As part of the Dreamless UK Blog Tour I've been provided with a great extract to share with you and I also have two copies to give away to two lucky readers! Thanks to Josie's UK publishers Macmillan for those goodies.
Speaking of goodies you might want to click here for more Starcrossed and Dreamless treats!
C H A P T E R O N E
Red blood bloomed from underneath Helen’s torn fingernails, pooled in the crescents of her cuticles and trailed down her knuckles in little rivers. Despite the pain, she gripped the ledge more tightly with her left hand so she could try to slide her right hand forward. There was grit and blood under her fingers, making her slip, and her hands were cramping so badly that the centre of her palm was starting to spasm. She reached with her right, but didn’t have the strength to pull herself any further forward.
Helen slid back with a gasp until she was dangling from her rigid fingertips. Six storeys beneath her kicking feet was a dead flowerbed, littered with mouldy bricks and slates that had slid off the roof of the dilapidated mansion and broken into bits. She didn’t have to look down to know that the same would happen to her if she lost her grasp on the crumbling window ledge. She tried again to swing a leg up and catch it on the windowsill, but the more she kicked the less secure her grip became.
Down here in the Underworld Helen didn’t have the supernatural strength, speed or agility she had in the real world. She also didn’t have the ability to fly like she usually did.
A sob escaped from between her bitten lips. She had been hanging from this ledge since she’d descended into the Underworld that night. It felt to her like hours, maybe days, had passed, and her endurance was flagging. Helen cried out in frustration. She had to get off this ledge and go find the Furies. She was the Descender – this was her task. Find the Furies in the Underworld, defeat them somehow and free the Scions from the Furies’ influence. She was supposed to be ending the cycle of vengeance that compelled Scions to kill each other off, but instead here she was, hanging from a ledge.
She didn’t want to fall, but she knew that she would get no closer to finding the Furies if she went on clinging here for an eternity. And in the Underworld every night lasted forever. She knew she needed to end this night and start the next anew, in some other, hopefully more productive, infinity. If she couldn’t pull herself up, that left only one option.
The fingers of Helen’s left hand began twitching and her grip gave way. She tried to tell herself not to fight it, that it would be better to fall because at least it would be over. But still she clung to the ledge with every bit of strength remaining in her right hand. Helen was too afraid to let herself go. She bit down on her bloody lip in concentration, but the fingers of her right hand slid across the grit and finally came away from the edge. She couldn’t hold on.
When she hit the ground, she heard her left leg snap.
Helen slapped a hand over her mouth to keep the scream from erupting across her quiet Nantucket bedroom. She could taste the flinty grit of the Underworld on her cramped fingers. In the pewter-blue light of pre-dawn, she listened intently to the sound of her father getting ready for the day down the hall. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to hear anything out of the ordinary, and he went downstairs to start cooking breakfast as if nothing was wrong.
Lying in bed, trembling with the pain of her broken leg and her pulled muscles, Helen waited for her body to heal itself. Tears slid down either side of her face, leaving hot tracks across her chilled skin. It was icy cold in her bedroom.
Helen knew she had to eat to heal properly, but she couldn’t go downstairs with a broken leg. She told herself to stay calm and wait. In time, her body would be strong enough to move, then stand and then walk. She would lie and say she’d overslept. She’d hide her sore leg from her father as best as she could, smiling and making small talk as they ate. Then, with a little food in her, she would heal the rest of the way.
She would feel better soon, she told herself, crying as quietly as she could. She just had to hold on.