I love to travel and I have some favorite cities—New York, Paris, London, Rome, Dublin and of course, my home town, Chicago. One of the first things that popped into my brain for the Princes of the Underground series was at least one of the settings, namely the vast undergrounds of these cities—mysterious labyrinths where most people never tread. In each of these cities, a prince rules, but he has a mission that has been placed into his blood: to keep his “˜dark half,’ his bloodthirsty clone under control.
City undergrounds have always fascinated me—whole worlds beneath the city streets. I wanted there to be another reason that my heroes and anti-heroes were drawn to undergrounds, however, and I gave that reason a little bit of an eco-bent. You see, the princes of the underground can sense and feed not off only human’s vitessence (their life-force), but also off the Earth’s energy itself. Yes, the Earth has a soul.
Here’s a small excerpt from Velvet Cataclysm which comes out next Tuesday from Samhain. This one includes Alison, a young woman who is difficult to characterize as a “˜good’ guy or “˜bad’ guy, but as you can see, Saint is definitely wary of her. I think it’s kind of a funny bit, because Saint is considered a ‘vampire’ but it’s Alison, who is not supernatural, that he considers to be an energy-sucker.
“You’ve got an awesome bike, but your twin’s got one up on you in regard to the transportation to hell department,” Alison said.
Saint didn’t reply, just walked over to the MinerMobile that would quickly take them to the first giant maintenance chamber five thousand feet away. Alison perched on the side of the vehicle and he steered them to the entrance of the thirty-foot-high limestone tunnel.
“It’s weird down here. I noticed it when I was with Teslar,” Alison murmured in a hushed voice after several minutes, glancing around the dark, circular tunnel. The flashing lights on the MinerMobile cast her pale face in crimson light. “Do you think I’m sensing some of those energies you were talking about back at Christina’s—the earth’s soul, or some shit like that?”
Saint shrugged. He doubted it. “What do you hear?”
“Hear? I hear this little car-thingy moving and nothing else. That’s what’s so weird. It’s like we’re insulated from every sound on earth down here. Why? What do you hear?”
“The earth singing,” Saint said simply. “What you’re experiencing is more than likely your imagination. Only the rarest of humans can sense such things.”
“Rare humans like Christina?”
He gave her a hard look when he heard her snide tone of voice. Alison swallowed heavily.
He noticed the rapid throb of her heartbeat. He instinctively set up an energy barrier when the girl leaned closer to him, her eyelids sinking heavily over her huge eyes.
“It’s possible I’m just as special as Christina,” she said huskily.
Her eyes fixed on his mouth. He leaned back deftly, avoiding her seeking lips.
“You know, if you weren’t so busy trying to fuck everyone before they fuck you, you might notice most people aren’t half bad,” Saint said.
“Oh, is that right? Such an angel, aren’t you, Saint? You don’t fool me, even if you have turned Christina into your number one cheerleader.”
Saint stared straight ahead and continued to drive. He knew the girl was taunting him. She existed by quickly gauging other people’s weak points, and Christina was certainly his. Good thing he possessed no vitessence, or a human like Alison could drain him to exhaustion in five minutes flat. As things stood, his admiration for Christina deepened for putting up with little energy-suckers like Alison around the clock.
Thursday’s Prize–is winner’s choice of the Ellora’s Cave print anthology, Naughty Nuptials, Behind Closed Doors by Shannon McKenna, Sweet Surrender by Maya Banks or The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries. To qualify for today’s prize, just comment on what you think of undergrounds. Ever been in a cave, or the subway, or the catacombs? Do feel uncomfortable underground, or do you like it?