warlord’s surprise, his guards didn’t step in to do a damn thing. It hit Valerie that it was likely because of the legends surrounding her and her team. Nobody wanted to mess with them, not with what had happened in the fighting arena, nor how they had taken down the false Bandian at his strange base in the jungle.

“You were saying?” Garcia asked, towering over the warlord.

Behind them, the other Skulla were taking care of the shooter, dragging him out of the tent, unconscious and with a line of blood dripping from his nose.

Palnik shook his head and turned to lead the way.

“He’s not at his quarters?” Robin asked.

“Actually, he’s had a team going over the Bandian’s base since you took it out, and thinks he found something quite intriguing. He asked for you all specifically, and said it might be a job for you and your team.”

Suddenly the lights went out completely and an explosion sounded, followed by a feminine voice, loud and carrying as it said, “It has come to our attention that new leadership is in play on Tor, and you have yet to pay tribute to your gods. We require blood. We are taking hostages. On the fourth hour, if you haven’t fulfilled our demand, one will die every hour until we have the Bandian. Send him, and be quick.”

With that, the lights returned to normal and only the far off screams could be heard.

Valerie took a split-second to process this, then ran outside, leaping over tables and shoving locals aside until she was past the tents and could see that the threat was real.

Hovering over the city was a massive spaceship, drones pulling back into it—but the drones were carrying their screaming hostages.

Half a dozen fighters rose up from the city, but as they moved for the ship above, their engines all seemed to die and they went careening back into the city creating new explosions and subsequent fires.

“Well, we’re off to a great start,” Robin said, running a hand through her hair.

Valerie turned to the nearest Skulla. “Who are they?”

He shook his head, eyes never leaving the sky.

“Looks like that might be a question for Sslake,” Garcia stated.

“Hell, at least they only want the Bandian.” Robin shrugged. “No brainer, give him up.”

“We can’t just go around handing out prisoners to whatever alien group comes along making demands like this.” Valerie stared off at the fires, almost wishing she didn’t always have to be in these situations, but knowing she was the most qualified for it.

“Don’t forget,” Garcia cut in, “it’s not exactly we, is it? Not like back home. Here, we’re the mercenaries, not the government.”

He had a point.

“Looks like we better pay our friend Sslake a little visit then,” Valerie said. “But first, let’s make sure nobody’s hurt over there.”

They all took off, running for the fires and anyone who needed their assistance. It bothered her that she wasn’t going to have final say here, but if she was going to play her role, she had to do it by the book. Although, the way she figured it, since there wasn’t technically a book yet, she had some wiggle room.

Storm Warrior Snippet 1

It’s almost time for book four of the Storms of Magic series. This is the last book in this story arc (but not the last in the series), and I’m really excited about it.

You may be asking, “PT, what’s Storm Warrior about?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m not going to tell you, but I am going to show you. Kind of. For each of the snippets, I’ll post a clue to one aspect of the story.

Here’s the first clue: Continue reading “Storm Warrior Snippet 1”

Storm Breakers is out now!

It’s been a whirlwind of a last few days, but hopping on to let you know that the third book in the Storms of Magic series is out now.  I hope you enjoy it. I had a very good time writing it. Here are the details:

How do you defeat a magician who can shape mountains?

Abbey and her friends travel across the sea in search of Syd’s brother, a sailor captured by a warlord years ago. To find him, they’ll need the help of their greatest enemy, the Storm Caller Dahlia.

When they arrive, they discover a land ruled by a new form of magic: the Way of Stone.

The Stone Shapers agree to help Abbey and her friends track down the missing man, but only if Abbey helps them defeat a band of rebels first.

What Abbey doesn’t know is that the leader of the rebels is the very man they came to rescue.

Storm Breakers is a fun, swashbuckling romp filled with twists, adventure, and plenty of banter.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Storm Breakers Snippet 3

Holy cow, the release date for Storm Breakers is almost here! There’s only time for one more snippet, but it’s a good one. In this section, we get to check in on what Syd’s brother Elliot is up to. It’s sort of the answer to a long-running mystery, but I think you’ll agree that it raises more questions. Including who are these stone magic users…

See you tomorrow for the book release! In the meantime, the snippet starts after the cover image. Here we go.

Continue reading “Storm Breakers Snippet 3”

Storm Breakers Snippet 2

Welcome back! When we left off in the first installment, Abbey was about to tell Syd what Dahlia did to her brother fifteen years ago. This installment starts with some mighty salty language. But, hey, Syd has never been afraid to express herself in a colorful manner.

Thanks for all your nice comments on Snippet 1. I’m delighted to see that so many of you are excited about this book. I am too!

Okay, no more preamble. The snippet starts after the cover image.

Continue reading “Storm Breakers Snippet 2”

Storm Breakers Snippet 1 (with video)

Book 3 of the Storms of Magic series is almost here, and that means it’s time for a snippet. A few things before we get to the action:

  1. I hope those of you in the paths of real storms this week are staying safe. Even watching on TV from a distance, these storms are scary. If the people I’ve chatted with online are any indication, my readers are a tough-as-nail lot. You’re all in my thoughts. Stay safe!
  2. Storm Breakers picks up exactly where Storm Callers ended. That means if you haven’t read Storm Callers yet go do so before digging into this snippet.
  3. Now let’s take a look at that cover!

Here’s the video version of the snippet. Or scroll down to read the text version.

Chapter One

Abbey slammed Dahlia down into the chair and leaned in close. “Tell me everything you know about Syd’s brother.”

Dahlia grimaced, but the slight smile stayed on her face.

It had only been ten minutes since they’d halted Dahlia’s execution. Abbey had been in attendance to watch the event, but Dahlia had saved her own life by revealing she had information on Elliot, the long-lost stormship sailor who’d once served aboard Thunderclap. Syd had been looking for her older brother for years, and she kept her head shaved as an outward display of her ongoing mission.

They’d hauled Dahlia to a small room in Liv’s nearby home. Dustin, Abbey, Liv, and Fannar hovered over the seated Storm Caller, who sat with her hands bound in front of her, an uncannily serene expression on her face.

Abbey clenched her fists, trying to keep from shaking with anger. After everything she’d been through—they’d been through—at Dahlia’s hands, again the woman had avoided death.

This was a woman who had helped Storm Raiders sack dozens of towns up and down the Kaldfell coast and beyond. She’d orchestrated the Barskall secret invasion of the Kaldfell Peninsula. She’d compelled the Barskall king to force his people into military service and addict them to seiderdrek, the potion that gave them enhanced speed and strength at the cost of increased rage and lack of control.

And again, the woman was avoiding her rightful fate.

Not forever, Abbey promised herself. She’d let Dahlia live a little longer out of respect for Syd, but the woman’s lifespan would be measured in days.

“Like I said before,” Dahlia reminded them, “I’m not going to tell you. But I will show you.”

“That so?” Abbey asked. “I am not going to tell you what I’m going to do to you with my sword, either. That way we’ll both have a nice surprise.”

Dustin crossed his arm and sighed. “Look, we can’t sail somewhere if you don’t tell us where we’re going.”

“And we’ve spared your life,” Fannar added. He held the seax, the dagger-like weapon that he’d intended to use to execute Dahlia, tightly in his hand. “That is a big show of trust. You need to give us something in return.”

Dahlia stared back at the Barskall for a long moment, then nodded.

Abbey crossed her arms and waited.

“This was fifteen years ago,” Dahlia began. “Perhaps a bit more—I lose track. Tor and I were Storm Raiding, but only far away from Kaldfell. We’d struck the Lost Isles a number of times, and we’d also raided in the area the Arcadians foolishly call the Frozen North. As if the mountains and the sea north of their lands were the edge of the world.”

She shook her head in disgust.

“Try to keep your revulsion at the Arcadians in check,” Abbey interjected. “What’s any of this have to do with Elliot?”

Dahlia continued. “It was around that time we first made our way to Barskall. The land was in the midst of a conflict between two warlords. We thought to raid the coastal villages, but we quickly discovered there was little worth taking—most were living in poverty—so I came up with another plan. I approached one of the warlords, a man named Ragnar, and made him an offer. We would help him defeat his rival in return for his promise to send Barskall warriors to Kaldfell in the coming years to help us defeat our enemies.”

“Did he accept your offer?” Dustin asked.

Dahlia shook her head. “Afraid not.”

“I wouldn’t take it personally,” Abbey told her. “He was probably just turned off by your face. Or possibly your personality. Or maybe your weird voice. Who’s to say?”

Dahlia ignored the comment. “But his enemy Elias did. So, with the help of Undertow and Summer Wind, we harassed Ragnar’s coastal strongholds, burned any villages that supported him, and helped transport Elias’ warriors quickly by sea. It was enough to turn the tide of the war.”

Fannar grimaced. “And so King Elias was crowned.”

Dahlia nodded. “The warlord became King. But before that could happen, he had to negotiate a surrender with Ragnar. The man still had his supporters, especially in the villages on the western coast, so Elias wanted to avoid killing him, if possible. It only made sense to build goodwill with those villages if he was going to rule them. Tor and I went with Elias to negotiate the terms of Ragnar’s surrender.”

“Ragnar ended up leaving Barskall, did he not?” Fannar asked.

“Yes,” Dahlia confirmed. “He agreed to exile. He would go west to a place called Gren, a land of ice and forests. A place he could begin a new conquest.”

Abbey and Dustin exchanged a glance. Abbey had heard tales of Gren, but she hadn’t been sure the place really existed. The storytellers in Holdgate told the children of the giants of Gren, jovial but stupid creatures who were quick to anger. In the stories, stormship sailors always outsmarted them.

One story in particular stuck in Abbey’s mind. A stormship was trapped in a Gren harbor with an enormous boulder blocking its only path to escape. A giant was on the verge of destroying the ship, but the hero of the story tricked the giant into eating the boulder. The ship sailed to safety as the giant laid on the shore suffering from a stomach ache, moaning.

Dustin had heard those same stories, and Abbey could see he was wrestling with the same thoughts, wondering if Gren was even real.

Dahlia continued, “Ragnar had a strange request. He was intrigued with the way we sailed and fought. He demanded that Tor and I give him a few of our stormship sailors so he might use them to train his people.”

A look of fury appeared on Liv’s face. “You didn’t. Tell me you give sell your own people to a Barskall warlord.”

“And how many lives were saved because of what I did?” Dahlia asked.

“Spare me.” Abbey leaned toward Dahlia. “You didn’t care about ending a war. You just wanted a Barskall army of your own.”

The Storm Caller shrugged. “Does it matter? I helped end a war.”

“How many did you give them?” Liv growled.

“We allowed Ragnar to select five of our sailors. Elliot was the one he really cared about. He’d seen Elliot fight. The man was an average sailor, to be honest, but he fought with the sea’s own fury. And Ragnar had taken notice.”

Abbey imagined what it would be like to be traded to an enemy warlord like livestock and taken to whatever mysterious lands were beyond the sea. “You said Elliot’s still alive. How do you know?”

Dahlia paused a long moment before answering. “I suppose I can’t be certain.”

Fannar raised his seax. “So you’re a liar then?” He glanced at the others. “Let me end her now.”

She held up her bound hands. “But I know Elliot. And I know the regard Ragnar had for him. Elliot was a survivor. For all I know, Ragnar’s army was wiped out by the legendary giants of Gren, but even if it was, I have a feeling Elliot would have found a way to survive.”

Abbey wanted to object to that line of thinking, but if Elliot was anything like his sister, Dahlia might be correct.

Liv scratched at her chin. “From what I’ve heard over the years, Gren is a vast land, mostly covered with ice. It would be next to impossible to find him there—if Gren even exists.”

“Oh, it exists.” Dahlia smiled. “I’ve been there. As part of the terms of surrender, Thunderclap herself transported a portion of Ragnar’s army there. I can show you exactly where we set them down, and I can show you the first town Ragnar attacked. I promise you you’ll never find it without me.”

Abbey sighed. That was all the information they were going to get out of Dahlia for now. Much like Elliot, Dahlia was a survivor. She’d do everything she could to preserve her own life.

It was time to tell Syd.

****

Okay, that will do it for the first snippet. Click here to read the next installment.