Taylor 2 releases today!
It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!
Taylor Davis and the Clash of Kingdoms is now available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, and in paperback format. Subscribers to my new-release email notification list will be receiving a coupon for a special price tomorrow that’s good all of January. If you’d like to be included in this or in future mailings, sign up over in my sidebar. This list is only used for notices of new releases and I won’t share your email address with anyone.
Just to give you a taste of what hanging out with Taylor is all about, I’m posting the first chapter here. If you haven’t read book one, the price has been reduced everywhere to just 2.99. It’s also free on Wattpad.
When a Good Man Goes Ape, Start Journaling
“Davis! You are so dead!”
That isn’t my favorite greeting, especially in the murky moments before dawn which some twisted board member of the Zander National Academy thought would be a fine time to begin the school day. I’d trained myself to function on autopilot well into second hour. At the moment, my head still felt stuffed with hazy dreams. I seriously needed a Mountain Dew.
“Taylor Davis, I’m talking to you.”
I faced my pursuer and was disheartened to find a ticked off 6’4” Titan warrior looming over me. He jabbed a sausage finger into my chest. “You didn’t pay your toll.”
My benumbed brain tried to take in the accusation. During my ten months in the Dominican Republic, Damian Martinez had never spoken a word to me. As he was captain of every sports team the school offered, and as I had less coordination than a medicated squid, we didn’t move in the same circles. Little did I see then the far-reaching effects of our first conversation.
I blinked at Damian in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
He pressed his face close to mine. Most of the girls fawned over his classic Latino features, but today they were anything but pretty. “I mean, chico, this is my door. And the sidewalk leading to it is my sidewalk. If you want to use them, you have to pay my toll.”
“Are you kidding me?” Up to that point, the whole exchange had taken place in Spanish, which over the course of the year had slowly become less complex than binary code. But this I blurted in my native English. “Aren’t you a little old to be stealing milk money?”
The giant’s face darkened, and he lifted me off the ground by my neck. “Hablas Espaniol, idioto.”
I switched back to Spanish. “Why do I have to pay a toll? No one else is forking out dough, you big baboon.”
I wouldn’t recommend repeating those words to anyone who is dangling you a foot off the ground. My face suddenly felt like it had collided with a cement wall at forty miles per hour. I found myself sliding across the tile floor and coming to rest in the corner of the hallway.
“You hit me!” I rubbed my jaw in disbelief. Damian had always seemed a level-headed sort of guy. He was even dating my friend, Elena, who couldn’t shut off the infatuation spigot whenever she talked about him. “I can’t believe you hit me!”
“I’ll do a lot worse than that!” A handful of spectators scrambled out of the way as he lunged for me. I dove behind a bench outside the high school office. The secretary never even looked up. I hoped the ease of my death in front of the wide, newly installed security window didn’t leak out to the city’s more violent criminal element.
Two of Damian’s buddies yanked him off me before he smeared any more of my blood across the hallway tiles. “What’s wrong with you today, Martinez?” they asked, exchanging a look of befuddlement. “You didn’t even pull this kind of stunt in primary school.”
Damian fought savagely to free himself. “You are pond scum, Davis! You’re the fungus that feeds on pond scum. When I get ahold of you, you are going to wish you’d never been born!”
“What did you do to him, man?” one of his friends asked me.
I shrugged, as clueless as they were.
The hall was beginning to fill with bystanders. One or two began calling for a fight. “Come on, Mendoza, let him go. Let’s see some action!” But the two boys—I recognized them as Damian’s basketball teammates—held his arms securely. “We’re going to be late to PE, amigo. It’s not worth getting expelled over five bucks.”
The Titan continued to scream out threats and obscenities as they dragged him away. Soon after, the hallway emptied as my classmates drifted away with the air of those cheated out of the season’s best rock concert. I slumped onto the bench.
It wasn’t as though I was afraid of Damian. He was nothing compared to the enemies I’d defeated last spring. I could easily have sent him into eternity with one stroke of the flaming sword I carried hidden on my person at all times, but there were strict rules about who I could use it against. If my opponent wouldn’t turn to green goo with one slice of the blade, chances were pretty good they weren’t on the go-ahead list.
But Damian’s behavior had been so odd. I wanted to discuss it with Elena.
The bell rang, and the secretary popped her head out the door. “Why are you still sitting there, young man? Get to class. Don’t you know tardies are a serious offense?”
With a heavy sigh, I retrieved my bag from the corner in which it landed and headed for my first hour under the woman’s disapproving eye. My discussion with Elena would have to wait.
Elena Camila Velasquez Cartahena was a lean, hard-fighting cowgirl from Montana with roots in the Dominican. We’d been thrown together soon after my arrival and pitted against a four hundred-year-old pirate set on world domination. That had been an eye-opening venture into the supernatural world of angels and their adversaries, none of whom you’d want to invite home to a backyard barbeque. I filled an entire journal with our adventures and the bizarre life lessons they had taught me. Our success had depended a great deal on Elena’s tenacity, but it did little to tame the lash of her tongue, which was one of the chief reasons we hadn’t hung out together much after our mission.
At lunchtime, I spotted Elena sitting at a table in a circle of her friends. The seat beside her was empty, and she glanced up at the cafeteria doorway every few seconds. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t watching for me, but I sat down next to her anyway. Actually, I caught the toe of my sneaker and sprawled across the table, knocking over a carton of chocolate milk and sending three girls squealing to their feet.
One girl with a large, purplish stain seeping across the front of her blouse gave me a shove. “Why don’t you learn to use your feet, freak?”
That was the second reason Elena and I didn’t hang out. Her friends didn’t have much use for my ineptitude.
“Sorry,” I cringed.
“Do you practice these moves, Davis, or is the gift natural?” Elena snapped as she helped blot up the chocolate lake.
“Elena, I have to talk to you.”
“Can’t it wait? We’re talking strategy for tonight’s game.” Basketball was currently all the rage at Zander, with the end of the regular season fast approaching and both men’s and women’s teams doing well.
“No, it can’t wait, Elena. I really have to talk to you.”
She glanced up at the urgency in my voice. “Okay. Let’s go to that empty table over there.”
“Why do you put up with this little dork?” asked another of the girls.
Elena tossed down her handful of soggy napkins. “Sorry, this won’t take long,” she told her teammates.
We looked quite the pair as we moved to an empty table: Elena, with her long limbs, short, curly hair, and skin the color of toasted pecans, and me, blond as Goldie Locks and sporting the physique of a pre-adolescent girl. I had hoped by ninth grade I might enjoy a burst of testosterone. Though my voice had become horribly uncontrollable, Elena still towered over me by a good six inches.
As we walked the few paces, I saw Elena glance again at the door. “Have you talked to him yet today?” I asked.
“Prince Charming, of course,” I answered with a flutter of eyelashes.
“You really are a dork, Davis.”
I grinned, and we settled across the table from each other. “This better be good,” she threatened.
I fingered the bruise that had blossomed on my cheek and switched to English. “Your boyfriend tried to kill me this morning.”
“I’m not joking. He tried to charge me admission at the front door and busted my face when I wouldn’t pay up. If Mendoza and Castillo hadn’t pulled him off me, you’d be coming to visit me in the hospital this evening.”
“What’d you do to him?”
I chuckled. “Are you kidding? I don’t poke sticks at sleeping grizzlies. He just started spewing junk at me when I walked in the door.”
I saw the confusion in her eyes. “That doesn’t sound like Damian.”
I leaned in. “That’s exactly why I wanted to talk to you. It’s like he was bewitched or something. When’s the last time you saw him?”
“Last night. We ditched Luis, and Damian drove us to that new pizza place, Giovetti’s, because we both have games next week on Valentine’s Day.”
Luis was the chauffer, which brings up the third reason we didn’t hang out: Elena was way out of my league. Her father owned a sugar cane plantation, and his investment portfolio was thicker than my mattress.
“Did he seem normal to you?”
A dreamy smile touched her lips. “Yeah,” she sighed.
I forced myself not to make retching noises.
At that moment Mendoza and Castillo, the two fellows who had saved my butt that morning, took the seats on either side of Elena. “We were hoping we’d find you two,” Castillo said.
Elena grabbed his arm. “Where is Damian? Is he okay?”
“He’s fine,” he assured her. “The principal sent him home for the rest of the day.”
“What happened?” she asked.
Mendoza shrugged. “He just freaked out. One minute he was fine, the next he was trying to kill this guy,” he said, jerking a thumb in my direction. “We hauled him into PE and shoved him under the shower to cool off. He sort of went slack. When we let him out, he started asking us all these questions.”
Castillo picked up the story. “He didn’t know where he was or how he got there. He had no memory of the encounter with Davis. In fact, he couldn’t remember anything since leaving the pizza joint last night. He didn’t even remember dropping you off afterward. He asked us to make sure you were okay and to offer Davis his apologies.”
“What could make him act that way?” Elena asked, worry crinkling the corners of her eyes.
Castillo shrugged. “The school nurse thinks it’s stress-related. You know, exams last month and now the playoffs coming up.”
“No way,” Elena replied. “Damian breezed through exams. And he loves playing basketball.”
“We don’t think so, either,” Mendoza answered. “No one has a cooler head under pressure.”
“Whatever’s going on, it’s not stress,” Castillo agreed.
“Thanks, you guys. I appreciate your coming to tell us,” Elena said.
They nodded and left for the lunch line.
Elena turned to me, her face a stony mask. “I know what you’re going to say.”
“Really?” I lifted one eyebrow. “I don’t even know what I’m going to say.”
“You think this has something to do with the supernatural. Well, you can get that idea out of your head right now, because it doesn’t.”
“How do you know it doesn’t?” I asked.
“How do you know it does?”
“I never said it does. You said I thought it does.”
A flicker of annoyance crossed her features. “Oh, come on, Davis. I can read it in your eyes. The fact that this is so out of character for Damian, the fact that he’s my boyfriend, the fact that he went after you… You think he’s been tampered with to get to us, don’t you?”
I pursed my lips. “I hadn’t thought it through that far, but you do make a convincing case.”
“They’re coincidences,” she said, emphasizing the word. “There’s a perfectly logical answer for this somewhere.”
I shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. At any rate, there doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about now. I’m sure Damian’s parents will sort this out and get him whatever help he needs. I just wanted you to know.”
That conversation marks the last moment I was ever fooled into thinking that I led a normal life. Had I foreseen what would soon fill the pages of my new journal, I probably would have locked myself in a bank vault and stayed there till Wasitters sprouted wings.
I love that last line! Want a copy? Here are the buy links again. 🙂
Happy New Year, everyone!