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Excerpt of The Red Heart Of Jade by Marjorie M. Liu

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Dirk & Steele #3
Avon
March 2011
On Sale: February 22, 2011
Featuring: Dean Campbell; Mirabelle Lee
384 pages
ISBN: 0062019880
EAN: 9780062019882
Mass Market Paperback
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Romance Paranormal

Also by Marjorie M. Liu:

Labyrinth of Stars, March 2014
Paperback / e-Book
The Mortal Bone, January 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Within The Flames, December 2011
Paperback / e-Book
A Taste Of Crimson, September 2011
Mass Market Paperback (reprint)
The Fire King, August 2011
Paperback
The Wild Road, July 2011
Paperback
The Last Twilight, June 2011
Paperback
Soul Song, May 2011
Paperback
Eye of Heaven, April 2011
Paperback (reprint)
The Red Heart Of Jade, March 2011
Mass Market Paperback
Shadow Touch, February 2011
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Tiger Eye, January 2011
Paperback (reprint)
In the Dark of Dreams, December 2010
Mass Market Paperback
A Wild Light, August 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Inked, January 2010
Paperback / e-Book
Never After, November 2009
Paperback
Darkness Calls, July 2009
Paperback
Huntress, July 2009
Mass Market Paperback
The Wild Road, August 2008
Mass Market Paperback
Hotter Than Hell, July 2008
Mass Market Paperback
The Iron Hunt, July 2008
Paperback
The Last Twilight, February 2008
Mass Market Paperback
My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, January 2008
Trade Size
Holidays Are Hell, November 2007
Mass Market Paperback
Soul Song, July 2007
Mass Market Paperback
Wild Thing, May 2007
Trade Size
Eye of Heaven, December 2006
Paperback
Dark Dreamers, September 2006
Paperback / e-Book
The Red Heart of Jade, July 2006
Paperback
Shadow Touch, January 2006
Paperback
A Taste of Crimson, August 2005
Paperback
Tiger Eye, March 2005
Paperback

Excerpt of The Red Heart Of Jade by Marjorie M. Liu

In the moments before Dean Campbell opened his eyes to the fire burning him alive, he found himself lost within a dream of stone and light, where bones crunched underfoot and a chain pressed hard around his ankle, binding him tight within the center of a raggedy sand circle. A deep dream, an old dream, the kind he rarely had anymore, and it was only the scent of roasting meat that pulled him from the mystery of shadows inside him mind. Pulled him free and floating, consciousness returning with a hard peeling light that became, after a moment’s confusion, an inferno, a sheet of pure heat washing over his naked body . Fire. He was on fire.

Dean screamed. He screamed until his eyes bulged, but he made no sound. His throat was hostage. And like his voice, his body refused him. He could not move. Paralyzed, or maybe he was already dead and this was hell: forced to watch himself burn to ash, his life given up like a paper doll to a matchstick, some human sacrifice to the white- hot beast licking his eyes, melting his mouth, pushing deep inside his ears to roar like thunder; a sound to ride his terror upon as he silently screamed, screamed and screamed until something broke inside his head and shattered.

He felt hands on his body. Real hands, the kind he had not felt in years. Small and female, delicate. Moving against his chest, sinking into his splitting flesh. Scratching. Cutting. Carving an incision above his heart. He felt no pain, no—nerve endings melting, sloughing away like old skin—but he sensed those fingers—oh God, oh God—slide into his body past bone to wrap tight around his hammering heart, and he thought, This is it, I’m gonna die, I’m already dead, what a loser, what a goddamn way to end it. But as the hand squeezed inside his chest, fingers unforgiving, another voice intruded on Dean’s mind, a voice loud and clear and unfamiliar, and he heard a man say, No, not yet, not again.

And just like that, the fire boomed, puffed, the pressure eased. The world collapsed into darkness.

Screams. Dean heard terrible screams. He thought someone else must be hurt, dying—get up, get up, get your gun and fight—but after a moment of dazed horrified wonder he realized that it was him—his voice, finally working—and what a beautiful awful sound. He could not shut his mouth. He could not stop his body from writhing as the paralysis eased. Yet still, blindness; a darkness absolute…until Dean raised a shaking hand and touched his face

He opened his eyes. The world came into soft-lit focus: a white ceiling, creamy walls, a darkened window covered in ivory sheers. Hotel finery at its best. Clean and perfect and not on fire.

Not on fire.

He sucked in his breath and closed his eyes. Gripped the rumpled sheets between his fists to steady himself before slowly, carefully, touching his body. He was naked, covered in sweat, but his skin was smooth and he felt no pain. He was whole. Intact. Still had a penis and all the other bits that went with it. No bad smells, like meat or smoke. Just the light sweet scent of orchids.

So. Just a dream, then. A goddamn dream.

Dean sat up. Cold metal spilled from the hollow of his throat; a woman’s locket, hanging from a thin chain around his neck. He gripped the necklace hard, savoring the rounded edge that cut into his palm. Gulped down long cold breaths that did nothing to slow his heart. He felt woozy, nauseated. Tried to imagine the fire as a dream and could not. The heat was still too real.

His knuckles brushed against his chest, the skin above his heart. He felt a scar, but that was familiar, old news. Except, just below it he touched something else, a ridge that should not be, and Dean opened his eyes.

There was a mark. A red curving line, like a welt or bloody tattoo, the afterthought of a sharp knife. Dean pressed his fingers against it, tracing the edges. He felt pain. The first pain since opening his eyes to the fire, the dream.

Or maybe not a dream at all. Dean remembered those small hands, the sensation of fingers pushing, pushing so damn hard into his chest, wrapping around his heart. Squeezing. He remembered that voice in his head. He remembered fire.

All of it, so real. Real enough to kill. Real enough to almost make sense, considering what he had been chasing for the past three days. Which, given his luck, meant one thing only.

He was in some very deep shit.

Excerpt from The Red Heart Of Jade by Marjorie M. Liu
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