Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Hanna Martine’s Xavier from A Taste of Ice.
There is an untapped world of magic that any man would covet…
Five years ago, Xavier escaped from the Ofarian Plant. Today he calls a Colorado mountain town home. It’s there he buries himself in his work, swearing off magic and relationships—until a woman threatens every promise he’s made to himself.
Cat has always known she is different. Water speaks to her on an uncanny level, and she channels this gift into beautiful painted waterscapes. Now, a gallery is debuting her work in Colorado—and it’ll reveal far more about her than she imagined.
The spark between Cat and Xavier is enough to throw both of them off balance. Every tantalizing moment sends them dangerously close to a rising flood of desire. Dangerous because Xavier comes to suspect that Cat is an Ofarian—his people’s enemy. But they’re both about to discover a far greater, more malicious power at play…
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of A Taste of Ice.
This scene takes place just prior to the opening of A Taste of Ice, two months before Cat will open her art show in the historic mountain town of White Clover Creek, Colorado. It’s here Xavier has hidden himself. The last of his kind, the last Secondary capable of creating illusions and weaving glamour, he has sworn off magic and women, and is trying to integrate into human society.
A Man’s Smile
When the last of the lunch customers cleared out, the line cooks of Shed, White Clover Creek’s finest restaurant, began cleaning their stations. Xavier had his motions and rhythm down to a science. It was a pattern he loved, a pattern he needed.
Pam swept into her kitchen, pen stuck behind her ear, a frantic air making her eyes a little crazy. Shed’s owner and head chef said, “All right, I need someone to run a very important errand for me. Just up to the top of Waterleaf and back. Volunteer gets out of clean-up duty.”
Lars and Jose both whipped around from where they were wiping down their stations, arms raised. Xavier knew this because he’d already turned around too, his own hand in the air. He didn’t want out of clean-up duty–it came with the cooking, and he wanted every part of the job that had become his life–he just wanted to be outside in the cold and snow more. After spending a life in a windowless prison, the open air, no matter how bitterly cold or disgustingly hot, was the most beautiful thing imaginable.
Pam tossed a pair of dice on the island’s cutting board. “Highest number goes.”
Xavier rolled an eleven and bundled up in the wake of grumbles from Lars and Jose. The steeply slanted sidewalks of White Clover Creek were filled with people–not anywhere near the crowds that would swarm the film festival in two months, but enough to make Xavier twitch. He’d overheard someone talking about how today was called “Small Business Saturday,” and that it had something to do with holiday shopping.
The whole idea behind Christmas was still rather foreign to him, let alone the concept of any Primary human holidays.
Pam had told him to pick up a package at Trudy’s, a boutique at the very top of the town’s main thoroughfare. A Christmas gift for her girlfriend, Jill. Xavier kept his head down as he trudged up toward the shop, weaving in and out of pockets of people. Maybe he shouldn’t have volunteered; he’d had no idea it would be this crowded.
When he saw what kind of shop Pam had sent him to, he knew she was probably having a good laugh at his expense.
The place was filled with underwear–women’s underwear and bras. Things he’d only just learned about a short number of years ago. The women he’d known growing up in the Plant had never worn either. Since gaining his freedom, he’d come to love such things. He loved to see them on women. He loved to take them off more.
Only he didn’t do that anymore. His sanity counted on it.
He considered stomping back to Shed to tell Pam he couldn’t go in, but he’d been living in the Primary world long enough to know that to admit that kind of discomfort would only bring on more snickering and invite attention. If only he could use his magic … but not here. Not ever again.
Taking a deep breath, he marched into the store and asked for Pam’s package with his eyes lowered. As the saleslady disappeared into the back, he looked up and noticed only one other man in the place. One man, and about fifteen women who he refused to look at.
The lone man was smiling as he flipped through white and black lace. It was a secret smile, meant solely for his woman. There was something about that smile, something unique and warm. Xavier wanted to understand it, to know what it took to smile like that.
The saleslady came out with a silver box, dropped it into a bright pink bag that anyone could identify at a hundred paces, and Xavier bolted from the shop. Outside, he unzipped his blue down coat and let it flap open, let the icy wind sweep inside and wiggle its way under his shirt. He flopped onto a nearby bench. Shoppers passed back and forth, bags dangling from the crooks of their elbows, and he did his best to ignore them.
Across the street, the brightly painted Drift Art Gallery drew his attention. He must have walked by the place a thousand times, never really seeing it, but today he stared. A strange tingling sensation settled in his chest. He couldn’t name it; he’d never felt anything like it. The closest thing he could compare it to was the smile of the man inside. Secretive. Special. Could it be … a premonition?
Impossible. Stupid. That wasn’t his kind of magic. As far as he knew, that kind of magic didn’t exist in the world. It was him and the water elementals here on Earth, and that was it.
He jumped up from the bench and rushed back to Shed. By the time he’d crossed under the garlands and lights draped over Waterleaf Avenue and ducked back into the dim, warm safety of the kitchen he loved, he’d forced himself to forget about holiday shopping, that man and his smile, and even the odd pull of the Drift Gallery, whose meaning he would likely never understand.
Or would he?
Meet Hanna Martine!
Hanna Martine left a decade of office work in order to show her daughter what it meant to go after one’s dream. She loves bar stools, books, travel and her friends. Though she and her family live outside Chicago, her heart resides in Australia.
Want to purchase Hanna’s novels?
Please help spread the word: Tweet: Celebrate the madness with 32 authors while #giveaways ensue during #BlackFriday (Nov23-Dec24) http://tinyurl.com/LEBlackFriday2012 #paranormal #fantasy
Thank you Hanna Martine for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Hanna is giving away A Taste of Ice. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: Do you understand what the smile could mean? How would you explain it to Xavier? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered. (US/CA only)
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.
A Man’s Smile