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Excerpts & Book Trailers

'Flying With Fire'
Excerpt: Chapter Two
Copyright 2013 Emma Mills

Chapter Two
Present Day
Brooke frowned, looking down at her grubby pyjamas and trying to ignore the dull thrumming in her head as she squinted through the shadows. Darkness was fast encroaching, and as the last glow from the sun’s rays disappeared, long menacing shadows appeared among the trees. The remains of an ancient pathway had long since faded away, so Brooke glanced left and right, wondering which way would lead her home. Thinking about home felt strange and she wasn't sure which home she thought she was going back to. Brooke had had several homes, but as she tried to focus her thoughts the thumping in her head beat louder and the sense of disorientation grew stronger.

The crack of a branch somewhere to her immediate right made her jump and swivel around, but there was nothing to see but dark trees. She realised that standing in the little clearing was probably not the smartest thing to do if someone was lurking, watching her. So after straining her eyes into the darkness one last time she quickly turned and slipped into the cover of the trees on the opposite side. No sooner had she got there than she heard more rustling of branches and leaves, and the cracking of dead sticks underfoot. This time the sounds surrounded her, drawing nearer, louder with each second that passed.

She supposed it could have been a search party; after all she had no idea where she was and couldn’t even remember which home she was supposed to be heading to, or indeed how she had ended up in the forest in the first place. To her knowledge the last place she had lived was with the Shores, but maybe something had happened and she was supposed to be back at The Home; after all, the last time she’d thought she had a new family, she had blacked out and found herself back there. Who knew? But her immediate instinct told her to hide, to get away as fast as possible, and to run. The problem with this plan was that there was nowhere to run to. The sounds came from all directions. Scanning around for an escape she spotted a huge, ancient oak tree - perfect!

Thankful for the summer spent with a family of boys near the Forest of Dean, she quickly hoisted herself up into the lower branches and began climbing. Hearing the sounds drawing nearer she speeded up, skinning her elbows as she hauled herself higher into the cover of the smaller branches and crisp green leaves. Just as she settled herself against the broad trunk, tucking her knees under her chin, a man burst through the space below and ran into the clearing a couple of metres away. He arrived there simultaneously with two others, another man and a woman.

All three of them were dressed identically in tight black combat trousers and black hooded tops. From her perch Brooke would have been able to see them all quite clearly, if there had been some light; as it was she had to strain her eyes to make out their features. One of the men had his hood up, shielding the features of his face, but the other two had theirs drawn back. The male looked young, a boy really, not much older than herself. His blonde hair was cut short, his features hard, as if carved from stone. The girl was petite, with her pale blonde hair tied back tightly in a simple ponytail, her face set in a grim, determined expression.

‘Where are the others?’ she asked immediately.

The boy shrugged his shoulders, concern briefly flickering across his face, as he looked to the sky.
‘They’ll be here. Give them time. They went in to get the child,’ the hooded man said.

‘They should be here already. We were running late, thanks to Pete thinking he heard someone in the forest. Something must have gone wrong,’ the girl replied, scowling at the younger man who shrugged again and answered back.

‘Look, I heard someone, OK! Maybe it was Christian and David, and they left already,’ the boy named Pete answered.

‘They would not have left without the transfer taking place unless under threat, and I can see no evidence of that. They’ll be here,’ the older man interrupted.

Suddenly the branch Brooke was holding onto with her left hand snapped, making her jump. With her heart beating wildly she pressed her back along the trunk and slowly slid her knees down along the sturdy branch she was sitting on, trying to meld the contours of her body to that of the tree; willing herself to disappear.
‘What was that? There’s someone out there, I'm telling you,’ the boy insisted.

‘Impossible. No-one would be this far out in the forest at this time of night. It’ll be a wild boar or something, but you two go and scout around if it makes you happy. Be quick!’ the man ordered.

Brooke willed her heart to stop beating so loudly and tried to breathe slowly and silently, as the boy immediately crashed through the undergrowth into the space directly below her. He knew she was there somewhere. She knew it and he knew it. He had heard her earlier and been listening out for another sign, a sign that would reveal her whereabouts. He was sure she was there. All he had to do was look up above his head, but instead he scoured the bushes, smashing through them and shaking the young saplings, as he pushed them aside in his haste to find her.

The girl had already returned to the clearing, when minutes later a louder rhythmic pounding of boots upon the forest floor drew nearer and interrupted Peter. After scouring the entire area he had paused directly beneath her branch and was slowly tilting his head, scanning all the lower branches of the trees surrounding him. Another forty five degrees and he’d spot her. Thankfully, seconds later two more men, again dressed head to toe in black, pounded into the clearing and Pete gave up his search and leapt in after them.

The remains of the lingering sun had by now completely vanished and weak moonlight was attempting to weave its way through the trees into the clearing, helping Brooke see a little more clearly. One of the newcomers had a large bundle stuffed into the front of his jacket, an arm wrapped protectively round it, holding it close to his chest. The other man was bleeding profusely from his right side and arm, his jacket ripped open and hanging loose. They looked exhausted and red welts scarred both faces as they looked to the hooded man.

‘What happened? Have you been followed?’ he asked.

‘They had information. I think they expected our attack, although they didn't know the full details,’ said the man holding the bundle.

‘How could they possibly know? The couple were alone only a couple of hours ago, completely oblivious. There must be a traitor in our midst. Dave, we need to get you back; you need looking at. Christopher, give me the child and assist Dave with his return to Headquarters. Tell Celeste to go ahead with the plan and meet me at the chosen point.’

The man named Christopher unzipped his jacket and carefully passed over the bundle to the hooded man. As this took place, a sudden beam of moonlight shot out between the trees and fell onto the roll of dirty material, which Brooke realised with shock had wriggled and made a quiet mewling sound. During the switch-over the sheet had fallen back to reveal a baby’s head, its eyes wide and staring, its face calm and peaceful. A second later, the sheet was drawn quickly over its head again and it was bundled into the hooded man’s jacket. With a curt nod, Christopher then turned to his injured partner and they set off at a steady jog through the trees in a new direction.

For a moment, Brooke wondered if there was anything she should do, could do, but what could a fifteen year old girl do to save a baby from three, most likely armed, adults? She pulled herself together. After all, she still had no idea where she was and maybe the men had saved the baby rather than stolen it. Probably not, but she told herself she could check the news when she got home and then go to the police with information. It would be much better all-round if she didn't get caught eavesdropping, right here and now.
The tree was beginning to dig into her spine. She could feel it rubbing against bits of bare skin, twigs and leaves irritating the side of her neck. Her chest ached from the constant need to breathe as shallowly and silently as possible, and her elbows burned from where she had skinned them climbing in such a hurry. She tried to inch herself into a more comfortable position, but daren’t move too much in case she made a sound. The thrumming in her head became a pounding and soon she couldn't hear anything but the drum beats in her brain. She closed her eyes and willed the pain and the strangers to go away.

She must have dozed off momentarily, because the next thing she knew was total panic as she jolted awake and in doing so began to fall from her hiding place. Her hands flailed above her, trying and failing to grab the branch above, but it slipped through her fingers, the bark grazing her hands, burning the skin. There was a second of pure fear as she fell through nothingness, and then with a hard thump her head smashed into the branch below and everything went black.



'Genevieve': A WitchBlood Novella
Excerpt
Copyright 2013 Emma Mills


Outskirts of Paris 1793

The lane was so cold Genevieve could see the frost sparkling on the cobbles. She was the only one outdoors. It was a necessity. They must have food. Hesitating in the shadows of the rotting wooden door, her eyes scoured the alleyway before stepping out. A quiet moan reached the girl’s ears and she turned back to the dilapidated cottage, whispering encouragement.

‘I’ve got to go. We need food.’

The girl’s mother was lying half hidden in a dark corner of the room, with what had once been a finely woven blanket, but was now spoiled with mud and snags.  The woman’s breathing was shallow, her body unaccustomed to the hardships of the last month, her emotions unable to compute the loss of her entire family... the betrayal of her eldest son.

‘Stay, please?’ the mother begged, her eyes filling with water as she stifled another bout of coughs.

Genevieve’s face creased with worry and her head pounded. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten, and the muddy water they had shared churned in her stomach, making the hunger pangs worse. She knew they should stick together, but her mother could go no further and they needed bread.

 The girl tugged nervously on the peasant trousers her younger brother Alfred had found for her, before Philippe had betrayed them all. They were loose and felt strange against her skin, the shoes were too big and slipped when she moved forward. She pulled the long cloak round her tiny waist and tucked the wisps of dark hair back into their hiding place under the hat she’d stolen. She felt small and vulnerable without the enormous panniers, corset, double petticoats, and dresses. The panniers made her three times the size of the male courtiers and her wigs had made her a foot taller, but now she felt like a child again.

Genevieve had become quite adept at stealing over the past couple of weeks. She had no choice. She frowned, thinking of the diamond earrings she’d received as an engagement present on her fourteenth birthday; it seemed a lifetime ago. So much had happened in five years.

The foundation of the National Assembly, followed by the imprisonment of the king had saved her from an arranged marriage and a lifetime of sitting pretty in Versailles. Yet her parents had snubbed Alfred when he had urged them to flee. They had too much faith in their breeding. They had royal blood. They were to be respected, admired. Papa refused to call it a revolution; to him it was merely political unrest which needed a strong hand. Unfortunately for them King Louis XVI was never revered for his leadership and like much of his court was known instead for excess and frivolity.

Genevieve sighed and took a last glance at her mother’s shivering body.

‘Buy something for us then. We still have coins?’ her mother queried.

Genevieve patted her waist. She still had the gold charm bracelet and a purse full of coins. She’d hidden them beneath the bandages which were wrapped tightly round her chest, in order to hide her curves. Life would be so much easier if she could only sell the jewels, pay for somewhere warm to stay, and food to eat, but she knew she couldn’t risk it. The coins in her purse weren’t dirty coppers befitting of a peasant; they were shiny golden francs. She knew that proof of any kind of wealth would mean that their disguise as peasants would be null and void; not only that, but what would follow could only get worse. Your age or sex didn’t matter. She’d witnessed other mothers and childhood friends beaten, raped, tortured and ridiculed, their heads shaven before being paraded through the mean streets, only to meet their ultimate demise alongside the rest of her family. No! The girl gave her head a shake. She would find them some bread. She would survive. They would survive.



WitchLove (Book 3)
Excerpt
Copyright 2012 Emma Mills


At the back of the house was a small, neat lawn with some decking and garden furniture, but I soon crossed that and after opening the wooden gate in the back fence, I passed through and found myself on a woodland trail. The tall evergreens encroached right up to the garden perimeter and the narrow, well-trodden path led deep into the midst of the trees before disappearing. It felt like I was stepping into another world, a world ruled by faerie queens and green men. The house had been quiet, as it stood alone, but once I passed through the gate even the odd noise from the house soon vanished.

I followed the track weaving through the trees for quite a while and then, just when I was considering turning back I came to a dead end, or so it would look to any passing human. I could see the fifty metres or so ahead of me where the track was blocked by a couple of tall fir trees, their branches interlocking with the nearby evergreens and oaks. Nearer to me another pathway crossed mine, leading away from the trees and looping back into the forest. Obviously this was the way to go, but something drew me to investigate further. I ignored the new path and followed mine to its conclusion. Once I reached the obstruction I could see better and realised that part of the blockage was not quite what it seemed, but was in fact an illusion. The tree on the left was in fact growing further forward than the others, so whereas further back it looked like a complete wall of foliage, it actually was not, and I found I could slip behind it quite easily.

I found myself in what I initially thought was a small glade, a natural clearing filled with soft mossy grass, however on further inspection I realised that the trees surrounding it formed a far too perfect circle to be natural. There were twelve trees which formed the circle, all of them some kind of silvery pine tree; all virtually the same height and breadth. All were four equal strides from the next; I know because I counted! Other than the trees, there was nothing unusual to be seen. The ground was soft and green with the odd twig scattered amongst the early fallen leaves. I looked around for a log or stone to sit on, but there was nothing to be seen. I decided to bring Brittany here the following day, to see what she thought of it and made to leave, but a sudden cracking of sticks underfoot halted my exit and I darted to the edge of the circle, intending to nip into the shadows.

As my foot crossed the ring’s edge an invisible barrier suddenly threw me back as if electrocuted, so I landed in the middle of the circle again. I bounded to my feet and ran for the same entrance through which I’d come, but I couldn’t find it. The trees appeared to be spreading their branches, moving in on me and an unexpected wind whipped up, lashing my hair across my face as I ran from tree to tree, trying to find my way through. The vampire within me jumped eagerly into the fray in full on defensive mode, but there was nothing to fight. I sped around the circle, my eyes focused on any possible escape, my ears tuned into any sound, but all I could hear was the screaming wind whipping the branches into a frenzied dance.


WitchBlood
Excerpt: Prologue
Copyright 2010 Emma Mills

The party was supposed to be taking place tonight; at the cricket club in the village where I’d grown up, and where my dad had lived until this very week. But I say ‘was’ in the literal sense, because here I am looking at the empty building. It should have been bustling with people, decorating and bringing food, but it was devoid of life; empty but for one rather cute looking guy. Looking slightly taller than average with broad, toned shoulders, he was sitting on a wooden bench overlooking the green, tears silently tracing patterns through his unshaved stubble, his piercing blue eyes glazed with grief.

He’d been there for at least twenty minutes, not moving. I knew this because I’d sat through every one of those minutes, watching him - the boy I loved. The boy I’d had impossible dreams about for weeks. The boy I couldn’t let go.

It was ironic that I'd been the one who'd been watched, completely unbeknown to me ever since puberty. For five years they watched and waited, expecting my unusual genetic code to kick in, hoping to help me choose the right path; but I suffered no prophetic visions, not once did the electrics blow up on me, and so the code lay dormant, unused and unneeded, whilst I fell in love with the boy next door.

But now it was my turn to be the watcher, and with my genetic code awakened and running riot in my body, I found it difficult to stay still. Stay hidden. I watched his tears and imagined he was waiting for a sign and wishing things were different. Wishing he hadn’t gone away to Dublin, wishing I hadn’t gone clubbing in Manchester with my girlfriends, wishing he’d never left my side and wishing my best friend hadn’t gotten so drunk she’d left the club without me.

Was he questioning life and death, wondering if there was a heaven, and if so did he think I was there? Could I see him sitting there, wishing things were different?

Yet I am here, standing in the shadows watching him, unable to come out of my hiding place. I cry silent tears for his pain. I want to run to him, but my feet remain welded to the ground, unable to move a step closer for fear of what may happen. Still, I’m equally powerless to leave him alone, unable to take my eyes from his face. A face of which I know every contour, a face I grew up with, a face I want to hold in both my hands and feel his tears against my cheek.

I know exactly how his dark blonde, unruly hair would feel if I could clench it between my fingers. I know how his lips would feel: dry, a little bit cracked in the winter sunshine, but warm, always warm. And this is the reason I stay away; this is my secret, because only half of me wants to hold him, kiss him, curl into his arms and cry with him.

The other half I struggle to control. The other half wants to leap the short distance to his feet, hold his head in my hands, breathe in all his scent, and bite. Bite down hard and feel his warm thick blood rush into my mouth and throat and heat up my body. Set it alight like he’s never done before, and suck until there’s nothing left of him.

So for now I stay in the shadows. Watching and waiting.

7 comments:

  1. OK Emma, I'm hooked. Where's the rest of the book? I need to know how you ended up as a vampire!!!!!
    Awesome, Stinky Fat Dog Sue xxx

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  2. Haha thanks! I will hopefully be uploading it and publishing later in the month.

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  3. So I have read Witchblood and Witchcraft and am eagerly awaiting Witchlove... I AM HOOKED! Thank you, Emma. For doing what you do best!

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  4. So, after devouring both Witchblood and Witchcraft in nothing less than 2 days time. I do not think I can wait much longer to no what has happened.....I think everyone who has read the series will know what I am speaking of!! Thank you for creating something that I can lose myself in.

    Hole Heartily, Kirsten <3

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  5. Wow.....thru your books I fee as tho I have become a serious serial reader. I read them both with one sleep in 24 non stop hours....glad I had no kids home! So now that I'm lover wired I'm desperately in much need of number 3 please!!! I'm begging you please!!! Awesome read!

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  6. I just finished your books and I have to say I am in love!!!! Will there be another book in this series? If so, when?! I am so anxious! :)

    -Gina

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