Friday Spotlight: Azure Boone (I suspect she’s wonder woman)
Welcome back to Friday Spotlight. We have author Azure Boone joining us today. Besides being a wicked awesome writer for the past five years, Azure is also a wife and mother of nine. Wait. What? nine? That must be a typo.
Anyway, while I contemplate the implications of nine children, let’s hand the floor over to Azure. Azure, take it away…
I considered her words. Giant angry guys didn’t walk away ’cause you asked nicely, especially after you tried to beat them to death. Could her powers influence people? Not difficult to imagine with what she was doing to me.
She regarded me. “You need to take a hot shower. Rest. You drink so much poison. This is very bad for you.”
What a sweet rebuke. “Poison, huh?” I resumed walking, looking at the road. “How would you like to work at a diner? During the day. I know one not far from here that’s looking for help.”
“Diner.” She cleared her throat. “You mean like a restaurant?”
“Yeah, like a restaurant.”
“What kind of work is this?”
“Cleaning, doing dishes.” I shrugged a little. “That kind of stuff.”
She tilted her head, and my gaze zeroed in on her thoughtful pout. So perfect. “This is much better than here, you think?” Like my opinion mattered to her.
“Yes, much better.”
“What is the pay?”
“Well, what do you get now?”
“This man pays four dollars per hour to clean. And eat.”
Okay, that was illegal. “Well, the diner will pay you ten dollars an hour, plus free meals.”
Her breath sucked in. “This is so much more!”
My boss would only pay her seven fifty, but I’d make up the difference. And I’d get her jackass boss to reimburse her. “Is that a yes? They really need help as soon as possible.”
“You know these people?”
I smiled at how that seemed important to her. “Yes, I do. I cook there.”
Those alien eyes jerked to me. “You cook?”
I barked a laugh, loving her open shock. “Yeah, big surprise, huh?”
“Yes, very much. You do not look like a man who cooks.”
I gave her a grin. “I like your honesty.”
She glanced down, then off to the left. “Honesty—is very good, yes.”
I stopped walking and looked at her. Wow. In twenty steps I had discovered all I needed to know. This strange phenomena before me wasn’t only obliviously powerful, she had no guile either. Maybe her power was goodness. So good my demon couldn’t touch her. A shiver of excitement ran through me at the idea.
“You so dizzy again?” Her hand pressed firmer against the middle of my back.
“No, I’m fine.” I digested her effect on me, staring at the road. Her touch was overstimulating to the point of absurd.
I resumed our shuffle, wondering what she was hiding. It was more than her eyes, but whatever it was, she was flat-out innocent, that was for sure. The demon rammed his cell, and I focused inward. I snarled at how he salivated for her. Sick bastard. I just bet he wanted her. I considered the scars along the sapphire blue walls of the psychic prison. I was pretty sure there was a nick and dent for every time I’d used the demon’s power, and each incident helped weaken the walls.
“This is it.” I nodded at the black muscle car before us and unlocked it with the remote key.
“Ahh, very nice car.” She sounded like she was not only impressed but proud of me.
“Thanks,” I mumbled, amazed with how good it felt. I leaned against the driver’s side, not wanting her to let me go.
But she did. And stepped back.
“You know”—I crossed my arms over my chest— “if it makes you feel better, I happen to have dangerous eyes too.”
She stepped forward as if eager to see.
“Not anything you would notice with those tinted goggles. I have…two different-colored eyes.”
Instead of removing the goggles, she stepped right up to me, captured my face between her hands, and pulled it down. I braced my palms against the side of the car as she stared intently.
Ten eternal seconds of that and I trembled with the need to rip her goggles off and drown in her hidden gaze, demanding those fingers warm me everywhere. Fuck.
She sucked her breath in and exhaled foreign syllables. At first she sounded amazed; then the words turned angry as she slid a fingertip over the lower portion of the musical-note-shaped scar.
Fire ignited in my bones, and I captured her wrist.
We both stood frozen for several seconds. I forgot everything except the need to pull her against me, to feel what that was like, to let my mind carve her body onto my soul. Would it be so wrong since—
A jolt of her fear shot through my hand, and I released her. Son of a bitch. I swallowed my pulse when her sweet aura followed and enveloped me. She seemed torn between being afraid of me and comforting me. I fought the need to bury myself in that lavender silk and confess all my dark secrets. “They say…my blue eye belongs to God…and my hazel one belongs to a demon.”
She shook her head emphatically. “I have special gift, can see things about people. You are a very good person.”
Wow. Now that…was some fucked-up gift. The devil stood before her, plotting no doubt to take her soul, and she couldn’t see it. I cleared my throat. “You live far from here?”
“Ahh, this place called Hotel Six?”
I nodded, hiding my anger. Living at a hotel. Washington State’s prized “Hotel Sex” no less. I shoved my hands into my black khaki pockets as the urge to touch her became ridiculous. “You can’t save money staying at a hotel.”
“I know this.” She gave a cute half smile. “I pray to find a better job. Get my own place and things will improve.”
Pray. Was she angelic or delusional? I wagered angelic. “Well, your prayers have been answered. Will you start tomorrow? At the diner?” I held my breath, needing her answer to be yes.
“I think I will do this.”
She seemed excited. “Good. Can you be there at ten in the morning?”
“Yes, yes. Love to work in the day and sleep at night.”
I really needed to get my coat but didn’t want her to leave. And how was she not freezing in that outfit? “So how long does it take you to clean up here? I can bring you home.” I looked down, struggling for tact. “I mean—can I?”
“Um.” She took a small step back and petted her braid.
Shit, scaring her. “So what’s your name, by the way?”
She wrapped her wrist with the rope of hair and answered without looking up. “Name is Zhu-Yi Chi-Ku.”
My brows rose. “Joo Yee Chee Ku? Is that…like Chinese?”
“Zhu-Yi Chi-Ku,” she stressed, smiling. “Yes, Chinese.”
“Jooyee Chee Koo.”
She shook her head a little. “Zhu-Yi Chi-Ku,” she repeated the exact same way.
Wasn’t I saying that?
She said it all together for me. “ZhuYiChiKu.” Her voice held laughter, but I swear it was like pressing rewind and play.
“Ahh, okay.” I nodded. “I got it. Sheeku.”
Her burst of tinkly laughter tickled my insides. Then she covered her mouth with a hand like she considered it mean to laugh. Damn, that was sweet.
She finally nodded. “Sheeku is…very fine.”
“I’m Rone, by the way.” I reached my hand out to her, hoping a shake was okay, desperate to touch her, maybe learn something besides what her skin felt like.
She kept that sweet smile and placed her hand in mine. “Rone.” She spoke it perfectly.
Then I plunged. Right into her universe. The sudden violence of it knocked me on my metaphorical ass. I held my breath and gripped her hand while information gushed into my brain via our palms. Lonely…naive…scared…confused… All the no-no info my shield forbade me to ever perceive. Tired of being… I jerked my hand out of hers.
“Shit.” I looked down with clenched eyes. Sexually abused. No no no. Not that.
“Are you okay?”
I covered my face with both hands. No, I wasn’t okay.
Demonic memories flooded me. “Rone, take me, yes, do it. Take me, Ashmodai.”
“You feel so sick from drink?”
Her fingers touched me, and half of me screamed, Get away. I’m the fucking devil. The other half wanted to pull her into my arms and erase all her pain. I bit my tongue on Who did it? Where is he? Did he do that to your face? Are you running from him?
I steadied my breathing as vengeful lava slithered from blood to brain. “Shit.” I shoved a finger in my ear and wiggled it. But it was too late—click click click—like a little Pandora’s box from hell, opening and playing a demonic tune. Solve her problems. Meet her needs.
Even while knowing there was no way I could safely do that. Deep in my dead, cursed bones, I knew. I would try. God, would I ever try.
Azure, thank you so much for providing a fab guest post and the first chapter of what is sure to be a smoking hot book.