As is customary on this blog in the event of an upcoming book release, here is a sneak peak of Words of the Serpent. In this scene, Apollo remains in Artemis'(the girl in the cover photo) headquarters, but she’s not the only enemy Apollo must contend with. Enjoy.
Oh,” Artemis laughed. “Oh, you are in for a rude awakening. The Achilla you know is a newborn baby compared to the real deal. She’s just as vicious as me. She just acts all domesticated.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Apollo asked. “Didn’t you do this to get my father?”
“There are many layers to our plan that you know nothing about,” Artemis snapped. “Don’t bother asking questions that I doubt you understand.”
Apollo watched her stroll across the room and pick up her bag of brown chocolate balls. His nose told him they were chocolate flavored, but that was about it. She implied they weren’t candy, but then what were they? Whatever that stuff was, she ate them every time she entered Apollo’s room. Sure he was no longer shackled, but she was now starving him until he caved and answered their questions. Apollo’s stomach growled, but he refused to listen. Nobody could convince him to betray Achilla, not after all she did for him. But maybe, just maybe, Artemis and Trish could give him some answers of their own if he could get them to talk.
Wait. That’s it.
“Answers,” Apollo said as he leaned against the wall and crossed his arms.
“What?” Artemis said with a frown.
“You said I shouldn’t ask questions that you doubt I understand,” Apollo said. “I understand my questions just fine. You should’ve said I wouldn’t understand the answers.”
Artemis gave him a sharp look as she played with a chocolate ball in her hand. She stuffed it in her mouth and chewed before wiping her hands. Apollo suppressed his grin. He knew it. Just a little more…
“You know what I meant,” Artemis said.
“Yeah, I know what you said too,” Apollo said with a slight laugh. “You’re not too bright, are you? I mean, you know how to fight, but constructing a coherent sentence is something else altogether. Did you ever go to school? I’ll bet money you can’t spell.”
“I was home schooled better than your education system,” Artemis snapped.
“Nah, it doesn’t sound like it,” Apollo said. “I bet it hurts more to read your writing than it does taking one of your weak-ass hits.”
“I will kick your ass–”
“Oh, but the red-haired lady said don’t touch me,” Apollo gasped and held his face in his hands. “Too bad you’re not the one in charge here. I bet you could run things differently.”
“Yeah, I would wipe that smirk off your face with one good punch,” Artemis snarled. “It would be so easy.”
“Nobody’s here,” Apollo said with a shrug. “Try me.”
“Oh, you are asking for it!”
“Yeah, I am,” Apollo said. “Literally. Just because you got a lucky shot on Achilla doesn’t mean you can beat me, and I can’t wait until you run into my sister. Oh, man, she would wear you out.”
“That’s right,” Artemis said as she nodded her head at him. “Keep talking shit.”
“You know I saw that fight,” Apollo pressed. “You know that punch doesn’t mean shit. Sure, you can brag to your friends about it, that you landed one on the great Achilla Johnson, but we both know the truth. We both know that the only reason you landed that hit was because she underestimated you. Do any of your friends know what happened the second time you swung at her?”
Artemis roared and charged across the room, grabbing Apollo by his neck with both hands and pinning him against the wall. Apollo gurgled as he stared into her gray, glowing eyes. Artemis bared her teeth as she squeezed harder, and he felt the air leaving his throat. Slowly. Her grip wasn’t tight enough.
He figured it wouldn’t be.
Apollo slipped his arms inside hers and pushed them away. He then grabbed her hair and kneed her gut. When Artemis pulled away, Apollo held the back of her head with both hands and kneed her three more times until her legs buckled. He then elbowed her temple before punching her head and stepping around her to the middle of the room. Artemis fell to one knee before glaring at him, but he smirked and held his fighting stance.
“That was me going easy,” Apollo said.
“I’ll fucking kill you,” Artemis snarled.
Apollo grunted from a blow to his gut and then took another to the back of the head before rolling away and hopping to his feet. He then felt a kick to the back that sent him stumbling forward. He raised his hands and blocked Artemis’ kick to his face before grabbing her leg pulling her in, and tripping her other ankle and slamming her to the ground. Artemis punched his face, but he grabbed her wrist and pinned it down.
“You’re real fast,” Apollo chuckled. “But you’re not all that strong.”
“What?” Artemis roared.
“Yeah, you had three chances to hurt me, and you couldn’t,” Apollo said. “And now I have you pinned. You’re weak.”
Artemis yanked her arm, but Apollo held it fast. He then slammed an elbow into her cheek, and she cried out just as Apollo heard the door open behind him. He threw her aside just in time for an onslaught of punches and kicks to his head and body. When the hitting stopped, he looked up and saw six boys standing over him with glowing eyes, green, brown, hazel, gray. Apollo stood up and resumed his stance.
“All right,” Apollo said. “Which one of you can go head up? Who’s man enough?”
“All of you get back,” Artemis screamed. “That’s an order! Nobody lay a finger on him!”
The boys stepped away as Artemis stalked in front of them. Blood leaked from a cut across her right cheek bone. Tears leaked from her neon-lit gray eyes. She bared her front teeth and scrunched her nose at Apollo as she wiped the blood and tears from her face. Her cheeks turned red as her chest heaved up and down.
“He’s mine!” Artemis said. “I will kill him. No one else! I’ll kill anyone who interferes!”
“Looks to me like you’ve lost already,” Apollo replied. “But at least you can take a hit. I’ll give you that.”
“If that’s all you’ve got, I’ll kill you slow,” Artemis said with a crazed expression. “You’ll live long enough to regret hitting me!”
“Oh, it’s not,” Apollo said with smirk as he hiked his pants up and raised his hands. “And you’re welcome to try. It’s nothing.”
Apollo frowned when he heard someone clapping. When the group looked behind them, they all knelt on the floor. Artemis stayed on her feet and continued to glare at Apollo. The red-haired women clapped her hands as she walked up to Artemis.
“Stand down, Artemis,” she said with a pat on her shoulder. “We expected this, remember?”
Artemis’ body shook before she lowered her gaze. She walked back to the table and snatched up her bag of chocolate balls. Apollo watched her stuff one in her mouth. Artemis curled her lip at him and turned her back.
“Well done, Apollo,” the red-haired woman said. “That was quite the Muy Thai lesson there. Some good ground and pound too.”
“You know a little about fighting,” Apollo replied.
“I know you’re done fighting for today,” the red-haired woman said.
“Let’s say I kick your fucking ass and get out of here,” Apollo retorted.
“I’m afraid that won’t happen,” the red-haired woman replied. “And I advise you quit while you’re ahead and stand by the wall where you’re supposed–”
Apollo bee-lined across the room and faked a left knee before throwing a right straight. The red-haired woman slipped the punch and kneed his sternum. Apollo gasped as his body seized from the blow and fell to the floor. He struggled to catch his breath as the red-haired woman rolled him over with her foot. She then kneeled by his side and rubbed his hair before kissing his forehead.
“Did you really think Artemis was the strongest fighter here?” she asked. “You poor little fool. I’ll just kiss it and make it better, I promise.”
Apollo finally caught his breath and rolled away. The red-haired woman stomped him, mashing his already broken ribs. She then pulled him across the floor by his ear. Apollo grimaced and pulled her finger back, but she punched his eye with her other hand. She then grabbed his head and bashed against the floor, sending Apollo’s world spinning as tears burst from his eyes. She twisted his ear, and Apollo fought the urge to scream and lost, yelling out so loud it echoed off the walls.
“Aw, he can’t handle a taste of his own medicine,” the red-haired woman cooed before snickering at him and releasing his ear. “You cocky little bastard. What did you think would happen?”
Apollo stopped crying. He stared at the room around him. Artemis watched him with her arms crossed and a grin on her face. The boys across from her stared with no emotion whatsoever at first, but a couple of them avoided Apollo’s gaze. Then he looked at the red-haired woman and chuckled. He laughed until the pain in his ribs made him wince.
“What’s so funny?” the red-haired woman asked with a tilt of her head. “I want to laugh too.”
“You caught me completely off-guard,” Apollo said. “You hit me in my center line. But I’m still able to talk. You couldn’t finish me, and your whole crew knows it. Achilla’s going to destroy you. I just hope I’m alive to watch.”
“I’ll keep you alive all right,” the red-haired woman replied. “But only long enough to watch your whole family die.”
She then kicked Apollo’s temple, sending him into darkness.
Johnsons. All they know how to do is fight. Order your copy of Words of the Serpent here, so you can be ready to read by the weekend and find out what happens to Apollo next on December 11th.
Fight the good fight, my friends.