In each book I write, I have a scene that kills me, that are emotionally draining and usually the easiest for me to write. I have certain scenes that particularly pluck a heartstring: the death of any character (I don’t know how Joss Whedon does it, except with a lot of tissues) and big heart-to-hearts with best friends that are close enough to be sisters. I don’t have a sister and the relationship between Violet Jordan, shapeshifter extraordinaire, and Jessa Feychild, fairy princess, are the closest thing that I can imagine to having a sister that you didn’t particularly ask for but got anyway.
In the previous books in the Diaries series, Violet and Jessa were tested by fire, and they both came out as very powerful women. As Violet is slowly taking over the Dallas pack, Jessa is learning about her own place as the Warden of the Neveranth, a title that she refused to take until Violet showed her that she wouldn’t have to do it alone.
So writing the interaction between the two sisters/friends is always fun, but always pulls at a part of me.
I shook my head. Pronouns were getting in the way again. I had chosen to block it out because I’m not strong enough to make that choice right now, to end a being’s life, mercifully or not.
A knock echoed through the bathroom. “Still in there?” Jessa asked.
“Still standing.” Barely.
“Hurry up. The Cleaners want us out of here.”
I hurried as best I could. I dried off with Tucker’s shirt and pulled out my emergency cat suit. Jessa’s gift to me: a black velour track suit from Bebe, magically charmed to shift with me. The stretchy material softened the aches and pains.
She opened the door as I was brushing my teeth.
“Tucker filled me in on what happened. You really think those things are Wanderers?”
I nodded, then spit and rinsed. “I do.”
“Was Spencer involved?”
A nervous laugh bubbled out of me as I put my toothbrush back in my bag. Hot tears welled up in my eyes and I sat on the sink and looked at her.
“Whoa, Vi.” Jessa jumped and came into the bathroom, shutting the door quickly behind her.
“I know he’s involved somehow. Antagonists just don’t fall out of the story, Jessa. They always come back. He’s behind this, and if I don’t find out soon, I’m four pack members down and might not make it out myself.”
“Hey,” she rubbed my arm. “Haven’t seen defeatist Violet in a while. I was just getting used to kick-ass Violet. Where’d she go?”
“She hasn’t slept in five, six days, hasn’t eaten in two, and woke up naked in front of Tucker.”
“Is this one of those pep talk moments? Tucker’s pretty good at those.”
“Been getting private pep talks?”
I said it quickly, as a joke, but a flush ran through Jessa like I’d never seen before. There was a sprinkle of roses and raindrops in the air around me and a bright lavender twinkle in her eye.
Jessa pulled her hand away from my arm and pressed herself against the bathroom wall. The smell of roses faded away but the lavender twinkle didn’t. “We just talk.”
“Are we talking business or more like what’s your favorite Italian dinner and can I buy it for you sometime?”
“No. Just talk. About pack stuff and magic and maybe about music.”
My jaw dropped. “You and Tucker?”
“There is no me and Tucker. We just talk. And he might have gone on a few patrols with me when you were busy.”
“Oh my God, Jessa.” I smiled all the way down to my aching toes. “That’s great.”
“There’s nothing to be great. He helps me keep you sane and he’s a gentleman and …” Jessa dropped her face into her hands. “I sound stupid, don’t I?”
“No. You sound like a girl with a crush.”
She looked up at me and her little face hardened. “You will not make fun of this, Violet.”
“I’m serious. No dog jokes, no ‘has he shown you his gun,’ and so help me God, if you make a ‘getting tail’ joke, I will shove you into the Neveranth myself.”
She was serious. It was more than her idle threats. There was something that fluttered in her energy. Something light and hopeful. And so help me, I was not going to be the thing that squashed it.
“I promise,” I said softly and I reached out my hand to her.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from Nine Lives of an Urban Panther. And I’ll leave you with one final question: Have you hugged your best friend lately?
With new supernatural creatures popping up at every turn (Ghouls? Really?), the city divided, nd my long-lost cousin blazing into town, I’ve got a lot on my mind. Oh, not to mention I’m supposed to be planning a wedding. Chaz has got to be the best, most patient (and probably clinically insane) fiancÉ around.
But defeating my sworn enemy in a battle for the souls of Dallas is going to require more than just my full attention. It means learning to depend on everyone—especially Chaz—if any of us are going to make it out of this alive. Because if Plan A doesn’t work, I’m going to need them for Plan B. And Plan C…
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