Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Runes of Revelation, excerpt, adult m/m

Runes of Revelation by Deirdre O'Dare (Nov 2010)

Blurb: As head of the Border Patrol’s Paranormal Operations Unit, Clay Chiles has found a place where he can function and a surrogate family to replace the one he never truly had. He keeps hidden a lot of secrets and both fears and longs for the day he may be able to take that one long step out of solitude and darkness into love and light. Before he can do that, he has to face some surprising facts about himself and deal with some horrific enemies. Though not weak man, alone he’ll never have the strength to confront all those demons. Who can help him there?

Arondel Wanderer is a son of the ancient Elven royal clan but far enough from the throne to be expendable. He obeys his queen’s orders to visit earth and find what is going wrong there. One task he faces is to contact and recruit a human keystone in the desperate effort to stop an invasion of ancient evil which could corrupt the elves’ original home beyond redemption. Aron, long a loner and solitary emissary from Elvenheim, never expected to find his soul mate on this mission but surprises, both good and bad, have always been part of his long and adventurous life. He’ll take anything good he is given and once he sights the partner he always wanted, the most extreme danger is not enough to deter him.

Excerpt: (This is early in the story when Clay first meets Aron)
The first glow of sunrise barely illuminated the drawn drapes on Clay's east-facing bedroom window. Even for him that was an early hour to awaken. He stretched and rolled over in bed, disturbing his sleek, tawny cat, who sprang down with a soft meow of protest.

"Sorry, Hathor. You usually sleep on the other side."

He twisted to set his feet to the floor, stood and strode to draw open the drapes. There were not enough clouds for a real sunrise, but a few streaks of gold and rose shone in the brightening sky. One brilliant speck of light hovered a few degrees above the dusky horizon. Mercury. Is the planet in retrograde now or not? He reminded himself to check.

Although Clay wasn't sure he believed astrology, he was long past the point of pooh-poohing anything. At any rate, Mercury retrogrades tended to coincide with all sorts of troubles and disruptions. He'd seen enough strange happenings that most folks would deem rankest fantasy to accept virtually anything could be possible.

He took a leak, glowered at his reflection in the mirror dimly visible by the night-light and turned to head downstairs for a hot cup of coffee. He'd set the brewmatic machine's timer for five and since it was now almost five-thirty, coffee should be ready.

Although he slept in the nude, he seldom wandered around the house without something on, even though none of his windows were placed where anyone was likely to see him. Grabbing his bottle green velour robe off the bathroom door, he shrugged it on and tied the sash as he took the stairs to the ground floor two per stride.

"How you can stand that abominable shit coffee is beyond me."

He skidded to an abrupt halt in the doorway at the unexpected greeting. "What the fuck? Who are you and what are you doing in my kitchen at oh-dark-thirty in the morning?"

The stranger rose from a chair, carefully set his cup on the tile-topped table and held out a hand. "I'm Aron. You're going to have to put up with me for a bit, Clay. We have some business to discuss."

"You seem to know who I am, but damned if I know you. And I wouldn't forget--you aren't exactly the kind of man to vanish in a crowd."

"I'm Aron Wanderer. We haven't met, but I know some relatives of yours, like the father you never knew. You're Clayton Chiles, head of the Paranormal Operations Unit of the U.S. Border Patrol. I've come to offer you some support. Things have been getting worse lately, haven't they?"

Clay sensed something uncannily familiar about the tall, slender man, but still felt sure they had never met. "Aron? Where are you from and who sent you?"

"You're suspicious. I can understand that, but I assure you, I come as a friend, an ally, even a distant kinsman. Maevelle, the reigning queen of Elvenheim sent me. She's a distant cousin to us both, a just ruler, but also hard as cold iron when need be. She's been following the situation here and has become concerned. Even though we've been gone for eons, the Elven still feel a bond with Earth. We don't want to see the current invasion succeed, but without more help, it will. You know that."

Clayton sighed. "Yes, it's looking more and more likely. These new critters, whatever they are, seem to be the worst yet. I'm gathering all the powered folk I can locate to be agents for our side, but there aren't enough and they aren't all as strong and confident as they need to be. I have some outstanding people on my team, but it's looking more like our best won't be enough."

Aron nodded. "No, it won't be. Sit and have your coffee. There isn't yet an emergency, but we need to make some quick plans. I hope you didn't have anything critical scheduled this morning because you'll have to cancel or postpone it."

Irritation flashed through Clayton, but he contained it. Changed plans were more the rule than the exception lately. He'd deal with it.

He poured his coffee and sat down opposite his surprising guest. "Aron, I'm no Elf," he said. "What kind of cockamamie bullshit is that?"

Aron smiled. "Are you sure? Did you know anything about your father at all?"

Clay shook his head. "Not really. I only know the sorry son of a bitch knocked up my mother and disappeared. People were not very tolerant of unwed mothers forty years ago. She ended up committing suicide when I was barely old enough to remember her. That left me to be raised by her sister and my grandparents. It was really fun to be a weird bastard kid in a little east Texas town."

Aron shook his head, what looked like a trace of sympathy on his narrow face. "You're saying my name like the Biblical name, not mine. Actually, it's short for Arondel. Think of a capital R there with the A almost silent. Anyway, your father didn't leave on purpose. He had no choice. He intended to come back to live with your mother and help raise you, but that chance was not given to him. Still, he has watched you all your life."

"I wouldn't go across the street to see the em-effer. I don't want to know anything about him." A slight chill ran down Clay's spine. He knew magic and otherworldly influences when he met them. They clung all around this tall stranger, but he took no comfort in that. "I'm no elf," he repeated. "That's crazy."

"What do you think I am?" Aron tossed his head so his shoulder-length hair separated to reveal the fine points atop his large ears. "Do I look like an ordinary human?"

Clay took another gulp of coffee and slammed his cup down. "I don't fucking know. I don't even want to know. Yeah, I've always been odd, but I'm not sure I even believe in elves!"

Aron smiled. "You will. There's no hurry. You do believe in the invasion of real other-world aliens, don't you?"

Clay drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yes, I don't have much choice. I've seen and dealt with them."

"And some of your people are not fully one hundred percent human either, you know. Take Alex, your raven shifter. There's old Sidhe blood in his veins and in those of Rhys Davis, too. The Sidhe are our kin, a branch of Elvenkind."

Clay did not answer, although the other man's words made a strange kind of sense. He didn't want to listen, much less believe, but he also knew when he needed to be open-minded. This was one of those times. He could accept all of it except perhaps the part about his father.

"It shouldn't be so shocking to realize you carry the same strain, or a related one. We need that, as much as we can gather, to combat the new invaders. That's why I'm here. Other Elven warriors will come and assist if you'll have us. "

Clay exhaled, almost a sigh. "Yes, I've gathered all the people I can find with wild talents and unusual powers but they're too few. Humanity has stamped out anything we term paranormal pretty thoroughly. It's been a millennia-long witch-hunt. Are you telling me the gifted folk are all of Elven stock?"

Aron shook his head. "Oh, no, there are many other sources for magic and powers. They crop up in every race and kind of human. I believe all humankind had them at one time, but they've been allowed to atrophy, been rejected and scorned to the point they're almost extinct. Just like your own case." He left that statement hanging for a few seconds and then went on.

"Those folk deemed more primitive by you moderns seem to show more of it now--people in remote Africa and Latin America, the South Sea Islands, some of the Native Americans. The greatest concentration seems to be in the Celts even yet, although in most of them I think it's Elven blood."

When Aron reached across the table and laid his long-fingered hand atop Clay's, a jolt of strange energy flashed through him, akin to an electric shock. His heart sped up and his cock twitched. It was not quite wholly sexual, but certainly a bit of that was there. He wanted to draw back and yet he could not.

"You need to trust, to believe, cousin. You are one of us. You have powers, such as the ability to sense others who have them, do you not? And I'd wager you've got others as well. Things you have kept hidden and been almost ashamed to acknowledge, no?"

"Grandma and Grandpa said all that stuff came from Satan. I learned to hide it from them and others until it got to be a habit. I grew up in Bible Belt, USA, Aron. Anything unusual was suspect. We may have quit burning witches, but the distrust and fear is still strong."

Aron pressed his hand and then drew back. "I know. I've been coming back to the earth for centuries and I've seen these things. I can give you a few days to think on this, but only a few. The danger is too close, growing too fast. We must be ready to act very soon."

Clay found himself nodding as he fought the feeling of bereavement when Aron broke the touch. Besides the excitement and energy, he had found comfort in their brief connection.

"I know that much, have known it for some time. I have about three dozen special agents now, men and women I trust completely, but the invaders are coming in faster, with more new tricks and weapons. They're becoming harder to find. It seems they're learning to blend in with humanity and pretend to be normal. I'm worried. Hell, I'm scared shitless. If you're willing and able to help and bring others, I can't turn you away."

Aron stood. "Well and good. I'll be back in a few of your days. Go on about your business. I'm not trying to take over this effort or make decisions for you. That's not my job. Your president and other high officials entrusted it to you. I'm sure they had good reason."

Clay stood and took a hesitant step around the table, holding out his arms. Aron took the cue and came to him. They embraced for a few seconds, just long enough for Clay to feel as if he had suddenly come home. In a few short moments, this stranger who claimed he was an ancient Elf felt like kinfolk, a partner, even a lover. That frightened him, but also somehow felt too true to dismiss.

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