Speaking of the excerpt, here it is!
(Not quite the beginning of the book, but I thought I'd start where Aurora's action does.)
Soft grass cushioned Aurora’s fall. She struggled to sit up, but her head spun from passing through the portal. Closing her eyes, she counted to ten. When the dizziness passed, she sat up and looked around. Xochitl’s car was nowhere to be seen, but the light from the moon and lamp posts made her realize that she knew where she was, the Fort Sherman Park. The wooden fencing and little fort structure brought back memories of her and her friends climbing the fort and going down the slide at night, when there were no kids around to point out that they were too big for that.
She peered around and saw no sign of Xochitl’s car. Had it gone off toward the lake or to the parking lot? She didn’t see any tire marks on the grass. Maybe she’d dropped from the portal in a different part of town since she and Xochitl weren’t connected when she jumped in after her. Hell, she didn’t even know if Xochitl had seen her running behind the Datsun.
Aurora scrambled to her feet and stretched, groaning as her back popped. At least she knew where Xoch’ would go. With no family here, Silas and Akasha were all she had. Well, she could possibly go to Sylvis’s parents’ place, or even Aurora’s, but that was doubtful. No one tolerated Xochitl’s weirdness more than Silas and ‘Kash. That’s why they all practically lived there until they moved to Seattle.
Music and laughter from a distance reached her ears. Aurora turned around and saw a glimpse of light from the beach ahead. Was there some sort of party going on over there? She perked up. Maybe someone there had a phone she could use. Hopefully Akasha hadn’t changed her number in the last six months.
As she crossed the park and came to the sidewalk and short concrete wall that separated the park from the beach, she had to do a double take. Instead of bikinis, shorts, and tank tops, the people there were decked out in tuxedos and fancy gowns. Tables were set out on the edges with fancy glasses and plates with slices of a big white cake. Now it made sense. This was a wedding party. She wondered if they’d needed a permit, or if you could just head out to the beach and do it. Maybe that was why it was going on at night, so they didn’t have sunbathers and kids and swimmers in their way.
Oh well. Someone would have a phone. And maybe they’d let her have a piece of cake and a glass of champagne. The munchies and cotton mouth were kicking in from that blunt she’d smoked with Beau. She hefted her leg over the short concrete barrier and hopped onto the sand.
As she neared the party, a man split off from the group and approached her.
Aurora sucked in a breath as he passed under the lights strung up around the area. He wore a tailored suit that clearly did not come off the rack and hugged a fit frame that she knew would be a work of art beneath the cloth. His hair was almost shoulder length, black and wavy, framing a face that could have been stamped on a Roman coin. Eyes the color of coffee bored into hers.
When he spoke, her knees went weak at the rich timbre of his voice. “What brings you out to the beach at this hour?”
“I… um…” Aurora swallowed, trying to find sensible words. Not only was it impossible to say that she’d been dumped in the park by a portal, but it was hard to speak period to a man as luscious as this. And then came the old wariness as she remembered where she was. A town that was ninety-eight percent white… a town where about ten percent of those people hated her race. She peered back up at him, looking for that tell tale gleam of scorn or disgust at seeing a black person. All she saw was mild curiosity and something else that made heat flood to her belly. He wasn’t exactly checking her out, but there was some sort of interest there. “Um, you didn’t happen to see a blue Datsun station wagon come by here, have you?”
His inky black brows drew together at the odd question. “No. I haven’t seen a Datsun wagon in years. A few Zs and pickups, though, but not tonight.” He had a trace of an accent that she couldn’t quite place. Somewhere back east, definitely. The hot guy stepped a bit closer, his features growing even more gorgeous as he came more into view. “Are you all right? You look a little disoriented.”
She nodded in agreement. “I suppose I am. Would you happen to have a phone? I need to call a friend and see if they can pick me up.”
“Not on me, I’m afraid. It ruins the lines.” He smoothed his hands down his suit.
“And what fine lines they are,” she blurted. Heat rushed to her cheeks. “I am so sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”
He chuckled, a low, velvety sound that should be rated for mature audiences only. “Forget about it. I am flattered.”
Another wave of dizziness made her knees buckle for a second. Clearly interdimensional travel and being high didn’t mix.
The man grasped her shoulder with a firm, but gentle hand. “Hey, are you okay?”
She nodded. “Yeah, just had a dizzy spell. I forgot to have dinner.” No way was she revealing to this classy, hunk of sexy that she was kinda baked. Not to mention the whole dropping through a portal into the park.
“Well, why don’t you sit down for a moment and I’ll bring you some cake. Would you like some champagne?”
“That would be wonderful.” Her mouth felt like Death Valley. “And could you…” she trailed off as he jogged back to the party before she could ask him to see if someone had a phone she could use. Everyone here probably had seven hundred dollar iPhones. Gone were the days of the cheap but sturdy Nokias.
Mr. Hottie McHotstuff returned with a large slice of cake and a delicate flute of champagne. Aurora thanked him and had to use every bit of her will not to gorge the cake like a heathen. But damn, that was good cake, white and fluffy with custard filling and cream cheese frosting. Even then, she was subconscious of every crumb that stuck to her lips.
“Are you feeling better?” The man took the plate and handed her the champagne, which she tried to sip as ladylike as possible when she was more accustomed to chugging beers and downing shots.
“Much better, thanks.” She looked back at the party that was about thirty feet off. The people were laughing and talking and only casting her occasional curious glances. “So, is this a private party?”
He nodded. “A double wedding. I do not want to offend, but I’d rather not interrupt it.”
“Don’t worry, I understand,” she quickly assured him. "My mom is a dragon when it comes to outsiders at family gatherings. My brother wasn’t even allowed to bring girlfriends over until they were absolutely certain things were serious.” A lump in her throat formed as she realized just how much she missed her family. She took a sip of champagne and closed her eyes, savoring the taste. This was definitely a top shelf brand. “I should probably head over to the resort and find a phone. My friends are wondering where I am.”
“I have one in my car,” the man said.
She chuckled. “I know better than to get in a car with a stranger.”
“My name’s Tony.” He extended his hand. “Now we’re not strangers.” His eyes narrowed as he peered at her with an intensity that made her shiver despite the warm summer night air. “In fact, I’m not no sure we are strangers. I swear I’ve seen you before.”
Doubtless he had, for the news probably ran stories on her band’s disappearance. But he definitely wasn’t a metalhead, or he would have recognized her immediately. And she wasn’t about to tell him she was a missing person. Not before she was reunited with her friends and they announced their return together.
“I’m Aurora,” she replied and took it. His grasp was warm and vibrating with barely suppressed strength. “And I know we’ve never met. You don’t seem like the kind of man I’d easily forget.” She instilled a flirtatious tone that sounded unfamiliar to her. Damn, why did this man have to affect her so intently? He seemed to be everything a girl could dream of: handsome, kind, wealthy. But now was not the time for her to try dating again. Not with all that crazy prophecy stuff going on and her career on the line.
That rich and sinful laugh once more emerged from Tony’s lips. “Again, such charming words. Are you a writer?”
She smirked. “Sometimes.” She usually wrote lyrics for at least half the songs on every album.
He looked back at the wedding party and then back at her. “No offense to this lovely gathering, but you are far more interesting company. I don’t suppose you’d want to go for a walk with me during your quest for a phone. And again, my offer still stands to use mine.” He pointed at a sleek black sports car in the parking lot under the streetlight. “As you can see, it’s near the street and in the light, so you’re perfectly safe. Or, we can go to the resort and have a drink, maybe some dinner since you're still hungry.”
Damn, a drink sounded nice. A drink and a few minutes not worrying about the chaos of her life. But she needed to find Xochitl and… You know what? Xochitl had her car. She was probably at Akasha and Silas’s place by now. Who says she couldn’t relax and have a drink with a hot guy for a few minutes. A few minutes of blissful normality after months of weirdness. Then she could just call Akasha and they’d pick her up.
“Well,” she began.
“Aurora!” Beau shouted from beneath one of the huge pines in the park. Sylvis stood beside him, eyeing the wedding party quizzically.
Her eyes widened. Zareth must have brought them over. She glanced back at Tony. “I have to go. My friends found me.”
He inclined his head in an old-fashioned way. “While I’m glad you’re situation has been resolved, I do regret that our talk has been cut short.”
“Me too.” She grinned and lifted herself up on her toes and kissed him on the cheek. He smelled like a heady combination of expensive tobacco and vanilla beans, and for a moment she was tempted to wrap herself around him and explore him further.
She turned and hefted herself over the concrete barrier and jogged back to the park before she could gauge his reaction to her stolen kiss. Though it didn’t really matter one was or another.
She’d never see him again.