Want a sneak peek of what I’m working on? Read an unedited excerpt of a new urban fantasy series I have in the works below.
Working Title: Divine Warrior
I started down the dark alley, intent on the man hunched over the woman near the dumpster. Deep in the shadows, they would have gone unnoticed by any normal person walking by. But I wasn’t any normal person. My eyesight was perfect, as good in the dark as it was in the light, and I could see every detail of the couple before me, right down to the white fangs that were inches from the woman’s exposed neck. She dangled helplessly in his arms, no doubt as oblivious to what he was about to do as the music thrumming from the building next to them.
“Should have known I’d find you in a place like this, Thaddeus,” I called out. “It reeks of your kind. You know—dark, dirty, smells like shit.”
He stopped, the woman’s skin not yet pierced. I’d make sure it stayed that way. His eyes cut through the darkness of the alley and focused on me as I approached him with a calm stride.
“Sexy Lexie,” he recited as he held the woman back with one arm, greeting me with a smile.
God, I hated that name. I locked onto his features as I drew near enough for contact. “I missed you, Thad. You left so suddenly the last time I saw you, we never got a chance to talk.” I motioned toward the girl. “Breakfast?”
“Maybe just a snack,” he said as his eyes darted around. I could tell by his body language he was getting ready to skip on me again.
I inched my hands down the sides of my body and fingered the leather casings hanging from the belt at my hips. “You’re going to make me do this the hard way, aren’t you?”
As if in answer, the whites of his eyes became blood-red, and I lunged for him, one of my daggers sinking into his shoulder and pinning him to the wall before the woman’s body even hit the ground. I held my hand on the hilt sticking out of his shoulder, while holding the other dagger up in front of his face. I shook my head at him, swaying the dagger before his eyes. “Thaddeus, I’m starting to get the feeling you don’t like me. Now, why would that be? All I’ve ever wanted to do was talk.”
Fangs hung low over Thaddeus’ lips, an instinctual defense for his kind. The same reaction they got when yearning to feast on someone. The same reaction that made me want to skewer his neck.
“You don’t talk to vampires. Everybody knows that,” he slurred through his teeth. “You only leave a trail of their body parts.”
“Now you’re trying to flatter me. Honestly, Thad, I merely want to talk. If you tell me what I want to know, I’ll let you go.”
“And if I don’t?”
“I’ll start the body trail from the feet up.”
He tried to stay unnerved as I held him, but I caught the slightest flinch of his eyes with my threat.
“What do you want to know?”
“Good boy. Word on the street is you know everybody who’s anybody in your slimy little vamp world. I’m looking for one in particular. About 6’4, black hair, likes leather, and has a tacky-looking tattoo of a fire-breathing bat on his upper left chest. Sound familiar?”
He recognized who I was asking about the minute I mentioned the tat. It was so obvious, I could practically see him picturing the bloodsucker in his puny little head.
“Who is he, Thaddeus? You’re going to tell me, one way or another.” I twisted the dagger at his shoulder, and the minute he opened his lips to cry out, I stuck the tip of my other one to the roof of his mouth. “Maybe I should start keeping souvenirs.”
“If he knew I told you about him, he’d kill me anyway. Probably in ways you can’t even imagine. You’re asking me about one of the oldest and most powerful of our kind. You may be a Descendent, but you’re not that powerful. He’d eat you alive. None of your little homemade weapons would be able to stop him.”
“I’ll make sure to tell him how highly you thought of him when I meet him. Notice my emphasis on thought, because you won’t have your head much longer if you don’t tell me who is he and where can I find him.” I pierced the roof of his mouth with the dagger. The blade was enforced with a special coating of silver-laced enamel that could melt into Thaddeus’ flesh the minute I pressed a button on the hilt. Enough silver in his system and I wouldn’t need to make parts. Cleaner, but much less satisfying. I tapped the button to make him squirm and know I meant business.
He screamed like a little girl.
“Stoker,” he blurted. “His name’s Stoker, but I don’t know where he is. I told you, he’s one of the most powerful vampires there is. You don’t get to know where he is unless he wants you to know, and I’m not on that list, I swear.”
“You’ve gotta be shittin me. The guy’s name is Stoker? Like Bram Stoker? As in Dracula? Give me a fucking break. He sounds more like a circus act than the almighty powerful one you claim he is. So, who do you know that can tell me where to find this clown?”
“I don’t know. People are pretty tight-lipped about him. Maybe someone who hangs out at Pulse might know. I’ve heard rumors some of his progeny hang out there.”
Wonderful. Pulse was only the biggest vamp hangout in the city. It was an exclusive nightclub owned by some political hotshot who had no idea some of its patrons were drinking more than the booze on its fluorescent three-story shelves. I’d hung out on the roof of the building across from it on several occasions in hopes of catching a glimpse of my vamp, but never saw him. However, I did manage to catch a few of the lone vamps who came out with unknowing victims. Needless to say, karma became their bitch when I was done with them. I was only inside the place one time. The urge to pull out my daggers and go postal was too overwhelming, and the odds of hundreds to one didn’t sit well with my survival instincts.
I took the dagger away from Thaddeus’ face and sheathed it but kept the one in his shoulder, my hand still on the hilt. “You’ve been a great help, Thad. For that, I’m going to leave you whole today. But before I let you go, I want you to know some things. One, if I ever see you feeding on someone again, this relationship is over and I will take a souvenir. And two, if you call me sexy again, I’ll mount you on my wall…alive. Spread the word.”
After taking the dagger from his shoulder, he fell to the ground, clutching the hole that was surely healing already, but still kept him from skipping. I turned my back, spread my wings, and flew up to the roof above. Looking down at him, I called out, “Oh, and Thaddeus? If you see Stoker around, tell him I’ve got a special little cage with his name on it.”
I stayed on the rooftop above the alley for some time watching Thaddeus after he thought I was gone. He seemed to be telling the truth when he said he didn’t know where Stoker was, but I learned how much vamps could be trusted the day I became aware they existed at all. The same day my parents were brutally slaughtered by the very one I hunted today.
For two years I mourned them, balancing a thin line of insanity from what I witnessed that day, unable to come to terms with the fact that there really were monsters in the dark spaces of your room, preying on the unknowing innocence of humankind. But it wasn’t until the same monster came back for my sister that the realization of our coexistence was clear. I never got to bury my sister next to the graves of my parents. She was simply…taken.
Three years of exhaustive research, intense physical training, and a fierce determination to avenge my parents and find my sister, branded me as their predator for the rest of my life. I lured them in with feigned innocence and killed them with knowing vengeance. For many years, it was my reason to wake in the morning and the cause of my nightmares at night.
I knew revenge was one of those emotions that claimed you body and soul, but I didn’t know just how deep that was until I died, because even in death, I wasn’t able to let it go. It’s the reason I have blackened wings instead of a halo, but I’m alright with that. Have been since the day I descended. It’s been too many years since then to bother counting anymore, but those feelings still drive me as much today as they did back then. Only now, I have a few added abilities…and appendages…to help my cause.
It was almost midnight by the time I crouched on the rooftop across from Pulse, eyeing the line of shallow people, both mortal and immortal, dressed in their most provocative attire, desperately waiting to be noticed. Most of them wouldn’t make it in. Pulse was only for the well paid and the well made. You had to know somebody or be somebody. But sometimes, if you were lucky, or you looked hot enough, you might catch the eye of one of the cads that ran the place from their camera-installed boobs eye view. That was how I got in before, and that was how I planned to get in again. I just needed to psyche myself up for it. I wasn’t much of a suck ass kind of girl and I didn’t do flirty well. Tonight would have to be an exception and I spotted just the target to use it on before I swooped down on the other side of the building and came out around the corner.
Ignoring the whistles and catcalls, I sauntered right past the losers in line and stopped at the barricade directly in front of one of the bouncers manning the door. I put both hands on the rail and leaned over enough to show off the cleavage that threatened to spill out of the black leather, lace-up corset I was wearing.
“Hey, baby, remember me?” I asked, in my best bimbo voice.
Beefcake the Bouncer eyed me slowly from the boobs up, just as I knew he would. For the death of me, I couldn’t remember his name, but he was the same guy that let me in the last time I was there. I’d promised to wait until he got off and have our own little private party if he let me in. He held up his end of the bargain. I didn’t. He was hot, in a Greek God kind of way, but I didn’t think he’d appreciate the fact that I was there to slaughter the clientele at the time. Hopefully, he didn’t hold grudges.
He came over and I straightened up, placing my hand on my hip as I watched him. When he was close enough, he took in the rest of me, from the skin of my stomach showing above my jeans, down to my stilettos. I let him get his fill, biting my tongue to avoid telling him this body was capable of great pain to those that looked at me that way on any other day.
“You’re not easy to forget, now are ya doll? I also remember you ditched me the last time you were here.”
“I’m so sorry about that. Something came up and I had to leave.” I moved in closer, picked up his tie, and started to run my fingers down its length. He kept his eyes on mine. “How about I ante up tonight? That’s if you forgive me, of course.”
His eyes fell to my lips and I brought the bottom one in with my tongue. He inhaled. That’s it big guy, let’s seal this deal.
He smiled seductively. “It’s Lexie, right?” I nodded. He leaned in and whispered, “You’re going to have to go all in for this one.”
“Mmmm. No problems there.”
He moved the barricade to let me through. “I’ll come for you when I’m off then, doll,” he said as he walked me to the door with his hand on the lower part of my back. His fingers were hot on my skin and I wanted nothing more than to rip them away from me, but I was only a few feet from freedom so I dealt with it.
He opened the door and the music within blasted us. I turned to him and leaned in close to his ear. “I look forward to it.”
“Oh, so do I,” he said as he grabbed my ass.
I clenched my teeth hard, resisting the urge to break his wrist, and gave him a quick smile before I moved into the club. I took a deep breath and exhaled when I heard the door shut behind me. As I looked around the club and eyed every breed of enemy I considered myself to have, I knew the worst part of this night was yet to come.
The place was packed. Electronic trance music blared throughout the room, making it impossible not to feel it course through my body. A kaleidoscope of colors shot through the darkness as lights seemed to dance to the beat of the music, in the same rhythm as the bodies on the dance floor. Those that weren’t dancing, hung out in plush booths or tables surrounding the main dance floor, or on high stools along the huge bar at the back. It was a different world in here and the Unearthlies fit right in.
In my years as a hunter, I found that there was much more evil out there than the fangy undead, and in time, I became numb to the species I encountered, adjusting my skills to seek and destroy. But that didn’t mean seeing many of them in one room didn’t make my skin crawl and my fingers itch to hold my daggers.
The majority were vamps, distinguished by their pale skin, perfect features, and undeniable arrogance in their demeanor. They were made specifically to attract their prey and they knew how to work it. The way the humans were throwing themselves at them on the dance floor was proof of that. If they only knew.
I did spot a few demons, witches, and other Descendents in the crowd, co-mingling with the mortals, but sticking to their little breed cliques. Not all of the Unearthlies were bad news, but I encountered some bad seeds of each in my time. Needless to say, we didn’t hit it off, so I learned their weaknesses too and used it against them. Just their kind being here among the vamps told me we wouldn’t be BFFs anytime in the near future, but they might be a means to an end, so I kept my distaste for them in check and my options open.
I noticed an open stool next to a vamp up at the bar. He was talking to some blond who sat on the other side of him. I couldn’t tell what she was from here, but she was too earth-toned to be a vamp. Probably human, but could be a witch. I’d soon find out. I sidled up to the bar between the empty stool and the vamp, and leaned forward against it as if trying to get the bartenders attention. I wanted to remain standing because my stilettos gave me height over the seated vamp, and gave him a great vantage point with my tried and true corset once he turned around. While I waited for the bartender, I tuned in on the girl who was talking a mile a minute to the vamp about how her girlfriend convinced her this was the place to be to meet more interesting men, and she was totally right, and blah, blah, blah. The broad was definitely human, and if the vamp didn’t fall off his stool from boredom first, I wasn’t going to have a problem stealing his attention.
“What’s your pleasure, gorgeous?” the bartender asked when he made it over, giving me a quick glimpse of his pointed canines. They even hired vamps in this joint. It made sense though. I couldn’t see a human refusing an Unearthly if they were getting a bit rowdy.
“Stoli Elite on the rocks.”
He sized me up…well, what he could see anyway. “A woman whose taste matches her beauty.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls.”
“Just the hot ones. All alone tonight?”
“Not for long, hopefully.” I winked.
“Well, if someone hasn’t snatched you up by the end of the night, I’d love to keep you company. Name’s Ash. Think about it. Be right back with your drink.”
I caught the vamp next to me turn his head slightly, but the way he was sitting wouldn’t allow him to see me. Blondie continued to chirp away.
Pretending to search for something in my jeans pocket, I leaned in closer to the vamp, making sure my chest brushed against his back. “You know, if you need a save, I’d be happy to help. Just tap your finger on the bar twice and she’s gone,” I whispered to the back of his head.
The bartender came back and set my drink on the bar. I tried to give him money, but he insisted on the first round being on him, with the added reminder of his offer. I promised I would, thinking to myself how I’d love to take him up on his offer, only to see his head lying several feet from the rest of him.
As I grabbed my drink, the vamp next to me reached his hand out on the bar. I took a sip as I watched him tap his finger. Once. Twice. That was my cue. This was going to be fun.
I slowly made my way over to the girl and stood between her and the vamp. I set my drink on the bar in front of her as she looked up at me. Locking my eyes on hers I said with blatant intimidation, “You’re in my seat.”
Her mouth hung open for a few seconds, confused. “What? I saw you. You just got here. I’ve been sitting here for like twenty minutes.”
“And now you’re not. Let’s not make this messy.”
“Reis?” She glanced around me to the vamp, waiting for him to rescue her.
I turned my head to look over my shoulder at him. His whiskey-colored eyes locked with mine. I held my breath for a moment. I hadn’t expected him to be as handsome as he was. He smiled and I could definitely see how he lured his prey in. Wow, what a waste.
“I think you’re in this lovely lady’s seat,” he told her. His voice was deep and authoritative. The kind that could make you do something you really didn’t want to do and like every minute of it.
I gave him a grin and turned back to the chit. She was gaping at his words before her eyes met mine again. Defeat came over her features before she fixed me with a look of contempt and grabbed her purse from the bar.
“You’re a bitch,” she said as she got up.
“Yes I am.” I gave her a small wave. “Ba Bye.”
She walked away in a snit and I chuckled. I just saved her life and she would never know it. Sad thing was, I probably only prolonged her fate. She was destined to be a victim.
“I guess I owe you now,” the vamp said from behind me.
I turned to him with a flirty smile. “I guess you do.”
“Descendent, right?” he asked.
I glanced over my shoulder. “Are my wings showing?”
He smiled. “No. You just have a rebellious vibe about you. And the looks of an angel.”
“Aren’t you the charming one,” I said as I sat down.
“So, how in the world, does a vamp like me please a beautiful fallen angel?”
I let my eyes play over his body. Vamps loved when women fawned over their beauty. I have to admit, I didn’t mind. His hair matched his eyes, maybe a shade darker, and hung just above his collar. The top was a bit messy, but in a sexy kind of way. It was the only unkempt thing about him. He had sexy businessman down to a science, able to close any deal with the flash of a smile. He was definitely strong, as most vamps were, sporting a white button down shirt, opened just enough to tease me with a glimpse of his bare muscular chest. I could just imagine how his black dress pants would show his other muscular features. Too bad he had fangs.
“Reis?” He nodded. “Well, Reis, I can think of quite a few ways,” and I wasn’t lying, “but how about we just chat for awhile first?” I needed to get info from him and preferred not to get physical to get it.
His eyes narrowed, attempting to read me. I smiled, trying to put him at ease. Wouldn’t do well to scare off my first customer.
“I think I’ve had enough chatting for the night, Lexie. Why don’t we cut to the chase. Why are you here? I know you’re not naive enough to think you can take out every vampire in the club, so that means you’re looking for something…or someone. So which is it?”
Well, there’s a twist. Good looks and brains too. Apparently, Reis had been around enough to know who I was and what I was all about. I was definitely taken aback at his awareness, but I learned a long time ago not to let surprise affect my end game, but more importantly, never allowing the enemy to know they’d accomplished it. His knowledge of me could be a good thing or a very bad thing. At least I didn’t have to waste my time portraying the dingy fangbanger.
I played it cool, as if I knew he recognized me all along. I still needed info and it wouldn’t help my cause to disrespect his intelligence. I was actually kind of impressed, so it wasn’t too far a stretch.
“I’m impressed. I like a guy who does his homework.”
“I’m a fan of keeping my enemies close. How close are you willing to get, Lexie?”
“Stop. You’re making me feel all fuzzy inside.”
He smiled again, a devilish one that did make me feel something inside. “If I had my way with you, you’d feel much more than fuzzy inside, love.”
Damn, that voice was enough to make a girl drop down on her knees, bare her neck, and say bite me without a second thought. Most girls.
“Is that a threat or a proposition?”
“What would you like it to be?”
Enough games. He was trying to throw me off, and if we continued this way, he might just do that. “Didn’t you say you wanted to cut to the chase? Why don’t we do that then. I’m looking for a vamp by the name of Stoker. I was told that he had progeny that frequented this blood bank. You wouldn’t happen to be one of them, would you?”
He studied me for a minute with his amber eyes, and I could swear they had darkened at the mention of the vamp. He knew him all right. I stared right back at him, letting him know I was studying his reaction, just as he was me.
“Aiming a bit high, don’t you think? He’s a little above your typical kill.”
“For the record, nothing is above my kill, Reis. Not even pretty boys like you.” I reached out and ran my thumb over the sharp planes of his cheek, feeling the stubble on his jaw with my palm. He grabbed my wrist and brushed his thumb over the inside of it, following the movement hungrily with his eyes as he licked his lips. I pulled at my arm, but his hand was like a clamp of steel that wasn’t giving. Our eyes locked as I tried to control my breathing. Stupid move, Lexie. Nothing like dangling the meat in front of the lion’s face. Great way to get your hand bit off…literally.
“For the record, I suggest you don’t touch me again unless you are prepared to find out how above you I can really be. Now, let’s start over.” He placed my hand on my own leg, his big hand dwarfing mine, keeping it in place on my thigh and causing my skin to burn from his hot touch through my jeans. I clenched my teeth to keep from lashing out at him. He leaned in to me. “What do you want with Stoker? If you lie, I’ll know.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, my hatred growing with each breath I took. He’d gone too far. Never had I been handled this way before. And by a fucking bloodsucker. I was going to make him pay for it when I was done with him. I vowed to make him suffer slowly. “It’s simple really. I’m going to mount his head on my wall…possibly next to yours.”
He laughed at me. It was a deep, robust sound that you could almost feel the vibrations from. In any other situation, with someone I didn’t want to kill, it might have pleased me. As it was, it only pissed me off.
At least my response got him to remove his hand from my leg. With my new freedom, I stood, ready to put this fiasco behind me. It hadn’t gone quite as planned, but maybe I could still find someone that could help me get to Stoker.
Reis grabbed my wrist to stall me, no less steel-like than before. “Lexie, we need to talk.”
“We just did. I found out you’re an asshole and you found out I don’t like to be jerked around. I’d say we both know all we need to at this point. Goodbye, Reis.”
I tried to move away, but he didn’t let up. He was still sitting on the stool, all nonchalant except for the fleshy manacle at my wrist. His parted legs gave me ideas, like using his jewels as target practice for my stilettos.
“You’re not the only one who’s looking for Stoker. We might be able to help each other out.”
I looked at him. There was a cold edge to him now, a tension there that hadn’t been minutes ago, telling me he might want Stoker just as bad as I did. But why?
“I don’t even know you. And even if I did, I don’t do sidekicks.”
He stood without letting go of my wrist. I had to do one of those slow motion head raises because he towered over me. He was huge, both in height and girth. I didn’t even realize it when he was sitting on the stool, but standing in my personal space, it was undeniable. It didn’t help that at the angle I was at, the opening of his shirt dared me to take a peek inside either. His presence so near me was overwhelming, I needed to get away. He made me…nervous. I never got nervous.
“That’s too bad,” he said. “I was really starting to like you, Lexie. Maybe when we meet again, you’ll think better of it. Until then, watch your back. I’d hate to not have that opportunity.” His fingers brushed over my skin at the back of my hand, my palm, and then finally my fingertips as he slowly released me. It sent shivers up my arm and I stood there like an idiot rubbing it with my other hand while I watched him turn to the bar and wave the bartender over.
“Take care of her for the rest of the night,” he told him. “Just charge it to my personal account.”
“You got it.”
Personal account? Who the hell was this guy?
“It’s been a pleasure, love.”
He was looking down at me with a smirk that made the long dimple beside his mouth deepen, no doubt finding great pleasure knowing he’d thrown me off. I hadn’t realized I was still standing in the way of him leaving, but I found my pride and stepped aside.
“Reis,” I said with a nod. He wasn’t getting more than that from me.
There was plenty of room for him to go by, but he purposely brushed against my breasts with his arm as he passed. I gave a sigh that was meant to be an irritated groan, but came out more like a moan. I heard him laugh as I watched him walk away and get lost in the crowd.
The man affected me like no other, and it made me furious with myself. I was either going to have to avoid him at all costs, or I was going to have to kill him. I didn’t avoid anyone, so that left door number two. But first, I’d have to find out who the hell he was.
Copyright 2017 L.J. Kentowski