Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Excerpt: The Dragon's Disiple by Barbara Sheridan and Anne Cain

And we're back.  Took some days off there for the long Labor Day weekend.  Didn't manage to accomplish a single thing.  Not a clue what I did the whole time.

I've got several more excerpts from Barbara Sheridan to share this week, still rolling with the Dragon's Disiple series.  I do hope you enjoy.

The Dragon's Disiple by Barbara Sheridan and Anne Cain
Book Length: Plus Novel
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
ISBN 978-1-59578-362-2

Book Two – Dragon’s Disciple Trilogy

Forbidden love and repressed desires of the past and present linger in the atmosphere of San Francisco's Chinatown. Dao Kan Shu, a Chiang-Shih, a vampire, hunts under the cover of darkness, his lust for blood and the craving of a once-mortal heart awakened by art student Ken Ohara. Drawn to a hot new nightspot, Ken discovers that his own hidden past is bound to that of the club's owner, known throughout the Chinese underworld as The Poisoned Dragon. 
Fascinated by Shu's dark world, Ken is soon caught in a dangerous web of tong societies, blood lust and a strange relationship he can barely begin to understand.

Fine Arts professor Leigh Gachelsing, tormented since childhood by visions and spirits, discovers a link from the mysterious club owner to Chinatown's violent past where two assassins once hunted the streets. He joins Ken's advisor Magda Silivasi, who is determined to save her student before he is lost to the echoes of a past life and the deadly embrace of a vampire.

Contains graphic m/m sex, knife play, drug use, strong language, intense violence and situations some readers may find disturbing
Chapter One
San Francisco, 1872

The vampire Kiyoshi sensed them long before they stepped into the sparse pool of yellow light from the streetlamp on the edge of Chinatown. The lamp flame flickered slightly, bathing them both in a wavering shadow. One tall and thin, the other a little shorter, trim but slightly broader in the chest and shoulders. Both had dark hair cut fashionably in the Western way. The taller was Chinese from the look of him, the shorter Japanese, like Kiyoshi himself.

He did not know their names, but he knew of them. Everyone in and around Chinatown knew of the Wong’s most feared assassins, the Poisoned Dragon, and his protégé.

Theater patrons whispered about these two, and from his place on the stage as a kabuki actor, Kiyoshi listened. Stories of their cunning and power reached his keen ears, and he longed to see if it was mere hearsay. As the two men moved past him, he realized the tales were all true.

Such deadly control they radiated, so many degrees of passion passed between them as they spoke in hushed tones and brushed against each other while approaching the restaurant. Kiyoshi knew the establishment fronted a gambling den run in competition with the Wongs. Through hushed gossip Kiyoshi learned that this young rival clan had interfered in the older family’s affairs and the two men had been sent to handle the situation. Guards of the gambling den appeared from the darkness surrounding the restaurant.

The Poisoned Dragon and his young partner whipped out razor-sharp knives from their suit jackets and slit the men’s throats without hesitation. Kiyoshi shivered as the power of the two assassins swept over him. They were magnificent in their savage beauty, their dark eyes narrowed, flashing with danger, their well-toned bodies moving with the grace of skilled predators. They were glorious angels of death, and Kiyoshi shuddered again as the power within the men served as a reminder of the fierce master who had created him.

Blood dripping from their blades onto the pavement, the Dragon and his disciple entered the restaurant. A thunderous clatter arose from the top floor and broke the still night. Window glass shattered and a body hit the street with a dull thud. Another quickly followed, then another. Innocent kitchen workers streamed from the back of the closed restaurant, their fear strong enough for Kiyoshi to taste on the evening breeze.

A bleeding man stumbled from the front of the building and ran in Kiyoshi’s direction. Kiyoshi seized him with blinding speed and dragged him to the shadows, tearing into the gash already at the base of his neck. When he drank from a mortal, the rush of blood made Kiyoshi’s head swim. Tonight as he fed, the sensation was intensified by the stark terror emanating from the man. The emotion roused by the Poisoned Dragon. It made the man’s blood utterly intoxicating.

The man went limp and Kiyoshi fell back against the wall, sliding down until he crouched. He wiped the corner of his mouth with the back of one hand and closed his eyes as the euphoria coursed through him. Another bone-chilling scream echoed across the empty street and Kiyoshi longingly watched the shadowed figures move behind the broken windows of the gambling den. This obsession, this lust for the taste of the assassin consumed him. Oh, what might it be like to drink the blood of the Poisoned Dragon himself...

* * * *

Dao Kan Shu leered at the girl cowering behind an overturned table in a corner of the gambling den. “Come to me,” he called, crooking one long bloodstained finger at her. “Let’s see what pleasures you offer.” Clearly amused at the look of terror on her face, Shu laughed softly and glanced at his student. Toshiro Itou watched in silence, jaw visibly clenched. Shu raised one eyebrow in question. “Are we jealous, Toshiro?”

Toshiro frowned. “No.” He looked at the cowering teenaged girl. “Let’s just take her back to Yang. She can be of more use as an informant than as a toy for you.”

Shu replied with an expression of mock dismay. He strode forward, stepping on a dead body strewn across his path. Reaching out, he stroked his bloody finger along Toshiro’s creamy cheek. “Maybe you want her for yourself, hmm? And I think I would enjoy watching that.” With a grin, he lowered his voice to a husky whisper and skimmed his lips across Toshiro’s ear. “Perhaps I’ll fuck you while you do the same to her.”

Toshiro pulled back and gave Shu a cool look. “We’ll take her to Yang,” he said softly, reaching out to caress Shu’s cheek and leaving his own bloody mark. “I’ll entertain you privately when we’re done with our work.”

Another throaty chuckle vibrated in Dao Kan Shu’s chest. “But business always before pleasure can grow tiresome.” He took Toshiro’s hand in his own, drawing the red-stained fingertips to his lips. “I’m certain you’ll make the wait worthwhile, yes?” He breathed across each tip, his lips almost grazing the skin.

“I always do,” Toshiro answered. He gave Shu an aloof, almost bored look, though his eyes glittered in response to the teasing half-kisses. “Don’t I?”

“Oh, yes,” Shu smirked. “Far better than this child would.” He glanced at the girl huddled in the corner. Trembling hands clenched a pink dress embroidered in elaborate golden patterns. Shu clicked his tongue, but the wicked gleam in his eyes dissipated.

“She appeals to your charity, I see,” he sighed. “It is such a waste of beauty, though, especially for what Yang has in mind for her.” He stepped forward and cleaned the blood off his blade, using the clothing of a dead man sprawled across a table. Frowning slightly, he glanced over his shoulder to Toshiro. “Since when did you become his little delivery boy?”

“I didn’t,” Toshiro answered flatly. He wiped his own knife on the coat of another man slumped in a chair, then returned it to the carved ivory sheath secured inside his jacket. He stalked to the girl and grabbed her arm, pulling her to her feet. She cried out and tried to back away, but Toshiro held her firmly and whispered gently in her ear, “You will go, or he will kill you where you stand. Do you want that?”

The girl looked at Shu’s glowering face and shook her head. Tears streamed down her cheeks, revealing trails of tan skin through the snowy rice powder covering her face and neck. She lowered her gaze, and Toshiro led her forward. They followed Shu outside and to the carriage hidden a street away.

* * * *

Shu watched as Toshiro cleaned the ruined makeup and blood spatter from the girl’s face with a handkerchief. At one time, his pupil’s display of kindness would have thoroughly disgusted Shu. He would have viewed it as a sign of weakness, something to be corrected.

Yet as his eyes followed Toshiro’s gentle strokes of the silk cloth, the gesture seemed natural for the younger man. It was so like Toshiro to allow this frightened girl a shred of dignity before she was to face the head of the Wong’s San Francisco organization. If necessary, Toshiro would undoubtedly plead with Yang to keep the girl from being auctioned at the secret barracoon held beneath the temple off Dupont Street. Such was his protégé--ruthless in tong affairs, yet sympathetic of the innocent.

When they reached Yang’s office, it didn’t surprise him when Toshiro insisted on staying with the girl. They sat quietly in the waiting area while Shu apprised their superior of the raid they’d conducted on the gambling den.

However, the calm that settled over Shu in the carriage evaporated the instant Ren Yang opened his foul mouth.

“I’m quite surprised you brought the girl at all. Don’t tell me you’re getting soft in your old age, Shu.” Yang smirked, wiping his glasses on a crisp linen square.

“First that business with you coming to the rescue of the old woman last month, and now this. Oh, I am surprised.” Yang replaced his glasses. “I told Jin Chao he was dreaming when he suggested that my stepson dominates you in the bedroom, 
but now I have to wonder...”

“Shut your mouth, Yang,” Shu seethed, his fierce tone carrying a deadly threat.

Yang waved off the bodyguard who approached from his position across the room. “Amusing, Dao Kan. Very amusing, but I have business to take care of. Cheung, show Mr. Shu out and bring the girl in. And Shu, do tell Toshiro that his mother sends her love.”

Shu slammed the door to Yang’s office as he exited, the force of the blow rattling the windows in the small waiting area. “I will kill that bastard if it’s the last thing I do. I’ll rip out his heart and let him watch me eat it in the instant before he dies.”

“Someday we’ll have our chance,” Toshiro said simply. He stood and waited for Shu to finish flinging curses at the closed office door, then accompanied him down the narrow corridor. He paused at the top of the stairs and let Shu pass before following him down.

“Someday is neither good nor soon enough,” Shu hissed. He reached the bottom of the staircase and crossed through the wide foyer to the front doors, the hard soles of his English shoes clipping sharply on the polished oak floor. He glared at the large porcelain vases and red lacquer furniture Yang insisted be used throughout the building.

Like the expensive liquor in their parlors and the bookcases lined with antiques from China, they were symbols of opulence, offering an almost imperialist sense of self-importance. As a leader handpicked by the Wong family’s Elders to oversee business in San Francisco, Yang seemed to enjoy showing off his rank. But like this large mansion in the center of Chinatown, he was full of shit.

Shu stormed outside, welcoming the cool evening air against the flushed skin on his face. His hands still trembled with anger as he pulled himself into the carriage waiting outside. Toshiro climbed in beside him, annoyingly calm in light of another infuriating meeting with the Wong family’s mob boss.

“To the Gingbo,” he snapped at the driver. He rubbed at his temple, all the pleasure of his night’s work gone. Hopefully a game of Mah Jong, along with some other recreations, would restore his spirits. "Fucking Yang,” he grumbled.

Toshiro reached across their seat and rubbed his lover’s neck. Shu leaned into the touch and sighed when Toshiro tugged at his shirt collar to expose a bit more skin. He placed a gentle kiss at the nape of Shu’s neck, then slid his tongue up along the tense muscles and traced the lobe of his ear. “We’re done working for now and the Wah Ching will be too busy infighting over their new leader for them to bother any Wong houses tonight. We’ll have as much time to relax at the club as we want.”

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