“Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.”
So Lysander said, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream…. and so it can occasionally be said of publishing! I fully intended to have a pre-order link for HARD AS STONE available in time for the cover release, but alas, ‘twas not to be. So here’s what I’ll do – I’ll post the link here as soon as it’s available. And if you’d like a reminder, comment below with your e-mail address and I’ll send you the link as soon as it’s up.
Also, as a reward for following Kevin and Tiernan this far, here’s another excerpt from HARD AS STONE – enjoy!
Tiernan leaned against the windowsill, looking out into the early evening pedestrian traffic on Bleecker Street. He hadn’t really been living in Greenwich Village long enough to get particularly nostalgic about it, only a few years, but it had a pleasant aura to it. A good vibe, he supposed some humans might call it. He’d lived in a lot of places, in more than a century and a half on this side of the Pattern, moving around every few years, before the humans around him started noticing that he didn’t age. He’d even lived in D.C. a couple of times, once right after the American Civil War and then again back in the late Forties, for a few years. This place, though, had felt as much like home as anyplace in the human world ever could.
But that was about to change. He shrugged and turned away from the window, his gaze raking the efficiency apartment. The bathroom door stood ajar, revealing the sybaritic tub and shower combination he’d violated pretty much every rule this building had in order to get installed. A shame he couldn’t take that with him. He wasn’t one to accumulate things, but he’d grown very fond of that bad boy. Sixteen settings on the shower head alone… damn.
The coffee maker tugged at what passed for his heartstrings, too, but it at least was a brand name and he could always order another one—should have already, he’d groaned out loud when he’d first discovered that his human drank instant coffee. Caffeine is caffeine, Kevin had said with a shrug, their first morning waking up together.
Instant coffee is sacrilege, had been his snarled reply.
It had been met with laughter. You’ll have to tell me more about that religion.
He’d let that one go, since the Fae had no gods. And even if they did, he doubted any would have followed him through the Pattern. What use a half-souled god? With a congregation of one? So far as he’d ever been able to tell, anyway. Granted, Fae had never exactly lined up in the Realm for the privilege of being torn asunder, but it had happened before. There had been stories. But he had yet to meet another of his kind.
The open mouth of his duffel bag beckoned from the California king-sized bed that took up most of the rest of the little space. Most of his clothes were already packed, and his shitkickers stood next to the bed, waiting for him to step into them. Truthfully, he preferred to be barefoot. He didn’t like to be encumbered, and he didn’t feel the cold. Much.
He had finally felt it, though, in the small hours of this morning, standing on the National Mall with Kevin. At first, the shivers had been the last fading remnants of nightmare, the same one that had made him lash out. But gradually, the cold had seeped into him, spreading from the soles of his feet up through his body, and when his human had drawn him in, he’d only put up token resistance, leaned in and pressed himself close and sighed, splaying his hands out over that broad strong back.
Come stay with me, Kevin had whispered.
He’d started, and drawn back, and seen chagrin in that dark brown gaze. I know it’s sudden, but if what you’ve said is true and we really do share a soul… Kevin’s struggle with that concept had been a mighty one, and still was. Then maybe it’s the right thing to do. And maybe I can help you with the dreams.
Going to let me black the other eye for you? He’d shaken his head, and tried to protest; in the end, though, the lawyer’s persuasive powers—and a hot kiss or three, complete with unfair breathless moans—had carried the argument.
He shook his head, reaching down to pick up the battered leather volume on the small table beside the bed, and the little leather pouch half-full of charcoal sticks. A few leaves had been torn out, and then tucked back in; he ran his fingers idly over the rough edges, then jammed book and bag into the duffel. He stepped into the boots, stomped his feet down into them. Almost done.
A belt hung over one of the bedposts, as if he’d played ring-toss with it; he caught it up, unbuckled it, and slid it through the belt loops of his leathers. The sheath hanging there was empty, but that was easily remedied. His stiletto was stuck in the plaster wall, almost at eye level, over the bed, right where he’d thrown it.
One of the two pages tacked to the wall was his latest attempt to capture in charcoal the intricate knots and loops of the Pattern; no two drawings were ever the same, and none was ever quite right. Even trying to copy his tattoo didn’t help, for some reason. Maybe someday he’d get it right, though, and then maybe it would quit haunting his fucking nightmares.
Then there was the other. He pulled the stiletto free, slipped it into its sheath, and smoothed the gouge it had left in the thick paper with a fingertip. A breathtakingly beautiful fair-haired woman looked back at him, caught by a few strokes of the charcoal, in the act of looking back over her shoulder. Just as she had when she’d Faded from his cell, a century and a half ago.
If he’d ever had the ability to love, it had died in that cell.
He reached for the torn page… stopped. There was nothing more here he needed. He buckled the duffel shut, hoisted the strap over his shoulder, the truesilver links coiled around the strap jingling softly, and Faded. Without looking back.