For #TeaserTuesday today, I’m introducing Jacob Houtman, who is the common-law brother-in-law to 19-year-old Rhys Cooper (Meet Rhys, Part 1 and Part 2). Seven years before the story begins, Rhys, along with his mother and sister, found refuge at an abandoned monastery with a few other families, including Jacob and his fundamentalist dad, Father Maurice.
(as usual, this excerpt is not yet edited and may be subject to change.)
Cadence and Caleb were dead and Jacob had managed to live.
Didn’t that just suck? If the revs weren’t going to chase and kill Rhys the way he’d intended, the least they could have done was gone after Jacob instead.
Rhys spared his so-called brother-in-law a disgusted look when he keeled over and began puking, then went back to contemplating what had been the last of his family. In a moment he’d start moving again. He’d help gather wood so he could do the proper thing and lay his sister and nephew to rest. Revs weren’t above scavenging fresh graves, so cremation was the best way to spare a loved one the indignity of becoming carrion.
He heard the guy in charge, Darius, bark something about getting Jacob washed off, but he couldn’t be bothered to care. If the Rot took Jacob, Rhys wouldn’t waste any tears. Jacob had agreed readily enough, after all, when Father Maurice had tagged Rhys to be bait, writing him off to save their own asses.
“Don’t know why we’re bothering,” he heard the grizzled guy over by the pump—had Darius called him Titus? What was with the Roman names, anyway? Was it a theme? Jesus, why couldn’t he focus on a single thought?—grumble to the woman who’d introduced herself as Xolani. “More trouble than this shit-stain’s worth. It could just as easily be the girl’s blood as rev. They were on her when the fucker ran off.”
It took a moment for the words to make sense, and then everything went hot and cold all at once. Sweat prickled and chilled as it erupted from pores all over Rhys’ skin; he could feel it running down his back to the crack of his butt. Everything in him clenched, like that flushed, crampy moment when your entire body seizes up just before the first wave of a bad case of the runs. He whipped his head around to stare at Jacob.
“You ran away?” This was it, then. This was what it felt like to lose your mind. Wow. You really did snap. Rhys was pretty damn sure he felt something physically break inside him. “They were being attacked and you left them?”
Then he was flying at Jacob, the half-healed cracks on his knuckles breaking open as he swung his fists. He drove Jacob out of the pump’s stream and into the muddy soil beneath it, screaming obscenities and trying to pummel him with far more rage than skill. Only Jacob’s shock and the insane force of Rhys’ anger gave him any advantage; he certainly didn’t have the stature, weight, or skill to take down Jacob otherwise.
“Get off me, you cocksucker!”
“You left them!” Spittle flew from his lips and he didn’t care that he was screeching. His arms flailed, fists driving toward the body beneath him. He couldn’t even see Jacob for the red rush of fury blinding him. “I’ll kill you! You left them!”
Jacob managed to flip them, driving the breath from Rhys’ lungs as he hit the ground. He didn’t bother to throw a punch; he just grabbed Rhys’ head and slammed it back, cracking it against one of the bolts on the thick steel pipe coming up from the well. Rhys saw stars, though he kept swinging blind punches toward Jacob as blood trickled down the side of his face and into the thick layer of mud-churned moss under him. He growled and snarled—sounding, he realized in some disconnected portion of his mind, like a revenant himself. His upper lip and chin were wet and he wasn’t sure if it was from the pump or if he really was foaming at the mouth.
“I’ll kill you! I’ll fucking kill you!”
“What the fuck is going on here, Titus?”
He barely heard Darius’ roar before Jacob bashed his head against the pipe again. Then everything went black.
Strain is coming January, 2014 from Riptide Books.