Almost before I was done writing Strain, my mind began trying to fill in the blanks of the world we saw in Strain, trying to piece together what had led up to that point. I decided I wanted to write a story chronicling the apocalyptic pandemic, both the events leading up to it and the immediate aftermath. The result, of course, was Juggernaut.
On the Juggernaut blog tour, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the world of Juggernaut/Strain/Bane, including several cut scenes from Juggernaut which I felt contained important world-building details that in the end just didn’t fit the flow of the story. I’ll also be sharing a couple sneak previews of the third book in the Strain universe, Bane (coming September 21 from Riptide Publishing) as well as giving away three e-copies of Bane before it hits the shelves!
To enter to win, leave a comment on this post including a way to contact you (email, Twitter, or Facebook.) Each stop along the blog tour that you visit offers you another chance to enter. Be sure to check the Riptide blog tour schedule for a complete list of other stops. The contest will close Saturday, August 15th, 2015 and the winner will be contacted no later than Monday, August 17th. Any entries made without a way to contact the winner will be invalidated, so please don’t forget to provide your email, or your Twitter or Facebook address. Contest is NOT limited to US entries.
Good luck, and enjoy the tour!
A Deleted Scene from Juggernaut:
In the planning stages of Juggernaut, I had conceived a significant subplot where Secretary Littlewood—the dignitary and sexual predator Nico is hired to seduce to get approval for Project Juggernaut—is a much more significant presence in latter parts of the book than he turned out to be. Specifically, he was to become fixated on Nico as his ideal victim, which drives some of his subsequent actions in Juggernaut and Bane.
The plotline didn’t pan out, much to my dismay. The scene I’m sharing here today is one of the remnants of that plotline, which made it into the draft I submitted to Riptide but then was subsequently cut as it no longer had the relevance it was meant to have. It’s also the only other time, except when he’s working for General McClosky, that we see Nico actually being a sex worker, which I thought was a good thing to see.
Then there was Clara Natale. She hadn’t so much broken into the popular music scene at the age of sixteen as she had crash-landed there, leaving a crater dimpling the earth. A prodigy with a husky alto, operatic vocal training, and talent in probably a dozen or more instruments, the Italian singer/songwriter featured a unique sound that was not only multi-cultural, but also
blended classical styles with modern in totally new ways. But she hadn’t been content to revolutionize the stagnant pop music industry. She was also on the forefront of the culture wars and another target of the so-called “war on immorality.” After innumerable death threats and an assassination attempt, she traveled with only slightly less security than most political dignitaries.
She’d hired Nico to be her date to her eighteenth birthday party, and she’d made no secret of doing so. In fact, she rarely attended a public function without a Costas escort on her arm. She made it known that she alone chose where she went and whom she took with her. The paparazzi had a hard time getting pictures of her because there was no telling when she might do something it would be illegal to publish in some countries. Her shameless indulgence of her sexual proclivities also meant she was a hell of a lot of fun on the job, which made her another one of Nico’s repeat favorite repeat customers, second only to Logan McClosky.
Hence the reason Nico was presently hidden by the tablecloth at one of Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurants, sucking her off. He drew away, stroking her with one hand while he nipped and licked at the expanse of bare thigh above her stockings and sucked on her balls. The musk and flavor he generally associated with masculinity was underpinned with floral accents. Body wash, lotion, powder, perfume. It was a heady combination.
Her perfectly lacquered nails threaded through his hair and pulled, directing him, and he took her deep into his throat again for the finale. Then he slipped out from underneath the tablecloth and back into his chair, not particularly concerned with whether or not he was seen, because she certainly wasn’t.
“Thank you, ’Tavio.” She offered him a gorgeous smile and Nico smiled back, picking her hand up off the table and pressing a kiss to the inside of her wrist.
“My pleasure.” He let her hand slip from his and picked up his menu, resuming their congenial chatter about her concert tour and the success of her latest song. She broke off mid-sentence, her eyes flicking to something past Nico’s shoulder. Her mouth pulled down into a frown, warning Nico a second before he sensed someone come up behind him.
“Nicolás Fernández.” A shudder ran through Nico at the sound of his true name in that voice. “No, excuse me, it’s Octavio Costas, isn’t it?”
Nico swallowed against a wave of nausea, knocking back his wine in one swallow before he reached into his breast pocket. He spoke without looking back over his shoulder. “Octavio is fine, thank you, but I’m afraid I’m otherwise engaged right now.”
“I told you that if you didn’t call me, I’d find you. I must say, I’m surprised at what I found.”
Clara’s eyes narrowed, moving from Nico’s face—which he suspected was colorless and grim—to the man behind him. “As fascinating as I’m sure your research must have been, whoever you are, you’re interrupting our dinner. You can catch up with ’Tavio another time.”
If the secretary heard her, he gave no indication. “May I ask how your friend General McClosky is doing, Octavio? I heard he was laid up for a while.”
Nico licked his lips, his mouth dry despite the wine. “Excuse me, Secretary Littlewood, but I’m afraid if you’d like to speak with me, you’ll need to schedule an appointment through Costas Companions.” Holding a card between two fingers, he flicked it up, resolutely returning to look at the man.
He heard brisk footsteps and then Prescott, Nico’s bodyguard, strode up to the table, summoned by the small button Nico had triggered when he reached into his pocket. Flanking her were two of Clara’s own bodyguards. Nico looked up to see Prescott’s eyes pass over Littlewood, assessing him for threat. “Is there a problem, Mr. Costas?”
“No problem, Prescott. I’m sure the secretary was on his way to his own table.” For the first time, he twisted to look at Littlewood, making his gaze as cold and disdainful as he could. He’d be damned before he let the man know he was terrified. “This is hardly the time or place for catching up.”
The secretary smiled a smug, oily grin as he took the proffered card from Nico’s fingers. “Of course. I will be in touch. I advise keeping your schedule clear.”
He walked away without a backward glance, and when he was gone, Nico released a shuddery breath. “Don’t count on it,” he muttered, then looked at his guard. “Thank you, Prescott.”
Prescott nodded and turned, though Nico noticed she took up station just inside the archway of the dining room instead of returning to the car where she had been waiting before. When they were alone again, Clara’s concerned eyes landed on Nico.
“What was that about?” she asked, and to her credit, she sounded more worried for his sake than inconvenienced that her date had been interrupted.
“That,” Nico sighed, signaling the waiter for a refill on his wine, “was trouble.”
# # #
“What do you suppose he’s after here?” Nico’s eyes in the projection vid were dark and sober. Outside Logan’s car, a gusty September rain blew yellowing leaves off their trees. “Does he just want to get his hands on me again, or is he aiming for you?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Logan said with a brusque shake of his head. “Do not put yourself in his reach.”
Nico scoffed. “No offense, General, but don’t intend to. I don’t give a fuck if he plans to blackmail you or revoke whatever it is you wanted from him in the first place, he’s not getting near me again. I took one for the team once out of loyalty and because I didn’t want to let you down after agreeing to take the job, but I won’t risk my life to do it again.”
“Good. That’s the way it should be. It’s too late for him to go back on his recommendation; what I needed from him is a done deal. It’s possible in the future that he might try to thwart me out of spite but we’ll let that happen as it may.” In truth, it likely wouldn’t
matter. Juggernaut was the last major project Logan anticipated working on before he retired. “The worst he can do is attempt to spread rumors about how I maneuver people to my side of issues, but if he wants to do that, he’ll leave himself open to people finding out about his proclivities. You could level charges against him, even if they wouldn’t stick in a court of law. Just the implication could be enough to damage his fundraising endeavors and I don’t think he would be willing to risk that just to discredit me. Not when he’s got higher ambitions than just a minor cabinet posting.”
There was a moment of thoughtful silence, then Nico nodded. “All right, then. He can’t touch me or my mom. Our books are clean.” Logan noticed Nico mentioned nothing about the laced cannabis oil or subliminal recordings, both of which Logan had destroyed—even the sonic diffuser for the oil—when Nico was recovering after that night. “So, I’ll ignore any attempt he makes to contact me, instruct our receptionists to do the same, and carry on.”
“Excellent. Let Silvia know that if she wants to increase your security, I’ll foot the bill for it.”
“Thank you, sir, but I don’t plan to tell my mother anything about this.”
Logan fell silent for another moment before asking, “How are you doing since seeing him, Nicolás?”
“I’m fine, sir. Really. I was surprised for a moment, alarmed for a little longer, but once I had a chance to calm down and think rationally, I was all right.”
“Good. Have you decided where you’ll be hosting your holiday party this year?”
“Washington.” Nico smirked. “Mamá is pissed about the bombing. She’s going to shove our presence in D.C. down the RAL’s throat whether the sex work measures pass in the November elections or not.”
“Well, unless Silvia expressly forbids it, I’ll see you then, if not sooner.”
“I’m inviting you, whether or not my mother agrees. So I hope to see you there, sir.” There was something inviting on Nico’s lovely face and in those warm, dark eyes.
“Thank you. I look forward to it. Keep your schedule clear that week, and if things aren’t too busy for me I’ll book your time. We can go up to the cabin for a few days after the party.”
“Can’t wait. Take care, General.”
“You too, Nicolás.”
Nico’s face disappeared from the projection screen and almost immediately Darrin buzzed in from the front seat. “General, call for you from the Pentagon.”
“Send it back, Darrin.” A moment later, Thanh’s face appeared. She looked as terrified as Nico had. “Thanh?”
“How far out are you, sir?”
Logan peered out the windows, watching the traffic creeping by in the lashing rain. “Perhaps another fifteen minutes.”
“All right, sir. I’m pulling together the top staff on the project in a secured conference room. We’ll be ready when you get here.”
“We have reports from the front?”
Judging from the look on her face, they weren’t good. “Yes, sir.”
“I’ll be there soon.”
The Buy Links:
The Book Description:
They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.
For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.
Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.
When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.
Meet the Author:
Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.