A Juicy First Look at Book 2 in the Sariah Chronicles, Betrayal of Magic!
Snippet #1 this week:
1 – “So Gabe, I was thinking,” Sariah started. She took a step toward him and beamed at him with eyes that were glowing like diamonds.
Gabriel let out a massive sigh. “I know what you’re going to ask, Sariah. The answer is no.”
“Aw, come on,” she whined. “You know you want to.”
Gabe gave her a sideways glance and shrugged. “You’re right, I do. Or at least I did once. But it’s still a no.”
“Humph!” She turned her back to him. She thought about walking out of their little shared room in The Dragonfly for good measure, but where would she go?
Despite the fact she’d spent the better part of the last month in and near the city of Stratton, she didn’t know the area very well. Apart from her occasional trips to Market Square and her bout with Lucien, she’d stuck to the little inn.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like an adventure. She just felt lost in the vastness of open spaces. She’d grown up in a small mining town. Big open areas weren’t really her thing. She was much more comfortable in close quarters.
She bit her lip. Trying to get Gabriel to do anything was like pulling teeth. He was completely impossible, especially lately.
“Please?” she implored. “I’ll do whatever you say, I swear. I’ll be the perfect student.”
Gabe let out another deep sigh. It was like it was his signature move. Normally it annoyed her, but today she let it slide.
“I-” he started. “I just don’t know if it’s…” He paused for a moment and threw his hands in the air. “Bah!” he added. Then he stopped speaking entirely.
Sariah frowned and turned her head to see if he was looking at her. He wasn’t. She felt disappointed and deflated.
Then she mentally kicked herself. Why do I care whether or not he looks at me anyway? she thought. Ugh.
Somehow Gabe always seemed to know what buttons to press. The two of them were like oil and water – they just didn’t mix well. Not that she wanted them to.
Sariah tugged on Gabe’s shoulder. “Come on,” she purred. “You know you want to train me in physical magic-y stuff. You’ve been asking to do it for so long now. Why the sudden change of heart?”
She hoped appealing to his egotistical side would work better.
Gabe turned around to face her fully. There was a look of weariness in his eyes. In fairness, the last week and a half had been rough on him. He’d nearly died out in the woods while she’d gone off chasing Lucien.
He’d managed to heal himself, and the rest of them as well once Sariah had finally relented and let him use his magic powers on her. She’d felt a little icky about it at the time, but in the end, it hadn’t felt bad.
The only problem was Gabe had been grumpy and sullen ever since, almost like she’d wounded his ego or something.
Men could be so hard to understand sometimes.
“It’s just, I just don’t know if it’s a good idea anymore,” Gabe admitted at last.
“Not a good idea?” She felt her cheeks start to grow hot as her temper flared. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Gabe lifted a finger and pointed it in her direction then opened his mouth, but no words came out. A second later he dropped the finger and lowered his head onto his chest.
Sariah rolled her eyes at him. “Ugh, not this again. You know I hate the silent treatment.”
Gabe laughed, completely spoiling his sullen, withdrawn look. “I wasn’t giving you the silent treatment. I don’t even know what to say, sometimes, you know?”
“Uh, no. No, I don’t.” She shook her head while she spoke. “Never had that problem.”
He snorted. “Yeah, I’ve noticed.”
Sariah put her hands on her hips and gave him a defiant stare. She thought about throwing a pillow at his stupid head, but that hadn’t done her any good the last time. Gabe was surprisingly agile.
Gabe held up his hands in self-defense. “Easy now. You know I didn’t mean it like that.” He pulled on his face. “This is getting us nowhere. Let’s start this conversation over.”
“What, so you can tell me no all over again?” she crossed her arms and stuck up her nose. “No thank you. I can get that from Harvey.”
Gabe groaned. “I give up. There’s just no winning with you, is there?”
She cocked her head to the side and smiled. “There is if you give me what I want.” She gave him a flirty wink.
Gabe sighed again and turned away from her, so she crept up behind him and put one hand gently on his shoulder.
“Hey,” she said softly. “Is this about your special little stones? I’ll be gentle this time, I promise.”
Sariah was referring to the training stones Gabe had used during their first magic lesson. She’d been a little less than careful with one of them and it had developed a large crack. Gabe had claimed he was over the incident, but every now and then he’d bring it up, so she knew that wasn’t the case.
He gave her a look that was part shock and part frustration. He laughed and shook his head. “No. No, it’s not about the stones.”
“Are you sure? I’ll buy you a new one if you want. Don’t know where I’d get one, but I’m sure I could find another one of those stupid rocks somewhere in a town this size.”
He lifted up a hand to try and silence her. “You just don’t get it, do you?”
Sariah wrinkled her nose. “It’s kinda hard, seeing as you won’t even tell me what ‘it’ is.”
Once more, Gabe sighed. “You’re impossible sometimes.”
Sariah smiled up at him. “Not when I get what I want. Come on. It can’t be that bad, can it?”
He turned to face her and moved in closer until they were only inches apart. She could feel the heat of his breath on her cheeks and it made them tingle a little bit. It was strangely arousing being close to him like this. She liked it, though at the same time it made her feel uncomfortable.
He slowly raised one finger and put it on her chin, lifting her face until their eyes were locked, which only increased the tension.
Sariah was so focused on him she figured a lightning bolt could break through the windows and she wouldn’t even notice.
Briefly, she wondered what he was thinking. Was he planning to kiss her? And if so, would she want it? Heat rose to her cheeks and she had to admit part of her would say yes.
Gabe leaned his head in until his lips were practically brushing up against her ear. The closeness felt even more invigorating. In a hushed tone he whispered to her, “It’s still a no.”
Sariah shoved him hard enough to send him flailing backward. The moment was gone, replaced by frustration.
“Grr!” she scowled. She turned her back to him again.
She glanced over her shoulder for a half-second and Gabe was sitting looking sheepish, so she looked away again before he could notice her.
“I could find someone else you know!” she shouted over her shoulder.
Gabe scoffed. “And just who would you find, anyway?”
“Maybe I’ll track down your old mentor, Jakob. I bet he’d train me.” She had no idea how to find him and wasn’t about to start looking, but he was the only other person who came to mind. She just hoped it would do the trick.
“Pfft. You’d never find him even if you tried.”
Sariah let out a deep breath. He’d called her bluff. So much for that angle. She turned to face him again. “Oh come on! It’ll be different this time, I swear! I just know I can get the hang of it this time!”
Gabe rubbed his chin for a second. “I’m just not sure. Are you sure you really want it?” He took a step toward her and put a hand on her shoulder. “I mean, I can understand why someone in your position might not. Magic hasn’t been the kindest to you. That’s probably why it didn’t work the last time.”
She was taken aback. Had that been his issue this whole time? She grimaced and turned away again so she could think clearly.
In her mind’s eye, she went back to the failed magic training session a week prior. Gabe had finally agreed to train her in physical magic, and she had been downright giddy. Only, it hadn’t gone so well. She’d tried her best, but after several hours of nothing Gabe had gotten flustered and called the whole thing off.
Am I holding back? she wondered. Is that why I failed last time?
Sariah thought about it earnestly. Magic had done some pretty awful things. It had cost her father his legs and later his life, it had burned down her house, and so much more. But it had also saved her and allowed her to rescue Harvey when he was in trouble. Magic was just a tool, and it was the person behind it who chose to wield it for good or ill.
Perhaps her latent dislike for magic had held her back, but she could get past it. She could make it work for her. She had to. It was the only way she could protect her friends from people like the Master.
And Bear, of course. She couldn’t forget about her favorite dog. She and the mangy mutt had grown quite close of late.
“Yes. I’m positive.” She faced him and gave him a firm nod. “I want you to train me further in the magic-y arts. Physical magic, nature magic. Everything. Teach me all of it.”
Gabe pulled on his face again. “Hmm,” he started. “I like the enthusiasm, but I still don’t know.”
“What could I do to convince you?” She went over to him and pulled on his shirt. “I’ll do anything.”
“Anything, eh?” He rubbed his chin and gave her a sideways glance. “I could be convinced.”
Sariah shoved him again. “Ugh, you men! You’re all the same.” She put her hands on her hips. “You know what I meant.”
Gabe let out a slight chuckle. “Okay, okay. Sorry.” His face sobered. “But what if?”
Sariah shook her head vigorously. “It won’t happen. I swear it. Cross my heart and hope to die. I’m committed. I can do this.” She made the symbol of a cross over her chest.
Gabe raised one of his eyebrows. “And if you do fail again?”
“Then I’ll never bring it up ever again. I pinky swear.” She held out her pinky in front of her. “You know there’s no breaking a pinky swear.”
Gabe looked at the offered pinky and let out a hearty laugh, then took it in his own. “You know I could never say no to you. Fine. We’ll do it tonight after everyone has gone to bed.”
Sariah let the fact he’d spent the last week telling her no about a thousand times slide. It wasn’t important now.
“Yay!” she squealed.
Happy at last, she practically ran out of the room. At the last moment, she turned to Gabe and called out, “Oh, and I’m bringing Harvey along, too. See you tonight!”
It was only fair. Harvey had been begging to learn magic ever since they’d gotten back to the inn. He deserved a shot, too.
Gabe’s jaw dropped halfway to the floor. “Harvey!” he scowled. “I never said anything about training two people! Hey, wait!”
He yelled out a few other things, but Sariah was already halfway down the hallway and she couldn’t understand any of them.
With a big grin on her face, she headed downstairs to talk to Evelyn, their innkeeper. There were good smells coming from the main room. It was lunchtime and she was going to need lots of energy for the night to come.
Hehehehe, I’m excited to see if Sariah can master magic, or not! Aren’t you? Check out the second book, Betrayal of Magic, up for pre-order now, and will go live later this week!