Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brieanna Robertson

OK! Here is the exerpt I promised you guys from Brieanna Robertson's book TOUCH OF BLACK VELVET:

The first thing I saw when I managed to pry open my eyes was the silhouette of his body against the light of the window. He had one hand braced against the window frame and the other one on his hip. He was taller than any man I had ever met, and even though I couldn't see anything other than a black outline, I could tell he was strong. Power radiated off him even as he stood there so casually.

I lifted my head from the pillow and grimaced. My whole body felt heavy and stiff. I remembered how my boyfriend had attacked me, and I had bits and pieces of jumbled memories about being toted off the street and forced into being clean. One memory stood out above all the others. A pair of eyes so pale they were almost white, like blue ice.

I scowled and, ignoring the protestations of my sore muscles, forced myself into a sitting position. I ran my hands through my limp hair, which was dirty and matted, and shot a look over at the strange man at the window. "Where the hell am I?" I spat, the crassness of my lifestyle attaching itself to my speech. It was a defense. I was a woman alone with a stranger, and the people who ran in my circle could never be considered friends. I had no idea who this man was or what he planned on doing with me. Acting tough and brash was the only card I had to play.

He turned toward me slowly, every move of his body etched with elegant grace. "You're awake."

It was all he said and I stared at him. I still couldn't see his face, and I was not up to conversing with a shadow. I snorted. "No shit. Now, you wanna tell me where I am and who the hell you are? Or maybe at least let me see your freaking face."

He moved away from the window and came to stand at the foot end of the bed. My abrasive bravado slipped, and I drew in a soft breath. He was the most stunning man I had ever seen. He was dressed in black jeans and a black muscle shirt that clung to every svelte line of his broad shoulders and toned arms. Sepia hair fell in subtle waves down to his shoulders and around a face made of defined lines and sculpted planes. And his eyes ... his eyes were the ones from my convoluted memories. Pale, entrancing, intimidating. I felt as if he was staring straight into my soul.

Stifling a shiver, I pulled my legs to my chest and wrapped my arms around my knees. "Who are you?" I murmured, my voice losing all of its force.

"Jack Snow," he stated simply. His stance was casual and his hands were in his pockets, lending him a lazy, easygoing appearance. I wasn't fooled. I saw the underlying power in his strong body. I felt it like a presence.

"Jack Snow," I repeated, a little bit of edge creeping back into my voice. I arched an eyebrow. "Is that supposed to mean something to me?"

He shrugged. "Probably not."

He left it at that and continued to stand there and stare at me in unnerving silence. Still feeling kind of itchy, I rubbed at my arms absently and frowned, and I didn't like the foreign heaviness in my chest. "Hey, do you have any stuff?" I queried.

His posture changed in the blink of an eye. He straightened and his eyes took on a cold, steely look that made my heartbeat falter in apprehension. "No, I do not have any stuff," he practically hissed.

I scooted farther back on the bed until I was against the headboard and stared at him in strange, fascinated horror. He'd barely even moved, but the dormant power he possessed uncoiled to the point that it felt as if he took up the entire room. His presence was almost tangible, and it both intrigued and terrified me.

"How dare you even ask me such a question," he continued with a snarl. "When I found you, you were almost dead because of the poison you'd pumped into your body. I saved your life, and the only thanks I get is the desire to destroy yourself even more with some of the same poison?" He snorted and strode back to the window. "I knew this was a waste of my time."

I stared after him, the heavy, tight feeling in my chest growing to the point of pain. I realized it was fear. Fear and anxiety, feelings I didn't have to deal with when I was high. "Why?" was the only thing that came out of my mouth.

He glanced at me over his shoulder and frowned.

"Why did you save me?" In all reality, it probably would have been better if he'd left me to die. The world would have been rid of one more gutter rat, and I would have finally been at peace.

He sighed. "I don't know. Usually I don't trouble myself with your kind." He ran a hand through his thick hair, then turned back to me. "What's your name?"

I wanted to fire a rude comment back to him about his "your kind" reference, but I was too afraid of what he might do if I provoked him. "Reya," I answered obediently.

He gave a curt nod. "Reya," he repeated. "Fine. If you wish to know anymore about me or my purpose, you have to swear to me that you won't take anymore drugs."

I blinked, taken aback by his abrupt mannerisms. I frowned. "What are you talking about?" I cried. "I'm not going to promise anything to you! I have no idea who you are! I think you should just let me go!"

That cold look came into his eyes again and he fixed me with a dark glower. "I never said you were being kept here against your will," he spat. "You're more than welcome to go anytime you like. By all means, return to your life of squalor. No one's stopping you."

Anger replaced the fear I'd felt up to this point and burned through my veins. "I've had just about enough of you insulting me!" I shouted. "Some people in this life don't have a choice as to what they become and what lives they live."

"Everyone has a choice!"

His deep voice reverberated off the walls and I gasped, my anger diminishing back to the former fear. He moved toward me, bending so that he was eye-level. My fingers started to tremble. I'd never seen eyes so wicked. I felt as if he saw everything I was, like I was naked before him with all my secrets and foul deeds exposed. I couldn't hide from him. My armor was useless.

"There is always a choice," he said, his voice lowered into a soft, menacing purr.

"I-I never saw one. Must have missed that part," I stammered. I sounded feeble and pitiful even as I attempted to come off as a smartass.

His beautiful face remained expressionless and he stood to his full height again and gazed down at me as if assessing my worth. I knew I couldn't be worth much.

"I'm offering you one," he stated.

I frowned in confusion. "I-If you want me to kill someone or something, you can just forget it."

He let out a rough snort of a laugh, the first sign of amusement he'd shown, and when he met my eyes again, a tiny amount of warmth reflected in his gaze. "I highly doubt you would be capable of doing such a task," he said in a slightly playful tone. "Judging by the way you had been beaten when I found you, you don't seem to know how to defend yourself exceptionally well."

I made a psshh noise and waved my hand in a weak attempt at humor. "You think I looked bad? You should have seen the other guy."

His gaze softened and one corner of his mouth twitched upward. "Of course." He let his eyes linger on me for a moment before he continued. "At any rate, no, I'm not asking you to kill someone. But I'm afraid I cannot divulge anymore information until I know you can be trusted. Therefore, I will be back in exactly one hour." He pulled a plastic bag out of his pants pocket and placed it on the nightstand next to me.

I peered at the white, powdery contents, and my eyes widened as I realized it was chock-full of my favorite drug. I snapped my gaze up to him in question and, I admit, excitement.

His icy eyes were back to being menacing. "One hour," he repeated. "If I return and this has not been touched, I will tell you what you want to know. If you fail this, I will return you to your ... natural environment and you will never see me again. The choice is yours."

His words hung heavy in the air, and he fixed me with a long, purposeful stare before he turned and swaggered out of the room.

My instincts had me reaching for the bag the instant the door clicked shut. I didn't like feeling fear. I didn't like feeling anxiety and worry. Most of all, I didn't like feeling ashamed and weak. I felt nothing when I was high. It was the only way I could cope. It had been all I'd known since I was a teenager. How could he expect me to just change all that in a second? I didn't even know this man! He pulled me off the street, forced me clean, and then dangled some bizarre choice in front of me that I didn't even understand? What was my motivation to obey? He hadn't given me anything to go on. He could be offering me something awful. At least the life I knew was familiar.

I opened the bag and was about to reach inside when my entire life played out before me in a second. I remembered my mother. Up until her death, she had protected me, had kept me safe from the lowlifes I now called my companions. She'd told me to be strong, to always do what was right. If I did that, I would be safe. I would somehow forge a good life for myself out of the horror that the world had become. She would have been so disappointed to see what I'd allowed myself to turn into. How come I'd never thought of that until now?

I glanced down at the bag again and bit my bottom lip. The temptation was almost unbearable.

Jack Snow. Who was he? Why had he saved me? What was it that he had to share with me that was so important he felt the need to test me before he could divulge any of the information? I wanted to know. I wanted to know who the man with the pale eyes was. I wanted to know why he had thought I was something worth saving.

With an amount of self-control I didn't even know I possessed, I closed up the bag and set it back on the nightstand. I locked my arms around my knees and stared at it, then glanced at the clock. One hour.

I could do it.

Check out more over at Brieanna's website!