Skygods Excerpt #2

I believe in incentivizing achievement (okay, bribery). I promised a Skygods excerpt for shelf adds on Goodreads, and you delivered!

So now I’m delivering.

Have I mentioned that Skygods hits stores in TEN DAYS? Well, it does!

Enjoy the substantial snippet.

take me to NY


 

The rest of the ride was chilly and silent.

The train slowly pulled into the 190th Street station. Samuel ground his teeth as we left the platform and stepped into an industrial elevator, brusquely nodding to the attendant.

But the odd discomfort melted away when the doors opened and we stepped into a world of green, green, green. The picture Samuel sent me weeks ago didn’t do the place justice. Some brilliant city planner made wondrous use of the naturally hilly terrain, and what emerged was a fairytale blend of stone arches and shady foliage. As we climbed higher into the Fort Tryon Park, I caught a glimpse of the Hudson River far below, gray and hazy.

“Are you sure this is Manhattan?”

“Oh yes, we’re on the edge of Washington Heights. Take a jaunt south down Broadway and you’ll hit the Dominican neighborhood, follow the merengue. But these bluffs…I always feel as though I’m walking through a Thoreau poem when I’m here,” Samuel murmured. “‘Give me thy most privy place, where to run my airy race‘ The park’s still something of a secret. Or it seems that way, to me.”

My lips quirked—Samuel and his poetry. For him, musing over the Romantics was akin to breathing, it came so naturally. If I tried, I’d sound like a haughty snoot.

“So, which bench do you sleep on?”

He laughed. “None of these. My apartment building is across that grassy stretch—see the archway?—then down a set of stairs. This is a round-about way to get there, but I couldn’t wait to show you the park.”

We walked in silence. Suddenly, Samuel dragged light fingers along my spine and I jumped. His face was full of apology.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you. You asked a fair question.”

I waved him away. “It’s okay. I’m not your parent.”

“I’m trying to be more open.”

“I know.”

He rubbed the knuckle of my ring finger, squeezed it, and let it go, his face twisted in defeat. It made me sad. No, no defeat, Samuel. Look how far we’d travelled on this third road. Two months ago, I wouldn’t have even known to ask.

I watched him shuffle the package between his arms. “Speaking of being open, are you going to tell me what’s in that thing?” I nudged him with my elbow. “Did Ace bring you a bust of Ted Williams?”

“Um….no. It’s an urn.”

I cocked my head. An urn?

“It contains my mother’s ashes.”

I pivoted so quickly, my purse swung off my shoulder. “You’ve been carrying a cremation urn all afternoon? Your…y-your mother.” My hands flew to my mouth as I eyed the package that contained the earthly remains of Rachel Caulfield Cabral. “I wish I’d known. Oh Samuel, I’m so sorry.” I had no idea what to say, so only awkwardness spilled from my mouth. “We should have taken the taxi so you didn’t have to carry them—her—onto the subway. What if you’d been robbed?”

He shrugged. “Then some thief would be sorely disappointed.”

“Where did it—she—come from?”

“Ace’s relatives came across them in the family home. He called and asked if I wanted the urn. I guess no one else did.”

“That’s really heartbreaking.” Sorrow for Rachel Caulfield Cabral crept into my chest, in spite of myself. I eyed the morbid box as we descended the park stairs into the neighborhood below.

He was right—the bottom of the bluff was a different world of Art Deco and fire escapes.

“Is it legal to fly with remains?”

“I don’t know. Ace took his family’s private plane. Here’s my place.” He stopped in front of an eight-story façade with awnings. I noticed he refused to refer to the Caulfields as his own family. I knew he’d never cared about them, but his omission was so deliberate, it was almost passive aggressive.

As he collected his held mail from the doorman, I took in the lobby. Cracked tile floors, mint walls—nothing like the gentrified East Village brownstones. According to Samuel, Inwood suited him perfectly, unlike the “bohemian” neighborhoods south of Fourteenth Street. I jokingly called him a snob. Yet another dichotomy of Samuel Caulfield Cabral, formerly of Lyons. He turned up his nose at pretention, but kept his own secrets and failings guarded beneath a veneer of flawlessness.

“So, what are you going to do with the urn?” I hedged.

He sighed. “No clue. I’d rather not talk about it anymore.”

Yes, Samuel’s head needed a serious feng shui but, like he said, he was trying. Open him carefully I fingered the laminated poem in my purse.

There was nothing more I could do for Samuel right now and, frankly, he didn’t want me to. I wrapped my arms around his middle and murmured a last “I’m so sorry about your mother.” Then I promptly collapsed into the first bed I was steered toward, where sleep came to collect.


 

I found an acoustic version of De Música Ligera today!

Some music just grabs you in the gut. That perfect stretch of notes you want to listen to over and over, often with those pining lyrics that never quite satisfy your need for another verse. For Hydraulic Level Five’s Kaye, it’s De Música Ligera, by Argentine rock legend Soda Stereo.

When on a camping trip, Kaye and Samuel are plied by her former sister-in-law to sing an acoustic version of the song. It’s understandable why she’s reluctant. This song is THE song—the one that takes her back to simpler times with the boy she’s loved since childhood…

Molly groaned. “You guys just sing the song, already! It was the last song of Soda Stereo’s farewell concert — if they could do it, so can you.”

Cassady whispered something in Molly’s ear, and she whispered back. He nodded. “Just think of it like this, Kaye. De Música Ligera was a defining recording of Latin Rock. It’s not just a song, it’s a piece of history.”

“And we’re all about defining moments in history,” Angel added.

Samuel offered me a speculative smile. “It’s pure musical poetry, Kaye. The pain of farewell, the shackles of amor.”

“You people are pushier than a turnstile, you know that?” I was beat. My forehead fell over my guitar with a thump.

This is a fairly decent acoustic cover from The District, which is most similar to what Kaye and Samuel would have performed:

And the rock version, performed live by Soda Stereo at their last concert, in Buenos Aires (be sure to listen for the iconic “gracias totales” at the end!):

De Música Ligera (Of Light Music)

Ella durmió al calor de las masas (she slept by the heat of masses)
Y yo desperté queriendo soñarla (and I woke up wanting to dream about her)
Algún tiempo atrás pensé en escribirle (some time ago I thought about writing to her)
Y nunca sorteé las trampas del amor (and I never got around the traps of love)

De aquel amor (of that love)
de música ligera (of light music)
nada nos libra (nothing frees us)
nada más queda (nothing else remains)

No le enviaré cenizas de rosas (I won’t send her ashes of roses)
Ni pienso evitar un roce secreto (but I don’t mind a secret touch)

De aquel amor (of that love)
de música ligera (of light music)
nada nos libra (nothing frees us)
nada más queda (nothing else remains)

Artist: Soda Stereo
Album: Canción animal (1990)
Song: Música Ligera
Writer(s): Gustavo Adrian Cerati, Hector Juan Pedro Bosio
Copyright: Sadaic Latin Copyrights Inc., Jjc Ediciones Musicales

Translation taken from http://quizilla.teennick.com/lyrics/17944925/de-ma-ligera-of-light-music

Because I’m Feeling Generous

And because it’s Friday, I’ve decided to share a nice, lengthy excerpt from SKYGODS (Hydraulic #2), available 8/26/2014! Enjoy the weekend.


 

I’d sprinted from my office at precisely 11:29 a.m. Wednesday, anxious to see Samuel, and anxious to excavate the dossier from my underwear drawer.

He was settled in my big leather armchair, his glasses perched on his nose, dark hair sticking up like a ruffled tomcat. He diligently worked on his laptop and seemed so comfortable in my home, it was as if he’d come with the living room set. His eyes flew up as I whirled through the door, taking in my restless appearance.

He smiled. “Miss me?”

I nodded and hurled myself at his lap, allowing him just enough time to move his computer to my coffee table before I pounced. I flicked a charcoal tendril from his forehead and pecked him there. I wasn’t buttering him up before I gave him my dastardly file of revenge and blackmail material, oh no.

“Give me a minute to change and I’ll whip together lunch.”

“Already taken care of.”

“Oh?” I uneasily sniffed the air for burnt food. He gave me a shake.
“I picked up chicken salad from the deli across the street and chopped veggies and fruit. Don’t worry your pretty little head about choking down burnt or lumpy stuff.”

“I wasn’t,” I lied through my teeth. As I shed my work attire for jeans and a top that cried whore-nun complex, Samuel called to me from the kitchen.

“Hey Kaye, where are the napkins?”

“In the cabinet above the refrigerator.” I flipped my head and tousled the wavy layers of hair. Then, like a crashing organ chord in a horror movie, I remembered what I’d hidden in that particular cabinet. “Crap,” I muttered, sliding across the wooden floor in my sock feet.

Samuel leaned against the counter, his long legs crossed, arms folded. A single eyebrow lifted at my panicked face. A little smile played on his lips.

“Care to explain, Trilby, why you have seven bottles of wine stashed above your refrigerator, yet your wine rack is empty?”

My eyes flicked between my perturbed…whatever he was and the contraband in my cabinet. I decided to play it cool. “I wanted to be respectful of your lifestyle, Samuel.”

He nodded, waiting for me to say more.

“It’s not that I think you’re weak or you’ll cave, or anything,” I added quickly. “I just didn’t want to be insensitive, that’s all. And Caroline never drinks around you, so…”

skygodsSamuel reached for my hand, giving it a squeeze. “I know you’re being helpful, Kaye. I just want to make sure you understand you don’t have to go to those sorts of lengths. If we have dinner and you want to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, don’t hesitate because you believe I’ll be offended, or tempted, or uncomfortable. You don’t have to drastically change your life for me.”

“But that’s just it, Samuel. I want to change my life for you. I want to be supportive and consider your feelings and needs, and all that. If it upsets you that I put up the wine bottles, then I’ll move them back to my wine rack. Or I’ll just get rid of them altogether—whatever you need. You always want to take care of me. Just give me a chance to return the favor, please.”

Some powerful emotion crossed Samuel’s blue eyes, setting them alight. He tugged me to him and folded me into his chest, his chin resting on top of my head. “Why don’t we take care of each other—make it a mutual thing?”

I chuckled against his worn Clash tee-shirt, surprised it wasn’t a cleaning rag by now. “What a novel idea.”

As we dug into the chicken salad, I recognized my window to broach the dossier. “Samuel, do you remember number three of our friendship vows?”

He peered at me, instantly alerted to my discomfort. “Sure. Fight for your reputation, guard your back.”

“Well, I have a confession to make.” I took a deep breath. “I have something here in the apartment that violates number three, and it could ruin your reputation if it ever got out.”

He lowered his sandwich, sharp eyes questioning. “Are you talking about my arrest record?”

“Not just that. Lots of records—school, arrest, newspaper clippings, any public record, really. I’m so very sorry, Samuel.”

“May I see them?”

I slipped from the table and fetched the file. I watched silently as he flipped through paper after paper, hissing one minute, stoic the next. At last, he closed the file and laid it on the table between us.

“This is everything?”

I blinked. “Is there more?”

He shook his head, closed his hurt eyes and ran a hand through his hair. “How?” he choked out. “Why?”

“The ‘how’ was Jaime Guzman. Why? It’s complicated.” I explained how I’d approached Jaime for help in getting Caroline out of the way with a healthy dose of revenge on the side. I told him I never intended to make the dossier public and kept it buried in my underwear drawer. Ashamed, I wordlessly watched as he left the apartment. I stared at the door for a full hour, gnawing on a thumbnail, frightened I wouldn’t see him again. Then he returned, noticeably looser.

“What do you plan to do with this file, Kaye?” he asked.

“Shred it, pitch it. Right now, if you’d like. I would have done it sooner, but I wanted to tell you the truth—give you a chance to chew me out.”
He shook his head. “I won’t do that.”

“Why not? I deserve it.”

“Because everything in that file is the truth, things you should have been privy to from the very beginning. It’s my fault those records even exist.”
I exhaled and squeezed his shoulder as I cleared away our lunch plates, sandwiches long dried out. “Samuel, sometimes I wish you’d just get angry at me instead of blaming yourself all the time.”

“I didn’t say I wasn’t angry,” he replied, his voice tight. “But it seems like a colossal waste of time to ‘chew you out’ when I’m only here through Saturday. You apologized. We’ll destroy the file, no harm done. It’s behind us.”

I clutched the file in my arms as I led Samuel down the stairs and into my TrilbyJones office where the magical problem shredder resided. I truly hoped he was right, that it was behind us and we could leave for our grotto trip with clear air…

 

 

 

Summer of Skygods

Some of you savvy folk with 20/20 vision might have spotted this gem on a tiny corner of the Hydraulic Level Five bookmarks. I’m excited to reveal it in all its gorgeous, blown-up glory: the Skygods cover! Isn’t this gorgeous?

skygods

A glorious crown of water because, well, you can’t really SEE air.

SKYGODS contains a scene in which Kaye foolishly and painfully decides to skydive in the rain. When YOU are the object running into raindrops at terminal velocity? Yeah, ouch! The raindrop on the cover recalls this scene to me. That, and there’s a bit of Samuel Cabral’s more intense writing that alludes to kingship and thrones, which ties into this just perfectly. Well done, Omnific artist Micha Stone!

And when can you get your mitts on Kaye and Samuel’s next story? AUGUST 26, 2014! Mark your calendars, dust off a space on your bookshelf or e-reader, and gear up for another wild ride (SKYDIVING, people, come-on!).

Image and video hosting by HilariousGIFs.com

Extreme skydiving…at home.