I have the hard task of choosing my favourite scenes from some of my books to share with you this weekend. It might sound like a lot of fun, but sometimes there is more than one scene that I really love in a book and choosing between them can be very tricky. Add to that the fact that I can’t choose a scene that gives something major about the plot away and it becomes doubly tricky!
My next favourite scene is from Ascension, which is a romance between a half-demon hero and a powerful witch heroine.
Taig, the hero, has a hard time accepting his demonic side and nothing shows how vulnerable he is beneath his brash exterior than this chapter, and that’s why I just had to choose it as my favourite scene. It says so much about both Taig and Lealandra.
Taig pulled the car to a halt just down the road and turned off the engine. It was unmistakably the Upper East Side.
â€œWe can walk from here.â€ He exited the car.
Lealandra followed, confused as to why he had brought her to such an affluent neighbourhood. She had thought he was taking her to his place. They walked for a while, passing beautiful apartment buildings and high-end expensive stores. When he turned and walked into a tall building, she paused on the pavement. The old sandstone faÃ§ade was as graceful and stunning as those they had passed, exuding class and a high rental price tag with its elegant canopied walkway that extended out to the road. She stared at the uniformed man stood holding the highly polished glass door open. Taig lived here now?
Taig came back out, her bag in his left hand. Her raised eyebrows didnâ€™t fall even when she looked at him. They stayed there in silent question.
He shrugged. â€œI fancied a change.â€
A change? She followed him in when he turned around and glanced at the doorman as she passed him. This was more than a change. Taigâ€™s old apartment had demons for neighbours and rats in the garbage, and the only doorman had been the superintendant, a demon who had over-indulged in food to the extent that he barely fit in his human skin and liked nothing more than sitting on the steps terrorizing the local women with failed amorous advances. This was a whole new world for Taig. She studied the bright cream corridors with their perfectly polished brass and mirrors, and the polite staff that stopped cleaning as she approached and smiled at her as she passed. This was a very human world.
The only demon in the vicinity was Taig.
Had things gotten that bad since she had left him? Her shoulders slumped. Was she the reason he had moved? She hadnâ€™t left him because he was a demon. Only afterwards had she considered what kind of effect her leaving might have had on him. She had convinced herself that it wouldnâ€™t have pushed the wrong buttons. Obviously it had and in a major way.
Taig looked back at her. A hint of nerves touched his eyes for some reason and she smiled, hoping to alleviate whatever was playing on his mind. When he turned away again, her smile faded. She stared at his broad shoulders and the back of his head. This wasnâ€™t his world. He didnâ€™t belong here. A couple exited an apartment ahead, waving farewell to someone standing in the door. Lealandra guessed from their outfits that the party they had attended well into the early hours of morning wasnâ€™t the sort that would wake the neighbours and have the police banging down the door. The man wore a fine suit and the woman carried off a sparkling plum-coloured cocktail dress to perfection. Their laughter died when they spotted Taig and her. Lealandraâ€™s eyes met the womanâ€™s as they passed. Disgust shone in them.
This was their world, a human world of rules and societal structure, one in which Taig would never fit. He was the opposite of these people. Money and finery werenâ€™t things that he lived for. He was fooling himself by being here. Did he think that by standing in this world, surrounded by this kind of human, he would become one of them? They would never accept him.
Not if they knew the real him.
He stopped at a wide mahogany door, opened it and walked in, leaving it open for her. She peered in to see him slinging her black holdall onto an equally black couch in a large living room. He came back and turned into the room to her right.
Lealandra frowned when she stepped through the doorway and something tugged at her power. She turned and closed the door, and then froze when she saw the wooden doorframe.
Cuneiform-like symbols covered the wood, scratched deep into it. She couldnâ€™t understand them, just as Taig didnâ€™t understand the ancient language of witches, but they radiated power in waves so strong that she felt sick and her magic retreated. She looked at Taig where he stood in the brightly lit kitchen, rummaging through a massive dark red refrigerator.
â€œI take it you donâ€™t invite the neighbours in.â€ Markings like the ones on his doorframe would make humans question his sanity.
He didnâ€™t answer her. He kept his head in the refrigerator.
When he straightened at last, he was holding two dark brown bottles of beer in his right hand, their necks wedged between his fingers.
â€œDrink?â€ He grinned and waggled the bottles.
He was ignoring her. She nodded and he opened the beers and handed one to her. She swigged it and walked further into the apartment.
It was sparsely furnished and the refrigerator provided the only colour. Everything else was either black or white. The pale walls caused the already huge apartment to appear massive. The kitchen cupboards were shiny and black, matching the polished granite work surfaces below them and on the long counter that separated the kitchen from the living room. A flat screen television that had to be over fifty inches took up a large portion of the wall to her right at the end of the living area, and a large black couch faced it, devoid of pillows and as lifeless as the empty black coffee table and the rest of the apartment.
She walked towards the couch, her footsteps loud on the wooden floor.
It looked like a showroom for expensive designer furniture and minimalist living. Not the Taig that she knew. It didnâ€™t suit him.
A closer look at the black door to the right of the television revealed that there were also markings on that doorframe. She turned to the two huge windows on her left, opposite the kitchen. The black blinds were up. Symbols covered the wooden window frames and sills.
Taig might have moved into human territory to feel more like them but his protective instincts had gone haywire because of it. Surrounded by demons, he hadnâ€™t needed to defend himself to this extent. The other demons he had lived with would have alerted everyone if they had sensed something wrong. Out here, in this human world, Taig was alone.
And it showed.
Lealandra took another swig of the beer and stared out of the windows at the myriad of buildings that crowded the scenery. She couldnâ€™t see Central Park but it was there somewhere. They were facing west. Taig always liked his apartments to face west. It was a demon thing. He had never been able to explain it rationally but she suspected it had something to do with the setting sun and the onset of night.
Night was on its way out right now. The sky was slowly lightening. She looked around the apartment for a clock but found none. No pictures or anything personal adorned the walls and table in front of her. Nothing that made it feel lived in, like a home. She wrapped one arm about herself and frowned. The whole place felt cold and lifeless. Was that how he felt inside? Was this void a physical representation of what Taig held within him?
She didnâ€™t like it. It wasnâ€™t Taig, no matter how much he believed it was.
He moved out of the kitchen, leaned his broad frame against the counter next to the square white column at the corner nearest the front door, and swigged his beer. The messy black spikes of his hair threatened to cover his equally dark eyes. He had them glued on her and they sparkled under the white ceiling spotlights.
What had happened to the man she had fallen for all those years ago?
Lealandra took a step towards him but he walked away, disappearing into the room beside the television. She rocked back on her heels when she caught sight of something out of the corner of her eye. It was odd and as out of place as Taig was in this stark environment, but it gave her hope. She walked over to the long black side cupboard that lined the back wall of the apartment and stared at it.
It sat alone on the expansive low cupboard, right in the middle of it, as though on display. The only sign of life. A glimmer of the Taig she used to know.
The picture was no bigger than six inches tall and framed with silver. She lowered her beer to her side and studied the photograph it contained.
A dark haired and dark eyed very handsome man was smiling up at her. In his arms, a lighter haired pretty woman stood with her back against his chest. He had his arms looped under hers and his fingers tangled with hers over her stomach. Her pregnant stomach. It was large and round, stretching the seams of the flowing white top the woman wore. She looked happy enough to burst. They both did. They radiated love so strongly that Lealandra felt a hint of envy. Her gaze fell to their hands, clasped together over their future baby.
It was such a human picture and a very human thing for him to have. It sent a chill through her, made her smile but want to cry at the same time for the things he had lost. His parents. She was sure if they had still been alive, he would have grown up differently. He would have seen his demonic power as a gift rather than a curse.
She reached out to touch it.
â€œDonâ€™t!â€ Taigâ€™s voice made her jump, the harshness and volume of it startling in the quiet room.
Lealandra withdrew her hand and then held it out a little again, fingers hovering just above the intricate markings engraved on the silver picture frame. It exuded power more potent than that protecting the doors and the windows. She closed her eyes and tried to understand it, tried to decipher what it would do if she dared to touch it. It was marked so only he could take hold of it. Her eyes opened and she stared at the photograph of his parents as her power deciphered his. It would kill anyone other than him.
He was protecting the picture more than his apartment.
Lealandra looked over her shoulder at him. He stood halfway between the bedroom door and her, shirtless and perfect, as beautiful as she remembered him. Bronzed skin stretched taut over the powerful muscles of his torso, the sight of them rekindling the desire he had stirred with his kiss in the bar. Her gaze wandered upwards, over hard pectorals and strong collarbones to the tense corded muscles of his neck, and then to his face. All sense of desire fell away when she saw his lost look and the way he was staring at the picture.
Her heart went out to him.
Taig turned away and pulled a black t-shirt on over his head, and her eyes betrayed her. They dropped to his back, watching the delightful way his muscles shifted with his movements. The mark on his left shoulder blade was barely visible, a shade or two darker than his skin. His lineage. A symbol so intricate and beautiful that it outshone any witchâ€™s mark. She had traced it with her fingers in the past, following the swirling lines and trying to distinguish their path. The whole symbol looked almost like a heart. Taig didnâ€™t see it, but then he never had liked to talk about his mark.
He never liked to talk about himself at all. He hadnâ€™t told her much about his parents, only that his mother was human and his father was a powerful demon, and that they had disappeared when he was thirteen and he believed they were dead.
She couldnâ€™t imagine how hard it had been for him to lose his parents when he was only a teenager, how hard it must have been for him to live not knowing what had happened to them, and how difficult growing up alone had been. He had gone from a world full of love to one completely devoid of it.
Taig walked away, back into the bedroom, and reappeared a few moments later with a pillow and a blanket.
â€œYou take the room. Iâ€™ll sleep out here.â€ He flung the pillow down at one end of the black couch.
His prickly demeanour was a warning not to argue and that he wanted to be alone. Lealandra took another look at the photograph, at the happy family, and then grabbed her bag off the couch and went into his bedroom. It was as void of life as his living room and kitchen, with a solitary large double bed standing against a black wall, and two small side cupboards. The wardrobes were built-in, white to match the rest of the walls, and the black blinds on the two windows were down, blocking out the morning light. She opened them and idly traced her fingers over the markings on the frames as she stared out at the dawn.
She took a deep breath and sighed.
This room smelt like Taig.
It smelt of spices and warmth.
It comforted her.
Lealandra set the beer bottle down on the side cupboard and sat on the bed. Her dark red coat blended into his bedcovers. She ran her hands outwards, feeling the lingering presence of him in the room and on the bedclothes. At least she would feel safe while she slept, imagining him wrapped around her, holding her close. She shut her eyes and fell back onto the bed. She wanted to ask him to hold her but that would only lead to trouble and she still wasnâ€™t sure what Taig wanted from her or if he still had feelings for her.
Her focus shifted to him.
Was he lying in the living room wondering what she was thinking, just as she wanted to know what was going on in his mind?
Rolling away so her back was to him, she frowned when she noticed the slim black phone beside his bed.
She picked up the phone and dialled his number. It was early enough in the morning that he might already be awake. If he wasnâ€™t, then she hoped it waked him. She had to speak to him. The call connected and she listened to it ringing at the other end.
â€œHello.â€ The sound of Matthewâ€™s sleepy voice swept her back to her old life and a time when magic had been all about having fun.
Now it was anything but that. It was dangerous and she was forever on the verge of losing control to it. She longed to go back to those happier times and then her senses shifted to Taig and she didnâ€™t want to go back after all. Even though her magic was more powerful now and life was difficult, no longer carefree and full of laughter, she wouldnâ€™t sacrifice it and her tentative relationship with Taig in order to return to her old life.
â€œItâ€™s Lea.â€ She swallowed and didnâ€™t give him a chance to say anything. â€œI know my coven have contacted you. Donâ€™t come to New York, Matthew. Itâ€™s too dangerous and I… I donâ€™t want to see you hurt too.â€
He yawned and she heard material rustling as he moved.
â€œLea, whatâ€™s wrong? This Gregori calls me out of the blue and says that youâ€™re in trouble and need a new Counter-Balance, and now youâ€™re calling me to tell me to keep away? Iâ€™m coming to see you. Just tell me where you are.â€
â€œNo.â€ Her heart beat faster at the thought of him trying to find her. She didnâ€™t want him anywhere near the city. â€œI mean it, Matthew, stay away. Iâ€™ll be fine. I have all the protection I need, but I might lose that if you come here. I canâ€™t guarantee your safety. Once Iâ€™ve made it through this, Iâ€™ll come to see you and everyone, I promise.â€
â€œDoes your protection have a name?â€ There was a smile in Matthewâ€™s voice. She smiled too. When she had left Taig, she had spent a few days with her old coven before leaving for her new one. Matthew had been her shoulder to cry on. He had held her together, spending almost a day listening to her and letting her cry all she wanted and not saying a word out of place. Without him, she would have fallen apart completely.
â€œI think you know his name.â€
â€œI also know that Iâ€™m not needed then. I wonâ€™t come… but if you do need me, you only have to call, okay?â€
â€œOkay.â€ She nodded and held the phone for a moment. â€œDonâ€™t tell Gregori. Just… go abroad for a while or something.â€
â€œYouâ€™re that worried? You donâ€™t need to answer that. I can almost see your frown from here.â€ He laughed and then sighed. â€œIâ€™ve always wanted to visit Europe. Maybe our coven will go out of town for a while. How does a month sound?â€
â€œPerfect… thank you.â€
â€œNo, thank you. I might have walked into a war and the last person I want to fight with is you. Call me if you need me and Iâ€™ll be right there. Stay safe, yes?â€ The concern in his tone touched her and she held the phone tighter, wishing she could see Matthew and hug him instead. He would be a powerful ally in her time of need, and could help her survive her ascension, but she couldnâ€™t risk him. It was better that he stayed away until everything blew over.
â€œYou too.â€ She ended the call before she faltered and asked him to come to her, and her attention moved back to Taig.
The impulse to go to him was strong and almost impossible to resist. She wanted to talk to him, to unlock his secrets and ease his pain. It laced his aura, a physical thing that she could sense as if it were her own.
Her brow furrowed and she stared at the wall, not seeing it. Just feeling him.
Lealandra knew that he didnâ€™t like himself and that his part-demon part-human status left him feeling as though he had nowhere to belong. If she could find her voice, she would tell him that he did belong somewhereâ€”he belonged here on Earth, with her.
But she couldnâ€™t.
Countless times, she had planned to tell him that and every time she had failed. No matter how often she had practiced it in mirrors or recited it to herself while she showered, whenever it came time to say it to his face, the words fled her lips and her voice died.
She lay on the bed, not brave or strong enough to face him and make him believe her.
He would argue against it and she would crumble.
She had to find the right moment, the precise point when Taig would actually believe her, and then she would try to tell him. All she could do right now was let him know that he wasnâ€™t alone in the world and that her feelings for him hadnâ€™t changed. If he wanted her, all he had to do was come and claim her, to make her see that he still felt something for her too and the games he was playing were only because he had been hurt.
Lealandra stood and removed her coat, folding it neatly and placing it on one of the side tables. She pulled her boots off and then began to unlace her corset but stopped. It had to be now. This was the perfect moment for giving him at least a sign that she still loved him.
Her footsteps were silent on the beech wood floorboards. She crossed the room to the door and hesitated on the threshold.
Taig lay on his back on the couch, bare chest exposed and one arm under his head and the pillow. His other hand rested on his stomach. The slow rise and fall of it said that he was asleep. Well, at least one of them was relaxed enough to sleep. Clearly, thoughts of her hadnâ€™t been playing on his mind and keeping him awake after all. She crept into the room. The light was low with the black blinds down and she knocked the coffee table. Taigâ€™s empty beer bottle wobbled at the corner nearest him, threatening to fall and spoil the moment, and then stilled again. She edged around the table and eased to her knees at his head.
Her fingers trembled as she brought her hand up and swept the long strands of black hair from his face, clearing his eyes. He really was beautiful when he wasnâ€™t shooting his mouth off or trying to make her angry. She ran her fingers over his brow, following the line of his dark eyebrows, and then trailed them slowly down over the contours of his cheekbones and jaw.
He frowned and turned his face towards her before opening his eyes. Their black depths met hers and she smiled.
Confusion filled his eyes.
Lealandra leaned towards him, closed her eyes, and brushed her lips against his. It took him a moment to respond and butterflies danced in her stomach and chest when he kept the kiss light. His tongue traced her lips and hers came to meet it, softly tangling with his and luring it into her mouth. He tasted of beer but she didnâ€™t mind. She was sure that she did too. She dropped her hand to his neck and leaned in closer, wanting more, and then reminded herself that this wasnâ€™t supposed to go anywhere, not tonight, and if she kept going, it would do just that.
After one final brush of her lips over his, she pulled back.
Taig stared at her, eyes wide and lips parted.
â€œThatâ€™s how I kiss goodnight,â€ she whispered and rose to her feet.
His gaze tracked her across the room. She trembled inside, wondering if her goodnight kiss had been a wise idea and whether Taig would come to her.
She fell flat on her front on the bed and sighed.
It had been a stupid idea.
She touched her lips.
It had been nice though.
She focused on Taig and realised that he was doing the same, using his power to sense her.
The ball was in his court now.
Remember you can download Ascension for FREE today on Amazon Kindle!
A witch on the verge of achieving phenomenal power, Lealandra must turn to her half-breed demon ex-lover Taig for protection from the dark force that is after her and also from her own magic.
With her Counter-Balance dead and her coven against her, Taigâ€™s blood and power is the only thing that can help her control her magic and survive the ascension and gain the strength to defeat her enemy.
Old feelings come flooding back as Taig allows her into his world and Lealandra finds herself fighting not only for survival but to win his broken heart again and heal the pain in their past. Can he forgive her for walking out on him all those years ago and will he ever believe her when she tells him that heâ€™s not a monster but the man that she loves?
genre: paranormal romance
length: 91000 words