Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Thief by Sarah-Jane Lehoux--Excerpt and eBook Giveaway!

Recently, Sarah-Jane Lehoux stopped by for a Blog Ring of Power interview. She's back with us today to share an excerpt from the first book in The Sevy Series, Thief:

Did they notice the change in him? He doubted it. For people always lamenting their fate to muck through life as the dregs of society, they never made much effort to improve their situation. And they never looked kindly on those who did. They probably couldn’t even begin to fathom why he would want to leave this type of existence. Here it was, another pointless night of fighting and drinking followed by the familiar malaise of a hangover then back to business robbing honest people of their hard earned coins. They sickened him. He sickened himself for ever being a part of it.
“Jarro! Here, have a glass,” someone cheered as they shoved a mug of ale into his hand.
Alcohol wouldn’t improve his mood. He had been in a funk for weeks now and a little drink wasn’t going to change that. Time was ticking by far too slowly. He just wished that… No, he couldn’t wish that. Turlan was worth the aggravation. Jarro went to him now, to his chair by the front door where he was snoozing.
“Hey, Turlan. How are you feeling tonight?”
“I’d be feeling a might bit better if you’d pass me that ale.”
“Do you think that’s wise?”
Turlan chortled. “At my age, nothing’s wise.”
Jarro conceded and handed him the mug. Absorbed in his drink, Turlan didn’t provide much in the way of conversation so Jarro had to settle for watching the others dance and play. A crowd had gathered around Bolozi, egging him on as he attempted to down an entire keg. He passed out half way through and flopped onto the middle of the table with a phlegm-filled snort. Jarro sneered and contemplated having a bit of sport with a razor and Bolozi’s fat head. Sevy’s influence, no doubt.
The thought of her coaxed a smile from him. She could probably think of dozens of wicked tricks they could play on Bolozi. Jarro looked around for her before spotting her with Revik. They were dancing. Well, in a manner of speaking. Revik was spinning her and she stumbled to stay upright, winded by laughter. Jarro frowned at the twinge of possessiveness that crept up his spine. He shook it off and turned back to Turlan.
“How about a game of cards?”
“Sure! I’d never pass up a chance to get yer money.”
Jarro moved over to the table and shoved Bolozi to the floor. He hit the ground with a thump and kept on snoring. Jarro could barely resist the urge to give him a good, swift kick. Turlan sat down and pulled out a deck of cards. A few men joined in, and a lively game was soon underway. For a while, it was almost like old times.
An hour later, Jarro was down eighteen silver pieces, having lost the last three hands in a row. “Guess it’s not my lucky night, eh Turlan?”
There was no answer. Turlan, though he was still clinging to his cards, had fallen asleep. Gently, Jarro picked him up and carried him to his room. It wasn’t the least bit difficult. Turlan weighed next to nothing. Jarro cringed at the crunching he felt in Turlan’s joints as he tucked him into bed. There was so little left of him now. “Goodnight, old friend,” he whispered.
On his way back to the game, he happened to glance over to a corner where Revik and Sevy sat, chatting with one another. The muscles in Jarro’s neck tensed. He rubbed them to relax again and resumed the game.
Minutes passed. He couldn’t resist looking over his shoulder to sneak a peek at them. Sevy was playing with Revik’s hair, making tiny braids in the long white strands while she whispered into his ear. Revik looked up and caught Jarro’s eye before saying something that made Sevy laugh.
“Hey, Jarro? You in or what?”
“Huh? Yeah, yeah, I’m in.”
He tried to focus on the game, but was completely distracted. What were they talking about? He turned to look at them again. Sevy leaned into Revik, her hand on his chest in a very intimate manner. Then Revik draped an arm around her and she rested her head against him. His lips brushed against her temple, which made her laugh again.
Jarro tossed his cards aside. Ignoring everyone he passed, he stormed out into the courtyard, pushing over some wooden crates as he went. His blood pounded. His chest puffed out with each breath.
He drew his sword. The practice dummy, innocently swaying back and forth in the breeze, became his unsuspecting opponent. He slashed it, splitting it open so that its straw entrails spilled over the ground, but Jarro found that wasn’t good enough so he set about hacking it to shreds. Once it was completely obliterated, he took a few swipes at the pole it had been attached to. It was immature, but it did make him feel better. The rage was gone. Now he was left with a subtle, seething resentment that sat like a rock in his gut. Kicking through the remains of his inanimate foe, he puzzled over his anger.
He looked suspiciously at the open door as though it was the source of his bad temper, and debated whether or not to go back in. The music and voices inside were creating quite the racket. Smoke drifted lazily out into the sky. Everyone else was having a good time, why shouldn’t he? It was his gang, his home. Why should he feel unwelcome there? It wasn’t right. He should march in there, take back the money he lost, throw Bolozi out on his drunken ass, and pry Sevy free from Revik’s clutches. And if anyone didn’t like it, well, they could suffer the same fate that the dummy had.
This wasn’t at all like him, he reflected as he circled the courtyard. It was just the result of everything that had been happening lately. He had to be content with the knowledge that things would improve with time. It was silly to get so worked up. Sevy would make fun of him if she had witnessed this juvenile temper tantrum.
The mental picture of her in Revik’s arms made his blood boil once more. Logically, he knew that it shouldn’t upset him. Why should he care what she did? It was her life and if she wanted to waste her time with the likes of Revik then so be it. No, that wasn’t fair of him. Revik was a good man, one of his closest friends.
He wondered what they were doing. Was Revik sweet talking her? Maybe by now they had gone upstairs for some privacy. Maybe he was using that elvish charm of his. Sevy always did have a weakness for bad boys. Jarro paced the length of the courtyard so furiously it made him light-headed. Is Revik kissing her now? Sevy wouldn’t fall for that, would she? Of course not, she’s a smart girl. She knows what men are like. Then again, she and Revik had been friends for a long time and they had a lot in common.
Jarro pulled at his hair, hoping the pain would purify him. It didn’t matter what they were doing. It was none of his business. If he just repeated that enough maybe he’d believe it.
He decided that he didn’t want to go back in. He kicked at the ground while he contemplated what to do instead. The attack on the dummy had dulled the edge of his sword. The blade needed sharpening. He stomped over to the whetstone that was in the corner, doused it with water, and worked the pedal with his foot until the wheel reached proper speed. Then he pressed his blade against it.
A soft light grabbed his attention. Though the arms of the courtyard tree partially blocked the window, he could tell that a candle had been lit up in Sevy’s room. What did that mean? Was she alone? Was Revik with her? His concentration distracted, Jarro’s finger slipped and rubbed against the whetstone. He pulled his hand away, but not before the skin had been scraped raw. “Dammit!”
He was startled by a low laugh. “You shouldn’t play with your sword while you’re drunk,” Revik said from the doorway.
“I’m not drunk,” he muttered, though he suddenly felt a curious jolt of relief.
“The great playboy Jarro leaving a party before he’s stewed? Why, that’s unheard of!”
“Not in much of a party mood, I guess.”
“And why is that?”
“I have to have a reason? Why are you out here anyway? I thought you were…”
“Thought I was what?” Revik moved closer, amusement dancing in his carmine eyes. “Otherwise engaged?”
“Your business, not mine.” Jarro ran his finger along the edge of his blade. It was nice and sharp now. He returned it to its sheath and looked around for something else to occupy his time. But there was nothing except for the bothersome dark elf who would not stop grinning.
“You humans. For having such a short life span, you sure do waste a lot of time. You never just say what’s on your mind, do you?”
“Well, why don’t you tell me what’s on my mind then, hmm? I didn’t realize you were clairvoyant.”
“It’s deadly obvious. You’re upset that Sevy was paying attention to someone other than you. But instead of acknowledging that, you’d rather sulk out here. And apparently,” he eyed the dummy, “break things.”
Jarro tried to laugh, but it came out sounding like an unnatural cough. “You think I care what she does? Why should I?”
“Because you’re in love with her.”
“What? You’re insane!”
“You mean you’re not? Really? That’s wonderful news because I was thinking of trying my luck with her. I just wanted to make sure it was all right with you first. It is all right with you, isn’t it?”
Jarro was helpless to do anything other than stutter random noises.
“Oh, so it’s not?” Revik asked once he had stopped chuckling. “Hmm. I can’t imagine why.”
“It wouldn’t work,” Jarro insisted. “It would be a bad idea. A very, very bad idea.”
“Think so? And why’s that?”
“You and Sevy, um, the thing is she…”
“I see. So you don’t want her, but I can’t have her either. Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“That’s not it at all. It’s just, I don’t know. It’s complicated.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because you’re an ass?”
“Ouch! Well, aren’t we testy tonight? You know what would make you feel better?” Jarro didn’t bother to ask what, as he knew Revik was enjoying himself far too much to stop there. “A bottle of wine, some candlelight, and a certain brunette.”
“Don’t be a pig.”
“You know you want to. Don’t pretend you don’t. Look at you. You’re practically panting for it.”
“You know something? I used to think you were clever, but you are clearly just a babbling half-wit with too much time on his hands. Yes, I love Sevy. She’s my friend. But that’s all she is. So can you please just shut up?”
“Good gods, man! Quit lying to yourself. Do you have any idea how many bets I’ve lost over the years waiting for you two to finally get together? What’s taking you so long? She’s a great girl.”
“I know that.”
“Don’t meet girls like her too often.”
“I know!”
“And she’s got a nice little body too. Kind of small up top, but I sure wouldn’t mind having a go with her.”
“You watch your damned mouth!”
Revik laughed so hard he doubled over. Disgusted, Jarro moved to charge past him, but Revik caught his arm. “Hold on, I’m not finished. If you’re worried about me, don’t be. I wouldn’t do that to you even if I was interested in her. But how much longer do you expect Sevy to wait around for you? Sooner or later, she’s going to find a man who won’t take her for granted.”
“What do you mean?”
Revik brought his shoulders up to almost his ears with his exaggerated shrug. Still chuckling, he headed for the door.
“Wait a minute!” Jarro called after him. “Do you really think that?”
“Hard to say. I’m just a babbling half-wit, remember?”
Jarro stood gazing up at Sevy’s window. “Revik doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t take her for granted, she knows that,” he mumbled under his breath. “She knows I’d do anything for her.”
“Because you’re in love with her,” Revik’s words floated back to him.
He felt like breaking things again. He was anxious and edgy and wasn’t sure what was causing it. He wanted to go inside, yell at Revik, set him straight.
Damn smug elf!
What did he know anyway? If Revik couldn’t understand that platonic relationships between men and women happened all the time, then it was his loss. After minutes more pacing and brooding, Jarro decided to talk with Sevy. They’d have a laugh about it and that way he’d know that Revik was simply spouting rubbish as usual. He walked inside and up the stairs, ignoring the obnoxious wink Revik gave him. There was no answer when he knocked on the door to Sevy’s room.
“Sevy?” He heard her giggle, so he cracked the door open and peeked in. “Sevy?” he repeated.
She was in her nightgown, crouching barefoot with her hands clasped in front of her.
“What are you doing?”
“Look what I got!” She held her hands up. A faint green light slipped through the cracks of her fingers, accompanied by a buzzing sound. “See?” she said, moving a thumb to reveal an angry pixie bouncing off her palms. “I caught it trying to steal my stuff.”
“It’s too small to steal your stuff,” he said, baffled.
“I’m going to keep it. What should I name it?”
“It’s a pixie, sweetheart. They don’t need names. Now you’d better let it go before it—”
“—bites you.”
“Stupid little… I’m gonna smush it!”
“No, you don’t.” He pried her fingers apart and let the poor sprite loose. It fluttered about as if in a daze before zipping through the open window, off to re-join its swarm and tell them about the evil giant it had battled. Sevy giggled again and swayed backwards. Jarro caught her elbow to steady her. “How much did you have to drink?”
“A lot!” Before he could say anything else, she threw her arms around him and nuzzled her face into his hair. “Aw, Jarro, you’re not angry, are you? You left the party. Where’d you go?”
The warmth of her breath against his neck made him flush, and it really didn’t help that there was only a thin slip of fabric between his hands and her skin. “I, uh, the noise was getting to me.”
“You wanna go back down? Let’s go fight with somebody.”
He laughed. “No, you should go to sleep. It’s late.”
She mumbled something incoherent as he helped her to bed. He pulled the blanket up for her and she gave him a bleary-eyed smile before falling asleep. For a moment, he watched her, fondly smoothing some hair from her face before he caught himself.
He was stunned as the truth revealed itself. Suddenly everything became very clear. The jealousy he had watching her with Revik, the lust that had given him so much guilt, the emptiness he had felt when she was away. The reason he always pictured her with him when he imagined what life would be like after Eloria. It all made perfect sense now.
He loved her. He had always loved her. Leaning down, he kissed her lips, happily thinking that they were just as sweet and soft as he had dreamed them to be, before blowing out the candle and leaving her room.
Now I’ve just got to find a way to show her.
 Sarah-Jane is offering an eBook of Thief to one lucky commenter on this blog. You can also purchase Thief and the rest of the Sevy series via the links below:
Click here to follow the rest of Sarah-Jane's blog tour for a chance to win other prizes.


DRC said...

Hook, line, and sinker - I'm hooked. Will have to invest now :) Thanks for the snippet

Sarah-Jane Lehoux said...

Thanks for hosting me once again, Sandra.

And DRC, I hope if you do buy the books that you will enjoy them. :)

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