Saturday, September 02, 2017

Dark Genesis - New Epilogue!

As I bring Dark Genesis into print, I am adding an epilogue to Alyssa's story.  It's the original ending I had planned for the story, and left out because I was unsure if I was going to continue the story as a trilogy.  This new epilogue will bridge the gap between Dark Genesis and the return to the world of witches in the next Hunters of the Dark book, Dark Revelations.  It also ties up some loose threads in Dark Genesis, while, you know, leaving some more loose threads.  But I always thought that this was an appropriate ending for the book, and now it will be the official ending.

If you already have the e-book version of Dark Genesis, usually simply archiving the book on your device and redownloading it will produce the updated version.  Some devices will let you know that there's an updated version that you can download automatically.  I've also included it below, for those of you who can't wait for the new version to hit the various markets.  Enjoy, friends!


Epilogue
Five months later…

In the distance, Alyssa could hear the cries of men as they engaged in battle around a castle keep.  She gazed past the red tents flapping in the strong winds as crashing swords and magical blasts echoed over the hillside.
“I hear they expect to infiltrate the werewolf den by nightfall,” Parker said softly beside her.
Alyssa lifted her head slightly as his fingers lightly traced over her hip.  Smiling to herself, Alyssa slapped his hands.  “There will be plenty of time for that later,” she reprimanded him.  “We came here to see Vessa and Eric.”
“I don’t think Eric needs us,” Parker murmured.  “Seems to be doing well enough on his own.”
Alyssa turned from the sight of the battle and began walking along the tents again.  “Yes, well Lace…er, Her Majesty has sent us with a message to the frontlines, and I intend to put it directly into his hands as ordered, if you don’t mind.”
“You’re no fun when you’re all business,” Parker sighed, matching her long strides.  “But one thing is for sure, Prince Air certainly has the ability to conquer this land, as was foreseen.”
Alyssa nodded slowly.  She’d been thinking the same thing lately.  Despite the hags’ spell displacing her for their own selfish needs, they had been accurate.  Eric was a force to be reckoned with.  He had easily conquered lands previously unbreeched, belonging to all manner of monsters terrorizing the lands.  Now, they were ruled under the banners shared by Lace’s kingdom and the Vikings of the north.  A partnership unlike any before had been born of the adventures Lace had shared with Eric, not to mention Alyssa and the others.  And with the former ruling monarch’s treachery still fresh, Lace knew that she could count on Eric, where she was still trying to figure out whom she could trust in her own kingdom.  Alyssa and Parker were her trusted advisors, and Alyssa had to admit that she liked the position she’d been granted.  It wasn’t anything she’d ever imagined, but being among friends and…and Parker, as she helped to cleanse the world of monsters, to make it safe again for ordinary witches…it just felt right in the end.  And it really wasn’t all that different from being a CIA agent.  She was still information gathering, and taking down the bad guys.  The stakes were just much higher here.
Before she knew it, Parker held up a tent flap for her, and Alyssa ducked through it quickly.  The tent flap dropped behind them after a moment, and only candlelight illuminated the otherwise dark room, where Eric was pouring over several maps laid out on a table with two important-looking men and a fierce-looking woman.  Vessa stood nearby, and rushed over to them when she caught sight of them.
“Another message from her royal highness?” Vessa asked, eyebrow raised.  “Don’t you have anything more important to do than play errand boys?”
“We like the fresh air,” Parker said dryly.
Vessa snorted at that.  “He’s just finishing up now.  They’re so sure of their victory here, they’re planning the attack of the next target.”
As she finished speaking, she proved right.  The company surrounding Eric bowed to him, and quickly left the tent, not bothering with niceties or to make polite introductions to the newcomers.  Alyssa didn’t mind though.  She wasn’t here for them.
“Ah!” Eric bellowed when he saw Alyssa and Parker standing with Vessa.  “My two favorite errand boys!”
Vessa stifled a giggle, and Alyssa glared at her in good humor, mouthing “You’ll get yours” before turning a bright smile on Eric. 
“It’s wonderful to see you again, your grace,” Alyssa said, laying it on a little thick as she curtsied.
Eric waved her formality away.  “None of that now,” he said, grasping Alyssa by the arms and looking her over.  He clapped Parker on the back in a friendly manner, and Parker had to catch himself from stumbling to the floor from the strength behind the motion.  “We are all friends here,” he said.  “And we are equals, here and forever more.  Those who have done battle together as we have share a bond that will never be broken.”
“We owe you much for what you’ve done for the world in such a short span of time,” Parker said.  “It’s unbelievable how quickly you’re turning the world back over to the people.”
Eric seemed to puff out his chest a little at the praise, and then slipped an arm around Vessa’s waist.  “I couldn’t have done any of it without the fire this one lights in me.  She is so damned inspiring.”
Vessa rolled her eyes.  “They have a message for your highness.”
Eric kissed her cheek, despite her struggles, and grabbed the sealed envelope Alyssa held out to him.  “Much obliged, much obliged.”  He gestured to the tent flap.  “Shall we take a quick turn about the camp?  It gets stuffy being cooped up inside all day.  I would much rather be out on the battlefield, the spray of enemy blood staining my flesh, the sound of battle roaring in my ears.”  His grin widened.  “I always pride myself on leading the opening charge with my men, but apparently, I’m too valuable to be out on the battlefield all day long.”
Alyssa stepped back out into the fading sunlight, following Eric and Vessa.  “Yes, well, you inspire your men in all that they do,” she told him.  “Their victories are yours, just like if you’d been on the field alongside them.  This is all you.”
Eric nodded.  “Still, one feels like-“
An electric hum filled the air and Alyssa turned to see the hair standing up on Parker’s arm.  Alyssa looked down to see that she was completely unaffected.
Magic.
She glanced up just in time to see a green arrow, sizzling as if alive with electricity, bury itself in Eric’s neck.
“No!” Alyssa screamed, as warm blood splattered over her face.
She rushed forward, watching in horror as Eric sagged into Vessa’s arms, who was looking at him with wide, shocked eyes.  “Eric?” Vessa called.  “Eric!?”
Soldiers closed in around them in an instant, and a cackling laugh was heard as two men wrenched an old woman from the shadows of a nearby tent.  She was smiling, proud even, of the heinous act she’d just committed.
Her eyes locked with Alyssa’s.  Blue eyes that Alyssa had once imagined as kind.  But were calculating.  Determined.  Cruel and icy.
Morgana.
She nodded once to Alyssa before she was whisked away, out of sight behind the bodies of dozens of men who were scrambling to make sense of the scene.
The nod had seemed to say, “And now, it is done.”
“Eric!” Vessa screamed.
Alyssa turned to see her beating on his chest, a spurt of blood weakly spraying from his neck, where the arrowhead jutted out obscenely.  The next beat of Eric’s heart sent only a trickle of blood down his flesh.
“Eric!” she screamed again.
But her voice sounded further away this time.  And no blood seemed to pump from Eric’s wound now.  The fallen man’s eyes stared her way, but were unfocused, glassy.
“Alyssa.”
She turned her head to look at Parker, who was growing translucent.  “Parker?” 
The whole world was vanishing, shimmering and fading into white light, as if it were all a dream.
“Parker!” she screamed, and reached out her hand to him.  Their fingers seemed to graze for a moment, but then everything substantial faded, and became white with a flash.
Alyssa gasped for air.
And then everything was bathed in darkness.
Dark, but not completely black.
She blinked and could make out shapes in the dark.  Shades of dark grey. 
Her breathing was labored, and she became aware that she was sitting upright on soft sheets.  Had she blacked out?  Had she been seen to bed?
But she knew that wasn’t right.
A fan blew cool air, fighting against the balmy night and sending Alyssa’s hair floating behind her.
A car honked from outside the window, which she saw was open to the dark sky.
But she didn’t need to look out of the window to know where she was.  She didn’t need to turn the lights on.
She was home.  Back home.
Parker, Vessa, and all of her friends…were back on that other world.
The spell had been completed.  Morgana had seen to that.
Alyssa swallowed hard, feeling her throat grow thick as tears welled in her eyes. 
Eric was dead.  And she was suddenly alone, exiled from the world of magic and witches.  Not even one friend remained from that world to grieve with over the sudden death of her friend.
Eric.  Dead.
And what would become of that world now?  Eric had been doing good!  He’d been pushing back the evil in that world.  Morgana…was a damned fool.  She was so blind and fearful of the power he’d wielded as Prince Air that she couldn’t see the way he’d been changing the world for the better.  She was a slave to the magic and prophecy that those horrid hags claimed to wield.  And she’d done everything in her power, thrown everything away, to ensure that the stupid spell had been completed.  For better or worse.
And now Alyssa…was here. 
She was an ordinary girl in an ordinary world, once more.
The sound of cars outside, the hum of electricity, was both familiar and foreign.  But to Alyssa it was all wrong.  Because she wasn’t supposed to be here.  She was in the wrong place.
She fell to her side and let the tears come, wondering what this meant for her, wondering how she could simply move on.
“I will get back,” she vowed, holding on to the one thing that she knew would get her through this exile.  “If it’s the last thing I do, I will get back.”
She sat up, swiped angrily at her tears and glared defiantly at the dark, meaningless shapes in the room around her.  The spell the hags had used to bring her to their world in the first place couldn’t have been the only avenue to reach that world.  There had to be other ways.  Even if Alyssa herself hadn’t been touched by magic here, she had to believe that magic existed in this world.  And she would find it.  She had to.

“I will get back.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hunters of the Dark #8 Teaser


I have set aside some current projects to focus on where my passions lie at the moment, which happens to be with our favorite monster hunters.  I'm very excited for this next book that merges the world I created in Dark Genesis with the Hunters of the Dark series.  And I kind of can't contain myself any longer, and NEED to share a little bit of what I'm writing.  So, here's a little teaser of the eighth book in the Hunters of the Dark series, Dark Revelations...

Prologue

“While our best and our brightest are playing interference with last week’s Kaiju Incident, it’s only a matter of time before we will have to act to protect ourselves,” Bast said, addressing the other members of La Faer Noir from a standing position.  She looked around at the other elders as she spoke, her eyes meeting each and every member, as if speaking directly to them.  “So far, we’ve managed to focus the media on the idea of a genetic experiment gone awry.  We’ve kept the genetic material of our kind out of the hands of the wrong people.  People who would want nothing more than to expose us and turn the world against us, hunting us down like animals.  Our anonymity is what will save us, and the Kaiju Incident has unfortunately come far too close to revealing us for comfort.”  She paused, letting her words sink in before continuing.  “I propose that we create new measures.  Stricter precautions will prevent a future catastrophe, one even worse than the one we have seen on all of the news channels, one that would expose us once and for all.  We need to rein in our peoples.  We need to come together as we never have before.  In solidarity, we will find the strength to endure the spotlight, until it passes harmlessly over us.  We will not waver, but we will continue to prevail, living on this world alongside humans without fear of retaliation, for millennia to come.”

Several members of La Faer Noir’s inner circle got to their feet to clap.  It probably would have looked suspicious if Vlad the Impaler did not follow suit, so he joined in, his face impassive as he lightly tapped his palms together, while the distaste rose in the back of his throat.

“What a delusional fool,” Abaddon the Destroyer announced in the dark hallway behind the meeting chamber during the next recess.  His stone head lit with a bluish fire, his black eyes smoldering a bright red at their centers like hot coals.  “They’re all fools.  Did you see the way they looked at her?  Adoring her for her cowardice?”  He scoffed, the sound like two rocks grazing one another.  “We should be subjugating the humans, not hiding from them like weak-kneed fawns.”

“Yessss,” Raum, another demon, hissed.  He licked his lips, and things crawling beneath his ill-fitting face skittered out of the way of his tongue.  “We should eat the humans.  All of them.  Oh, think of the merriment!”

Vlad clucked his tongue.  “Patience, Raum.  The Black Wings are setting the board with players as we speak.  These silly fantasies of co-habitation will be trampled beneath our feet before long, and bleeding hearts like Bast will be destroyed as we rise up to rule over this world, as kings and queens, as is our right.”  He met Abaddon’s eyes.  “As we speak, my vampire army continues to grow, readying for an attack against our enemies.  The cunning way we kill the humans leaves no trace behind.  No one is aware of their swelling ranks.”

“And who are our enemies?” Raum asked.  “The kitty-cat?”

“Bast, certainly,” Abaddon agreed.  “The shape-shifters are too powerful.  They can become anyone, infiltrate our ranks at any moment.  They need to be crushed, quick and clean.”

“They will be dealt with,” Vlad nodded, holding a hand up.  “But do not forget the witches.  The demons, we can count on to be on our side.  The magick that the witches wield is too powerful to ignore, however.”

“The Shadow Eater…” Raum said.  “She would not agree.”

“Oh, but she does agree,” Vlad smiled at him triumphantly.  “She sees them as competition, it seems, keeping her from attaining her true potential.  There are a few witches we can count on to be on The Black Wings side, under The Shadow Eater’s thumb of course, but the others must be eliminated, or we may give our enemies fuel to fight back.  And when we strike, we want them without fang or claw.”

“The witches?” Skree the Harpy barked, the fourth and final member of their little cabal in the shadows.  She squinted at Vlad suspiciously.  “Some of the elders are already whispering about The Shadow Eater’s absence, you know.  I’m not sure how long we can keep this under wraps.  I think the shape-shifters are the bigger threat.  Bast is the bigger threat.”

Vlad scowled.  “The shape-shifters will be dealt a swift blow.  Besides a handful of them, they are all in Egypt.  The witches, however, are scattered, with no allegiance to one another, save the ones that have formed their own covens.”

“What do you propose?” Abaddon asked.

“Do we eat them?” Raum asked, hopeful.  “I am so very hungry.”

Vlad sniffed.  “The Shadow Eater has sent a loyal servant to track down the witches.  She has been working in the shadows for months already.  Necromancers, herbalists, psychics, sorcerers, druids…all of them have been marked for death at her hands.”

“What sort of servant?” Skree demanded.

“A witch, of course,” Vlad shrugged.  “A very powerful witch, it seems, enhanced with some spell The Shadow Eater cooked up.  She will easily rid us of our magick problem, and then she will enjoy the spoils alongside us in the new world to come.  She has taken a blood oath to that effect, one that can not be broken.  It is impossible for her to betray us.”

Abaddon considered.  “With the witches out of the way, that does make things much easier.  And once the shape-shifters are destroyed, La Faer Noir will be no match for us when we seek to gain control.”

Skree scowled.  “Don’t be a fool.  Our demons and vampires will still have to fight every werewolf, wraith, fairy, giant and who knows what that selkie and merman have up their sleeves.  Not to mention Samantha and that cursed djinn of hers.  We will still be outmatched.”

Vlad scowled.  “Samantha Cummings is too self-centered to waste her final wish on saving La Faer Noir.  It would mean her own end.  No, we have nothing to fear from the djinn, even if Samantha should choose to ally herself on the losing side of this impending war.”  He paused.  “And there are others coming into play, soon enough.  One phoenix egg will resurrect an ally for The Black Wings who has proved cunning in the past, and as we speak, The Shadow Eater is set to open another realm to retrieve another strong enough to smite our enemies, by way of the second egg.”  He tilted his head.  “And then, of course, there is Diana.  She has united our kind before.  Once she is reborn, there will be nothing to stand in our way.”

“You are still planning on turning Shanna Hunt?” Abaddon asked, surprised.

“Absolutely.”

“It sounds like we will be doing a lot of sharing,” Raum murmured, rubbing his arms like he couldn’t keep them warm.

“Give some of the…minor players their own land, and they will be happy.  We will remain at the top of the food chain.  It’s the law of the jungle, after all.”

“It all sounds good and well,” Skree said.  “But you had better follow through on your end of the bargain, Vlad.  And I’m curious who these mysterious powerful players are who you plan on resurrecting.”

“Oh, you’ll meet them soon enough,” Vlad grinned.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Face Lift!

The Young Adult Book Club is getting a new cover as it finally comes out in print!