RUBY'S FIRE by Catherine Stine
(I absolutely adore this cover.)
Excerpt #2: Shortly after Ruby and her little brother escape the desert cult in the dead of night, and come upon a compound with a thick crop of hidden plants.
Hard crunches explode by my right ear—a wild beast charging? I snap upright. And see it. A large human in an iguana skin suit with an arrow pointed at my heart.
“Hey!” I cry. No!”
The owner of the arrow steps forward. He grazes the sharp tip against my forehead above my molded burn mask. The guy’s dark eyes blaze out at me from his own mask. The little I see of his exposed skin is bronze and his long black hair gleams even under this dank tarp. Despite his fierce gaze, he doesn’t shoot the arrow. “Lift your mask,” he orders.
Thorn is up and clutching at my cloak. Am I this man’s dinner now, my brother his dessert? Why didn’t Thorn give me a sign earlier? My heart pounds through my ribs.
When the man sees my face and my electric haze of hair, his eyes soften. That spark of wonder that men get whenever they gaze at me is in his eyes. That spark I almost always hate. Somehow with this stranger, it fills me with unexpected lightening. “You’re from that desert cult,” he remarks, as if he knows everything about anything.
“How do you know?” The lightening fades.
He says, “Those flower brands on your wrists. There’s talk about your people, down in Chihuahua. How you think the flower is god, think it lives in the sky.”
“Does the flower god sit on a throne like a king?” Laughter escapes him.
“Fireseed is god. And god is right here. Fireseed saved us.” I give the red plant beside me a loving stroke.
Thorn frowns at the guy and aims his toy dragon tail out like a sword.
“That’s Fireseed?” The bronzed guy’s eyes widen as he examines it—its winding red branches that sway, its artful sprinkle of thorns, its curving tendrils that look like dancing cacti. He lowers his bow, slides the arrow back in its quiver.
Thorn, wordless as always, packs his toy away in his latch bag.
“Why don’t you take off your mask?” I ask.
The young man shrugs and pulls down the mask to rest it on his neck. A brand marks each high cheekbone with a leaf. A matching leaf earring dangles from one ear. Twine around his neck has a shiny, curlicue gem on it. His face is deeply tanned, chiseled, with a faraway glint in his eyes. I see now that he’s not a man, but a boy about my age. He’s dressed in the strangest clothes, a suit resembling lizard skin that clings to every muscle and slope. I try not to gape but it’s hard not to.
A Little About the Author
“Ruby's Fire, returns to the sun-scorched earth of Fireseed One. In this long-awaited sequel, Stine delivers a thrilling adventure led by a new and exciting cast of characters. Ruby, Armonk, Thorn and Blane are memorable, and the romance is really well handled. Favorite quote: " It feels wrong to lean on Armonk right now with Blane staring at me, a hungry, lonely look in his eye. It’s as if he’s never been hugged, never been fed, never been loved..." ” -YAs the Word.
More and more, Catherine enjoys writing speculative tales where her imagination has wild and free reign. She has taught creative writing workshops at the Philadelphia Writing Conference, Missouri University Summer Abroad, The New School and in her own ongoing NYC writing workshop. She loves her readers, and enjoys blogging.
Ruby’s Fire on Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17970591-ruby-s-fire