I’m very excited to share with you, as part of Treasured Tales for Young Adults‘ blogoversary celebration, an excerpt from Stained by Ella James (The Stained Series #1).
~ Excerpt from Stained ~
He lay awkwardly on his back, one arm across his wide, thick chest. His knuckles were raw, like he’d been fighting. She stared at his face over the shallow rise and fall of his chest, struck by how stunning he was. Statuesque.
Even flat on his ass, he had a sort of presence; she half expected him to stand up, dust his rugged blue jeans off, and saunter outside to a waiting band bus.
Sorry mates. Just a tour prank.
A mop of shaggy chestnut hair splayed around his pale, scraped face—a face that seemed jaded and wise, even without the light of consciousness.
Long lashes fluttered below dark brows, above generous lips and a straight-line nose. His emerald gaze found Julia. Then his eyes slipped shut, and he deflated with an airy whoosh.
Julia opened her Sight as she scrambled to his side, wincing when she reached him. Injuries were usually glowing white chains that knotted wherever someone was hurt. His chain was brilliant, beautiful silver, and bursting with gnarls. They seemed to cover every inch of him. Julia stroked his damp forehead as she noted each knot. One, over his heart, was tightening fast. She snatched it, and her chest began to ache. She crisscrossed and unlooped until it hurt to breathe.
As quickly as she could, she moved to the knot over his skull. It was a frightening mess of tangles—tangles made of tangles; the knot throbbed brighter every second. She tried to be careful, to be gentle, but she was working fast, and his face twisted as she worked. It was intense; more than anything Julia had tried to do before. Just half a minute in, and her nose started to bleed.
She should have stopped then, but there were so many knots, each one urgent, glowing like those little neon necklaces you got at the fair. She dove deeper, mixing her aura with his, and caught impressions of him in color: the red flare of anger, the riptide orange of vengeance, a shameful green regret. Confusion was prevalent, a blinding pink. But the black was strongest: rage and sorrow, an almost even blend that stained him.
And over that, translucent scenes. A worn adobe home, slanted and steaming under the summer sun. Splotches of gray sky, and below it a wide log cabin heaped with snow. Fistfulls of stone. Agony. Purple pain that made her weak. For too long, the ripping ache was all she knew. Then she saw skin like rich mocha. Beautiful, amber eyes. She felt the sting of muscle straining, heard screams so real they stung.
Oh. They were coming from her throat. She was spinning, too much energy in a battered body. It had never been like this. So intimate. So raw. When she could, she lifted her head from the cradle of her hands, and the ramshackle warehouse blinked to life. Those heavy-lashed green eyes were open, frantic jade searching her own.
He was still pale, but not sickly sallow like before. She noticed a jagged white scar across his throat and felt a wriggling warmth deep in her belly. She wanted to fix that, too. She wanted to fix all of him. Urgency chased away the soft, warm feeling.
“Holy crap,” she panted. “Are you okay?”
“You gotta get out of here,” he groaned. He rolled onto his side, and Julia shied back, as startled by him as she was attracted.
“You gotta—” The guy stopped, eyes jerking up. “He’s here! GO!”
Julia followed his gaze and froze. Clearly, she had lost her mind. The Angel of Death was above her: the nutty vision she’d seen above her burning house—only this time he wasn’t a vision. Shock made her cold and still as he slipped through the hole in the roof and extended two raven wings. They slunk in and out of the shadows, stretching until they seemed to fill the room.
He stared at Julia with blood-red eyes and spoke in a chilling baritone: “You’re supposed to be dead.” He looked at the wounded guy, and his lip curled. “So are you.”
Then Death dove.
He was a breath away before she could blink, and then he was gone, rammed by the guy she’d saved. He flung Death into the wall, shaking the building like an earthquake, and landed a quick punch before Death kneed him in the chest.
She wanted to watch, to watch out for him, but the floor lurched up to meet her. When the room stopped spinning, her savior was kneeling in front of her, his thick arms stretched out as if to shield her. Death hung in the dusty air. His crimson eyes narrowed, and as Julia pushed herself up on her elbows, his mouth curved.
“Go down this path,” he growled, “and you will be the enemy of all.”
Julia was confused until she realized he was talking to the guy. With a last look at her protector, Death departed, gone even faster than he’d come. Tall, Dark, and Seriously Lacking In Judgment Re: Friends took two steps after him, green eyes to the sky, fists clenched at his sides. He looked so beautiful, so powerful and so defiant, that Julia almost felt afraid. Then Death was out of sight, and his breath hitched. His whole body seemed to deflate. Something that looked like disappointment dragged on his features as he turned to her. “Are you okay?” She noted just a trace of a European accent.
“Am I okay?” Julia’s voice cracked on the word. “What do you think?”
His lips quirked before his face set with an intensity that sliced her nerves.
Julia forced herself to return his stare. In her most chill tone—in a tone that said nothing of the wild disbelief she felt—she said, “What was that?”
His eyes narrowed and, with a strange poise, he drew himself up; standing tall, he was even more statuesque, all shoulders and hard, round muscle.
“Probably what you think.”
Which was obviously not an answer.
“I think it was—” the Angel of Death, but how exactly could she admit that and not look insane? She didn’t get a chance to figure it out before the guy’s brows pinched.
“And what exactly are you?”
Julia giggled. She sounded unhinged, but she couldn’t help it.
“I’m a person,” she gasped.
He stepped closer, eyes damning. “You touched me.”
She hedged back.
“You healed me.” It was an accusation.
“So how’d you do it?”
“I—” She had never tried to explain it before. Because it was a secret. “I don’t know how. I just did.”
His eyes were emerald drills, digging into her. Her eyes dug right back. She had the sense that he was going to say something—something that would help her make sense of the freakishness that was her life. Instead he just said,
And then he turned away.
“Wait!” Julia cried, lunging for the sleeve of his tattered gray t-shirt. “You can’t go!”
“I can’t?” He arched a brow.
“What about me?” she cried.
“What about you?”
“You can’t just leave me here!”
The guy rolled his eyes. “Isn’t this where I found you?”
Julia wanted to scream, but she forced herself to take a deep breath. “You have to at least explain what’s going on. Who that guy was?”
“No I don’t,” he said flatly. Through the strands of his hair, she saw his jaw flex. “You need to forget about it.”
“That thing killed my family!”
The words were like razors dragged through her throat, but they got her nothing. Not even a tightening of his wide shoulders as he swaggered off.
“I helped you!” she yelled at him.
He kept walking.
“You owe me!”
“He’s trying to kill me!”
That stopped him, and Julia bumped into his back. She jumped away, flushing with anger, and something else that made it hard to say: “I need to know. Who— no, what is that thing?”
The guy’s eyes narrowed, and Julia didn’t need her Sight to see the fury written on his face. When he finally spoke, his voice was hoarse.
“His name is Samyaza. He’s… You would call him a half-demon.
Wasn’t that an awesome excerpt? Has it got you intrigued? I have read Stained and I thought it was fantastic. If you like, you can check out my review here. Will you be adding Stained to your ‘tbr’ list?
More information about The Stained Series and Ella James: