Today I’m delighted to host an excerpt from Without Light or Guide, the second book in the Los Nefilim series by my friend Teresa Frohock. She’s a really great writer, as you can tell from the below. Enjoy!
The story ….
The hero of Los Nefilim is Diago Alvarez. He, and his lover, Miquel, are part of a secretive group known as Los Nefilim (Spanish for The Nephilim–say it like “The Mob” and you’ve got the right idea). This group of angelic Nefilim monitor daimonic activity for the angels.
The only thing is: Diago is not fully angelic. He is part daimon, part angel, and his very unique form of magic is sought by both sides in the conflict between angels and daimons. Diago moves through a world of espionage and partisan warfare with a rogues’ gallery filled with angels, daimons, and mortals.
In the first novella of the series, In Midnight’s Silence, the reader is introduced to Diago’s world. We meet Diago, Miquel, and Diago’s son, Rafael. We get a brief glimpse of the shadowy world of Los Nefilim and its king, Guillermo Ramirez.
In Without Light or Guide, Diago’s story continues as he tries very hard to fit in with Los Nefilim, but his daimonic heritage follows him, and seeds distrust among the other Nefilim. Guillermo assigns Diago to work with another Nefil by the name of Garcia, who is Guillermo’s plant within the Urban Guard.
In this scene from Chapter 2, Diago has just experienced a tense encounter with his dead father, Alvaro, on the subway. He did not mention seeing his father to Garcia, but Garcia suspects something happened. Hoping to avoid Garcia’s questions, Diago walks ahead, but Garcia isn’t quite ready to let the incident go …
Diago’s musings were cut short when a hand gripped his arm. Startled, he turned to find Garcia had caught up to him.
Diago tried to pull free without drawing attention to them but Garcia’s grip tightened. “What—?”
“Just shut up and move.” He steered Diago into the mouth of an alley.
Diago jerked free and put his back against the wall. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Garcia jabbed Diago’s shoulder with one sharp finger. “I asked you a question on the train and you lied to me. I’m going to pretend it was because of the mortals. You’ve got one more chance to get right with me. What happened?”
Be careful. You need him. You need him to vouch for you. Diago evaded the question and kept his tone even. “I don’t report to you.”
Garcia coughed a humorless laugh. “You’re confused, my friend.”
“We’re not friends.”
Garcia’s tone turned sly. “Then you’d better make some, Alvarez. You might have fooled Guillermo, but the rest of us see you for what you are. You’re daimon and you’ll wind up just like your father. You did in your firstborn life and you will here, too.” Garcia punctuated his last statement with a hard jab to Diago’s shoulder.
You’ll wind up just like your father. The accusation sealed any doubts Diago had about telling Garcia what happened at the bridge. “Don’t touch me again.”
Garcia ignored the warning. “You report to whomever asks you a question. Do you understand me?” He stabbed his finger in Diago’s direction.
Diago’s temper overrode his reason. He caught Garcia’s fist and squeezed until Garcia’s knuckles popped.
Why did Garcia push him? Does he want me to lash out? Of course, he did. This was probably how he provoked Miquel into punching him. The whole discussion was nothing more than an attempt to rouse Diago’s temper. And it’s working. Except Diago wasn’t quite as hotheaded as Miquel. This altercation didn’t need to progress any further than it already had.
Striking Garcia wasn’t necessary. Let him feel my power, acknowledge it with his face. Holding tight to the other Nefil’s fist, Diago waited until Garcia’s lips thinned to a single white line. Only then did he speak. “Until I know who I can trust, I report to Guillermo. No one else.” He opened his fingers.
For one tense moment, Diago was sure Garcia intended to escalate the confrontation. Something in Diago’s eyes stopped him.
Garcia looked away and fumbled for his cigarettes. When he struck the match, flakes of sulfur cascaded to the sidewalk. “I’m going with you to see Ferrer.”
No. Not now. Not even if you begged. Diago wasn’t going to be monitored by the likes of Garcia. “No.”
“You’re going to botch this without help.”
Or you’ll make sure the interview goes badly for me. Garcia would love nothing more than to report Diago’s incompetence to Guillermo. Work around him. “How can I earn your trust if you are always looking over my shoulder? I go in alone or not at all. Then you can explain the situation to Guillermo.”
The tip of Garcia’s cigarette glowed like the fire in his eyes. He exhaled a cloud of smoke as caustic as his words. “Go alone. But I’m watching you.”
Diago didn’t flinch from the inspector’s stare. “Fair enough.” So much for Guillermo’s hope our working together would cement trust between us.
Throughout Barcelona, the mortals Diago has known are dying gruesome deaths. A daimon is loose in the city, and Diago’s only clue to her identity is a mysterious phrase written in smoke: She Hunts.
The year is 1931.
The city is Barcelona.
The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind.
The hunt begins.
T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and numerous short stories. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is from Harper Voyager Impulse.