Thursday, April 07, 2011

Her Dark Destiny

The first book in my Hunters of the Dark series is available now through Barnes & Noble digitally for just $0.99, following a group of monster hunters. Think City of Bones or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you'll have a good idea of what this book is like.

Official synopsis:
Teenager Shanna Hunt has been hunting demons since her parents were murdered by them. She’s used to doing things alone, her own way, but one fateful night throws her into the company of a team of hunters, each specializing in a particular kind of monster: vampires, werewolves, witches, shape-shifters… This newly-formed team should be an unstoppable force for whatever is out there picking off individual hunters across the globe, but their first battle together against the monsters of the night could be their last.
And here's a taste of the book:

Becca hated herself as she tentatively pushed the strap of her camisole back up over her bare shoulder. Picking up her red high heels, she plodded down the dank hallway, feeling utterly exhausted and used. She ached. She ached and throbbed in places she’d told herself she would never let anyone touch again. But she always did. She always let someone touch her, for the right price.
She sighed as she reached the entry door to the apartment complex she was leaving and slid her feet into the heels. She couldn’t wait to take them off when she got back to her place. Maybe she would take a bath tonight, drink a glass of wine to help her relax, help her forget. It would feel nice to dull the pain, feel clean again. At least this one hadn’t protested when she’d insisted on using a condom. Some of them did, despite the fear of STDs. Some people just didn’t care. Some people just didn’t think. They wouldn’t catch anything. Not even from a dirty whore.

“Not here, Tom. Someone might see.”

“So let ‘em.”

Becca looked up to see a man and woman kissing against a wall. The man’s words were slurred. But he was only a man. None of her concern.

Deciding to avoid the happy couple, Becca ducked down an alley. The kind of dark alley her mother had told her to avoid. At least before kicking her out of her house because her mother’s sleazy boyfriend had come on to her. Like it had been her fault.

Becca paused mid-stride as she heard a sharp clunking noise, like a tin can being kicked. She shivered, suddenly aware of all the shadows around her. Clutching her purse to her bosom a little tighter, she unzipped the top in case quick access was necessary.

She held her breath to listen and cocked her head, staring hard at all of the dark corners, willing them to unveil their secrets. Nothing. Just her nerves. Just her life getting to her.

She really needed that bath about now, needed to melt into the steaming water, not into these cold shadows that seemed to be breathing entities, barring her way. Shadow creatures from an alternate dimension, coming to whisk her away from a life of prostitution. Becca nearly giggled. The things she came up with sometimes. Anything would be better than where she was. Even shadows coming to abduct her.

But the shadows were moving. Or at least parting. Making way for someone...or something.

Becca’s breath caught in her throat as a figure came to a stop before her. Her eyes widened as she took in the wild eyes, the unkempt hair. She must have been a beautiful woman when she made herself up, but just then, she looked mad, crazed. Something was wrong with her. And her round belly didn’t go unnoticed by Becca. She was pregnant, probably about ready to pop. What was she doing out here in...her slippers? Becca looked again. Yep. Pink fuzzy slippers. Something was definitely wrong here.

“Um....miss, are you...are you alright?” Becca stammered.

The woman stared at her, as if she didn’t understand, then her eyes fastened themselves down onto...her breasts? No...higher. Her neck.

Becca bit her lip and backed up a step, feeling a little self-conscious, a little vulnerable. Bumping into a crazy pregnant lady after she’d screwed some married forty-year-old pig wasn’t exactly her idea of a fun Friday night. Give her an old-fashioned date anytime.

“Miss?” Becca tried again.

The woman looked up into Becca’s eyes again and opened her mouth in a feral snarl, revealing two sharp canine teeth.

Swallowing hard, Becca dug into her bag, feeling a little more confident when her hand fastened itself around her wooden stake and mallet set. She pulled it out and let her purse drop to the ground, a wad of rolled-up bills spilling out alongside her keys and a box of condoms.

“Now this is my idea of fun,” Becca informed the pregnant woman with a slightly psychotic grin. “God, this feels good, doesn’t it? Just us girls?” She kicked the woman as she was about to strike and the vampire fell to the ground with a crash, seemingly tired, a little dazed. She must have just been made. Couldn’t have been more than an hour old. Super-sharp reflexes usually kicked in after a couple hours of unbearable thirst. This wouldn’t be as much fun as she’d hoped it would be.

“Oh, well,” Becca murmured as she straddled the woman and placed the stake over her heart. “It’s the thought that counts.” She was about to hit the stake with a gleeful swing of the mallet when the vampire bucked savagely, startling Becca enough to expose an arm, upon which the woman immediately fastened her fangs.

“Gugh!” Becca yanked her arm back, caught off-guard and slightly afraid. She stared in disbelief at the woman’s horrible maniacal grin where her blood - her blood - dripped down the undead chin.

“Damn trollop,” Becca snarled, redoubling her effort to pin the vampire. Once she was firmly on top again, she didn’t waste any time. She slammed the mallet down onto her properly-positioned stake with a grunt and felt the wood glide easily through the flesh, through the tissue. After a few more well-placed strikes, she finally drove it home, through the woman’s tainted heart.

Becca stood up with a smile upon her face, mission accomplished. At least this was something she could be proud of.

The woman was ash in seconds. Everything just seemed to transform, atom for atom, to dust.

Reaching out a hand, Becca touched the tip of the woman’s nose, greasy ash coming away with it. She rubbed the ash on the alley’s brick wall and gathered her belongings together, kissing the wad of money before tossing it back into her purse. “Not a bad night.” Glancing down at the blood still trickling down her arm, Becca scowled. She must be slipping, letting a newbie get the best of her, getting too arrogant for her own good. Sighing, Becca sent the body of ash a kiss goodbye and continued down the alley like she didn’t have another care in the world.

She didn’t pause as she left the alley and came out on a side street, a little jump in her step as she made her way to her apartment and its old claw-footed bathtub. She deserved extra bubbles tonight. And extra wine. Definitely extra wine.

If she’d given even the slightest pause, she would have noticed the ashen body shift behind her. She would have seen the right shoulder move and crumple in upon itself, the head rolling from its neck and shattering silently on the concrete ground, like glass, into thousands of papery shards. She would have noted the ashes scatter like leaves on a windy autumn day, tossed aside as if from a gutter, where they’d discreetly gathered. And she wouldn’t have been able to ignore the tiny hand that reached out from the ash belly, seeking its mother’s dead flesh, where there no longer was any.

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