By Jake Bonsignore
Look at that beauty. Love it. Gorgeous. Thought provoking.
It's due for release on the 29th
As I began my obsession over this book Jake offered to let me share some excerpts on my blog!! He's such a nice guy, honestly. I love it when authors get just as excited about me liking their books as I am about their books. The niceness of authors (Jake sitting high up there) is unbelievable and I'm proud to be a part of the bookish community. I've read all the teasers, excerpts and then some, and I highly recommend you read them too. (They'll also be linked at the bottom)
Here's a little teaser to wet your whistle!
Chapter One (partial)- for the curious minds
“Wait, this is all? You can’t be serious! Is this some kind of bad joke? I can’t do anything with…with this pittance!”
Breena let out a frustrated sigh as her fingers absently caressed the six dirty bronze coins. They were better than nothing, but not by much. She had enough troubles on her mind without the tiresome games Korvan played with her pay. He always tried to bully or push her around, just like everyone else. She knew better than to be surprised. Frankly, she was tired of him thinking of her as his personal servant.
“What did you expect, Miss Taljain?”
“At least three silvers, Korvan. I can barely afford to eat with this. I’ve slaved in your kitchens every day this week, and I’m not going to settle for it. You know this is wrong.”
She ignored his amused scorn as she encased the coins in her palm and tightened her hand into a fist. He would not treat her so poorly if only she was older and stronger. A wiry fourteen-year-old could only be so pushy and convincing. The fact that she stood at only five feet in height did not help, either. Her strawberry-blonde hair ran to her shoulders and accented her emerald-green eyes, which glistened with eager tears she fought to hold back. Be strong, girl. Don’t let him see you cry. She would have been stunning if not for her tired, almost haggard look. Even her brilliant smile could not hide it.
Breena lacked any jewelry to adorn her neck or wrists. She was sure a single piece would have made her positively radiant. A ruby or a garnet or anything quite fiery would suit me. Not in this life, though. In fact, she was convinced that suffering was simply in her blood. By all rights, she should not even be working. All the other teenagers had the luxury of enjoying their days. They frolicked aimlessly with their friends and gossiped about the newest fashion trend or the way their classmates doted at them.
Not me, of course. School’s just a blur on the rare days I can go. Instead I’m wasting away in this forsaken dump. Mother won’t be pleased if I don’t bring home money. I was sore and bruised for days after the last time….
She let the thought trail off when Korvan raised his brow in mock astonishment and chuckled wryly. His sarcasm irritated her to no end.
I could say the same about your face, old man, Breena reasoned. She forced herself to endure his withering stares as she hunched over the sinks and submerged her hands in the constant flow of warm water and rough soap. He made dishwashing an onerous task. She would have told him to leave her be if she could without making eye contact. The combination of the few patches of hair adorning his age-spotted, sallow flesh and the weedy mustache above his gapped, yellow teeth always made her stomach turn. He had the charisma and appeal of a rotting carcass, and even that was being generous.
Why me? She found herself asking that question often as of late. Why? Things have to get better one day. They have to.
Never mind that she was barely a teenager and already had a series of calluses forming against her once soft, pink palms. Breena was not certain if she should hate him more for refusing her pay or for employing her at all. He’s no different than the rest of these pigs. He owned the cheapest bar in town and all the constables frequented it. They would not make a move against The Laughing Banshee unless they wanted more spit in their food and ale. She supposed scum was simply scum, no matter what form it took.
“Do you have a choice? Maybe you should get the hint and understand it’s time for you to move on. I don’t want you here anymore.”
Funny you should say that. Your wandering eyes tell me otherwise. “Who will do your slave labor for you then, Korvan? You don’t even provide me with gloves. I’m young, not stupid. You owe me money.” She crossed her arms angrily against her chest and contorted her face into a bitter frown. With luck, he would not hear the heavy pacing of her heart. She could only be so intimidating with a bright flower in her hair and a short, skimpy skirt of crimson and jet-black. That, along with the fishnet stockings she wore, made her seem more like a loose tavern wench than an upset kitchen drudge throwing away her youth to make ends meet.
It was difficult not to ask herself how she had ended up like this. How different would her life be if her father had taken her away years ago? Whoever he was, the man did not even have the decency to write to her. Did he think of her and all the misery his abandonment put her through, or was he already six feet underground? She wondered if there a point in asking ‘what if?’ and daydreaming. She would live and die in Purgaire.
Breena watched as his jet-black, prying gaze lowered to the slender, pale frame under her sweaty attire. She let out an incoherent noise of disgust when she realized he was enrapt with the way her stance pronounced her breasts. They’re too small to be of note, anyway. Ugh. In her rage she had forgotten that he was a crooked lecher. It was not as if she dressed life this by choice! Alas, she needed the money and beggars could not be choosers.
Breena repositioned her arms and growled under her breath. She noticed a twinkle of ravenous hunger in his dark smirk and shivered in spite of herself. Must he make it so obvious? She lost track of the countless times he violated her with his beady pools. Still, she did not consider leaving. She often told herself that looking was free; touching was different. She would manage as long as he made no threatening move. There were likely much worse alternatives out there. Even so, it was nice to dream that the heavens would hear her prayers one day and take her far away from him and all of Purgaire.
This time, however, was different. Something inside her snapped.
At once, she decided she would not return to The Laughing Banshee, even if it meant enduring her mother’s violent wrath or resorting to stealing again. She was sick of being a beacon of abuse. Maybe she would get lucky and find someone in need of labor elsewhere. She was not too talented, but she could learn. There had to be someone decent out there! Of course there are, but they won’t employ a dirty street rat like you. She would get by without his foul money. She always did, somehow. Her mother would only steal her bronzes and silvers the moment she let them out of her sight, anyway.
Korvan noted she had become wise to his perversion and smirked. “You’re sorely mistaken if you think you’re looking out for my benefit. Look around, my dear. This is no place for a child. I can’t have you here anymore. Go now and don’t come back, please. It’s in your best interests.” He threw her a coin. “Will that make you go?”
She deftly caught it but ignored his last question. The joy of discarding her so suddenly would not be his. “Oh yeah? How do you figure that?”
He sighed. “I’ll be frank with you. You’re still just a child, Miss Taljain, and I have to admit you’re already quite a looker. Yes, you are.” He licked his lips and made another obvious inspection of her assets. “What are you, fourteen or fifteen now? You’re going to become a mature woman soon, and that shouldn’t happen here. You’re too beautiful to waste on the trash I feed out there.” He gestured to the door behind her that led to the bar’s central room. “I don’t want to ruin you. It’d be a pity to stain the only gem in all of Purgaire.”
She growled at his flattery. “Any more than you already have, you mean?”
He chuckled and rubbed his whiskery chin. “I’m not perfect, girl. Nobody and nothing is. Listen. I’ve been garnishing your pay for months now and you still haven’t gotten the message. Surely you’ve noticed that?” He raised a brow in interest and screwed up his face when she remained quiet. Did she really not know? “I’ll give you one more week. I can’t make more exceptions. Stay any longer and you’ll become a serving girl. Trust me, Breena. You don’t want to interact with my patrons directly. They’re ravenous dogs with itchy hands, and you’re the honeyed salve.” He shook his head. “That’s the best I can do. Got it?”
She shut her eyes tightly and looked away. His message to her was all too clear. Why had Fate thrown her down such a rocky road? Why me? It was not like she had anybody to turn to. Her mother was a Nepenthe addict and had long since become a stranger to her. She never knew her father. None could even recall his name. Her classmates and peers shunned her, too. She was different, and different was bad. Occasionally she would find solace in the streets, yet they were far from kind. More than once she had nearly surrendered to hunger and illness.
Finding the motivation to go on was becoming harder each day. Shedding tears in front of Korvan would only make it more difficult. She may be a fourteen-year-old in body, but she was twice that in spirit and mind. Korvan would never see her act in weakness or despair. That was a victory she would forever deny him.
**You may be reacting like this^^ I know I did and still am**
Here's teaser number two!
She ran across Purgaire as fast as her legs would take her and finally came to a panting stop just outside her house. Nightfall had settled in along the way, bringing with it the danger she had never quite grown used to. Moving quickly was the only way to really avoid the rumormongers and cutthroats that came out after sunset. Even so, she found solace in listening to the deep hooting of the owls and the sorrowful songs of the crickets. She liked to think they were as lonely as her. Within minutes the tears ceased flowing from her glossy eyes. Sure, things would be harder now without the barkeep’s coin. Leaving The Laughing Banshee was necessary, though. She could not expect to stay his maid forever.Breena sat on the brown, dead grass outside the rundown hovel she called home and bowed her head. No, it’s just a house. It has never been a home. She crossed her legs beneath her and wiped at her cheeks with her sleeve. There had been a time when she had such great plans for her future. She was too young for them to already be gone. Would her life have turned out differently if she was born elsewhere?
In fact, part of her wished she could cry more so it would blot out the scenery around her. The harsh residential district of her town was like the abandoned project of a delusional madman. Her house was just one of dozens built on poor, uneven foundations and composed of small, lopsided rooms teeming with insects. The land around them was terribly arid, too. Only a few tall patches of grass sprouted up here and there. Muddy trails and dirty roads covered everything else.
Breena could not help but curse the shoes she walked in. Why me? She would not find any safety or peace here. Constables ignored the crimes that transpired behind the boarded windows and closed doors of the slums. It’s better to avoid a problem than become a part of it, they would say. She had heard it all before. They had no real authority. Breena despised them all for it. They made no attempt to clean up the streets or stifle the hundreds of wrongdoings that occurred daily. She lived in endless fear because of them. In truth, they were responsible for the whole town’s decrepit state.
Even the distant brilliance of a hundred stars could not bring any light to Purgaire or her mood. If only she could leave this horrid town and never look back! Still, she would sooner grasp her own shadow before that see that dream come to fruition. The streets had sharpened her mind and senses, yes, but she was still too young and weak to survive on her own for long. Having wits and quick fingers were not always enough.
She had already accepted the fact that her childhood was gone. Truthfully, she had never had one. Mother made sure of that. The world would not change tonight, tomorrow, or ever. Believing that dawn would one day break over the cloud above her was more dangerous than withering beneath it. Hope and faith were luxuries she could not afford.
The idea that Korvan and his sadistic patrons lusted for her sent shivers down her spine. What would anyone see in her? Her body was her only possession that nobody could ever take. She was proud of it, even with a thin, somewhat boyish figure that had lost its sheen years ago. She would rather perish a thousand times than face their violation.
Korvan…the bastard’s just like all the others.
Breena let out a wistful sigh and swallowed hard. The unusual silence that filled the air made her suddenly edgy. The creeps and ruffians would be coming out of hiding soon. Lingering outdoors was far from wise, especially while she still wore the barkeep’s humiliating attire.
She reluctantly stood and let her upset gaze wander to a snow-white glimmer in a nearby tree. At once her brows narrowed for a better view and a delighted gasp escaped her mouth. She could almost feel the dimples in her cheeks form while the muscles above her lips twitched. Why does it hurt when I smile?
A small, startling dove was perched atop the tree’s highest branches in a nest composed of twigs. Its feathers were as pure as the flakes of snow that would soon fall in the upcoming weeks. The bird was easily the most beautiful thing she had seen the entire week. It was hard not to feel a pang of jealousy towards it. To her, the bird was the embodiment of splendor and freedom. She would be ever grateful if she, too, had wings. She would go far, far away to a land where nobody knew her name.
I would go to Tian. Yes, Tian. The thought of the upstart town in the south filled her with ease. What she would give to be there…! The dove belongs somewhere better, too. What is it doing in Purgaire, anyway? The rest of the world must be so amazing. One day…one day, I’ll also be free. I’ll never come back to this dump. Let it burn for all I care. I’ll rise from it like a phoenix from ashes. If only…if only I…. She could not find words true enough to finish the desperate thought. This was not the time to give in to gloom.
If wishes were horses then beggars would ride, though, she glumly mulled. Her environment had long since made her numb and cynical. It’s still nice to dream sometimes. Why, though? Why me?
**Now, I know you want more but the rest comes out on the 29th. Only 10 more days. So below I have the link for some excerpts from Empyreal Illusions that you didn't just read :)) and some links so you can stalk him and ask his questions or just say hello. I'm telling you, he's friendly!