Saturday, September 10, 2016

Witch Sample


Coming out this Halloween!

(Rough draft sample chapters)

Chapter 1
     There was a sudden creak on the floorboards. A subtle shift of weight. The last rays of the setting sun cast the little store in waves of scattered darkness, flickering through the blinds on the windows, glittering off a pair of long, serrated fangs. A long shadow rose slowly out of the darkness, creeping its way towards the front counter.
     For a moment, all was still. The world itself seemed to be holding its breath.
Then, with a blood-curdling cry, the vampire hurled itself out of the shadows…
…for the sixth time.
     “Jimmy,” I looked up from my sketchbook, bored out of my mind, “how many times do I have to say it? The costumes are for paying customers only. Keep parading that thing around and I’m going to charge you for damages.”
     There was a muffled laugh and a little boy pried off the sticky mask, grinning from ear to ear with a six-year-old smile. “You can’t charge me. I don’t have any money.”
     I blew back my recently-acquired bangs with an exasperated sigh, setting down the sketches as I walked out from behind the counter. “Yeah…I kind of figured.”
     Most days of the year, the shop where I worked after school functioned as a basic apothecary. Weaved nets of herbs and ominous looking spices hung from the ceiling, warding away all but a few loyal customers while filling the air with the pleasant scent of sage. It was quiet and sunny—a perfect place to work on my drawings while greedily collecting my minimum wage paycheck every Friday afternoon.
     But every October, tragedy struck. Every October, the store put away its fragrant plants and stocked the shelves with bat wings and witches hats instead, transforming into Hallowood Heights’ only Halloween costume shop. This meant that instead of drawing, I spent the bulk of my time trying to stop Jimmy Alden and his band of miscreant friends from sticking the decorative fangs in their mouths.
     “Now beat it,” I demanded, pushing the increasingly-annoying bangs out of my eyes as I shoved him towards the door, “I’m closing up.”
He dug in his heels, looking longingly at the fake eyeballs. “Just five more minutes?”
     “Nope,” I said firmly, glancing out the windows. “Where’s your mother anyway? If this is her way of trying to get free baby-sitting, you tell Miranda Alden that ship has sailed. No amount of Subway gift cards is worth spending the evening with a monster like you.”
     “I was a vampire!”
     “Vampire, monster. Same thing.”
Jimmy grinned, displaying several holes where his teeth should have been. I remembered the day I turned thirteen, I went out and did what every other young woman in my town of nine hundred people did when they reached such a wise age. I put out little cards with my phone number (my parents’ phone number, really) at the local supermarket, and all the shops on Main Street, advertising my services as a paid guardian of children.
     Jimmy Alden was my first charge. I should have known that something was wrong when I got the call within ten minutes of walking home from my ceremonial trek. All the other girls had already given up on the Aldens. After only a few months, I would too.
     “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He gazed up at me innocently. “You said you liked cheese.”
     I gave him a hard look.
    “No one likes cheese that much. Now get out of here before I boil you alive.”
     He giggled again, cocking his head curiously as he stared at my face. “Did you get a new haircut? You look different.”
     My hand automatically lifted to shove the bangs out of my face. “Yeah…I saw this picture in a magazine. But you know how hair always looks different in a magazine than it actually does when you…” I trailed off suddenly, realizing I’d been duped. “Why on earth are we having this conversation? You’re not staying—get out of here.”
     He pushed out his lower lip and pouted as an elderly woman pushed past him into the store. “Why? She gets to stay.”
     “No she doesn’t,” I muttered, in a sudden hurry to go before any other customers could sneak in past the hour. Without another word, I pulled his hat down over his head, and shoved him towards the door. “Go—I see your mom across the street.”
     He took off running, and I shook my head with a reluctant smile.
     “Look both ways!”
     Why did I even bother? In a town this small everything was so close we didn’t even need cars. Might as well go back to the horse and buggy system.
     Forcing a polite smile, I flipped back my hair and turned to the old woman. She was perusing a display of crystal balls—picking each one up with a rather nostalgic look on her face.
     “You know,” she croaked, “the last time I saw one of these was in a catacomb on Surrey Island. They say the crystal had been forged in a fiery cavern revealed only by the tide.” Her eyes flashed electric blue as she fixed them on my face.     “Where did you get these?”
     Was this for real?
     I considered lying for a moment, before I picked one up and flipped it upside-down.
     “Made in Taiwan.”
     “It’s fake. Like you.”
     I cocked a brow. “Excuse me.”
     “You pretend to fit in with this world, but you stick out like a sore thumb.”
     I wasn’t sure what she meant. “What?”
     “They hid you well. I give them that. We didn’t know you existed until now. Better watch your step. You have many enemies.”
     “I don’t have any enemies. There isn’t one mean bone in my body.”
     “You do. And you will have more as of tomorrow. Your eighteenth birthday is like a beacon in the darkness. All that power and energy flowing through your veins. You’ll attract many, you know.”
     I chuckled. “Who put you up to this? Beth?”
     She studied me. “You don’t know, do you?”
     “Know what? That you’re playing some kind of Halloween prank on me?”
     “They thought by not telling you the truth that you’d be safe…but your naivety will be your downfall.”
     Those blue eyes bore into me again, and I smiled sweetly.
     “Actually ma’am, we were just closing up for the night. I’d be happy to ring you up if you’re ready, otherwise I can put one of these on hold for you.”
     “No, that’s quite alright.” She gathered up her purse with a rather peculiar smile. “I’ve seen everything I need to.”
     She was leaving and I was about to get my wish, but the woman stopped suddenly as she swept towards the door. Her head jerked sharply back towards me, as if someone had called her name, before her eyes landed on my throat. An instinctual shiver crept up my spine, but before I could even take a step away, she was right in front of me—moving impossibly fast for someone so old.
     “That’s a lovely necklace.” Her eyes dilated hungrily as a set of withered fingers stroked the pendant I always wore around my neck. “Where did you get it?”
     I shivered again and wrapped it protectively in my hand. “I don’t know…I’ve always had it,” I mumbled, wondering why she was standing so close. “Must have come from my parents.”
     A high-pitched laugh rang out in the little store, vibrating the windows and chattering my teeth. “Yes. It must have. And it confirms exactly who you are.”
     She was gone without another word. Leaving me blinking and frozen in her wake.
     It wasn’t until the bell chimed above the door—announcing her departure—     that I was able to snap myself out of it. A final shudder trembled through my arms, before I glanced at the clock, snatched up my sketchbook, and swept out the door myself—shaking back my stupid bangs as I headed off into the night.
     Why was October so cold?
*   *   *
     I called a few friends and none had confessed to pranking me. So I figured the lady was crazy. The lady must’ve seen the birthday poster the owner at the shop had put up for me wishing me a happy eighteenth birthday.
     The smell of cheese ravioli hit me hard as I opened the front door to my house, making my mouth water as the steam warmed my chilly skin. I dropped my bags in a heap in the corner and made my way into the kitchen, pouring myself a glass of water as I settled into a chair.
     “Hey, honey,” my mother looked up with a smile from where she was poking at little pastas on the stove, “how was work? All the Halloween crazies coming out to play yet?”
     I lay down my head on the counter with a groan. “I don’t get it. It’s still three weeks away. Do they really need this much of a jump-start?”
     She chuckled and poured in a jar of sauce. “It’s good for you—this kind of suffering. It builds character.” I groaned again and she grinned. “At the very least, it will give you great inspiration for your drawings.” She held up her hands so her fingers were framing an imaginary headline. “A Town Devolving. I can see it now…”
     “That’s right,” I yawned and stretched out my arms in front of me. “I can draw Jimmy Alden jumping out at me dressed as a vampire sixteen hundred times.”
     She laughed again, pulling the pot off the stove and flipping off the burner. “I can’t believe Miranda just lets him run around and—Sophia.” She stopped sharply, staring at me from across the room. “Look at me.”
     For the second time that day—chills. I had been so caught up in all my self-righteous work angst, I had completely forgotten. “Oh, uh…actually, I’m not that hungry. I’ll just—”
     A manicured finger caught me by the chin and tilted up my head. “Did you get bangs?!”
     I felt the color pooling in my cheeks as I avoided her eyes. It wasn’t just that I’d taken it upon myself to get a haircut all on my own. It turned out to be a rather stupid hair cut as well…
     “So?” I foolishly decided to challenge her. “I can style myself all on my own, thanks. I’m turning eighteen tomorrow, after all. By all legal standards, I’m an adult at midnight.”
     She raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips like she was trying not to smile.     “And this is your first act of adulthood. This…hair?”
     My shoulders wilted as a rather crestfallen look came over my face.
     “Can we call it the last mistake of childhood instead?”
     Another bout of laughter rang out as she pulled me into her arms. Her fingers fluffed back through my locks in a practiced sort of way, and when we finally pulled back, there was a twinkle in her eye.
     “Tell you what—let’s eat this pasta before it gets cold. And after dinner, you’ll let your mom fix this one up for you. A last motherly intervention—for old time’s sake.”
     A reluctant grin lifted the corners of my lips.
     “I suppose that would be alright.”
     She rolled her eyes and carried the pasta to the table. “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, Soph. Trust me…bad haircuts will be the least of your problems.”
     I settled myself down in a chair and dished myself out a steaming plate. “What’s that supposed to mean? I’ll be old enough to get my own place.”
     “Yeah,” she laughed humorlessly, “you’ll be able to move out. And pay bills. And make mortgage payments. And student loans. And all kinds of other fun things that come from entering the world of adulthood.”
     I grinned again. “Well thanks, mother dearest, it sounds like a dream.”
     “If you’re really lucky, you’ll end up with some smart-ass kid who will make you seriously think twice about the merits of birth control—”
     “Okay, you’ve made your point.”
     “Soph?”
     “What.”
    “Happy early birthday.”
*   *   *
     Despite my mother’s caustic warning, I went to bed excited that night. So excited, I could hardly get to sleep. Eighteen. Eighteen-years-old.
     I could vote. I’d be legal. Fair game. A woman on the prowl.
     A silly grin stretched across my face as I lay back and gazed up at the ceiling. ‘Woman on the prowl.’ Sure. In our town of less than a thousand people—all of whom, I knew their first, middle, and last names. Not a lot of prowling to be done.
     I don’t know when I finally started drifting off. I don’t know when fatigue overcame excitement and sleep began to take me. All I remember is the dream.
It was a dream I could never forget.
     I blinked around in confusion, wondering how exactly I’d gotten outside. I could feel the chilled wind against my bare shoulders—the early morning dew at my feet. It was beautiful out here. A lovely little meadow, untouched by the outside world. There were flower mixed in with the long grass, and the sky above me was tinted with just the faintest traces of pink as the sun came up over the horizon.
     Then I heard the scream.
    The perfect image in front of me shattered into a million pieces, as I slowly rotated around. Untouched by the outside world? Not hardly. It looked like the outside world was using the beautiful meadow to have some kind of a party.
     My eyes swept over the blunt torches with confusion. Why weren’t they using flashlights? And their clothes—those didn’t look like regular jackets. They looked more like something we would sell in our shop. Like some kind of mid-century cloaks. And what was that they were all gathered around. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was an—
     “Please!” the girl screamed again. “Please—don’t hurt me.”
A horrified chill swept up my spine. It was then that I realized what kind of ‘party’ this was. It wasn’t a celebration at all.
     It was a sacrifice.
    The girl was tied to a slab of stone in the middle of the grass—straining against her ropes until her wrists bled with the effort. Tears of pure terror were rolling down her cheeks, and she was gazing up at the people around her like I did—like she didn’t understand who they were, what was going on, or how she had even gotten there.
    The people themselves couldn’t have been less concerned. They ignored her, chanting in a language I didn’t understand, as they formed a silent ring around the stone alter. The tallest one, a man standing in the middle, pulled something out of his pocket and raised it high in the air. The blade flashed silver in the waning moonlight.
    The girl screamed again as she realized what was about to happen. This time, I screamed too. I tried racing towards her, but my feet wouldn’t move. Even though I’d started yelling with all my might, no one even looked my way. Not the girl. Not the people who were about to kill her.
     There was a flash of silver, then all the screaming stopped. The smooth stones trickled down a river of crimson onto the tall grass, and the ring of people bowed their heads.
     “One down…” the man muttered with a smile. “One to go…”
     “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
     I jerked awake with a start. My mom and dad were hovering over me—wearing the kind of ridiculous party hats I sold at the store. Their faces were frozen in identical, goofy smiles, and the second I opened my eyes, two ear-splitting kazoos whipped out in celebration.
     “You’re eighteen now!” my dad said.
     My face paled as the scene I’d witnesses faded quickly before my eyes. But while it might have faded, it was in no way forgotten. I could still smell the wet grass. I could still hear the girl’s pleading scream—
     “Well,” my mother threw an arm around my shoulder, jolting me even further out of my midnight reverie and pulling me back to the present, “now that you’re officially awake, I guess it’s time to ask the obvious question: how do you feel, kiddo?”
     My fingers trembled as I stared from one to the other, trying to keep up.
    “S-sorry,” I stammered, “about what?”
     My dad laughed and settled on the other side of me. “About the death of childhood!”
    A shudder ran through my body, as my mother burst out laughing. “About officially being a grownup! Is the world of adulthood as scary as I made it sound last night?”
     I took another second to catch my breath, before forcing my face into a casual smile. “I’ll have to keep you posted. So far, so good.”
     The two of them got to their feet—still chuckling at their cleverness at my first birthday surprise ‘heart-attack-by-kazoos.’
     “I had a bad dream, more like a nightmare,” I said. “I saw this woman sacrificed. And it felt so real, like I was witnessing it.”
     “Honey, it was just a dream,” my dad said. “You’re working at a Halloween shop. And isn’t there a bloody display with a lady being sacrificed?”
     “Yes.”
     “Working there all day and seeing that would trigger a dream like that. And didn’t you watch a horror movie last night with your mom?”  
     I nodded. “I know. You’re right. It was just weird, that’s all. I never have nightmares like that.”
     They gave me some more words of encouragement, and then in a flash, they were out the door and down the stairs.
     I pondered. I felt like I was actually there. It wasn’t like a normal dream. I tried to make sense of it. But my dad was right. I bet the Halloween season was getting to me.
     “Out of bed, sleepy-head!” my dad called up the stairs. “I bet you’re stalling!       Scared to eat my pancakes?”
     I smiled. My dad had a lot of talents, but cooking was not one of them.     Nonetheless, every year he made (and burned) me a huge stack of pancakes for my birthday breakfast. It was a disgusting tradition, but one that I relished even so.
     “I’m coming, I’m coming!”
     I threw my legs over the side of the bed and pulled myself to my feet—catching my reflection in the mirror on the way to my dresser. It was something that happened every morning, but this time, I couldn’t help but pause.
     I didn’t look any different. I didn’t look any older.
     I turned my face this way and that, examining it for even the most minute change.
     Nope—everything looked pretty much exactly the same. Minus the awesome hair-intervention my mom had given me the night before.
     I smirked as the lovely chestnut bangs swung gracefully back and forth, framing my pale skin and making my wide brown eyes seem even bigger than before.
     “Just like in the magazine…”
     Suddenly the light in my room flickered.
     That’s weird. Maybe a power surge.
     I headed downstairs and sat down as my dad loaded my plate with crispy pancakes.
     “I tried. I really did,” he said. “I only make these once a year on your birthday.”
     I laughed. “Lucky me.”
     My mother poured me a glass or orange juice. Just as I went to thank her, the glass exploded and orange juice flew. I screamed and jumped up.
     “What happened?” my dad asked as he ran over.
     “It just exploded!” I said.
     “Are you sure?”
     “I saw it. It just exploded. That was really strange.”
     My mother came over and cleaned it up. “Don’t worry about it.”
     I felt my hands start to shake. “Something feels different.”
     “You’re another year older,” my mom said.
     “No, it feels like something else. But I have no idea how to explain it. I feel different. I feel on edge. I sense danger.”
     “It’s that nightmare you had,” my dad said.
     “Yeah, that has to be it. It really shook me up.”
    “Don’t dwell on bad dreams. Just try to enjoy your birthday.”
    I smiled and took a calming breath. “You’re right. I think I will.”
   “We’ll rent a movie. And I’m not letting you or your mom rent another horror flick.”
    I laughed.

 Chapter 2
     One terrible thing for kids who were born in October was that, odds are, you had to go to school on your birthday. I was no exception.
     After choking down as much charred batter as I could stand, I slung my book bag over my shoulder and headed off to school, feeling a little sick. Another birthday morning tradition.
     My best friend Beth greeted me the second I set foot on campus. Even if I hadn’t been looking for her, I would have seen her all the same. She was the only person at the school who insisted upon still wearing slutty summer clothing despite the autumn chill. She was also standing beneath possibly the largest gathering of balloons I had ever seen.
     “Happy Birthday!” she shrieked when she saw me. She ran over, the balloons bobbing in a swarm above her head.
     I beamed. “Thank you! You’re the sweetest!”
     Suddenly, a few of the balloons popped and I jumped back.
     “Oh no,” she said. “It’s the thought that counts, right?”
     “Only a few popped.”
     “That’s weird. It’s not even windy or anything.”
     “Weird is my middle name today.”
      “You eat all the pancakes?” she asked.  You feeling sick yet?”
     I laughed. “Yes, and yes. Although I have to say, I’m surprised you didn’t notice—”
     “Oh my GOSH—look at your hair!”
    There it was.
    “I know, right?” I tossed it over my shoulder with a seductive smirk. “What do you think? Very officially-the-age-of-consent?”
She cracked up, having made the same revelation herself not two months earlier.
     “Absolutely! For all the good it will do you around here.”
     The two of us giggled and linked arms, heading up the wide sloping steps as the balloons clumped stubbornly above us. The rest of the students waved cheerfully and parted to make a path, probably not wanting to get caught next to us when we tried to squeeze inside the doors.
     “But seriously,” Beth babbled on, “maybe we should make some kind of road trip into the city this weekend. There’s supposed to be this awesome new club opening, and if Caleb’s older brother will finally come through with those fake IDs, then we can probably—”
     “Ouch.”
     My head spun around as something hard smacked into my shoulder. A whiff of citrus and sandalwood washed over me, as I tilted up my chin and squinted into the sun.
     The hottest guy I had ever seen gazed back at me.
     This couldn’t be real. I couldn’t be seeing this right. No way did someone actually look like this in real life. Let alone, someone in Hallowood Heights.
     The body. The face. Those eyes.
     The faint dimples that appeared as his smile curved up into a smirk.
    It was the smirk that brought me back down to earth, snapping my attention back to the present as Beth chattered on obliviously by my side, completely missing the life-shattering moment that was happening right next to her.
     With an instinct ingrained by years of watching female-empowering television, I jutted up my chin and have him a sarcastic once-over. “Watch where you’re going.” I then shot him a huge smile.
     The dimples grew even more pronounced as his eyes twinkled.
    “My mistake.”
     The next second he was gone, leaving me in a little cloud of that delicious scent. I sucked in a deep breath of it as I tried to gather my wits. Well aware that the only evidence of me actually having met this Adonis was blowing away in the wind. He didn’t go to this school. I wondered who he was.
     “—and that’s when I told him that the only way we were going to be caught dead in that thing, was if we were living somewhere they didn’t sell PopTarts to begin with.”
     There was a beat, then I turned slowly back to Beth.
     “I’m sorry…what?”
     She flipped back her head impatiently. “Caleb. Fake ID’s. Breakfast pastries.       Keep up.”
    “Right,” I shook my head quickly, scanning back over my head for the guy, “sorry. But I got distracted by the cute guy who bumped into me.”
    “Where?”
    “He’s gone. He had to be about twenty or so.”
    “You have got to let me know when you spot a hottie!”
    “I will. I promise. It just happened so fast.”
    That handsome face was etched into my mind. I desperately wanted to know who the stranger was.  


Chapter 3
     After school, I went to work at the Halloween shop.
     “That’ll be seventeen-fifty.”
     I slipped the boxes of fake teeth into a bag, protecting them with a layer of decorative orange and black tissue paper. I hadn’t asked why the town banker required what amounted to three pounds of fake molars, and he hadn’t told me. I could only hope it wasn’t some kind of ‘demolish the entire town to steal our money leaving nothing behind but sabotaged dental records’ kind of thing. Then again, my mother always said I had a wild imagination.
     But the banker wasn’t the only weirdo skulking about town. I blamed it on the damn holiday. The closer we got, the more all the crazies I never saw any other time of the year came out to play. Just on the way in here, I could have sworn I walked past a grown man sporting a pair of fangs. Although to be fair, the weirdest person in that encounter was probably me. Instead of being curious, my first instinct was a bizarre burst of territorial rage.
     Where the hell did he get fangs like that? I knew for a fact they hadn’t come from my shop…
     The clock on the wall must have broken down in sheer boredom, because I swear, time had never crawled by so slowly. There was a steady group of customers, so I was never really alone, but still—not exactly what a girl wants to be doing on her birthday.
     By the time seven o’clock rolled around, I was out the door and across the street before anyone could stop me.
     A frigid wind swooped down on me the second I pulled open the door, sending it (and me) flying back on the hinges. I caught it just before it banged against the brick wall, and forced it shut—digging in my boots to anchor it in place while I struggled to lock it.
     The sound of soft laughter drifted across the darkened street, and I whipped my head around to see who had witnessed my humiliation. Turns out, it was the last person in the world I would have wanted to see.
     Oh gosh…
     It was that guy again, the one I’d run into at school. The one who was so beautiful, I finally understood what people meant when they said someone ‘took their breath away.’
     My face turned a million shades of scarlet, and I ducked it quickly down to finish locking up. When I glanced back up through my lashes, he was still standing there—but he was no longer looking at me. His eyes were fixed on something just over my shoulder, something that had wiped the smile clean off his face.
     A little shiver ran up my skin as I stared in fascination. Never before had I seen someone look so beautiful and so angry, all at the same time. But angry didn’t really begin to cover it. I realized, with a start, that I had never seen someone look downright scary. Dangerous.
    Not like this guy did.
    I peeked over my shoulder to see what had him so riled up, but there was nothing there. Only the old lady who had accosted my poor necklace in the store the previous day. A little frown creased my forehead as I glanced back across the street, but the guy was already walking away. He was texting someone on his phone, fingers flying over the keys, not a care in the world.
     Bipolar, much?
    I headed off in the opposite direction, taking a shortcut down an alley as I played it back in my head. Just goes to show, even the pretty ones have a flaw, I thought sagely. Then I mentally complimented myself. See? This adulthood business was making me wiser already.
     “You know, my dear…”
     I whirled around with a shriek to see the old woman standing directly behind me. She’d moved so quietly, I hadn’t even heard her walk up. And although I wasn’t sure if she realized it yet herself, she was standing at such an angle that I couldn’t move past her. In fact, as she took a step forward, I backed myself into a wall.
    “…that really is a lovely necklace.”
    And that…is that moment that my entire world turned upside-down.
     I watched in horror as the woman transformed before my very eyes. Her teeth elongated into horrific fangs. Her blue eyes darkened to the color of blood. Bones snapped as her wrinkled body stretched and hardened into something that looked like walking shadow. There was a sound as soft as a whisper as her floral print dress and handbag fell in a forgotten pile on the wet street.
     “Just a taste,” she murmured, her voice sounded like it was coming up through the ground. “One drink, and then I’ll send you to hell with the rest of your clan.”
     Her knotted hands reached towards me, sharpening into claws as they traced the base of my throat. My heart raced. It all happened so fast. It was like the woman had supernatural speed. I didn’t even have time to turn and run. I could feel sharp fangs across my skin. Panic flooded through me and I wondered if this was my final moment.
     I screamed.  
    At that very moment, a silver blade shot through the center of her chest. Her eyes widened in surprise, just like mine, before she fell without a word to the ground—convulsing and shivering up until there was nothing left but an old dress and a weathered hand bag.
     In her place, stood the hot guy I’d seen before. The bloody knife still in his hands. A manic smile lighting his handsome face. His chest rose and fell with quick, shallow breaths—but he didn’t seem at all afraid. In fact, he seemed almost…excited.
     “Are you okay?” he asked, looking me up and down.
     I blinked. Then blinked again. Then a shaky hand came up to push my quivering hair back out of my eyes. “Sorry…” my voice sounded much higher than usual. “What was that thing?”
     “I’m afraid you’ll know soon enough.”
     “I need to know now!”
    He pulled what looked like a bag of powder out of his jacket pocket.
    “Don’t worry, darlin. You’re not going to remember any of this anyway.”

    Darkness.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chaos - book 4 is now on audio!


Look what published today on audio! Book 4 of The Crush Saga!

Have a listen to the sample by Kylie Stewart, my narrator. She's working on book 5 as we speak!


Monday, July 11, 2016

Halloween Release!


I'm excited about a Halloween release! It's about a girl named Sophie who discovers she's a witch when her powers kick in on her eighteenth birthday. If that's not surprising enough, she learns her blood can destroy an evil race of vampires. She's the last of her kind and has been hidden away from the enemy who wishes to destroy her. Supernatural Powers. A hidden heritage. A secret world. Her destiny has just begun. Cover done by the fantastic Book Cover by Design, Kellie Dennis.





Friday, April 1, 2016

Unedited Sample of Surviving Darkness - Part 3




Surviving

Darkness

Part 3

by

Chrissy Peebles



Copyright 2016 by Chrissy Peebles

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.



Blurb:

With Danny at her side, and her newfound powers growing, Blair feels like she should be okay. Heck, she even has a—sort of—friendship going with Tori, her long-lost half sister. Tori might be an assassin, but she draws the line at killing family, and she’s willing to help Blair with something no one else would: taking down Vlad the Impaler, legendary vampire and all-around bad guy extraordinaire. Just one problem, though: he’s also their father.

Blair knows that time is running out, and when Tori arrives with the story of an ancient artifact that could protect her, she sets off to search for it. She’s sure that she’s just keeping herself safe while she prepares for her fight with Vlad—but it soon becomes clear that every step she takes, every enemy she defeats, is just bringing her closer to the inevitable showdown…




Chapter 1

The sounds of bird calls echoed through the canopy of trees, and sunlight dappled the deck, playing over my bare feet as I sat stretched out on one of the lounge chairs. The scene was such a picture-perfect family vacation, with the smell of pancakes coming from inside and the grill just waiting for hot dogs and hamburgers later in the day, that I could hardly reconcile it with the conversation that was taking place.
“There’s no way,” Danny said, for what seemed like the hundredth time. His plate of blueberry pancakes lay abandoned, and he was frowning at Tori. “Those things never work.”
“Those things,” Tori mused. She made finger quotes in the air and then gave him a look. “Those things like…witchcraft?”
“You know what I mean.”
“No. I don’t. You’re a witch, Danny, and you think enchanted amulets aren’t real?”
Danny’s head turned sharply, his eyes meeting mine. His ancestry was a closely-guarded secret. In public, he only admitted to being a werewolf, something that had kept him and his brother safe from other werewolves trying to keep the bloodline pure—or, as had happened to me, members of his bloodline’s coven trying to come after him for the unpredictability of his powers. The fact was, Danny was just like me: powers under control (though his were better trained), and perfectly able to be a member of polite society. But a secret like that could be used against him, and of all the people he wanted to find it out, a woman who’d been one of Vlad the Impaler’s top assassins was probably not on the list.
 I shook my head. “I didn’t tell her.”
“I can smell it on you,” Tori said. “Witches always have the same smell.” When he paled, she rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry, most people can’t. Vlad never could. I’m sure he has more witch children he never knew about. He hates witches—in theory. But he ends up screwing an awful lot of them.”
I wrinkled my nose. Vlad might not be a father in any sort of traditional way—like, say, not trying to kill me brutally or draw me into a ring of mass-murderers—but I still didn’t want to hear about his sex life.
“Anyway,” Tori said, drawing us all back to the point at hand. “The amulet is real.”
“How can you possibly know that?” Danny gave her a look.
“I read,” Tori said, with great dignity.
“If it can do what you say, why isn’t it being used?” I asked reasonably. Tori had shown up about an hour ago with stories of an amulet that could protect me from our father, and while I was happy enough to have it, as well as oddly pleased that she seemed to be looking out for me, I had some questions of my own.
“The temple it’s in is abandoned.” Tori shrugged.
“Well, why was it abandoned? Because it seems to me, if you’ve got something that powerful, you don’t just…leave it there when you leave the temple. Either it can only be used by a few people, or there’s something wrong with it.”
“Like a curse,” Danny chimed in.
“First you don’t believe in it, now you think it’s cursed?” Tori raised an eyebrow at him. “The amulet is fine. There’s no mention of a curse in anything I’ve read. It protects against vampires.”
“And you don’t think there will be any sort of conflict with the fact that Blair is half-vampire?”
“Maybe if she tries to hurt herself.” Tori seemed amused. Her smile faded when Danny didn’t return it. “Seriously, dude, what is your problem with this? I’m not trying to screw her over. She’s my sister.”
“Maybe that seems like a weird line in the sand for you,” Danny shot back.
She was up in his face a moment later, crouching over the chair as she looked into his eyes. “I never hurt family unless they try to take me out.”
“Blair did try to kill you that one time.” He wasn’t cowed.
“Because I was coming after her with weapons. I’m not going to hold that against her.” She jabbed a finger at his chest. “So you shut the hell up about my loyalties. I would never hurt her…unless she started siding with Vlad.”
Fine.” Danny pushed her off him. “But that doesn’t change the fact that what she should be doing is learning her magic here, where it’s safe. She doesn’t need to go traipsing off after some mythical amulet in…whatever, some jungle somewhere. Or is it in a museum? Do we need to do a jewel heist?”
“I told you. Temple.”
“Fine, so it’s Tomb Raider instead of Ocean’s 11. Still stupid.”
“Hang on.” I put my hands up to keep them both from speaking. I’d thought it was a good idea to let them get their jabs out early, but it had been a while and we were getting nowhere with the two of them at each other’s throats. “So, Tori. This amulet. Who made it? How does it work?”
“I don’t know how it works.” Tori shook her head. “I don’t really know anything about spells. Maybe this one will be able to tell you,” she added grudgingly, jerking her head at Danny. “All I know is that it was made by a coven of witches. They disappeared a while back, no one knows how, but before they did, they built a temple in Tibet.”
Tibet?”
“It’s not exactly a weird place for a coven. Very remote. Not a lot of connection to the outside world unless you’re in one of the major cities. It’s hard to hide in Europe or America. But Tibet…”
“Tibet.” Danny was frowning. “I could swear I heard something…” His frown deepened and he shook his head. “I can’t remember it. Damn. Sorry. But that doesn’t change anything. Blair has spent her whole life not just not being taught about her powers, but actively being taught not to use them. She can’t take on Vlad like this.”
“I know other things,” I pointed out. “It’s not like I know nothing.”
“I know you do.” He looked over at me and his face softened. “You know how to heal. You’ve learned about science. Most witches never do.” He reached over to squeeze my hand. “It’s remarkable.”
“Touching.” Tori’s voice was like acid. “But we still need to get the amulet.”
“We don’t. We don’t need Blair going anywhere until she’s figured out her magic. And that could take months.”
“Months in which Vlad is almost certain to find out where she is,” Tori pointed out brutally. “You think you’re safe out here? I found this place on my own. And I’m good. I’m one of the best. But Vlad collects the best. He’s not going to rest with Blair out here. He’s going to try and track her down, and kill her before she reaches her full strength—or at the very least, kidnap her and try to turn her to his side.”
“He wouldn’t.” My blood ran cold. The thought of Vlad bending me to his will, holding me in a cage and working on my mind until my very sense of reality warped, was so vivid that for a moment I thought I was going to throw up. “I can’t…I can’t…”
“He’s not going to get that chance,” Tori said, almost gently. Her voice hardened. “Because you’re going to go get that amulet and stay safe.”
“No, she’s not,” Danny insisted. “She goes back out into the real world, and he’ll pick up her trail in a second. He’s going to be watching for her to try to run.”
“Actually,” Tori said, grinning, “I think he’s betting on her being just as pigheadedly stubborn as you are. All of our family tries to throw themselves headfirst at things they don’t have the strength to fight. She’d already have gone after him if you hadn’t been keeping her here and softening her up with all your…distractions.”
I blushed a fiery red. The fact that Danny seemed to be able to make me weak at the knees just by looking at me was something I didn’t really want my sister to know. Her laugh only made me blush harder.
Anyway,” she said, the laugh still lurking in her voice, “what she needs to do is have protection in case he comes for her while she’s learning the ropes. So.” With a glare at Danny, she unrolled a map.
It was new, an almost photorealistic view of Tibet, and somehow that seemed incredibly funny to me. We were searching for ancient amulets—shouldn’t we have an ancient map?
Tori just shook her head at my giggle. “There isn’t a treasure map to this thing. It’s just a reference in some old books.”
“Wait…” Danny was staring at the map, his fingers tracing over mountain ranges. “Wait.” He opened his mouth to speak, and then pushed himself up and disappeared into the house.
Tori looked over her shoulder and then shrugged. “Okay, so there’s a set of tunnels somewhere around…here.” She tapped at the map. “You’ll need to follow them down. They’re close to the base of one of the mountains, and they’ll be well-hidden. Whoever these witches were trying to escape, they did a damned good job of it.”
“Not forever, apparently,” I pointed out. “Why did they leave this place? It’s not filled with…giant spiders or anything, is it?”
“Not giant spiders,” Danny said. He had returned, holding an old, leather-bound book, and he dropped it unceremoniously on the map, pointing at a paragraph in almost indecipherable script. “Hellhounds.”
I didn’t have the first idea what he was talking about, but Tori pressed her lips together, swallowing uncomfortably.
“See?” Danny pressed. “Not a good idea.”
“What are hellhounds?” I asked.
“Hellhounds,” Danny pronounced, sitting back down with a glare at Tori, “are part dog, part bear, part human, part…demon.” He shook his head, his features contorting. “They’re nearly impossible to kill, they’re strong as hell, and they’re vicious. Oh, and they’re territorial. If they claimed that place, you can be damned sure they haven’t given it up.”
“It’s got to have been centuries since they were there,” I tried.
“He’s right,” Tori said glumly. “They’re probably sill there.”
“Is the amulet?”
“Quite possibly.” She met my eyes. “And I still think you should go.”
“You can’t be serious!” Danny jabbed his finger at the book. “Hellhounds. Hellhounds.
“Vlad the Impaler,” Tori responded, unimpressed.
Danny collapsed back into the chair and groaned, his hands over his face.
“Okay, say I decided to go.” I leaned over, tapping him on the arm.
“Why did I know you were going to say that?” His voice was muffled. He didn’t look at me.
“Say I did. What kind of magic could defeat the hellhounds?”
He rolled his head to look at me. “You’re impossible, you know that?”
“Yeah, well, it takes a special kind of person to go after Vlad the Impaler. So. Magic.”
He sighed. “You’d need to learn warding,” he said finally. “And…more than just the lightning. I can think of a couple of things. But,” he added, as I lit up, “I’m going with you. And you’re staying here until I think you know that magic well enough for us to have a fighting chance.”
He gave Tori a look, clearly blaming her for this state of events, and she only smiled, sleek and self-satisfied as a cat that has the cream. She stood, stretching, and zipped her leather coat up.
“And when you get back, I’ll see about introducing you to the other sisters.”
“There are other sisters?” I sat bolt upright.
“When you get back?” Tori repeated, unconcerned. She smiled at Danny, showing teeth. “I’ll show myself out.”
And she was gone. Danny sat back with a groan, and I reached over to tap him on the shoulder.
“Hey. It’s going to be okay.”
“You two will be the death of me.” It was a weak joke, and his smile was gone almost instantly. He reached over to clasp my hand. “Blair, promise me you’ll take this seriously. Hellhounds are nothing to joke about.”
“I promise,” I said. But as he settled back in his chair, I knew that I didn’t have the first idea what I was promising. Suddenly, the world didn’t seem like a place where I was supposed to fight Vlad, but a place that was full of dangerous things that might kill me before I could face him again.

End of sample.

I don't have a release date yet. But I'm half way done. : )

Sample of The Ice Pack - Book 3




The Ice Pack

Part 3

by

Chrissy Peebles



Copyright 2016 by Chrissy Peebles

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Cover Artist: Book Cover by Design

Editor: Autumn J. Conley




Chapter 1

Gripping a stake tightly in her hands, Julie walked into the dense woods. It was midmorning, and she was ready to kick butt, dressed in a flannel shirt, well-worn blue jeans, a winter coat, and black boots, with her hair tied up in a tight ponytail to keep it out of her face. They were hunting a nest of vampires who had been murdering innocent people for at least six months. Myles had evidence that victims were being taken to the nest, where the vamps kept them alive; they were like helpless prey, with no chance against the supernatural threat against them. Now, it was time for someone to go after the vicious predators.
Julie could smell it, the alluring scent of the hunt. The vampires had walked that very path last night, and the stench they left behind triggered a quick vision. She gasped as a vampire sank its razor-sharp fangs into the neck of a screaming woman, but then the vision ended as quickly as it had begun. Short as it was, it was enough to turn Julie’s stomach. Her blood boiled with rage and thundered through her whole body, swirling her mind into a fury. That’s it, she thought. It’s time to send these monsters back to Hell!  
Her team consisted of six Ice Pack wolves, and Myles had dubbed Zach the leader. They all knew it was best to catch the vampires when they were sleeping, and they had discovered that none of their fangy foes were wearing daylight rings, which was a relief. The team had spent over a week trying to find out where they were holed up, and that persistence had paid off. Now, it was time for the bloodsuckers to go down.  
Sunlight glistened on the snow Julie crunched beneath her booted feet, making it glisten like a thousand tiny diamonds. As pretty and serene as it was, it was also quite creepy, like some sort of Halloween scene thrown haphazardly into the script of a Christmas movie, a Norman Rockwell painting on the verge of a bloodbath. When a bird fluttered its wings and flew off, Julie jumped, and her heart almost beat right out of her chest.
“Shh!” Zach scolded, lowering his crossbow and motioning for her to be quiet.  
Julie was eager to get it all over with, because the sooner they put the vile nest of vamps out of everyone’s misery, the sooner she could go back and look for Grant. The leads she’d followed hadn’t panned out, so she was frustrated, but she knew she had to keep trying. No matter what direction her hunt for Grant took her, the trail eventually grew cold. She had no idea where he was or if he was even alive. It was as if he’d just walked off the face of the Earth. Not even Tabby could find him, and with all her connections, that didn’t make any sense at all.
Julie glanced around at the tall pine trees as she swiftly moved past them. When Zach pointed, she followed his finger to the elusive vampire nest, housed inside an old mansion. Get in and out, Julie thought hopefully.
She was well aware that Taylor, her best friend, would prefer to try to rehabilitate the vampires at the immortal sanctuary, but after seeing the bloody crime spree photos, she knew they didn’t deserve a second chance. Besides that, Tristan had ordered that the vampires were to be killed and their lair burned to the ground. Not only were they killing by the dozens, but they were bringing way too much attention and bad press to the immortal community, and that was dangerous for everybody involved.
“We could just burn it down with them in it,” one team member suggested. “If we pool all our magic together, we’ll turn ‘em into toast in a matter of seconds.”
“No!” Julie said. “Have you forgotten that they’ve got hostages in there? We set their dinner free, then hit ‘em hard and fast, then play Firestarter on that nasty old house, just to make sure we got them all.”
“There can’t be that many hostages remaining. What are a few human lives anyway? Why should we risk ours when we could just as easily—”
“Um…every life matters,” Zach retorted, “except for those murdering, vampire pigs.”
“You’re biased,” Jordan said, shaking her head. “Still hurt from past experiences.”
“C’mon, sis. You know what they took from me.”
“I get it, Zach. They killed your girlfriend. And you can’t stop thinking about revenge. It’s too personal for you. You shouldn’t be here, whether we have to destroy them or not. That kind of thing is what gets people hurt.”
“You gonna hate vampires forever?” another team member asked as he pushed through the vegetation.
“I don’t hate all bloodsuckers—only the fanged freaks who hunt and kill humans, like the animals we’re hunting now.”
“Well, just don’t let that hate get you killed in the process, man.”
***
They made it to the basement without incident and followed a tunnel to a large room. Julie could smell the metallic tang of blood, and it turned her stomach. Zach pushed open the door and walked inside, only to see the grim sight of people hanging from chains, inside metal cages, like livestock. The vampires were cozy as could be, all nestled in sleeping bags on the floor.
“Look at ‘em,” Zach whispered, “huddled down there like Boy Scouts.”
“I doubt they’d help any old lady across the street,” Julie said.
“Maybe to this godforsaken torture chamber of theirs,” Zach said, glaring at the vampire closest to him and resisting the urge to stomp his face in with his boot. “Let’s do this. These things make me sick.”
One of the men hanging helplessly in a cage met Julie’s gaze and moved his dry, cracked lips, as if to say something, and she motioned for the prisoner to be quiet. Zach and Jordan quietly sneaked over to the cages to unlock them, while everyone else positioned themselves near the snoozing vampires.
“Help me!” the man blurted. “For goodness sake, get me out of here!”
Just like that, the element of surprise was gone, courtesy of his petrified, piercing cry.
Julie lifted her stake high in the air and readied herself to plunge it deep in the heart of the vampire sleeping below her in a purple sleeping bag, but he suddenly jumped up and kicked her back with all the strength of an MMA fighter. She flew into the wall, pain exploding in her back.
The vamp, a nasty creature with spiky hair and scary eyes, pounced on her in a blur. Drool dripped from his gaping mouth, and he struggled to bite Julie with his long, sharp, fully descended fangs. His fierce claws sliced at her face, coming dangerously close to slashing her. Julie kicked his ribs with everything she had and finally sent him flying, but he raced right back over to her in the blink of an eye, smiling sadistically and baring his terrifying teeth. The beast inside Julie fought an animalistic urge to rip his heart out, and she instead reached for the stake she’d dropped in the collision.  
Growls and snarls filled the air as the other wolves were locked in battle, but everyone silenced when a gunshot echoed and a bullet penetrated the ceiling, sending plaster and paint chips crumbling down on a few of them.
“Wait!” the vampire yelled, tightly clutching the rifle. “Stop this fighting!”
“And who are you to tell us what to do?” Zach hissed.
“I’m Sal, the coven leader. Can we not talk this out, come to a truce, so there is no bloodshed on either side? Surely you wolves are more civilized than…this,” he said, looking around at the carnage and the blood that had already stained the floors.
“Civilized?” Julie said with a smirk. “You call this civilized? Murdering people, keeping them in cages till you get a sweet tooth and drain them dead? If we let you walk out of here, you’ll just make a new nest somewhere else like the vipers you are, and the killing will just start all over again in a new place.”
The man in a black shirt and leather pants, with eyes the most unusual hue of green, stepped toward Julie. Even when he pointed his rifle at her, Julie wasn’t frightened; she knew she could stop the bullet in the blink of an eye with her magic.
“You know, there’s this old song,” Julie snapped.
“What song?”
“It’s called ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me,’ The Police. I know it’s about as ancient as you are, 1980 or something, but you oughtta give it a listen sometime and stop standing so close to people who don’t wanna smell your nasty breath!” she said, peering furiously at him.
“Is it because we’re on your turf?” asked a vampire with long, blonde hair.
“Listen, we don’t want any trouble with the local wolves,” their leader said.
“We’re not local,” Zach said.
The vampire smiled. “We’re willing to share. We’ll even give you first dibs on our prisoners. You can have all the meat you want, as long as you leave the blood for us.”
“We didn’t come here for a freaking buffet, you monster!” Julie shouted.
“Why are you here then?” Sal asked. “I was under the impression that you dogs are here in search of…Puppy Chow, like those nasty hyena kin of yours who try to surround a poor lion and steal his hard-earned prey.”
“The only preying that is going to go on in here should be yours, on your knees, begging for your undead lives,” Julie said. “Are you really so stupid that it isn’t obvious? We’re the cavalry. We’re here to save the people, not eat them.”
“Oh. My mistake.”
“As Sal said, we want no trouble, and we are happy to go elsewhere,” another said.  
“If you didn’t want trouble, you shouldn’t have made this town your feeding grounds,” Julie barked, “or any town, for that matter. You can drink from blood bags or animals. As your slimy leader said himself, there is no need for all this bloodshed.”
“Blood bags? No!” a vampire answered. “Why should we be condemned to drink stale blood from some unknown source? We don’t just merely drink blood…we drink life. We enjoy draining our victims. And I can’t believe you’d have us drinking from rats and rodents!”
“Well, you are what you eat,” Zach sniped, “though that’s somewhat of an insult to the filthy rats, I suppose.”
“Your murderous rampage caught the attention of the Immortal Council, and now you must be punished,” Julie said. 
The blonde woman’s eyes widened with horror. “The Council? So you’re…vampire hunters? They sent you after us?”
Julie nodded. “Yes, and we’re here to shut you down permanently.”
“That won’t happen, you mutts!” Sal said, shifting his stance to study his adversaries.
“Wanna bet? You may think you’re invincible, you toothy terror, but remember that we tracked you down pretty easily, in just a few days. You’re not so smart, and your bloodthirsty rampage ends right now.”
They stared at each other hard for a moment before Sal inhaled sharply and spat, “I smell you, wolf. You stink like a wet dog.”
The wolf inside Julie growled at the insult, desperate to rip the vampire open with razor-sharp claws. It took every single ounce of control she had to stop her wolf from taking over, but she didn’t want to be controlled by pure rage, as she knew it would override all her common sense. Her wolf was infuriated by the fact that the nest survived by committing mass murder, but she had to tame the beast inside her.
Julie smiled. “I smell you too. What is that scent called anyway?” she asked, sniffing the air. “Oh, I know. It's called...Revolting.”
“Cute,” the vampire said. “Now let’s talk this out.”
Julie took another step closer. “There’s nothing to talk about. Prolonging your pathetic life by drinking the blood of these innocent people just pisses me off, you rogues.”
An entourage of six vampires moved in behind Sal, and several more eased over to join them, until he was surrounded by at least a dirty dozen.
The beast within Julie stirred. It feared nothing and longed to attack, but she managed to stifle her anger.
Sal crossed his arms. “Well? What are you going to do, little pup? We are not about to run…or repent.”
“I doubt running would get you very far anyway,” Julie said, seething.  
Sal’s fangs lengthened, and his eyes glowed. “You claim you are smart, but it seems you came so…unprepared. Only a few crude stakes? Darling, you really should be more armed to fight a coven like ours,” he said, pointing at his gun.
“Not necessary,” Julie said.
Sal laughed.
“No, really. You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”
“You think you’re stronger than us, little wolf? Perhaps you are in the stinking department,” he said, drawing laughs and cruel chuckles from the others of his kind, “but we are certainly not afraid of a mangy bunch of house pets.”  
Julie met his gaze. “Well, I’m not your typical mutt.” With that, she flung her hand, and a large gust of wind knocked the entire group backward. “And that, darling, is why I don’t need weapons like you do.”  
“Who are you?” Sal demanded, dumbfounded and stumbling to his feet.  
“We’re The Ice Pack,” Julie answered, “and we’re about to freeze this nest for good!”  
“The Ice Pack? That can’t be true. It’s just a myth, some silly fairytale about mythical creatures created to guard elite immortals,” a woman shouted, laughing. “Next, you’ll be telling us you are the Tooth Fairy.”
“We do exist, and we have strength, power, and magic like none you’ve seen before. No immortal can win against us. Surrender now, or we will kill you. We will destroy you so thoroughly that there will be nothing left but ashes, not even one fang for you to put under your pillow!”
“We are vampires, and we do not surrender, least of all to dogs!” a woman shouted.
An arrow flew at Julie’s face, but she caught it in a split second, just before it hit her face. “Nice try,” she said with a growl in her throat and a glow in her eyes. “All that did was make me mad though. I warned you before that you should run, and I won’t warn you again.”
The ravenous predators did opt to run, only at her team instead of away from them. The Ice Pack fought back, charging directly at their enemies and dodging fists, claws, and fangs. As they fought, the humans in the cages, roused from their painful, nightmarish sleep by all the commotion,  
A vampire in a fedora threw his fist at Julie, but she ducked the blow easily with immortal Ice Pack speed. In exchange, she delivered a flurry of blows to his face, chest, and groin. He struck her with his body, sending her reeling backward, then fell clumsily on top of her. As he tried to punch her, she threw her arms up, and a yellow stream of energy threw him to the ceiling, so hard that large chunks of concrete came raining down. As soon as he crashed to the floor, Zach rammed a stake through his heart, and he vanished, leaving behind only a pile of black dust with the fedora sitting on top of it, like some sort of twisted Indiana Jones shrine.  
Jordan kicked another vamp’s legs out from under him. As he started to stagger and stumble like an old drunk, she staked him. Next, a furious redhead took slow, measured steps toward her, but Jordan kicked her in the chest.
The vampiress flew back but somehow caught her balance and let out a demonic, inhuman growl. “You killed my husband!” she shrieked.  
Jordan gripped her stake tightly and lifted it high in the air, ready to strike again. “Then you need to join him…in Hell!” 
The woman gnashed her teeth and charged, but Jordan was much too fast and easily penetrated her chest with the stake.  
A vampire with a red Mohawk charged at Zach, but he easily pulled back his fist and took a hard swing at the corpse’s face. The sucker-punch knocked the creature right out, and he fell to the hard floor with a loud thud.
A gothic chick with dark eye makeup hissed and leapt at Julie, but she quickly delivered a crushing blow to the vampire’s throat, sending her to the ground in an unnatural, twisted contortion. Before she could stake the sprawled-out vampire, she heard the crunching of glass behind her and spun around to see another female adversary rushing in her direction. A kick to the chest sent her flying against the wall. Julie ran over as the monster hissed, snarled, and curled her lips, and she finished her off as the thing lurched at her with deadly intentions. Julie was enraged, and two more fireballs emerged from her palms.
“I now see the legend about The Ice Pack is true,” a vampire asked, growling through her bared fangs.
“Ya think?” Julie retorted.  
The vampire vented her fury and, shrieking like a banshee, ran at Julie with a butcher knife. Julie moved faster, her Ice Pack instincts kicking in. In a blur, she threw a stake so hard it sank straight into her heart. With a guttural growl, the vampire exploded.

End of Sample. 

The Ice Pack is available  here for preorder:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01B6K4RME