** This sample may contain slight spoilers if you've not read the previous books in this series yet
Year Three at the Academy would be new challenges and foes like never before. Learning to control our bloodlust while fighting deadly werewolves was one thing, but now there was a threat to our very existence and it had us all hooked with its magical spell. Somehow I need to break free long enough to escape the Academy and find the guys. Following a trail of blood and destruction, we hoped to find the answers. Because if we don’t, we’ll finally become the monsters the world has always feared.
The sweet coppery smell of blood filled my nostrils and I impulsively licked my lips. Looking around cautiously, I didn’t at first see the source, but I knew it was close. I hated trains. All those people crammed into one little space like that. Yuck!
So many things to see and hear and … smell.
All of my senses honed in on the location of the scent and I could hear a young child crying, a mother consoling, someone offering a Band-Aid.
Probably a skinned knee, I thought to myself. Damned children were always getting hurt.
I was on my way back from New York City, away from the hustle and bustle of the City that Never Sleeps and back to the quiet, sleepy little towns of Connecticut.
For three months I had been away, staying with Propanga in a studio apartment in Lower Manhattan, making it work because I was hardly every home away, save for a couple of nights a week when I would pop in to shower or sleep.
When I wasn’t out on the prowl at one of the many late-night clubs or bars in the city, I was with Damien, trying to track down a den of wolves who had been on the hunt for us since my first year at the Academy. It was a classic case of hunted chasing the hunters from the moment we pieced together that vampire hunters were working with werewolves to infiltrate our school and our communities.
But knowing this and proving it to the rest of the vampire coven were two different things.
Damien was a Sentinel. In our world, they were protectors. I spent all of Year Two at the Academy learning about Sentinels and vampire hunters, werewolves, and more. Still, there were times when it felt so foreign to me still, that it was like a dream.
While in NYC, we tracked these vampire hunters back to Brooklyn where we suspected they had a hidden den, deep in the underbelly of the city. But getting to it wasn’t going to be easy.
For the three months that classes were out, I’d been there every day learning with Damien, and from Amadeus, too. I was discovering as much about vampires and werewolves as I was learning about myself and my feelings for these two guys. It was a crazy time, no doubt.
Just the other day, we had gotten close to their den (I think). A fight had broken out in a piss-filled alleyway behind some old nightclubs. We’d been poking around inside first, asking too many of the right (or wrong) kinds of questions and stirred up some suspicions. A big, muscly guy who had been guarding the door had asked us to leave. And well, let’s just say that Damien didn’t take that news so well (at least, that had been the plan).
“You can’t just throw us out!” he had shouted, waving his hands about like a bloody fool. “We’re paying customers, don’t ya know!”
Although I knew this was just part of his show, it was still quite a sight to see and very much a commotion.
“Yeah okay, come on tough guy,” the burly bruiser had grunted at him as he pulled him by the collar and toward the exit.
“You can’t do this to me,” Damien continued to shout in a drunken-sounding tone. “Just ask my girl. Mia! Mia!”
As soon as I heard the name, I knew it was my cue. I ran to him, tears and cheap mascara running down my face, tripping in my super-high heels along the way.
“Danny, oh Danny! What’s going on?” I cried, pulling at the shirt of the bouncer who was currently dragging Damien right out by the coattails, basically. “What are you doing to my boyfriend, you big brute?” I shouted and whined as I stomped my feet like a petulant child, slapping at the man, but without any force behind it.
We’d pulled this same schtick in about eighteen other bars and clubs across the city so far this summer. None had gotten the reaction we were looking for before this one.
“You two are outta here!” the big guy shouted as he pulled Damien along, with me trailing at their heels like a scared little puppy.
A few people in the club stopped and stared at the spectacle we were putting on, but most were too occupied or too drunk, or too much of both, to even notice. A couple of young women off to the left pulled out their cell phones to record. Good thing I was wearing a wig and this God-awful makeup. The last thing I needed was to be recognized when this went viral on Tik Tok or whatever the kids were into these days.
Once outside on the street, the bruiser pulled Damien in close, their faces just inches apart as he sneered, “I know what you are, vamp. And if I ever see your face ‘round here again, Ima gonna cut it right off, just for funsies.”
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about, mate,” Damien sneered back, but his body language said otherwise as he moved to a defensive stance.
“Yeah, I betchu don’t,” the big guy sneered back, pushing Damien in the chest. Then he looked over at me, making direct eye contact. “And you too, blood whore.”
As I started to charge at him, Damien caught me around the waist, whispering in my ear, “We got what we need. Let’s go.”
I pretended to fight against Damien’s grasp. “Yeah, you’re lucky he’s holding me back you big bully!” I shouted to the bouncer as he went back inside the club, closing the door on us.
We left then, a few humans on the sidewalk staring at us, and began to walk through that alleyway to the other side. That’s when they jumped out of the shadows at us, teeth-baring, long nails protruding, but not completely in their wolf forms yet.
I’d seen wolves in a mid-shift like this once before. It was freaky, honestly, still in human form but with long, sharp fangs and long claws coming off their human-looking hands. I didn’t need our werewolf goggles to know what these guys were.
“Damien!” I shouted as one of the wolves came from behind a dumpster and latched onto his back. Damien turned so forcefully, the wolf-man flew off his back and into the brick wall on the other side of the alley. As a second wolf approached, Damien hurled him across the alley in the same manner, knocking him briefly unconscious from the impact.
He didn’t have to tell me twice. While I was pretty sure we could take these guys alone, especially when they were only half-shifted, we both also knew that they were most certainly not alone. We had finally found what we were looking for: the hidden den.
And at that moment, when I thought he was going to be hurt, I felt my non-beating heart fluttering in my chest. Yeah, I was catching feelings all right. And I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
Year Three is live here on Amazon