Once by Anna Carey? The book comes out July 3 and I've got a special excerpt sneak peek to get you ready for the book! And don't forget you can enter to win a copy in my Once giveaway!
This excerpt is from the first chapters of ONCE. After spending several months in Califia, Eve has been kidnapped by one of the King’s soldiers. She’s taken to the City of Sand, a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Here she sees the Palace for the first time and discovers the fate that awaits her...
The Jeep was turning left, cutting up a long road that snaked toward a massive white building. Rows of government Jeeps sat out front. Soldiers were stationed along a strip of narrow trees, machine guns slung across their backs. I stared up at the expansive structure. The main entrance was lined with sculptures—winged horses, angels, women with their heads cut off. After driving so many miles we were here. The Palace.
The King was waiting for me.
Stark took me from the Jeep, his hand clamping down on my arm. I could barely breathe as we entered the circular marble lobby. The King’s face had haunted me for months. I thought of the photo I’d grown up with in School. His thin grey hair hung over his forehead. His skin was loose around his jowls and his beady eyes were always watching, following you wherever you went.
Soldiers milled about the lobby, some talking, others pacing in front of a fountain. Stark took me through a set of gold doors and into a small mirrored elevator. He punched a code into the keypad inside. The doors slid shut and then we were moving, up, up, my stomach rocking as the floors flew past—fifty gone, then fifty more.
“You’re going to regret this,” I said, straining against the plastic rope around my wrists. “I’ll tell him what you did. How your men threw me to the ground in that parking lot. You threatened to kill me.” I looked down at the gash in my arm, where the blood was crusted black.
Stark shook his head. “Whatever it takes,” he said, his voice flat. “Those were my orders. Do whatever it takes to bring you here.” Then he turned to me, his eyes bloodshot. He clutched the collar of my shirt and pulled me toward him so my face was just inches from his. “Those men you killed were like brothers to me. They served with me every day for three years. The King will never punish you for what you did, but I will make sure you never forget what happened that day.”
The doors opened before us with a terrifying bing! Stark’s nails dug into my arm as he led me to a room across the carpeted hall. “You’ll wait for him here.” Then he pulled a knife from his belt and sliced the plastic restraints in two. My hands tingled from the sudden rush of blood to my fingers.
The door closed. I leapt up and grabbed the handle, knowing before I even tried it that it would be locked. A long mahogany table sat in the center of the room, surrounded by a few heavy chairs. A massive window looked out onto the City, a two-foot ledge just a few inches below. I went to the glass, wedging my fingers beneath the pane, straining against it. “Please,” I muttered under my breath. “Please just open.”
“They’re sealed shut,” a voice said. I turned. Standing in the doorway was a man of about sixty. He had gray hair and thin, papery skin.
I stepped away from the window, my hands dropping to my sides. He wore a deep-blue suit and a silk tie, the New American crest embroidered on his lapel. He stalked forward, taking one slow lap around me, his eyes scanning my tangled auburn hair, the linen shirt soaked through with sweat, the scrapes around my wrists from where I’d been bound. He studied the wound on my arm. When he finally finished his survey he stood before me, then reached out and stroked my cheek. “My beautiful girl,” he said, running his thumb over my brow. “You’re here.”