Release Day & Spotlight on Day Zero, (Kresley Cole)
Today on the blog YABC is excited to share Kresley Cole's new release, Day Zero!!
Below is more info about Kresley Cole, her new book, and an excerpt from Day Zero!
Of course hers would be the last icon to fade. The rose symbol. In the shower, I stare at the back of my right hand. Of the twenty-one icons that have marked my skin for so long, only fragments remain of the rose that represented the great Empress’s life. I took this icon when I beheaded her. For centuries, I have stared at it with a mixture of fury, guilt, and yearning. It connected me to her. My wife. Whenever the beginning of our lethal game nears, the icons borne by the winner fade. Telepathic Arcana calls start to sound. We are on the brink. Anticipation strains even my eternal patience. I will capture this new reincarnation of the Empress and make her pay. At last. I have waited 677 years, 3 months, and 13 days for this time to come. Other Arcana have envied my immortality. I would gladly give it up if not for her—my fantasy and nightmare, all wrapped in one. I have no choice except to win. If I’d died in the past, I would have been reincarnated for another game, losing my memories of her and our history. My soul would have entered a new body, one lacking the warning that I had tattooed over my torso. Three scenarios might play out in a future game. . . . I wouldn’t go out of my way to find her, missing her entirely. I would find her, only to kill her before I discovered I could touch her. Or, worst of all, I would find her, touch her, then trust her. My hands ball into fists, and I hang my head under the stream of water. With the memories I’ve retained, I’ve already been able to locate her, and other Arcana as well. They tend to stand out, and in this age of information, I possess every advantage. To find the Empress, I searched all over the world for farms named Haven. Her home has always been called that. In more than one Arcana chronicle, I’ve read the advice: “Never attack an Empress in her Haven.” Only one farm of that name has a girl of the right age living on the property. She is a Louisiana teenager named Evangeline Greene. She has no idea that a few states away, she has a husband who plots to destroy her. I found her social media accounts with pictures of her friends (surprisingly many), her boyfriend (a football player who looks as dim as he is handsome), and her home. The manor at Haven is circled by twelve oaks, like the twelve stars in her Empress crown, and is surrounded by miles of sugarcane in every direction. Strategically genius. I’ve also seen pictures of her, this Evangeline Greene. My wife. She is . . . stunning. Shining golden locks. Merry eyes. Curving lips and cheeks pink with health. In games past, she had a formidable physical presence, tall and commanding, more Demeter then Aphrodite. In this game, she is all Aphrodite. Comelier than anything I’ve seen in all my years. I torture myself imagining what thoughts go on behind those merry eyes. There exists a way for me to know. But what would the clever Fool demand for such a boon? Even now I hear the Empress’s Arcana call. —Come . . . touch . . . but you’ll pay a price.— My gut clenches with want. My blood burns for her. I touched, and by all the gods, I’ve paid. Naturally, the one game I’ve vowed not to be seduced, she turns out to be breathtakingly beautiful. Yet more than her beauty attracts me. She is brimming with life; as ever, she calls to me, —????— In my study at Lethe Castle, I strip off my hated gloves and pour a vodka. The catastrophe that marks the beginning of each game could happen at any instant, but I’ve finalized the preparations of Lethe. My home sits atop an isolated mountain, chosen for its strategic location. Considering the Emperor’s powers, I’d made sure the property was some distance from any major seismic activity. With my Empress in mind, I’d selected a site without trees. Cold-war renovations had already been in place when I bought the castle, and then I outfitted it for whatever catastrophe might befall us now. Electrical storms? Copper sheets line the walls and ceilings. Flood? We are well above the flood zone. Wildfires? The castle was constructed of flame-proof slate and stone. With the touch of a button, blast-proof shutters will cover all the windows and doors. Should there be another famine, a subterranean farm with acres of sun lamps will sustain Lethe. Another drought? Sunken reservoirs and wells will provide water. If marauders actually find this place, a reinforced stone perimeter wall surrounding the entire mountaintop will hinder a raid. The Arcana players come from all over the world; why should I not believe the scope of the disaster will be global? Communications will go first. I have prepared for that as well. I possess so many advantages over the others. The deck is eternally stacked in my favor. My allies will benefit as well, at least for a time. Among the players I’ve located, I have chosen four. A Kenya Special Forces soldier named Kentarch is the Centurion, my first ally. His family line has forever named the firstborn son Kentarch. I’ve messengered a satellite phone to him with instructions to contact me. to Death. My fist shoots out against the shower tile, shattering it. Circe Rémire, a Bermudan PhD student obsessed with Atlantean folklore and witchcraft must be the Priestess. Her photo online bears a slight resemblance to her previous incarnation, and she was named for Circe’s Abyss (according to her university bio). Ages ago, the abyss had been named for her. Like me, she has been beguiled and betrayed in the past by the Empress. I’ve dispatched the Priestess’s trident to her. It should accelerate her witchly protection and memory spells. My third ally will be the Devil. In a small Ohioan gazette, I read an account of a misshapen boy with horns. I will collect him after the disaster. As ever, he will be a vile beast, but he has two advantages. He is immune to the Empress’s poison, and his hands will be able to work metal like a forge. I think of my armor displayed on a stand in my room. Its fit is close, its movements silent. Made from an unidentifiable black ore, the entire suit weighs less than my longswords, as light as it is impenetrable. This mysterious material can only be reworked by the Devil Card. With each game, I have him update and perfect the armor. I’ve already secured my fourth ally. In past months, I’d found stories online about a teenage girl with a remarkable talent for training and rehabilitating dangerous beasts. She had to be the Strength Card, also known as Fauna. She’d hired out her services, even advertised. In one video, she’d gazed at the camera with clear eyes and chin raised, boldly stating, “My name is Lark Inukai. I defang killers. I defuse their aggression. I find their weaknesses and exploit them ruthlessly. Animals come to me one way and leave another. Do you have a problem case? Call the Killer Chiller.” Even now I shake my head. Killer Chiller? There is no accounting for taste. I hired her father, a veterinarian who’d emigrated from Japan, to oversee my vast collection of animals. Takao and Fauna moved to Lethe Castle a few months ago. I’ve given him an unlimited budget to increase our stock. He is currently on his way back from acquiring a rare Russian leopard. As with many of our creatures, some celebrity had purchased it without much forethought. I exhale. Mortals. I called Takao yesterday and told him to make haste returning. If he doesn’t make it back, he could be separated from the safety of the castle when disaster strikes. He could be killed. All because he couldn’t resist the promise of beauty. A few weeks ago, I told Fauna, “You and your father gravitate toward beautiful animals. Sometimes the spellbinding creatures are the most dangerous ones of all.” Like the Empress. Fauna had frowned. “I don’t understand.” “In life, you should always steel yourself against anything that is alluring. The next time you see something beautiful, turn away from it.” I speak from bitter experience. Restless, I rise and cross to my wall safe. Combination entered, I open the door to my most valuable treasures. I reach past the necklace I once gave the Empress to collect a small case. Inside is my mother’s wedding ring, an engraved gold band with an oval of inlaid amber. In two out of the last three games, I almost gifted this ring to the Empress. When I married her millennia ago, it had been in safekeeping hundreds of miles away, and I never had the opportunity to retrieve it. In the game after that, the Emperor killed her before I could reach her. In the last game, she’d tried to poison me before I could slip it on her finger. I take the ring from its case, and the metal warms against my skin. I give a harsh laugh. The ring doesn’t know my touch is lethal. It reacts to me as it would to anyone. So did the Empress’s skin. I recall my last few encounters with her from the previous game—not that I need anything to harden my resolve against her. All those years ago, I shadowed her, observing her battles, trying to determine whether she was as treacherous as she’d been the last time I’d seen her, when she’d intended to kill me on our wedding night. She’d been even worse. . . . “You’ve stalked me long enough, Reaper. Shall we fight at last?” she asks, looking as if she burns for the battle. Her swirling glyphs glow. We begin to circle each other. She cants her head. “The fall sun shines. Chaff spreads on the winds. So much birdsong, music fit for murder. Which one of us will it be?” She is stalling. Her roots are likely spreading beneath me, her serpents at the ready. But I am invulnerable to them in my armor. “I don’t wish to fight today. I only want to converse with you.” “Converse?” She narrows her green eyes. “If that were true, then why are you covered in metal?” Taking a calculated risk, I remove my helmet, but keep it in hand. “Better?” Her gaze sweeps from my sword to my helmet. She’s assessing her odds. She knows I can cut through her vines with my inhuman speed. Then she studies my face. I make my expression blank, refusing to show my yearning for a wife, a companion. “You’re a handsome man. Very handsome.” Observing how the sunlight strikes my gaze, she murmurs, “With spellbinding eyes.” I stifle my ridiculous flare of pleasure. “Yet so grim. Is it because you’re untouched? Or perhaps a male like you has no wish to be caressed?” I would do murder for it! But I say nothing. We continue circling each other. “Fitting that we—life and death—should meet in a time of pestilence and famine.” She tilts her head, her red locks swaying over a pale shoulder. “Why do you follow me throughout this game, Reaper?” “To determine your character.” “You’ve seen me make many kills.” Before I could reach her, she’d betrayed and defeated the Lovers, but I’d watched her annihilate humans in a bloodbath, taunting them all the while. At the time, I hadn’t known why she’d lashed out at them. “You attacked those men because they attempted to burn you at the stake. I did not know you sought retribution.” “They blamed me for their starvation.” She shrugs. “They have no idea that I lament the famine as well.” It weakens her powers. Each plant is a potential weapon for her. “When I smelled my flesh cooking like a savory leg of venison, I bayed for their blood.” Still we circle. “Between the humans and the Arcana, I’ve been quite busy. And the Emperor must be nearing soon.” “In the last game, he killed you. Gruesomely.” “Unlike when you killed me—cleanly.” Her tone is amused. I incline my head. “If I recall my chronicles, you defeated the Emperor last,” she says, “but in contrast to all the rest of your kills, you tortured him. Why?” Because he destroyed you before I could get to you. Because I’ll never know what might have been. “What would you say if I told you I did it for you?” She smiles, and it fills me with wariness and lust. “I would say do it again, my Grim Reaper.”
READ THE REST OF DEATH’S DAY ZERO STORY ON 8/1!
Ashes to ashes . . .
Evie Greene’s story of the Flash is just one of many. All over the world, those connected in some way to the lethal Arcana game—like Death, Jack, and Fortune—must first survive a horrifying night of blood and screams.
We all fall down.
Some will have to grapple with new powers; all will be damned to a hellish new existence of plague, brutality, desolation, and cannibalism. Find out who they lost, why they endure, and what they sacrificed in order to live past Day Zero. . . .
Meet Kresley Cole!
A master's grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.
Her books have been translated into twenty foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.