Title: Surrounded By Crimson (Sumeria’s Sons #4)
Author Name & Publisher: Lexi Ander
Publication Date & Length: July 1, 2015 – 228 pgs
Tristan has agreed to bond with Ushna but there is still much to do and returning to Tribe Enkidu puts everyone on edge. Tristan is being stalked like prey all the while fighting depression as he mourns the loss of Nikita and enduring a battle of wills with the Elder Council over his birthright. The pleading of his adoptive daughter only adds still more stress to the situation.
Stumbling onto a secret prison while searching for Ushna leads Tristan to risk everything to free a lost God. But breaking the tie to his Flame has more repercussions than Tristan knew and the assistance of a forgotten Goddess and a centuries old lover may not be enough to save him.
Ushna was out of the car and greeting his parents before I unbuckled the seatbelt. Hami wasn’t as tall as his son but he was wide, very wide, barrel-chested with a set of deltoids on him the size of small children. His dark hair was cut above the ears and I’d never seen the man without at least three days growth of facial hair. It looked good on him. That kind of scruff made me resemble a bum.
Donya was tall and lean, one of those women who had a natural sway when she walked. Her blue-black hair fell to her waist in thick glossy waves. Her skin was a deep almond, darker than her husband’s or son’s, and her bright, emerald-green eyes were large and expressive.
They both greeted Ushna with festive exuberance, and why not? I’d kept him away from them for a very long time. I observed them for a moment over the hood of the SUV. Hami picked his son up in a bear hug, laughing loud and boisterous. Donya took his face between her palms as she gazed deeply into his bi-colored eyes—eyes that were forever changed by me. At that thought, I wondered how they truly perceived me. My stomach rolled with anxiety- induced queasiness.
With all the grace of someone my size, I made my way into the house, leaving Ushna to his family reunion. I had hoped we wouldn’t see them until after the children were born. I’d entered the home stretch of my pregnancy. Even with the ring of illusion, I had a hard time hiding my condition. Early in my pregnancy, Gregori had fashioned a ring of magic, creating the illusion that hid my continually growing stomach and constructed a normal appearance.
A pregnant male wasn’t something we wanted to explain to humans. With the looming threat of assassination, if my identity was discovered, we thought it best to continue to keep my birthright a secret until after the children were born. So I’d continue to wear the illusion even though the ring wasn’t much help now. The giveaway was in the walk and the way I stood. People could see there was something different by how I held my body and it couldn’t be helped. I was able to hurry, in spurts, and then I lumbered like an elephant—very National Geographic.
Neesie followed me into the kitchen. She was dressed differently than what I’d become accustomed to. Gone were the combat boots, black jeans, and white tees. She wore a pale blue silk blouse, a pinstriped pencil skirt, and knee- high black stiletto boots. She appeared fierce in a whole new way.
“Why didn’t you wait and greet Ushna’s parents?” she asked.
With a plate in hand, I inspected the cold cuts tray that sat on the kitchen counter. I was starved and wanted something quick to eat before everyone came in. When I didn’t answer Neesie, she took the plate from me and started placing fresh vegetables on it.
“I thought I’d give them some time to catch up,” I finally replied. It wasn’t a complete lie. “They haven’t had their son to themselves in quite some time. They don’t need me hanging out in the background.”
Neesie pinned me with her golden-brown gaze. “That is such bullshit and you know it. What’s the real issue?”
I quirked a smile at her. “You know I love ya?”
“Yes, and you’re the one who called me for dating advice because you suck at subtle. Your ‘hey moron, get your hands off my sister’ ranked right up there.”
“I can’t help it if Mr. Octopus Arms was oblivious to his audience.”
“Go ahead and keep playing that song because I know you still refer to him as Lonnie Fucking-Fowler. Before you walked into the house, your face turned green and you practically sprinted in here.”
“Ahh, stampede!” I gave mock crowd screams. Neesie was not impressed.
“Spill, jackass.” She shoved a full plate into my hands and a chair under my ass. Neesie glared at me but her expression was filled with concern.
“Fine, you tyrant. I wanted to make a good impression. I wanted to be able to show them that I am a strong partner and worthy of their son’s love and devotion. But right now I’m huge, and miserable, and swollen, and hungry. Why did you give me carrots? You know I hate carrots. You’re trying to torture me, aren’t you? I’m an elephant, not a rabbit. I get like peanuts or something, not Bugs Bunny hand-me-downs.” I threw the carrot at my cackling sister. The woman was not remorseful.
I threw another carrot at Neesie before turning to see who called for me. I swallowed a curse as I faced Donya. She stood in the doorway, her large green eyes soft and liquid as she searched my expression.
“Ma’am?” Embarrassingly, my voice cracked like I was fourteen years old.
“How can we not be proud of you, son?” Donya crossed the room in a smooth glide and gently took me in her arms.
“We’ve always been proud of you, Tristan, don’t ever believe differently.” Tentatively I embraced her in return and ignored Neesie’s sniffles.
Hi Lexi, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about the book you are currently working on.
Thank you for having over today. I’m currently working on Ruby Red Booty Shorts and a Louisville Slugger. It’s slated to re-release September and I’m in the middle extending it. The original version had a fair amount of telling. By the time I’m finished, it not going to look like the same story. Here’s a quick excerpt from the new Chapter One.
Diego walked the dreaming. Not the normal everyday imaginings of deep sleep, but the type of dream his abuela whispered of, where the veil of time drew back to show him something of the future. Unlike a normal dreamscape where the colors were flat and the people one dimensional, here in the dreaming he’d one day be able to walk the scape as the event unfolded. Until the veil dropped back down he wouldn’t be able to pull away from the dreaming. But why would he? This was a blessing from the Gods. His responsibility was to watch and learn, but more importantly, he had to remember.
He was excited because he was barely twelve years old and this was his very first dreaming. A thick heavy fog slid past him, caressing his skin as the mist went by. The cold touch caused a shiver to work its way up his spine. He stood in a warehouse, the concrete under his bare feet had a layer of grit that clung to the bottom of his foot. The smell of old oil burned his nose and coated his tongue. No matter how many times he swallowed the rancid taste clung to his mouth. People clustered around a painted circle in the open area of the floor. Diego recognized many of the gangbangers that belonged to The Man who ruled their streets of East L. A. with an iron fist.
A lead ball formed in Diego’s stomach. No one looked at or acknowledged him, but they moved out of his way all the same. Diego’s toes butted up against the broad white line. The mark wasn’t painted on the floor as he’d first thought, but was chalky, more like the powder used to mark a baseball diamond. The noise of the crowd unnerved him. He could see faces of the people around him, mouths moving with exaggeration as they spoke, but their voices were odd—their slow slurred speech made the words almost intelligible. The laughter, though—the eerie cackling skirted over his skin and filled him with dread.
On the other side, the crowd hoisted someone above them. He rode the outstretched arms until he reached the edge of the circle and then they set on his feet inside. Diego’s brother, Hector, appeared alternatively nervous and exited as he bounced around the interior of the circle on the balls of his feet. Five years older than Diego, Hector was the tallest person in their family just shy of five foot ten. Diego wanted to have a strong body like his brother’s when he was older, but his madre told him Hector spent too much time at the gym and not enough time on his studies to make good grades. Hector claimed he had to be strong to protect their sisters from the vatos. Diego couldn’t deny how proud he was when people stepped warily away from the line when Hector bounced close, yelling excitedly at the crowd. His hermano had a reputation for ruthlessness when he defended the familia and the vatos had learned the hard way to keep space between them and the Hector.
Something—someone—stepped into the circle, their figure blurred and wispy thin as if they were a ghost and not a solid person like everyone else. Hector halted before the apparition, his expression sobering, his pinky tapping nervously on his thigh. Who would make Hector anxious? Hector was fearless, no one scared him. Well, perhaps there was one person. The Cadillac Man. Now that Diego thought about it, the sensation pressing against his skin wasn’t caused by the crowd, but had always been caused by The Cadillac Man when he came close.
“Hector Emmanuel Hernandez,” Diego flinched, shocked Hector had given someone his full name. Their abuela warned to never do so because names had power that could be used against them. The raspy quality of the voice caused Diego’s hair to stand on end.
“Do you vow your service unto me, do as I bid of your own free will, and will you be loyal to me in exchange for the safety of your family?”
Hector bobbed his head at each question, bounding on place. “Yes, sir.”
Black smoke drifted from the blurred figure, the tendrils snaking around Hector’s ankles.
“No,” Diego breathed. Something was wrong, he had to stop Hector. He went to step over the line and an electrical current zapped him as he ran into an invisible wall. Blue webbed lines spread out from where he frantically struck the barrier again and again, ignoring the sharp pain in his fists.
Thank you for stopping by and reading!
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty- pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.