Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Tours virtual book tour for A.K. Faulkner’s LGBTQ+ Urban Fantasy novel Knight of Flames! Today, I am excited to help kickoff the tour by sharing an excerpt from the book to whet your appetite!
You can find the excerpt below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, links to purchase a copy of Knight of Flames for yourself, and a chance to win a copy in our giveaway! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule here or at the bottom of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
Knight of Flames by A.K. Faulkner
Series: Inheritance #2
Genre: LGBTQ+ Urban Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Ravensword Press (Self Published)
Some men are forged in fire. Others are consumed by it.
Quentin d’Arcy survived a showdown with a god. Now, he must face something far more terrifying—his feelings. Falling in love was never part of his plan, and the secret he’s kept from Laurence may burn them both.
Kane Wilson is building a better world, leaving a trail of bodies as he goes. To him, no price is too high to build a future where psychics are out, proud, with no need to fear those who hate them.
Through fate or fortune, Quentin is the psychic community’s last defense against Kane’s murderous plans and monstrous power. Where others have no choice but to obey Kane’s every word, Quentin alone can shrug off the compulsion.
Only Quentin can walk into the fire, but not even Laurence’s prophetic gifts can say whether he will emerge unscathed.
X-Men • Stranger Things • Push
Universal Link: https://discoverinheritance.com/books/knight-of-flames
Come the morning, Quentin took the dogs out on his regular route. He couldn’t jog with them: this was a wholly new place for them both, and he was all but a stranger. In time, with care, he had no doubt that Grace would learn to follow Pepper’s lead and that they could both pick up the pace, but for now a gentle walk was plenty, and he restricted them to Windansea Beach once they arrived.
He had a variety of items with him, packed into a courier bag slung across his chest. A squeaky toy, some treats, a bottle of water and a collapsible bowl for the girls. The trick was to find out which motivated them more: the toy or the food. Pepper, it soon became clear, vastly preferred the toy, whereas Grace was much more interested in treats.
He had two hours until the dogs would no longer be allowed on the beach, so he worked with them patiently, figuring out which commands they already understood and rewarding them for their efforts. It was mostly time spent bonding so that they would begin to see him—and one another—as part of their new pack.
“You’re good girls,” he cooed. “Very good! Shall we walk a little farther? Pepper, heel. Good girl!”
He strolled along with Pepper at his heel, and Grace fell into step behind her, following her scent. Quentin talked to them both, nonsense mostly, just so that they heard his voice and knew that they had his attention, and their tails slowly drifted upward into reasonably relaxed, trusting positions.
It was Grace who began to flag first, which was not unexpected, so he led them up steps so that he could sit at a bench. He filled the water bowl for her and watched the world go by as she drank.
He was trapped here.
Quentin frowned as the stray doubt invaded his peace and quiet. He wasn’t trapped. He was simply… unable to leave.
They’re the same thing, dimwit.
It didn’t matter, surely. He didn’t want to leave. Laurence was here, and an entire shop was hardly a portable thing.
He grimaced and turned his attention outward, allowing his gaze to pass over beach users below. Joggers. Dog-walkers. The peculiar fellow from a few days ago.
Quentin blinked and leaned forward, peering down at the beach from his vantage point.
The fellow wandered, flanked by two others: an older man, and a woman his own age. As a trio they were quite mismatched, with the two lagging a step behind and dressed formally for what seemed to be a stroll along the beach. They were alert, too, both checking their surroundings while the one in the lead simply wandered.
Quentin had seen that sort of positioning and attentiveness before.
They were bodyguards.
The woman looked his way and locked eyes on him, then pointed, and the others turned.
Quentin leaned back in his seat and crossed his legs. This did not bode well. If there was to be a second attempt at mugging, why bring bodyguards? If the encounter had been only that, why search for him as they were so clearly doing?
They were approaching rather lackadaisically to intend harm, but Quentin was not about to rule anything out. He urged Pepper and Grace to sit, and idly packed away the water bowl as the trio ascended the white-painted wooden steps.
“We meet again,” the fellow up front said as he crested the top of the steps.
“Such a coincidence,” Quentin replied with all the distance he could inflect.
“Naw. I came looking.” He stopped only inches from Quentin’s knees and offered his hand. “The name’s Kane. Kane Wilson.”
Quentin rose to his feet and disregarded the hand. “Banbury,” he responded. He made a point to look to each of the bodyguards, and then back to Wilson. “How may one be of service, Mr. Wilson?”
“Mr. Banbury, huh?”
Quentin did his level best to refrain from flinching.
“Look,” Wilson said. “I think we might’ve gotten off on the wrong foot the other day.”
“That tends to happen when you tell people to hand over their valuables,” Quentin murmured.
“No, not really.” Wilson gestured to the bench. “Mind if we sit?”
Quentin arched an eyebrow at him. “This conversation will go very poorly if you speak to me that way again.”
The woman at Wilson’s shoulder whistled to herself. “Did he just—”
“Yeah,” Wilson said. “See what I mean? Look, Banbury. I’m sorry. That was a demonstration for the guys. I didn’t mean to cause any offense.” He thumbed toward the woman. “This is Mia. Or Miss Torres, I guess you’re gonna want to call her.”
“Hey,” she said.
“And this here is Sebastian Wagner.”
The older man eyed Quentin a moment, then looked away.
“And what was this demonstration intended to show?” Quentin returned his attention to Wilson.
“Let’s just say you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Wilson slid his hands into his pockets and regarded Quentin as though he were attempting to solve a jigsaw puzzle. “I’d like to get to know you better, if you have the time.”
Quentin looked between the three of them. None were on edge, and he saw no evidence that any of them were armed, although he suspected that they most likely were. Wagner carried himself like a man who held some military training, with that peculiar bearing which enabled him to stand rock-still without wavering in the heat. Torres was more relaxed. A fidgeter. She shifted her center of balance often, and sometimes turned her back on them all to scan the horizon, but she was calm and collected. Wilson had the confidence of a man who had two bodyguards at his back.
“And if one lacks the time?” Quentin addressed Wilson.
“What is it with this ‘one’ thing all the time?” Wilson narrowed his eyes. “Okay. You want me to get down to business. I get it. This looks weird to you. I totally get that, too. I’m just some random dude who keeps telling you to do weird shit and you’re like ‘who the hell is this guy,’ am I right? Of course I am.” He smacked his lips. “You see, here’s the killer, Mr. Banbury.” He paused. “I’m psychic.”
Quentin blinked slowly.
Wilson’s satisfied grin and broadened shoulders suggested that he expected Quentin to be impressed or, at the very least, surprised. An expectant man would not wait long for a reaction, and so Quentin said nothing and allowed the silence to stretch until it became awkward.
Wilson’s features began the slow crumple of dissatisfaction, and then curved downward into an unhappy frown. “Don’t you wanna know more?”
“Dear boy,” Quentin breezed, “psychics are—as I believe the phrase goes—a dime a dozen. One can hardly move for people who claim to communicate with the dead or—” he waved his hand vaguely and left his sentence hanging because he frankly had no idea what it was that stage psychics claimed they were able to do.
“Oh, shit no!” Wilson guffawed and almost doubled over in doing so, and Quentin stepped aside to avoid coming into accidental contact with him. “No, okay, I see! No, those are performers. They’re cold-readers and bullshitters of the highest order.” He slapped his own thigh as he straightened himself up. “No way. I’m the real deal.”
“Are you.” He didn’t intend it as a question.
“Here’s the thing, Mr. Banbury. I say what I want people to do, and they do it. I control minds.” He hesitated. “Except not yours for some reason. For all your pretense I already know you’re not part of the herd, so how about you drop it and we talk like adults?”
Quentin pursed his lips, and then retook his seat, reaching to fuss both dogs. “You may sit,” he murmured.
There seemed little point refuting Wilson’s claim. His words made a certain amount of logical sense. Wilson had evidently expected Quentin to simply hand over his valuables on command, and was most put out when Quentin refused to do so. And Quentin’s refusal to sit on command had seemed to surprise Torres. If it had been of interest to Wagner the man hadn’t shown it, but then were Quentin correct about his supposition that Wagner was former military personnel, then he would expect the man to keep a lid on his reactions.
If Wilson were telling the truth, however, then what kind of man used his gift to rob strangers?
Wilson sat so as to leave plenty of personal space between them. “Nice dogs. You didn’t have them the other day.”
“Correct.” He held their leads loosely and sat back against the bench. “If you are able to control people, why on earth would you do so to relieve them of their property?”
“Ah, that’s not really the kind of thing I like to discuss in public.” Wilson chuckled and rested an elbow on the back of the bench. “Like I say, we got off on the wrong foot. I’d like to start over.”
“And you brought bodyguards because…?”
Torres barked a short laugh.
“Because as much as you don’t know me from Adam, I don’t know dick about you either.” Wilson shrugged. “And whoever or whatever you are, I’ve already found that I can’t protect myself against you. If you were in my shoes would you come here without a safety net?”
Quentin idly neatened the seam of his sweatpants. Wilson’s perspective was not unreasonable. With no idea of what Quentin may be capable of and the sure knowledge that his gift could not protect him, it did make a certain amount of sense to not go into the situation undefended. Especially as their first meeting had been an attempt to mug Quentin. Anyone could anticipate a less than favorable response to a second encounter.
“Why did you come here?” Quentin murmured, turning his focus to Wilson. “This is not where we first met, but even if it were why would you risk exposure this way?”
Wilson shrugged again. “Skinny thing like you, dressed like that? You get a lot of exercise. A mile-long beach ain’t gonna cut it, so odds are you daisy-chain your way along as much of the coast as you need to, and you exercise regularly. Someone that neat and tidy is usually pretty predictable and returns to the same spots over and over, but you weren’t at La Jolla Shores, so we cast the net wider. And the exposure?” Wilson shrugged. “Like I say. I’m curious. I’ve never met anyone who can bounce me the way you did. You’re different, and I’d like us to talk. But not here. Here’s too open. Anyone can listen in.”
Quentin raised an eyebrow and glanced around. There were very few people around, and those nearby were walking with a purpose rather than lingering.
“It’s complicated. And I promise you I’m not a petty thief or a crazed murderer or whatever else you might be thinking. There’s a bigger picture.” Wilson hesitated, then leaned in and lowered his voice. “I’d really like to talk it over with you. We can ask each other all the questions we could ever want to, and then when all’s said and done at least you know why I go around trying to rob rich people around here, huh?”
He regarded Wilson a while and watched the man’s expression waver between hopeful and desperate. “Where, then, do you propose is safe to speak?”
Wilson’s features creased in a triumphant grin and he clapped Quentin on the shoulder. “I have a place in Lower Hermosa.” He gestured behind himself. “Just south of here, on the Camino de la Costa, up in the six thousands. Come by later. We can talk, you can see what we’re doing there, and maybe then you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.”
Quentin’s glance flitted to Wilson’s hand, and the man removed it quickly. “Very well,” he murmured. “The address?”
“6208,” Wilson answered. “Little white gate. Can’t miss it.”
Quentin inclined his head and eased to his feet. “After lunch, then.”
He gently ushered the dogs forward and cast a polite nod to Torres and Wagner as he passed them, and then continued on along Neptune Place until he could take the first available street away from the beach. Only then, as he ascended a hill whose sidewalks were awkwardly lined with palms which cut into the space at regular intervals, did he allow his features to relax.
If Wilson were up to anything underhanded, he’d offered Quentin the ideal opportunity to work out what that might be, and it would certainly pass the time until he could see Laurence again.
He felt a slight, small smile break out. This was progress, was it not? He was interacting with common people, and much more importantly, perhaps he had found others like himself. Laurence and Myriam were the only other psychics he knew of, but Wilson not only spoke of such matters in front of Torres and Wagner, he anticipated that both could defend him.
The odds were high that Wilson’s bodyguards not only knew what he was, but were also psychic, and the opportunity to learn more was too great to pass up.
Whatever happened, at least he would find some answers.
About the Author
AK Faulkner is the author of the Inheritance series of contemporary fantasy novels, which begins with Jack of Thorns.
AK lives just outside of London, England, with a charismatic Corgi. Together they fight crime and try not to light too many fires on the way.
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