So it's been rather quiet on the blog lately, which is my fault, as I've been busy photoshopping and with family and the holidays and the like. We've got some posts in store for you, I think. I've bugged Chris about another Why We Write and mxpw and I are going to put our heads together for a book recommendations post to get you through the long, cold hiatus (unless you're in the southern hemisphere, then it's the long, hot hiatus). But in the meantime, how about a sneak peek of the next chapter of What Fates Impose, hitting shelves January 2, 2011?
2011. I'm sorry, hold on, I have to go run my head under the faucet and process that. In the meantime, you can read this hilarious little sneak peek.
1 FEBRUARY 2008
Why on earth Chuck had decided to lick a dumpster, he had no idea, but given the way his mouth felt when he clawed his way out of the haze of sleep and into wakefulness, he had apparently indulged himself in a few of Los Angeles’s finest waste disposal systems. He groaned and ran his tongue over his teeth, wondering just how the fungus had managed to infect his mouth and grow so fast over his canines and molars.
Of course, it was then that the headache hit him. And the nausea followed gleefully in its wake and socked him right in the stomach.
Right then, Chuck Bartowski wanted to die.
He didn’t care how. Quickly, slowly, it didn’t matter, as long as it ended. His brain shoved against the back of his eyeballs so hard that he could all but feel pressure building in his ears, which also ached as if somebody had been yanking on them all night. The throbbing came in waves of intense pain, slightly less intense pain, agony, misery, agony again, and back to the intense pain.
What the hell had the Russians done to him?
He groaned, and quickly stopped when that proved to be a Bad Idea. His own groan felt like a jackhammer shoved at the point where his skull met his neck, and turned on full force. It only made him moan again. It turned out to be a vicious, vicious cycle that reinforced his desire to simply end his life on the spot.
The spot, a stray thought slipped in, that smelled really nice. Like grapefruit and vanilla and cinnamon, scents that shouldn’t really blend well, but somehow did. It was familiar in a way that would have made him smile if he hadn’t felt so downright miserable. It reminded him of...Sarah.
Chuck’s eyes snapped open.
Yet another Bad Idea. He groaned. It wasn’t the spotlight used by a torturer or an interrogator, but regular sunlight, he was pretty sure. He was also positive that that innocuous sunlight had burned his corneas right of his eyeballs. Why the hell the gods of the sun had become so vengeful against him, he had no idea, but maybe he had pissed in Apollo’s Froot Loops yesterday. It wasn’t like he would be able to remember if he had or not. He could remember nothing but his own name, the intoxicating scent of Sarah, and the pain. Lots and lots of pain.
Speaking of the scent of Sarah: if she was anywhere nearby, which the scent would seem to indicate, she might be feeling just as miserable as he was right now. That meant she might need his help. That thought was the only thing steady enough for him to grasp, the only thing that could make him push himself up onto one aching elbow despite the nausea swirling his system into something far worse than storm-tossed ship, and the only single thing on the planet that could convince him to open his eyes again.
When he did, he immediately wished he hadn’t, but there wasn’t anyway he could take the knowledge back.
He was in Sarah’s room.
More specifically, he was in Sarah’s bed. And when he looked down, it got worse: he wasn’t wearing a shirt. Or pants, he realized a second later. He was in Sarah’s bed, in his boxer shorts, and he had no memory as to how he could have possibly gotten there. Panicked, he looked around, bloodshot eyes scanning everything for some kind of clue, anything that would tell him what had happened. The room painted a grim picture: he could see unfamiliar shoes—in his size—beyond the foot of the bed, looking like he’d just kicked them off, there was a men’s dress shirt folded over the desk chair, but on his side of the bed, there lay his undershirt and a pair of men’s dress pants, strewn across the floor. As if tossed there in a fit of passion.
“No,” he moaned, pushing his hands against his face and scrubbing them over his hair. It was more than nausea making him want to throw up now. “No, no, no, no.”
There was no way the gods would be so cruel. No way anything would be so malevolent as to let him sleep with Sarah Walker and then not remember a thing about it.
“Haven’t I been tortured enough?”
Evidently the answer to that one was no because just as Chuck asked, the door opened, and Sarah strode into her own room, wearing nothing but a towel and some of the water leftover from her shower. She pulled up short, and a huge smile broke out over her face. “Hey! You’re awake.”
Chuck looked from her face, wreathed by the hair dripped onto her shoulders, down her arms, his gaze settling on the knot of the towel between her breasts. It took a mammoth effort, but he hauled his gaze back to her face and offered her a weak smile. “Hi.”
“Good morning.” She crossed around to his side of the bed, brushing her hair over one shoulder, and sat down. “Ready for another round?”