Excerpt from Rock Hard

     Tingles. How Kane loved the feeling of pins and needles in every cell of his body. Pricks and pain, the agonizing revitalization of stone into flesh. Ants on his skin. Electricity through his nerves. Pulse and power and life again.
     Alive again.
     And free.
     For seventy-two hours, he was free.
     He curled his fingers first then tried to inhale. It was the breath that took the longest. He'd feel his face move, his blood surge, and even his toes curl before he could draw breath again.
     His buttocks clenched, agony like fire replacing the cold numbness. The first time he'd animated, it had been with screams. Silent ones at first, but then the rasping screech when he'd found breath.
     His knees bent, softening like soggy paper and his tenth-great nephew James was there to keep him from falling.
     A thousand knife stabs rolled up his spine from base to brain. He arched without willing it, his heavy arms pulling back as he nearly threw the young man off the pedestal.
     His ears came next, sound rushing in like a cacophony. He heard when he was stone, but it was nothing compared to the nuances he caught as flesh.
     Sight too. Bold colors flared where before there had been only muted tones.
     He felt the brush of his hair—individual strands—as a lock fell across his cheek and his skin screamed at the caress.
     True sensation.
     True pain.
     True air.
     The razor sharp cut of breath as it shredded his throat and made mincemeat of his insides. And yet he welcomed it. He loved it.
     He was flesh again and...
     Cold. So cold.
     James was there, offering him a robe but he didn't even look at it. Instead, he focused on Hugh. "Wh—"
     His voice didn't work yet. It would take a moment more. Meanwhile, Hugh lifted up two pictures of women, neither of whom was the American woman who had so caught his attention.
     "I believe these are the most promising candidates this year–"
     "No." His voice felt and sounded like rocks scraping together, but he got the word out. Meanwhile, James had set down the robe and offered him a glass.
     He grabbed it and drank. Brandy. Sweet blackberry bandy that throbbed as it burned down his throat. But it helped.
     "If you would but listen," Hugh said, his tone patient and condescending.
     "American." Hell. He didn't even know her name. In truth, he didn't really know what American meant, though he had a vague guess it was that rebellious British colony that styled itself as the United States.
     Fortunately, James was of a more compliant nature. "She's in the last room on the right."
     The furthest away. He turned and headed in her direction, but then paused.
     "Name?" he rasped out.
     "Please listen—" Hugh began.
     "Jacqueline Myles," James answered.
     Good man.
     He left the room and headed for hers.
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