Tag Archives: novel excerpt

A Risky Conversation

This week for #SaitoSaturday I decided to give a little bit more of a clue than usual, because while Kagami gets a lot of love (he’s the namesake of the book, poor dear, and thus doomed), Akira gets…much less. Therefore, it’s back to chapter three, draft two, for a bit of a snippet that expands on an excerpt from a few weeks ago. Akira enters the fray via Taira Arashi, he-who-is-a-dragon-bastard, and one Watanabe Sakiko, she-who-is-a-pain-in-the-ass. Of course, he doesn’t know this yet, but he will…


The low, black throbbing of Taira Arashi’s laughter followed Akira out of his office and into the elevator, with the woman, Watanabe-san, right behind him. As they stepped out onto gold-veined marble of the first floor foyer, she smiled at him, almost a grin. “You did well, Saito-san. I’ve seen very few men hold their ground against Taira-sama.”
“And this amuses you.” It did not amuse him.
“Oh, yes.” If she was aware of Akira’s irritation, Watanabe-san didn’t show it. “What is that old saying, laughter or tears? Perhaps you should keep it in mind, Saito-san.”
Shaking his head, Akira tugged at the hem of his jacket and scanned the foyer. The two of them seemed to be the only humans, at least judging by the breadth of the smiles aimed in his direction, their fanged promises. No one approached them, and yet he felt the weight of many eyes, much attention, and shuddered. “How do you work with him, Watanabe-san?”
She did not meet his eyes, scanned the room for a moment then slanted her gaze into the shadow of her own hair. “How? I wonder. Perhaps, as he said, it is just because this is a different time. Another era.”
Akira snorted, then cleared his throat . “Apologies, Watanabe-san. I… Having heard the stories of my parents and grandparents, I can’t see how anything is changed. ”
Widening her eyes at him, she leaned closer. “No? Your job exists, doesn’t it? A hundred years ago there were no human police.”
“And what good does it do?” He kept his voice quiet, but Akira couldn’t let her statement go without challenge. “Eight out of ten cases reported are dropped, because in eight out of ten cases, the perpetrators are yokai. And that line? That’s where we lose all jurisdiction.”
There was something blase in her shrug, and she sashayed away from him, catching up with her gaze over her shoulder, pulling him along behind her with it. He followed because he had to, but she seemed to think it was her due. “Don’t such things make you eager to follow Taira-sama’s instructions? To make a place for yourself here in Asakusa, to expand your sphere of influence?” Watanabe-san settled herself on a soft couch and gestured at the chair across from her. “The lines one cannot cross, one must patrol…or at least observe carefully, even from a distance. Is that not so?”
This woman. There was something strange in her smile, in her sudden sadness. Akira settled himself gingerly, trusting not even in the furniture in this place, and nodded slowly as he contemplated the woman and her words. Even her name was suggestive. “Perhaps we will be so lucky. Watanabe-san, I hope you don’t mind the question, but are you of any relation to Watanabe Jiro, head of the Relations commission?”
“The judge of YAMA?” Her laughter was very soft. “You could say that. He’s my husband.”
“Your – husband.” Akira blinked at her in confusion, then leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. “You’re married to the head of YAMA, and you work with Taira-sama?”
She hummed her affirmation, tapping her fingers on the arm of the couch, tilting her head as she smiled at him. “This surprises you? But my husband also works with yokai.”
Shrugging, Akira narrowed his gaze at her. As if the two were the same thing. “Of course, but -”
“And it is you and your work we should be discussing, Saito-san.”
The sharpness of her words stopped Akira short. Again, something…off stuck out to him, as if the edges of his woman’s presence were prickly, too hot, thorn-studded…something. “Ah…” Was there a flame in the flicker of her eyes, a glow burning brighter? No, couldn’t be. Just the florescence of the overhead lights. “Right. I apologize.”


*Interested in where this all begins? Check out the first KAGAMI post, which starts at the beginning of the book!

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That Shower Scene

This week for #TeaserTuesday I decided…to expand on last week’s excerpt! Remember this hint of a scene? Have some more – but not too much! (And it’s still a wee bit NSFW, so read carefully.) As Kagami can attest, Akira is a distracting bathing companion…


The walls and floor of the ofuraba were both tiled with raw, grey stone – everywhere but a little window set in the wall above the ofuro. Mesmerized, Kagami stared while Akira turned on the tap, and the deep, square tub started to fill with steaming water. There was a drain set into the floor, with a short wooden stool above it and a wide, flat bucket with a washcloth in it set to one side, but Kagami had no idea what all this stuff was for.* Before he could ask, he was distracted from his perusal.
kagami sees an akira     Akira stripped off his shirt, was suddenly half-naked, and the shifting muscles under the skin of his bare back incited a need Kagami had never experienced before. Was this desire? This feeling, tight in his belly, hot in his chest, a startled ember rolling down his spine. His heartbeat – that he had a heartbeat – Kagami grew aware of its pulsing in his fingertips, the trapped, rigid length of his sudden erection, his lips, his tongue… Warmth fled his fingertips for his cheeks and the tops of his ears.
     With one hand, Akira tossed his bloody shirt in the trash, then seemed to hesitate for an instant before he stuck his thumbs into the waistband of his pants and boxers and shoved them down. Kagami licked up the man’s body with his glance, then lowered his eyes, unable to keep the smile from his face as he stripped off his own borrowed clothes. His policeman was good to look at all over. The thick muscles of his thighs, his taut, dimpled buttocks – the angles of his shoulders, his hips…
wet abs (akira)     A rough rush of something like summer lightning spurred Kagami forward a step, had him reaching out, but he jerked his hand back as Akira doused himself with spray. It came from a shower head outside the ofuro, and Kagami regarded it with interest…but not as much as Akira. Wasn’t the bath already full of water? Why would he need to get wide outside of it? But when he was wet all over, the man sat on the stool, took a washcloth and soap and started to scrub himself around blossoming purple bruises. “If you’re gonna stand there and stare, you wanna wash my back?”
     The words jerked Kagami’s attention up to Akira’s face. “Saito…san?”
     He was looking at Kagami with eyes gone dark and heated, and his gaze flickered down over Kagami’s naked body, then up again more slowly. “Well?”
SONY DSC     Kagami gloried in being looked at, being seen, as much as in the fact that Akira seemed to return his desire. “I can…I can do that.” It was only as he took the cloth from Akira’s hands and started to rub it against his shoulder that Kagami realized this gave him permission to touch without misgivings or embarrassment. He stopped moving the washcloth to follow the lines of the policeman’s back with the tips of his fingers instead,  tracing lines beneath the suds. Thin, pale ridges of scar tissue came under his hands, and he frowned, staring. An old wound?
     Akira twisted around then, eyeing him with heated amusement. “You can actually scrub, y’know. I’m not gonna break.”
     Yes, there was that about humans, wasn’t there? They had their frailties, but to shatter at a touch wasn’t one of them. Even if those scars were proof of mortal vulnerability… Shuddering at just the thought, Kagami pressed closer to Akira’s back as he scrubbed up the man’s spine.


*Interested in what makes this scene different from how you might take a bath? Check out the first Sugoi! post, Secrets of the Soak, about the customs and history of bathing in Japan!

Broken Glass

Another bit of Holy, for your reading pleasure, which includes the lines I shared from this WIP for today’s #1lineWed theme on twitter: Sound! This time,  the words come from scene one, draft two! 

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It had been a quiet night. Now, there were too many lights flashing, and the noise of too many heavy, booted feet. The old brick and concrete behind the new installations of Wall-ads and neon signs hovered in a vague haze of too many colors, too much bright. It was the part of the city Artemio didn’t come to, not any more, not even though he’d been born here. They’d called it Old Boston but it wasn’t the Boston he remembered. Just a reflection, gone blurry and eye-catching on wet asphalt. He stubbed out his cigarette against the door of the van.

“Too many goddamn lights.” What was the point of calling his team in if the regulars were gonna fuck it all up before they had a chance to get started? He heard the wet slap of Taj’s boots against the pavement as he rounded the back of the van and came up beside him. Artemio threw an expectant glance at his second, but Taj was already shaking his head.

“No dice. We’re gonna have to go with the info and blueprints we got out of storage, Luca’s got nothing. No access in or out, this place isn’t even hardwired to the old surface ‘net so there’s nothing to patch in on.”

Artemio grimaced, shrugged. “Guess we’re gonna have to do it the hard way, then.”

“You wanna wait for the girls?”

“Can’t. How long’ve the regs been out here like this? Anything serious inside’s gotta know they’re out here by now, and we’ve been here five minutes – five more’s too many. We’re goin’ in – take out those east windows, blow the whole inside of the ground floor flat and clean.”

“Got it.”

“Get Jer at the rear, I want you on point with me and Marina’n Luca in the middle.”

He didn’t turn to make sure his orders would be followed, he knew they would be. He waited twenty seconds, then raised his fist, dropped it. At the signal, Luca tossed a pair of crackers, and the world dissolved into a flash of shattered magic and the sound of breaking glass.

Artemio swung himself into the window, dropped and turned to the cover the room while Taj slipped in beside him. Something was…off. The sound of the sirens had faded out of his awareness as soon as he was inside the building. He could still hear the glass breaking, but only where it crunched on the floor under his feet, and then Taj’s. “What the hell? Taj -”

“Yeah, I feel it. I can see it. Something strong. Dunno what, I’ve never felt anything like this.”

Artemio felt magic moving on his skin, itchy-tingling, already strong enough to make him tighten his fist and run the fingers of his other hand back through his hair. He drew his gaze along the walls, peered into dark corners, then glanced at the windows and noticed the way they failed to let in light, as well as sound. More glass crunched as Luca dropped in and crossed to stand beside Taj, and Artemio watched Marina drop in behind him, cat-quiet. Jer came last, face scrunched in irritation as his vestments caught on the glass.

He signaled them all out to check the rest of the downstairs, because this room was sure as fuck empty, and despite the noise they’d made busting in there was nobody on the stairs. Artemio turned his attention back to the windows. Reflections from the lights on the building across from them spilled toward them, but just like the sound nothing entered.

Artemio  scoped out the room around them again with sharp eyes. That was the other thing bothering him – not a single shadow was disturbed, though there should be many. He filed the thought away with all the other things that already stuck out as wrong about this place.

It was right at the edge of the worst of the blasted district that still had buildings standing, but this one was untouched. There wasn’t a boarded window or a cracked brick in the whole place, at least not that he’d seen. And the silence, when outside there was the beginnings of rain and the sounds of sirens, crackling speaker-static, tires on wet pavement, boots tramping and conversation? All of that was loud enough that the noise should have been spilling in, flooding the whole of this downstairs room. The shadows didn’t move because the outside lights went dark at the line of the window, as if they didn’t dare come in.

Artemio stared at the broken pane of glass for a second – yeah, just what he’d been afraid of. The line of dark and light was sharp, unnatural, cut off just where the glass should be.

“Somebody fortressed this place up real good. Best goddamn barrier I’ve ever seen.”

And that’s not good.