Tag Archives: jacob houtman

#SevenSentenceSunday from Strain (#mmromance coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – dissent in the ranks

You don’t honestly expect me to limit myself to seven sentences for #SevenSentenceSunday by now, right?

This snippet comes from a little later in the book, when Rhys (part 1 and part 2) and Titus are discussing a potentially volatile situation regarding Jacob within the unit Darius and Xolani command.

(As always, these excerpts are as-yet unedited. All mistakes are my own.)

“You should know he’s taking aim at Darius and Xolani. Trying to undermine them. He called her ‘that Arab bitch.’”

“Did he now?” Titus’ eyes, wrinkled with a perpetual sun-squint, glinted with amusement. “And just when I’d almost managed to convince myself stupidity isn’t a terminal illness. Well, she’s a Persian bitch, in the interest of accuracy. She ended up in the med corps during Iran because she could speak Farsi.”

“Huh. I didn’t know that.” Rhys pursed his lips. “So Xolani is a Persian name?”

“Nope. Zulu.” Titus laughed again, a deep, rumbling noise that sounded like boulders rolling down a hill. “Darius started calling her that when she joined Delta Company. Means ‘peace.’”

“Peace?” Rhys felt his eyebrows creep up and Titus laughed even harder.

“Well, he didn’t have a word for ‘will rip off your face and eat it with ketchup.’” After a moment he sobered. “I don’t mind saying your pal’s life expectancy just got a lot shorter, Cooper. He steps a toe out of line, I’ll be there to put a bullet between his eyes, if she doesn’t beat me to it.”

“I thought you weren’t allowed to mistreat the recruits?”

“Well, he’s not a recruit anymore, is he? Besides, who said anything about mistreatment? I’d kill him so fast, it wouldn’t even hurt. Much.”

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#TeaserTueday from Strain (coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – Life at the monastery

Today for #TeaserTuesday, we’re going to explore what life was like at the abandoned monastery where 19-year-old Rhys Cooper has been sheltering from a deadly plague and its aftermath with his sister, nephew, and a handful of other survivors.

Here are the other #TeaserTuesday and #SevenSentenceSunday excerpts I’ve shared from Strain.

The Revenants
Meet Darius
Meet Xolani
Meet Rhys (part 1 and part 2)
Meet Jacob

As always with these snippets, the text is not yet edited. Any mistakes are my own.

“What happened to your knuckles? That’s not all from trying to punch out that other guy.”

Rhys looked down at his bloodied hand, red meat showing raw through cracked, bruised skin.

“Doesn’t matter. Won’t be happening again.”

“Think you can stand? Otherwise, if you want to sit in the shower, I can turn it on for you while I go find a blanket.”

“I can stand.” With her help, he pushed himself to his feet and staggered into the shower. The shredded remains of his clothing still littered the bottom of it. Jesus, his jeans must have really been threadbare if they’d just managed to rip wet denim off him like that. He leaned against the tile of the mildew-spotted wall and let Xolani turn on the cold spray.

“I’ll be right back. Try not to fall over.”

Nodding hurt too much, so Rhys just grunted and began scrubbing off the mud. The longer he was on his feet, the steadier he felt, until he got brave enough to bend over and pick up a scrap of his t-shirt to use as a washcloth.

She came back a moment later with another blanket like the one he’d lost when he attacked Jacob. Rhys turned off the water and wrapped it around him.

“Interesting marks there on your hips and thighs. Last time I saw a set of bruises that looked like that, they were on a guy who’d been beaten with a cane.”

Rhys flushed but said nothing, clutching the blanket tighter.

“The old man had a cane lying beside him where he died.”

He glowered and stomped out of the bathroom, trying to ignore her when she followed.

“I notice that guy you tried to clobber the shit out of wasn’t wearing rags like you were.”

“Yeah, well, he didn’t outgrow all of his clothes,” Rhys muttered. “I was twelve when we got here.”

“And how long ago was that?”

“Seven years.”

Why was she following him, much less asking all these questions? “And it was— what? Just you and your sister, and Jacob and his father?”

“No.”

“That’s right, there was the baby and a kid, too. Who else was here?”

He sighed in annoyance. He shouldn’t be so unfriendly to her—after all, she did help save his life, and stitch him up—but he really wished she’d stop probing for information about things that weren’t any of her business.

“My mom died a couple years ago,” he answered shortly. “We think it was cancer. She had some, uh, lumps. Gabe—Gabriel—ran away and his parents went to try to find him and never came back. Guess they must have all died, too.” Rhys grimaced, trying not to think of why Gabe had run off. “The eleven-year-old boy you found out there today was Gabe’s little brother, Jeff. When they went after Gabe, they left him behind here where he’d be safe. There was another family, too, in the beginning. The Merkles. Holly got appendicitis. Her dad committed suicide. Her mom was stung by a bee. Now we’re all that’s left. Anything else you wanna know?”

Xolani shook her head and took his arm without asking, helping him down the stairs. Her grip was really strong, but then, even though she wasn’t tall, her shoulders were broad and she had a solid, muscular build. A scar ran down her cheek, a light line puckering and pulling at the skin and making her look tough. Even without it, she wouldn’t have ever been called pretty. Darius was a lot bigger than her, but something told Rhys that if it came down to a fight between them, she could probably hold her own.

And she didn’t try to apologize or sympathize as he cataloged their losses. He appreciated that.

“Look, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a jerk, and you’re being nice and all, but my head hurts and can we just not talk about all that?”

“Okay,” she said with perfect equanimity and fell silent.

Darius was outside—along with some of the others whose names Rhys hadn’t gotten yet—standing beside a large pile of scrap wood. Father Maurice, Jeff, Cady and Caleb were laid on top of it and Rhys had to swallow hard seeing them just draped limply like that. On the far side, Jacob was watching him with eyes that glittered with hatred, but Rhys couldn’t be bothered to care. All he could do was stare at the dark gold of his sister’s blood-matted hair hanging down.

When he drew near, he could smell kerosene fumes.

Darius grabbed a length of wood and lit it from the fire still burning the remains of the revenants. But before he could touch it to the other pyre, Jacob lifted his head and raised his voice dramatically loud.

“Dear Lord, we commend to you these loved ones, my father, wife and son . . .”

No mention of sister or nephew, of course.

“Oh, shut up.” Rhys snatched the torch out of Darius’ hand, setting the whole thing ablaze. The last damn thing he needed to hear was about God and heaven and salvation. After a moment of glaring, Jacob continued droning on, but Rhys didn’t hear the trite platitudes. The pompous voice was drowned out by the roar and crackle of the flames.

Strain is coming January 2014 from Riptide.

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#TeaserTuesday from Strain (#mmromance coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – Meet Jacob

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.

In the aftermath of an attack by revenants, from which Rhys was saved by Darius and Xolani, Rhys discovers that he and Jacob are the only remaining survivors.

(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.

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