Here is another short excerpt from my draft of the second book in the Shadowlands series, Into the Dark.
It is an exchange between Mira and Julian, told from Mira’s POV, taken from the early chapters of the book.
A warning once again that it is a draft and therefore far from perfect!
As Mira sat at the bar in The Veil’s VIP room nursing her gin on the rocks, it struck her that this was her first time here where she wasn’t drinking alone. And yet, in spite of the company, she felt more cut off from the world than she ever had in the past decade.
‘…and so we decided, what the hell, let’s roll the Bellagio and then do the mermaid orgy.’
‘Sounds good,’ Mira responded without looking up from her drink.
‘Oh, for heaven’s sake, Mira—you’re not listening to a word I’m saying, are you?’
Julian’s firm hand landed on her knee, spinning her around on her stool to face him. His expression was a mix of concern and exasperation.
‘I was listening—sounds like you have a fun night planned.’
She glanced away, unable to handle the intensity of his unyielding grey gaze. He took her hand in a gentle grip. ‘Look at me. Please.’
She returned her gaze to his face, finding all traces of censure gone. She let out a sigh. ‘Please don’t look at me like that, Julian. I don’t need your pity.’
‘Am I not able to show concern for my friend?’ he asked softly
‘Thank you, but no. Worry yourself with other matters,’ she told him firmly. ‘I assure you, I’m fine.’
He released her hand, turning back to his whiskey. ‘If you say so.’ His tone made it clear he didn’t believe her in the slightest.
Deciding it was time to move the subject along, Mira asked, ‘How are you and Maxx going with your investigation?’
He arched one of his perfect blonde brows at her but said nothing, opting to drain the contents of his drink instead.
‘What is it?’
‘Nothing—only that I’ve been nattering on about the investigation for the past twenty minutes.’
He sighed, seeming to decide to let her off the hook. ‘Honestly, there’s not really much new information to report. Maxx has been patient while I’ve caught myself up but I can tell he’d rather be working with you.’
Mira offered a sad smile. ‘This is probably for the best.’
‘Is it?’ Julian shot her a hard look. ‘Mira, this quest you’re on—you must know nothing good can come of it.’
The smile slipped from her face, replaced with a stony expression. ‘Meaning?’
Perhaps sensing he was treading near a landmine, Julian ran a hand over the back of his neck, his next words leaving his mouth with a measure of hesitation. ‘Meaning…he is dead, Mira. And if his soul was never claimed then it is lost—I don’t say this to hurt you,’ he said softly, ‘I say it because it is the truth. There is no bringing him back. All that lies down this path is more grief and heartache.’
Mira was quiet for a long moment before meeting Julian’s rueful expression with a frosty gaze. ‘Julian, you are a friend, so I mean no offense when I point out that on occasion you have been known to be a high-handed arse.’ She slid from her chair, taking a few steps towards the private parlour where her meeting was to take place. Turning back, she said, ‘You do not hold all the secrets of the universe inside your head, Julian.’ With a shrug she added, ‘Perhaps you are right. Perhaps this quest will prove fruitless. But that is a chance I am more than willing to take.’
She heard Julian call after her as she made her way out of the VIP area, apology clear in his tone, but she ignored him. Perhaps she had overreacted—then again, perhaps not. She was not a fool. She knew the odds of succeeding in her search were near impossible, but while there was even the slightest sliver of a chance she would take it and run.