Today, I have invited Sharon Bayliss to my site as part of her blog tour for The December People, Winter Celebration! Don't you just love the covers for this series? I think they look fantastic!
Watch Me Burn, is the second book in this series and has now been released on Amazon. You will find the link at the end of this post. There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter as well to win paperbacks of either Book 1, Destruction or Book 2, Watch Me Burn.
Sharon has treated us with an unpublished scene from Destruction for this post and reveals an sight of what Watch Me Burn is about.
I hope you enjoy her post.
I'm excited to share an unpublished scene from Destruction that was cut for pacing! In this scene, David is visiting the Colter's home to collect some of his children's things before he picks them up at the shelter.
With his heart beating on overdrive, he opened the door. He saw nothing he couldn't handle. The main area housed the living room, kitchen, and three other doors leading to other rooms. Maybe two bedrooms and a bathroom. A reasonably normal house. Clutter littered the surfaces and the room smelled like dirty laundry, but no Hoarders horror story. Of course the crack that went from floor to ceiling made it stranger. He saw no couch or TV, only a dining chair, a folding chair, and a zebra print beanbag chair. He saw books in little piles, some for children. A good sign. David hoped this meant the kids could read. He couldn't imagine the bookworm Crystal not teaching her children to read.
Nothing offended his regular senses much, but he got a dark feeling from the place all the same. He didn't believe in ghosts, but he did believe places could be haunted. He had spent the night at a haunted hotel with Crystal once a long time ago…her idea of a romantic getaway. He could feel it then. They didn't see ghosts or hear dragging chains but the air felt denser there. This house felt haunted like that. He hated breathing the air. The thought that the same air that had occupied the room when Colter raped his kids, now flowed into his lungs repelled him more than any odor.
He opened one of the doors and flinched like he might find a room full of snakes. No. He found a bedroom. Nothing strange here. A bed. A chest of drawers. He guessed this room had been Crystal's. Or, the room she shared with him. David saw men's shoes on the floor. Well-worn hiking boots. They might as well have been snakes. Some beautiful things also filled the room. Crystal's shoes, purple ballet flats with little rhinestones on the straps. More rocks, some of which did look magic. Someone had lined rocks along the windowsill where they could catch the light. Quartz, translucent and colorful, mostly pink, but a few even had shades of green and purple. Had Crystal collected these herself, or perhaps her children had given them to her? He swept them off the windowsill into his bag.
He went to the dresser next, a goldmine of Crystal artifacts. The Koran. The Bible. He took them. Some well-used make up. A bottle of lotion. He opened the bottle and sniffed. Unscented. Disappointing. He rubbed some on his hands anyway. He opened an engraved wooden box. Jewelry. He examined the pieces inside and his heart sank. He didn't recognize any of them. She must have tossed everything he had given her.
Many years ago, he gave her a platinum ring set with an opal accented by small diamonds. She had said it looked like an engagement ring and wouldn't take it, said she had no interest in polygamy. He told her he just thought she would like it. So, she agreed to wear it.
That happened right after she gave birth to Xavier and David went "across the country selling flooring to contractors for three weeks," his code for driving two hours to Austin to be there when Crystal gave birth to his son. In truth, he did mean it as a wedding ring. He wanted a symbol. Something to mean that even though he couldn't marry her, he loved her…she was his. She probably tossed it over a bridge.
He picked up a wooden brush and pulled out some of her hair and ran it between his fingers. Pain swelled in his chest and settled in a hard knot right under his sternum. He had grieved for her when he found out. He had laid awake, feeling unsettled, wondering if his pillow had always felt so uncomfortable. But, the grief felt distant. The grief you feel for something you already lost.
As he held her hair, a sob burst from him suddenly, like a sneeze. He thought about the little dimples on her lower back. He thought about her hands, slender, and tan, and weighed down with rings. She accessorized like a Wiccan Christmas tree. Bracelets, rings, necklaces, scarves, hats, flowers clipped into her hair, tattoos, henna, belly button ring. She tried to distract everyone with flash and bangles so no one would really look at her. David may have been the only one who saw past it. When they were together, she tried to cover up her smile, like a serious character in an SNL sketch trying to keep from cracking up. She didn't want him to know he made her happy.
He smelled the strands of hair hoping for a whiff of the sandalwood, or maybe clove cigarettes, or chamomile tea, or lavender incense. Nothing. Her smell had faded.
He wrapped the hair back around the bristles of the brush and put it in his bag. He also took her box of jewelry. He had an urge to take everything she might have ever touched, but he suppressed it. He had touched these things too.
David went into the other bedroom. Two single beds on either side. More books. Even more rocks. And something amazing. Sculptures made of stacked rocks. Someone had collected hundreds of rocks of various shapes and colors and used them to build things. A house. A car. Some kind of animal, a fox maybe. A bird. He couldn't tell if any glue had been used. He didn't see any tubes of it anywhere. But, if glue hadn't been used, these sculptures bordered on impossible. Someone had balanced the rocks perfectly to stay together, a feat of engineering far beyond his grasp. He grabbed the bird. The rocks fell into a chaotic pile as soon as he touched it. He hoped he had found Xavier's hobby, perhaps he liked to build things like his father.
The doll Crackers sat on one of the beds. He put her in the bag. And, with a groan of disgust, he pulled a shoebox out from under the bed and peeked inside to make sure it included a lizard skeleton. It did. He moved her pillow and found one magic rock. He put it in the palm of his hand. Evangeline had chosen a fine rock, perfectly smooth and shaped in an even oval. It had an indentation in the middle the size of a small fingerprint. He put his finger on the indentation and wondered if Evangeline had rubbed that spot enough times to make the little dent. A stack of papers sat at the foot of her bed. Apparently, Evangeline inherited her mother's artistic skill. She had hundreds of sketches made with a fountain tip pen. A javelina with wings. A bobcat with wings. A lizard wearing a boa. A barren desert tree with fruit shaped like eyes. He took the stack.
He had what he came for and didn't want to push his luck and find anything he didn't want to see. The sun set in the way it only can in West Texas. The few clouds in the sky burned orange. The whole sky lit up like a grassfire that had jumped the horizon. He stood on the porch and glanced at the western horizon. Then he saw the patch of black.
Not far from the house, a burned spot on the ground hovered in his vision. He knew he should just walk to the car, but once he'd seen it, he couldn't keep his eyes off of it. It sucked him in like a tractor beam. He kneeled next to the black spot. The police had cleared away the area. David saw some partially burned sticks tossed to the side and scattered around the ground. Even most of the ash had blown away.
He ran his hand over the black spot of earth until black ash covered his palms. He didn't know why he did it. He seemed to watch himself from above, not in control of the man below. He closed his eyes. The ground still felt hot. A silly thought. Weeks had passed.
She had no real family and probably would have no funeral. No monument. He wouldn't closer than this to visiting her grave.
His throat became stiff when he said her name. He took a deep breath.
"How could you let this happen to our kids? Why didn't you take them and leave? How could you be so weak? That's not you."
He pressed his hand into the ground so hard that pebbles dug into his skin. If she would never have a better eulogy, he should say something kinder. He didn't know how furious he felt until he spoke the words aloud.
"I'm going to take our kids home with me. I hope that's okay."
He wiped a bead of sweat from his temple and left an ashy smudge across the side of his face. He wiped the rest of her off on his jeans.
Sharon Bayliss is the author of the dark wizard family drama, The December People Series. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.
Semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review Awards and #1 category bestseller in coming of age fantasy.
David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything.
Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.
Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.
Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.
Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.
About Watch Me Burn:
David Vandergraff lost his home, his job, and contact with his oldest son, but remains determined to be a good husband and father despite being a dark winter wizard.
His resolve is tested when a flyer for a missing girl--who happens to be a summer witch--begins to haunt him. David believes a spell needs to use him to save her, so he follows the magic's command and looks into her disappearance. His teenage daughter Emmy resents him for caring so much about a random stranger. But when she uncovers some disturbing evidence close to home, she begins an investigation of her own.
David and Emmy quickly learn that the mystery is not only about a missing girl they barely know, but a deeply personal story that impacts everyone they care about. As their world crumbles, they fear the warning may be true—never mess with summer wizards, because the good guys always win.