I am so excited to share an excerpt for A Touch of Darkness, a new urban fantasy novel from the collaboration of Yelena Casale and Tina Moss. Y’all, I downloaded this the. day. it. launched. I’m lovin’ it.
So, when a mysterious stranger walks out of her dreams and into her life to spout some nonsense about her being a mythical creature, she chalks it up to one more crazy thing to add to her it’s-a-crappy-life list. Yet, when the stranger’s predictions start to come true, she discovers a world that could shake up her humdrum existence.
FROM THE AUTHOR:
Albert was one of my favorite characters to write. In this excerpt, we see Albert and Gabe on the streets of NYC. Gabe can’t understand the other’s fascination with this strange world, while Albert attempts to open Gabe’s mind to the possibilities. Some parts are removed to avoid spoilers. Hope you enjoy!
After breakfast, Albert insisted taking Gabe on a tour of his new home – both the apartment and the city. “Can’t have you living like a beggar,” Albert had said as he waved his hand around yet another guest room. “You’ll stay with me as long as you need.”
Gabe had wanted to turn down the invitation, but since his options were limited, he accepted the hospitality as graciously as he could. Once the tour of the apartment hit the forty-minute mark, he wished he hadn’t agreed. Albert had shown him every square inch of every room, along with a persistent recitation of the history of the building itself. Now, outside on the street, Gabe took a breath of city air. He leaned against a tree just in front of the building and stared at the sky above. A perfect vision of blue cast from one end to the other as far as his eyes could see. Not a single cloud blocked the sun from shining overhead.
“No daydreaming. Too much to do. Too much to see.” Albert bounded down the front stairs like an excited puppy, the ends of his olive tweed jacket flapping behind. “This way.”
Gabe followed a few paces back, not sharing the enthusiasm. At the end of the next block, they came to a set of stairs leading into a concrete void below. The sign read “C” in a blue circle followed by “72nd Street Station.” Gabe angled his head, wondering silently just what he’d gotten himself into.
“Down we go, like Alice into the rabbit hole.” Albert’s exuberance manifested in the form of rhyme.
Snorting, Gabe said, “Okay. I’ll bite. Who’s Alice?”
“What? Oh no, never mind.” The old fallen waved his hand as if shooing the question away.
The pair lumbered down the steps and into the station. Albert demonstrated the proper method of swiping the fare card and entering through the turnstile. The infuriating machine read, “Please swipe again” four times before allowing Gabe entry. By the time the train arrived, fifteen minutes later, he had to ease his hold on the train’s metal handgrip to keep from breaking it.
“Settle down, young one, before you cause an unnecessary scene.”
The reprimand, along with Albert’s use of the damn nickname, did little to dissuade Gabe’s anger, but he managed not to cause the subway car any damage. Well, at least for the next few stops. When the train reached the stop at Forty-second Street, it jerked forward into the station. At the same instant, Gabe’s hand left the guardrail. The movement caused him to slam his shoulder into the back wall of the train.
Surprised by losing his balance, but otherwise unharmed, he examined the space where he’d landed. Hell. A huge dent remained behind. He leaned back, covering the damage with his body.
“Stop messing around,” Albert cried from the station platform. “Lots to see.”
Gabe resisted the urge to pull the emergency door from its frame and chuck it at the old coot. Barely. Grinding his teeth, he took one last look at the dent, shrugged, and then walked from the train without comment.
The forty-second street station had a long connecting walkway packed with people. Albert said it led to an area called Times Square. Pushing through the mob, they exited onto the street above, which proved equally as crowded. Gabe couldn’t believe the sight. Humans of every age and size, every shape and color, rushed through the streets with single-minded speed and purpose. The shared goal to get to their destinations as fast as possible created a synergy amongst the people.
Albert cleared his throat, breaking the strange mood that had descended upon Gabe. After additional coughs, he said somberly, “This city is a microcosm of the world, my young friend. It is a living, breathing concrete reflection of every person on the planet.” Pointing to a street corner, he continued, “Just look there. You see those people standing in line at the hot dog cart?”
“Yes,” Gabe said, his hunger gnawing to the forefront as the scent of meat and grease pervaded the air.
“What do you see when you look at them?”
“Humans.” Fighting to keep the bitterness from his tone, he said, “Emotional, unpredictable, ordinary humans.”
Continuing as if uninterrupted, Albert said, “I see life.” He pointed at individual humans as he spoke. “The man there. The one with the dark hair. He’s a college student from Beijing studying at NYU. He likes this all-American blonde from his class. He never talks to her, too afraid she’ll be turned off by his accent or mock his English.” He sighed. “Behind him, the woman in her twilight years has twelve grandchildren, twelve. She thinks about each one of them every day. She prays at night she doesn’t forget their names, their faces, that she’ll keep her memories and senses until her final breath.”
Gabe folded his arms across his chest and sucked his teeth. The knowledge of these humans’ lives… His chest tightened. “Why are you telling me this?”
Albert shook his head and sadness filled his gaze. “It’s through chaos we learn who we truly are.”