Forsaken comes out this Thursday, so here’s a teaser from the opening chapter!
Madison paused in the lee side of a building that had once housed Albuquerque Health Partners and stared, not sure she could believe what she was seeing. Kitty-corner across the street was the Convention Center…or at least what was left of it.
Chalky dust still filled the air, but she could see clearly enough. The enormous building that had once stood there was basically gone. For some reason, the garden area outside was still intact, unharmed except for the fine white dust drifting over it.
Then her heart seemed to skip in her chest, because standing in the middle of the grass in the garden was a man.
No, not a man, her mind quickly corrected her. A djinn.
His back was to her, so she couldn’t see his face. But he wore long flowing robes in shades of gray and black. She’d seen other djinn wearing more or less the same sort of thing, although in brighter colors. His hair was long and nearly as dark as his robes, rippling in the breeze. Even at this distance she could tell he was extremely tall, maybe six and a half feet or more.
He hadn’t sensed her. Maybe he was so focused on the destruction of the building that he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings. Madison had never been entirely sure how close a djinn needed to be before he could tell that a human was in the vicinity. Most of the time, though, they hadn’t picked up on her presence until they were within ten yards or so. Which meant they weren’t omnipotent. If she kept her distance, she was safe. Well, unless they actually saw her, and she’d always taken care to prevent that from happening.
What this djinn was doing here in Albuquerque, blowing up buildings, she had no idea. The elementals she’d evaded during the past year had clearly been on the hunt, chasing down the city’s few survivors, but that didn’t seem to be this djinn’s objective. As she took a quick glance down Copper Avenue, she realized that the parking garage next to the Hotel Andaluz was gone as well. That must have been the first “earthquake” she’d felt.
So did he intend to knock down every building in the vicinity? That would take a while.
He turned then, and she was able to catch a faint glimpse of a strong profile with a long nose, his chin and cheeks partially obscured by a closely trimmed beard. At the same time, she shrank back against the wall, praying that he hadn’t noticed her hiding there and staring at him.
Apparently not. He crossed the street and disappeared inside the Hotel Andaluz, and she let out a breath. She knew it was time to go. Her luck had held so far, but pushing it would only get her into a world of trouble. This strange djinn and the mystery he represented would have to wait for later.
She hurried back the way she’d come, staying in the shadows, heart racing the whole time. Deep down, she knew she really didn’t need to have ventured out here at all, that she’d done so to fill a far different need than mere food or water. After all, the shelter had enough supplies stockpiled to last for five years or more. These prospecting missions were her only way of keeping herself from dying of boredom. The last thing she wanted to admit to herself was that they were a test as well. She’d survived when so many countless others had died. Getting through yet another expedition in dead Albuquerque was a way of proving to herself that she deserved to live.
Or maybe it just proved that the universe wasn’t quite done with her yet….
Forsaken officially releases on Thursday, July 7th, but you can pre-order it now: