For my stop on the Hotblood tour, author Juliann has provided an excerpt from the first book in the house of Slide novel. Thank you so much Juliann!
This excerpt from my book, House of Slide, Hotblood is a scene after Dariana has stolen the Hotblood soul and is coming to terms with the life she had after her brother took everything from her along with her soul.
That night I dreamed I sat at the piano, my feet swinging unable to touch the pedals as I carefully plunked out notes. Devlin’s laugh distracted me from the complicated chords and I looked up to frown at him but he had his cello. With a flick of his fingers he sent me off on a goose chase, trying to keep up with him. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t play the right notes but it didn’t matter since he followed me when I stumbled and made every mistake beautiful. The dream shifted until I played in the moonlight of the darkened music room, the notes perfect and dead. I watched my fingers move effortlessly across the keys, the sound distant, hollow. I let my fingers stop but the music continued, a piano playing the heartbroken chords of moonlight sonata.
I blinked awake in my bed but the song continued, distant, but definitely Beethoven. I jerked my blankets back and threw open my door. I didn’t think; I moved following the ghost of song, a melody that played out the ache inside of my chest. I ran down the stairs and through the hall and stopped at the door across from the room with jars. When I stepped through the door, I could make out the contours of a piano in the corner. It was beautiful— the black reflecting the light from the moon shining through the window, the white keys punctuated with sharps and flats. I was still for a moment feeling the cold that had wrapped around my heart for so long. Devlin had taken away music.
I stepped forward and knocked the bench over with my knees. The rattle as it hit the floor startled me and I reached for a leg to pick it up. Instead the leg came off in my hand, like pulling the leg off of a spider, I thought as I gripped the carved leg in my hand. Devlin had taken away dancing. My hand seemed to rise on its own volition, the leg above my head. I closed my eyes and for a second felt a flicker of the stillness and control I’d caught the first day of knitting, but the thought of Devlin taking away the beauty of music shattered the calm.
There was a crack as I brought the bench leg down on the keyboard. Devlin had taken away color. There was an anguished screech, a sharp crack as the keyboard buckled in the middle. Devlin had taken away my mother, crash, my father, smash, and myself. I kept hitting the piano, the splintered wood flying all around me. I felt the sting as slivers found my skin, my cheek, arm, but I kept smashing, until the leg I’d used was a splintered mess. I grabbed what I could of the former beauty and shoved it with all my strength. The crunch and tinkling as it struck the wall wasn’t enough.
I stood panting needing something else to destroy, grabbing fistfuls of my hair, wanting something to hurt, but I already hurt. The pain inside of me was more than any pain I could ever inflict on anyone or anything. I crumpled to the floor feeling like I’d been beaten up. In the end Devlin hadn’t just taken apart my life, he’d taken himself too. He’d taken the brother I loved and turned him into a monster. Thinking of Devlin as a monster was more than I could bear. I buried my head in my arms and cried until I thought my body was going to shake apart.
Juliann C. Whicker was raised with chickens, goats, and a cow named Mrs. Mooley who everyone (neighbors included) chased down the street in a small college town. She now lives in Southeastern Ohio with her four children, husband, and all the ticks and poison ivy a soul could crave.