Thursday, 18 February 2010

Excerpt Day – The Guardian © Mary Calmes

 

Excerpt

 

It was hard to explain what it was that woke him. Even trying later to put the experience into words, Jude found it impossible. One minute he was lost in a dream, the very next he was wide awake, panting, sitting up in bed in a cold sweat. What in the world? He felt like he was drowning and squeezed in a vise all at the same time. When he tried to go back to sleep that proved futile. The overwhelming feeling of dread would not budge; he needed to get up or something horrible would happen. So even though it made no sense, he rolled out of bed and went to the bathroom. Looking into his own dark brown eyes in the mirror, he realized that maybe it was just his own life that had him awake at three in the morning. Lately it seemed like a pit had opened up and he couldn’t pull free. Nothing was going right, and with no end in sight, it made sense that panic would leap from his subconscious, where he kept it pinned down all day, and grab hold of him while he was sleeping. But even as he told himself that the fear was logical, he still couldn’t shake it. Maybe if he took a walk he’d feel better; his one-bedroom apartment felt small suddenly and claustrophobic. He had to get out.

      After pulling on jeans, a heavy wool sweater, and hiking boots, twenty-six-year-old Jude Shea made his way from his brownstone toward the park. It was slow going, colder than he thought it would be, but being outside worked to clear his head. He felt calmer, steadier, grounded… until he heard the growling. Turning the corner he realized that he had made a left instead of a right. He had meant to take the path over the footbridge but had ended up going under it instead and now found himself at the mouth of a small tunnel. From where he was he could see the moon-washed path on the other side, could see the barren trees and even the wrought-iron fence, but between him and that was the total darkness of the creepy, smelly tunnel. And something close by was growling.

      It took only a second to decide to reverse his course and go back, but in that heartbeat of time, he felt something resonate inside him. It was the pulse again, the same throb, a pressure that pushed against him like a sonic wave, like something or someone was calling to him. Jude had never felt anything like it and found it hard to process, to categorize. There was no pain, just the feeling of falling, like the first drop on a rollercoaster. He shivered hard, deciding quickly that nothing would keep him from moving forward. The pull was too strong to ignore. He had to find whatever it was he was outside in the cold looking for, because maybe if he found it, the hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach would go away. He could only hope.

      As Jude strode into the dark tunnel, he felt stupid for even hesitating. The growling had obviously been just the howl of the wind. He was not a woman who had to worry about being attacked, and at five-eleven and covered in lean muscle, there were not a lot of men who could hurt him without a weapon of some kind. Really, the only thing he had to worry about at all was finding a job. Having been looking for one for the last two weeks, he was exhausted. He had no business being out of bed at three in the morning looking for what… something that had drawn him with its siren call? It was crazy, and yet he plowed on through the pitch black of the tunnel to the other side.

      When he emerged, the second he came around the corner, he saw them. There were four dogs in all, three on their feet and one on the ground. The three that were hovering were taking turns biting and clawing at the prone figure. The snarling was loud, the attack was vicious, and the dog that could no longer fight back would be dead soon. A feeling of relief washed over him, and he knew, beyond anything remotely logical, that he was there to save the dog. He yelled, and there was instant silence but for the moan of the wind. It had rained earlier, and between the wet chill in the air, the black shapes outlined against a dark charcoal sky, and the way the leaves blew across the path, there was an eerie feel to the night. When the dogs turned on him and charged, heads lowered, he felt as though he were facing some primordial foe instead of feral dogs in the park. Even for someone as rational as Jude, there was a second of horror before he heard the laughter.

      Turning, he saw the group of people emerge from the tunnel. Four men, three women—and the first guy on the end reached under his jacket as he called out “Hey, man, you all right?”

      The guy had a gun, and normally a man with a gun outside of law enforcement would be a concern, but right then the only thing Jude could be was thankful. He took a breath so his heart could start again.

      “What the fuck’s goin’ on?” another of the men asked.

      Turning back to face the dogs, Jude realized instantly that they were gone. “Where did they go?”

      “That way,” one of the guys said as the group reached him, pointing into the trees to the left. “Man, you are all kinds of crazy.”

      Jude didn’t waste another second of time. Charging up the slight incline, he fell to his knees beside the injured animal. It was enormous, not as big as the others—their size had been freakish—but still the biggest dog Jude had ever seen.

      “Oh shit,” someone said behind him.

      The dog lifted its head just barely and looked at its savior before the snarl tore from his throat. The sound made everyone except Jude shudder.

      “Ohmygod, don’t touch him!” a woman exclaimed.

      “Get back he’ll rip your arm off!” a man warned.

      Jude was too close to the wounded animal. If the dog wanted to, it could tear out his throat or maul the hand reaching toward him. There could be no protection from an attack in the slight distance between them.

      Nothing mattered to Jude but the fact that the dog was hurt and needed him. Every other concern paled in comparison. The second he felt the wet heavy breath on his skin, Jude knew it would be all right. He smoothed his hand over the dog’s nose, and its tongue darted out to lick his fingers. Scooting forward, cradling the dog’s head in his hands, Jude gently, tenderly, put the heavy skull down on his bent knees. The dog’s whimper was almost painful to hear as it pushed forward, trying to get its body closer to the man. Jude knew the animal had to be freezing, it was shaking with pain and fatigue, but its innate need for human contact still had overcome its instinct for self-preservation. The dog wanted to be in the man’s lap.

      “It’s okay, baby, I got you,” Jude promised the dog as its eyes started to droop closed.

      There was a chorus of oh from the women, assorted groans, and finally the command from the first guy to help the fuckin’ guy with his goddamn dog. Jude looked up at the man with a leather trench coat over his black Versace suit and thanked him.

      “You are one lucky sonofabitch.” The man smiled down at Jude, the diamond in his front tooth catching the light. “What the hell were you thinkin’, walkin’ up on a wounded animal?”

      “He needed me,” Jude said helplessly.

      “Yeah, well, I suggest maybe you use your brain next time.”

      There was always a first time.

 

The Guardian

Mary Calmes

Publisher:  Dreamspinners  Press

Buy Link

 

Jude Shea’s life is turned upside down when he rescues a dog he names Joe. Even though Jude has enough trouble taking care of himself – he doesn’t even have a job – he can’t resist the animal that needs him. Then one night, a man shows up on his doorstep looking to claim Jude’s new companion. As they run from a surprise attack, Jude finds out that “Joe” is not what he seems.

Eoin Thral is a guardian from an alternate dimension, and once he leads Jude through the veil that separates their worlds, he transforms into a handsome hulk of a man known for his fighting skills, not the capacity for love. Jude finds himself immersed in Eoin’s world, and he’s faced with the fight of his life to secure a happy future for them both.

 

 

5 Speak To Me:

Chris on 18 February 2010 at 13:46 said...

This really needs to be the next thing I read. :) The contest to win a copy of this book runs through 7 pm CST, February 22, at my blog.

Erotic Horizon on 18 February 2010 at 14:39 said...

@Chris..

I am gearing puto read this one now..

Have you read Mary Calmes - shifter book... I picked it up when I got The Guardian...

E.H>

Tam on 18 February 2010 at 14:45 said...

Wow. I keep hearing about this author and I've seen the book but for some reason it never sucked me in, but you seem to have done your job because now I'm dying to know what happens. LOL

Chris on 18 February 2010 at 15:01 said...

@EH - I did! I enjoyed it. :)

Erotic Horizon on 20 February 2010 at 11:15 said...

@Tam..

I just finished this one and I liked it alot...

She has a shifter book - I am going to sink my mitts into soon...

E.H>