Copyright 2012 Camille Leone This story is a work of fiction.

All names, characters, places and incidents are invented by the author or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author.

He’d recognize that growl anywhere. It was low, raspy and full of saliva. The female
wolvyn announcing her presence slung the vampire she carried off her shoulder, instinctively adjusting her grip so that pretty boy hit the autopsy table gently. The thin white duke’s chest was ripped open from shoulder blade to groin, the sign of a vicious Minotaur attack. Brahm knew their kind of wounds well, especially the double wide slash from a charging bull’s goring. Still, the she-wolf gave him a look that said yeah, but you should see the other guy. Razher even snarled at him as he cut the rest of the vampire’s blood soaked clothing off, a warning growl to cover her man up or you are so dead. So Brahm worked quickly, his bloodied hands shaking from nervousness, all the while listening to her snarling behind him. When he’d glance back to give her a petrified smile, at times his gaze lingered a little too long. Nobody looked better in a pair of stretch jeans. Razher was tightly coiled ferocity just waiting to strike, with her long mahogany hair partially braided and in dreadlocks, the rest loose and wild, like she was. The way the braids fell identified her clan while the magenta coloring woven throughout gave her rank, signifying she was upper echelon. Wrap that package in an hour glass figure and teardrop shaped brown eyes flecked with gold, and it was no wonder ghost face killer fell hard enough to risk a dirt nap. Bloodsucker never had a chance. Brahm wheeled over an IV and got out a bag of synthetic blood lightly chilled on ice, stuck a catheter in the vampire’s vein, and shot her another long look. Of all the illegal underground clinics for her to walk into, she’d come back to his. Smart move. They’d never suspect she’d return here, and with him, her vampire partner. They were on the run, dubbed the Bonnie and Clyde of the Underworld, the infamous C&C most wanted duo, Cadaver and Carnivore, stealing from the filthy rich and bucking the system. Fight the Power. Like any good medical hack he was one part starstruck fan and one part dying for a free feel, so he offered to check her wounds.

“Maybe I should take a look at you.” the professionalism in his voice surprised him. To his infinite joy she quietly pulled off her cropped shirt. Dotting her neck were old wounds but nothing serious. Probably love bites from the guy on the table, since a vampire’s saliva was the only thing that could leave a permanent mark on a werewolf. Seems the vampire was also something of an artiste, because the marks swirled into a pattern, almost like a butterfly tattoo. Brahm also spotted recent bullet wounds healing quite nicely. Wolvyn were known for throwing themselves into the direct line of fire to protect their loved ones, so he guessed she’d done it on her boyfriend’s behalf many times since they’d been on the run. Brahm was so busy analyzing her wounds that he didn’t even realize the cadaver had gotten off the table, not until the vampire lifted him neck first in the air and threw him clear across the room. Even semi depleted of blood that fanger was strong, hissing angrily as he gave Brahm a warning. Translation: back up off my woman. Razher grabbed lover boy by the arms, pushing him towards the table, her voice angry but concerned. Brahm couldn’t really make out what she was saying, especially with all the stars circling his head. They looked just like the ones in the cartoons. Is there a doctor in the house? Duh . . . he was one, with a crap load of student loans to repay. Razher got the vampire named Machiavelli to calm down, soothing him as only she could. With the IV pulled loose Brahm still had to come over and replace it, though he really wished he didn’t have to feel Machiavelli’s gaze, a purple people eater stare that seemed to view him as road kill. Razher kept talking to her man in a hushed, intimate tone with that throaty voice of hers. Finally the vampire closed his eyes as she stroked his hair. She looked like she was about to cry, but he knew better. Wolvyn never cried. It just wasn’t in their nature. Ironic though, just like her real name. Now what was it? Oh yeah. Tearsah. “Tearsah,” Brahm said, his voice lighter than a whisper, yet her head shot up like a puppeteer had jerked the strings. “Don’t call me that. Don’t you ever call me that,” she said, her dark eyes flashing to yellow gold. Now he was stuttering, ready to piss on himself because he knew better. Wolvyn have super sensitive hearing, not to mention his medical lab probably brought back all kinds of memories, none of them good. So he stayed put, shaking in place because any sudden moves to escape a

volatile she-wolf could mean he was toast. Wolvyn were like that. They loved the thrill of the chase. Razher gritted out something that sounded like “sorry” and bit down on her hand to stop thinking of him as prey. The shady intern known as Doc Brahm was already petrified of her. Fear oozed from his sweaty pores, beads of it giving a sheen to his long, thin face. If she didn’t need him that upturned nose of his would be flattened against his skull. Because it was all about Mac. She had to think about Brahm helping him pull through, so she lightened her tone in the hopes that being perky might work. Now who did she know that was perky? It had to be her secondary school art teacher, Miss Helena. Miss Helena was always perky. But she was also a muse, so she could afford to be optimistic, especially with a sugar daddy named Zeus. “I meant that you shouldn’t be afraid. You don’t have to be scared of me Brahm,” she told him, doing her best imitation of gosh darn, “creatures great and small, let’s all get along” Miss Helena. Ooh. The way she said his name. Now Brahm’s knees felt weak. And that stare she was giving, like she could break out into a cheer at any moment. Come to think of it, he bet she’d look really hot in a little cheerleading outfit. “H-he needs to be tied down,” Brahm said. “Minotaurs rub poison on the tips of their horns, so I’ve got to administer the anti-venom, and his reaction won’t be good.” “Wait,” she said. “Let me talk to him first.” With a solemn nod he backed away, giving the two lovebirds a quiet moment alone, since it could possibly be their last . . .

Chapter One

Aotearoa aka New Zealand, three months earlier

This was crazy. So utterly messed up.
It just felt so wrong to have Lucien Hostile standing there, demanding her hand in marriage on today of all days. His wedding to her cousin Larissa. Hostile’s proposal felt more like an afterthought since he was in the middle of an overseas business call. As usual the broad shouldered, tuxedo clad wolvyn was inseparable from his headset. He was busy brokering deals, buying and selling, making loans, calling loans due. And yet no one knew what business he was really in, only that he’d amassed a fortune after becoming the head of the largest wolf pack in America, and that his ambition knew no bounds. Tearsah’s feet were rooted to the floor, her eyes lowered in a show of respect, a required act of submission for all wolvyn females. Her face was unveiled, just as Lucien ordered. So she stood there with her hands folded neatly in front, still holding the champagne glass she’d used to toast his marriage to her cousin. The tunic of turquoise and beads she wore moved ever so slightly from her shudders. With nowhere to look but down, she focused on Hostile’s shoes walking in and out of her line of sight, the ends of his white blonde dreads whipping around him like a lasso. After a pause to chew out the person he was talking to on the phone, his heavy footsteps once again strolled toward the leaded glass window, observing all those gathered for the reception. Next he walked towards the bar, and finally over to a large desk where a file lay. Whenever his back was turned she’d take a quick sip of champagne to calm her nerves, wishing she was back outside sharing in the laughter and congratulatory hugs. The base atop Mount Maunganui was a beautiful spot to exchange vows. The dormant volcano her people called Mauao served as a backdrop for the official bridal photos, a session she’d been whisked away from to speak privately with Hostile. Inside this ballroom area only Hostile’s pacing and murmured speech cut through the stillness. Lucien Hostile. Deep set coal black eyes. Pale

blonde brows, white blonde hair. Stylish dresser, not much for idle conversation. His pack had been in power for a number of years, and Hostile intended for it to stay that way. As a rule he visited each wife once a month, and knew the names and dates of birth of all his children. From what little she knew of him it was said that Lucien Hostile picked wives for their beauty and dowries, and having heard of Larissa’s eye catching splendor, he’d contacted her father about a merging of their two wolf packs. In less time than it took to deed all her father’s property to the new head of their clan, the Omni-Alpha male had wife number eleven. And now she was about to become wife number twelve. “You understand that your answer is just a formality, since preparations have already been made for you to fly to America with us,” Lucien said, finally addressing her and not his headset. “And you’ll travel as Larissa’s personal assistant.” Tearsah almost choked on the champagne she’d just swallowed, the fluted glass shattering in her grip. With a snap of his fingers Hostile's security detail rushed to her side. Basketball player tall Weres offered any number of handkerchiefs for her use. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” she said, throwing her hands up to prove it. “See, I didn’t cut myself. And if I had I would have regenerated so what’s the big deal?” Hostile was back talking on his headset, even putting up a finger to silence her as his guards fluttered about, ignoring her protests and wiping the liquid off her wrists, her palms and aiming for her dress. “Will you just please get the away from me, I told you I’m okay!” Oops. That was definitely the wrong thing to say. The guards did back off, quietly staring at Hostile for further instructions. For the first time in this very brief courtship Lucien Hostile told the party on the other line he’d call them back. “The big deal,” he said, coming towards her and roughly tilting her face up to meet his. “Is that I detest marks of any kind on my property, whether the transaction has been finalized or not.” Her dark eyes sparked quickly to gold, then back to brown as she willed herself to stay calm. So this wasn’t a done deal, not yet anyway. Maybe her brother had been informed and

he’d turned Hostile down flat. Ataaho knew how she felt about the Wolvyn practice of arranged marriages, and he’d promised that it would never happen to her, not while he was alive. She had a terrible thought just then. What if her brother was dead? At least Hostile shot down that sad conclusion. “The holdup isn’t on your brother’s side but on mine,” he purred, running a sharp nail along her cheek. “There’s a personal matter I need to take care of. But after that I’m all yours.” “I don’t want to marry you, or be your companion or anything else,” she said, jerking her face away. “Lucien I don’t even like you.” Now his eyes flashed bright yellow in anger. And interest. He began to laugh, addressing his guards and not her. “I’ve never had a female turn me down. It actually feels nice.” It did feel different. But as exciting as all this was he had to maintain his composure. This wasn’t the time for his Alpha to emerge. He was on foreign soil and it would be seen as an affront to his current wife’s clan to show dominance. But he couldn’t allow this female’s very vocal reluctance to be a problem. Wolvyn demanded submissive pack members and the utmost servitude from potential wives. “Let’s all just calm down and take a time out,” he suggested. “I’m ready for a drink.” Apparently his version of time out meant going straight for the bar, because she was left to watch him arrange bottles and check labels, all in an effort to decide which liquor to choose. He even offered to make her a drink. Of course she refused. The fact that he didn’t seem angry, that he was laughing as if she were powerless was even more infuriating. She took a deep, shaky breath. “I-I’d like to leave now, so how about we just forget this ever happened? I only want the best for you and Larissa, a-and maybe I’m on edge because midterms are this week and I start college in the fall-” Hostile finished off his drink, wiping the excess from his lips with the back of his hand. “No can do. None of my other wives have an education above high school, and I don’t want to set precedence.” “This is crazy! My brother won’t let you do this!” she hollered, immediately lowering her head and mumbling a halfhearted apology. She expected to feel the force of his hands any second, the jewelry on each of his fingers reminding her of brass knuckles. When they were

wed she would be permitted to kiss his rings, another indignity bestowed on a female and also males loyal to him. Hostile stood in front of her, inhaling her essence, trying to invoke the old custom of scenting out another to gauge their emotions. She was a delicate flower this one. Jasmine and honey all rolled into one. And while that pleased him, it was what he didn’t scent that had him irritated. She had no fear. Her head was bowed and she was going through the paces, shoulders slumped, eyes downcast, the whispery voice now that she knew she’d angered him. But all those things were probably a ruse, especially with her display of temper. According to her file the girl's brother had allowed more freedom than was wise, so it was no wonder she was acting out. Hostile tapped his chin with his finger, pondering his next move. It was cruel to crush the hopes of another, especially one so young. But it didn’t only happen to females. Male Alpha’s couldn’t exactly refuse to lead their pack. So a part of him understood just how trapped she felt. His hard as diamond gaze lingered over the cascade of burgundy and black hair reaching past her elbows, her almond shaped eyes and full mouth set in a stubborn pout. She was more attractive than most, but he didn’t have to marry her. By rights he could sell her to the highest bidder. First he needed to claim her to get the chain of possession established, and that way once he got rid of Ataaho, her brother’s wealth would fall under his pack. A terrified voice shouting in his headset ended his deliberations. Hostile calmly straightened his tie as he sauntered out of the room, his voice and her hopes fading with each long stride. “I’m not crushing your dreams Tearsah. You can dream all you want. But your girlish fantasies can’t interfere with my plans for you.” Another snap of his fingers, another command. He’d left her alone with the guards and they seemed to know what came next. Tearsah kept her head lowered, the thought of flight or fight see-sawing in her mind. Never let them see your eyes. Fake them out, just like you do when you’re playing touch rugby. Her trembling began in earnest as the guards came forward with chains. Chains. They were going to shackle her, to leash her like some lowly dog. “Go to hell!” she roared just as the guards closed in, not even thinking how she’d be disrupting Larissa’s reception, or that any other female would have meekly gone along. With her spine no longer bent, she stood tall, looking the advancing hoard in the eye, feeding off

their intent to subdue and cage her. They’d tried to block access to the door, but that wasn’t the way she was leaving. Like a runner blasting off at the starting gun, Tearsah did a crashing dive that shattered the bay window, tumbling in a roll through the stunned onlookers who were agile enough to move out of her way in time. With everyone else frozen in shock, she leapt to her feet, shaking glass and dirt loose as she ran, knowing full well Hostile’s guards would never shoot her. It was a coward’s way out but she ran hoping since she knew this terrain and they didn’t, she could hide until they left. And she ran thinking if Hostile saw just how desperate she was to get away from him, he’d move on to another female, one more than willing to be his bride. She had no choice but to run, and if the other guests had any sense they’d run too. Because a swarm of vampires were descending on the wedding reception, their eyes covered by night vision goggles and all clothed in black, sun resistant uniforms. Silver plated bullets whizzed just past her head, so she got down on all fours to get more speed. Her outfit was shred in the process, but it wasn’t like she’d ever wear it again. No, this was one wedding she’d just as soon forget.

The botched vampire attack was of no concern to him. Instead it was Tearsah’s escape that
left Lucien Hostile enraged. She’d inflamed him, made him salivate to break her. It had been much too long since he’d felt the stir of arousal that came from a challenge, even with all the females in his harem. The whole time he’d been mulling over her in the study, he’d ripped the leather in King George chair he sat upon, revealing the stuffing underneath. Tearsah would be caught, and she would be made an example of, not just for wolvyn who disobeyed him, but all others. Barking into his headset after her bold actions, his words chilled the other party on the line. “You heard about what happened?” His caller affirmed that he had, apologizing for the disruption on his wedding day. Hostile dismissed his groveling, demanding to know what had been left out of the dossier on Tearsah. He wanted an immediate run down on her tutors, the household staff that attended to her and even her friends.

Names were revealed but nothing stood out. “Then who weaned her? Who taught her the old ways?” Hostile barked at the caller, convinced that someone had corrupted the girl. The line was silent. Like most males, his contact left feminine matters to the elder shewolves of his household. “When the individual’s name finally comes to you, I want this traitor found, do you hear me? Because all it takes it one, just one female to show the others the way. And you know what that means don’t you?” Hostile abruptly ended the call, cursing his lot in life. Why him? Why did it always fall on his shoulders to make things right? When his brother wanted the Alpha leadership of their pack and plotted to kill their father, he’d done the honorable thing. He had his brother assassinated after his father was murdered. No matter that he’d secretly conspired with his eldest sibling to take the throne, pretending as if all he wanted was the position of securing their soldiers in case of a coup by his father’s brothers. Hostile’s Alpha tendencies were hidden well since he’d been a weak, sickly pup as a child. No one thought of him as a threat since he was destined to become a counselor to his brother, who was the stronger, tougher one. But in the end neither the brawn of his brother or the cut-throat shrewdness of his father could best him. Hostile had won the game. And victory felt so sweet. Now this little girly-pup had outsmarted him. The first place he thought she’d run to was her spineless brother’s compound, only she wasn’t there. His second choice was her school, which could prove to be a problem, especially with the mix of other species that ran the private academy. He’d need some insurance to get what he wanted from that place, and he knew just the person to contact to pull it off.

Praise be to Īhowa for human tourists. Tearsah was able to catch a ride to the mainland
even though it meant getting squished in the back seat of a Volvo, sitting between a shedding Golden Retriever and a fourteen year old boy who gaped at her in wonder. With his father preoccupied driving, she had to remove the boy’s hand from her knee several times before his mother intervened.

“Raymond dear, how many times must I tell you it’s not polite to stare?” the woman pleaded, cooling herself with an oversized Thank God I’m an Atheist fan. “Uh-huh,” Raymond said, continuing to keep both eyes on Tearsah without blinking while hers narrowed, not just from anger but the glaring shine of his braces. “You’re starting to drool,” his mother proclaimed, which prompted his dear ol’ mum to pull a tissue from a dispenser in the glove compartment. If there was a way for her to fit back there Tearsah swore the woman would’ve climbed over the seat to wipe her son’s mouth. Her husband kept asking if there was a video crew shooting nearby, glancing in his rear mirror to meet Tearsah’s eyes. The lovely tunic for Larissa’s wedding now looked like an edgy designer outfit fit for a catwalk with shredded long and short pieces. Tearsah’s right thigh was exposed, as Raymond tried pressing his leg against hers. Not that she wanted to hurt the kid, but when his mother turned back towards the front Tearsah held up her middle finger, letting him gaze upon her nail growing long and dagger sharp until he shrank against the door in horror. It was a good thing for all of them that her high school was coming into view. “Oh what a lovely school,” Raymond’s mum said. “It looks like something out of the eighteenth century. Is it a nice school?” Tearsah nodded. Though the place was a welcome sight, the newly installed security guards searching all the cars going through weren’t. Bugger. She’d never expected this, not in a million years. As they slowly cruised by the front gates she urged the driver to go past the entrance. “Is this a school for the rich and famous?” the father asked, cruising by so slowly the guards were immediately suspicious. “I told you she looked like a singer doing a video.” “Could you please just pull off?” Tearsah tried to say it without much emotion but the driver headed straight for the gates. A guard was about to stare into the back of the car when the Golden Retriever sprang into attack mode, blocking Tearsah’s presence with his hind quarters and snuffing out any view with his body. The dog snapped and barked until both sentries cursed and waved them on. Thankfully neither guard was one of her kind, or the dog wouldn’t have fooled them. But that also showed Hostile’s reach, even in her own country. He was using both human and wolvyn to find her. But why?

They drove about a mile down the road, near the beginning of a forest that surrounded the rear edge of the school. Everything was so picturesque, especially the arching wooden bridge that spanned a lake of tranquil blue. “Please, could you just let me off here?” she said, anxious return to the shelter of the school. Raymond didn’t need to be told twice. He practically fell out of the vehicle and cowered behind the open door as Tearsah climbed out. She didn’t even look back as the car sped off in a cloud of dust and squealing tires. The dog was the smartest one in that whole bunch. He’d sensed her anxiety, as the bond between wolvyn and canine had always been strong. Even after years of domestication their psychic link was still there, especially in certain breeds. She trudged through the forest looking for markers that had been handed down from each graduating class. When the path turned from clusters of bush to a grove of lilacs and back to trees again, she knew the secret entrance to the school was near. Two knocks, a scratch, throw the dirt in the air and say the chant aloud. The tree bowed, its limbs coming alive. The hollowed out knot rumbled as the magic settled in, and she was allowed to enter. It was Fae magic, more commonly known as Pixie dust from long ago. Previous graduates of the school had designed this door so whenever they wanted to stay out past curfew they had a way to get back. Navigating steps made from braided tree roots was a bit tricky, but once her feet were on solid earth there were three small tunnels, the first leading to an underground waterfall, the second to parts unknown and the third to a door in the basement of the school, closeted by a boulder covered in runes. Only those in the Sorority of Alpha Psi knew which path would lead them to the Academy and the words to recite so that the large stone rolled free. Once she got in the school and behind those guarded walls Hostile couldn’t touch her. She could apply for sanctuary and contact her brother for help. It was the one place she could probably fend off Hostile and whoever else he’d lined up to kidnap her. She was in year 13 at secondary school, had already taken the NCEA –The National Certificate of Educational Achievement– and been accepted to the University of Auckland. Her headmaster was a Valkyrie of great radiance, and the second in command was an Enchantress of power to the fifth degree. And when her friends found out Lucien Hostile had attempted to abduct her,

surely with their various abilities and their families’ strengths, they’d stop Hostile in his tracks. At least that’s what she hoped. The place was eerily quiet, its centuries old wooden halls shadowed in darkness. The only time she’d seen it like this was during the memorial of the founder. The buzzing by her ear was a welcome surprise. It was a pixie, but not just any pixie. Tyranny was one of her best pals. They’d attended primary and now secondary school together. “Tearsah! We’ve been worried sick about ye!” Tyranny’s voice was as airy as the gossamer wings she flew on, her miniature size equal to a sprite. “They’re offering a big reward for yer return. They’re sayin’ the vampires attacked the wedding and now there’s gon ta be a war.” Oh no. That sinking feeling in Tearsah’s stomach was more than just hunger pangs. It was worse than she’d feared. “If it wasn’t for the vampires I’d be flying somewhere over the Pacific heading towards America.” Tyranny shrugged her tiny, sparkling shoulders. “They say the vampires drugged ye, and to be careful cause yer daft.” No, that definitely wasn’t right. “It wasn’t the vampires, its Lucien Hostile. He wants me to be part of his harem. And do I look daft?” Crossing her arms and tilting her head to the side, Tyranny flew in closer, so she could peer in Tearsah’s face. She watched her classmate cross her eyes as Tearsah attempted to stare back at her. “If I’m ta be truthful, then yes.” “Hostile tried to have me chained! All because I refused to be his next wife!” “Well he’s some numpty.” Tyranny twirled in a circle, popping off sparks of anger. “I’ve just come from the principal’s office. They’re discussing what should be done about ye this very moment.” The door to her dorm room whipped open. Inside stood Eden the Valkyrie, her anger fueling the incandescent glow of her skin. The Enchantress named Damalia’s tendrils of hair flowed around her, with what little magic her mother allowed her to use. And there was Adora the Harpy, flossing her teeth as usual. These were girls she’d grown close to over the past few years. They hustled her into the room, hugging and promising to do whatever it would take to keep her safe. Damalia scrounged up some food as they listened to her tale of the wedding

from hell between mouthfuls. Tyranny left to eavesdrop again, promising to hurry back in case of trouble. “What’s with your brother, eh? He’s been glued to Hostile like they planned the whole thing.” Damalia kept checking in the mirror, waiting for her mother to answer her calls. “But Ataaho’s the one putting up the reward for her return.” Adora never could never see the bad in others. She kept filing between her fangs and giving Tearsah sad looks. “Your kin says if the vampires don’t return you by midnight, there’ll be a war.” “It’s a lie. The whole thing is a big front. Don’t believe it. I don’t know why the vampires attacked but it had nothing to do with me,” Tearsah explained. They were all on edge when Tyranny squeezed through the key hole with more news. In a burst of light she morphed into her true self, a Druid spitfire with jet black and blue hair. Her back was against the door, facing the group. “They know yer here. A bunch of lousy humans turned ye in. Hostile’s threatening to destroy the place if the wolves don’t get their way. He’s sayin’ the headmistress has no call to interfere with wolvyn tradition, and that if they can do it to him, then they’ll butt their noses where it don’t belong with the others, like vampires and harpies. At the very least any fightin’ means no graduation ceremony this year, so you know yer screwed.” “Tyranny, what did Miss Arwen say?” Tearsah could imagine their battle tested Valkyrie principal summoning her sword and her flying horse. “She was wantin’ a hearing before the school board. There’s enough Valkyries on it who’ll vote in yer favor. But something they showed her changed things. Some kind of contract on a scroll. I wish I knew more about it, but I was too tiny to read it proper since I was listening in the vent.” Tearsah sank onto the mattress of her bed, hoping to crawl into a ball under the covers. Tyranny placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “There’s bin another development. It’s about yer cousin, the unfortunate lass who married Hostile.” “Larissa?” Tyranny began to grow taller, so they all knew it was bad. “Hostile slashed her, right across the face. And the mark was sealed. So she’ll not show her smile ever again.”

Larissa? He’d maimed her? Larissa was an Omega wolf, a female so gentle and sweet that what her new husband had done made no sense. Even he couldn’t be that demented. But the sad look in Tyranny’s eyes left no doubt. Larissa had been punished, and Hostile was just that sick. Unable to contain her pain and rage, Tearsah let out a piercing howl that shattered windows and stung eardrums. “Well, that sure sounds like a ‘let’s go kick some you-know-what’ to me,” Eden said, her skin glowing even brighter in anticipation. Damalia kept shaking her head. “No, I won’t let them do this. My mother will help. If I can get her to unbind me, I can cast a spell on the room. Then we’ll see if the Ladies Sorcery Society can help you travel underground.” Tyranny high fived Adora as the harpy’s talons were being polished blood red, the sign of battle for her kind. Eden had begun summoning her Valkyrie armor while Damalia stood in front of the mirror on the closet door arguing with her mother’s reflection. All their brave talk was heartening to hear, but they were schoolgirls, not Psi mercenaries. Oh sure, each one had bragged about what she would do out in the real world after graduation, when their powers were their own to control. But reality had invaded much too soon. None of them were prepared. And while Tearsah knew they’d have her back, she couldn’t let anyone else get hurt. Not after the example Lucien Hostile made of her cousin. Larissa’s beautiful face would be forever scarred, all because her disobedience. As her friends mapped out their plan of attack and talked with girlish glee of being warriors, none of them noticed Tearsah slipping out of the room. She made her way downstairs, where she was greeted by Hostile, his guards, the school principal and her own traitorous brother, Ataaho. Miss Arwen gave her a hug, whispering that it wasn’t over yet and to be strong. Like Eden, she glowed luminous in her anger and itch to fight. Tearsah held out her arms, waiting for Hostile’s guards to shackle her. Miss Arwen couldn’t contain her outrage. “Is this really necessary?” Even Ataaho had something to say. “She’s my sister Lucien. This wasn’t part of the deal.”

There were little girls all along the stairs, the landing and even overhead. Some watched in stunned silence while others wailed. “Do you submit willingly?” Hostile asked, fighting back a growl. Tearsah’s voice was flat, devoid of emotion. “Ae.” Hostile raised a thick brow. “Yes . . . what?” “Yes, My Alpha.” She kept her eyes downcast as they led her to a waiting limousine. Before lowering her head to get in she took one last look at the school. Girlish faces were plastered against the windows. Someone had a “Free Tearsah” banner hanging from a window. She could hear Eden hollering and the rest of her roommates crying out her name. Miss Arwen was trying to restrain Tyranny, who’d morphed to over eight feet in height. As expected, once she got in the limo and behind its tinted windows they cuffed her. The wrist shackles were lined with silver, an excruciatingly painful deterrent if she tried to muscle free. Hostile bellowed at Ataaho, at one point snapping his fangs, complaining how this whole thing made him look and how his reputation had been damaged. Tearsah sat there quietly seething, listening to their conversation . . . and plotting her next escape.

Chapter Two

As Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” blared from his speakers, Machiavelli Faust didn’t care if the window shutters vibrated off their tracks. His room was something right out of an Extreme Makeover segment where Ty and his crew had swooped in and transformed the place into a teen vampire’s dream. There was a basketball hoop at each end of the NBA court sized suite, a four poster bed fit for an emperor, swords from the Meiji period lining the walls, a mini kitchen and video game console that played on a 80 foot flat screen television. Even with all these toys Mac had to struggle to keep busy, to do something so he wasn’t bored as he waited. The intercom crackled with the sound of a much older male’s voice. “Rise and shine Machiavelli, ‘cause tonight you’re leading the squad.” Finally, he’d gotten the call. THE CALL. Man, he was stoked. But he didn’t want to start blabbering with all kinds of questions. He just needed to grab his gear and head down to the meeting point. Ajax chuckled. “Yeah, I know the feeling kid. Now you’ll get to put all those years of martial arts and de-materializing training to good use.” Mac was zipping around the room, toweling off, stripping out of his sweats and hopping on one foot as he searched for a pair of clean socks. With the rustling of activity Ajax gave a long whistle of approval, like he could see it all. “Mighty purdy son. All that lean muscle and smooth skin and them there purple eyes-.” “Shut the hell up.” Mac snapped his towel in the direction of the intercom. He needed facts, not wise cracks. “Any idea who the target is?” Ajax’s voice turned serious. “Yeah, the target is of the wolvyn persuasion. This is serious business kid, so dress accordingly.” If vampires could blast heat Mac’s eyes would be propelling fireballs. As it was his skin grew arctic cold, his breathing and metabolism slowing down to a death knell. “I’m not planning on leaving any survivors.”

Ajax’s sharp intake of breath told Mac all he needed to know. He had the go-ahead as he buckled on a holster, the straps crisscrossing along his back. “That’s why your brother thought you’d be perfect for the job. Good to know you’re fired up,” Ajax said. Mac slipped a knife into his boot, patting down his leather jacket to make certain he had the rest of his cutlery. Black nylon mock turtleneck, black slacks, black suede boots. He took a quick glance at his dressing table, where a picture of his motherless nieces lay. A wolf would die this night, his older sister’s kidnapping and murder would be atoned. Eye for an eye, fang for fang. His cell went off just then and he snapped it open, barely reading the name, his eyes growing hazy, red, and enraged. A night out with his boy Havoc the gargoyle would have to wait. Mac shut his phone off and willed the lights in his room to grow dimmer. He knelt, saying a prayer for his safe return and that his mission would be successful. Ajax was barking at him over the intercom, telling him to get a move on. Mac did just that, scrambling his molecules into a swirl of color, until only the scent of his Sean John cologne lingered in the room.

Chapter Three

Their stray was back. Still jumpy as ever, those cognac colored eyes darted from one face to another. She was just a frightened kid who shyly kept her head down, hands stuffed into her jacket pockets or nervously brushing back strands of hair when the burgundy locks fell in her face. Naseem nodded in greeting as she took a seat at the bar. At least now he didn’t have to get a neck strain watching the door and wondering if she’d show up. The first night she'd wandered in she refused to eat, content to sit close to the fireplace and ward off the chill. The shivering teen returned each night after, and the next, until hunger forced her to at least eat bread and cheese. Soon he began sending food her way. As she silently slid onto a stool, he ordered the kitchen to whip up a plate of spaghetti with extra meatballs. When it was ready he watched her eat. The girl was ravenous, gulping it down, forearms on the bar top as she guarded her plate, snarling at anyone coming too close. Something about the place with its wooden booths and checkerboard table cloth was comforting to her. The smell of fresh bread and spices reminded Tearsah of another time, another life. The warmth and the jukebox playing songs from another era, songs with lively melodies that begged for a sing along felt safe, and she wanted to stay here. At least until she could figure out what to do next. If she only knew where her father’s pack had settled she could get in touch with him. But she couldn’t chance anyone else getting hurt, not like Larissa. God, and what about Larissa? She’d been so beautiful, with a shining mantel of long black hair, hypnotic dark eyes and an ethereal quality about her. When word got around that Hostile had chosen her for his eleventh wife, everyone was envious. But after hearing what Hostile had done to her, maiming her face and sealing the mark, as far as Tearsah was concerned Lucien Hostile was nothing but a douche bag of epic proportions and she’d rather die than submit to him. What about Joaquin? No, his loyalty to Hostile was too strong. Especially since having a prominent role in Hostile’s pack was one he’d wanted for so long.

“You know you’ll have to grow your hair out a lot more,” she’d kidded when he’d revealed his new position. “Larissa tells me Hostile’s really strict on having all his Wolvyn with long dreads, even his females.” “If I get to see some action, I’ll wear a shower cap if he asks me to,” he said. Maybe that’s why she liked him so much. His burning ambition, his unrelenting drive to make it up the ranks of the pack to one step below an Alpha had gained her admiration. His good looks also added to her attraction. He had unusual eyes. The left one was green, the right was blue, and it wasn’t by accident. Joaquin Machete was a Chupacabrian wolf, descended from a long line of fighters specially bred and trained to take on the vampiric created monstrosity called the Chupacabra. He walked with the sexy, powerful grace of a matador de chupas, and his fame had grown beyond his native land of Puerto Rico. Ataaho paid a hefty sum to bring Joaquin to New Zealand, only to have Hostile steal Ataaho’s best young fighter out from under him. As he’d done with her brother, Joaquin trained Hostile’s men in the art of Matare, a wrestling move that helped wolvyn take down bigger prey. Joaquin had even shown her a few of his moves after she kept pestering him. “Too bad they won’t let us females fight. It’s a stupid law eh?” “Don’t talk like that Tearsah,” Joaquin warned. “That’s sedition, and I’ll have to report you.” “But you won’t.” “No, but you shouldn’t be so trusting.” “Well,” she said, flirting with him by getting closer, wanting to feel his arms around her. “If you must, you must.” He broke into a smile. “I could, you know that. But you’re young, and you’re a female-” “Who just wants to be treated equally,” she finished for him. “You know that’ll never happen.” “Who says?” “The elders say. It’s law, it’s our tradition, and if you want to be mated at some point in your life you need to accept it.”

“Maybe I don’t want to be mated,” she pouted. “Maybe I just want to see some action like you do. I can fight. I can help protect our pack.” He tweaked her nose playfully, then kissed her when she got mad. But she could never stay mad at him. He wrote to her the first couple of weeks he was gone. But his letters stopped coming after a month, and though she asked her cousin about him Larissa said she rarely saw Joaquin. Larissa kept trying to reassure her during the wedding rehearsal. “Don’t take it personal. Lucien keeps all the new recruits on a pretty short leash.” “But how can he have no time to write or even call me?” “I don’t know, but when I see him I’ll give him your message. What else do you want me to tell him?” Tearsah thought about it, not wanting to sound too clingy. “Just tell him, tell him I miss him but I understand and I hope he’s found what he was looking for with Hostile.” The next time she saw Joaquin it was at the wedding. Because this day was sacred, as official couplings often were in the wolvyn Maori lore, old enemies were granted amnesty. There were a smattering of other species, like human celebrities and staff, and also known crime figures. And there were mixed breed vampires with their mafia dark suits and sunglasses, because it was daylight and their human blood enabled them to tolerant the sun’s rays. Gargoyles, those goal post wide hunks of walking stone preferred to sit by themselves. All seemed to separate, each with their own kind until called in by Hostile to negotiate business. At the wedding Joaquin wouldn’t even look at her. He just stood there, stoic and handsome, his mismatched eyes scanning the guests. To be part of Hostile’s crew meant going through a rough initiation, but when she tried getting him to talk about it he refused. Now he was like one of those silently observant Bobbie’s standing outside the Queen’s palace, forbidden to move, ordered not to show emotion or even socialize at the wedding. And like the loyal soldier he was, Joaquin did as he was told. “Tearsah come on over here, the wedding party needs you in this picture.” Oh great, Aunt Fana was waving at her, and everybody looked upset at having to wait. “I’ve got to make this quick,” Tearsah said, though she was reluctant to hang up on Damalia.

“Come on Tearsah, there’s probably lots of other cute guys at the wedding. Forget Joaquin.” Damalia said, using the mirror in their dorm room to converse. If only she could. There he was, standing at attention, searching the crowd in case an attempt was made on Hostile’s life. And although she hadn’t seen him in almost six months, her former sweetheart acted like she was invisible. Damalia wasn’t through giving advice. “I know if some wanker dumped me and I’m at a wedding, I’d grab some champagne and suck it up.” Funny, but that’s just what Tearsah did as a waiter passed with a tray full of the pink bubbly. “You’re an enchantress. You can snap your fingers and conjure up a hot guy,” she said between gulps. “The only thing that’s gone right for me today is my dress.” “So you look hot in it?” “Ae.” Aunt Fana was coming her way looking none too pleased, so Tearsah had to end the call. “Now I really gotta go ‘cause I borrowed this phone from one of the security guards and my time is up. You’d think the Prime Minister was showing up with all the enforcement they’ve got going on.” “Have a drink for me,” Damalia said. “Oh, and call me back if you meet a hot guy who has a hot friend-” Tearsah flipped the phone shut, returning it to the guard with a tight smile. There she was, forcing herself to look happy when her heart was breaking. Moments later she was escorted to see Hostile. It was the beginning of her end, and his chain of custody.

That tough but tender bartender was pushing a fizzy drink her way, interrupting thoughts
of the past. “It’s on the house,” he said, urging her to take a sip. He had a bandana tied around his head biker style, no doubt hiding a bald spot since his braids fell past his shoulders. He was a guy who looked at her just as any father would. She felt safe with him. Since she’d been coming here for the past few nights he hadn’t tried anything, just given her food and a warm place to relax. But she couldn’t totally let her guard down.

“I’ve got a spot out back where you can sleep it off,” Naseem motioned with one of his muscled arms. The snake tattooed on his bicep seemed to be watching her. “My office, and I promise nobody will bother you. You can crash back there, even lock the door if you want.” She gave him a wary look, but it was wearier by this time, especially with all that food settling in her belly. Just to curl up somewhere warm, to stop running and get some sleep sure would be heaven. Instead she shook her head no, though she wanted badly to take him up on his offer. It was too dangerous. And she had to stay a step ahead of the ones following her. After a quick sip of what Americans called soda, she turned down his offer. “I was just trying to help.” There was hurt in his voice, and from what she knew about humans their feelings were wounded easily. “I’ve got kids about your age,” he explained. “If they were on the streets I’d want someone to do the same.” “That’s kind of you, but I’ll be pushing off.” It was more for his safety than hers. If they found her here everyone would be killed. And she couldn’t have that. “Nice accent you've got.” Naseem tilted his head. “Aussie or Kiwi?” God, how could she be so stupid? Talk slower, flatten out your words. “Neither,” she mumbled. Flipping through her memory for places in America, she blurted much too late, "I'm from New Mexico." He frowned, but let the lie stand. It wasn’t his place to pry. “I’ve never been there but I hear it’s beautiful. You’re a long way from home. Is there someone you want to call, you know, to let them know you’re okay?” She gave him a shrug and he took that as a no. He kept wiping down the counter, giving it a shine even though there were empty glasses and spilled peanuts he could have been cleaning instead. A Joe Pesci look alike was having a love affair with his tie, straightening it each time she looked his way. In fact the whole place reminded her of a scene from a mafia movie. And that’s what didn’t make sense. Everything was just too perfect. Tearsah took a very deep breath, her nostrils flaring. She smelled . . . fear, mixed with the salty ooze of sweat. The bartender’s head rag was wet, as if he’d run a marathon. And she sensed he was being evasive. That’s when she realized there were no more customers. Actually

there hadn’t been any customers other than her. She slid off the stool intending to bolt for the door, ready to blast it off the hinges if she had to. Instead a cold slithery rope whipped around her neck. Clutching at her throat, the sounds pounding in her ears were muffled instead of being easy to distinguish. Even her reflexes were slowed down. There was only one explanation. She’d been drugged. She’d sniffed the food out well enough, so he must have spiked the soda. Never trust a human. She’d been taught that all her life. Humans were known to be the most treacherous species of all. Naseem yanked his bandana off, giving her a devilish grin. “I’m only half human. The other half is Gorgon.” Plaits done in neat cornrows suddenly uncoiled and sprang to life as snakes, the largest one around her neck tightening its hold. Seconds counted when dealing with a Gorgon or even his sister clan the Medusa, since their eyes could be a green cesspool of agony for any being. Though years of breeding with humans meant they weren’t able to turn their victims to stone, they still could stun with a look, effectively paralyzing their prey. She tried to do an alligator style thrash and roll so he couldn’t pull her face up. One hand held off the snake while she made a fist with the other, getting in a few stinging punches. As the snake shook off her blows, snapping and dragging her closer to Naseem, she closed her eyes, feeling for either the plate or her drinking glass, anything she could use to throw at the Warlock. He was the reason they’d been able to fool her with the illusion of a cozy restaurant. Mind bending freaks. For all she knew there’d never been an Italian bar and grill. Warlocks were nothing but wannabe sorcerers, two steps below a mage, not ready for primetime wizards. But that gave her an idea. Warlocks needed a stick to conjure images. What had that guy used? He had to have some type of stick, either a cane or a pin. That had to be it. No wonder his fingers kept caressing his powder blue tie. That was the source of his spells. A crystal stickpin. Squinting an eye in the direction of the voice urging Naseem to hurry up and contain her, she tossed the plate like a Frisbee getting shot from a cannon. It hit the Warlock’s collar, shattering the crystal stickpin in a prism of colors. His yelp of surprise and the scrape of a chair flying backwards gave her a bit of satisfaction, even as she struggled against the reptile choking her neck.

The warlock wasn’t nearly as tough without his stickpin. “I could use some help over here!” “She won’t look at me. And I can’t risk getting too close or she’ll rip out my hair,” Naseem hollered. Those slimy snakes of his were rasping and snapping, itching to get at her. But even with her strength dwindling she could still pluck out enough of them so that he’d be bald and powerless. Snakes didn’t grow back for his kind, unless he had regenerative blood in his system. Her blood. “She’s just a pup!” Naseem kept pulling hand over fist in order to rope her in. “Get over here and help me.” “I told you we should have brought backup,” the warlock brayed. “I didn’t sign on for this!” The way he was high hurdling over chairs, she wondered if he had centaur in him. “You knew the risks when you took the job.” Naseem pulled harder as she implanted her claws into the bar, stopping her forward progress. Realizing this may have been more than he bargained for, the warlock conjured a portal just big enough for one, leaping through it and into safety. “Well, there goes your share of the reward,” Naseem panted. “And it just means I’ll collect the entire bounty for this beauty.” The illusion of a nice Italian restaurant slowly faded away. It was just an abandoned building, cobwebs along the ceilings, menus covered with dust. Take out boxes full of Italian food. The only thing real was the fireplace and a silver plated cage big enough for a she-wolf. So that was his back room where she could crash. Since Tearsah was holding fast to the bar, he was forced to jump over it. The teen swatted in the direction of the Gorgon’s heavy breathing but the drugs were finally kicking in. She wound up stumbling to one knee, giving a whimper as he continued to reel her in. But he couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Not when a rare thing was occurring. Collapsed in a fetal position, trapped between the real and the imagined, the girl had summoned her wolf guide. The old one stood over her charge, a coat of fur with a sheen and color unlike any he’d seen before. The deepest pitch of black. Shiny as a raven’s wing, with a glow of burgundy, a deeper ring of crimson peeking out from her forehead emblazoned with some sort of haloed crest. This wolf spirit was primordial, as large as a saber toothed tiger,

canine teeth as big as tusks, both upper and lower sharp as a spear. Wolf mother growled at him, and he knew if the girl had stayed conscious a second longer, this ancient one would have snapped him as easy as bending a twig. The fierceness in her growl caused his snakes to retreat and hiss in fear. Naseem fell to his knees, asking for mercy, begging her to forgive his transgression. With her form dissipating, she wrapped loving arms around her charge and gave him a lingering growl of warning. Blood for blood. Those yellow slivered eyes would remember all that happened tonight. Another time, another place, and he would feel her wrath.

Chapter Four

“Vampire,” the prisoner called out, knowing someone was there, hoping it was the one with the magnetic eyes. The electric plum colored eyes. “Vamp-” “I heard you. What do you need?” Machiavelli’s voice bristled with resentment since he could think of a million better things to do on a Saturday night than playing butler to a she-wolf. He stepped out of the shadows, careful not to get too close, staying along the stone walls of the dungeon even as she followed him with lids so heavy her eyes were half-moons. “Wha-what’s wrong with me?” she asked, fighting to stay upright. “It’s the drugs they shot you up with,” he said, slowly walking towards her so that she could hear him better, but wisely staying just out of reach. Since she’d been naked when they’d mistakenly rescued her, somehow his brother Maelstrom had scrounged up a nightgown left by their late sister, a young vampiress too gentle to have died such a violent death at the hands of her wolvyn kidnappers. The flimsy gown swayed as the she-wolf leaned just like a weeping bush. Strands of her hair rushed forward in a waterfall of thickness as she peered up at him, waiting for his response. “They gave you drugs that were meant to calm you down.” His voice cracked as he said it. He actually sounded nervous. But in all his years he’d never been this close to a female wolvyn. Clearing his throat Mac started again, this time deepening his tone. “The physician at that . . . uh, facility didn’t realize human drugs have the opposite effect on your species. Our own doctor prepared something more suitable for you, at a lower dose since you’re a female,” he explained. “You’re probably feeling the effects of both.” “Oh,” she mumbled, her head falling backwards and then rolling forward. “You talk funny. Real proper. But you look young.” Tearsah tried to focus on him, but her mind was still scrambled. She giggled over her realization, but then she noticed the chains. “Vampire, do you plan on taking my blood? Is that why I’m chained?” He stalled, not certain how best to say it. “No, it’s for the others in the compound. They’re concerned about you being here.”

“Okee Dokee.” She gave him a lazy grin. “You can keep me chained. Only don’t send me back to him.” Machiavelli pushed a tray of food closer to her with his foot. As it slid the sound reverberated along the prison cell’s natural stone walls. “Who?” The question seemed to confuse her too. Finally she remembered. “My kidnapper. My loving, soon to be ex fiancé.” “Your fiancé kidnapped you?” “Yep, he sure did.” Her head fell back again and she jerked it up quickly in alarm. “Is he coming for me?” “No, we haven’t told anyone you’re here,” he said quietly, studying her reaction. When his words finally sunk in, her face contorted in agony and she pulled back on her restraints. “But he’ll find me-” “How?” And why should I even care? Maybe if you left, things can get back to normal around here. She snorted at his ignorance. “We’re wolvyn. We go by smell. He’ll get the best trackers to scent me out. And then vampire, yooouu better be readeeee.” “For what?” “For what?” she parroted, giving him a tongue lolling grin and a stumbling curtsy. “To bow down to me ‘cause I’ll be an Alpha’s mate. I’ll be the ninth, no wait a sec . . . I’ll be his tenth. Nope, wrong again. I’ll be number whatever, and his newest concubine. His youngest wife.” Machiavelli didn’t know which was sicker, that she was being forced into marriage, or that wolvyn took so many wives. “You’re kidding right? He has that many already?” “Oh course. And he has forty something children. I’m supposed to give him even more. I’m s’posed to have a whole litter,” she slurred. “Don’t-” he stopped her, not wanting that sort of life for anyone. “I’m sure that’s not what he has in mind.” “Don’t what Vampire? Don’t tell the truth?” her head was down now, the weight of trying to stand and feeling so very sleepy wearing her down. In a voice thick with emotion, she wondered aloud, “Is it true what they say about your kind?”

“Huh?” When she brought her head up, her eyes were narrowed slits, and they burned bright orange. “Can you see a person’s life story by the blood in their veins?” “Yeah, we can see some things,” he muttered, not really wanting to go there. “Then look. See the truth for yourself . . . if you’re not too chicken.” He wasn’t about to. But when she added the word chicken, he was curious. Still, he turned down her request. “I have a better idea. I think you need to rest.” “No. I’ll never rest. I’ll never let them catch me. Please Vampire,” she moaned, fighting against the shackles on her arms. “Just kill me-” He’d never killed a female, whether the foe was human, vampire or other, and he wasn’t about to start now. Maybe that’s why his brother Maelstrom didn’t think he was cut out for the family business. Being a Faust meant you were a cold blooded assassin, so cold that he should have honored her request, since it was likely to be her last. He tried to change the subject, not wanting to stare at the outline of her figure through the thin fabric of the gown. “Why don’t you just tell me your name instead? Mine’s Machiavelli.” “I’m Tearsah-” No, she’d never go by her birth name again, not after the way she’d been betrayed. “Razher. Call me Razher,” she grinned, pleased at the moniker that popped into her head. “So you’re no longer Tearsah,” he teased. “You’re the wolf formerly known as Tearsah-” “Don’t you call me that! That was my slave name.” She lunged forward in a sudden burst of strength, pulling her chains, all set to fight, only to catch her bare heel on the tray and slide into a gymnast’s split. He reached for her, forgetting all about the order of no physical contact. “Stop struggling. You’ll only make it worse,” he cautioned, holding her up by the elbows. She gave him a sleepy grin. Before he could react her eyes flashed yellow gold and she jerked her head near his shoulder, chomping down on him hard. It was like getting caught in a bear trap. Instinctively his upper fangs elongated and he savagely bit her back. As soon as he tasted blood he felt enormous, overwhelming anger and suffering. Confusing scenes flashed before his eyes. He saw a failed abduction, and then she was emerging from a cubby hole at a

girls school, flash forward to a private plane whisking her off to America, and how she’d kicked out the limo windows and dented the doors of the SUV they’d stuffed her into. He saw her indoctrination. How the older female wolvyn tried to persuade her to kneel to her fiancé, the beatings she endured when she continually refused – the stockade device built to immobilize her head and arms, so that she wouldn’t be able to defend herself against a male’s lust – until he threw himself away from her with a roaring hiss, falling into the opposite wall. His face was twisted in disgust and remorse for her ordeal, both then and now. She was smiling at what she’d done. “You saw it, did you see it Vampire? I know you saw. Kill me Vampire . . . just kill me . . . or let me die like a warrior. Let me die fighting.”

Chapter Five

They’d called upon a monster to kill a monster... But it had to be done, because the mad monk Grigory Efimovich Rasputin simply would not die. They’d chased the fiend known singularly as Rasputin over the Great Petrovsky Bridge onto the Malaya Nevka River. There the vampire awaited him, watching as Rasputin rose from a crack in the ice to cheat death yet again. Though he’d been bludgeoned, stabbed, shot and poisoned, still he lived. So they called upon the Vampire Sergei Faustivanov, while Rasputin tried to free himself of his icy constraints, even managing to pull himself through the hole in the frozen river that was to be his watery grave. It was the middle of winter, on the night of December 16th. The wind and the chill kept the people off the streets this night. “Brother!” Rasputin cried, his outstretched arms imploring the night stalker to save him once more. But Faustivanov would not be swayed. Thus began the line of vampires who keep the peace, who restore order, and whose sworn duty is to the monarchy“Not that tired old bedtime tale again Maelstrom,” the young man in the doorway joked, winking at the three children huddled together in a king sized bed, their tiny feet entwined like stems on a bouquet of flowers. Maelstrom Faust gave a frustrated sigh, shutting the family album. “It’s not a tale Mac. It’s our family history, and a birthright you need to remember. And why are you getting in so close to daylight?” No reply, just a look that clearly spelled “yeah, so what?” from his little brother. Maelstrom gave each of his late sister’s daughters a kiss, tucking them in snug and making certain the curtains as well as the shutters in their room were down for the day. He closed the door softly, promptly changing to a bat out of hell as he took off down the corridor after Mac. “Your holster’s showing. Haven’t I asked you not to parade around like a cowboy in front of the children?”

Screw. You. Machiavelli had a bottle of chocolate Yoo-hoo waiting on him in the fridge and a hot shower calling. There was no way he was going to stand there like some lackey getting a lecture. Maelstrom’s voice continued to gust like a cold wind at his collar. “Did you pick up the package?” Mac kept on walking in that maddening, macho swagger that had his older brother wanting to put him over his knee. Even his follow up question was ignored. “Mac, as your superior in rank I order you to stop.” Damn it, there was Maelstrom materializing right in front of him. Even though his brother was a good two inches shorter, Mac always felt like he was the incredible shrinking man when Maelstrom pulled rank. “Yeah, I got the package,” Mac answered dryly, stopping in the cavern long hallway right between the oil painting of Maelstrom with his current Emo bangs. Personally Mac liked the jet black hair extensions better, but now that they were both part of the family business semi-professional haircuts were mandatory. Maelstrom’s voice softened. “Is that how you got the slash across your cheek?” If Mac didn’t know any better he’d think his brother really cared. But if Maelstrom wasn’t such an azz wipe to begin with he wouldn’t have sent them on a totally F’ed up mission. No amount of arguing could persuade Mael to let this go, to just let the Wolvyn deal with their own kind. If they wanted their little Fifi back, then they should have rescued her. At first he figured the female was being housed in their dungeon so the family could make a deal. Having the wolvyn owe them a favor could come in handy, especially if they needed backup against the Minotaur Cartel or the newest crew rising in power, the Gorgon Syndicate. But after seeing her memories, he wasn’t so sure. Instead of telling him about the she-wolf’s bite and his retaliation, Mac kept silent. He got seriously banged up slamming into the dungeon wall, trying to escape his revulsion at Tearsah’s blood memories. “Listen Mael, it’s not right having her here. You should have seen how she was restrained on a gurney when we got there. The way she was being tortured was like something out of the dark ages. And now we’re holding her drugged and half naked-”

What he’d thought was compassion in his brother’s stare quickly changed to fury at his words. “Didn’t I tell you she was off limits? What the hell were you doing sneaking back down there anyway?” Figures he’d get yet another tongue lashing because he didn’t follow instructions to the letter. He knew the drill. Once a prisoner was secured that’s where his part in a mission ended. Usually he was pretty easy going, a jester always ready to crack a joke to break the tension. Not this time. This time he stepped right up to his brother. “I could ask you the same thing, because I know you didn’t order us to bring her here just to play checkers. So what’s going on? Or am I too lowly in rank to get a straight answer?” The look on Maelstrom’s face told it all. Whenever he got flustered he’d push those much too long side bangs out of his eyes. “It’s your bedtime little brother. You did a good job tonight but now it’s out of your hands. I’ll deal with whoever sent us the wrong intelligence.” “Sure you will.” Machiavelli muttered a curse and headed to his room. There was something really weird going on. Wrong intel my azz. After giving it some serious thought he’d soon put the pieces together. And if he didn’t like what he was seeing someone was gonna get their head handed to them. Someone had sent them to fetch the she-wolf, someone who knew he wouldn’t leave her to the mercy of that testing lab. Too bad he’d helped her escape the frying pan only to be thrown into the fire.

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RAZHER ebook release on October 31st via Amazon

Cast of characters:

Havoc Xian, Gargoyle

Machiavelli Faust, Vampire

Andre Santana, Werewolf Vampire RAZHER, She-wolf

RAZHER vs. Hostile and his netherworld assassins

More YA Paranormal Coming Soon: