Monday, August 17, 2015

The Black Swan Company Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Black Swan Company
Book 1
Luna DeMasi

Genre: Paranormal Thriller, Urban Fantasy

ISBN: 1511521945
ISBN: 978-1511521949
ASIN: B00QXTME88

Number of pages: 380
Word Count: 114,000

Book Description:

Melody Fields is an investigative journalist.

...Or, at least, she used to be.

An epidemic has swept the United States, turning the majority of its population into undead creatures called Sanguines, who sustain themselves on the life force of the living. Those who weren't afflicted were given a choice: Enter a protected Colony or hope to survive.

Guilted by her father to flee while she still could, Melody has been marooned on Nantucket Colony for four years. Unable to turn off her vocational instincts, the tough-as-nails, Boston-by-way-of-Foxboro journalist can't help but notice when her fellow Colonists begin to disappear.

After months of observation, Melody finds a pattern to the disappearances, and it doesn't take long for her act-first-think-later mentality to kick in and follow a group of kidnappees onto a ferry. Once on the mainland, though, her seldom-seen sense of self-preservation causes her to abandon her mission and flee. Desperate for a place to hide, she winds up in the home of a lonely, soft-spoken Sanguine named Bastian, who seemingly breaks all protocol with his disinterest in eating her alive and his offer of safe harbor.

A slow-growing trust developing between them, Bastian tries his best to help Melody find her place in a now-unfamiliar world, but she doesn't understand how different her place really is until she reconnects with her inner-circle. Melody and her friends discover that they've been unraveling the same unsavory story from opposite ends, and when they tie their information together, they realize they might be uncovering a scandal that could change everything if it's brought to light. But if they fail, it could mean the end for countless lives...even their own.



Available at Amazon  Createspace


Excerpt


Chapter 1:


Ed, Get the Shock Collar

Breath.

It ripped through her chest as she gasped the cold, foggy air. Feet slamming into

the dampened earth, she ran as hard as she could. The back of her throat ached with a

cold burn and a cramp chewed at her side. Her right ankle throbbed with a dull pain, but

she kept on. She knew if she got caught, she’d have nobody to blame but herself.

The moon was obscured by the clouds, and her eyes tried their damnedest to

adjust to the dark while her mind raced to find a place to hide. She knew she wouldn’t

last much longer; desperation was rapidly taking the place of rationality.

A tall, wooden privacy fence stood in her path down the string of backyards she

was traversing. With little hesitation, she jumped onto an air conditioning unit in the

neighboring yard, grabbed the top of the fence, and clumsily slung herself over the

wooden barrier. Knowing that she’d hurt her tender ankle even more if she attempted to

land on her feet, she collapsed into a roll as she landed on the manicured grass of the

yard. Once she stopped rolling, she pushed herself from the ground and looked around

in a panic, wiping the night dew off of her face. The house planted in the yard was dark.

Quietly panting, she sneaked to the back door, grabbed the door knob, and

twisted it gently. The soft squeak of un-oiled hinges heralded her entry into the house

and she cringed at the sound. Once inside, she pivoted upon the tiled kitchen floor to

push the door closed, then instantly folded in half, trying to catch her breath. The

runner’s cramp wasn’t letting up, the sharp pain of it bringing tears to her eyes.

“Hello.”

The voice was velvety, deep, and haunting. Her head snapped up, eyes wide

with terror. Instinctively clasping one hand over the cramp, she whipped around to paw

at the door knob, but froze in place when she heard the sound of boots hitting the

ground in the backyard. Closing her eyes, she shook her head, and let out a soft laugh

of relent.

“And I’m fucked.” Turning toward the source of the voice, she tried to speak

between labored breaths. “There isn’t much time, so I’ll cut you a deal: I’ll play nice and

cooperate if you get rid of these guys. All I ask is that you make it as quick and painless

as possible.”

A stately, thin, male figure languidly approached her, his long, dark hair

contrasting sharply with his pale face. His thin lips were twisted in confusion, his

eyebrows raised in concern.

“Who are they—” A series of loud knocks cut him off. Their eyes connected for a

moment. He stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Step aside,

please,” he whispered.

“Are you—”

“Further into the kitchen, if you will.”

She dutifully hobbled into the darkened kitchen and leaned against the wall.

Once she was out of sight, the man opened the door.

“Good evening, gentlemen.”

“Evening, sir,” a gruff voice responded. “We’ve been tracking a live one and saw

her jump your fence a few yards back. She’s disoriented and scared…just trying to

make sure she’s in safe hands. Have you seen her?”

“Why, yes. Yes, I have, officer,” the man replied without scruple.

“Bastard,” the woman mouthed to herself, closing her eyes in defeat.

The gruff-voiced man let out a laugh.

“Wonderful! Where did she go?”

“In my kitchen.”

“Even better! If you show us inside, we’ll take care of her…make sure she’s safe.

Ed, get the shock collar.”

“It seems we have a misunderstanding: She’s my swan.”

She furrowed her brow in confusion.

“Your swan? Then why was she running?”

“She’s a bit skittish. My apologies.”

“No, no. Taking common sense out of the equation, there’s a new law that states

she has to be walked. We can’t have them running the streets in the middle of the

night.”

“Oh! I wasn’t aware. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine, but you really need to keep up with the new regulations. There’re more

and more laws being passed these days on swans, and you need to keep up on them.”

There was a sigh. “Is she registered? Microchipped?”

“No, I’m afraid I neglected to do that, seeing that I acquired her before the

Divide.”

“Listen. You need to get her registered and microchipped ASAP, and no more joyruns

without you.”

“Yes, sir. I apologize for the trouble she’s caused you. Thank you for your

patience and informing me of the new laws. I’ll be sure to follow your directions.”

“You’re welcome. You have a good night.”

“Thank you. Please do the same.”

Once she heard the door close, she walked into the middle of the kitchen.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, pushing her light brown curly hair behind her

shoulder.

“You’re quite welcome.” He stood as still and straight as a statue. An awkward

silence filled the room until she cleared her throat.

“Well, a deal’s a deal, and I never break my word.” Taking a breath, she looked at

her feet. “So, do we do this here, or is there a special room you do it in? I’ve never done

this before. I’m assuming you don’t want to do it in the living room…you know, because

of the mess—”

“Would you care for a cup of tea?” He made his way to the cupboard by the sink

and took out a mug. “I used to be a tea drinker. I adored it.” After placing the mug on the

counter, he took the teapot from the stove and filled it with water.

She watched on, nonplussed, not knowing what to say as the man placed the

teapot back onto the burner.

“I believe I…yes, I do believe I even have some sugar. No milk, though. Or

lemon. Sometimes, lemon is better than milk and sugar. But then again, what kind of

person puts lemon and sugar in their tea? No, no, lemon goes with honey, and sugar

goes with milk. As I said, though, I don’t have any lemons. Or honey, for that matter, so I

guess it’s a moot point, isn’t it? You’ll have to do with only sugar.”

Cocking her head, she stared at him as he rummaged through another cupboard.

She could just barely make out what he was doing by the soft light coming from the

kitchen window.

“Are you…OK?”

“Of course,” he replied in a casual tone, producing a box of tea. “Just a bit understocked,

I’m afraid.” Finally, he turned to look at her. “Please, have a seat.”

She glanced around the pitch black room to see where there might be a chair,

but couldn’t make anything out.

“I…I can’t—”

“Oh, right. Sorry.” He turned on the light. “Where are my manners today? I didn’t

even ask you your name.”

The light was nearly unbearable at first for her. She squinted, waiting for her eyes

to adjust.

“It’s Melody.” She found her way to the kitchen table, dropping her backpack to

the floor. “What’s yours?”

“Melody what?” He placed a teabag into the mug.

“Fields.”

“Well, Melody Fields, I’m Bastian Pasztor.” He gave her a quick smile, and for the

first time, Melody could clearly see what he looked like. His face was long and narrow.

There were dark circles beneath his gentle eyes, and the bridge of a prominent nose

that seemed to dignify his face sat between them. The muscles around his thin lips were

more pronounced than others’, adding definition to a confident chin. He didn’t look much

older than herself.

Uneasy and confused, Melody shifted in her seat.

“I’m sorry, Bastian, but why are we doing this? I would prefer to just get it over

with, if it’s all the same to you.”

The man quietly scooped some sugar into the mug before bothering to answer.

“People spend their entire lives fearing the very thing you apparently crave. They

do anything they can to delay the process or fool themselves into believing it’s farther

away than it actually is. With every passing year, with every milestone, they only feel

more anxiety, more inclination to defeat this inevitability of nature, only to realize that

they’ve fostered an entire life of crippling fear, wasted on the fixation of its end. And

there you sit, begging for it.” The sound of the teapot’s whistle interrupted Bastian’s

speech, and he reached across to the stove to silence it. “Can you tell me why that is?”

“Because when it’s about to happen, the anxiety is overwhelming. Besides,

unlike a lot of people I’ve met, I take responsibility for my actions, and my actions have

landed me here. I have no regrets,” Melody replied, attempting to sound stoic. A hard

swallow undulated in her throat as she watched Bastian stir her tea.

He walked to the table, placed the mug in front of her, and took a seat.

Fingers curling around the warm mug, she stared at the steam rolling off the top

of it as he stared at her.

“Please. Drink.”

Blinking her eyes of the trance she was in, Melody shook her head.

“Sorry, I just spaced out a bit.” She lifted the mug to her mouth, but before she

could take a sip, Bastian interrupted her:

“Manage to find some regret?”

“No.” She smiled, placing the mug back onto the table. “I was just thinking of the

famous last words of Madame du Barry before she was executed.”

“Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment,” he recited.

Melody nodded.

“What a fool, she was.”

There was a sound of indignation and shock from across the table.

“False. She was a victim of circumstance who was undeniably and

unapologetically human.”

“She was an idiot!”

Leaning his elbows onto the table, getting closer to her, Bastian made a face of

controlled contention.

“How is that?”

“She was keeping herself in a life of luxury while porking a king who was setting

up his predecessor, who, by the way, was an even bigger idiot than she was, to run his

country into debt! The French were starving, and she’s buying jewels? Poor little victim.

Then, when the French took all of them down, she begs her executioner for just a ‘little

moment’ more of life? For what? Her life was over already, she just failed to see it. It

was over the very moment the monarchy fell, because that’s what she chose: To live by

the monarchy. You live by it, you die by it.”

“You are grossly over-reaching with those sentiments. You make her out to be as

bad as Louis XVI! Her hands weren’t that deep in the cookie jar. Besides, how can you

condemn somebody for valuing their life at the moment of death? We all make mistakes

and live in ways we later realize were harmful. She loved being alive; what’s so wrong

with that?”

“If she loved her life so damn much, she should’ve been living a respectful one to

begin with. Then, maybe she wouldn’t have been in that position at all.”

“You mean, like the position you’re in?”

“Do you hear me begging for my life?”

“That’s not what I’m referring to,” he said calmly.

Turning her gaze away from him, a distant look on her face, Melody considered

her words before she spoke them.

“The true test of a belief in something is knowing you would die for it. What’s

driving me forward, the things I place my beliefs in…I would. I would die for it. I put

myself in this position chasing the truth, and I would die for that. As a matter of fact,

dying for that reason is the best way to go. Living a life full of beliefs that aren’t worth

dying for isn’t worth my time. Not even for one little moment.”

Finally, she raised the cup to her lips and took a sip. Bastian watched on with an

unreadable expression. A small smile curved her lips, as she met his eyes.

“This is good. Aren’t you going to have some?”

“As much as I’d like to, no. It just sits heavy in my stomach, nowadays.”

“That’s too bad.” The words were genuinely empathetic. “Maybe one day you’ll

find a way to taste it without discomfort.”

“Doubtful, but thank you.” Like a fragile old man, Bastian made his way to his

feet. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to what I was doing. The guest room

is to the left, down the hall once you pass through the living room. Take your time and

relax. All I ask is that you take off your shoes before you walk into the rest of the house.”

“Guest room?” She raised an eyebrow.

“Call me a bleeding heart, but despite her actions, I felt bad for Madame du

Barry. I felt bad for her, and I feel bad for you.” He made his way to the door frame of

the kitchen.

Melody squinted at Bastian in disbelief.

“Does this mean that you don’t want to…you know?”

“I’m afraid that I’ll have to decline your offer from earlier.” The delicate smile he

gave her somehow had a heaviness about it.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

Giving her a nod, he exited the room in silence.

Melody sank down into her chair with a deep exhale. Kicking off her shoes, she

took another sip of tea, and realized that it was better than good; it was the best she’d

ever had.
About the Author:

Luna DeMasi was born in New York, but currently resides in southeast Michigan. She holds a B. S. in psychology, a master’s of library and information science, and is a staunch advocate for human rights, animal rights, and gender equality.







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