Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Excerpt and contest for Cruxim by Karin Cox



Book Description:

Amedeo is Cruxim, a mysterious, immortal fallen angel. Destined to seek redemption as a vampire hunter, he quenches his insatiable hunger on vampire blood. But when the object of his passion, the novice nun Joslyn, is turned into a vampire and enters a vampire coven, Amedeo's worlds collide. Shattered by the loss of his beloved, he vows to rid the world of vampires once and for all, even if it means destroying Josyln in the process.

A Paranormal Game of Cat and Mouse
Joining Amedeo on his quest to rid the world of the undead is Sabine. Half-woman, half-lioness, she is a Sphinx, a Guardian who has protected humans from vampires since the dawn of time. Yet Sabine comes to this fight pursued by her own enemies. An evil scientist, Dr. Claus Gandler, knows the secret of Sabine's mythological past, vowing to torment her for eternity or destroy her forever.

Immortal Ever After
Captured by the evil doctor, Amedeo and Sabine are paraded as sideshow freaks in the Circus of Curiosities. Only vampire Joslyn has the power to intercede. Will she prove Amedeo's redemption, or his destruction?.

Want to win an e-copy of Cruxim?  Karin has generously agreed to gift 3 lucky readers so leave a comment below (along with a way to reach you, either in your profile or included in the comments) and I will announce the 3 winners next week! Good Luck! Can't wait? Read Chapter One right now!

Book Excerpt—Cruxim

CHAPTER ONE

It is wet beyond, wet and slippery, but the slight partition I have laboriously scratched out in the wall over decades is still there. My trembling fingers feel for it, seeking the familiar dull sharpness, the blade of cold stone made smooth with scraping—the weapon of my slow-growing hope. I take it out and pry a wedge of stone from the wall to resume my work. Grasping the blunter end and covering
my fingers with the twill of my coat, I watch as chips of stone flick up from the blade.

A sparrow is singing. Its cheery trill echoes through the chamber, but I cannot see it. The gray walls outside conceal its plump body. Perhaps it is secreted behind a turret or piling twigs into a crack in the masonry. The pungent odor of the guano that concretes the window mingles with the stench of my sweat from countless nightmares. Yes, even I have fears.

I scan again, craning my neck through the grate, sliding it with a metallic rattle, but it is the same: slow-growing green lichen mottling the walls, a rust-red trail of water dripping with melancholy repetition from a window ledge. I am thirsty, or perhaps my throat is dry with anticipation. Maybe tomorrow I will break through to daylight. Today, I smell the sunshine like victory, and I can almost taste my freedom. It swims in my mouth like wine.

It has been more than forty years now. Forty years of solitude, but for the man and then, more recently, the girl, the trembling girl, I assume is his daughter. It would seem a long time to anyone but
me. Yet the assault on my liberty bothers me more than the time. It keeps me from my purpose, and my task daily grows larger. When you have lived for centuries, half of a mortal lifespan is a pittance.

The girl comes once a week. Fearful. Fast. She brings me bread, a little thin soup, and sometimes cheese. Very occasionally, a bucket to wash in. She rarely brings meat (I must catch rats and sparrows for that), and never blood. The latter is fine with me. It is not human blood I seek, although they will not believe that. They see the alabaster of my teeth, the high arch of my brow, the silkiness of my dark hair, the gleam of my skin and eyes, and before my incarceration and slow decay, my superhuman strength and speed, and they assume I am one of them. It has ever been thus.

I have given up trying to convince them that I have more in common with man than with those merchants of death: the bloodsucking agents of hell they so fear. I have given up wondering how they could mistake me so, for I am neither demon nor devil. My work is holy.

A gentle breeze cools me, and I realize I am flapping in agitation. Or is it anticipation? I am unsure. My wings are weak now. The tower is cramped, and the cold walls and low ceiling restrict my movement. I wonder if my wings will have the strength to carry my weight, even if I can worm through the crevice I have spent decades scratching out. I look over my shoulder and give my wings a firm flap, noting, with a certain weariness, how dirty, how tatty my once snow-white feathers have become. Some are missing, others blackened, and some are still growing back; yet others I pulled out with my own hands and piled in the corner to create a nest on the frigid stone. Few human comforts are afforded me, and no human rights. It seems I do not deserve a blanket, although I feel the cold.

Bitterly.

They did not intend to imprison me, of course. First, they tried to kill me. They tried in every conceivable way. “Torture” you might call it, had it been inflicted on a mortal. They bound me. They slit my throat. They punctured my heart. They drew out my teeth with pliers. They set me alight. They plucked and cauterized my wings. They carved a crucifix into my chest. Still I prevailed. I agonized, I scarred, but I prevailed. They threw holy water on me, read scripture to me, smeared garlic upon me. They left me in sunlight, showed me my own mutilated face in the mirror, placed a silver crucifix around my neck (those poor, misguided men of the cloth). They even tried to exorcise me. Had I any devil in me, it surely would have fled at their ministrations. But I do not.

“You are in concert with Satan. Admit it and we will let you live,” they insisted, as if they had the power to do otherwise.To my knowledge, only two things can kill me, and my captors are unlikely to attempt either.

“I am innocent of such a charge,” I protested.

“Liar! Demon! We found you with them.”

That much was true. I had been in Paris at the time and had flown out to feed. They had found me with a coven near the village of Sezanne. I was the only awake creature among them; the others hung from the ceiling, tick-full from a night of nourishing themselves on mortal blood. I was perusing the menu, wondering which to take first, when the firebomb burst through the door, closely followed by men with pitchforks. I had not fed for many weeks. I was weak. They caught me off guard. Not so much the men, but the Vampires.

That was only the second time Vampires ever got the better of me. My strength, stealth, and speed usually work to their detriment, but on that occasion I was beset on both sides. All my long life I have fallen somewhere between these two beasts—man and Vampire—and yet I am neither, just as I am neither devil nor truly angel. I am a hybrid, very rare, seldom seen, so little known that some think me nothing more than a chimera. But I am real. I am Cruxim.

The chink of a key in a lock startles me. The girl is coming. I am surprised; it has been less than a week by my reckoning. I cough to muffle the grinding of the stone sliding back into place and hurriedly push the knife back into its nook, wondering, as I do so, why she is here. What change in fortune is afoot to bring this shivering child before me twice in such a short span of time?

It is not that I need the food. I can survive years, decades even, without it, growing weaker but never succumbing. It is that even her small scrap of company is something. Her father (or the man I assume was such) never spoke to me, but sometimes she does. Just a word—“Here”—as she pushes the food through the small door in the bars. Sometimes, she speaks to herself, her lips moving in a prayer that might be for me or, more likely, calls for her God to save her from me.

I suppose I should be grateful for food. At first, the good people of Sezanne tried starving me.
They left me for months. When they returned, my eyes burned hatred at them from my wan, thinskinned face, but I was otherwise unchanged. They left me again. A year this time. My eye sockets ringed my sunken eyes. My ribs were a bony corset in my chest. But I was still alive. Only the return of my wings convinced them to start feeding me again, however infrequently. After all, wings are the guise of the angels. Some count me among them, but I have no recollection of my Maker. All I know is my purpose.

“Here.” Today is one of the days she speaks.

I hurry to the bars. “Thank you.” Nodding, I stretch a hand out to the pail. It is soup, thin and gray, along with a hunk of bitter bread.She draws back, one step, two—beyond the reach of even the longest arm.

“Beef?”

She nods, and then, “Yes.”

“Tell me. The man who used to come, your father—”

“Uncle.”

“What happened to him?”

She looks wary, young. One milk-white hand flies to her hair and she halts indecisively.

“What happened?” I press again.

“He is dead.”

Something in me shudders. I know, without her even telling me, that it was them. My fists clench at my sides and I drop my bread to the floor. I can feel the increased heat of her, her fear at my eyes’ reddish glow.

“I could do something about this. About them,” I snarl. “If only you would let me out.” I rattle the bars.She turns, too quickly, as if she has tarried too long. The white swan of her neck stretches eagerly toward the door out of the tower.

How beautiful it is, I think. How beautiful that slim, graceful neck would be to them. A small silver cross glistens at the hollow of her throat. At the top of the stairs, she pauses. Head cocked, she looks at me with eyes bluer than lapis, and her lips move again in a silent prayer. There is something wistful in her eyes, sad even. In that moment, she reminds me of Sabine.











Link to Other: http://www.cruxim.com




3 comments:

SandyG265 said...

This sounds interesting. It's a bit different from the run of the mill vampire story.

sgiden at verizon dot com

bn100 said...

Nice excerpt

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Carrie said...

Sounds like a real cool summer read.