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Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in Contests, Guest Post | 73 comments

Guest Post & Giveaway from author Christina Henry

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Moonlight and Sunscreen

This story takes place several months before the events of Black Wings and Black Night.

“I want to come on your pickup tonight,” Beezle, my gargoyle, announced during dinner.

“What?” I said, pausing with a forkful of spaghetti halfway to my mouth. “Why? You don’t usually like leaving the house unless it involves buying doughnuts.”

“I saw on your list that the death is supposed to be at Foster Beach a little before midnight,” Beezle said, stuffing a heavily buttered slice of Italian bread into his beak.

His stomach was splattered with spaghetti sauce. Having a gargoyle is kind of like having a toddler, except Beezle talks back more and doesn’t let me put him in time out when he misbehaves.

My name is Madeline Black, and I’m an Agent of Death. This sounds glamorous, but mostly it means that I have to witness a lot of horrible deaths and then escort souls to the Door.

After I do that I have to file paperwork. Since the Agency hasn’t quite caught up with the last half-century’s technological advances this paperwork is actually paper – triplicate forms, to be precise. And I have to use a pen. I’ve heard rumors that some of the upper management actually has offices with typewriters in them, but this is probably just crazy talk.

“So what if the soul is going to be at Foster Beach? The ice cream man does not come through at that hour, if that’s what you’re thinking,” I said. “Your job is to stay home and be a home guardian like all the other gargoyles.”

“It’s supposed to be a full moon tonight,” Beezle said.

“And?” I spun my hand, indicating he should continue.

“I want to lay out on the beach,” he said, taking enough spaghetti from the bowl to feed three football players.

I stared at him long enough that he actually stopped eating.

“What?” he snapped. “I can’t have some leisure time?”

“Your whole life is leisure time,” I retorted.

“Who stands watch over the door and makes sure nothing creepy comes knocking?” Beezle asked.

“The creepiest thing to come up my steps in the last six months was a political canvasser, and you slept through the whole thing.”

“But something might show up,” Beezle insisted. “And I’m on 24-hour watch.”

“So when you’re in here eating all my emergency chocolate that qualifies as part of your 24-hour watch?”

“When did this turn into a discussion of my eating habits? I want to go with you, I’m going, that’s the end of it,” Beezle said, and crammed such a giant mass of spaghetti in his mouth that he couldn’t have responded to anything I said even if he wanted to.

So a few hours later Beezle and I were flying the short distance from our house on the north side of Chicago to the lakefront. It was a pretty typical August night in the city. It was hot, sticky and everything smelled like car exhaust. My curly hair was a frizzy halo. It was not a good look for me.

Beezle was perched on my shoulder, which was his favorite way to travel. He generally doesn’t exert any energy unless absolutely necessary.

I am invisible when my wings are out, which is good because Beezle is pretty conspicuous. That time of year it’s difficult to hide him – he usually goes in the pocket of my overcoat when he feels inclined to leave the house. I was wearing a tank top and shorts, and Beezle is way too fat to fit in my shorts pocket.

I landed in the sand near Foster Beach house, a small building that housed bathrooms and a snack shop. The beach was empty this time of night, although a few dedicated runners exercised under the streetlights that illuminated the lakefront path.

I wandered a little ways toward the lake. It rolled in gentle waves up to the sand. Lake Michigan looks a lot like the ocean from the shore. The size of it is hard to comprehend, especially when you say “lake” and most people think of a fishing pond. When I glanced out over the water all I could see was that endless expanse and the dark night above it, the lights from airplanes landing at O’Hare flashing in the black.

Beezle hopped off my shoulder and fluttered to a spot far enough away from the water that his claws wouldn’t get wet. He busily unfolded the kitchen towel that he’d used as a makeshift bag and smoothed it out on the sand. Inside the bag were a tiny pair of doll sunglasses and travel-sized bottle of sunscreen.

“You are aware of the fact that there is no sun out now, correct?” I asked.
Beezle ignored me and began rubbing sunscreen into his gray, elephant-like skin.

“You are aware that the moon’s light is from the reflection of the sun’s rays, right?”

“I’m the one who had to sit through earth science class, not you,” I muttered.

“But I am the one who had to help you with your homework,” Beezle reminded me.

He pulled on his shades and lay back on the towel, arms behind his head.

I shook my head and turned away, looking down the beach. A couple was approaching, and they were having a pretty vehement argument. I knew with the certainty that comes from being an Agent of death that I was here for one of them. As I watched, the man hit the woman across the face and she fell to the sand.

Beezle raised his head and peeked over his glasses. “The boyfriend is going to kill the girlfriend because she cheated on him.”

“It’s not what you think,” I said, and waited for it to play out.

This is the horrible part about my job. I just collect the souls. I can’t intervene. I can’t do anything that might affect the ultimate outcome. Once that paperwork crosses my desk with the soul’s name on it that person is fated to die, and nothing can change that.

The woman stood, shouted at the man, shoved him in the chest. The man slapped her again. She unzipped her handbag, screaming, her hands shaking. The man seemed unaware of the danger he was in.

She pulled a gun from her bag, a tiny pistol, but I knew it would be deadly at that range. The man tried to back away, to apologize, but she shouted again and the shot rang out.

Beezle settled back on his towel and closed his eyes. “Wake me when you get back.”

“Try not to drift into the lake and get eaten by a giant sturgeon,” I said.

I trudged down the beach, where the woman was now frantically trying to figure out what to do with both the gun and the man’s body. It was no concern of mine. I was there for his soul, which had drifted up, ghostly and pale, from the still form in the sand.

I glanced back over my shoulder at Beezle. The moonlight fell on his tiny form, shiny with sunscreen, snoozing away on a summer night.

And I went forward to where the dead lie, like I always do.

______________________________

Giveaway


We want to thank Christina for stopping by with this short. For more information about Christina and her books, visit her website.

Christina is giving away a Black Night beach pack, which includes a Black Night tote bag, a copy of Black Night and a bottle of sunscreen. This giveaway is open to U.S./Canada followers only. Here’s how to enter.

1. Leave a meaningful comment/question for Christina.
2. Leave your email address in your comment or have it available on your profile

**You can earn an extra +1 entry for spreading the word about our event on Twitter or Facebook and +1 entry for having event button on blog’s sidebar. Each extra entry needs to be placed in its own comment.**

All event giveaways end July 15th and winners will be announced on July 20th. They will have 3 days to respond to our emails [or message us at Paranormalhaven(at)gmail(dot)com] or another winner(s) will be chosen. Please read all event guidelines and rules before entering. Good luck everyone!

About Stephanie G

Stephanie is a Paranormal Haven co-creator & reviewer. She loves coffee, Supernatural, & most importantly, paranormal romance & urban fantasy books. Connect with her on: Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

73 Comments

  1. I have not seen this book before. Looks like a fantastic read! I need to go check out the website.

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  2. I would really like to meet a heroine from the dark side and Madeline Black as an Agent of Death is it. Never met one before. Sounds like a book full of action and adventure!

    Cambonified[at]yahoo[dot]com

  3. OH How I missed Beezle, LOL now that isn’t that a fun way to spend a ‘day’ at the beach.

    I absolutely loved Black Wings and can’t wait to read Black Night, I missed these characters especially Beezle the sarcastic gargoyle how can you not love him.

    vampiremistress2010(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Living in Holland, so not entering the contest. I did like this post though, added the series to my ever growing lists.

  5. Loved the short story! Beezle is a great side-kick. Can’t wait to read Black Night. I really enjoyed the first book. Thanks!

    Traci

    tjbedard@dejazzd.com

  6. Thanks for the giveaway. What a great prize pack. These look so good. I just put them on my wishlist.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  7. What a great prize pack. This book sounds really interesting. I’m adding it to my amazon wishlist which doubles as a to read list :)

    juliecookies(at)gmail.com

  8. I loved the first book by Christina Henry in this series “Black Wings”!

    My question would be.. have you ever envisioned yourself to be where you are today as an author?

    Thank you for this amazing opportunity!

    moonlightgleam(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. I have not read this series and would love to – it is certainly on my wishlist. I hoped over to Christina’s site and there was a great read of chapter 1. Thank you for sharing this giveaway opportunity today and the short! What fun.

    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

  10. @Moonlight Gleam: I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was 12 years old, so I have definitely envisioned this many times! I just never thought it would actually happen ;)

    @Karen: Right now there will definitely be six books in the series. After that it will probably depend on if there is still more story to tell.

  11. You are a new author to me. The excerpt you shared, though, has piqued my interest. I need to p/u the 1st one! Thanks for the giveaway!
    lindalou(at)cfl(dot)rr(dot)com

  12. Wow…that first line sure reads wrong when your mind is in the gutter (which I guess is where mine is!). Thanks for the giveaway!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  13. I have the first book at home and waiting to get the second one before I can read them both ^^ It always so painful to wait for a release lol
    Thank you!
    TyngaUF(a)gmail.com

  14. I have Black Wings on my wish list, and have added Black Night as well. This series sounds fantastic and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  15. Christina I have never read any of your books or series before but I would like to. Please enter me in contest. This book sounds really good. Tore923@aol.com

  16. Great post.I have this series on my wish list.
    my question..what scene was your favorite to write?
    elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

  17. @elaing8 – Any scene with Beezle is usually great fun to write. Also anything with dialogue, because I love to write dialogue.

  18. Hi Christina you are a new to me author I realy enjoyed your post and look forward to reading Black Night it sounds like a very interesting read .

    flanagan@mebtel.net

  19. I have not heard of this series before…I will be keeping on my list of soon to reads!

    thanks!
    mmafsmith at gmail dot com

  20. Maybe this is a silly question, but I was just wondering if the plan is for all the books to be called Black _____, or do you think you would ever deviate from that?

    b(dot)cardone(at)hotmail(dot)com

  21. Hi Christina!!! I was just curious how many books you were planning for the series. Love the gargoyle sidekick. :)

    heatwave96(at)hotmail.com

  22. I don’t usually read excerpts because they just tease me when I don’t have the rest of the book to read, but I read this one and sure enough, it whet my appetite for the book! Thanks a lot! lol I haven’t seen this series before but now I am definitely going to read it! Thanks for a great giveaway:)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  23. Wow! I already love Beezle!
    My question for Christina is : as an urban fantasy author, do you follow some rules (written ou not) on the nature of your supernatural characters or on the worlds that you describe? In other word, how do you draw the line between what’s possible in a novels and what’s not?
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    kanyachhet(AT)yahoo(DOT)ca

  24. Book sounds good…looking forward to reading it…I wonder who yo listen to when you write…is music a muse?

    barbara@way2kuhl.com

  25. I have read the first book, Black Wings, and really liked it. It was something different, good different, because the heroine isn’t the typical super young and pretty girl; she’s a mature woman. I really liked that. Would love to read this next book!

    angeldream3[AT]gmail[dot]com

  26. Love the black prizes lol. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Vivien
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  27. It is so not cool to eat someones emergency chocolate! I have Black Wings on my self, I can’t wait to start it!

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  28. Thanks to everyone for posting!

    @Bethany – Right now all the books have “Black” in the title. I like it because it ties the series together.

    @heatwave16 – There are six books planned so far. There may be more if there is more story to tell after that.

    @Kanya – I definitely have a set of rules that I follow for my own world. I try to add as many “real world” details as possible because I think it makes the supernatural aspects more believable if you are tied to the real world.

    @Barbara – I have a special playlist that I make up for each book and I always listen to that whenever I’m writing.

  29. I loooove this series!! So can’t wait to read this one!

    jessica[dot]agreatread[at]gmail[dot]com

  30. lol I agree so not cool to eat someones chocoalate. I really enjoyed Black Wings and am excited to read Black Night. Thanks for stopping in

    Chllybrd(@)gmail.com

  31. I really enjoyed Black Wings! Thanks for an awesome giveaway and short story! I am very excited to read Black Night! Thanks again!

  32. Black Wings was such a great book! That I cannot wait for this one. Thank you so much for coming on and reminding me of the soon release!
    gfc
    terilhack at gmail dot com

  33. Thanks for the short stroy. I’m so glad the sequel for Black Wings is almost here. How many books are planned for the series?

    acm05atjuno.com

  34. Oh yes… I can tell this is a series I must have. :)
    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (Dot) com

  35. Beezle sounds like a handful! And being an Angel of Death does NOT sound fun!

    robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

  36. Has Cristina ever thought about having her books translated into other languages?

    tatiana_lwg(at) yahoo.com

  37. A new author for me, loved the excerpt. Cute gargoyle friend, everyone needs someone to try pull them away from work.
    Thanks for a chance in such a great giveaway!

    eyesofblueice(at)gmail(dot)com

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. I can’t wait to read Black Night and see how Madeline deal with Gabriel, J.B., Nathaniel and Samiel. Thanks for sharing chapter one and this little short with Beezle.

    ledv59@gmail.com

  40. Thanks for sharing the excerpt! Christina would be a new-to-me author, so I would love to read more.

    chibipooh(at)gmail(dot)com

  41. This story looks interesting. I think I would love to have Beezle around…and I love the name Beezle

  42. Sounds interesting! She would be a new to me author! Would love to win!

    Annie
    alltherhage AT gmail DOT com

  43. Definitely adding this to my to-read pile. I love the banter between the character and her gargoyle. I’m hooked.

    Mare
    tommygirl828 (at) gmail (doT) com

  44. I’ve never heard of this book but I’d love to read it!
    girl23rocks at hotmail dot com

  45. I have the first one in this series and both the covers in this series rocked.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  46. I loved your first book which I picked up after seeing a panel discussion with you, Chloe Neill, and Laurell K Hamilton. While most people were there for LKH I was there for Chloe and I discovered Maddy and Beezle to so I lucked out.
    I wanted to know how you came up with the idea for Maddy’s adventures?
    BTW Love that you accurately portray my hometown and neighborhoods.

    Krystal
    Email: imsoweird25@ gmail.com

  47. I first picked up ‘Black Wings’ last year when I was a care-free and employed 20-year old, and I loved it. I loved Maddy and her sass, and I loved Beezle and his popcorn.
    Now that I’m an unemployed and broke 21-year old, I love them even more. Your book has really helped me through a tough time. Escapism at its best.
    I’m counting down the days(literally) ’til ‘Black Night’.

    TheKimberlyDuwe at Gmail dot com

  48. I just got my hands on Black Wings and would love to win this and what a great prize pack. My family and I are always in dire need of sunscreen since we are related to chalk :) Thanks for the chance to win

    june111(at)att(dot)net

  49. Thanks so much for the intro story into the series. I can’t wait to read the books. Can I ask how you developed the idea for Beezle or rather how his personality came about?

    pams00 @ aol.com

  50. New author to me and the books sounds great. My question is if you were not an author, what profession would you be?

  51. These books sound great! What gave you the idea to write?

  52. Sounds good. Thanks for sharing!

    bacchus76 at myself dot com