Fantastic Fables continues today with Karina Cooper. Karina has a new novella in her Dark Mission series, Wicked Lies, is available now in ebook. A paperback version will be available on April 9, 2013. Enjoy Karina’s story below!
Sleeping Techie: Braving the Thorns
Danny Granger adjusted the fit of the welding goggles over his eyes, his gaze intent not on the wizened figure beside him, but on the single tower surrounded by a wild mesh of thorny vines. Peppering the seething, tangled obstacle, roses bloomed like crimson drops of blood. “I don’t understand,” he said, his mouth drawn into a puzzled frown. “You say that the vines are his self-esteem and the gates are his secrets, keeping himself protected. But what are the roses for?”
The hobbled figure shrugged beneath her worn brown jacket, her iron-gray hair picking up glints of light from the sky above them. Neon stars glittered far as the eye could see. “They represent his cheerful disposition, Your Highness.”
“Roses are vibrant and alive. Even if they’re usually hiding thorns, people rarely look beyond the bloom. Beneath the pretty mask of cheer, his thorns keep interlopers from looking too deep.”
That made a whole lot of sense. Way more than he was comfortable with. Danny flexed his fingers in the thick leather gloves the stern fairy woman had given him, glowering now at the obstacles covering the ground between him and that sparkling glass tower. At the top, a golden statue of a man held his arms wide—St. Dominic, the patron saint of the Holy Order’s crusade. The perfect guardian for this mess.
“And Jonas is in the center, right?”
The woman looked up, scratching the loose skin at her throat. “He’s in there, but Your Highness—”
“Nope.” Danny bent, hoisted up the shiny silver flamethrower she’d conjured from thin air. Not cheaply, either. He’d be paying through the nose for the next year—something told him that simple chores wouldn’t cover the debt. Of course, he’d bend all his charm to the task. “Unless the next words out of your mouth are wishing me luck, I don’t want to hear it. Jonas Stone is in that glass tower and I’m going to get him out.”
Why, indeed? Because no evil force in this world should keep a good man down. Because it wasn’t fair that the Order should bury a man like Jonas in its impenetrable glass tower.
Because there was a shining, crystal clear voice telling him that men like Jonas Stone didn’t come around very often, and no Prince worth the gold on his throne should let something like that pass.
“Because,” he said, finger hovering over the switch. “No one else may get it, but I want to.”
“And if he doesn’t thank you?”
A risk he’d be willing to take. Danny shrugged. “As long as he knows someone out here loves him. The real him.” Anything else would have to wait, because he wasn’t going to go into this thinking of failure. Jonas deserved better.
The old woman grunted. “Good luck, Your Highness.”
“Right answer,” he said, grinning now as he depressed the switch. The apparatus in his hands leapt into smooth operation, purring like a contented beast, and heat trickled from the fist-sized hole in its mouth. It was no Excalibur, but he’d take it over a rusty old blade any day.
She didn’t come with him. He didn’t expect her to. She’d done her part.
The cement beneath his feet crunched, gritty and cold, as he approached the first layer of the protective shield. “Hang on, Jonas.” Another switch, a spurt of wicked orange flame, and the foliage melted away. Studious application, that’s all he needed to remember. Gentle pressure.
Behind him, the old woman drew out a gnarled old wand and tapped it, conductor style, against her palm. Sparks flew. “Calling all wings,” she said, satisfaction thick in her gravelly voice. “Be ready to move. Prince Charming’s on the way.”
After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romances, steampunk adventures, crossover urban fantasy, and writes across multiple genres with mad glee. Her steampunk series, The St. Croix Chronicles, has been nominated for the Romantic Times Awards and for an RT Seal of Excellence.
One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks.
Want to read more from Karina Cooper?
Available March 5, 2013 from Avon Impulse
About this Book:
In this Dark Mission novella, Jonas Stone emerges from the shadows into his own story, and finally allows himself to have the same shot at love he’s given his friends.
Jonas Stone has been given his first independent operation: rescue the insurrection leader’s imprisoned grandson from the Mission. Getting the job done means more than getting Danny Granger out–it means staying with him while he heals. Staying too close, for way too long.
Danny is everything Jonas isn’t: confident, optimistic, honest–a man to be reckoned with. If only it didn’t mean going against everything Jonas has planned. He’s kept his secrets for years, hid behind a mask no one could see through…until now. Danny isn’t the kind of man Jonas deserves. But he might be exactly the man he needs…
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