Welcome to my White Palace
I hear your melodic voices echoing in my head.
“Write faster!” “Stop procrastinating!” “When is book 2 coming out?”
So, for all you Fraktioneer fans, here’s a little sneak peek of what’s in store. (Mind you, it’s unedited, so you may get a little more than you bargained for 🙂 )
Greta floated in nothingness – weightless – lost in a dream.
She waited, impatiently, for him to come. His visits had been becoming less frequent, making her mind to wander more often. In fractured visions, she often saw a fleeting pair of stunning ice blue eyes. A soft pair of full lips. She wanted those lips to part. To speak. But each time she ventured close to them a blistering pain blindsided her, making her retreat further into her own mind.
“Sternchen,” her father called out to her.
“Yes, Papa. I’m here.” He appeared, taking form in the blinding white like an angel sent to bring her to heaven.
In the beginning of her confinement, she’d thought she was dead. Alone. She felt no tether to her body. Free from worry for the first time in so long, she’d forgotten what it was like.
But he’d shown up. He’d told her about the mission he needed her to complete. About the imposters who were keeping her captive and keeping them apart.
“How do you fare today, love?” He took a step toward her. His ability to maintain form in this liquid place always astounded her. She seemed to be no more than a cloud of particles, held together by some outside force that kept her from bursting apart.
“I’m ready,” was always her answer. She was tired of lingering in limbo. He’d trained her well. She knew her mission, and she was willing to carry it out.
He tutted his tongue against the roof of his mouth disapprovingly. “Not quite yet. Don’t be so impatient, Sternchen.”
“Papa,” Greta moaned, “When can I leave this place?”
“Soon,” he promised, as he did every time he visited. “Soon. Now…” He smoothed his palms down the immaculate lines of his navy suit. “Let’s begin.” She closed her eyes… Or the places where her eyes used to be. She knew what he wanted. “Do you feel the thread?” he asked.
Each day he came to train with her, his excitement grew in minute amounts. Not in ways an outsider would notice, but if she paid attention, she’d see them. The subtle tip of a smirk at the corner of his mouth. The slight tremor in his hands.
Greta plucked at the glowing line of blinding white, her body becoming whole as soon as she touched the light. She grasped it in both her hands, bringing it toward her. “Yes.”
“Good,” he chuckled, a sound that seemed alien coming from him. “Good. Now, split the thread in two.”
Greta whispered the words he’d taught her. They still felt foreign on her tongue, though it seemed to her she’d heard them before. Long ago. Maybe in a dream.
As soon as the last syllable left her lips, the thread split down the center, unravelling into two equal but unique parts. She gripped one in each fist, holding them tightly to keep them from merging back into one. In the space created between threads, she could see outside her bleak prison. She saw color and light and sunshine, and this was the reason she awaited Papa’s visits so impatiently.
There was something out there, in the outside world. She had to find it. She felt like a piece of herself had gone missing, and if she could open this door and step through, it would be waiting for her on the other side.
“Uargh!” Jami growled and slammed down his binoculars.
Poor Gus shouted, “Christ, Ragnarsson!” and nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Shh! You want them to hear us?” he hissed, running his fingers back through his blunted hair. He’d failed a second time before his braid had even had a chance to grow, so he’d taken a knife and done the honorable thing. With his luck these days, he should probably just shave the shit off. Even now, the golden strands were so short, they tickled his nose and eyelashes as they blew around. Making him more agitated than he was already. “What the fuck is he waiting for!?”
Gus shrugged and blew into his shaking hands. “Maybe we should just go.”
“Go? Now?” They’d been camped out on this blasted mountainside for nearly a week. Watching and waiting for August Brandt, Greta and Gus’s psychotic father, to do something interesting.
Or anything at all, really.
The same number of guards still patrolled the walls of the mountain fortress Jami used to call home. Lights still flickered on and off within. No one had come or gone. Since he and Stein had rescued Greta from there nearly two weeks ago, and he’d made his subsequent daring escape, nothing had changed. Nothing.
Jami turned away, bored with watching the Takers in riot gear freeze their asses off atop Ragnarsborg’s thick, stone walls. “You’re sure he knows where she is?”
“Yes, I’m fucking sure,” Gus trilled, his thin teenage body racked with shivers.
“Hey,” Jami grunted, “Watch your mouth.”
“Thanks, dad.” The boy rolled his eyes and huffed a breath up through his fringe of dark hair. “You cuss all the damn time.”
“I’ve been on this earth a lot longer than you. I’ve earned it.” He pulled the blanket he’d been sitting on out from under his ass and tossed it at the kid.
Gus scrunched up his face in distaste, but he wrapped the thin fabric around his shoulders all the same. “And how much longer is that exactly?”
“A lot.” Gus mimed a laugh and rolled his eyes again, reminding him of Stein at that age. In fact, just about everything about the kid reminded him of Stein. His lanky build. Keen intellect. His smart assed attitude. Had he been like that as a teenager? He couldn’t remember. “Trust me kid,” he grunted, “The less you know about me, the better.”
“Stop call…ll…ling me k…kid.”
Jami, turned toward the boy, a snarky comment on the tip of his tongue, but he took in August Jr’s drooping eyes and the pale hue of his skin. His lips were chapped and turning blue. Breath sputtered out of him like a faulty steam engine, puffing into the wintry air. Gods, was it really that cold? “C’mon,” Jami said, tossing his makeshift pack over one shoulder and pushing up from the ground.
Gus looked up at him, his head canted to the side as if he was having trouble holding it steady. “Where we goin?”
“Some place warm. So you don’t freeze to death.”
The boy shot him a toothy grin. “You’re finally taking me on that tropical honeymoon?”
“Yeah,” he said, helping the kid to his feet. “You, me, Jamaica. Sea. Sun. Sand.”
“Well,” Gus gurgled, sounding like he’d had a few too many, “Not the sun.”
“No. Not the s…” He caught the boy under the arms as he toppled sideways. “No ya don’t.” Jami stooped his knees and tossed all hundred twenty-five pounds of fifteen year old over his shoulder, the blanket wrapped around the boy like a Gus burrito. “Gods, this night keeps getting better and better.” He started out of the cave they’d been occupying and began picking his way carefully down the mountainside. “You Brandts and your fucking fainting.”
He rolled his eyes up toward the sky, calculating the time until sunrise. The nearest town was fifty miles away. He was fast, but not that fast. “Hey, kid?” He shrugged his shoulder, rousing Gus from sleep.
“Fine,” Jami conceded, “You’re not a kid. Where’s your dad’s back up plan?”
“Back up plan?”
If he knew August at all, and he thought he knew him pretty well, dear old dad had a place nearby to fall back to if the need arose. “Where would he go if the shit hit the fan?”
“Trapper’s cabin. South. In the trees.”
Jami turned and headed south, knowing exactly where he needed to go. Trees didn’t grow well in this rocky soil. But down in the valley between peaks, they grew tall and strong.
Within minutes, he found the place, following the stench of Taker rot wafting off the two guards posted at the door. Shit. “I’m gonna have to leave you here, kid,” he whispered as he gently shucked the boy from his shoulder and set him on a snow covered log. He got no response, but that was probably for the best. No one needed to see what was about to happen.
The beast took over without asking permission, and Jami was just along for the ride. With preternatural speed, he rushed the first of the two guards, snapping the Taker’s neck and rendering it unconscious before it had the chance to cry out. And then, he was on the other one, using his powerful claws to rip apart the Kevlar armor covering the Taker’s throat.
His fangs burst free, and the beast laughed as Jami tried to fight back against this. Not again! Not again! But it was no use. The beast snapped his jaws closed around the guard’s exposed flesh, severing its jugular.
Blood and ichor filled Jami’s mouth, and he lost all will to protest. It had been a long time since he’d experimented with drugs, but nothing had ever made him feel this way. Floating on a cloud of euphoria, never wanting to come down.
He dropped the guard to the ground, dead and devoid of essential fluids like an empty wineskin, and then moved back to the first Taker. The thing was still out for the count and put up no struggle. It was all too easy to break through his Kevlar neck-plate to get at the gooey center.
“Rag… Ragnarsson?” A weak voice had Jami’s head whipping around. The red haze of his vision caught on a lean shape stumbling out of the trees.
He rose and tossed the spent Taker away, inhaling deep and pulling the scent of a fresh warm meal into his sinuses. “Want,” he growled.
The boy’s eyes widened as he took a measured step backward. “Ragnarsson?”
Jami dug his toes into the earth and sprang, pushing off at top speed. In less than a breath, he was on his prey, wrestling the boy to the ground and pressing his face to the side, exposing the pale expanse of his throat.
His fangs itched to strike, but he hesitated. Layers of smells sifted in through his nostrils, and one caught his attention. A sweetness. Like something from a memory he couldn’t trace. Vivid purple eyes flashed across his mind’s eye. A pair of soft, full lips.
He stared down at the boy, whose own lips were moving frantically, though there was no sound. His hands began to glow a pure and blinding white. The light burned Jami’s eyes, and he scrambled backward, trying to escape it.
But one of those white hot palms closed around his wrist and held him in place. The other slapped against Jami’s chest as the boy yelled a single word. “Halt!” And Jami’s world burned away in a ball of blinding light.
BloodBound © 2016 Lu J Whitley