Hi guys, we have Xen Sanders stopping by today with his new release Shatterproof, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic giveaway, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
Saint’s afraid to die. Grey can’t stand to live.
Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion—vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith—would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing—until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.
All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.
When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.
Hey there. I’m Xen Sanders, and thank you for joining me for the release of Shatterproof! (I will have you know that exclamation point was under duress. Grr. I am grrr and dour and deadpan man-thing. Really.)
I’m immensely grateful that some of my favorite blogs have opened their doors and given me an opportunity to talk about a book that means so much to me, and that comes from so much personal experience. Stick around to chat, ask questions, and join in the discussion for a chance to win a $30 Riptide gift card and a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card! (@*$%!#ing exclamation points…)
“My name is Saint,” he said, “and I kill everyone I love.”
Saint stared down at the digital recorder in his palm. Seconds ticked by on the screen. His black-polished fingernail underscored the blocky numbers, accusing with every moment he stared, silent in the sluggish, slow heat of the balmy Georgia night. He was supposed to be telling his story. Recording the things he knew, so he could piece together the things he didn’t.
This was pointless.
He lifted the device to his lips again, hesitated, exhaled. “I call myself Saint, but I . . . I don’t know my real name. I don’t know where I came from. As far as I can tell, I’m over two hundred years old. I haven’t aged a day in that time. But sometimes . . .” He wet his lips. “Sometimes I start to fall apart. Sometimes I grow weak, faint. Until . . .” His heart rolled over, a heavy thing weighted with pain. “. . . until I fall in love. I’ve loved . . . God, too many. Calen. Michael. Remy. Dorian. Philippe. Arturo. Victor. Jake.”
He closed his eyes. Jake. Jake and his grass-green eyes; Jake and the way he’d breathed Saint, Saint as if the name was a prayer to save him. It had been eighteen years, and still he remembered the way Jake’s hands had spanned his hips, and how those hands had been so emaciated and feeble when his eyes glazed over and his body just . . .deflated, like there was nothing inside to hold it up anymore. He’d been the last. Saint wanted him to be the last.
He couldn’t stand to do this again.
“They always die,” he whispered, then pressed his mouth to the recorder, the little stipples over the speaker scraping against his lips. “It’s always the creative types. Artists. Musicians. Painters. Authors. Poets. They’re brilliant. They’re beautiful. They’re the only ones who can make me feel. Everyone else is monochrome, but for me they’re all the colors in the world and even when I want to resist, I can’t.”
He swallowed, thick and rough. “But then . . . something happens. This fire goes off inside them, and they become . . .God, I don’t know how to describe it.”
He opened his eyes and stared blankly across the room, his dark little warren of odds and ends collected over the decades. Then he looked at his arm, touched his chilled skin, traced his fingers over the patterns marked on his flesh in shimmer-dark ink. Right there—the firebird, brilliant in its sparks, coiling from his wrist to his elbow. That was Jake, burned forever into his skin.
“Transcendent,” he said. “Like a phoenix, just before it dies . . . only they never rise again. It’s like they’re burning apart from the inside out. Like their souls come alight and they’re bleeding them out through their art. And I . . . I think it’s my fault. I don’t know what I am. Some kind of incubus, maybe. I’ve never met anyone like me. But because of me, they burn out. They die. And for a little while, I don’t feel so weak anymore.”
He swore softly under his breath. Each word was a noose, tightening around his throat.
“Every time, I hope it will be different. Every time, I . . . I become a murderer all over again. I can’t believe it’s not because of me. I’ve been in denial for too long. It’s like I’m being punished for loving, but I—I just want to figure out what’s causing this.” His grip tightened on the recorder; the plastic cut into his palms, the heat of the battery warming his hands through the casing.
“So I can figure out how to stop.”
He paused the recording and hit Rewind. The track skipped back to 00:00, then started to play. His own voice lilted out, crackling faintly, racked with things he wished he knew how to stop feeling when every time broke him all over again.
My name is Saint, and I kill everyone I love.
What would happen, he wondered, if he never fell in love again?
He stopped the audio. Erased the track, tap-tap-confirm, yes, absolutely sure. Started again, pressing his mouth to the recorder and feeling its plastic slickness against his lips like a dead, mechanical kiss.
“My name is Saint,” he said, “and I can’t remember who I am.”
He shut the recorder off, pitched it on the table, and walked away.
Grey wondered who had found him.
He’d thought he planned it better than this. Quiet and alone in his apartment, the pulsing throb of gut-deep, grinding music drowning out any sounds he might make: the noise of the gunshot, his cries, the low quiet whisper of the loa come to take him through Bawon Samedi’s gates.
It hadn’t been an easy choice, though it had felt increasingly like an inevitable one. As if a road that once branched in many directions had narrowed down to a single path, one walked by many feet before his, one that drew him along step by step until he couldn’t have turned back if he wanted to. And he hadn’t. Wanted to, that is. No. No, he’d wanted this.
And then he’d fucked it up.
He’d considered more silent methods at first. Something less absolute and terrifying than the rifle in the mouth, angledjust so, to make sure there’d be nothing left of his brain, the top of his head completely gone. Quieter methods were more likely to fail. He might get one wrist slit the right way and not have the strength to slit the other, waking up later in a pool of his own blood but still waking up. His body might force him to vomit up pills. Hanging, both the rope and the chair might slip at the wrong moment. A pistol to the temple could graze, miss, come out the other side.
But the Hemingway solution . . .
Brutal. So beautifully brutal; so very effective. His last work of art, splattered in blood and flesh over a canvas of gleaming floorboards.
That was how it worked, when you really wanted it. You didn’t advertise it. You didn’t broadcast it to anyone who might stop you. You held it close, a precious little secret clutched to your chest, and planned it out so nothing could go wrong.
Only something had.
He remembered pain, blinding and hot. The wavering disc of the overhead light cut in chop-chop-chop streams by the blades of the ceiling fan, strobing in and out. The wet feeling of blood pooling, and the sad, quiet thought of:
I hadn’t wanted to feel this.
I hadn’t wanted to feel anything ever again.
Then a scream he didn’t recognize, heavy footsteps, the clatter of equipment, the jumble of sirens, his body moved about like a lifeless sack while he felt like he was floating outside it, watching while deft, capable hands took his vitals, staunched the flow of blood, eased something soft under his head. The ambulance jouncing around him. And a pale figure next to him, in an EMT’s blues.
He struggled to focus. The lights inside the ambulance were too bright, everything blurring in and out in a haze of white. Strange eyes. Strange eyes like the rose color of sunset just before twilight, as if they wanted to be violet but something inside had bled out crimson to taint their color. Dusk, he thought dimly. They were the color of dusk, flecked with motes of sunlight, set against a white, sullen face framed in a messy thatch of black. A delicate face, grim with a sort of quiet, constant fear that lined his angled eyes and set the line of his jaw just so. He didn’t look old enough, Grey mused with a sort of detached clarity. He didn’t look old enough for those slim pale ghosts of hands to be touching Grey’s body, piecing him back together, saving his life.
Stop, he wanted to say, but his tongue was leaden and bloated and filling his mouth. Don’t. Don’t bring me back. Just let me go.
But first, tell me what you’re so afraid of.
Those hard, angry dusk eyes flicked to him as if the pale man had heard him. He studied Grey intently, while the siren shrieked a high keening wail and the ambulance careened around a corner hard enough to make everything inside jerk and rattle.
“Why’d you do it?” he asked, so soft Grey almost didn’t hear him.
He swallowed thickly, forced his tongue to move. His voice struggled to come up, a cold and unmoving lump in the bottom of his throat. “Does i-it . . . does it matter?”
“Yes.” The pale man lowered his eyes. His hands rested on Grey’s chest, the wings of white doves, feathers tipped in black. Black-painted nails, chipped and gleaming and throwing back reflections of those pensive, pensive eyes. “It always matters.”
You’re wrong, he wanted to say, but his voice still wouldn’t work. He closed his eyes, fighting past the dull throb of pain to find thought, find reason, find anything other than an overwhelming sense of failure.
But against the backs of his eyelids he saw strange sunset eyes, and felt the warmth of hands resting quiet and sweet just over his heart.
“What . . .” He choked, coughed, his mouth a desert. “W-what’s your name?”
A low laugh answered, oddly melodious. “I thought we were talking about questions that mattered.”
It matters, Grey thought. It matters to me.
But he couldn’t get the words out. The dark was coming fast.
And when it swallowed him down he went willingly, and hated that on the other side waited a blinding and damning light that shone too bright to let him hide from anything.
Read more at: Riptide Publishing (Just click the excerpt tab)
Xen Sanders is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in the metropolitan wilds of the American Midwest. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats. He wavers between calling himself bisexual and calling himself queer, but no matter what word he uses, he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA representation and visibility in genre fiction.
He also writes contemporary romance and erotica as Cole McCade. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Twitter: @thisblackmagic
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xen.cole
• Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/ColeMcCadeBooks
• Website & Blog: http://www.blackmagicblues.com
He’s recently launched the Speak Project, an online open-access platform where anyone can anonymously or openly share or read stories of abuse—a way for survivors to overcome the silencing tactics of abusers to speak out against what was done to them, and let other survivors know they’re not alone.
He also runs an advice column called Dammit, Cole, where he occasionally answers questions about everything from romance and dating to the culture of hypermasculinity, from the perspective of a male romance author:
Looking for more? You can get early access to cover reveals, blurbs, contests, and other exclusives by joining the McCade’s Marauders street team at: