There’s less than a month to go until the release of Cinder’s Dance. I couldn’t be more excited about bringing this next installment to you. One of the things I like to do when I finish a project is to draw out my characters to see just how clear the picture of them is in my head. It’s interesting how small details that never need to be described in print can trip you up when you’re trying to draw it out. However, I recently finished a collage of all of the major players from from the series thus far.
This was so much fun to work on. The brothers especially were a lot of fun to do. Trying to find a pose for each of them that summed them up in one glance was tough. Keith’s long-suffering defeat made me laugh every time I looked at him. Being the oldest of this group is a rough, thankless task.
You know what’s even better than sharing this collage of the gang all together? How about a quick glimpse at the first chapter of Cinders Dance?
Faery promises were like lace—attractive, beguiling, and full of countless snagging holes. Jack knew better than to trust a faery’s word. They couldn’t lie, but they could twist the truth beyond recognition.
Candle flames flickered in his bedroom underground. The thin tapers awaited his decision knowing inevitably he would make the wrong one. He should accept the terms of his sentence, shouldn’t torture himself going back for a taste of everything he was giving up. But Scatha had offered him the chance to go home, and the one thing Jack did believe was that her offer would only come once.
The full-length scrying mirror beckoned from across the room. The heavy gold frame was an ornate sculpture of branches with fragile blossoms, tiny metal-veined leaves, and round globes of fruit. The frosted edges of the glass were so spotted with age that looking at his reflection was like staring at his own ghost, but the room beyond his shadow wasn’t the same subterranean chamber in which he stood. Instead, it showed a dark, smoky version of his bedroom back home.
Jack drummed his fingers against his thigh. What would his brothers do in his situation? As soon as he thought the question he rolled his eyes. None of them would be in this situation in the first place, and stay or go, they’d still find a reason to chew him out.
His fingertips brushed the small gold harp that swung from the leather strap across his chest. Uaithne, the Harp of Seasons—his destiny and his curse. If he could just find the willpower to set it down and never look back none of this would be an issue, but that was a thousand times easier said than done.
He only had a few moments before he lost his window. Even as he stared, the view of his room started to go black.
Now or never. He charged the portal at a run, and the antique glass lit up like a flashlight. It startled him, and he stumbled. Unable to stop his momentum, he closed his eyes and braced for the crash.
The looking glass shattered on impact, but instead of slamming into the wall behind it, Jack broke through into a tunnel coated with mirrors. At the opposite end, an enormous archway blazed with silver-white light. The mirrors took that light and magnified it until the tunnel burned white-hot.
The reflected glare seared Jack’s eyes, and he clapped his hands over his face to keep from going blind. Waves of light beamed down on him so that he felt like an ant caught under a sadistic kid’s magnifying glass. He tried to back up, to retreat to the cool safety of his room in the Otherworld, but where there should have been a broken doorway was only an endless passage of more shining mirrors.
At least when he looked behind him the light wasn’t so intense. Squinting, he tried to adjust to the blinding glare. Something moved in one of the reflections beside him and his stomach lurched as though he’d missed a step. A young woman with long, silky black hair and luminous white skin hammered against the pane as if she was trying to break her way out.
Like the sea before a tidal wave, the blood drained from his face before surging back in a scarlet flood. He’d just traded his freedom so the fae would let Eira live! Was this the fate that he’d bought her, a lifetime trapped in a hall of mirrors? It would be just like the fae to twist his sacrifice into a fate worse than death. He rushed over to her.
“Eira? What happened? How did you—” Jack froze. Although his mouth formed the words and his vocal chords thrummed, he couldn’t hear the sound of his own voice. From the veins standing out in her neck, Eira was screaming at the top of her lungs, but Jack couldn’t hear her. The tunnel remained absolutely silent.
She didn’t appear to see him either. Her blue eyes looked straight through him as if he wasn’t there. Jack waved a hand in front of her face, but she didn’t so much as blink. Then, just like the vision of his bedroom, abruptly she faded.
Jack gulped. That probably wasn’t good.
He squinted toward the light at the end of the tunnel and jolted with shock.
Every surface between him and the exit now showed his reflection. He flinched as his own face surrounded him from every direction, but like a funhouse, no two reflections looked the same. In one shard over his shoulder he appeared no older than seven. In a continuous loop his younger self flew headlong toward the gateway with tears streaming down his face. Another panel showed him skeletally thin, his skin and muscles so withered it was a miracle he wasn’t dead. Jack remembered that moment, waking up after his last trip to Faerie to find himself dangerously dehydrated and malnourished on a hospital bed.
Ahead, a wide pane just off to his left showed him on a hill above a battlefield playing the golden harp. The bright silver glow engulfed him that always appeared whenever he used his magic-enhanced musical gift. Beneath his cliff, shadowy figures raised their fists in what could only be a cry of victory.
He was in a scrying mirror surrounded by glimpses of his past, present and… future?
He tore his eyes away. He’d never seen that cliff or the battle that waged beneath it. If it was some vision from his future then he didn’t want to know.
Jack turned back to the archway and hissed at the assault of the light against his eyes. Abruptly, his throat closed up as though an invisible hand grabbed him by the windpipe.
Waves of panic swamped him as he gagged on the breaths he couldn’t draw.
The remaining air in his lungs ignited like the end of a cigarette. His knees buckled and he fell onto all fours only to cry out. Every uneven groove in the floor was an edge of cut glass!
Get up, you fool! You cannot dwell in the Way Between Worlds! Your human senses are failing. If you wish to reverse the damage you must get through the tunnel now! Uaithne’s warning rang through his mind as sharp as the glass that slashed up his knees and hands. As much as he hated the harp’s voice in his mind, its urgency spurred him to get back on his feet.
His head swam from lack of oxygen and blood stampeded through his veins.
The light in the archway flashed as bright as a solar flare—just like the mirror had blazed as the portal prepared to seal itself shut. He shielded his face in the crook of his arm. Black dots winked around the edges of his vision. Only a few more steps….
Feeling as though he waded through a chest-deep pool filled with Jell-O, Jack forced one foot in front of the other until the doorway was in reach. Even though it meant the gateway was closing, mercifully, the blinding light dimmed a little. He reached out, passing his hand through the glowing membrane. Flames incinerated his lungs, and a surge of vertigo shot to his head. Then, his legs gave out beneath him. The light of the tunnel extinguished, and everything went black.
As you can tell, Jack’s adventure is just beginning. If you can’t wait to find out what happens next, preorder your ebook HERE and have it delivered to your device March 13! And for the latest previews and updates on the evolution of this series, be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE.
So what do you think? Are you looking forward to going on another adventure with Jack?