Hello Everydragon! I am doing a “Fresh Release” post for the super great author Adrienne Wilder. I first heard of her when I saw her City of Dragons book and recently I have been reminded of it and will be reading it very soon and even though novels aren’t my fancy, I will try my hardest to finish it. The new book she has just released, Seven, is a new Sci Fi tale from the Dragonauthor. There are no dragons/Kin in this book, but you need to give it a try anyway. Below is the cover, blurb and excerpt. Her other books include the City of Dragons series which has the Gray Zone series (stories about Lesser Bred Kin and their mates living in Atlanta’s Gray Zone), the Darwin’s Theory series (also about Kin/Dragons and features two lovers (one dragon and one human) trying to navigate the risky waters of life) and the two main non-love-story books called City of Dragons: Blood Bonds and City of Dragons: Of Flesh and Blood. Her non-dragon books are called The God Code, He Speaks Dead, Jack and Seven. Until next time, everypony, see you later!

–L’Poni

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New7CoverfullFinalSMALLSeven by Adrienne Wilder

Click the cover to see it full size!

A past that won’t let go…

After losing his job, Chase Sarim finds himself living in a shit hole apartment. His new neighbor calls himself Seven, wears aluminum hats and carries around a ceramic rooster.  He also seems to know what Chase is going to do or say before it happens, and talks about people named, Nine, Three, and Four.
Chase knows better than to get involved with someone like that.
But some men are just to hot too resist.

 A future of fear…

Seven has been running for his life ever since he escaped Sub-Floor. In order to elude those hunting him he can never have a home, never have friends…and love? It’s nothing but a weakness that can be used against him.
Hiding had become a way of life. Until Chase.

Greed, power, and corruption…

Dr. David Stone knows Seven has a secret. Why else would his colleague, Dr. Radcliff, help Seven escape Sub-Floor?
It wasn’t the loss of a defective precog that bothered Stone, it was the fact Radcliff was willing to die to keep Stone from knowing why he did it.  Or better yet, how.
Two men, one love, brought together by a series of impossible circumstances and destined by fate for an entangled future.
But maybe fate has nothing to do with it.

Excerpt~!

Chapter One

~~~

It was official; Chase Sarim’s week couldn’t get any worse.

He’d thought Monday was bad, the day he lost his job as lead investigator with Inside Sources. Then there was Tuesday, the day his boss had called and offered to keep him on the payroll provided he offer up certain favors after hours when her husband worked late. Then as if Monday hadn’t already shit on his day, there was Tuesday evening when Chase received the notice from human resources at The Inside that he had to move out of the condo they’d leased.

He should have thought about where he was going to live if he turned the bitch down but there was no faking an erection.

Chase couldn’t even bend over and take it.

Without an apartment, he’d worked fast to find a place to live. Chase had some money saved up, but he also knew it wouldn’t go far living in the city. And if he was going to find another decent journalist position, he needed to stay in the city.

Considering the dog-slaughter-dog market and the current economy, that was probably going to take longer than he even wanted to fantasize about.

So he’d gone cheap.

Real cheap.

Chase had looked at the apartment—online—talked to the real estate agent—online—obtained references—online.

Now, standing in the hallway, it was obvious he’d gotten fucked—online.

Here it was, Wednesday, and Monday looked like the lottery jackpot.

The outside of the building was worn, but the inside? Large cracks and curling flakes of paint covered the apartment door marked C4. How appropriate, the unit was even named after the explosive needed to demolish this dump. Down the hall another door hung from its hinges. Streamers of yellow police tape crisscrossed the opening.

That wasn’t a good sign.

Hardly any of the lights in the corridor worked, and what did work didn’t put a dent in the dark walls. They’d probably used the color because it hid the blood stains. Or because it went well with the overwhelming stench of…was that piss and vomit?

At least he wouldn’t have to worry about the rats burrowing into his couch.

The condo had been furnished, so the only possessions Chase had were his laptop, a Samsonite full of clothes and the brown sack of groceries he’d picked up at the corner store.

He pulled the keys out of his pocket. One for the doorknob and two more for each of the deadbolts.

Chase told himself to be grateful. He had a roof over his head, electricity, running water, heat and air. That is, if the advertisement on Apartment Search hadn’t been a complete lie. So far the Greenstone Apartments were more of the south side of shit brown.

Of course, he could be in a homeless shelter.

Chase squinted at the black pellets near the doorjamb. He poked them with the toe of his tennis shoe. No, nothing like a homeless shelter. They had standards.

Martin had better score Chase that position with The Tribune. It had only been three days, but the man was known to work greater miracles. Chase took out his cell phone and dialed.

It rang twice before Martin answered. “So, did you get moved in?”

“Please tell me The Tribune is begging for me to start tomorrow.”

Martin laughed. “Aw, c’mon, Chase, it can’t be that bad.”

“The apartment next to mine has no door, the hall smells like a public bathroom in Underground Atlanta, and there’s rat shit on my welcome mat.”

“You could always apologize to your old man and tell him you’ll take a position on the board at his firm.”

“I’d rather sleep with the rats.” And with the way things were going so far? “So have you heard from them or not?”

“Who?”

“The Tribune?”

“Uh, no. No, I haven’t. I’m sorry.”

“Jesus, Martin, what the hell do I pay you for?”

“My good looks, the occasional blow job, and my constant supply of Jim Beam.”

“You’ve never given me a blow job.”

“True, but you’ve fantasized about it.”

The paper bag of groceries crackled as Chase put them down. He tried to figure out which key went to what lock. “So, any word?”

The sound Martin made wasn’t a happy one. “No, man. I’m sorry. Whoever you pissed off at Inside Sources really has it out for you.”

“I didn’t piss anyone off.”

“They’re accusing you of plagiarism.”

“And you know as well as I do it’s nothing but a lie. This is more of my dad’s BS, you know how he is.” Martin was there after the wreck, during the trial, and Jacob’s funeral. Not to mention the two years afterward, when Chase had lost the will to find the light of day.

“You should have been upfront with them and told them your real name. Then they might have given you the benefit of the doubt on the claim of plagiarism.”

“And if I had, my dad would have found me sooner.” Chase unlocked the deadbolts. “Instead of years working for Inside Sources, I would have gotten months.”

“C’mon, you act like he’s Daddy Dearest or something. He means well.”

“Don’t even go there with me.”

“Chase.”

“I’m serious, Martin. Don’t. I’m tired of people defending him. He’s a son-of-a-bitch.”

“It’s been fifteen years.”

“And it could be fifteen hundred years. My opinion isn’t going to change.”

Martin sighed. “Do you want me to bring you some furniture when I run by your old place and pick up those boxes?”

“Yeah. Just grab some essentials from Goodwill.”

“Nah. I’ve got some stuff in storage from when I moved out of Maggie’s house last year. I’ll go through that first.”

“I don’t want to take your shit.”

“You’re not taking it. I’m offering it.”

“Then I’ll pay you.”

“You don’t have the extra money to pay me.”

Chase opened his mouth to argue then realized Martin was right. “Fine. When can you bring it?”

“Tomorrow?”

“Sounds good.” He worked the key out of the door knob. “And don’t forget the Beam.”

“Never, my friend. Never.”

Chase hung up and slipped his cell phone into his pocket. Footsteps caught his attention.

One of the other tenants topped the stairs. Stairs, because this hole in the wall had been built in the caveman era and didn’t have an elevator.

If the light had been better maybe Chase could have seen more of the other guy. All he knew for sure was his neighbor had pale skin, dark hair, and was slightly shorter. He also had what looked like a year’s worth of mail and magazines crammed under one arm and a cactus plant in a clay pot in his other hand. He stopped at the last door on the opposite side of the hall and made an attempt to dig his keys out of the pocket of his jeans.

There were five dead bolts in the door. Five? Jesus, the crime must be really bad here. Chase glanced at the crime scene tape.

His neighbor maneuvered a key into one of the locks. It took him forever to get it turned.

Chase decided maybe a good deed or two could help him escape this ninth level of hell. If nothing else he’d have someone to drink beers with or watch a game. He’d need a TV, of course. A sofa might be good too.

He walked over. “Do you need some help?”

Neighbor guy jumped and the batch of mail shot all over the floor like he’d been slapped in the back. By some miracle, he managed to hang onto the cactus plant. Nervous Neighbor dropped to his knees and made a mad dash to scrape up the mail.

Chase knelt. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He picked up a Men’s Magazine wrapped in cellophane. Bands of color were placed in strategic locations. Nervous Neighbor snatched it away and added it to the growing pile near the cactus plant. Ah, so that was the problem, he was embarrassed about the skin-mags. Granted, there were quite a few of them; Curve, Freshman, Out 100.

Chase piled up a stack of junk mail. “You don’t have anything to worry about. We bat for the same team.”

Nervous Neighbor froze in mid-shovel.

Okay, maybe that was the wrong thing to say. “My name’s Chase, Chase Sarim.” Chase held out his hand.

Neighbor guy still didn’t move.

Chase resumed scraping up the mail. When he sat back to shuffle the envelopes into a stack, he caught sight of the most beautiful green eyes he’d ever seen. There was no way in hell that color could be anything but contacts. As if his eyes weren’t pretty enough, his neighbor had a face to match. Longish features surrounded by dark wild hair. A shadow of a beard dusted his chin. It did nothing to dull the angles of his cheeks, which gave him a slight Asian appearance.

Nervous Neighbor lifted his hand and held it out. “Seven.” His fingers were long, elegant, with large knuckles.

Chase cleared his throat and shook the man’s hand. “Stephen what?”

The man’s owlish green eyes blinked at him, and his pink lips curled up. “Not Stephen, Seven.”

“Seven? Like the number?”

He nodded.

Seven made no effort to break their connection until Chase pulled away.

“You’ve got an impressive amount of mail.” Chase resumed picking up the envelopes. “You must have been out of town for a while.” He organized a second stack, put it with the first, and held it out.

“Something like that.” In slow motion, Seven closed his grip around the stack of envelopes. He put it with the rest and looked away.

The world snapped back, time ran, and the planet resumed its normal rotation around the sun. Chase sucked in a breath.

Christ, he seriously needed to get laid.

Seven stood with the mail tucked under one arm, the keys in his free hand. He worked the locks, and each one turned with a final thump.

Chase ran a hand through his hair. “So…uh.”

Seven shook his head. “It wouldn’t be safe.”

“Huh?”

“We shouldn’t hang out. They’ll see you if you’re around me too much. And we really shouldn’t talk. In fact, you should probably pretend you never saw me. Not that it would do much, but it couldn’t hurt.”

Seven opened the door and disappeared inside. Chase stared, trying to figure out what had just happened. When nothing came to him, he turned to walk away. He stumbled over the cactus plant. Chase picked it up.

A smart person would leave it beside the door. Chase thought about his week. Why ruin his record? He started to knock, and the door opened. A yellow mug was thrust in his face, while at the same time Seven snagged the clay pot from the cradle of Chase’s arm.

Chase stared at the strange crumpled metal cap Seven wore on his head. It brought to mind Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers. Seven wiggled the cup under Chase’s nose. He took it, not sure if he wanted to know what the white powdery stuff was or not. It couldn’t have been safe. People who wore aluminum hats had to be inherently dangerous.

“It’s sugar.” Seven gave him one last shy smile and shut the door.

Chase stared at the cup for a few moments before walking back to his apartment.

Just his luck. Best looking guy he’d seen outside of a Tommy Hilfiger advertisement, and he was crazy as a shithouse rat.

Chase undid the lock in the door knob and kicked it open. At least the unit was clean. Unfortunately the Super’s idea of furnished was a coffeemaker, a futon, and a plastic kitchen table with a single wooden chair.

It dawned on Chase he might have to get used to this kind of lifestyle. With a plagiarism accusation, there was a good chance his future would be pay-by-the-word internet articles.

No. That wasn’t going to happen because Martin would come through. He always did.

Chase shoved his suitcase inside and grabbed his bag of groceries. He sat the cup on the counter beside his week’s worth of rations and gave the coffeemaker a once over. No rat shit, no strange fuzzy mold. He went to work excavating the contents of the grocery bag; ramen noodles, macaroni, and a can of—ah, coffee. That’s what he needed. A good hot cup. He dug out the coffee filters, powdered cream and…

Goddamn it, he forgot the sugar.

Chase looked at the cup.

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