I don't know if you all know this, but I wrote this book called Behind the Wooden Door, and Nikki, author of the Drenaline Surf series and Saturn series, says it's the best book I've ever written. That's really saying something seeing as she loves Mutilated Arteries. So, I decided to let you guys have a look at who Tristan and Lanie from Behind the Wooden Door are. Enjoy!
The grass is cold against the exposed skin of my back. Frogs and crickets harmonize in the night air of the garden as I stare up at the bright stars. I replay the dream in my head for the ninth time. I’ve seen that door before, but where? Everything about it feels so familiar. The dark peeling wood. The arched shape. The large, rusted iron hinges. It’s like trying to reignite a dying ember.
A stick snaps somewhere to my left. I jolt upward and scan the garden. I can feel someone’s eyes on me in the shadows. My breath comes out quickly as I exhale into the night.
“Who’s there?” I call out.
It’s silent for a moment before my observer walks out of the shadows.
“It’s just me,” Tristan says with his hands up like he’s surrendering a battle.
Curse this stupid heart of mine for beating so quickly. And for no reason at all. He’s just a soldier. Just a soldier. A blood lusting killer. Maybe that’s why my heart is acting so odd. Stop lying to yourself, Lanie. You know you’re not afraid.
“Hawk said you needed to talk to me,” he says.
He walks the distance between us and hesitates before he sits down beside me. He made Hawk keep me away, and now he willingly comes to see me. That was a lot of trouble just to find me later. I stare at his shadow and try to rid my mind of the image of the cloaked figure from my dream.
“Why have you been avoiding me?” I ask.
Don’t look at him, Lanie. He’ll think you actually care.
“I haven’t been avoiding you,” he lies. “I’ve just been busy.”
“With what?” I inquire.
He runs his fingers through his hair and falls back onto the ground with a loud sigh. His chest rises and falls slowly, and he wets his lips with his tongue. I look away from him and up at the night sky.
“What have you been busy with?” I repeat.
“Why does it matter to you?” he snaps. “Nothing I do should matter to you, Princess. Hell, I’m trying to fight a war, and I didn’t even get to lead my soldiers into battle because…”
He growls in frustration and focuses his attention on the stars. I bite down on my bottom lip and consider what he said. He’s right. It shouldn’t matter to me what he does. But it does matter. It matters a lot.
I fall back beside him.
“How’s your shoulder?” I ask.
He sighs and looks over at me. “It’s fine. Thanks for giving my brother a near heart-attack by the way.”
“You’re welcome,” I say sarcastically. “I just figured he knew already.”
Tristan hums in response, and then he gives a small laugh.
“Bretildon would be right above your castle,” he says.
“What’s Bretildon?” I ask.
He looks at me with his eyebrows drawn together.
“Constellation,” he replies. “Bretildon is said to be the god of war, hate, and lust.” He points to the sky. “That’s him.”
Bretildon was right to stand over my castle. There’s plenty of war and hate here. But lust?
“Where?” I ask.
I don’t want to think about lust.
Tristan grabs my wrist and lifts my arm up. The warmth of his skin is a nice contrast to the night air, but it makes my skin tingle. Tristan straightens my index finger and directs my hand to the war god. The constellation doesn’t look like a god, though. Unless Bretildon is shaped like a seagull.
Tristan’s hand lingers on mine.
His jaw tightens when I address him, but he makes no action to respond.
He drops my hand, and it falls lifeless to my side.
“Are we on first name basis now?” He sounds nervous when he speaks.
I roll over onto my side and stare down at him. He’s acting odd. He turns his head the other way, so he doesn’t have to look at me.
“Not avoiding me, huh?” I say. “You won’t even look at me.”
He pushes himself up and stands, but he doesn’t go anywhere. He looks around the garden like it will miraculously tell him what to say to me. I hate to tell him, but the garden doesn’t speak. It never does when I ask for help.
“Tristan, look at me,” I say, standing.
He doesn’t move. He keeps his eyes on the rotten pears that hang from the nearest tree.
“Dammit, Tristan! Look at me!”
He faces me with a look full of anger. He opens his mouth, to yell at me more than likely, but I don’t give him the chance.
When an army of soldiers marches through her castle doors, Princess Lanie is plagued with thoughts of blood, death, and sorrow. War is something she never fathomed happening in her lifetime. Falling in love with the army's commander, Tristan, wasn't part of the plan either. He's smart-mouthed, arrogant, and everything her tyrant father would disapprove of. After all, Tristan's place is on the battlefield, not a throne.
After the kingdom's fortune teller predicts a deadly outcome, Lanie knows her secret romance is an execution waiting to happen. She has to do something - fast - because the war path has redirected toward her.