Check out an exclusive excerpt from Fractured by Sarah Fine, the second book in the Guards of the Shadowlands series – and an otherworldly giveaway!
Sarah Fine’s Guards of the Shadowlands series continues next week with Fractured, will be released on Oct. 29, and Hypable has an exclusive excerpt focusing on the continuing adventures – and tribulations – of Lela and Malachi.
Sanctum, the first book in the series, began Lela’s story as she walked through hell to save her best friend’s soul from torment. Now returned to the mortal world with the not-quite-human Shadowlands Guard Malachi, Lela finds that her town is being attacked by dark creatures called Mazikin. Fractured follows Lela as she fights the terrors of the underworld on her home turf, struggling to balance the demands of the human world with the necessities of the darkness below.
Check out Hypable’s interview with Sarah Fine to learn more about the author, and read the exclusive excerpt from Fractured for a taste of what book two of Guards of the Shadowlands has in store for Lela.
I left my neighborhood and drove toward the highway. Malachi shifted in his seat as I accelerated along West Shore Road. “Are you all right?” I asked.
“Yes. It’s just . . . fast.”
I glanced over at him. He was holding the oh shit handle with a white-knuckled grip. “Still not used to riding in cars?”
“Not yet. I did a few times in Bratislava, but they were not like this.” He scanned the road, the sidewalks and stores, the gas stations and office buildings. “Nothing was like this.”
“I’m sorry.” I touched his hand as I stopped at a red light. “It’s easy to forget how new and different everything must be for you. You’ve done really well so far.”
He rewarded me with a sexy smile. “Because I’ve got you to show me around. Speaking of — where are we going?”
My grip tightened on the steering wheel. “To the East Side of Providence. The camera that caught the Mazikin on video was north of the Brown University campus, and the two people who saw it were students.” If anything happened to a Brown student, it would be national news, so the police would be out in force. It made our job that much harder.
Malachi nodded. “It’s a densely populated area?”
“Providence is more urban than Warwick, but not as crowded as the dark city. You’ve seen that the land of the living is different, though. People notice things—and each other. They don’t wander around with their heads down, absorbed completely with themselves.” My gaze drifted to the sidewalk, where several people were walking along, faces lit from the glow of their cell phones. “Okay; they do sometimes, but not all the time.”
The light turned green, and I accelerated again, this time a bit more slowly, and turned onto the ramp to I-95 North. “It’s strange,” Malachi said as he watched the scenery go by, “that this is the exact place you lived before, and it happens to be where the Mazikin arrived.”
“No kidding. Figures that the portal from hell would open up in Rhode Island.” I hesitated, and then decided to say aloud what had been bugging me. “I think the Judge knew where they would pop out once they went through the wall next to the Sanctum. I think she might have . . .” I stopped, feeling stupid and paranoid.
“You think the Judge intentionally lured you to the dark city, to be pressed into service.” He didn’t sound like he thought it was a ridiculous idea.
“Yeah. If it’s true, she has funny ideas about what makes a good Guard.”
Malachi chuckled. “You sell yourself short, Lela.”
“Let’s hope so,” I muttered as the lights of Providence came into view.
I exited the highway and headed up Wickenden, past the tattoo parlor where I’d gotten Nadia’s face inked onto my skin as a memorial. I made my way up the narrow street and turned left, onto the road that would take us deep into the East Side. Malachi squinted out the window, inspecting the shadows. I found a place to park off the main road, beneath the low-hanging branches of a tree and out of the glow of the streetlights. Malachi immediately pulled the pack into his lap.
“We’re going to have to talk about this weapons thing,” I said.
He gave me a puzzled look.
“You can’t stroll down the street with a couple of grenades strapped to your chest. Besides . . . I’m not so keen on carrying that stuff.”
Malachi nodded. “Because you’re not comfortable with them yet. You will be, once you’re properly trained.”
“I know, but—”
He reached into the pack and pulled out a familiar-looking belt. It was part of the set of armor, black leather and badass that Michael had made for me when I was behind the Suicide Gates.
“Wear this, and take one knife.” He held one to the light. It had a subtle forward curve instead of a straight edge. “This one isn’t meant for throwing,” he explained. “It has a forward drop, better for slicing than a straight blade, but not curved enough to interfere with stabbing. I had Michael make it for you.”
“Um, thank you.” I took the belt but eyed the knife in his hand. I could just as easily stab myself as anyone else. “But we might not find anyone—”
“There is no reason not to be cautious.” He clipped the knife, complete with a sheath, onto the belt, and then tipped my chin up with his fingers. “If the Mazikin ever did catch you, it would be quite a prize for them. Even before Sil and Juri knew how much you mean to me, even before you were appointed our Captain, they wanted you. And I don’t want to think about how they might celebrate if they did get you. Please.”
Without further argument, I wrapped the belt around my waist, pulled my fleece jacket over it, and got out of the car to join Malachi on the sidewalk. “So . . .” Now that the moment had arrived, I didn’t have any idea how to actually patrol.
Malachi swung the backpack onto his shoulders. His attention was already traveling up and down the street; his body was already tense with awareness. “It’s all right, Lela. In the dark city, we often had to roam the streets, looking for suspicious activity. Sometimes we went days without seeing anything. This is as good a lead as any.”
“Should we split up?” I knew he’d often patrolled by himself, and I didn’t want to be deadweight.
Malachi sighed. “As Captain, you will make this decision. We could cover more ground separately. However,” he said, stepping close enough to touch, close enough to make my heart speed, “I’d feel much better if you let me stay with you.” He kissed my forehead, the feel of his lips on my skin causing heavy warmth to curl low in my belly. “And as your suitor, I’d appreciate being able to keep my promise to your foster mother.”
“My . . . suitor?” I couldn’t hold back a giggle.
Malachi looked really confused and kind of embarrassed. “I’m sorry. I know I’m your Lieutenant, but I—I just thought we were—”
“No! No. That’s not what I meant. Malachi, are you saying you want to be my boyfriend?” I’d never had one before. But . . . I kind of liked the idea.
“Boyfriend?” His WTF look only intensified. “I would never presume . . . but we haven’t . . . I wouldn’t want people to think you were a . . .” He cleared his throat and stared at the sidewalk, and I realized we might be having a bit of a translation problem. Or a growing-up-in-different-centuries problem.
“That I’m a what? I don’t know what you’re thinking, but ‘boyfriend’ just means we’re . . .” Crap. This was like the blind leading the blind. “It means we’re together. That we’re, um, going out. With each other. And . . . not anyone else. But not seriously,” I added quickly, my cheeks hot.
Malachi gave me a smile laced with uncertainty. “You can call me anything you’d like, as long as it means I can touch you.” He brushed my cheek with the backs of his fingers.
“Okay.” I had to tear my eyes away from his mouth. Focus, Lela. This is your job now.
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And be sure to enter our exciting giveaway to win a Kindle Paperwhite pre-loaded with the Guards of the Shadowlands series, and autographed copies of Sarah’s books! Giveaway is open to readers in the US.