Book Tour~ Five by Christie L. Rich~Excerpt

17 October 2012

Excerpt Five (Elemental Enmity Book I) by Christie Rich

The view of the sunset reminded me of my favorite bluff back home. Nothing but sky was visible in the horizon. I might as well have been standing on the edge of the world gazing at the gilded gates of heaven.
“I will never tire of seeing that,” a melodic voice erupted behind me.
If I had gotten a bit more air, I would have landed on Mars. “Zach.” I put a hand against my pounding heart. “You scared me.” I hadn’t even heard him come up to me.
“I noticed.” He smirked. “I was trying my best not to disturb you. You looked so peaceful, but I am a selfish man.” He chuckled, moving closer.
My attraction to him was hard enough to handle when he had all his clothes on. My pulse raced with his approach for an entirely different reason. He had the sort of flawless body that belonged on the airbrushed pages of a magazine. His skin glowed golden in the blazing sunset that brought out rusty hues in his dark hair. My fingers itched to trace every angle of his sculpted abdomen and chest.
“Leave it to you to make this thing look good,” he said, running a finger under the strap on my shoulder. “By rights, it should be burned. Are you going to tell me why you insisted on wearing it?”
He traced my collarbone. “Really?” In one fluid motion, I was in his arms, and he was carrying me deeper into the water.
I hoped he couldn’t feel the thud of my heart beating against his chest. “What do you think you’re doing?” I asked more calmly than I felt.
“Changing your mind,” he said just as evenly.
I could see where he was going with this, and over the edge of a cliff wasn’t my idea of fun. “Don’t.”
He grinned. “Tell me.”
I stiffened in his arms. “If you do this, I will leave—without you.” His exaggerated exhale tickled my neck, sending goose-bumps down my body.
“Don’t you ever relax?”
I gritted my teeth, hating what I had become in the past few weeks. If he had tried this back home, I would have protested, giggled, and screamed but loved every minute of his antics.
Things were different now. I was on edge constantly. “I’m so not okay with heights. Let me down.”
The set of his jaw didn’t give me any comfort. He walked up a ramp between the two converging rivers that made the waterfall. On sure feet, he stepped to the edge. I honestly didn’t know how he was still standing with the water blasting against his knees. He leaned into my ear. “Tell me.”
I clung to his neck like grime to a barn cat. “I don’t want to.”
He looked over the edge and back at me. The humor in his gaze died. He sighed, stepping back a few paces. My heart found its way back into my chest. He carried me to a lounge chair, setting me down gently.
“You can’t possibly think that thing is pretty,” he commented after a while.
“Pretty isn’t everything,” I said.
He raised his brows, tucking his strong chin inward in mockery then looked at me sidelong. “It helps.” He smiled teasingly.
I shot him a dirty look before giving him my back. He placed a timid hand on my shoulder.
“Come, now. It can’t possibly be as bad as all that.”
Why couldn’t he just let it go? I wasn’t all up in his business, why did he feel the need to be in mine. “Drop it already.”
Zach sat beside me, coaxing my chin upward. His voice was soft. “Aren’t you having fun, lass?”
I wouldn’t look him in the eye. If I did he would see every insecurity I had. “I was before you decided to go all Tarzan on me.”
He thumped his chest, doing a great imitation of the call. I tried to smile, but I didn’t think it helped.
“You weren’t like this the other day.” He turned away as if in thought, glancing at me hastily. “Don’t you like swimming?”
The other day I didn’t have four terrifying men after me. I would have liked to give him an easy out, but I didn’t want to lie. “I usually love it.”
Cassie had an indoor pool back home. On the rare occasion I actually got to stay the night at her house, we would spend hours in the water. She taught me how to float first. I had progressively gotten better. I was an adequate swimmer now. The one thing I didn’t like was the high-dive.
He frowned. “Is it me?” His brows furrowed as though he was really worried. “Have I done something to offend you?”
I closed my eyes, inhaling sharply. “I’m sorry. I’ve had fun today, really. I just have other things on my mind right now.”
He grinned, tucking my hair behind my ear. “I’m a great listener.”
I didn’t like being such a disappointment, but I couldn’t snap myself out of it. I could just imagine how fast he’d be gone if I did tell him everything that was wrong with me at the moment. “I’d rather not talk about it right now.”
He knelt in front of me and took my hands in his. “You can’t expect me to not be curious.”
“It’s a free country,” I said. “Be curious all you like.” I was pushing him away when normally I would have been doing everything in my power to keep him interested in me.
The sun had made its final descent. The haze of twilight settled all around us with the stars spotting the barely glowing sky. In a few minutes, I would be able to relax a little.
Zach tugged my hand. “Do you wish to go join the others?” He sounded dejected.
Why was I acting like this? I needed to snap out of it. My mood wasn’t his fault. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather stay here for a while.”
He nodded then moved to a lounge chair opposite me, wasting no time in getting comfortable. “Why don’t you tell me of your home?”
The subject seemed safe enough. “Have you ever been to eastern Utah?”
He made an odd sound, sort of a half concealed groan. “It has been many years.”
He wasn’t old enough for it to have been that long ago. I leaned back and put my arms behind my head preparing to give him details.
“I see,” he said in a sympathetic tone, his eyes soft with compassion.
I followed his gaze down to my exposed torso. How could I have been so stupid? The bottom half of my scar poked out from beneath the fringe. I bolted up, pulling awkwardly at the fabric.
He shook his head. “Everyone has imperfections, Rayla.” In an instant he moved to the edge of my chair. Calloused fingers caressed my shoulder before skimming down my arm. “Some are just more visible than others.”
I turned away. Then I got mad. “Really, where’s yours?”
His face crinkled thoughtfully. His eyes held haunted shadows. “You’d be surprised.”
I gave him a look. “Enlighten me.”
“There are certain things I want to change so badly about myself that it consumes my life.” Unless he was a fantastic actor, he was being sincere.
He grimaced, only slightly, but it was enough to make me wonder. “I would rather not get into that with you yet.”
I cocked my jaw, clicking my tongue. “It’s okay for me, but not for you, huh?”
He leveled his gaze to mine seriously. “If a scar is all you have to hide, you should be thankful.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shoved a hand through his hair. “Only that there are worse things to bear than a scar.”
The truth burned me like a solar flare. I should have been able to put on a pretty bikini without so much as a second thought, but I wasn’t there yet. I hoped I would be some day. I felt ridiculous being so shallow. “You didn’t answer my question,” I said after a moment of hesitation.
The lines of his face turned hard. “I know.”
“There you are,” Natalie yelled, cresting the hill in a sprint with Sam close behind her. “Help me, Rayla!” She crouched down between my chair and the stacked rock wall.
“They can’t save you,” Sam said coldly, standing by my feet. “You will pay.”
I turned back, whispering, “What did you do?”
She smiled proudly. “Put ice in his trunks.”
Zach narrowed his eyes at Natalie. His jaw tightened. “You deserve anything you get.” He grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet.
Sam swept the chair sideways. Natalie squealed, trying to out-maneuver him. She didn’t make it.
Attempting to wrench away from him, she said desperately, “You can put ice in my suit. Rayla, do you have a drink?”
Sam smiled wickedly. He looked over at the edge of the falls. Did all male minds work the same? “I have something better in mind.”
She put her hands on his cheeks. “Please, Sam. I’m sorry. I won’t do anything like that again.”
He grabbed her wrists, pushing her into the river. She kicked at him and squealed the entire way.
“Not after this,” he said, grinning. Without another word, he pinned her arms to her sides in a bear hug. She smiled at him. I couldn’t see his expression, but her eyes flew wide just before he shouted, “Geronimo.”
Her “No” was squelched when they hit the water. Zach grinned down at me. My smile shriveled.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said when he came closer. Natalie’s laugh rang clear from below.
“Not that I don’t find the idea tempting once more, but I think I will pursue your affections another way.”

Book Tour~ Five by Christie L. Rich ~ Guest Post

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
By Christie Rich

I love fall and especially Halloween. Growing up, my older brother always chose the creepiest costume he could find, while I was set on wearing the sparkly kind. Even when I was a witch, I wanted to be the Good Witch of the East. I love the idea of make believe, obviously, I write fiction, but I’m not a horror fan.
I tend to shy away from anything that makes me jump. I’m a bit jittery if I am being honest. Ask anyone who has ever gone to the movies with me. I literally jump at the stupidest things. So my scariest moments will probably be laughable to most of you, and that’s okay with me.
Even now as I write this I can’t sleep because I have a stupid Halloween grim reaper in the other room, and my husband’s gone off to work (It’s three a.m.). Isn’t that ridiculous? The trouble is, I can’t seem to get my brain to understand the notion that inanimate objects can’t hurt me.
I know people who love to be scared—will do anything to jolt their hearts into their throats. And sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a wimp, especially since my little girl happens to love the grim reaper I mentioned. Just last night, I came out of the bedroom and she was hobbling up to the thing like a zombie, arms twisted and moaning. For whatever reason, she seems to have gotten my dad’s fascination with the macabre. Even though I happen to hate horror, my dad loved it, so throughout my years in his home, I was subject to the terrifying, even if it was me cowering in my room trying not to listen while he blared the TV so loud the speakers ended up frying way before their time. The funny thing is after a while I actually started watching some of the shows because I learned my imagination was way worse than what was on the screen. That being said, be prepared to be amused by my list.
1. Harry Potter: I know they are kids books, but holy cow, there were some scary parts, both in the books and in the movies from the get go. One of the worst for me was when Harry opened the book in the restricted section of the library and the ugly face popped out at him. Or when the wraithlike Voldemort faced Harry after draining the unicorn dry (That silvery liquid was worse to see than any old red blood). Or when Ron and Harry nearly became dinner to Aragog’s children (Those spiders were creepy!). Or when Harry and Dudly meet their first Dementor…obviously I could go on and on. I think my mom passed the wimp gene down to me because she couldn’t watch past the third film. *grins*
2. What Lies Beneath: I still can’t get into a bathtub without thinking about this movie. After considering this for a while, the conclusion I made was this movie was so scary to me because the idea that Claire Spencer might have been going out of her mind was even more plausible than a ghost trying to warn her. The movie was just so eerie. I shiver to think about it even now. Sometimes when I’m driving at night I can still visualize the decayed face of Norman Spencer’s young lover. Yuck!
3. Jaws: I hate this show more than any I’ve ever watched. That music made me have nightmares for years. I was pretty young when this show came out, but my dad got the video and would replay the thing every few months. I’d sit in my room, shoving a pillow over my head, trying not to hear the screams of the girl getting EATEN. Can you tell I was traumatized? That being said, I still can’t stand to go very far out into the ocean. In fact, my husband and I went on a deep sea fishing excursion when we were in Hawaii. After a long few hours, and much puking on my part, he reeled in a whopper of a fish. My husband is six foot five and after we had docked, the captain of the ship took a picture of my husband holding the fish out to the side, and no lie, it skimmed the tops of his shoes. The thing looked more like an eel only it had several rows of razor sharp teeth that stood agape after its death. We were told it was a wahoo, pronounced ono, fish and was a delicacy. Well, I didn’t know about that after my father in law ended up poaching the steaks instead of smoking them. Quite a difference in flavor, I’m told. Anyway, that was a little fish in the big ocean, and it was as tall as me! Point made.
4. The Sixth Sense: If you haven’t already seen this movie, you should. It was brilliant, but extremely creepy. When little Cole sees the girl ghost for the first time, I nearly shot out of my seat, and all that puking, ugh. There were several jump worthy moments throughout this show, but for me, that was the worst. The idea of seeing a ghost and how they died is just freaky.
5. Alien(s): Again, this is one of those traumatic childhood moments when my dad played and replayed Alien a gazillion times. Even though I’d tried to not watch the thing, over the years, I ended up seeing the whole show. The grossest part by far in the first film was when the Alien burst (was born) out of the crewman’s chest. Just so gross. Then in the sequel, when the Alien rose out of the water behind Newt…I watched through my fingers, but I still watched. The amazing part was, I actually liked that one, but I wouldn’t want to watch it again.
So there you have it. My top five. I don’t go for slasher films or books because the ideas are just too traumatic for me. So how about you? Are you one of those people who love to get scared, or are you a scaredy cat like me?