Sunday, February 28, 2010


Dark Side of the Veil

Dark Court 1

Available Monday, March 1st

Zack Banning hasn't had an easy time of it recently. After spending more than fifteen years in the Marines, he's discharged due to a head injury received in combat. With no missions to run or people to save, it's all he can do to get out of bed in the mornings. The pills the doctors have him on to keep his injury-induced delusions at bay don't help the situation.

When he discovers a young man being accosted outside of a bar one night he sees it as a chance to feel the satisfaction of saving someone once again. He just doesn't realize until it's over that the young man came to the bar to warn him that someone is out to kill him. What Eljin tells him is a story so outlandish, Zack begins to wonder if he's having one of his delusions. Because if Eljin's story is true, the entire foundation of everything Zack believes just flew out the window.

Fleeing through the countryside with Eljin, Zack tries to understand everything without telling the man he's nuttier than a fruitcake. But the more time Zack spend with Eljin, the more he wants him until he can't think of ever being separated from the little elf.

The only way to save Eljin is to take him back home—through the veil between the two worlds. Arrival on the elf's side of the veil isn't perfect, however. They encounter a war between the elf worlds, the threat of human invasion, and a bias against humans. Zack and Eljin have to keep their wits about them as they try to save their home, their family, and themselves.

“I’m sorry.” The words echoed in Zack’s mind for what must be the millionth time. He heard them when he closed his eyes, when he had them open, all the time. It had been that way for weeks now. Just when he thought he’d gotten past the words, he heard them in his mind again. And he didn’t have the foggiest idea why. He just couldn’t seem to stop hearing those two little words.
Zack took another long sip of his beer then cradled the brown bottle between his hands. There was only one thing that disturbed him more than hearing those two words over and over again…the deep azure eyes that looked at him with such sadness when the words were spoken.
Zack didn’t know who belonged to the deep blue eyes he saw in his dreams because every time he tried to find the memory in his mind his head started to ache. If he persisted, horrific agonizing pain ripped through him.
The injury he suffered on a combat mission wasn’t life threatening but he had suffered a head trauma from a bomb exploding feet from where he stood. The doctors said he had short term memory loss due to his injury and he might experience delusions for the rest of his life. Zack could only conclude that was why he had such weird dreams, a side effect of his brain trauma.
Shaking his head, Zack ran his hand through his short black hair. It was an easy gesture. His hair was still cropped close to his scalp. He might have been out of the service for a few months but years of training were hard to dismiss. He kept his hair short out of habit.
Maybe he’d never find out who said I’m sorry or why. Maybe it was all some dream he had brought on by the injuries he’d received in combat. Maybe it was something he’d made up in his mind. Zack just didn’t know.
Zack swallowed down the last of his beer and stood to his feet. Hanging out in some backwater bar and getting drunk might sound good but it wouldn’t solve his problems. More than likely it would just give him another headache and he’d suffered enough of those in the last three months to last him a lifetime.
Zack got to his feet and grabbed his black leather jacket, pulling it on over his shoulders. He tossed a couple of dollars down on the table and walked toward the door. Stopping on the steps outside, he started to zip up his jacket when he heard a small whimper and the sounds of a scuffle coming from the side of the building.
He knew he shouldn’t get involved. He’d only been out of the hospital for a few weeks. He had no business getting involved but fifteen years of protecting people was hard to ignore. It was something ingrained in a marine. Resigned to the coming battle, Zack walked around the corner of the building.
He wasn’t surprised to find three rather large men harassing a much smaller one. That’s usually how it happened. Assholes tended to run in packs and attack people that they could easily intimidate.
What did amaze him was how well the smaller man was fighting them off. Zack wouldn’t have been surprised to find that the man had some sort of formal defensive training. However, all of his movements seemed to defensive rather than offensive. That told Zack that the man didn’t want to fight. He just wanted to get away with his body intact.
The military outfits the three attackers wore didn’t register with Zack until he grabbed the first guy and took a swing at him. They were all dressed in full nighttime combat gear, the type only issued to military combat units. They even wore night goggles.
Zack knew immediately that there was more going on here than a simple mugging. These men were military and they were after the smaller guy for some unknown reason. That still didn’t mean that Zack was going to let it happen. His gut told him that the small blond haired guy was innocent and in deep need of his help.
The first guy Zack hit went down without protest, too surprised to fight back. The second guy wasn’t so easy. He heard the first man fall and quickly turned to fight Zack, his body lowering into a defensive stance. Zack grinned. It had been a long time since he’d had the chance to get into a good fight.
He aimed his fist at the man’s face at the same time he swiped his foot out at the man’s legs. Both connected but didn’t take the man down. Zack quickly spun around, aiming his next kick toward the man’s head. This one connected much to Zack’s satisfaction. He hadn’t lost his edge.
The man fell to the ground, landing on his hands and knees. Before he could get up, Zack attacked again, kicking the man in the head. This time when the man went down, he didn’t get up again.
Before Zack could silently celebrate his triumph he felt a solid hit land on his back. Zack ignored the pain radiating through his body and turned to see the last man standing behind him. He grinned again, watching the man’s eyes widen at his easy smile before decking him straight in the face.
Blood splattered from the man’s nose and covered his face. Zack used the distraction to hit again and again until the man fell back away from him. Zack pressed his advantage, hitting and kicking out at the man until he went down and didn’t move again.
He took just a moment to check for the man’s pulse before turning toward the form huddled against the wall. Zack inhaled sharply as eyes as blue as the deep sea met his. For a moment he thought the man might be the one from his dreams then the man blinked and the illusion was gone.
Zack scooted over closer to the man, holding a hand out to him. He tried to keep his stance as non-threatening as possible. “My name is Zack,” he said softly. “I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
The man looked hesitant. His hands trembled as he rubbed them up and down his arms. He was pale, his skin almost translucent in the moonlight. The fear in his wide eyes concerned Zack the most. It would be hard to check the man over if he was afraid.
What he did see didn’t tell him much. The man wore an overly large hoody, baggy jeans, and a knit cap down over his head. Zack could tell he had long white blond hair because he could see the braid hanging over his shoulder. Other than that, Zack couldn’t even tell how big the man was. The clothes he wore made him pretty much shapeless.
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
“You already said that,” the man whispered.
Zack frowned. The man’s voice sounded almost lyrical in nature, soft and light, like a bird might make. It also sounded like the voice in his head. If Zack didn’t feel the aches and pains in his body from his fight he might think he was hallucinating. The doctors said delusions might be a possibility.

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