Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent Calendar Day 21 - EXCERPT

Today's final excerpt is from The Hell You Say, which is not necessarily what one thinks of as a Christmas romance. :-)  I mean...devil worshippers, for one thing. But still, the holidays are central to this story.

Adrien English isn't really a detective, he's a bookseller and
mystery writer who has a knack for attracting real life mischief and
mayhem -- much to the displeasure of his sexy, sometimes-boyfriend,
closeted homicide detective Jake Riordan.
When bookstore assistant Angus falls afoul of a Satanic cult, Adrien
falls afoul of Jake -- but despite the fact that his amateur
sleuthing is playing hell with his love life, Adrien can't help but
delving into this case of kooks, cults, devil worship, and human

Bam! Bam! Bam!

I nearly dropped the can of salmon I was opening for my supper.

The shop was locked for the evening. That meant my visitor was probably one of two people -- and that didn’t sound like Velvet’s knock.

I set the can on the counter, wiped the fish oil off my hands. I opened the door. Sure enough, Jake stood there. Clearly this wasn’t a social call.

“What the hell do you think you’re playing at?” he said, brushing past me.

I was pretty sure he was not referring to the missing food groups in my evening repast. “Oh, come on,” I said. “Guy was just helping me --”

“Yeah, I know what that faggot Snowden is helping you with. What part of stay the fuck out of it don’t you understand?”

“This doesn’t have anything to do with your investigation,” I said angrily. Which was not true, although as far as I knew, Peter Verlane had not materialized on the cops’ radar so far, so technically I was not trespassing on Jake’s turf.

That’s what I told myself, but it didn’t fly as well with Jake.

“You’re not that stupid,” he said. “Then again, maybe you are. I go to the trouble of lying -- of falsifying police reports -- to keep you out of this shit, and you turn right around and walk back into it.”

My heart slipped into heavy, slow punches against my rib cage. “Give me a break,” I said. “You didn’t lie to protect me. You lied to protect yourself. You never asked me what I wanted. And I sure as hell never made you any promises about what I would or wouldn’t do.”

His finger jabbed the air, punctuating his words. “Stay. Out. Of. It. Or this time, bad heart or not, I will throw your ass in jail.”

“No, you won’t,” I said. “You wouldn’t want to risk anyone discovering the connection between us.”

His face changed, grew ugly, dangerous. “Are you threatening me?”

I hadn’t been, but like an ember in dry grass, a self-destructive impulse flicked to life in my mind.

“My existence threatens you.”

He shoved me back, hard. I crashed into the hall table, knocking it over, smashing the jar of old marbles I had collected. Glass balls skipped and bounced along the corridor. I landed on my back, my head banging down on the hardwood floor.

I lay there for a second, blinking up at the lighting fixture, taking in the years of dust and dead moths gathered in the etched-glass globe. The silence that followed was more startling than the collision of me and the table and the floor. I heard Jake’s harsh breathing and a marble rolling away down the hall -- which seemed pretty damned appropriate, since I’d apparently lost all of mine.

He bent over me. Probably safer to stay submissively on my back, but I got up fast, knocking his hands away. It was a protective instinct and maybe not a wise one. I hadn’t had time to inventory what, if any real damage, I’d sustained.

Weirdly, neither of us spoke. There was plenty to say, but no words.

Jake stared at me. In his eyes, I read the urge to knock me down again, to punch, to kick, to silence, to destroy. His hands were clenched by his side. I felt light-headed with anger and outrage -- and yeah, maybe a little fear. He could probably kill me by accident. My heart was tripping in my throat.

I was afraid if I tried to speak I would cry. From rage.

He swallowed once, dryly. He looked sick.

“I won’t tell you again. Stay out of it.”

He went, shutting the door quietly behind him
Ah...those holiday memories! Jake and Adrien have a Christmas coda right here.

Today's giveaway is the full set of Adrien English audio books to one lucky listener/commenter. You can also gift this set to someone else.


  1. Interesting choice. I do the end of the Adrien and Jake Saga, we see Jake lose his home, family, career and chooses to rebuild his life and let go of the idea of becoming a father. Did he want kids because he saw that as the "normal" thing to do or because he really wanted to be a father? Like if Adrien had gone along with the idea, would they have tried to have kids? My question is...did Adrien give up idea of what he wanted in a partner and in life because of his relationship with Jake?

  2. I think this is one of the most anguishing scenes of the books. I loathed Jake at this moment. And that's a lot to say because I've always defended Jake in the books. But here he is full of rage and insecurities and feelings he does not understand (and probably does not want to feel either... I do think he lied because he wanted to protect Adrien), and he pours it all on Adrien... It is the breaking point in their relationship and nothing is going to be the same afterwards... My poor boys...

  3. Adrien & Jake. They did have a winding road to their eventual HEA. And what an agonizing scene you chose. At the time I didn't see how they could come back from this. But you did get them and us there. A brilliant ride throughout the series! Thank you for it all, Josh.

  4. Aww. Adrien & Jake. They really did it for me, that is you did :-). I loved their story so much. I don't re-read much (or at all) but they are my exception that confirms the rule. And I appreciated their appearance in The Boy. What moved me was how Jake is still so protective over his boyfriend who is so eager to get his nose into one more non-of-his-business kind of thing (Kit's story at the restaurant). The way Jake put his arm over Adrian's seat warning off Kit no to mess with what they have (which is Jake and Adiren without a dead body around LOL). I hope you'll visit them again, Josh. As for the audiobooks, I have all five, so I'm out of the race here ;-).


  5. This has to be one of the most gut wrenching scenes in the whole series. Oh how I hated and felt so sorry for Jake at the same time.

  6. I've never seen that cover before! It's sort of more approprite for this volume in the series.

    This is one of those scenes that make me fall in love all over again with your writing. It's just so raw and painful sometimes, but so realistic and true, that it's hard not to relate to.

    Another telling scene in this book is when Adrien goes off to get a haircut. What slips out of his mouth is so endearing, I always make a sad face when I read it.

    Off to re-read the books now. :')

  7. You know how many of the readers hated Jake almost to the end of the series? I've never hated him. I understood him, felt sorry for him (and Adrien), wanted to hug or beat some sence in him. Never hated him. I cheered for Jake from the start and was afraid if there will be a happy end for him and Adrien. At last they made it.

  8. It was a year between my getting A Dangerous Thing and The Hell You Say. I saw in the blurb that things weren't going well for my boys and I didn't think I couldn't handle the pain. But I finally broke down and OMG I had no idea you were planning on using the brass knuckles!!! Poor Adrien! And yes, poor Jake. Needless to say, there was no waiting after finishing this book for grabbing the last two.
    Love these guys, so glad they got their HEA, and was great to see them in TBWTPT. I also love their coda. :-)
    Dang, I need to go hug the SO now.

  9. This scene was so heartbreaking. I cried the first time I read it. The line about the marble rolling down the hallway always sticks in my mind.

  10. Ah, Jake and Adrien! Such a conflicted, repressed man our Jake! Adrien always serves to wind him up so much. Loved the series!

  11. What an emotionally fraught scene! Loved the coda.

  12. This book has the best opening paragraph ever!

  13. This scene just guts me every time I read it or listen. It's such a gift to be able to write such scenes that evoke such strong emotions. *sigh* I love Jake and Adrien. (See...that's a happy strong emotion. :-D (BTW, I have all the audio books, so please do not enter me into today's drawing.)

  14. This is my first time to read, exactly. I read 『the hell you say』translated into Japanese. It feel like little more simpler, powerfully, in English.

    The scene that marbles rolled was like the movie. Fury and silence, and barely acceptable violence. This was very impressive.

    Anyway, I love all of Adrien & Jake series. Thank you!