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If you have not read the Blackstone Trilogy, and intend to do so in the future, please do not read any further. This blog post is intended for those readers who have finished reading, Blackstone Resurrection, the final book in the Blackstone Trilogy.
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So after I published Blackstone Resurrection, I received an enquiry from a reader as to whether there would be more added to the story about Aidan and Lily, a type of epilogue, to tie up loose ends, much like I had done with the Driftwood Trilogy, where I wrote an epilogue of how the characters were doing ten years later. In that case it felt necessary, to give peace to all the characters, and to show them in more normal circumstances, and more content. It felt right.
In the case of the Blackstone Trilogy, I attempted to do the same, as I’m always keen to please my readers, and if they wanted an epilogue, well, then I would write one. But I came up against a brick wall, again and again, bashing my fists bloody as I tried to break through. My creativity fled as I tried to invent a story where, quite frankly, there was no longer a story. It was finished, even though I had not been certain of that when I had agreed to do an epilogue or short novelette.
I hate to disappoint even one reader, but in the past months I have grown tired of trying to squeeze blood from a stone. It influenced my love of writing to the point where I began to avoid my laptop, and sometimes weeks would go by without me writing a single word. At first I thought something would come to me, and I would find a way to continue the story, but nothing came. And because I was keeping Aidan and Lily in my imagination, it prevented other characters from moving in, and prevented me from starting the standalone book I had been so keen on writing after I had completed Blackstone Resurrection.
So basically I have had around six months of barely writing. That’s not to say that I’ve been sitting around staring out the window. My life has become incredibly busy, as my 12 year old niece started coming to my house in the afternoon so that I could look after her and help her with homework. This was something that I had asked for so it was important to me to make time for her. Also the person who had been helping out with my shelter left my employ, and I have not been able to find a replacement. So in the morning it was doing my shelter work, sorting out 38 cats every morning, releasing them into the garden so that I could clean out and sweep their rooms and wooden huts, and clean around 22 sandboxes that had been used during the night. So it was cats in the morning, kid in the afternoon, and in the evening I was cooking supper for my two aged parents.
Yes, so hardly a minute spare to do anything, especially as initially my energy levels were so low after my second thyroid operation. But I can feel I’m back to normal now, and I can get the cats done in two hours in the morning, mainly because I’m moving faster now. And my niece has improved her marks, so she no longer requires such close attention from me. So now suddenly I have a few hours a day available to write, but what to write?
I want to outline the reasons why I feel that it isn’t possible to do an epilogue of Blackstone Resurrection. Let’s start with Suzy. Should there be some kind of resolution to her relationship with Lily, after all they had been friends for a few years, and she had been so concerned for Lily and the baby. Yes, to the point that she had betrayed Lily, and by extension, Aidan, almost costing Lily her life, and Aidan his freedom. Aidan endured months of terrible living conditions and beatings, but the worst was not knowing if Lily was alive or dead. Lily too, even though her living circumstances were better, had suffered great anguish not knowing what had happened to Aidan. One can say that Suzy didn’t know any better, that she had done what she thought was best under the circumstances, but I think we can all agree that Charles’ story of being the father of Lily’s child was fishy at best, and Suzy should’ve known that Lily would have taken her into her confidence if that had been the case. But Suzy had been so emotionally involved and caught up in her ‘hatred’ of Aidan that she was no longer thinking rationally. All of this is up for debate, of course, but consider the following. Would Lily be able to forgive Suzy for what she had done, even if it had been done in ignorance? Would Lily ever be able to trust Suzy again, knowing how easily she had been manipulated by Charles? How would Lily protect Suzy from Aidan, who would surely vaporize Suzy if he ever set eyes on her again? I think it’s obvious that their friendship cannot be rekindled, aside from the fact that Lily and Aidan are using different names until Aidan destroys the last of the Order of St. Lucian. The last thing they need is someone who knows them under their previous identities.
Then we come to James, who had been in Aidan’s employ for several years, and who had posed as Lily’s father during the time that they had been on the run from the Order of St. Lucian. I think it would be dangerous for James to be in Lily and Aidan’s lives. Remember when Lily left James to go and find Aidan, she waited until the bus had travelled quite some distance before attempting to draw money from her account. She had not wanted to lead the Order of St. Lucian to James and his new family, wanting him to enjoy his new found happiness in peace. After she had found Aidan again, she had sent James an email to tell him she was safe and had found Aidan. I believe that it should end there. There is no way that they could remain anything more than old friends who occasionally communicate via email, as anything more than that would put James at risk. And how would they explain the fact that they were not getting any older to James? Let’s face it, due to their immortality they would have to live an existence that involved moving frequently, living quietly, and avoiding long term friendships. Sounds like a lonely existence, and that was how Aidan had lived before meeting Lily, but now at least they had each other, forever. Sounds like a dream come true.
So then I thought, couldn’t I explore that a little further, how Aidan teaches Lily to use her powers, and how she experiences life as an immortal. But then I thought that’s far too much like Twilight, after Bella became a vampire, and she and Edward romped through the woods and he taught her to hunt, and she developed her powers. Yeah, that’s been done, and I had no interest in going down that avenue. So that was that then. For the sake of showing how awkward a meeting between Lily and Suzy would’ve been, what follows is a scene I had reworked over and over, and had eventually given up on. It’s not fully edited, nor complete, but you will see what I mean.
Copyright 2018 Niki Savage
This publication is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from Niki Savage.
Lily froze as she heard her name. She knew that voice. For a moment, she considered ignoring the cry and disappearing into one of the many fashion shops lining London’s Bond Street. But then she paused. Aidan wasn’t with her, so what could be the harm?
She turned and saw Suzy rushing towards her with outstretched arms and joy on her face, her aura displaying nothing but love and happiness. Lily couldn’t help but to respond with a smile, despite everything that had happened.
Suzy slammed into her a second later and hugged her hard. “I can’t believe it, here you are,” she said, releasing Lily but still keeping a hold on her arm, as if she was worried she might disappear. “You guys just vanished, and nobody could tell me where you had gone. Lily, it’s been three years.”
“Hi Suzy, how have you been?” Lily asked, shrugging lightly to remove Suzy’s hand from her arm.
“I’ll tell you everything,” Suzy said, excitement in her tone, “but not here. Let’s go to that coffee shop over there and get something to drink, then we can talk in peace and quiet.”
Lily wasn’t sure if she was up to that kind of in-depth conversation, but then decided that Suzy would probably talk mostly about herself, and all she had to do was listen. “That sounds like a great plan,” she said, injecting a note of enthusiasm in her voice.
Suzy hooked her arm into Lily’s arm and headed for the café at a brisk walk. Soon they were settled at a table, steaming cups of coffee in front of them, and Suzy finally seemed to relax. She smiled happily. “Can you believe it, halfway across the world, and we run into each other. I mean, what are the odds of that?”
Lily didn’t know, but was sure that fate had caused their paths to cross. She had wanted to contact Suzy so many times, but Aidan had advised against it, saying that Suzy couldn’t be trusted, and that it was only out of respect for their friendship that he had allowed her to escape unpunished after causing them such misery. But this was different, surely. A chance meeting in London. Really, what were the odds?
“Well, clearly this was meant to be,” Lily said with a smile. “So tell me, what have you been up to since I last saw you.”
Suzy beamed happily, holding her left hand towards Lily. “I’m married. Benji popped the question after I graduated. I missed you so much at my wedding. One of my cousins stood in as my matron of honor, but I so wanted it to be you. I’m so sorry that you couldn’t be there.”
Lily shrugged and shut her lips tight against the words of accusation that threatened to burst forth. Better to play it cool. She couldn’t confront Suzy with the facts because how would she explain knowing exactly what had happened. This had been a mistake. She should’ve shrugged Suzy off while they had been on the street.
“How’s Aidan?” Suzy asked. “And your baby. He must be around three by now.”
“Aidan is fine, thank you,” Lily said, taking a big sip of her scalding cappuccino. That was a mistake, she thought wryly as her violated skin instantly healed and the pain faded. But the pain of the burn had at least distracted her from her anger. She put her cup down with exaggerated care and looked up at Suzy. “There is no baby.”
“Hah, I knew it,” Suzy said loudly, causing a few of the other customers to glance at them curiously. She hunched her shoulders and sank down in her chair. “Sorry.”
“What did you know, Suzy,” Lily asked in a measured tone.
“Aidan made you get rid of it, just as I predicted. Were you even still pregnant that time when we spoke on the phone?”
“I was highly pregnant, actually.”
“So where’s the baby?”
Lily took a deep breath. She wanted to punish Suzy for what she had done, and the misery she had caused them, but she could never tell her the truth. But perhaps she could tell her a sanitized version of the truth. “Men invaded our property and tried to harm me and Aidan. We managed to escape into our panic room, but the shock of what had happened sent me into early labor. The baby didn’t survive.”
Suzy sat frozen, staring at her with wide eyes, and her aura showed guilt warring with intense sadness and shock.
“The birth nearly killed me,” Lily continued, “but we were trapped in the panic room and couldn’t get help, because the men were searching the property, still looking for us. Aidan tried everything to keep me alive but I eventually lost consciousness. When I woke, I was in hospital. They told me I had been in a coma for three months. I spent many more months in hospital after that, trying to recover my health.”
“And where was Aidan?” Suzy asked softly, dread in her eyes.
“He was there when I woke up,” Lily said, forcing the lie past tight lips, knowing she could never tell Suzy the truth of Aidan’s captivity at the hands of Charles’ father, Senator Logan.
Suzy’s freckles stood in stark contrast against her pale skin as she stared at Lily, consternation on her face. “I don’t understand. We went back, but the police wouldn’t give us any information. I searched for you, Lily. I phoned all the hospitals in New York, but I couldn’t find you.”
Lily clenched her teeth as she feigned ignorance. “What are you talking about, Suzy?”
Suzy dropped her gaze and stared at her coffee cup without answering.
“I asked you a question,” Lily said, determined to get her to confess. Aidan had suffered so much because of Suzy’s meddling. She should just have stayed out of their affairs.
Suzy let out a small cry and covered her downturned face with trembling hands, but tears dripped copiously from between her fingers. “I’m so sorry, Charles fooled me. I was so stupid,” she mumbled in a thick voice. Her shoulders shook as muffled sobs escaped from behind her hands.
Lily couldn’t keep it up. The revenge had soured in her mouth. She stared at the rich red of Suzy’s hair, gathered in a ponytail of riotous curls, and she knew she could never hold her actions against her. She and Aidan had travelled into the past to the time before the attack on the mansion and had seen how Charles had fooled Suzy, and how Benji and Suzy had called the police in an attempt to stop Charles when they had realized their mistake. At least the gunfight between the St. Lucians and the police had warned her and Aidan of impending danger, giving them time to get to the shelter, so even though Suzy had betrayed them, she and Benji had also tried to save them from harm.
The waiter appeared next to their table, ready to take their food order. His eyes stretched when he saw Suzy crying. “We’re alright,” Lily said, waving him away.
“Suzy, dry your tears,” Lily said gently as she manipulated Suzy’s aura, calming her so that they could talk without more dramatics.
Suzy kept her face downturned at as she rummaged in her handbag and found a handful of tissues. She pressed the tissues to her face, noticeably calmer. “Sorry for making such a scene,” she whispered in a raw voice. “For the last three years I’ve been trying to make peace with what I had done. The guilt was killing me, but I consoled myself that you and Aidan had to be happy somewhere in the world. Now I find out that it was even worse than I imagined. I’m so sorry.”
* * * *
And really, where does the conversation go from there. Lily can never be truthful. She already hates herself for every lie she is being forced to tell. And Suzy will remember how she had betrayed Lily every time they speak. So this friendship can never be rekindled, because it will cause pain and discomfort to Lily and to Suzy. Not forgetting the fact that Lily would then be going against Aidan’s wishes, as he had advised her not to contact Suzy.
To answer the question about Aidan’s stolen antique furniture, yes, of course he recovered all his furniture, and Charles died horribly. Again, there seemed to be little point in writing a scene where Aidan put an end to Charles, because the main question would have been, does he boil him in his own juices, or does he set him on fire. And I think we’ve had enough scenes where Aidan has done that to his enemies. It would have read like a rerun if I had attempted to write such a scene. So there it is. I guess that’s all I can say. I hope that I’ll be able to start on my new manuscript soon.
Hi everyone. Apologies for writing this post on my phone, so I’ll keep it short. I’m in hospital at the moment after undergoing a second thyroid operation on Tuesday. The first one was in mid August. In both operations the histology was positive for thyroid cancer. The good news is that I’m pretty sure that my fabulous surgeon (really, he’s a rockstar) got all of it out so this should be the end of it. I still have to ask myself what gives. Seems since 2015 my body has declared war on me, and I still have an operation on my right shoulder looming later this year or early next year. Which is why I’m thrilled to announce that Blackstone Resurrection is available at all retailers. And I must admit that it’s a huge relief to me that I published it on Monday night before going into hospital. Now all I have to do is concentrate on recovery and thinking about writing another book. A stand-alone book, I think. After three trilogies in a row I’m cured of writing more trilogies for now. 😂 LOL.
Again apologies to all of you who have waited so long for this third Blackstone book. Please click on the menu links above to find it at your preferred retailer. 🙂
A little while ago, while feeling nostalgic for my favorite characters, I reread the Crossfire Trilogy and also the Driftwood Trilogy, and an interesting thought occurred to me. Is the Driftwood Trilogy really a spinoff of the Crossfire Trilogy, or is it just a continuation of the story, with the prequel, in the form of Crossfire: Driftwood thrown in somewhere in the middle. And I wondered to myself if I shouldn’t rather rebrand and market the six books as the Crossfire Series instead. But then I wondered whether Crossfire: Driftwood shouldn’t then be the first book in the series. After all, chronologically Driftwood happened many years before Crossfire.
But then I remembered that I wrote Driftwood after finishing the Crossfire Trilogy, and that Driftwood demonstrated some of the fears and problems that Marcelle had carried over to the first Crossfire book. And I realized that Driftwood needed to be read with the knowledge of the Crossfire Trilogy already in mind. I think it heightens the tension a bit more that the reader can easily guess who the strange man is that Nancy finds on the beach, simply by his description, and it lends a particular note to the story that the reader has information that the main protagonist, Nancy does not have.
So in the end I decided that the order is correct, and that Driftwood should be the fourth book in the series, because it also answers a question that is posed in Crossfire: Hearts on Fire, which is why is Karl so bitter and twisted about Nancy?
So yes, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about this, mainly because when I look at sales figures, it is obvious to me that the Driftwood Trilogy has not had the same sales numbers as the Crossfire Trilogy. Not that it has sold badly at all, but what I mean is it is obvious to me that many people who read and enjoyed the Crossfire Trilogy didn’t go on to read the Driftwood Trilogy. It makes me wonder if I failed in my marketing of the two trilogies, and didn’t make it obvious enough that the two are connected?
This returns me to my first question, whether I shouldn’t rather rebrand the six books as one series. I would love some input on this, if anyone has an opinion. I don’t know if an author is allowed to love their own books, but I love the saga of Marcelle, Stefan, Kris, Karl and Nancy and their trials though the years. Those characters have been with me for a long time, because I wrote the Crossfire Trilogy way back in the nineties! And I realized upon reading it again that the Crossfire and Driftwood trilogies are primarily about betrayal and forgiveness. And whether love, whether romantic or familial love, can really overcome all.
And I really hope in real life that it can overcome all, because in this past year our family has experienced the lows of betrayal and anger as we were forced to go to court to protect a minor child from a predator. I can’t say too much about it, save to speak hypothetically. Let’s just say that there are predators who like to target single, sometimes desperate, women with a child or children of a certain age. Do you see where I’m going with this? And sometimes this woman is blind to what is happening, or what could potentially happen, and no amount of talking or reasoning will help, leaving her family no choice but to resort to the highest court in the country to keep this child safe, and keep this predator away from her.
We have provisionally succeeded, but the case is still on going, and the threats and abuse from the respondent in the case has been on going for this entire year. The cost to our family has been enormous, both financial and emotional, and our relationship with the respondent has been destroyed, which means we stand to lose everything, including our relationship with the child in question, if we should fail in our endeavor to protect her.
But I’ve always believed that the only way that evil can succeed in the world is if good people do nothing. And when I look at this beautiful child with her whole life still ahead of her, I know it will all be worth it in the end, knowing that we have prevented her childhood from being stolen from her. One day I will be able to face her and say to her that I did everything in my power to protect her. But the cost has been great, not the least in my productivity as a writer. I’ve been trying to get the third Blackstone book written, but all too often have found myself staring out of the window, my thoughts far away as I try to find a way to settle this whole affair peacefully, and try to heal the rift in our family at the same time.
And sometimes I have to wonder when things are going to improve. I mean 2015 was a pretty crap year health wise as I wrote in this blog post and this one . But still I managed to bring out Crossfire: Broken earlier this year, which I believe, and which some reviews have also mentioned, is one of my best books to date, in terms of the conflict and tension, and I must say that I loved writing it, because even though my body was hurting, it was an escape for me, and more importantly, I was fully immersed in my characters.
But now, my mind is restless and my soul is tortured. What do you say when your godchild says to you with tears in her eyes that sometimes she pinches herself to check if she isn’t a ghost, because her mother, (the respondent in this case) barely talks to her, and pushes her away when she wants to hug her. She is in agony, our family is in agony. I am in agony. But the child’s mother is filled with revenge and rage and hatred because she feels she has been wronged, and that we shouldn’t have interfered. It is monstrous, and unbelievable that in today’s times it should be so difficult to protect a child.
I must apologise for such a morbid post, but I felt that you guys deserve to hear the truth about why the third Blackstone book won’t be ready in December. I will do my best to complete it as soon as I can. I know that many of you are waiting to see what happens next, and I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m hoping that I might have it done by March at the latest. If I manage to finish it earlier, I will always announce it here first. 🙂
Some of the best naps I’ve enjoyed have been on a recliner, specifically the one I normally use when I write. A few years ago, after the second operation on my right knee, my orthopaedic surgeon suggested to me that sitting at a desk with my knees bent at ninety degrees might not be the best option for me. Being a writer, which normally would involve sitting at a desk, I thought about this for a while, and came up with a great solution, which resulted in me buying my first recliner. Of course I wasn’t trying to write while in a reclined position. What I was really interested in was the front part of the recliner that elevated my feet, which kept my knees in a slightly flexed position, just as my doctor suggested.
I also bought one of those laptop stands with the cooling fans built in, so that I could rest my laptop on my thighs. And that’s how I’ve been writing the past couple of years. Of course the best benefit of writing like that, is that even with the backrest of the recliner in the upright position, it’s really comfortable. This can present a problem at times, because sometimes, when I’m really thinking deeply about what’s going to happen next, and I get into a bit of a dreamy state, I drop off to sleep.
The advantage of that is that it allows my subconscious to come to the rescue and supply me with the next part of the story, and it’s really great when that happens. If not, I’ve lost an hour or two of the day, oops. I think that part of the reason why I fall asleep is that I’m constantly running in the red when it comes to sleep, so any time I get too comfortable I run the risk of dropping off.
Why am I running in the red, you might ask. Well, to summarize, somewhere around the age of thirty five I developed a fear of sleeping. That was when, for some inexplicable reason, I started waking up at three in the morning, in the middle of a fight or flight reaction. Medically it’s called a panic attack, or an anxiety attack, but basically it’s the result of a massive release of adrenalin while asleep, and boy is that a nasty way to wake up. You’re filled with intense fear, except that there nothing there to be afraid of, your heart is hammering, you’re hyperventilating and shivering and consumed with an insane desire to go outside and just run. From what? There’s nothing there. But try telling your body that.
Of course all medical technology could offer was sedation, which didn’t work, mainly because I found that while it could dull your senses, it didn’t take care of the panic, and I hated not being in control, so I gave that up after a short while.
Sleeping became a problem, but by resisting my body’s desire to sleep, I inadvertently stumbled onto the solution. By going to bed at three in the morning, I avoided the panic attack and normally slept through until eight, by which time the house was normally so noisy that it was difficult for me to continue sleeping. So that’s five hours at least. Certainly better than nothing, but an hour in the afternoon is often irresistible.
And what do I normally do until three in the morning? I watch TV, read, work on my latest manuscript, or just wander around the house. Being a bit of an introvert (more than just a bit), I’ve grown to relish the silence in the house while my family is sleeping, and quite frankly, after ten years it has become a habit.
But let’s get back to the fact that I’ve had some of my best naps on a recliner. Just an update to my post, “Disappointed“, I did finally have my knee operation on February 18, when all my blood levels were back to normal. I then had to wait a few months for my knee to heal before I could have my shoulder fixed up. And all that from one misstep off a ladder? Freakin’ unbelievable. Anyway, before I went to hospital on May 28 for the operation on my left shoulder, I wondered to myself how I would sleep for the six weeks that my arm would be in a sling. And then I remembered about my recliner, and how it would probably be a great idea to sleep on my back in a slightly raised position.
My mind made up, a few days before my operation I bought a new recliner for my bedroom. Of course my kitties all had to test drive it first, but when they realized that I was giving them my bed, with the electric blanket permanently switched on, they decided I could have my recliner.And wow, I wish I had realized before how comfortable this would be. I used to wake up in the morning feeling as if I was broken, mainly due to five heavy kitties piling onto me the minute I got horizontal, twisting my body into all kinds of unnatural positions. Just try to imagine having traction that’s pulling in five different directions all at the same time.
I found there are two advantages to sleeping on a recliner. Firstly I’m held in position very securely, so no chance of turning onto my side by accident and hurting my shoulder. And because I’m sleeping on my back, no sleep wrinkles from mashing my face into a pillow. What a bonus, I look younger already. 😉 I’m seriously considering continuing to sleep this way even once my shoulder is healed, which could take a while. Even though I can stop using the sling in about two weeks time, I’m still looking at a few months of physiotherapy before this arm will be anything close to fully functional.
But I know the burning question here is whether I’m able to work on the next Blackstone book while my shoulder is healing. Well, for the first two weeks after the operation my left arm was completely out of action, and I spent my time watching TV and listening to music and reading and trying anything that kept me from going out of my mind. Yep, I hate being helpless and the truth of the matter is you need two hands for just about everything.
Accepting help from my family for things that I took for granted was difficult for me. One weekend we went to my brother’s house for a barbeque, after my sister had helped me dress, my mother had tied up my hair and my father had laced up my boots. And at the barbecue my sister casually leaned over and cut my meat into small little blocks that I could just pick up with a fork. Yes, that’s love and I felt about five years old. Ugh.
Anyway, those of you who want to know what was wrong with my shoulder. In the fall that I described in the post, “Disappointed”, what had actually happened was that I had torn my bicep tendon and injured my AC joint, which is a little joint on the top of the shoulder that helps with the rotation of your shoulder. Anytime you reach across your body, let’s say to put on your safety belt, you’ve used your AC joint. And if you reach up for something above your head, your AC joint is at work again.
So anyway, after the operation my doc said that he had managed to repair the tendon successfully, but he’d had to shave away a lot of bone to get my AC joint functional again, which in fact had already been compromised even before I fell. According to him it was one of the worst cases of shoulder impingement he had ever seen, which explained why my left arm had been practically useless before the operation. Basically the narrowing of my AC joint, combined with the injury sustained in the fall had trapped the tendons of my shoulder resulting in pain and reduced mobility.
I remember even while finishing Somali Sunrise that I had been in intense pain from my shoulder, and had to take regular breaks because my chest muscles kept cramping. Oh, the pain of creation. 😉
The good news is that by the third week after my shoulder operation I was able to get back into a regular schedule of writing. I managed that by propping my elbow up on the arm of my new recliner, thereby supporting my shoulder, and then releasing the clip of my sling so that I could rest the heel of my hand on the palm rest of my laptop. From there it was easy for me to reach the keys of my laptop and type quite comfortably without straining my shoulder or upper arm at all. I include a photo for illustration.Of course, Yoda, one of my kitties, decided that she would help to keep my arm steady by providing support. She’s such a little darling and guards me day and night. I think she senses that I need a little extra help at the moment. And of course we enjoy wonderful naps together.
But I’m quite confident that I’m on schedule to publish the third Blackstone book by December. And as always, I’ll announce it here first.
Smashwords will distribute to Itunes, Sony, Diesel, Kobo, and Blio. This will probably take around two weeks, but could take as long as a month. Please be patient, but if you don’t want to wait, Smashwords has the correct format for all modern electronic readers . I will be updating the links as they become available.
I have been getting some enquiries regarding Aidan’s Redemption, which is the sequel to Lily’s Reprieve, and is also the second book in the Blackstone Trilogy. I had hoped to publish just after Christmas, but I had underestimated how busy my December would be. The good news is that the cover is done, and the manuscript is complete. I am busy now with final edits, after which I will publish, either on or before January 10, 2014.
For those readers who can’t wait, here’s a three chapter teaser of Aidan’s Redemption to see you through.
Copyright 2013 Niki Savage
“Why do you hide beneath the ground like a wounded animal? Why do you not teach these humans a lesson they will never forget?”
Aidan smiled sadly. As usual, Zargun just wanted to destroy and conquer. “And what lesson would that be?”
“That they must worship us, or die.”
“I could not convince even one human to remain loyal to me. How would I convince billions?”
“Are you still moping over that harlot? She betrayed you. Is that love? You should have destroyed her like the others.”
“I could no more hurt her than I could hurt my own flesh.”
“And yet she watched them beat you, and did nothing.”
“She was as much a prisoner as I was.”
“But you keep forgetting that she had put you in that position. If I had not stepped in, you would be dead now, or locked in a dungeon.”
“And you were only too happy to take advantage of the situation,” Aidan said bitterly.
Oscar glanced up, startled by the sound of his master’s voice. Until now, the verbal exchange had been silent. Zargun spoke in Aidan’s mind, and Aidan answered him in the same way.
“Could I have predicted that the radiation of the sun would set me free?”
“You must have suspected,” Aidan said, answering Zargun in his thoughts.
“I hoped, and my hope was rewarded. You have been too easy on these humans.”
“You forget that I am human too.”
“Your innocence astounds me. You gave up the last of your humanity when you allowed me to teleport us to the sun. Could a human survive such a feat?”
Aidan rose to his feet and walked to an ornate mirror that complemented the antique furnishings in the luxurious room. He studied his image for a few moments before declaring aloud, “I look human. I am human.”
Zargun laughed. “Except that you glow in the dark, despite all your sessions with the black stone. Anyone who comes near you will die within hours, and that includes sweet Lily. But she is as good as dead anyway. By now the leukemia would have destroyed her body.”
Aidan grimaced in pain. “You cannot know that for sure.”
Zargun laughed again. “I can only hope. Let us travel into the future, and see if she is still alive.”
“I will not do that.”
“Because that would destroy the last bit of hope I have.”
“I fail to understand what you see in her. You are better off without her. You are stronger without her. You made yourself vulnerable to protect her, and she used it against you. How can you still care for her after she betrayed you?”
“She betrayed me because I failed her. I should have told her everything from the start, and I should have been true to her.”
“But you were true to her, in your own way.”
“It was not good enough.”
“Well, I think it is time for me to take charge.”
“You, take charge? You are just an alien talking in my head. You have no power over me.”
“You will discover that you are wrong. You are a mere thousand years old, but I have been alive for millions of years. Do you think you can stand against me?”
Before Aidan could answer, incredible pain ripped through his skull. He fell to his knees, screaming Lily’s name as red hot, molten agony tormented every nerve ending in his body.
* * * *
Lily lay on an unfamiliar bed, staring at the crystal wind chime she had hung near the window. The September sun shone through the window, instantly transformed by the crystal facets of the wind chime into brilliant colors that danced on the cream-colored walls of the motel room. Yet the room remained chilly enough for Lily to consider adding a jacket to the jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt she already wore.
James was in the room next door, and they had been on the run for six months. During that time, Lily had discovered that James was under the impression that Aidan worked for a clandestine government organization. He had told her that Aidan had instructed him to go on the run with her if she or Aidan gave him the keyword Ulysses, because that would mean Aidan’s cover had been blown.
It sounded almost believable, if you left out the fact that Aidan was part alien, radioactive, and deadly to anything that crossed his path.
In the beginning, Lily had been under the impression that James expected some kind of contact from his employer. But as the months passed by, it became obvious that Aidan had left them to their own devices.
After exhausting the five locations that Aidan had specified, they had kept on the move, changing location every few days, pretending to be father and daughter on a road trip through America. Most people accepted their story readily, if they were even curious enough to ask.
A sharp rap at the door that connected her room with James’ room startled Lily from her reverie. She sat up and called, “Come in.”
The door opened, and James entered, a smile on his face, though she could see the lines of hardship that the months on the run have carved on his features. He wore beige chinos and an open necked blue shirt, but Lily didn’t think she would ever get used to not seeing him in a suit.
“Having a nap in the middle of the day, luv?”
Lily didn’t have the heart to tell James that she hated it when he used that endearment. It reminded her of Victor, who had fooled her with ease, and tricked her into betraying Aidan. Though he and Patrick had paid for it with their lives, Lily couldn’t move past the fact that she had fallen for their deceit. Self-condemnation haunted her, but she had to bear her burden alone, unable to tell James what had happened that fateful morning when she had betrayed Aidan.
She forced a smile. “Nothing much else to do. And I feel as if I just can’t catch up on my sleep.”
“You slept all day in the car yesterday. Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”
“I’m fine, but I have this horrible headache that just won’t go away. Do you have some Advil in your room?”
“No, luv, but we can get some after lunch. There’s a good restaurant down the road. I think we need a solid meal to get our strength back.”
Lily suppressed a shudder at the thought of food. “`I’ll give it a miss, if you don’t mind. I’m not hungry.”
“I’ll bring you a takeaway, in case you change your mind. And I’ll see what pain pills I can get.”
“Thanks,” Lily said, glad that he had not insisted that they stay together.
James left, and she lay down again, resuming her contemplation of the crystal wind chime Aidan had made for her.
In the rush to leave the Central Park penthouse, she had grabbed what she could in the allotted fifteen minutes. She had left behind all the beautiful designer clothing she owned, and had instead filled her suitcase with sensible shoes, jeans, T-shirts and jerseys. The kind of clothes that she imagined someone on the run would need.
Then she had used five precious minutes to take her wind chime down from the ceiling and pack it in its box. Afterwards she had run to Aidan’s room to grab his favorite woolen sweater and a bottle of his aftershave, tools she could use when the longing became too much to bear.
But she had also disobeyed James’ orders. She had left all her credit cards and her laptop on her bed as instructed, but she had packed her iPad and her iPhone. Aidan’s cell number was in the contacts list of her iPhone, so she had planned to purchase a prepaid sim card, and then call him. But since then a few things had happened that left her hesitant to contact him.
During the first months they had been on the run, she had often woken during the night, sure that she had heard Aidan calling her name. And while awake, she would hear his voice in her mind, telling her over and over that he loved her. She had wondered about that at first, wondering if that was what Aidan had meant when he told her that teleporting to the sun had changed him into something else.
Maybe he had reached a plane of higher enlightenment. Maybe he was now capable of mental telepathy, like the aliens on the planet Hedon. Maybe he was trying to reach her, to reassure her that he was in good health and that they would be together again somehow.
But if he had wanted to do that, he could just have phoned James. At each of the five locations, James had found a locker that contained new papers and an unlisted cell phone. But no call had ever come through on any of the phones, adding to James’ belief that Aidan was dead, because he had not contacted them as agreed. But Lily knew better. She had betrayed Aidan, had trampled on his love for her, and this banishment and uncertainty was her punishment.
Her eyelids grew heavy as she stared at the crystal wind chime, and a few minutes later, she fell asleep.
~ . ~
Lily woke what felt like only minutes later when James burst into the room. She jumped to her feet, startled, but then immediately sat on her bed again as the world turned dark in front of her eyes. She took a few deep breaths before looking up at James. “What is it?”
“We have to get out of here,” he said, two spots of high color in his cheeks. “Some strangers at the restaurant were asking questions, looking for someone of your description.”
Lily yawned. “I’m sure this town is filled with plenty of blonde twenty something girls.”
“They described a scar on the girl’s forearm.” He grabbed her right arm and pushed back her sleeve to reveal a crescent shaped scar dating back to her childhood. “They described this scar.”
Lily gasped as her insides turned to ice.
“You need to pack,” James said. “We’re leaving in ten minutes.”
Lily didn’t need ten minutes to pack. She rarely unpacked her suitcase anymore. It took her three minutes to unhook the wind chime and pack it into its box, and a further thirty seconds to sweep her toiletries off the bathroom counter and into her toiletry bag. Slipping on her trainers and tying her shoelaces took less than a minute. Only five minutes had passed by the time she walked through to James’ room with her suitcase.
He had already slammed his suitcase shut. “We’re getting good at this,” he said, trying to inject humor into the tense atmosphere.
Lily played along, forcing a smile. “Practice makes perfect. Where to this time?”
James frowned. “Let’s just keep heading north, as far away from New York as we can get. When we see a town we like, we’ll stop off for a couple of days again. I just don’t know how they keep finding us.”
Lily didn’t know either, but she had a strong suspicion. Last night she had used her iPad, and today strangers were looking for her. Victor had once asked to borrow her iPad while his had been in for repairs, which strengthened her belief that the iPad was suspect. “James, I forgot something in the bathroom. You start the car. I’ll be right behind you.”
“Don’t be long,” he said as he headed out the door with his suitcase.
Lily stepped back into her room and opened her suitcase. Her iPad lay on top of her clothing. She grabbed it and ran into the bathroom. After lifting her iPad high above her head, she smashed it onto the edge of the bath. The back cover of the device shattered, exposing a tiny circuit board, and a blinking red light. Two small leads attached the circuit board to the battery of the iPad, and Lily tugged it free before grinding it to pieces beneath her heel.
This explained a lot, and she felt a surge of rage at the damage Victor was still wreaking, even though he was long dead. No doubt, he and Patrick had planted the device, hoping it would lead them to Aidan’s hideout, but she had never taken her iPad to the mansion, knowing that she wouldn’t need such entertainment with Aidan in the vicinity.
But after her escape, the Order of St. Lucian had found another use for the tracking device, and only because she had disobeyed James, who had told her to leave all electronic devices behind in New York.
She left the ruined iPad in the bathroom, grabbed her suitcase and stormed out of the room to where James waited. She still kept her iPhone, because it had never left her possession, so she knew that Victor couldn’t have installed a tracking device in it.
Minutes later, they drove out of town. In the next town, they planned to use one of James’ false identities to trade the brown Ford they were travelling in for a different car.
Always moving forward, always running, trying to remain alive, but was this living?
* * * *
With the new car fueled up, James and Lily took turns driving, sleeping in shifts, and stopping only for food or fuel. As the sun rose the next morning, Lily slipped her sunglasses on, and glanced at James’ sleeping face. She felt a stab of guilt, knowing she had put his life at risk. Six months on the run wasted because she had a tracking device in her iPad.
The leads attached to her battery told her that the device had been feeding off the power of her iPad, which is why they’d had times of relative peace when her battery had been flat, and she had not bothered to charge it.
But last night she had discovered that the motel had free wireless, so she had charged her iPad and logged on to the internet, desperate to check her mail, hoping to find an email from Aidan. Instead, she found close to a hundred emails from Suzy, imploring her to respond.
She had thought it was safe to use her iPad, because she had removed the sim card and disabled location services before they had left New York.
But she had no way of knowing that the tracking device would report her general position every time she logged on to a wireless network. And that could have cost James his life. He would have fought to the death to defend her, and he was capable of it. Lily had discovered that James had worked most of his life for a British agency in London, who hired out bodyguards who posed as butlers.
James had told her that when he reached retirement age, Aidan had approached him and offered him employment as caretaker of his apartment in New York. James had jumped at the opportunity, eager to explore new horizons.
But had he signed up for this? The order of St. Lucian wasn’t interested in him, though they would kill him if he stood in their way. No, they wanted her, for reasons she could only imagine. But she had a few ideas. The first obvious idea was that they wanted to use her to draw Aidan out into the open. But how would they achieve that, if she didn’t even know where he was?
But another, far more sinister agenda worried her. She had heard Charles and his father talking in the elevator while she had been in the coffin. From the conversation, she had gathered that Charles had found the hazardous material container with the used condoms. God only knew what they planned to do with that, but she was quite sure that they meant for her to play an integral part in their plans.
James woke and stretched as best he could in the cramped confines of the passenger seat.
“Did you have a good rest?” Lily asked, glancing at him.
He frowned as he stared at his watch. “You were supposed to wake me three hours ago.”
She smiled. “You looked like you needed the rest, Grandpa. I still have quite a buzz going from that enormous cup of coffee I had at midnight. Go back to sleep, it’s all under control.”
James relaxed again and closed his eyes. “If you say so, luv. Wake me when we reach the next town. I think it’s time we find somewhere to book in so we can get cleaned up.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Lily said brightly, fighting the exhaustion hovering behind her eyelids. A sign indicated fifty miles to Bellingham, a town close to the border of Canada.
Look out for the rest of Aidan’s Redemption on January 10.
Beter late than never, is what I always say. I had promised that my new book, Lily’s Reprieve, would be available at the end of January 2013. And I almost made it, except I was two weeks late. 😉 But sometimes life intrudes, and I’m sticking to that story. Lily’s Reprieve, which is book one of The Blackstone Trilogy, is available now at Barnes & Noble, Apple Itunes, Smashwords and Kobo.
This is my first foray into paranormal romance, so I have made the book free at Smashwords, and it will soon be free at all retailers except Amazon. I plan to add two more books to the series to complete the Blackstone Trilogy.
I have included a picture of the cover for Lily’s Reprieve. If anyone is wondering what is on the cover, I am happy to explain. That is what it looks like when the gorgeous, yummy, handsome and sexy Aidan Knight disappears in a brilliant flash of light. Why, do you ask? Well, you’ll have to download the book to find out.