Hi guys! We have Alexis Duran popping in today with her upcoming instalment of the Order of the Black Knights series Matthias, we have a brilliant guest post where Alexis chats about Matthias, and we have a great excerpt, so guys check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
From Louisiana swamp rat to revivalist huckster to skilled con artist, Matthias Krall clawed his way out of poverty using his natural gifts of grift and manipulation to become the leader of an exclusive retreat center. Exploiting the guise of spiritual guru, Matthias seduces the rich and powerful into turning over their lives and fortunes to his control. But wealth and a small cadre of loyal followers can’t protect Matthias from the betrayal he knows is imminent. Everyone wants what Matthias has, except for one man who wants to destroy it. Dylan Connelly is a reporter who’s determined to prove the charismatic recluse is not only a fraud but a murderer.
Irresistibly drawn to Dylan despite the warnings in his gut, Matthias lures Dylan to his island retreat, determined to destroy his enemy once and for all.
Multi Author series
If you’re familiar with my past work, Matthias: Order of the Black Knights might come as a surprise to you. I know it did to me! I’ve never written in a shared world/series context before. The Order of the Black Knights is the brainchild of Thianna Durston, whose book Vespar is coming out in January by the way. I immediately loved the idea of the knights and for the most part the few rules came as a welcome change of pace from my usual free-wheeling ways. However there was one stipulation that caused me a certain amount of grief: these books are not fantasies, but contemporary thrillers. Although Matthias has a magical framework (the knights have been cursed to be reborn life after life as killers) there is no magic within the story itself. Eeep!
This was a real challenge to me, a dedicated fantasist through and through. I can do this, I told myself and then without thinking about the problems it would cause I created an extra test for myself by giving Matthias the power to control others through hypnotism. Now normally I would say he could do this because Magic. But in this book I had to present a plausible explanation for how Matthias is able to con the rich and powerful into turning over their wealth and sometimes their lives to him. I researched hypnotism and discovered that it doesn’t work like in the movies, with Vincent Price swinging a watch in front of his victim’s face and then sending out the resulting zombie to do his bidding. Turns out the person being hypnotized has to cooperate! This forced me to write scenes showing how Matthias’s clients actually want to be controlled. They want to turn their lives over to this charismatic, confident and oh-so-sexy man, because they desperately want what’s he’s offering. Making Matthias into a convincing spiritual guru also helped me to add more depth to his character and make him into the kind of leader people will gladly follow off a cliff. I loved the dynamic this ended up creating between Matthias and his enemy/lover Dylan, who although he suspects that Matthias is a con man, still wants to give up control to him.
I’ve selected an excerpt to share today that shows a bit of what Matthias is up against when he attempts to hypnotize Dylan.
From Matthias: Order of the Black Knights:
Dylan finally appeared to stop struggling to hold his gaze steady and just allowed it to rest in place. Matthias recognized the shift into a more dreamlike state.
“Your body is here at Rising Star, reclining in this chair, and I’m here next to you, but your consciousness, your deepest memory, is going home.”
Dylan’s lips parted slightly, and his eyes dimmed to a moss green as his mental activity slowed. He still looked directly at Matthias but wasn’t seeing him anymore.
“The power of creation is within you. The life force of the universe flows through your blood. False beliefs about your true nature restrict your access to this force. We’ll draw them out into the open and release them, one by one. Are you ready?”
“Sure.” Dylan appeared to be totally relaxed, nearing a trance level. Matthias reached out and lightly touched Dylan’s wrist. A shiver ran the length of Dylan’s body. The reaction was almost imperceptible, yet it confirmed Matthias’s suspicion that Dylan wasn’t nearly as calm as he pretended to be.
“Let your eyelids close,” Matthias instructed. He took Dylan’s hand and rolled it over, holding the wrist with one hand and trailing a finger down Dylan’s palm. His lifeline was long and intersected by many small breaks. Its close resemblance to his own stirred Matthias’s unease.
He stroked Dylan’s skin very lightly, just a whisper really, and Dylan quivered beneath his touch. Then he increased the pressure on sensitive trigger points to release tension in other parts of the body.
Dylan’s skin went from cool to sweaty, and his pulse quickened. Matthias knew he was undoing whatever relaxation he’d managed to create, but he also knew Dylan wasn’t going to let him put him in a trance. Not yet. He’d have to push through Dylan’s boundaries in a different way.
“Your true nature wants to soar, to be free. What’s holding you down?”
Dylan didn’t respond. He was probably wondering how someone in a trance should sound. He licked his lips, and Matthias fought the urge to lift the hand he held to his mouth and nibble on Dylan’s fingers.
“I don’t know what I want,” Dylan said. “I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life.”
“I don’t know. But I do know there’s something I’m supposed to do… or someone….” He opened his eyes slightly to look at Matthias. The connection lasted an instant before his gaze drifted to the window. “That’s just an excuse for lack of ambition.”
“That’s one of many lies you’ve been told. By doubting your inner voice, you abuse your heart. Consider the possibility, for now, that your sense of a greater destiny is true. Can you abide with the feeling without attacking it?”
“When you say destiny, it doesn’t sound so melodramatic.”
“Then take your confidence from me. Understand I believe without a shadow of a doubt you have a greater destiny, and your divine spark will allow you to achieve it.”
Matthias had said these words, or something close to them, hundreds of times, but now he became very still as a chill ran through him. Dylan did have a destiny beyond the mundane life of an ordinary man, and somehow, that destiny was tied to Matthias.
Matthias didn’t worry much about the feel-good platitudes he spoke, but his approach was based on one core belief: the divine spark. A fire that traveled through lifetimes, across galaxies, and into the blood at a subatomic, ancestral level.
His own spark reacted to Dylan’s, flaming hotter, expanding to the edges of his skin and simmering like hot coals waiting for fuel to burn. A deep-seated need to engulf Dylan, to devour and be devoured swept through him. All the while he held Dylan’s palm, touch light, but he couldn’t stop his skin from heating. He should let go and try another angle to lure Dylan into complacency.
“What you’re doing to my hand is the opposite of relaxing, Matthias,” Dylan said, dreamy act abandoned, perfectly alert.
Matthias had been pressing his thumb into the center of Dylan’s palm, circling, probing. He eased off. Damn. He’d blown it, and there was only one way to regroup. Dreaded honesty.
“I’m drawn to you. Drawn into you.”
Dylan looked at him and didn’t flinch. He also didn’t pull his hand away. He seemed to have difficulty breathing.
Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing. She’s worked in museums, finance, film production and for several performing arts organizations. Her favorite job so far has been inventorying the collection of a haunted Victorian Mansion. She is the author of the Masters and Mages and Edge of Night m/m fantasy series as well as several stand alone romances. Her fiction has won awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference. She lives with one dog and four and a half cats. She is currently working on the next Edge of Night novel and always has several new ideas brewing.