Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sneak Peek: First Watch by Peter Hansen




eBook release:  Oct 30 2011
Heat Wave: 4 - On-screen, mildly explicit love scenes
Erotic Frequency: 3 - Moderate
Type: Part of a Series
BlurbWhat price would you pay to survive?

 Do you want to live? In the darkness of a WWI battlefield, young Legionnaire Edouard Montreuil lies dying. As teeth nibble his flesh, a voice whispers, Do you want to live? Frightened and desperate, Edouard bargains his freedom for a second chance.

Aboard the Flèche, a grim submarine captained by the nightmare who granted Edouard new life, Edouard pays the price for his survival. Each night, he gives his body to his captain as the bells sound first watch. But surviving is not living, and as the days stretch into months beneath the waves, Edouard grows desperate for escape.

Can Edouard’s old comrade Farid Ruiz help him break this devil's bargain, or will Ruiz fall to the same fate, trapped beneath the waves at the mercy of a monster whose hunger knows no bounds? Edouard and Ruiz served together once before, and slept together too, but courage and passion failed to save them from the eldritch beasts who roamed the night. This time, the cost of failure is nothing so clean or simple as death, and the spoils of victory are not just life, but love.

Excerpt


The dog watch shaded into the first watch, and at the eighth bell, Edouard Montreuil put aside his pen and rose from his bunk. He locked his letter carefully in his sea chest, then buttoned his shirt collar up against his throat. A useless gesture, he knew—it’d be undone for him within the first moments—but he took pride in small signs of resistance.

The other men on first watch went to their stations at the observation deck or the con, and the night crew of engineers went aft to spell the men in the engine room. Edouard walked with them, as he always did, and they ignored him, as they always did. They, too, had their reasons for serving on the Flèche; better not to ask what debts a fellow crewman was repaying beneath the waves.

They’d been submerged for three days now, and the air was thick and hot and stale. The engine room hummed faintly. Behind their tight steel cages, the electric lights gleamed white and steady.

An assistant engineer on dog watch gave Edouard a worried look, and he raised his chin at the pity in it. “Go to your bunk, Valancourt,” he said. If he didn’t have the rank to enforce the order, neither did Valancourt have the will to stay. The crew knew why he passed through the engine room to the captain’s cabin night after night. If they didn’t, it was only willful ignorance.

He ducked his head and slid through the aft portal sideways, like a long-limbed crab. Stork, Ruiz had called him back in la Légion, when they’d all been looking for new names. All long legs. For a moment, Edouard stood in the narrow passage between the officers’ quarters and the engine room, remembering the way the sun had beat down on his brow in Algeria and the way Ruiz had laughed. He passed the alcove where the officers bunked, and rapped on the door of the captain’s cabin.

“Come in,” said a voice from inside—inside the cabin, or inside his own head, he’d never been able to say. It made his ears ache; it made his blood heat and his heart thrum in time with the engines until he thought his skin would burst.

He turned the handle and swung the door open, then shut it behind him. Closed away the light of the engine room, and closed himself into the darkness.

“Sir,” he said, and swallowed against the constriction of his collar. “Reporting for duty.”

“Good,” said the captain, and a limb like a wet cable fell cool and slick upon Edouard’s wrist. His lips found Edouard’s throat, sharp teeth catching there as he undid those carefully-closed shirt buttons.

A second mouth brushed over Edouard’s ribs, tongue wet with a viscous fluid that chilled his skin. A third latched at his hip, needle-teeth scraping, seizing. “Very good,” said the captain, against his throat and chest and hip, as his boneless fingers wrapped slowly over Edouard’s cock and coaxed it hard. Edouard’s skin crawled, but he willed himself still.
Two of those hungry mouths smiled, and the third whispered, “Then let us begin.”



My dear Farid Ruiz,

I cannot say how many times I have begun this letter and failed to send it. At first I thought I would charm you in French, but I have nothing charming to say, so I beseech you plainly in this formal Spanish: Come to Tarifa with all speed. My letters may be read, so I will say only that it is an urgent matter requiring your utmost discretion.

I will be waiting for you in a restaurant known as El Pobrecito, and there I shall remain at six o’clock every night until I am forced to depart.

Yours sincerely,

Edouard Montreuil.
Tarifa, Spain
3 July, 1926.


A flash of lightning illuminated Edouard’s cup, casting a stark shadow along the curve of the rim. He brought it to his lips, sipping only sparingly at the coffee. They made it black here, and bitter; Edouard had never much cared for coffee, but they hadn’t any tea, and he needed his head clear.

Beside him, the wind dashed braids of rain against the windowpane. He tilted his chair back, letting it rest on the rearmost legs as he raised his arms in a stretch. He glanced out the window as he cracked his neck from one side to the other, but the rain was too thick for him to make out the far side of the street. Come on, Ruiz, he thought, as though it would bring the man running with the lightning at his back. Come out of the rain.

He would have counted the seconds before the thunder came, but the peal rolled in on the lightning’s heels and rattled the glasses behind the bar. In the relative dimness after the flash, he finished his coffee and frowned at the dregs.

“More coffee?” asked the young serving woman, and he raised his cup for her to fill anew. She spoke Spanish with an accent he couldn’t place; it wasn’t Castilian or Catalan, and it certainly wasn’t from the former colonies. He ought to have found it unremarkable, in a port city like Tarifa, but his hackles were already up—and she must have seen that he was giving her a hawkish look, because as she poured his coffee, she said, “If I can help you with anything . . .”

“I’ve been trying to place your charming accent,” said Edouard, and his own native French colored every consonant. “You’re a long way from home, I suspect.”

“Asturias,” she said. Her eyes crinkled a little at the question; she looked so delighted to have been asked he felt his suspicions evaporate. “I followed my husband from there when he was called to serve. He’s a lieutenant—”

The door crashed against the wall and sent the hatstand spinning, and the serving-woman startled at the clamor—she canted the coffee pot up too quickly, spilling a long line of tepid coffee across Edouard’s sleeve. The storm swept across the threshold, and with it, a man in a black Mackintosh coat. He drew off his hat, shaking his head like a long-haired pup and scattering drops of water over the nearest patrons. “Where’s Montreuil?” he demanded. “Edouard Montreuil, where is he? I’m here to meet with him.”

Edouard rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling. He hasn’t changed a bit. “Farid Ruiz,” he said with a rather fixed smile. “When I tell you that I’ve an urgent matter requiring your utmost discretion—”

“I nearly didn’t get your letter,” said Ruiz, his wet boots squeaking on the polished wood as he crossed from the doorway. “If it had come even a day later, I’d have been on the next flight for the Canary Islands, and then you’d have been drinking alone—and so much for your urgent matter! So much for your utmost discretion! Buy me a glass of good beer, Montreuil; I’m soaked to the skin.” He dropped into the seat across from Edouard’s, propping up his elbows on the table. He was indeed soaked to the skin, and the rain slicking his black Mackintosh had already begun to puddle beneath his chair. The Asturian serving woman smothered a laugh with her hand and brought him a cup and saucer, but he only gave her a tragic look when she began to fill it with coffee.

“Not a drop of beer?” he asked, and he fluttered his long, dark lashes at her. “Not a drop of rum? It’s not proper coffee without a drop of rum in it.”

“Not a drop,” said Edouard firmly. “We’ve business to discuss, and we’ll drink once we’ve concluded it.”

“Then on to your business, you old stork.” Ruiz downed the coffee in a long gulp, grimacing at the bitterness. “There, I’ve fortified myself. I assume it’s something to do with la Légion, if you wrote me about it?”

“Something like that,” replied Edouard, voice lowered—he didn’t particularly expect Ruiz to take the hint, but at least his own half of the conversation might be quiet. “Do you remember Algeria?”

“I’ll never forget Algeria. Mosquitoes everywhere, skirmishes with the locals, damn Belaire with his Carthagum delendum esta.

Carthago delenda est,” Edouard corrected absently. “And you remember what you did, when your colonel took that little Algerian boy and—”

Ruiz’s hand tightened on the coffee cup until the delicate handle cracked free. A shard of porcelain must have scored his skin, because a drop of blood fell to the saucer. “That bastard,” said Ruiz, and now his voice was as soft as Edouard might have wished. “He deserved what he got.”

“And la Légion went on functioning just as it should. No snags in the business; no pauses for the damn courts-martial to decide whether he’d disqualified himself for duty; the men decided the sentence and carried it out. Everyone was happy with it.”

“As happy as you can be, when you’ve killed one of your own,” said Ruiz. Behind him, the serving woman was turning up the gaslamps against the oncoming darkness; the occasional flash from the window was blue and sharp with sea-lightning. Pobrecito, indeed. Too poor to have been electrified.

Ruiz sucked the blood from his thumb, then rested his chin on his fist. “If you dragged me here to bring up the worst parts of my service, I’m putting my hat back on and going to find a drink.”

“I’ve dragged you here,” said Edouard, “because my captain is a monster, and we go to sea as soon as we’ve a full crew.”

Ruiz tilted his head at that, his dark brows going up. He had strong features, only very faintly Spaniard—Edouard imagined he was the scion of conversos and morenos, simmering for generations under the Spanish thumb. Small wonder Fernando Ruiz had changed his name and joined la Légion. And small wonder he’d put a gun to his colonel’s head and blown him away.

Edouard’s hands were shaking. If he were to put his cup down on the saucer, the rattle would give him away.

“By the time we reach port in Tartous,” said Edouard, “I want him floating belly-up the Mediterranean.”




This week’s giveaway…
First Wave Winner’s Choice: Pick any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles).

The fine details...

  • This week’s giveaway is for an eBook copy as listed above.
  • To enter, leave a comment on this post.
  • All commenters will also be entered in end of tour giveaway of AP 3 prize packages. Details here.
  • All comments will also be entered in the year-end Riptide grand prize giveaway of an ereader; Kindle, Nook or iPad. Each post commented on counts as an entry.
  • Backlist book giveaways do NOT include books released in the last 3 months.
  • This week's giveaway doesNOT include Riptide releases.
  • Winners will be selected at random using Random.org
  • If the chosen winners do not respond to my email within 48 hours, another winner will be selected.
  • By entering the contest, you are confirming you are at least 18 yrs old.
  • eBook giveaways open worldwide. 
  • Swag giveaways USA only 



27 comments:

  1. I love the little tentacles that break up the sections. That's adorable.

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  2. Friday's still a loooooong way away...*whimper* (Even longer when it's not yet 7a.m. & you're *already* refereeing an argument in the under-10 crowd.)

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  3. (also, while I do *like* this new comment system, I kinda miss the word verification...those were occasionally pretty damn funny!)

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  4. The more I know about this book, the more I want it.  That's saying a lot when it actually creeps me out.  I'm going to have to fortify my nerves before reading!  

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  5. Aww, thanks. Drew those myself. :D

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  6. Oh, thanks...(it would be sarcastic, but it's still too early for that. But it's better now. All the kids are off to school. Now it's just the DH for a bit after PT.)

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  7. Take courage! Unlike my heroes, you do not live in a world filled with eldritch horrors. Probably. I think.

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  8. Oooh, extra excerpt this time.  I liked the little tentacles. +)

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  9. You did? That rocks. Well done. :)

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  10. Yeah, I kinda miss 'em too. That was a fun lil' game. I was surprised this system didn't give me that option. 

    glad you're liking the new system thou. I think I am too. I like this threaded interaction thing. Feels more conversational. :)

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  11. Lol. Creeped me out too. Wasn't sure I'd be down for the tentacleporn. So glad I didn't let it scare me off. This one is soooooooooo good. 

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  12. Yes, *this*!! The old way, someone would respond to someone about 15 comments later, and I'd find myself searching out the original comment so I could follow the whole thing conversationally and THAT was a bit of a pain!

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  13. Great excerpt. I can't wait to read this.

    Thanks,
    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

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  14. Thanks for the excerpt!  I've pre-ordered this one and can't wait to read it :-)

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  15. Hi Sarah. Thanks for swinging by! Hope you had a good day. :)

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  16. This looks very interesting!

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  17. Hi Ryan. This is such a good one. Vera. :D

    Thanks for coming by. Hope you had a good day :)

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  18. Hi Maria. :)

    One more day for this jewel. Yaaaaay. :D

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  19. I apologize if this is a double post; it seems my posts from my phone are showing up.

    Anyhoo, I loved the excerpt and can't wait to read this.

    Thanks,Tracey Dbooklover0226 at gmail dot com

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  20. Uh oh. Sorry about that Tracey. I'll check the settings. Can't be having no show comments. Darn it. 

    Thanks for coming back. Hope you have a good weekend.

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  21. Great exert ... Going to have the splurge and get this

    sarahs7836(at)gmail(dot)com

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  22. "Great exert ... Going to have the splurge and
    get this" ~ Sarah

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