April 05, 2015

Kate Daniels Reblogged

Sneak Peak into Curran's POV Part One

by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels is absolutely, no holds barred, one of my favorite books out there. Plus a chance to get inside Curran's head? Hell. Yes!
I hope you enjoy this sneak peek from the authors themselves!

It was moving day. Kate, Julie and me were taking boxes out of the back of a rented truck and carrying them into our new place. Kate had labeled them. “Kitchen, living room, master bedroom, etc.” It felt odd to have all these different spaces after living in two rooms for so long. The plan was to get all the boxes in before we started unpacking them.
Once we announced that we were stepping down, we had ninety days to separate from the Pack. We were lucky to find a big three story house located in a subdivision within riding distance to Cutting Edge and Julie’s school. It even had a place in the back for Kate and the kid to ride horses. Which I honestly couldn’t care less about, but it made the girls happy.
It’s not that I don’t like horses. Ok, I really don’t like them. I just don’t see the point. They’re big but terribly fragile. Feed one too much food or the wrong food, and they die, just like that. If they step into a pothole and break a leg, you have to put them down. What other animal do you have to do that for? When I was a kid we had a cat with three legs and a half a tail. His name was Casper and he got around just fine. When I was a kid…
Yeah, I didn’t think a lot about my childhood probably for a good reason. I couldn’t really complain though. It had been great before…it became a lot less so. Better not to think about it.
Kate and Julie were struggling to team lift a big box of books, so I came over, picked it up, and carried it in one hand like a waiter would with a plate or tray of food.
“Where would you like this, ma’am?”
“Show off,” Kate said. “It says ‘Library’ on it.”
“Oh? I thought that was perhaps the work of some deranged graffiti artist.”
“Aha. I asked you if you wanted to label them and you passed.”
“I was busy, actually packing. I think I did pretty well for my first time.”
“Wait, you never moved before?” Julie asked.
“No, not really. When Mahon found me, I didn’t really have a lot. All my crap fit into a backpack. I tried to take only what I needed to survive. If you steal too much, people start to notice. I never stayed in one place too long and needed to be able to move quick and quiet.”
“Holy crap,” she said. “You were a juvenile delinquent.”
Kate shot her a warning look. Julie ignored it.
“That’s so cool.”
I never thought of it as cool before. Lonely, starving and scared, yes. Cool, not so much.
“Julie,” Kate started, “I don’t think he wants to talk about it.”
“No, it’s okay. It wasn’t exactly like that. I was twelve and after my parents…after they were gone, I lived alone in the woods for several months. I hunted when I could and tried to stay out of the rain but springs in the Smokies are inconsistent. That’s when you get the heaviest snows. One day it’s nice and the next there’s a blizzard. When I was cold, wet, and hungry enough, I would sneak into unoccupied cabins. Some were really nice.”
“You never got caught?”
“Just the once. I was careful and made sure the owners were away. Lots of people, especially before the Shift, had vacation homes in the mountains. Usually Florida people who came up in the summer to get away from the heat and in the fall to watch the leaves turn. Most didn’t stay for winter. Some came up only for the holidays in winter but it’s not as pretty. Just cold, wet and grey.”
“How did you know which ones would have food and stuff?”
“The vacation homes were always bigger and nicer than the houses of people that lived there year round. It’s a poor area. Some locals live in little more than run down shacks. They usually have a lot of guns though. I avoided those.”
“That’s f… messed up.”
“Language,” Kate warned.
“I didn’t say it,” Julie said. “But if I had, it would be true.”
“She’s right,” I added helpfully, “It is pretty fucked up. That area suffers from what we would call an ‘income disparity’ between the tourists and the locals. They had plenty and it didn’t really bother me to take what I needed.”
“Damn straight,” Julie said.
“Language,” Kate warned again.
“What?” she said, “I can say damn, it’s in the Bible.”
“She’s got you there.”
Kate squinted at us. “How about the two of you stop standing around and actually carry some of this shi…stuff into the house.”
“Ha!” Julie said. “You said shit and you owe me a dollar.”
Kate, in an effort to curb Julie’s cursing, had adopted a system in which the curser owed a buck for each offense. I didn’t know what the tally was but I was guessing they were about even.
“I didn’t say the whole word,” Kate said. “So I owe you fifty cents.”
“Seventy five!”
“I’m hungry, what’s for lunch?’ Julie asked.
Kate glanced at her. “You just ate before we left. It’s barely been a couple of hours.”
“Yeah, but we’ve been working hard, and I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” I said. “Will you make us something?”
Kate leaned against the stack of boxes. “If you find the kitchen stuff and unpack it. I can’t cook if I don’t have pans.”
“You drive a hard bargain, dread mistress. We accept your offer. Come on, Julie, the sooner we do it, the sooner we eat.”
Later, after we had carried all the boxes with Kitchen marked on them into the actual kitchen, and I brought in the table and the chairs, Kate made us some iced tea and then went to off to unpack bathroom essentials. Julie and I started on the boxes. The sooner we put all the pots and pans into the cabinets, the sooner I would get a meal.
It felt strange but good to be settling into the new house. This was our home now, Kate’s, Julie’s and mine. It had seemed abstract or theoretical before. The house we considered, the house looked at, the house we bought. Now putting our stuff up made it more real.
Julie asked “So how did you get caught?”
“What? Why do you want to know?”
“I dunno, everybody knows about how you became the Beast Lord, but nobody talks about what you were before. How come?”
“Cause it’s not a pretty story. I didn’t pull a sword from a stone. A giant man didn’t come on my birthday to tell me that I was a wizard.” Well, Mahon had seemed like a giant to me then.
Julie’s eyes got really big. “Tell me.”
“It’s full of gore and bad things happening,” I said.
“I’ve been through some rough shit.”
“I heard that!” Kate yelled from the bathroom.
“I can handle it.”
I gave her my flat stare. The one meant to convey that I was done discussing something.
“I told you before that didn’t work on me. I know you won’t hurt me, so stop pretending.”
“I know you have been through a lot, and I’m sorry about that. What happened to you wasn’t fair, but sometimes the past is best left, well, in the past.”
“That’s deep,” Julie said. “You read that in a fortune cookie?”
She was getting as bad as Kate with mouthing off when she felt uncomfortable, but unlike Kate, she would correct herself if I waited. Three, two…
“Sorry,” she said. “I don’t like the stare. I understand. I don’t like talking about my mom and,” she paused and made a hand gesture, “all that stuff.”
Because it still hurt. “It will hurt less with time.”
“You’re old,” she said. “If it still hurts too much to talk about it after all that time, then it will probably never stop hurting for me.”
Ouch, she had me there.
Julie knew I told this story to only one person – Kate – and now that we were a family, she wanted to know that she was trusted. We were a family. Family knew things outsiders didn’t.
“Alright. But it’s a long story.”
“I won’t interrupt,” she said. “And I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
And so I told her, all of it, the whole ugly story.
“My father and mother were both in the military. He was in the Marines. She was in the Army. The Marines and Army shared a base and they both took courses at the education center. Once the Shift came, my mother was the first to turn. When my dad saw her transform into a lion, it triggered something and he changed shape, too. They both knew that unless they were willing to become Guinea pigs for the military, they had to get out before anyone found out. They resigned.
“They had some connections and they tried joining a pack not too far from the base, but it didn’t work. My dad was like me. People saw him as a leader and the Alpha saw him as a threat. When he tried to claim my mom as part of his harem, my dad killed him. Easily. Then they wanted him to be their Pack leader. He didn’t want to do it, but he had agreed because he felt responsible for killing the Alpha. When it became clear that he wouldn’t be taking on any new mates, one of the tougher females tried to kill my mom who was pregnant. My parents left after that.”
“With the money they’d saved up they bought a large log cabin in Appalachians. My dad knew that the area had a reputation for being insular and not particularly welcoming to outsiders. That suited him just fine. After their experience with the pack, they just wanted to be left alone and live on their own terms. Not in charge of anyone else and answerable to only themselves.”
“Understandable,” Julie said. “But you didn’t grow up in a rundown shack?”
“Not at all. It was great. Not as big as this place, but not small or dirty.”
“So no outhouse?”
I laughed. “No, I don’t think my mother would’ve stood for it. We had indoor plumbing and electricity. Modern conveniences. This was post-Shift so we had a gas generator for when the power went out. Later, when they stopped repairing the power lines, we mostly used it for the fridge. Like I said, my parents were ex-military. Both had been deployed and spent their fair share of time in the field. They wanted to be comfortable and they wanted something nice for us.”
“Us? Who else was there?”
“At first just the three of us then, when I was about five, my sister Alice was born. I was jealous at first. They paid a lot of attention to her. Later it was nice to have another kid around.”
“You were close?”
“Of course, it was just us and our parents. She thought I was awesome. In her eyes I was king of the woods. I showed her where the pick the best berries and where to catch the fattest fish. The best places to hide when she wanted to get out of chores or classes.”
“Wait, where did you guys go to school and did you walk uphill both ways?”
“No, that’s impossible and I guess we were,” what’s the term, “homeschooled.”
“That’s sweet. I wish I could stay home and goof around all day.”
“You would start howling at the walls in two weeks,” Kate called out.
“We had our lessons. Both my parents were well educated. They taught us to read and write. No books were off limits and they made sure we had plenty of time to read. Literature and history were always easy for me. Math was harder. We had an old laptop and there were games that taught us, using fun cartoon characters.”
Julie smiled.
“I just can’t see you playing little kid games.”
“I was a little kid. What I’m trying to say is that we had a pretty nice childhood. When my dad thought I was old enough, he started taking me out with him hunting and fishing. I used to love being out in the woods, alone or just me and him.”
“Alice didn’t go with you?”
“Oh no. At first she was too young and then she talked too much for hunting. You have to be very still and very quiet to sneak up on something. It sounds bad to say, but she had a really hard time being quiet. I can’t remember when she couldn’t talk. Even when she was a baby, she babbled nonsense constantly. Sometimes mom and dad would got out hunting together and leave me to babysit. I would get so mad that I wouldn’t talk to them, and Alice would try to make me laugh. I still miss her.”
“I’m sorry,” Julie said.
“Me too.”
“Did they work? What did you guys do for money?”
“We traded mostly. Meat, some vegetables, corn, potatoes and Ginseng that we found in the woods. Sometimes when we got low on money or supplies, my dad would disappear for a while and come back with presents and cash. Then we’d get to go to Gatlinburg for supplies. One time they took us to an amusement park run by a famous country singer. I remember because we all had fun. That was right before…”
“Before what?” Julie asked.
“Before everything changed. Before the loups came.”
“Oh shit,” Julie said. “You don’t have to tell the rest of it if you don’t want to.”
“No, it’s okay. We’re family now and I feel like you should know why I am the way I am. I remember reading somewhere that we are the sum total of our experiences. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah. It’s like sometimes fucked up shit happens but it makes you who you are. You can’t change it.”
“Exactly. We should put that on a shirt for Kate.”
Julie laughed. “Or business cards that she could hand out.”
“You could engrave it on some brass knuckles, so I could punch it into people when I got irritated,” Kate said.
“So what happened with the loups?” Julie asked.
“I was twelve when they came for us. It was my sister’s turn to set the table. Mom cooked, one of us kids set or cleared the table, and my dad did the dishes. When my mom called for her and she didn’t come, they sent me out to find her. I was annoyed because she had a habit of hiding when we had work to do.”
“You found her?”
“Yes but not before they did. I thought she was napping up in a tree. I called out and when she didn’t answer me I was going to climb up and push her out. Instead I walked right into a trap. They strung me up with a silver noose.”
“Jesus, that’s brutal!”
“It is. That’s what loups do, Julie. They don’t feel fear or pity; all they know is hunger and desire. They can never really satiate either.”
“Is that why you hate them so much?”
“Yes. They took everything from me that day. They didn’t kill me but they took my life just the same.”
“Your parents?”
“When I didn’t come back with Alice, my dad followed my scent to the clearing. They were waiting for him, using me as bait. He was strong. He fought and killed some of them but the rest tore into him and took him down. There were too many and he was just one man. After they were done with him, they went after my mom. She didn’t stand a chance. Their madness makes them very fast and strong.”
“How did you…” She let it hang there.
Not die, not get raped and eaten by monsters?
“Escape?” I offered.
“Yeah, did Mahon come and save you?”
“No. I wish that was the way it happened. That the big bear had come in time and that he and my dad had fought and killed the loups. I really believe between the two of them they could have.”
“Could you? Now I mean.”
“Maybe. I used to think about that a lot. If I had been older, stronger. In my day dreams I used to save them. In the nightmares I’m still weak and hang there, helpless, while they tear my father apart.”
“Holy shit, do you still have those?”
“Not as much anymore. Right after it happened and I slept in the woods I used to always wake up sure that they were sneaking up on me. Still happens sometimes”
“That’s messed up. You need to see somebody.”
She was probably right.
“Maybe. It’s too late now and I was too mad then. I don’t think I could have talked about all of it with a stranger. What would they say? That my family is in a better place now? That it was all part of God’s plan?”
“Yeah, I hate that crap. Do you believe in Him?”
“I don’t know. I’m not an atheist, I’ve seen too much weird shit to not believe in anything. I guess I think that if He does exist then He has a hell of a lot to answer for. Kind of makes me more of an angry agnostic.”
“Careful, you’ll go to hell for that sort of talk.”
“L’enfer, c’est les autres.”
“What? Is that Irish or something?”
“Hell is other people.” I quoted. “No, it’s French, actually.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I believe it means we create enough pain and suffering here on Earth.”
“That’s heavy. I didn’t know you spoke French.”
“A little. My mother taught me. They wanted me to be able to read Sarte and Camus in the original language. My dad was big on the benefits of a ‘classical education.’ I think he minored in Philosophy.”
“Hey,” she said, “you’re avoiding the question?’
“What question?” I knew what she was talking about but I hoped she hadn’t noticed me steering the conversation away from that.
“How you got away?”
“Oh, really? Like you said I’m old and I forget things.”
“You just don’t want to tell me.”
“No it’s not that, it’s just that I needed some time to work up to it. “
“You don’t have to.”
“I know, but I want to or maybe need to. Where did we leave off?”
“Mahon didn’t save you?”
“No, that part comes later. Anyway so like I said when I crawled up the tree to get Alice, they got me. They slipped a silver wire over my head and wrapped me up in silver netting. Hurt like hell. After they got done with my dad, they went after my mom, I think hearing her cries made me a little crazy. I struggled and the wire must have cut through the branch I was hanging on. Must have taken some time to get free of the mesh because by then my mother wasn’t screaming anymore.”
“Oh my god,” Julie said quietly, “that’s horrible.”
“I told you. So I ran. They chased me but I knew the area better and they made a lot of noise and gave up when they couldn’t find me after a while. It went on like that for a few months. They stayed in our house and I hid and watched them. I knew I couldn’t take them all so I waited, hoping to catch one of them on their own.”
“Did you? Take them out one by one?”
“No, they were always together. There were only five by then, my dad had killed three, but that was still too much for me. Then.” I added. Or now I thought. If I was really honest with myself I would know that one sane shapeshifter against five loups was potential suicide.
“So you just lived alone in the woods? How did you survive on your own?”
“March is a vicious bitch in the mountains, cold and hard as ice. At first, I watched them as long as I could but I also knew that eventually I needed to find food and shelter if I didn’t want to get sick or die from exposure. So I found a place that looked empty and I broke in.”
“Was it one of the nice ones?” Julie asked.
“Oh yeah, it seemed wonderful to me, but I hadn’t really eaten or slept more than an hour or two in a probably a week. I was starving so I raided they pantry and ate most of the dry cereal and canned goods. We can go for a while without food or sleep, but not both. My body shut down and I stayed there for days dead to the world and only getting up to eat. I had nightmares the loups were outside waiting for me. Most of the time I would wake up and freak out wondering where I was and why my family wasn’t there. Then I remembered.”
“Did you cry? It’s okay if you did. I won’t tell anybody.”
“No, I wanted to but I couldn’t. I never saw my father cry. I promised myself that I wouldn’t either until I punished the cowards who murdered him. But it was more than that. I’d never in my life felt as helpless as did I hanging in that tree, watching while he fought for his life, his wife and his son, and lost. Powerless to stop what came after.”
“It wasn’t your fault. You were just a kid and they would’ve killed you too.”
“Oh, I know that now. But I had to deal with it somehow so I decided then and there that I would never be that weak again and I would never feel that same fear. It was that or give in and let the grief swallow me. It’s like a line from an old song that goes, ‘When I was young I was so full of fear, I hid behind anger, held back my tears.’”
“Is it that band you like to listen to when you lift weights, Social Destruction?”
Distortion”, I corrected. “Yeah them.”
“What’s it called, the song I mean?”
“I was wrong.”
“Well, then it’s definitely not about you.” Julie checked my face to see if I was going to snarl. I wasn’t.
“That’s funny so I’ll let it pass.”
“So what happened? Did you just you run out of random houses to burglarize?”
“Sort of. One time I woke up and the loups really were outside. I guess they ran out of food and had the same idea as me. Only they didn’t care if a place was empty or not. If there were people in a place, it just meant more food and fun for them.”
Julie made a face. “That’s awful.”
“Indeed. I got away, but I realized then that I had to be more careful. I couldn’t stay in one place too long or risk them tracking me to a house that was occupied. I learned to wait. I started watching places from really far away and for a long time before approaching them. I didn’t just bust the front door open. I looked for unlocked windows that I could climb through.”
“Oh yeah,” Julie said, “That’s what I did. I guess they think that nobody can get in that way but if you’re small you can. When we ran out of food or money, Red would send me into places to get food and stuff we could sell. I always looked for a bathroom window first, they almost never lock them. I don’t know why.”
“I believe it’s because most people when they think of thieves, think of adults, grown-ups. Not children hungry or desperate enough to squeeze through a bathroom or upstairs window.”
Julie seemed to think about it. Maybe about that time in her life. Finally she spoke. “Happens though.”
“It did to us.”
Perhaps sensing a lull in the conversation, Kate chose that moment to enter the kitchen.
“Would you two like to eat or do you want to finish?” she asked, her voice quiet. “I can wait on the meal.”
“Food,” Julie and I said in unison.
“Food it is,” Kate said.
“To be continued?” Julie asked.
“If you’d like.”
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek, which can be viewed on Ilona Andrews Goodreads' Blog here. If you liked this and haven't read Kate Daniels... I assure you this paled in comparison to the Kate Daniels books and highly recommend them.

If you've read Kate Daniels and didn't like this... sometimes, it's a bit of a disappointment to get into the man's head, like with Four in Allegiant. It's better that they remain sexy, surly and mysterious to us, readers, who gobble all that up! I don't always like to get in the man's head, but some authors do it really well: Jennifer L. Armentrout (or J. Lynn), Kristen Ashley, etc. I don't think this little peek did Curran justice, but I appreciated the insight it gave me!



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