Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Excerpt: Big Game

Its time to get a glimpse into Big Game by C.J. Ellison! Sit back and check out this great book.

1000-word Excerpt from Chapter One of Big Game, we’re in Vivian’s POV

The soft hum of the jet fades into the background noise of the small cabin. Rafe exits the cockpit and locks eyes with me across the tight space. His rugged face carries a tired grin, and his blue eyes look weary. He’s been flying through the daylight hours as we make our way down the globe to Argentina, where our final destination is a small private island off the southeastern coast.

His muscular form, encased in well-worn jeans and a snug black t-shirt, looks as delicious as ever. Worry pinches my husband’s expression as he heads back to my location opposite the plane’s bar. Chelly, lounging on a brown chenille couch, shifts her attention from her eReader—more than likely trying to catch a last glimpse of Drew who took over flying duties. Her long blond hair hides her expression from me, but I’m sure I’d see a hint of longing on her face. She deflates when she sees Rafe and goes back to her reading.

She and Drew, the one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old vampire who came to our resort as a guest last fall before joining our seethe, began dating this winter. Now he only feeds from her, taking bagged blood for extra nutrition when needed. To my knowledge, he hasn’t yet claimed her by exchanging blood to make her his servant. He does treat her better than a simple blood donor, more like one does a companion. His old-fashioned ways make for a cute courtship display, but I doubt Chelly can take much more of the long tease. When Drew invited her on this trip, she nearly jumped his bones on the spot.

Bob, one of our ground crew, plays cards with Tommy —our imported Aussie who usually mans the inn’s front desk—and Paul, our fledgling vampire. The three men crowd around a small table set between four plush seats, each wearing an intense look while examining his own cards. Their voices are pitched low, but every so often their excited chatter fills the cabin. Tommy glances up as Rafe walks by. The sandy-haired young man folds his cards and slips into the aisle behind my husband.

Rafe leans down and kisses my cheek before settling into the club chair next to mine. A half-glass of red wine sits before me on the round cocktail table bolted through the cream carpet. In honor of our destination, I’ve changed to South American wines instead of the Alaskan vampire favorite of hot coffee. To appear uncouth at Tribunal gatherings holding a mug instead of a crystal goblet filled with bloodwine would be an unacceptable faux pas. But I admit, I do miss the mild caffeine jolt.

“Tired, darling?” I ask.

“Yeah.” A heavy sigh escapes him as he runs a hand across his forehead and back over his short light-brown hair. “Flying through the last storm was a challenge. Head winds slowed us down quite a bit.”

On our right, Tommy stands behind the glistening marble-topped bar. “Can I get you something, sir?”

“A Yuengling, thanks.”

The young man pours beer into an ice-cold pilsner glass and sets it on the low table. After a nod of appreciation from Rafe, Tommy heads back to his cards.

Rafe stares at the amber liquid but doesn’t drink. “I’m worried, Dria.”

“I know.”

“The talk with the seethe about your manipulator abilities went well, but it won’t be the same with the Ancients.”

“Yes, our group took it surprisingly well.” I stifle a smile at the reminder of that night after the hunt. No one will ever forget Paul’s confusion and mini-freak out. Asa, our ex-military vamp, only nodded as if confirming something he suspected, and Drew listened in stony silence. I haven’t quite pegged him yet, but he pledged his loyalty again with the others easily enough, showing no hesitation.

Glancing at the shaded window blocking the night sky, I debate on raising it to view the stars. “The idea isn’t to tell the Ancients; I’d never risk that. The plan to arrive earlier than in previous years is to surprise them—find out who knows or suspects what I can do.”

“And then what? Slip into their minds and alter what they know?” He shakes his head. “Too risky.”

“The alternative is to kill them.” I stare at Rafe and see the concern he never tries to hide. “Depending on how many of the Inner Circle we’re talking about, that might not be smart—or plausible.”

Rafe grips the chair arms, his frustration and anger quickly outweighing his previous concern. “Twenty-two members of the Circle and eleven Ancients, not to mention an unknown number of powerful gophers and lackeys on the fringe doing their bidding. Too many variables. I prefer a concentrated and planned attack.”

“We’ve gone over this before, love. What choice is there? Let them come to us in Alaska where we have over a hundred humans in our care?” I shake my head. “I won’t put them at risk. Not an option. Besides, we normally head down south when the season changes, making it impossible to run the inn for vampire guests. This early fact-finding mission in Buenos Aires is the best way to go.”

“Yes, yes, your ‘beard the lion in his den’, crap. I get it.” He reaches for his beer and drains half the glass before setting it down. “I worry there’s more than the three members you’ve speculated on.”

Bitter resentment and rage coil in my middle. For years I’ve hidden my ability and ran from certain death, only to find I’m now cornered in a remote location with twelve dozen lives at stake. Fight or flight. That’s what any predator would do when left with no options.

“I don’t plan on running again.” Anger leaks through my tone and the tension in the cabin rises. “The only option is to infiltrate and bring a stealthy battle to them.”

“Won’t they be expecting that? Coraline visited back in January. It’s foolish to think they haven’t done anything in three months.”

“If it were me,” I say with a deadly smile, “I would have attacked immediately.”

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