Tuesday, February 20, 2018

BOOK BLITZ: Fire and Bone by Rachel A. Marks


Today, we are celebrating the book birthday for Rachel A. Mark's Fire and Bone, the first book in the Otherborn series, with this 4-day Book Blitz! Check out all the release blitz festivities and grab your copy now!

Genre:
Young Adult
Paranormal/Fantasy
Urban Fantasy
Series:
Otherborn, #1
Publish Date:
February 20, 2018
Publisher:
Skyscape

Synopsis:
Gossip Girl meets Percy Jackson in the glitz and grit of L.A...."

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.

Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.

As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing's for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.


      

*Excerpt*
SIX

Sage 

I try to shake off Faelan’s hand, but he just grips me harder and tugs me along like I’m a child.
          “Is everything all right?” the receptionist asks, looking from me to Faelan with a frown.
          “Right as rain, Dana,” he answers with his annoying accent.
          I mouth the word help at her, but she doesn’t move; she just watches us with wide eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses. Her shiny red lips purse in curiosity as we turn left and head down a long hallway.
          “Nice try,” Faelan says to me. “She’s a pixie. And she was gawking because she knows whose daughter you are, not because I was dragging you out of an elevator.”
          I deflate and study the surroundings as I’m pulled along. The d├ęcor is stark—black and white and gray. Gray wooden floors, and white glass walls that have odd black lines and shapes on them for decoration. Not a speck of color in sight.
          As I try to make sense of the designs on the walls, I realize I’m looking at oversize replicas of pencil drawings. Sketches of buildings. And I recognize some of the structures. Did this guy Marius design them?
          We turn at the end of the hall and come to a set of large double doors. They’re a deep crimson.
          Like the blood Ben took from Faelan.
          I glance down at his arm. There’s still dried blood on the tattooed skin, but not a scar in sight. How is this even possible? I can’t wrap my head around it. I’m some sort of goddess’s child? It’s laughably insane. And yet I just watched a vampire I nearly killed with my touch suck the blood from my new tour guide—who is totally fine.
          Faelan knocks. “It’s me, sir.”
          The door on the right side opens. A tall, pale white-haired man in a white suit is standing there like a sentinel. He bows his head as we pass him, so I’m guessing he’s not Marius.
          The room is all white, as sparse as a doctor’s office, except for a single splash of red-orange —a huge painting of a blossoming rose made of fire that takes up the entire wall opposite us. There’s a white wooden desk in the center of the whitewashed cement floor, and sitting behind it is a large black man with silver hair, wearing a fitted charcoal-gray cotton V-neck. His broad shoulder muscles flex as he hunches over his work, moving a pencil across paper. At this angle, he appears perfectly normal, just focused on whatever he’s doodling.
          He moves aside a ruler as we step closer, studies his drawing for another two seconds, and looks up.
          I swallow a gasp. His eyes, they’re . . . teal. His gaze moves to my face and holds, then skims over my body, up and down, pausing on my hair.
          He must have grayed early because his features look young. He can’t be much older than midthirties, lean and muscular, with a small pale scar running along his temple, beside his right eye. His left arm is dotted in a circular pattern with more thick ball-like scars. They look like they were placed there on purpose, to mark him.
          “Well, well,” he says, sounding a little British. “Look at this creature.” He stands and sets his pen down, then walks around to the front of his desk. He leans back on it casually and folds his muscular arms over his chest. “She’s lovely.” A small grin tilts his lips. “Isn’t she lovely, Faelan?”
          Does he need glasses? I’m a total mess.
          My captor grunts like he doesn’t agree with the assessment of my beauty either.
          “Any signs of Kieran following her?” Marius asks.
          Faelan shakes his head. “No, sir.”
          “Very good.” Then, directing his words at me, he says, “I am Marius. Forgive my informality. I’ve been caught up in the realms of imagination. I’m completely enraptured by this theater I’m working on.” He motions to the large paper lying across his desk. “The acoustics must be just right. We cannot have Mozart’s Requiem sounding any less than perfect when it fills the cracks and crevices of the design.” His smile grows whimsical and I find it’s contagious, like it’s trying to sneak onto my own lips. I have to clench my jaw to keep it back. But before I can stop the full effect, my insides melt a little, like when I had that crush on my art teacher in tenth grade.
          “Now that you’re here,” he says, snapping me back to reality, “we must take care of you properly so that you can feel right at home with us. I wouldn’t wish for you to worry or find yourself too overcome by—”
          A door clicks open behind him, and he cuts off his words as a thin woman with similar teal eyes, long white hair, and very pale skin emerges from a door hidden in the wall. She’s strikingly odd looking, not to mention half-naked, wearing only underwear and a light gray dress shirt that isn’t buttoned. Something tells me the shirt belongs to Marius, my new Daddy Warbucks.
          “We’re bored,” she whines. “Come back to us, macushla. It’s nearly morning, and Korinna is growing famished.”
          “Yes, yes.” Marius motions in dismissal. “I’ll be there in a moment.”
          She whimpers, obviously impatient, and goes back into the room, shutting the door behind her.
          My anxiety cranks back up to a hundred. What sort of guy is this? He hides women in his office to use at his whim? I mean, he’s hot and all, for an older guy, but . . .
          I study him more closely, trying to figure out if I can trust him. Then I glance at Faelan to gauge his reaction to what just happened.
          The commando’s eyes are locked on the floor as if his life depended on it.
          Wow. Obviously not a gawker—not even when the girl’s half-naked. Maybe he’s gay?
          “So. Where were we?” Marius asks, like we just got interrupted by his secretary. He looks me over again, and this time I stiffen. His gaze stops at my neck. “We really must get you a new torque; that one is archaic. Truly, Faelan. It’s no longer the Dark Ages, as much as you may miss them.” He laughs softly and goes back around his desk to open a drawer, and then he pulls out a large red velvet box. He opens it and picks up a delicate gold necklace. There’s a charm on the end—a Celtic knot with three loops tucked inside a circle—and in the center of the charm sparkles a yellow-orange stone.
          Marius holds it out in offering. “You do the honors, Faelan.”
          Faelan runs a nervous hand through his hair before he leaves my side to walk over and take the chain from his boss. He comes back toward me, holding it awkwardly in his left hand. He pauses in front of me, hesitant, like he’s not wanting to get close. But after several awkward seconds he reaches around my neck to unlock the heavy metal ring resting on my nape.
          His chest envelops me, warm against my cheek. I hear a click, and the heavy weight of the shackle falls away as he sets it aside. But he doesn’t move back. He stays. Close. And then he begins to place the delicate necklace.
          The smell of fresh-cut grass fills my head, and the taste of peppermint blossoms in my mouth, tingling in my nose. And I know it’s him, his scent surrounding me.
          I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
          My skin warms as prickles work their way through my insides—
          “Stop,” Faelan growls, cutting through the rush. “No feeding.” He steps away a little so we’re not touching.
          My eyes fly open as he moves back. But he only allows a few inches between us as he finishes clasping the necklace into place. “I can feel when you begin to take from me,” he says. “Try not to feed without someone’s permission.”
          “You taste like peppermint,” I say before my brain can stop my mouth.
          Marius chuckles, and a chill runs over me as I realize what I did. I just fed off Faelan? I didn’t even realize that I was doing anything. How could I take something as monumental as life from someone without meaning to—my God, this is insanity.
          “I’m sorry,” I say, weakly. Shame fills me, like I got caught doing something perverted. “I didn’t mean to.”
          “You’ll learn,” Faelan says, his tone losing its edge a little. “It’s a matter of control.”
          “According to Faelan, control is everything, and hunger is a demi’s weakness,” Marius says. “I’ve always felt his strict ways were unfortunate, especially with all of that hidden beauty he carries. I was truly disappointed that he wasn’t more liberal when he came into our House. But over the centuries, I’ve come to appreciate my stoic, unaffected friend. And in your case, Daughter of Fire, it will serve us well. Since you’re so . . . full of possibility.”
           The words seem to be important, but I don’t know what they mean. The thin necklace tingles against my skin, distracting me. It warms but it doesn’t burn like the heavy collar did. My nerves settle too. It’s a sudden and real shift, as if I’ve taken one of the antianxiety meds the psychiatrist prescribed for me after I got kicked out of my third foster home—like maybe the necklace is working to somehow mask my emotions or something? The idea of an inanimate object muffling my senses would normally terrify me, but I can’t seem to work up the fear with the cloud of stillness settling in, crowding it out. Mostly, I just feel relief. I can breathe steadily again, and I don’t want to punch something. I’d say, on the whole, it’s a huge improvement.
          “I believe your potential can be harnessed, though,” Marius continues, bringing me back. “And Faelan’s sure to be adept at that. His strength will have to be above average to guard against that blossom of power that will emerge as he helps you with your transition over the next few days.”
          Faelan’s gaze snaps to Marius. “What are you talking about? I brought her to you. My part in this is done. I was to return home after this task. I’m meant to guard the doorways to the hidden realms now.”
          “No, I think not. You’re far too young to retire. And the City of Angels needs you. Your House needs you, my friend.”
         Faelan’s skin goes sallow. He looks like he’s going to be sick. “Marius,” he says, his voice beginning to shake with emotion, “it’s not right. I thought you called up Cias. Even if I wasn’t meant to leave, I’m a hunter, not a tutor. I collect them, I bring them in. That’s it. And we had a deal.”
          “Cias isn’t even close to being strong enough for this,” Marius says, seemingly oblivious to Faelan’s frustration. “Look at her.” He steps closer to me. Before I realize what he’s doing, he reaches out, runing a finger gently over my temple. A strange buzzing fills my skin as he whispers, “So much hidden there. Why else would she have been tucked away with the humans for so long? Something has kept her locked out—perhaps the Cast. We must discover why. I don’t trust anyone more than you.”
          “No, Marius,” Faelan says through his teeth. “You will not get me mixed up with the Cast. I’ve had enough of this madness you’re always planning.”
          Marius releases a tired sigh. “Foolish boy. So faithless.” He turns away from us and walks back over to his desk. He picks up something—a knife, or a very large letter opener—and taps the tip against his chin. “You shall aid in this demi’s Emergence, offering yourself as her chosen protector. As your House master, I call you to this task, Faelan Ua Cleirigh. Until it is fulfilled or until you have perished from this plane.”
          Marius rests the blade against his palm, then slides it across, opening the skin. Thick crimson blood begins to seep from the wound as he holds his hand out in offering. “Come now,” he urges Faelan, that lazy grin tilting his lips again.
          “Fuck all, Marius,” Faelan growls. But he pulls out his own dagger and cuts his palm the same way. He looks pissed as he reaches out and takes Marius’s bloody offering.
          Marius laughs and pulls Faelan into his chest, giving him a hug, slapping his back like he’s congratulating him. “Now this will be a contest. Wait until the Introduction tomorrow, you’ll see I’m right.”
          I find myself pitying Faelan, but I’m not sure why. He’s acting like Marius just asked him to donate a kidney. The guy looks seriously annoyed as Marius releases him and steps away.
          “Take her to the Cottages in Malibu,” Marius says. “My wife, Barbara, will happily see she’s given every amenity, and you can stay in the east forest bungalow while our guest stays in the west.”
          “What about Aelia?” Faelan asks. “She’s going to be trouble.”
          “She will obey. I’m her father, after all.”
          Faelan seems dubious.
          Marius turns his attention back to me. “Be gentle with our hunter, kind Sage.”
          I nod, though I’m not really sure what I’m agreeing to. The only thing I know for sure is that the guy who’s supposed to show me everything about myself, about what I am, is completely miserable about it. I should probably be offended, but I’m not. I don’t blame him at all. Apparently, I’m deadly.
          “Sorry,” I whisper as Faelan starts pacing in front of the desk. He glares at me. I wave my hand like I’m trying to explain. “I mean . . . that you’re stuck with me.” I don’t understand what’s in my head right now. Why am I apologizing for something I have no control over? Everything in me feels so weird.
          “Good morrow, children,” Marius says as he heads for the door in the back of the office. “I’ll check in at the Cottages this evening to hear the progress report. We’ll have supper together.” And then he slips into the room where the white-haired woman and someone who’s famished are waiting for him.
          Morbid curiosity fills me How does all of this hunger/feeding stuff work, anyway? Is it through touching, like I did to Ben? Or drinking blood, like Ben did to Faelan? Or, like, could there also be actual chewing? Does it depend on who’s doing the eating?
          A shiver of revulsion runs through me, along with something else. Something that makes it a bit tougher to breathe.
          I look over to Faelan and immediately regret it. He’s leaning his hip on the desk, pinching the bridge of his nose, eyes closed. The blue-green tattoos running over his arms seem more obvious now; they shape his muscles like a work of art. He’s still got dried blood on his shirt from earlier. The smell of it fills the air around me for a second as I study him.
          Peppermint tingles in my nose.
          And an ache fills my skin as weird urges tease the back of my mind, to step closer, to touch him. But it’s not a normal desire to be close to someone. It’s an intense need. A hollow pang. It starts to claw its way out of the darkness inside me just like it did when I touched Ben. Like it does when I look into the flame. Touch. Feed. Control.
          I reach up to the charm necklace at my chest like it can calm the feeling. And new terror fills me. Because I know. I know now.
          It’s hunger that’s been calling to me in the fire.



~~~

The song that helped inspire Fire and Bone!



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**About the Author**
Rachel A. Marks is a cancer survivor, a writer and artist, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. Her four kids and amazing hubby put up with her nerdiness with tremendous grace, even when she makes them watch Buffy or Smallville re-runs for days on end. She was voted: Most Likely To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory.

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