Monday, November 25, 2013

DAY 4 : KING HALL by SCARLETT DAWN - EXCERPTS & GIVEAWAYS - HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY TO ESCAPE PUBLISHING DIGITAL IMPRINT OF HARLEQUIN AUSTRALIA


HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY 

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Today I am showing you an excerpt from :


KING HALL by SCARLETT DAWN


A fresh, meaty, sink-your-teeth-in-and-hold-on-tight new adult fantasy series kicks off with King Hall…

King Hall — where the Mysticals go to learn their craft, get their degrees, and transition into adulthood. And where four new Rulers will rise and meet their destinies.

Lily Ruckler is adept at one thing: survival. Born a Mystical hybrid, her mere existence is forbidden, but her nightmare is only about to start. Fluke, happenstance, and a deep personal loss finds Lily deeply entrenched with those who would destroy her simply for existing — The Mystical Kings. Being named future Queen of the Shifters shoves Lily into the spotlight, making her one of the most visible Mysticals in the world. But with risk comes a certain solace — her burgeoning friendships with the other three Prodigies: a wicked Vampire, a wild-child Mage, and a playboy Elemental. Backed by their faith and trust, Lily begins to relax into her new life.

Then chaos erupts as the fragile peace between Commoners and Mysticals is broken, and suddenly Lily realises the greatest threat was never from within, and her fear takes on a new name: the revolution.




Chapter 1


August 1, 2012

Sex Education.

No matter your age (sixteen or nineteen), or what school you attended (Commoner or Mystical), this class was still “are you kidding me” worthy. Knowing this as fact wasn’t difficult because I had endured Com schools from kindergarten through to my high school graduation. Even so, because of my switch to a Mys school, and because Law dictated Mysticals weren’t adults until they were twenty‐two, I was currently one of the few sophomores at King Hall University slinking down on my seat as Mr. Busk — or, Mr. Beak, as I “intellectually” called him — strolled in front of me, dropping two condoms on my desktop.

Mine wasn’t the only lucky desk he added this stunning addition to. He placed two condoms on everyone’s desk. To add insult to injury, Mrs. Fowler — I had no mental nickname for her because I actually liked her — lifted a basket and began placing an extraenormous banana and a normal sized banana on each person’s desk.

Rambling to the front of the room, Mrs. Fowler sat the basket on her desk and dug into it. She cleared her throat, lifting an extra‐large banana high into the air. “Mysticals are naturally more endowed than Commoners.” With her other hand, she raised a regular sized banana, holding them side‐by‐side. Point made.

“In review of last year, and in case you go against our teachings,” the entire class got the hairy eyeball, “abstinence, if you’ve already forgotten,” a look at the bananas in her hands, “you need to be prepared for the variation of sizes.” She used the huge banana to point at the regular one. “Just because it’s smaller doesn’t mean you won’t contract a germ.” Her glare encompassed everyone. With restrained silence weighing heavily, Mrs. Fowler’s hand flicked: a silent order to commence the condom application.

I bit my lip to keep from laughing, since Mys were known for their…friendliness. Plus, she had called it a germ. While diseases couldn’t touch us in any serious way, a Com STD did give us flu‐like symptoms for two weeks if one was contracted from them, instead of the lifelong consequences (or possible death) Coms would face.

Last year, we even had the pleasure to view the videos, and snapshots, of these Com diseases. Fun times were had by all. I hadn’t eaten for two days straight after those horrific shots. Did parents seriously know their “kid’s” teachers were showing X‐rated pictures with disgusting and disturbing things wrong with Com private parts?

I was betting “no”.

Elly sat to my right, lifting her smaller banana, her white eyebrows raised. “You really think Coms are this size?”

My lips twitched. “Sometimes smaller.”

Elly’s already raised brows shot to her identical white hairline. “How do you know that?” She paused before her mouth widened into an ‘O’. “Lily, you’ve been holding out on me!” Of course, this comment earned attention from others and she leaned loser. "
Who  was he?”

I slunk down further while most stared. “Just some Com I saw at a party once. I didn’t do anything with him. He was busy doing it with someone else.” I barely held back a sigh of relief as my classmates went back to their project when they heard 
I didn’t have anything impressive to say.

Elly’s short white curls hung over one of her eyes, and she brushed it away impatiently, flashing her pink‐painted fingernails. She waggled the regular banana. “They’re really smaller than this?”

I shrugged, lifting the first condom packet when Mr. Busk walked by my desk, watching me. “Probably not all Coms, but the guy I saw would have loved being that big.”

Elly’s face fell for a moment before she glanced away, lowering the slighter banana with a nod and grabbing one of her own condom packets. Elly wasn’t a virgin — I seriously doubted that anyone in my class would be, being nineteen‐year‐olds — and friendly, so she expertly put the larger condom on the larger banana. Her hand hovered over the smaller packet and I began to wonder why, but my train of thought was interrupted when Mrs. Fowler asked loudly from the front of the room, “Is there a problem, Ms. Ruckler?”

My attention snapped to her. “No. No problem.” If her blue eyes weren’t watching kindly from her crinkled face, I might have been tempted to have her put the stupid condoms on my gifted bananas herself. Glancing away, I opened the condom packet and peeked at the clock. It was only my first hour of classes back from our month of summer vacation and already I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

* * *

I barely kept my eyes open as I listened to Mrs. Fowler and Mr. Busk drone on for another thirty minutes. Finally, the clock ticked its last round. Everyone jumped from their seats, a few of the guys finishing the remains of their bananas, which they had no issues about eating even after condoms being on the peeals, and Mrs. Fowler harped, “Don’t forget! Abstinence is the key against germs!”

I snorted as I bustled to the door. They should be teaching that alcohol made you forget about abstinence, losing all inhibitions, instead of harping about it to my overly friendly classmates. Not that I was against alcohol consumption, seeing as my first drunken encounter resulted in the delicious man now leaning against the wall outside the classroom. My heart warmed as I glided to a stop in front of him. I hummed quietly, “Miss me already?”

Dominic pushed off the wall, aligning our bodies. Towering over me at six feet, five inches, I had to tilt my head back to stare into his fathomless dark eyes. His Prodigy wolf emblem ring glittered on his thumb as he lifted his hand, cupping my cheek gently. His words were soft. “What do you think?”

Scrunching my nose, I rolled my shoulders, glancing at the fashionably attired women and men gossiping. “They’re all staring.” Again.

Dominic dipped, his smooth black hair brushing his strong cheekbones as he nuzzled 
his face against the crook of my neck, kissing it lightly. Barely breathing, he spoke words only for my ears, no Vampires. “They’re only jealous.”

Yeah, that was what I was afraid of. The Shifter women were glaring under their perfect lashes, and if this hands‐off hostility was all I would have to endure, I would be doing well. “We should have leaked the news of our mating this summer.”

“Our friends knew.”

“It wasn’t enough.”

Dominic sighed quietly, his warm breath rushing against the tender flesh of my neck, his sweet lips caressing once more. “The assembly will take their minds off it.” Straightening slowly, he slung his arm over my shoulders, keeping me tucked tight against his solid strength as we weaved our way through the gawkers. “How was class?”

“It was fine,” I mumbled, rolling my eyes. “I did learn an interesting fact.”

“That would be?”

I kept my voice down. “To another Shifter, your sexual fluids taste, and smell, of your animal’s essence when you’re close to your Awakening, not only after it.” My brows lifted at my mate. “In other words, you knew what I was going to be before my Awakening.”

His gaze was pure innocence. “I have no clue what you’re talking about.”

I sniffed. Lie. The bastard. “You suck.”

He merely grinned, glancing behind us. “Where’s Elly?”

“Meeting me in the gym.”

Bit by bit, his brow furrowed, and he stopped us, turning me to face him. “Let me know if you need me today.” His tone was low and grave, his wolf peaking as he bent to stare directly in my eyes. “I’m serious, Lily. Those predator classes you’re taking are brutal, and we only have one together.” Yeah, I may have been earning my degree in Creative Writing, but my schedule wasn’t all peaceful imaginings. The mere silver lining was that the hand‐to‐hand combat was grouped together for Shifters and Vamps — all grade levels — while the Mages and Elementals did their own thing. “Promise me.”

I winked, trying for joviality. “Only if you promise to ask me for help in staying awake during your boring political science classes.”

“Lily…” Dominic growled, not liking my humor.

I sighed. “Fine, but I’ll be okay.” Having gone through my Shifter Awakening, I had added strength, and could sniff out a truth or lie. But I still had to be careful not to show my Vampire speed.

With the constant fear ever‐present between us, a trickling of death hovering, he stared a moment longer. He never pulled alpha crap on me, even though I knew he could. He just didn’t, respecting me. “I love you, babe. Be careful.” He pulled me in tight and kissed me in a way that really shouldn’t be done in front of others.

I went with it.

* * *

Sitting high on the bleachers next to Elly, I ignored those closest who were eyeing me and peered down at the masses. I took in the different Mys groups, which consisted of the Elementals with their pure green, blue, red, or yellow hair, the Vampires with their red and black streaked hair, the Mages with blond to golden hair, and the Shifters with their different variations of hair color, like their animal. I hardly knew any of them.

Besides Dominic, Elly was my one friend here at King Hall. Her white hair pegged her as a weak Shifter, and because of my own freakish, solid red hair we stuck together, since no others would have us in their inner circle. I hadn’t actually wanted to be in any inner circle, but I knew she had. Even after we had been attending this school for a full year, they still stared, so I didn’t hold it against her.

Being noticeably different only worked when blending in with Coms. Here, I only stood out with my whopping five foot, two inches, to their Amazon‐tall. My blue eyes were normal enough, but my hair turned more than a few heads, especially when no other Mys — other than an Elemental — had red hair like mine. The only common ground I found with these people was the money my mom had left for me in her will. It still sent shudders down my spine that so many Mysticals named this the best school in the world.

They called it: Choep, New York.

I called it: My Own Personal Hell.

No one wants to glimpse Hell, much less be there in the first place, so it figured my bastard uncle would be the one to throw me in this pit when he had become my legal guardian. My only solace — and stupidity, I knew full well — was that being mated to Dominic now kept me under King Kincaid’s roof. It was a definite risk of exposure, but I was thrilled to be out of my uncle’s sadistic home.

Sighing softly, I tried to focus over the constant noise, pushing myself to relax on the uncomfortable bleacher. This wasn’t a normal assembly. All four Kings stood in dark Armani suits behind Mrs. Jonas, our Head Administrator at King Hall who was positioned at the podium trying to quiet everyone. For the first time since I had walked through the school doors, Dominic and I weren’t the main topic of gossip. Instead, everyone was aflutter about the soon‐to‐be‐revealed Prodigies.

Mrs. Jonas sighed heavily. “If you want to see them, then you need to be quiet!” The room went silent. Even the adults packed onto the gym floor. The place was filled to overflowing. It wasn’t just the students who wanted to know their next Rulers. All Mysticals were waiting for the news. There was even press standing in front of the elevated stage ready to air the announcement. This was definitely a big deal.

Plus, these were the new Rulers who could end my life with a simple command.

I squirmed and Elly grabbed my knee to stop me. The Mage to my left snapped an irritated glance in my direction, but quickly looked back to the stage when Mrs. Jonas started speaking again (pleasantly, now that everyone had shut up). With a smile, she stated clearly, “First, King Kincaid will introduce our next King Shifter.”

Dominic’s dad strode forward, appearing tough with a debonair flair, his features serious as he adjusted the microphone to better accommodate his height. “Good morning, world.” I glanced down to the press and saw Coms here, too, not just Mys. This was worldwide. “As some of you may or may not know, every twenty years four new Rulers are born. We’re here today to introduce them to you. Within the next four years, these Prodigies will take over,” he gestured to himself, and then to the other three Kings behind him, “in our stead.”

He cleared his throat, and a smile lifted his lips. “The next King Shifter will be my son, Dominic Kincaid. Dominic already has vast experience in political relations, having been raised in the current King’s home.” He went on to list all of Dominic’s leadership and predator skills, and I listened politely to his proud speech even though I already knew all of this. Dominic was a badass. “And without further ado, my son, Dominic Kincaid, the next King Shifter.”

The side of the backstage curtain shifted and Dominic emerged to a raucous round of applause. He gave a polite wave. I almost laughed out loud. Dominic’s dad had argued with him about wearing a suit for this, but that wasn’t Dominic’s style. Although, he had agreed to wear a tie. Too bad it was wrapped tightly around his wrist next to his platinum watch, and instead of a traditional suit, he now wore an outfit consisting of a simple crimson suit jacket with a white‐collared shirt (untucked), the sleeves of both rolled up to his forearms, paired with black leather pants and his black boots. Savvy sexy.

Looking good, I mentally hummed.

I saw his lips twitch and he peered up into the bleachers where I sat, winking as he reached the podium to stop beside his dad. Standing side‐by‐side, they looked so much alike it was uncanny. His dad barely appeared a few years older than him thanks to our lifespan being hundreds of years longer than Coms. Dominic’s large, pitch‐black eyes, with thick lashes, altered to the cameras, his lush, red lips smiling softly.

“Hello, everyone,” Dominic’s voice growled to address the world, ignoring his dad’s scowl at his outfit choice. “I’m Dominic Kincaid. I thought I would start by telling you a little about myself. I’m a senior at King Hall University, and have resided in New York my entire life. I’ve recently become mated,” masculine cheers erupted so loudly he had to wait a second to continue speaking, “and we’ll live here for the remainder of my ruling.” He continued on, and I pinched my lips together, deciding to be a little ornery.

Mentally, I hummed, Oh, Dominic! The way you talk to them…a groan…it’s so hot!

He stuttered, glancing down, clearing his throat.

I added breathlessly, Dom, I want…I want you! Those cameras are turning me on.

He made a quiet choking sound. 

Please, Dom, please! I groaned.

He snorted, and I knew people were watching him strangely. Feeling I had done my job properly, I stopped. His eyes met mine. I knew there would be retribution involved. Probably a little good and a little bad.

“What’s wrong with him?” Elly whispered, her golden eyes swinging to me.

I tapped my temple and grinned.

Her mouth fell open. “That’s just mean.”

I chuckled. It was funny stuff.

The King Elemental, King Fergus, went next, speaking fluidly and easily to the assembly, his green hair shimmering in the light. “Our next King Elemental will be Jack Collins. He’s lived in Tokyo for his entire life and, like the other Prodigies, he’s thrilled to be here at King Hall for his senior year. His experience is immense…” Yada, yada, the same junk all over again. It sounded like they had all been through the same experiences since being chosen at a toddler’s age through a spell that let the current Kings know who the next Rulers were. “And here’s the next King Elemental.”

Jack Collins came out of the side curtains like Dominic had. I clapped right along with everyone else but didn’t add in the hoots like some of the girls were doing. He was hot. No doubt about that. He was about six foot, two inches, with a touch of Asian ancestry, and had bright blue hair that he wore stylishly over his right eye. He was dressed in a black suit that was fitted and trendy — not stuffy like the Kings’ — and his blue, extra‐thin tie matched his hair. I could see his eyes were brown and his features bordered on pretty, but his muscled body was anything but slight.

He waited politely for everyone to quiet, then began with a slightly accented voice.

“My name’s Jack Collins, and it’s a pleasure to be here…” More yada, yada.

Next to come forward was King Nelson, the King Mage, and he began with a soft grin, his hand brushing back his golden hair. “This is a monumental day, because for the first time in over five hundred years we will have a woman as our Ruler.” There were gasps throughout the audience. I had no clue a female Ruler was such a big deal, but clearly it was. “Our next Queen Mage will be Pearl Cooper. She’s lived in London for the entirety of her life, and her experience…” Heard it all before.

When Pearl Cooper walked out the crowd went wild. Especially the females. You would think the men would have been cheering the loudest but, I swear, women’s rights were taking a firm grip on every female in the place as Pearl took the stage. She appeared to be six feet tall, curvaceous, and with golden hair and golden eyes. She was drop‐dead gorgeous, more than a normal Mys. She was so flawless she reminded me of a doll. She wore a black, checkered dress like a retro version of a 1950s house wife, except she paired it with a wide, glistening gold belt and gold platform shoes, to perfection.

I glanced down at my own jeans and plain white t‐shirt with a smidge of disdain, thinking that perhaps I should pay a little more attention to my attire instead of just worrying if it was from the clean pile.

“Hello, everyone.” Pearl greeted the world with a celebrity wave, her English accent really freaking cool. “I’m so happy and honored to be your next Queen Mage…” She went on, and in her speech I noted she also had been recently mated. There were many groans from the men. Couldn’t blame them. She was that attractive.

Up next, the King Vampire, King Venclaire, nodded to the audience pleasantly and stated simply, “Our next King Vampire will be Ezra Zeller. He’s originally from San Diego, California, and has lately been traveling the world; his most recent location was South America. His power is truly remarkable.” The King smiled a little at his words, then turned toward the curtains. “Ezra, if you would, please.”

When the King didn’t drone on about his Prodigy’s experience, I asked, He’s done?

Guess so, Dominic replied, intently watching the curtained area.

Ezra Zeller walked onstage.

The first thing I noticed was the deep sapphire, hooded velvet jacket he wore. He had its hood up so I couldn’t see his face, and its hem was so long it skimmed the floor. It was unbuttoned, and he wore a simple white t‐shirt under it with a pair of faded jeans, trendy holes in the knees. He had paired those with a clunky black belt and boots that looked identical to Dominic’s.

I clapped with everyone else, though my gaze was rapt on his size. He was as large as Dominic, at least six foot, five inches, his muscles massive. That was a little odd because, normally, Vampires were as tall as Shifters but were usually leaner, like a swimmer instead of a brute. His velvet jacket appeared worn, with patches at the elbows, and I was unsure if they were for fashion or economy’s sake. His vast biceps looked like they weren’t helping the stitching any, straining the material. His white t‐shirt showed every ripple of muscle in his pecs and abdomen, and his faded jeans hugged his thighs flawlessly. You couldn’t even see his face, and I could already imagine the women in the audience licking their lips.

“Oh,” Elly whispered, leaning forward. “For a Vamp, he’s delicious.”

My best friend was one of them.

King Venclaire sighed and his hand flashed out, yanking back Ezra’s hood.

Flashes went off as everyone got their first decent view of him. He had skin like smooth mocha and he wore his red and black hair about three inches long in styled spikes all over his head. His features were perfectly sharp: high cheekbones, a straight nose,
arched, black eyebrows, wide red lips, and an angular jaw. He wore a pair of unusual sunglasses — black and thick with round, platinum pieces on the front — and I stared at them, wondering what color his eyes were.

King Venclaire’s lips pinched, and he leaned toward Ezra, whispering.

Ezra shrugged a shoulder, lifting the sunglasses on top of his head. Expressive, almond‐curved, glaring green eyes stared out at the audience as he tilted to the microphone, stating in a deep voice, “I’m Ezra,” a nod of his head. “Pleasure.” Fluidly, he turned, walking away from the podium to stand beside Pearl.

King Venclaire appeared completely exasperated until he pivoted fully to face the crowd, smiling charmingly, and said evenly, “He’s a man of few words and firm decisions. Let this be a reminder to the Vampires who’ll be under his rule.” He nodded once then left the podium to stand next to the other Kings, who had all raised their brows in silent question.

Trouble in paradise? I probed.

There’s always one, Dominic grumbled, glancing down the line at Ezra, who placed his shades back down as more flashes erupted, all four of them now standing side‐by‐side.



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1 comment:

  1. Gah! That's a whole lot of awesome going on in just one year! Congratulations!!!

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