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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dragon Awakened Deleted Scene & Giveaway!!!

They are the Hidden. 
Not quite human. Far from normal.
And never, ever safe . . . 

Ruby Salazaar wants answers . . . and revenge. Her uncle has just been murdered before her eyes and the name he utters with his final breath - Cyntag - leads Ruby into a world beyond her wildest imaginings. She soon learns that the dark, sexy Cyntag Valeron knows more about her than she does herself. 

Ruby changed Cyn's life before she even knew who he was. Now she charges into his life, a beautiful woman full of fire and questions. Cyn knew this day would come, yet he couldn't foresee the danger - and desires - Ruby would bring with her. He can teach her how to harness her newly awakened powers. But there is one force neither of them can control . . .

Dragon shifters, sorcerers, and fallen angels.


Sometimes authors see a scene or a character before they know much about the book that’s poking at them to be written. Ruby Salazaar, from DRAGON AWAKENED, came to me in full color … but she changed during the process of story planning. I thought it would be fun to share my original version of her, along with a peek at who she ended up being, with my friends here at Bitten by Reviews.

Ruby felt the hand grab her ass as she walked past the table covered in empty beer and shot glasses. John Jr. was obviously trying to impress his friends. She stopped in her tracks and took a deep breath before turning to lance him with the look of death.
"I'm sorry, sweet Ruby, I jus' can't help myself when that tight, round ass of yours goes saunterin' by."
She didn’t recognize the two other men at the table. She ran Jake's Bar and only waited tables when necessary. "I guess you forgot about that broken finger you got last time you grabbed my sweet ass." She gave him a forced smile that bled maliciousness and crooked her finger. "Shall I remind you?"
He yanked his hand back. Then he looked at his friends and tried to laugh it off. "She's kidding. Such a kidder. Woman's got a body to taunt and a mouth to torment a man."
"She don't look like she's kidding," the beefy one with his shoe propped on the edge of the scarred table said. At the very moment she thought he looked familiar, his eyes narrowed. "Wait a minute. Ruby? Ruby Salazaar?"
It clicked. "Tommy Canton."
"I'll be darned. I went to middle school with this here girl." He pushed to his feet and approached her like he was going to give her a hug.
She put her hands up to ward him off. "You are not to going to hug me like we're long lost friends. Unless you count cutting off my braid, gluing my books together, and leaving me with more bruises than Mary Lou Petroski had hickeys as friendship."
He chuckled. "You still got that braid, too. Always thought it was the color of honey." When she glared at the hand that was reaching out to touch that braid, he dropped his hands to his side. "Aw, come on. That was a long time ago."
"Sixteen years isn't long enough to forget the torment."
He slumped back into his seat. "I only did it 'cause your uncle paid me to."
She was sure her eyebrows jumped to her hair line. "What?"
"You didn't know? He got Jimmy and Bosley to do it, too. Five bucks a week, something about making you stronger for it. Five bucks was a lot of money to a twelve year old. Truth was, I thought you were a spitfire, a cute one at that. Guess I went a little too far, huh?"
She walked away, stunned and yet, suspicious. Still, why would he make up something like that? It sounded like something her uncle might pull, eccentric that he was. But why?
Jake was wiping glasses behind the bar. The reformed alcoholic who owned a bar. His paunch wasn't from beer, that was for sure. "They giving you a hard time?" he asked, not looking particularly concerned. He knew she could handle herself. That's why he paid her so much to stick around when all the other bar babes hit the road after a few months. Once he'd even admitted that the guys came here because she hit back, either with fists or with her smart mouth. She was fricking entertainment. She earned every penny of her overblown salary.
He set down one glass hard on the counter, his watery gaze on her. "Uh oh. You got that look again, the one that costs me money."
The look that said she'd had it. Every time, he bribed her with a salary raise, and she hated to admit she sold out. Problem was, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. Teaching women self-defense at the gym was the only thing that sparked her soul, but she didn't think it would pay money enough to sustain her hotdogs and canned chili lifestyle. Besides, she liked doing it for free.
The phone rang, and Jake snatched it up in his fat hand. "Jake's Bar … Sure, she's right here." He thrust it at her and mouthed, It's your uncle.
"Were your ears ringing?" she asked to the mouthpiece, skipping right past hello.
"Ruby, I've got trouble."
"Did you piss off one of your new neighbors already? I told you not to hang the magic artifacts all over the yard. Creeps them out."
"It's more than that." He sounded breathless, and the tone in his voice stiffened her body.
"She's found us, and there are things I have to tell you."
"She? Who's she?"
"I need you to come to the house now."
Her throat tightened. "Okay. I'll be there in about forty minutes."
His last words were, "Speed."

I wasn’t particularly sold on Ruby being a bar manager, and while I wanted her to be tough, I thought she was a bit too rough in this version. I mean, really, breaking a man’s fingers? Interestingly, I have no idea who the ‘she’ is that her uncle is referring to either.

This is how the opening ended up:

Ah, the smell of fresh paint in the morning.
Ruby stepped out of the office and squinted at the sun reflecting off the windshield of a ’57 Chevy. For a few seconds, a bright mark marred everything she saw, including the Gottlieb Grand Slam 1953 pinball machine that was farther along in the restoration process. Beyond that, five acres filled with memories of climbing cars, dismantling bicycles, and the sound of her mom calling, “Ruby, get off there. You’re going to fall and crack your head open!” To an adventurous seven-year-old: annoying. Now, a sound she’d kill to hear again.
What she didn’t see was her business partner. Typical. She stalked across the gravel, searching the sections of vintage toys, old signage, and then Coca-Cola machines for him.
“Seen Nevin?” she asked Jack, her expert on motorcycle restoration.
He nodded toward the back. “Chewing the fat with a friend.”
Jack hefted his wrench. “Want me to bust his chops, Miz Ruby? I’ll kick his ass all over the place…if you’ll pardon my French.”
“That’s not French,” she said, trying to ignore the “Miz Ruby” that he wouldn’t stop calling her, along with his flirtatious smile. “Thanks, but he’s my problem.”
She continued on to Nevin’s disorganized side of the yard and found him leaning against one of his junk sculptures, laughing it up with some guy.
“Nevin.” She kept her gaze on him, plastering on a pleasant-but-fake smile for his friend’s benefit. “Our client is picking up the Wayne gas pump at the end of the week, the one that doesn’t look anywhere near ready.”
Nevin rubbed his belly where his shirt rode up and exposed pale, flabby flesh. “You’re good at finding deals and making old stuff look new again.” He gestured to the roof of a 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood he’d fashioned into a table. “How ’bout you do the resto stuff and let me focus on my art?”
“Resto is paying the bills. You haven’t sold one piece yet.”
“Aw, Ruby, you said business is good. Can’t we take it easy for a bit?”
No, she needed to push herself, to fill some need for…something. Her pseudo-uncle Moncrief inherited the Yard, along with her, when her parents were killed in a boating accident fifteen years ago. Because he traveled often performing his magic shows, he couldn’t deal with running the Yard. Ruby had sobbed at the prospect of losing the last tangible tie to her mom, so he made a deal with Nevin’s parents: a half share for managing it.
After graduating high school, she wrested control from Nevin’s father, who proved that being a lovable lackey was in his gene pool. When he passed, Nevin’s mom insisted he step in, hoping to give him direction. He’d been one of the early strays Ruby attracted. While she had the kind of affection one might have for a dumb-but-sweet cousin, she wasn’t going to let him run the business into the ground like his father nearly did.
The man with Nevin said, “Ruby Salazaar, don’t you recognize me?” The wiry guy in a white cotton T and faded jeans gave her an expectant smile. Smoke trailed from the cigarette clamped between his fingers.
“Leo Canton?”
He looked nothing like the afro-haired kid whose parents were part of Mon’s touring troupe. His hair was trimmed short now, round glasses gone. “Been a long time.” He approached her with outstretched arms.
She warded him off. “You are not going to hug me like we’re long-lost friends. Unless you count cutting off my braid and terrorizing me as friendship, which I do not.”
He chuckled, dropping the cigarette and grinding it into the gravel with his heel. “You still got a braid.” His gaze followed it all the way down to her rear. “The color of honey. You nailed me good after I cut it off. I had that black eye for weeks.”
“You deserved every hour of it.” She’d pounded him, the rage so overwhelming it scared her. She pointed to the cigarette. “Didn’t you see the sign? Anyone who drops his butts has to pick them up and put a dollar into the ‘Jar of Bad Behavior.’ Which I use for the cat neuter fund.” She nodded toward two kittens who were racing over to rub against Leo’s ankles.
Leo pulled out his wallet and handed her a fiver. “Still feisty as ever, and a hell of a lot stronger.” He had the gall to clamp his hand over her biceps but pulled away at the murderous glare she gave him.
Nevin made a tsking sound. “She hates to be touched, dude. Some guy grabbed her buttocks once, and she dropped him right to the ground. Dude clutched his cojones all the way outta here, yowling like a girl.” His pride warmed her heart.
“That doesn’t surprise me.” Leo slumped back against the car and crossed his arms over his chest. “You did get the best training on attack and evade, thanks to me.”
“You mean the Hunter/Prey game you and Jimmy used to force me into playing?” The two would start hunting her, prowling the tour buses or the stage equipment. She was always the reluctant prey. Except something inside her actually liked it while the rest of her hated it.
He shrugged. “We only did it ’cause your uncle paid us to.”
Leo plucked a kitten from midway up his pant leg and set it down. “Five bucks a week. Skills building, he called it.”
“You’re serious?”
“Your uncle did things to protect you. He was super paranoid for some reason.” He peered into her eyes. “You still don’t…” He clamped his mouth shut and waved as he sauntered off. “Nevin, gimme a shout if you find the part for my truck.”
“I still don’t what?” she called after him.
“Have a sense of humor,” Leo said, though she knew that wasn’t what he was going to say.
She pinned Nevin with a glare. “Is this true, about Mon paying kids to torment me?”
He assumed the blank look of the guilty.
Her cell phone rang. “Speak of the devil.” She skipped right past hello. “Were your ears ringing? I’ve got—”
“Ruby, there’s trouble.”
“Did you piss off your new neighbors already? I told you not to hang those weird artifacts all over your front porch. Creeps people out.”
“No, big trouble, ducky. Get over here, quick. There are things I have to tell you, things I should have told you long ago.”
Her throat tightened at the agony in his voice. “Be there in about forty minutes.”

Watching American Restoration inspired Ruby’s new career. I wanted her to be doing something that meant a lot to her rather than having a job she detested. The resto yard plays in a few scenes, and I liked all the props I could use, especially when a big monster comes to play.
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