Monday, 5 December 2016

Thank you, lovely reader folks!

Well, the Evernight Readers' Choice awards are over, the votes are in, and if you saw my Facebook page or Twitter feed on Saturday, you already know, but I'm saying it again anyway!

I won!

Or rather, NIGHT AND CHAOS won Best Suspense! And DARK DAYS was the runner-up in Best Lesbian Romance <3 Thank you so much for voting for me. I like to pretend I'm all cool and laid back about these things, but it really means a hell of a lot to know people liked my books enough to vote for them. This is my third Readers' Choice award, and it's for a book that, at the start of this year, was tied up with an awful publisher. I wasn't supposed to get the rights back until some time in 2017, but through a convoluted series of events, I got them back early.

I feel like this book got rescued from purgatory this year, and winning an award for it is validation that it deserved better. So thank you, thank you, thank you! Look out for the rest of the trilogy (hopefully next year!).

And if you have't read the *ahem* ~award-winning~ first part of the Deva Chronicles trilogy, well, here's a teaser for you so you can see what it's all about!

I spent that night on the sofa again, cuddled up in my sleeping bag, listening to Jackson’s soft breathing across the room. It was weirdly comforting, making me nostalgic and wistful. I’d offered him the sofa, but he’d done the chivalrous thing and insisted I take it. I heard careful footsteps and creaks overhead as Mishti and Dad moved around their room, but they felt distant, a world away from the darkness down here.

Jackson’s eyes shone in the dark when he turned to look at me. “You awake?” he asked.

I considered pretending to be asleep, but decided it wouldn’t achieve anything. “Yes.”

“You okay?”

I considered that too, not sure of the answer. “I don’t know. I’m exhausted. That’s all I can really say for sure right now.”

He was quiet for a while, just breathing softly again, and I wondered if he’d fallen asleep. Then he said, “I didn’t mean to bully you into coming to London, you know. If you want to stay here…”

“No, I want to come,” I cut in. “I can’t stay here.” All right, that probably didn’t spin it in the best light, but Jackson didn’t seem to notice the back-handed compliment.

“I’m glad you’re coming. I’m glad you’re here. It’s not exactly how I imagined our reunion, but I’m still glad.”

I couldn’t be sure, but I thought he was smiling. Despite myself, I had to smile back. “And how did you imagine it? Us running across flower-filled meadows to kiss in the rain?”

“I don’t know, really.” There was a rustle of material and he pulled himself out of his makeshift bed of bundled-up towels and clothes and sat up, his arms resting on his knees. He stared away from me now. “I guess I always figured you’d come home eventually.”

I twisted onto my side, propping my head up on my hand and tangling my fingers in my hair. “I wouldn’t have,” I whispered, my heart aching for him. Why did he wait? Had he really believed I’d come back, knowing how much I hated Kimberlyn and APTT? Surely not. Guilt lanced me, like I’d stolen something from him. I suppose I had, in a way. Six years of his life, wasted on waiting for me.

“Didn’t I make you happy enough?” he asked.

My throat closed up and tears stung my eyes. “Jackson, don’t.”

More rustling, and suddenly he was in front of me, kneeling next to the sofa. He didn’t try to touch me, but just his closeness was bad enough, sending waves of confused regret and painful longing through me. Not lust, exactly, although there was a little of that there, summoned by the memory of countless nights together whispering in the dark, sliding, stroking, sighing … but no, not just lust. Lust on its own, I could have handled. It was that hopeless nostalgia, that yearning for my first and only love. That was harder to deal with.

“We could start over,” he said, brushing his real hand over my cheek, flicking my hair back. “Go back to how things were, Ryan. You and me, just you and me.”

It was a painfully romantic sentiment. The two of us against the world, holding each other up, fight each other’s fights. But it had never been just me and him, never. It had been me and him and Dad, me and him and APTT.

I sat up, struggling free of the sleeping bag. Jackson leaned back, giving me enough space to shuffle down the sofa and away from him. “Be realistic. You’re never going to leave APTT and I’m never going to go back. We’d be no better off than we were before.”

“But you’ve already come back,” he pointed out, sitting in the space I’d vacated. “You’re here, you’re involved. That’s what you keep saying, anyway.”

I started to argue, then realized he was right, sort of, and fell silent. The temptation to pull the shadows around myself and disappear was overwhelming. We couldn’t have this talk if Jackson couldn’t see me, right? I rested my head in my hands and counted to ten, trying to find an answer for him that wasn’t rude, childish, or cruel. “Look,” I said finally, raising my head to meet his eyes. “I know the other night it all got a bit … heated.”

“You gonna tell me you didn’t want it?” There was a dangerous edge to his voice, as if daring me to say it. I caught my breath, unnerved by the anger brimming in him.

“No, of course not,” I said, struggling to keep my voice even. “I’d never—but, Jackson, that night…
After Irving, the shock of seeing you…” I fumbled the words, not sure what I was trying to say exactly, but desperate not to hurt him. Or anger him.

“I took advantage of you.” He said it so softly I thought I’d misheard. “That’s what you’re trying to say, isn’t it?”

“No! No, Jackson, that’s not what I mean.” I counted to ten again. It didn’t help. “I just mean, under the circumstances, we shouldn’t do anything we’re going to regret later.”

“Bullshit.” His voice was still soft, but loaded with venom now. “You’ve never loved me as much as I loved you. I always knew it.”

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