Nine Circles snippet

4 Mar
English: Ardboe Cross This cross dates back to...

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Right now I’m working on preparing a Kickstarter campaign for my next novel, Anthony Lau and the Dance at Mag Mell. But, like a good writer, I’m working on editing my previous novel as well–Nine Circles. Without further ado, here’s the first two pages!

Nine Circles, Chapter One

Bryan didn’t know the bouncer at the door. He whispered a curse and slowed his pace. That seven-foot goon was standing between Bryan and the warm, friendly-looking interior of Dominic’s Bar and Grill, and Bryan didn’t want to risk getting called out by the new guy.

He had finally convinced his mother that no, another night at her book club would not be “just like a real college class” and make him feel better for not being at a four-year school like his friends. Janette hadn’t even tried to drag him to her cult-ish new church youth group, tonight, with her pimply little freshman friends. It was the first night in a week he’d been able to escape to something like a normal night out with a friend—well, sort of a friend. And now here he was, about to be thwarted by a friggin’ shift change.

He wished he’d just caved and asked Roger to pick up the fake ID for him last spring when the other water polo guys got theirs. But he’d had other things on his plate, at the time…

It was dark already, and he didn’t think the bouncer had seen his reaction. He couldn’t make it through the door unnoticed, but it’d look weird to just stand and wait for a distraction. The street in front of the bar was noisy enough, so Bryan mimed surprise, and reached into his pocket. He hoped nobody would realize that his phone hadn’t actually rung. Bryan’s fingers deftly hit speed dial number two before taking the device out of his pocket. He had to buy a little time, and he owed Roger a call anyway.

“Hey,” he said loudly, to no one, as he put the phone to his ear. He listened to it ring once, twice, three times, and wandered slightly further away from Dominic’s, out of hearing range of the bouncer.

“Hey Bryan,” said a familiar voice. “What are you up to this fine evening?”

Bryan could hear female laughter in the background. Was Roger at a party? On a date?


“Not too much,” said Bryan. “You?”

University of Riverside wasn’t too far away, but Bryan hadn’t yet bothered visiting his friend. It was possible that when he saw Roger, things would be just like before graduation, but with beer and no Mom to watch his every move. It might be endless parties with his best friend, the top of the world.

Or, you know, not.

“Not much here either, just in a friend’s room with some people,” said Roger. “We might go out later, I think.”

There wasn’t a bouncer where Roger was, he knew. Just beautiful sorority girls and no curfew.

Roger seemed to feel the silence, and moved to fill it.

“There’s some Halloween party,” he explained, “even though it’s not until Saturday this year. I swear, there’s something every night this weekend.”

“Mmm,” said Bryan. “Not sure what I’m doing yet.”

The most exciting thing happening here in Pleasanton that weekend, Bryan was pretty sure, was his little sister’s Christian club haunted house. Though maybe he could tag along to something with Liz, if tonight went well enough.

“Hey,” Roger said, his voice growing sly, “are you still being a pansy about that Dameton chick?”

Bryan glanced back towards the doorway. The bouncer was still alert, still scanning, occasionally checking people’s IDs with a flashlight in ones and twos.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he snapped. He hoped Liz was still in there waiting for him. Tonight was the night—he needed to make a move. Girls like her didn’t stay single for long, even if Liz’s definition of ‘single’ was more creative than most.

“Nothing, man,” said Roger. There was a pause, which stretched uncomfortably.

Bryan glanced back at the bouncer. A group of cute twenty-something women had just stepped in between him and Bryan, and the guy seemed to be chatting with one of them.

It was Bryan’s cue. He had to slip in silently, while the bouncer was distracted.

But what if Roger was pissed? Why had he lost his temper, like that? Wasn’t Roger right, anyway? He hadn’t exactly been running on all four cylinders, since Dad…

Bryan hesitated.

“Hey Bryan, listen, I gotta go,” said Roger.

“Okay,” said Bryan, starting towards the door. “Sorry about—”

“It’s cool,” said Roger. “Later.”



Bryan wanted to call him back, but he couldn’t miss this moment. They’d have to talk later.

The bouncer was still occupied, talking to some blonde. Bryan took a breath, and walked purposefully towards the pumping music.

He stepped across the threshold, feeling a warm breath of air from the heater overhead.

Was he attracting attention? It was a delicate moment. Nobody grabbed his shoulder, or yelled, “Stop, pitiful minor!”

Bryan looked up at the familiar glowing neon beer ads, the moderately-crowded bar to one side. He scanned the place, saw a free table, and went to sit down.

He was in.


One Response to “Nine Circles snippet”


  1. Preview #2 of my first fantasy novel, Nine Circles: In Which Liz Is Introduced « Feisty Notes - March 19, 2012

    […] For those of you just tuning in, the first three pages of Nine Circles can be found here. […]

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