Magic Bled Like an Open Wound Into Every Aspect of Sage's Life. #AgentsofASSET

Less than 30 days to the release of book 2. I think it is definitely time for another sneak peek.

A Taste of Your Own Magic
Agents of A.S.S.E.T. Book 2

Sample Chapter 3

Game night was supposed to be fun. Unfortunately, no one sitting around the small table in her kitchen had gotten that memo. Rage simmered below the congenial smiles, passing like an infectious disease with the rotation of the dice. Barely nine o’clock, and all the temper tantrums and interruptions had worn Sage’s nerves as thin as the cards she held in her hand.
Dice clattered against wood.
Mournful howls followed.
Another defeat.
Outside her tiny kitchen window, silence beckoned; still and calm. Not even a breeze dared disturb the sleeping trees. A picture perfect summer evening, just beyond her reach; peace that sharply contrasted with the raised voices and empty threats flying around the room where Sage sat waiting for her turn to enter the fray.
 “You’re stunned for two rounds, Matt,” Josh called from behind his Game Master’s divider. “Or wait. Hold on a moment. Do you remember the number on the red die?”
It shouldn’t take a degree in calculus to figure out if a player failed an attempted attack, but this wasn’t their normal dungeon crawl.
Julie had already scooped up the dice to take her turn, a blessing in disguise that prevented any further argument over what number the die had landed on.
“Forget it. I’m stunned. Let’s just keep going.” Matt’s tone carried a raw edge that failed to mask the annoyance he’d been desperate to hide. He was more than partially to blame for subjecting them all to this hellish fantasy land. His boyfriend Josh had command of their fate as Game Master. Matt could have taken one for the team and said no when Josh demanded they all play his new game. But love makes people do stupid things.
Coward. Sage groaned and sank lower in her chair, wishing she possessed the magic to melt into a puddle under the table and slither away. If only. Magic or not, her turn to roll the dice would come soon enough. Death might be her only way out.
Julie took her turn, whooping and cheering as she successfully snuck past the Black Mage.
The dice landed like a judge’s gavel in front of Sage. If she played her cards right, she might be pardoned. She took her deck in hand, spotting a winning combination, and a smile etched its way across her face. Luck, at least for the moment, had chosen to be on her side.
“It’s hero time!” She laid her playable cards on the table before taking her roll. “Does the Black Mage have any last words?”
“You can’t use those!” Josh pounced with the speed of a cat before the dice hit wood.
She ground her teeth audibly while Josh scrutinized her cards.
“You need Divine Aura to protect you against the Mage’s attack.” He shoved the cards back toward her.
“I have magic immunity in my abilities.” Her temper on a hair trigger, Sage teetered on the edge of a self-destructive rage quit that might end game night forever. If he would just let her use the cards she’d chosen…. But no, another damn interruption. Another look at the rule book. At this rate they’d all die of natural causes before reaching the main boss.
“No one has immunity to magic.” The moment the words left his lips, Josh ducked behind the flimsy shield of his Game Masters folder. It wouldn’t protect him from the angry mob staring at the top of his head. Sage might have been his latest target, but she was far from his first. All the others around the table were shooting murderous glares his way. Nearly every turn had necessitated the same pause to check rules. The Game Master controlled the fates of everyone around the table, but clearly Josh hadn’t bothered to study before subjecting them to this indie dungeon crawler; a game that hadn’t passed the crowd-funding phase of production.
“Magical immunity is an innate ability,” Sage argued, slamming her remaining cards down on the table. “I don’t need to use Divine Aura if my character already has a natural defense.”
“Who has magical immunity?” Matt cut in sharply, targeting Sage with his anger. “Where does it say that on your character sheet?” His words were more accusing than inquisitive, and as soon as Sage realized what he’d implied, embarrassment replaced the rage she’d been ready to unleash. Confusing fantasy and reality, she’d nearly let her secret slip.
Among all those she counted on as friends, Matt alone knew that Sage was part of a magical lineage as old as time itself. The Terras had once been members of the three magical races, but when the Great Mother chose them to be her soldiers - and guardians of magical law - their active powers had been exchanged for innate magical immunity.
Short of the gods themselves coming to strike her down, Sage felt certain she would never need to fear a Shadowrunner’s deadly mist or an arc of conjured lightning from an Ethereal Pixie. Fae, Otherkin, Fair Folk–whatever name they chose to go by–none could harm her with their power. But, just like in the rule-books of the games she played, there must always be balance.
Sage’s gift negated any magic she might hope to conjure for either good or evil. Characters can never be too powerful.
Had she been raised to know all of this, keeping the secret wouldn’t be an issue. But Sage had only recently learned about her special lineage: an inheritance passed down with the death of her mother.
All at once, magic bled like an open wound into every aspect of her life, and with the veil lifted, she saw the truth of what lurked in the shadows and peeked behind the masks magical creatures wore. A crash course that left Sage’s head spinning as she questioned everything she’d ever known.
She opened her mouth to reply to Matt, but no words came. What explanation could she give him or the others now glaring at her? Interruption number…whatever. Her fault.
Josh lifted his head behind the shield of his GM folder, impatience etching deep lines across his forehead.
Awkward silence hung like a fog in the air. Her mind had gone blank.
“I… uh…” Sage had no explanation for her near slip as she gave up the pretense of searching her character sheet. “I guess I didn’t add that. Whoops.”
Julie pushed back from the table. Her chair scraped across the floor like nails on a chalkboard drawing attention away from Sage. “Since we’re on a break – again – anyone want a beer?” Julie helped herself to one from the fridge.
Matt’s annoyance deflated into exhaustion. Sage could see it in his eyes – the desperate pleading for the game to either start going somewhere or just end completely. “Cheating isn’t going to get us through this raid.” He held a red die in his hand. “Divine Aura. Throw down the spell and roll for it.”
Sage pulled the card from her stack and laid it on the hand-drawn map next to her character token. She rolled the twenty-sided die and closed her eyes, praying for a ten or better.
“Two,” Josh called from behind his GM folder.
“Dammit!” Sage yelled.
“Your shield spell failed.” Josh pulled up a page as he rolled his own blue die. “And I rolled eleven, so it looks like… you’re dead.”

Book 1             Book 2

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The Origins of Captain Trainwreck! #AgentsofASSET #Free #SampleChapter

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Sample Chapter 2

Sage fell into a fighting stance. “I’m a superhero now, remember?” Even when she didn’t have training scheduled, there was always a chance Devon would try to teach her a lesson. “I can handle anything!”
“Oh, that’s right. How silly of me.” Devon's eyes narrowed, and Sage knew she was in for it. “Faster than a failed autocorrect text.” He ducked down to sweep her legs.
She had been ready for his attack and moved just in time, but kept her eyes on target, knowing there would be more. It took all she had not to laugh at his playful taunts. Devon could be pretty witty off the cuff when he wanted.
“More powerful than an internet meme!” His fist went flying again.
Sage blocked, but the impact sent her stumbling backwards. It took her a moment to regain her balance, and as she did, he launched into another round of attacks. He punched high; she blocked. He kicked round; she dodged. They danced the dance of war for a few moments until Sage executed a beautiful take down that sent her confidence soaring.
“Able to kick massive booty after a single shot of espresso.” She laughed, and reached a hand out to help Devon up.
“Nicely done, Captain Trainwreck. But don’t get cocky, kid. Your skills are improving.” He chuckled. “But before you get out there and face the big baddies on the streets, you have to do it right. Swear in and sign on the dotted line. Have the backing of the Agency with you.”
“Why does that sound like a trap?”
Devon glared at her, all but calling her a drama queen with his eyes. “No one is twisting your arm.”
“But you’re happy to break it, I see,” she replied.
He shrugged. “You’ll heal.”
“This place better have good health insurance. Sounds like I’ll need it.”
“You’re a Terra.” Devon crossed his arms as if that were all that needed to be said.
The tender skin at her neck said otherwise, but there was no use arguing that point. “So what’s my new training schedule looking like?”
“I’m going to put you on a daily regimen. When you’re not training with me, I want you in the weight room, working those muscle groups. You need to get some strength into those string beans you call arms.”
“Whatever. As long as I get to wear the cape!” Sage took the edges of it in her hand and flapped like a bird before wrapping herself up like a bat.
Grey cleared his throat.
She’d been so caught up with Devon she hadn’t even heard his footsteps in the hallway. How long had he been standing there listening to their conversation?
“What the hell is this idiocy?” Grey sounded like he was on the verge of laughter, but his face  retained the stony mask of indifference.
Sage twirled, fanning out the edges of the cape as she rounded to face him. “A superhero has to accessorize!”
Caught somewhere between a scowl and a laugh, Grey’s face hadn’t committed to either look, leaving him with an expression that ruined any serious words he might have spoken next. Before he could summon his voice, Sage lifted her head and strolled proudly across the room to meet him.
“If I’m going to pledge my allegiance to the order, they need to know who they’re getting as an agent.” She sauntered into the hallway.
“And so begins the glorious career of Captain Trainwreck.” Devon’s laughter echoed behind her.
“Great songs will be sung of my adventures. Mark my words.” Tears burned in her eyes as she fought to keep a straight face. With her head held high, she marched onward to victory.
“Sage…” Grey called out behind her.
Mr. Wet Blanket had to have the last word. Sage turned on her heel and shot him a look that could rival even Ava’s icy glare. “Don’t spoil this for me. I’m having a moment!”
“Okay.” He all but doubled over, hyperventilating as he gasped for air between snorts of laughter. “But can you have your moment over there?” Grey pointed as he fought to catch his breath. “Ava’s office is the other way.”
He was right, of course, but no way in hell was she giving up the high ground. She wheeled around and cat-walked down the opposite side of the hallway like a diva in a fashion show. She gave a little flap of her cape as she passed Grey. Overconfidence was better than letting him feel he’d taken the wind from her sails.
Grey clapped slowly. Sage could almost hear the sarcasm in each slap of his palms. “Are you planning to take any of this seriously?”
She wasn’t about to answer that baited question. Joking aside, this was the hardest thing she’d ever thought to do – signing over her partially immortal life in service to ASSET.

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A Taste of Your Own Magic 
Sample Chapter.

Zack launched himself forward with impossible speed, closing the gap between them before she could register the movement. His hand found her mouth, preventing her shocked gasp from escaping. Zack stood nose-to-nose with her, so close she could feel the heat from his breath. “Sweet girl. So na├»ve to the dangers surrounding you; innocent to the true nature of the world.” His eyes grew darker, choking out all of the color that gave them their unnatural beauty. All predator, ready to strike, he pinned her against the apartment door. “Words lose their meaning with creatures like you. Headstrong. Impulsive... The only thing you learn from is failure.” The timbre of his voice deepened; his breathing slowed to a determined rhythm of raw desire. “A tempting target, giftwrapped for anyone willing to snatch you up.”
Zack let his hand fall from her mouth but kept her pinned to the door with his body. Close as he was, his eyes weren’t the only thing Sage focused on.
Those teeth.
Sharp as daggers. She’d experienced the sting of a vampire’s fangs once before, and that memory made her scars itch. “You’re acting like a real jerk right now, Zack.”
“I know.” He flashed those teeth at her again. “And don’t think I can’t hear how excited it makes you. Admit it. You’re more than a little turned on right now.”
A knot formed in her throat. She swallowed hard, forcing it down so she could speak. “Excited is not the word I would have chosen.” Her voice cracked, betraying the panic she was so desperate to hide. This wasn’t the Zack she knew; he’d morphed into something dangerous, and she couldn’t tell how real his threats were.
“Pick a word then,” he taunted. “Make it a good one.”
“Stop.” She pushed against him, but found his body an immovable wall. “You’re creeping me out.”
“Fear, is it?” Zack laughed coldly. “Good. You should be afraid. Most don’t survive being bitten.” His breath blew against her skin, surprisingly warm, but the effect chilled her blood.
“The last one who bit me didn’t survive.” She attempted again to mask the tremble of her voice with the threat.
“Grey, your great protector, was there to save the day. Where is he now?” Zack’s words struck her like a slap to the face, but before she could respond, he bent his head to the crook of her neck.
She cringed, expecting pain that did not come.
“I could have you right now.” Zack’s lips hovered, tantalizingly close to her throbbing pulse. He inhaled slowly as if savoring every note of her scent. “But the real question is, could you” – He lifted his head and met her eyes once more – “would you try and stop me?”
Zack’s words implied so much more than a simple threat. …. She couldn’t let that happen. But, being pinned against the door severely limited her options. Sage scrambled for the right words to stall long enough to find a way out. “I thought Terras were an acquired taste?” She reached down, toward her pocket.
Before she could dig for the knife she kept folded there, his knee came up, forcing her legs apart, and he growled possessively in her ear.
“One taste of you was such a tease. I need more.”
More than just a bad boy, Zack was pure sin wrapped in a taut body with maybe centuries of experience. A very small part of her, welcomed the excitement, but self-preservation trumped desire. “Get used to disappointment!”
He nuzzled her neck and pecked a kiss at her racing pulse. “Don’t pretend you aren’t thinking about it. I can smell your arousal. I can see the way you look at me.”
Her legs nearly went out from under her.

“You’re going to get yourself killed. I would be disappointed if someone else got to the prize before me.” Zack pulled back enough to meet her eyes again. “Rather than fall victim to the wrong sort,” he whispered, “let me have you.”

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