Hello everyone! Let me hit you with the usual brief summary of why my writing life is awesome right now. Danio’s Prelude is finally almost ready (and I am so sorry and so mad that it has taken this long), and I have some very exciting news, and several projects on the horizon. It’s a good time to be a More than Magic fan!
This weekend Snow Bound, which is still clinging onto a spot high in the Amazon charts, reached the Amazon Top 100 for Teen, Teen Urban Fantasy, and General Urban Fantasy. Mind blowing! It also got up to #9 on US Fantasy iBooks, and into the B&N top 100. And it’s still on sale for 99 cents! Pretty much my most successful month/numbers ever. And it comes on the heels of the 2 year anniversary of when I published Semester Aboard.
And as if all of that wasn’t awesome enough, yesterday I broke 1500 Likes on my Facebook page. Epic! I am blown away! 2 years ago I felt like 100 was a milestone!
So, to thank everyone for their support (their Likes, their reviews, recommending my books to friends, and hanging around playing games on my page) and, most importantly, their patience waiting for Danio’s Prelude, I am posting the first 1500 words of it!
Enjoy your first peek, and thank you!
Acapulco, Mexico – June 2010
I practically sprinted down road after stepping off of the ship. I didn’t stop to admire the view or take in the fact that I was really in another country, like I usually did. This time I had slept in like an idiot and was running late. Thank goodness it wasn’t my first day in Acapulco. Now, I was a pro at navigating my way through the vendors and cab drivers in the port. I felt much more comfortable tossing out “No, gracias!” as I rushed down to the main street. I found the bus with my trip number in the window with moments to spare, flashed my ticket and Ship ID, and jumped on.
The bus was packed. I looked around for somebody I knew, so that I could sit with them. I recognized nearly every face, of course. After a week on the ship, and classes, and our in-port trips I had run into just about everybody. But I didn’t actually knowthem. There were several people I recognized from class, but the seats next to them were taken. It wasn’t that I was shy, but I would have preferred to sit with someone and start a conversation with, “Hey, you’re in my class, right?” I was still scanning the bus for more familiar faces when it rumbled to life and started to move.
Nevermind then. I hurried down the aisle and stopped at the first empty seat. “Mind if I sit here?” I asked.
The guy in the other seat looked up at me. “Not at all.”
Whoa! He flashed me the world’s dreamiest smile and moved his knee off of the empty seat. I sat down next to him and could literally feel my cheeks flushing. I certainly noticed hot guys, but I never got all doe-eyed and weak-kneed from a simple smile. But I had never seen someone this freaking hot in person before. This guy was straight out a centerfold or something. Or maybe it was the heat. Or the dim lights of the bus. Maybe he wasn’t insanely sexy and I was just imagining things.
“Hi, I’m Jen.” I held out my hand and tried to replace my dumbstruck expression with a friendly smile.
“Dani.” He took my hand in a firm, cold handshake.
Wait a minute, inhumanely handsome and freezing cold skin? I almost laughed out loud, which would have been a terrible first impression. Instead, I forced out a polite, “Nice to meet you,” and made a mental note to tell my cousin, Shannon, that there was a vampire on the ship. She’d find it equally hilarious.
“Likewise,” he said.
I was almost disappointed that his eyes were blue, but then I noticed that they were blue. A vivid, almost mesmerizing blue. Something was reflecting in them that almost made his irises look like they were moving. I knew that I had been staring for just a little too long and quickly tried to think of something to say.
“Where are you from?” Lame. Boring. But, hey, it worked.
“New York.” Dani leaned back in his seat and wiggled around to get comfortable. “You?”
“Maryland.” I looked at the shirt he was wearing, it wasn’t a New York school. “You go to University of Michigan?”
He looked at me, then down at his shirt, and then back at me incredulously. “Michigan State!”
“Oh…” I hadn’t realized there were two, but I could tell from his tone that I had already blown my good first impression. “Rival schools?” I groaned.
He nodded and chuckled. “You could say that.”
I tried to backpedal a bit. “So…you go to Michigan State?”
“Actually no,” he laughed. “I did, but I’m in New York now.”
His voice was just as dreamy as his face. Not too deep, almost melodic. And his laugh was equally warm and rich. I jumped at the sound of a sudden loud thump. Our tour guide was tapping on a microphone. “Buenas dias y bienvenidos a Acapulco! Me llamo Julio! Como estas?”
He was answered by a mix of uncertain mutters and a few confident cries of, “Bien! Gracias!”Aside from how to ask where the bathroom was, our guide had already used up all of the Spanish I knew. Thankfully, he started explaining our itinerary in English.
I settled back and used the opportunity to surreptitiously study Dani. But the only part of him I could see without being too obvious was his arm and his leg. Neither was particularly interesting. I could only see a fraction of bare knee sticking out from under his shorts and his calf was mostly shadowed by the seat in front of us. He was probably tall, given that my feet were only just touching the floor and his knee wasn’t even resting on the seat. His arm was…an arm. Tan. Slender. Not too hairy. Not hairy at all actually. I let my eyes slide a little higher. The lines of his biceps – or was it triceps? I could never remember – were well defined. He wasn’t overly muscular like some guys, which I wasn’t a fan of, but he was definitely in good shape.
Our guide directed our attention to something out of the left side of the bus, giving me the perfect opportunity to openly look in Dani’s direction. Too bad he had turned to look out the window too. I couldn’t see much but the back of his head and a partial profile of his face. His hair was really dark brown, maybe even black. It wasn’t too long, but long enough that I could have reached up and run my fingers through it. Which would have been exceptionally creepy, so I settled for just looking. His cheek and the back of his neck were the same dark tan as his arm. In fact, with the sun hitting the side of his face, his skin looked almost golden. Was that actually his natural skin tone? He must have been half…something. I had taken classes with a girl from Hawaii with a similar color, but not nearly the same hue as Dani’s.
His cheek was perfectly smooth. I couldn’t see even a hint of hair. He must have justshaved. Then again, a lack of facial hair would support my Pacific Islander or American Indian theory. But I wasn’t sure if blue eyes were all that common among them. Maybe I was way off.
I noticed that Dani had gotten some sort of city map and figured it was the perfect way to start up the conversation again.
“Did they hand those out?” I asked, pointing at the map.
He immediately turned my way with another amazing grin. “Yeah, didn’t you get one?”
I shook my head and he handed it over without hesitating.
“Thanks.” There was a big picture of a man cliff diving on the cover. “I guess this is what we’ll see tonight.”
“Yeah,” Dani agreed. “Should be a pretty neat show. Good food too, so I hear. One of my friends did this trip yesterday.”
“My roommate did it too.”
The fort was much closer to the port than I expected. I had barely even started reading the flyer when the bus came to a stop. Everyone got off and gathered at the entrance to the fort. I listened as the guide gave us a brief history of Fort San Diego, and then he turned us loose to explore on our own. I slowly made my way into the fort, reading every sign I passed. I wished I had taken a Latin American History class back home. Maybe I’d do one this year. I went in under the gate and spun slowly, looking at the fort walls rising up all around me. There was a large cannon just inside the fort. I waited for a couple of girls taking their picture with it and then snapped a picture of my own.
I looked around and, of course, Dani was the closest person I knew.
“Um…Dani?” I called nervously.
He turned around. “Hm?”
Oh my God, why was he so freaking handsome? He skin was positively golden in the sunlight. And, even though I had just spent a good ten minutes on the bus next to him, my heart still skipped a beat when he smiled at me. And wow, he really was tall. Then, I noticed that his hair wasn’t actually black. Or brown. Now that the sun was hitting it I could plainly see that his hair was dark blue.
“Can uh…” I fumbled for the words and held up my camera.
“Sure thing.” Dani took my camera and stepped back.
I took a deep breath to collect myself, then posed by the cannon. He handed me my camera with another intoxicating grin.
He nodded, then looked at me quizzically. “You on your own?”
“Yeah.” I shrugged. “Don’t really recognize anybody else.”
“You know, they told us to find a travel buddy.”
He had a point. I felt safe wandering inside of the fort alone, but we wouldn’t be in the fort all day. Before I could answer he gave a little ‘come on’ jerk of his head and started wandering toward the next exhibit. I bit back a grin and followed him, unable to really stop looking at him. I glanced up at his blue hair again and wondered what his natural color was. Maybe, since he dyed his hair, he used a spray tan or something too. Mr. Perfect might not have been so perfect after all. He turned to look at something and I got another view of his face. Okay, so unless he’d gotten some serious plastic surgery, he wasn’t that far off from perfect. With a face like that he probably would’ve been just as sexy if he had Oompa Loompa-orange skin and green hair.