Wow! The New Year is almost here! Along with the new year, I'd like to give a quick shout out to Jill Myles! Her debut novel, GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI, released today through Pocket Star! She will be visiting my blog on January 12th, so be on the look out for that! So happy for you Jill!
With the new year on its merry way, I've started back to work on Nightshade's sequel, Billycan: Book Two of Nightshade City! I wanted to post an excerpt, but nothing that will give anything away! The excerpt below is a flashback of sorts, which happens before the story of Nightshade City. How two friends met, a rat and a bat.
xoxo -- Hilary
Juniper was glad to see Dresden. It was a cold night in Trillium City, colder than usual, the night they met.
Dresden and his colony had lived on the outskirts of Trillium in Lex County, a farming community. While on a hunt for insects, the thunder had grown so frequent and deafening Dresden had lost his bearings, his sonar useless. The blurring storm and never ending lightening had rendered the bat temporarily blind. He was lost in the Battery, the epicenter of Trillium City. Barely able to navigate through the skyscrapers, he ended up in an alley behind the colossal Brimstone Building.
Hearing a high pitched siren in the distance, he thought it was a member of his colony calling. Following the sound, he jerked his head around and crashed straight into a street sign. He was lucky the flimsy sign was all he hit. Anything harder surely would have been his end. Dresden's limp body slapped the wet pavement of the alley, landing directly at the feet of Juniper Belancort.
The brown bat was knocked out cold. Juniper had never seen a bat up close. He had always wondered why humans referred to them as "flying rats", now he knew why. Other than the obvious differences, the resemblance was uncanny. He knew he couldn't leave it lying in the street. He could never leave a fellow rat, nor could he leave the flying creature that so closely resembled one. Growing up, he'd heard rumors of their kinship and rumors that rats and bats weren't kin at all, but family or not, the injured bat would not be left to die.
Juniper, thickly built, had little trouble carting the bat back to his home, just a few blocks away. Back then, Nightshade City did not exist, in fact it had not even become an idea. Juniper was just starting to feel like himself again, finally getting used to the idea of having only one eye, his face nearly healed from Billycan's brutal attack, the night of the Bloody Coup.
Juniper and his Council had been living in an abandoned textile warehouse. He carried the bat through a broken window, being sure not to nick its wings, one of which steadily bled. Juniper called out for help upon arrival. Cole and the others came to his aid, gently setting the bat on a mound of soft fabric. They dried him off and cleaned his wound, covering it with a makeshift bandage, made from scraps of cloth.
The small group of rats sat around the bat, patiently waiting for it to wake up, all entranced by the similarities it possessed, its face so similar to their own. Finally, the bat awoke and slowly stretched out its wings. The first thing it noticed was its awkward position. Sleeping on the ground, as a bat would never do, it started to squirm.
"Now don't be frightened," Juniper said reassuringly. "You're among friends. You've been injured. I found you in the alley and brought you back here, so we could fix up that wing of yours."
Dresden looked blearily at Juniper. His hazy vision had him thinking he was speaking to another bat. Seeing the plain, gray walls of the warehouse, he realized he was not in his Lex County colony. "What colony am I in? What type of bat are you?" he said, straining to focus on Juniper's face. The other rats stared blankly at Juniper, wondering what to do. The bat clearly did not have his full wits. As he lay helpless, the bat craned his short neck as far as it would reach, still trying to make out a face.
"Now friend," said Juniper, "I don't want to worry you. You are among allies. You are among rats."
Dresden was a practical bat, afraid of very little. He knew of rats. He also knew of their proclivities for meat. He narrowed his miniature eyes, finally able to make out Juniper's face. He could see there was something not quite right with it, as Juniper's fur had not grown back yet on the one side, still bare and wounded from Billycan's attack, not to mention the patch over his eye. "Are you going to eat me?" Dresden asked directly.
Juniper chuckled. "No, of course not, if we were going to eat you why on earth would we have bandaged your wing? I know certain rats can be cruel, but that's a bit much, even for us."
Dresden looked over at his wing. "Oh dear, I see," he said, raising it slightly as he examined the dressing. "Thank you for coming to my aid. I'm Dresden," he said weakly, "leader of the Lex County, Brown Bat Colony, First Chapter..." His voice tapered off. The wounded bat could stay awake no longer.
In the weeks it took the brown bat to recover, he and Juniper became close. Dresden learned all about the takeover, the Bloody Coup it was called, brought on by Killdeer and the infamous white rat, Billycan--the one who carved out Juniper's eye. Juniper learned all about the bats trouble in Lex County and how the exasperated farmers were trying to smoke them out with pesticides and other means. It seemed the two had a lot in common. Juniper had lost his home and it looked as though Dresden would soon lose his.
The two stayed loyal, meeting quarterly each year in the same alley where their friendship started. Each knew if the other did not show up they were most likely dead.