It’s going to be a busy writing month for me, so I won’t be posting too much (except for contests and such, and a long-winded post about covers), but I thought I should start the New Year off right — with a bit of Ethan. So here’s an excerpt from Demon Night (it follows the first excerpt on the main page. Some stuff happens between that excerpt and this one, but you can probably follow along if you’ve read it (if you haven’t read it — basically, Charlie is attacked by vampires, saved by a mysterious man with wings, then tells her neighbor Ethan McCabe all about the incident (but tries to pass it off as a tall-tale, so he won’t think she’s insane.)))
Or, what the hell — just enjoy a little objectification of a fine male form.
When the book opens, Charlie and Ethan have been neighbors for two months, but they’ve only spoken to each other from their respective balconies, with a wall between them. In this, Charlie finally meets Ethan, face-to-face.
Charlieâ€™s resolve to walk the four blocks to Coleâ€™s â€” boldly and unafraid â€” faded with the setting sun.
At seven-thirty, she swallowed her pride. She might be crazy worrying about vampires, she decided, but she wasnâ€™t an idiot: the twisted gate at Coleâ€™s wasnâ€™t a figment of her imagination. And there was no sense in going alone when she could just ask Ethan to take her.
It didnâ€™t occur to her until she was on the balcony, calling Ethanâ€™s name over the wall, that a normal person would have knocked on his front door â€” and that if he wasnâ€™t outside, he couldnâ€™t hear her voice. But he either had very good timing or hearing, because a moment later his door slid open.
She pressed her hands against the wall and rose up on her tiptoes as if the extra three inches might let her see over, and only succeeded in looking at a spot on the next piece of vinyl siding. â€œEthan?â€
That voice, so warm and smooth, and with a hint of amusement. Her fingers curled, her nails rasping faux wood grain. â€œRemember I told you last night I had an incident?â€
The amusement vanished. â€œYes.â€
â€œIâ€™m still a little jumpy.â€ She drew in a deep breath. â€œOkay, Iâ€™m freaking out. So I wanted to ask a favor.â€
â€œYou want your cigarettes back?â€
â€œNo.â€ Yes. Yes yes yes. Her eyes squeezed shut. â€œThough I guess we wonâ€™t be Pyramus and Thisbe anymore. I was hoping youâ€™d drive me to work.â€
â€œI would, Charlie, but my automobile is in storage.â€
Startled, she blinked her eyes open. â€œReally? I thought I was the only one who didnâ€™t drive much.â€ And sheâ€™d never heard â€œautomobileâ€ drawn out so long, like a word that sat foreign on his tongue. Had he exaggerated it, knowing that his drawl made her laugh and hoping to ease her anxiety a bit?
It worked. She sank back down to her heels, waited for his reply.
â€œIâ€™ve got no need for one here. But Iâ€™ll be happy to walk with you.â€
The anxiety returned full-force, but underscored by giddy excitement instead of fear. â€œOkay. All right. I have to be there at eight, and Iâ€™m almost ready. Go and get dressed, Ethan, and Iâ€™ll be at your door in five minutes.â€
â€œGet dressedâ€”?â€ His chuckle roughened the night air. â€œAm I to wear something special?â€
Her skin heated, but she wasnâ€™t going to admit that sheâ€™d been babbling like a schoolgirl with a crush. â€œNo, I just assume when people are alone in their apartments, they walk around naked. I know I do.â€
He was silent for a long second. â€œWell now, Miss Charlie, I wish youâ€™d told me that two months ago. I might have come on over for a cup of sugar.â€
She grinned, but only said, â€œFive minutes,â€ as she backed into her apartment, her pulse racing. A check in the mirror. Jesus, the bruise made her look like a hooker whoâ€™d been slapped by her pimp. But slathering foundation on it would just make it worse, not to mention hurt like hell, so she left it alone. Her brows and lashes were naturally dark, but she touched up both. Her hair was good…great, actually, even with brown at the roots. Sheâ€™d leave her hat off as long as possible.
Her coat still smelled like burnt duck, but only when she sniffed it up close. Ethan wouldnâ€™t be that near her.
And she didnâ€™t usually wear jewelry, but she selected a two-inch cross dangling at the end of a long black cord. It had been a part of a Halloween costume, and was supposed to hang between her breastsâ€”but she wound it around her neck like a choker.
A lot of women wore similar necklaces; Ethan probably wouldnâ€™t think anything of it.
The knock made her heart stop, and she forced herself to walk slowly to the door. He hadnâ€™t waited, but maybe his apartment was a mess, just like most guysâ€™, andâ€”
Charlie was used to being level with a manâ€™s face, if not his eyes. She had a large frame, though sheâ€™d pared down and hardened her soft singing weight at the gym, and she was above-average height.
But Ethan was tall. And not at all as sheâ€™d imagined, when she had let her mind wander that way. Sheâ€™d seen urban cowboy, blond, with a big hat and a bigger buckle, Wrangler jeans and pointy-toed boots.
She hadnâ€™t pictured short, melting-chocolate-brown hairâ€”thick and uncoveredâ€”that just brushed his forehead. Eyes the color of fine whisky, caught between amber and caramel. Shoulders broad enough to carry a woman easily, hips lean enough to wrap her legs around.
He wore boots, but with a rounded toe and sturdy like a construction workerâ€™s. The rough weave of his brown trousers caught at her memory, but Charlie couldnâ€™t focus below his waist long enough to pin it down, not when his face had those roughly hewn planes and angles, like heâ€™d been carved from oak, and his jaw looked strong and absolutely lickable.
â€œHello, Miss Charlie,â€ he said with the voice that matched his eyes. A scar cut through the left side of his thin upper lip, and crooked his smile just a little.
â€œHi,â€ she said, and for the first time was glad that the rasp in her throat hid her croak.
His gaze fell to her cheek. His jaw clenched, and oak hardened to stone before he met her eyes again. â€œYou all right?â€
â€œYes.â€ Beneath his tan corduroy jacket, she saw the edge of brown leather suspenders.
She should have been bold. Should have been unafraid.
She was in so much trouble.