Authors: Gena D. Lutz
A Kris Chase Novel
Gena D. Lutz
Copyright © 2015, Gena D. Lutz
All Rights Reserved
Published by Gena D. Lutz
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. All characters and events in this story are fictitious. They are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, organizations, or persons is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without expressed written permission from the author.
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Covers by Christian
Kittie Kat Tales Editing
Interior book design by:
Bob Houston eBook Formatting
Two nights prior
ushing my back against the rear wall of a pawnshop, I winced as the tip of a blade sliced across the palm of my hand. Blood welled over the small cut, a line of crimson blooming from the self-inflicted wound. I cut it shallow so it would bleed just enough to reel in a hungry predator, but not what’s needed to attract a group of the ravenous blood-suckers. I sure hoped so, anyway, because I’d never tried taking more than one of them down at a time.
Nightfall and moonlight created a veil of shadow around me. Small triangles of light spread down the alleyway where I was hidden. I couldn’t have asked for a better time or place to trap a vampire. The streets were barren, the abnormal cold weather chasing away most of the boardwalk’s foot traffic. I tugged at my leather jacket, hooking the metal teeth together, zipping it all the way up to my chin.
Standing deep in the shadows, I watched as my trap worked its magic. A vampire at the opening of the alleyway stopped dead in his tracks after picking up the tempting scent of fresh blood. With a jerk of his head, the creature of death and destruction turned and crept in my direction. His keen senses were focused on his upcoming meal—me. He stalked with amber eyes, his nose scenting the air. Long, white fangs hung over his plump bottom lip. The sharp, inherent weapons pressed down into the malleable skin, making tiny indentations there.
Those full lips of his were smooth and lush, the perfect shape and size for kissing. But I knew what kind of creature I was dealing with, so there was no way that predator’s otherworldly looks and magnetism were going to sway me from my mission. The vampire slanted his head to the side as he made his approach. The motion made his waist-length blond hair sway like a tangible stream of sunlight. The blanket of gold folded over his shoulder and caressed the rounded muscles that bulged from his arms, falling like silk over steel. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, a dead-vamp-giveaway, considering how cold it was outside. A mere mortal would need one.
My eyes skipped down to his equally impressive chest as a satisfied rumble erupted from his throat. He narrowed his eyes with evil intent. He spotted me in the corner, my body only halfway hidden behind a dumpster. The vampire stalked closer, almost within arm’s reach. I took a step back, pulling my shoulders up to hide even more of my face. For good measure, I added a stumble, feigning retreat even farther behind the dumpster. I wanted him to believe I was frightened. He needed to assume I was just another hapless human tourist who had lost her way among the winding streets and the frenzied hustle and bustle of the Atlantic City boardwalk.
“Here, kitty, kitty,” the vampire purred with confidence. “I can tell that you’re frightened, little one, but you have nothing to fear. Come on out and see for yourself.”
Said the spider to the fly
. Wasn’t he stirring a big crock-pot full of crap with that line? I had plenty to fear from him. I could practically see the drool dripping from the blood-craver’s fangs. I swallowed a gasp when his face twisted into something cruel and vile. The expression lasted only a heartbeat before his sly smile returned.
To him, I was a tempting item on a menu; rape would be the appetizer, my blood, the main course. His excitement was hard to contain. I had to keep my cool until he ventured closer. It was risky, letting one of the undead come so close to me. However, the risk was unavoidable. My magic didn’t work unless I was touching my victim’s skin.
As a necromancer, I was faster and stronger than a human, but even with that extra boost, I couldn’t run as fast as a vampire or out brute one. I had to settle for making myself bait. I pushed through my fear, as well as the ever-present stench of old blood and sex wafting off him. The smell made it apparent the vampire had already dined once that night. I was to be a second helping, or maybe even thirds. Gluttonous bastard.
I looked down, hiding my face behind a thick fan of dark hair. The breath he was expending came from his mouth with ease, so calm and sure of himself. And why wouldn’t he feel confident? He thought I was only a defenseless human.
I needed him a bit closer. His warm nose slid against my earlobe. My body instantly covered with goosebumps.
“I am going to be so nice to you, baby. Nothing to fear at all,” he whispered.
I forced myself to tremble. At least, I told myself it was voluntary, a part of my brilliantly stupid plan. But the plan had me alone with a deadly vampire, pushed against a brick building in a vulnerable position, so yeah, I had to admit it. That was scary. No matter how many times I’d trapped a vamp like that, it was still hard to desensitize from it.
Blondie came to a stop in front of me, his shoes kicking up enough dust to make me stifle a sneeze. The dirt added another layer to that wretched stench of his. I smiled under the veil of my hair, glad that he was finally close enough. My hands shook as I set them against his bare, chiseled chest.
Stop thinking about his chest
, I reprimanded myself. It had been too long since I’d touched a man without the intent to kill him. That’s probably why I was acting like a sex-deprived idiot. Why did vampires have to be so striking? Every one of them possessed an unflawed visage. It was a miracle that happened during their rebirth. The magic that necromancers employed to reanimate them also fixed and reformed any of their damaged DNA, subsequently making the newborn vampires into impeccable versions of their former selves. In short, they were close to being perfect. It wasn’t right or fair. Most humans couldn’t help themselves, letting vampires fall between their legs and suck at their necks.
“Why are you so quiet, pussycat?” Blondie asked as he pushed a curl over my shoulder. He licked his bottom lip. “Won’t you at least gift me with one tiny little scream?”
The monster had decided to come out and play, meaning it was finally go time. I lifted my head, realizing I’d stopped shaking which was a fact that was reassuring. I stared the vampire down. It was his first clear look at me since we’d started the cat and mouse game.
Creators’ spectral orbs swirled red when they were in the presence of a vampire, so I had kept the tell-tale sign hidden from him.
My hands were already spread against his chest, my right one over his heart where the core of his immortal magic resided, a position that was convenient for my first wave of attack. It took only seconds for my power to build; it left my palms in a heated rush, striking out hard. He jerked like he’d been hit with shock paddles, but he didn’t fall, nor could he run away. He was glued to my hands, immobilized, until I decided to free him. I closed my glowing eyes and concentrated on bringing down another charge from the base of my own magic, my third eye. The irritating sensation of a small rubber hammer tapping me between my brows signaled that I was fully charged. I opened wide.
His face was highlighted in horror, cheeks sunken, almost skeletal. Eyes which had once been beautiful amber turned black, vacant.
“You’re a Creator,” his voice wheezed out between ragged breaths. “Please, don’t kill me; I didn’t know what you were.”
Ignoring his plea, I sent a second charge throughout his body. But that time, I released him after he convulsed into a dead stop. His lifeless form fell to the ground. He began to quickly decompose. Skin split open to reveal dried-up organs, and everything else shriveled into a dry husk. The process would leave the vampire in the same state he was in before a necromancer had the bright idea to reanimate his remains.
I stepped over his hollowed-out pair of blue jeans, accidentally kicking the bargain basement shoes he’d been wearing. A foot bone tumbled out. It bounced over itself twice and came to a stop against the base of a garbage can. He must have been a very old corpse, judging by the state of decomposition of the body. All that was left of him was a pile of bones.
“Thank you, Kris.”
A shimmering fog appeared, hovering over the vampire’s remains. The ghost it belonged to hadn’t fully formed into the vision of her earthly body. Instead, she drifted as smoke, only showing me her pixie-like face. Before, when she showed herself to me, her young, beautiful face had a perpetual frown, but that night was different. She smiled at me, the crease between her eyes smoothed out. She was around twenty when she was murdered by that particular vampire, and she had been haunting me for the last six months, begging for help.
“You’re welcome, Sarah. I hope you can finally find peace,” I said, wiping a bead of sweat from my brow. The drain from that last charge had taken a lot out of me.
“I found my peace the moment you killed that vile creature.”
Her spectral fog began to churn in on itself while her eyes darted to the side. They sought out and latched onto something that, in my many years of beholding ghosts, I had never been able to see for myself.
“It’s my time,” she said, nodding into what I imagined was the spiritual plain. Or
. “You have no idea how many lives you’ve saved by taking his. Remember, your gifts are a good thing. Don’t hide from them.”
And with a final smile and those words that left me somewhat remorseful, my temporary sidekick disappeared into the ether.
he Council of Necromancers was on my back again. Without fail, every few months, Rush Davis, the leader of the organization, would call and hound me about joining them. Even though I had politely turned him down for the past five years straight, he still chased after me without relent. The calls started soon after I came into my full power at twenty-one, when I found out that, like most of the women in my family, I inherited the powers of creation. I was a Creator, and as such, was a hot commodity. Unfortunately for Rush and his council of elitist snobs, I had no intentions of joining their group. I preferred to be left to my own devices.
“It’s the first of the year. Rush should be calling soon.”
“I don’t know why you bother answering the phone when he calls. You have caller I.D., for Christ’s sake. You know it’s him.”
I looked over at my friendly resident ghost. He was smirking, like always. At six feet tall, he was a huge pain in the butt. I shoved my butter knife at him, wagging it in the air. A bunch of dark curls fell into his eyes as he laughed at me. The knife didn’t intimidate him; he was already dead.
“Thanks for the info, Captain Obvious. I would’ve never thought of that.”
I’d tried ignoring Rush’s calls before, sending them straight to voicemail, but he was a persistent man. Instead of calling back, he showed up on my doorstep, which is how I found out about the odd effect the councilman had on me. He sent tingles running all over my body and made me blush, just thinking about him. Not liking that one bit, I figured it was safer to answer his calls. I shivered. It would be a special kind of Hell if I found out that the odd effect was feelings of some sort or—gasp—a crush. That would be disastrous.
My thoughts wandered over to a memory of Rush, clearly seeing the sinful way his chest bulged and strained underneath his buttoned-up dress shirt. I almost drooled all over myself that first day when I opened the door and saw him standing on my front porch. He smiled, a small dimple creasing his chin. His dirty-blond hair glowed in the sunlight, the wavy, sun-spun locks curved to outline the hard, but somehow soft, features of his handsome face. I shook my head, clearing it. Yeah, he affected me, but only in a carnal
want to rip your pants off
way. I could go to a strip club for that. Okay, maybe not.
“Are you daydreaming about your future boyfriend again?” Jude teased. “I don’t blame you one bit. If I wasn’t totally into soft curves and big, firm breasts, I’d say he was cute, too.”
Caught and embarrassed, I whirled around and launched a tomato at him. It sailed across the room and went straight through him.
Jude chuckled. “Nice arm. Too bad your aim sucks.”
“Don’t make me cast you out for good. You know I can do it.”
Jude backed up against the wall, stopping at the spot where my tomato bomb had exploded, leaving a red burst of color splattered across the white paint. He backed up more, almost pushing through the drywall. He looked down at his chest and pointed. I could see the tomato splatter through his spectral form. It almost looked like the mess was on his shirt.
“Well, look at that. You hit me,” he joked. “No need to go whipping out your voodoo to get rid of my smart ass.”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. There was a reason I kept Jude around. He was a catalyst for a good time, and he had great taste in movies. We both shared a deep, abiding love for all things cinematic. Our favorite movie of all time was
Jude was born and died with the soul of a poet, a hopeless romantic. The women of his time must have been lining up to date him. I asked him about his conquests before, but like everything else in regard to his living-life, he couldn’t remember, or he chose not to.
“Did Sarah make it through to the other side?” Jude asked, all of a sudden serious.
His feet levitated off the ground, and he rode the air, stopping to sit on the barstool on the opposite side of the island, where I was busy cutting vegetables for dinner. I was preparing fried chicken with mashed potatoes and a salad with Ranch dressing. It was the favorite of my sister, Torra. She had just received the news that she would be the recipient of a full scholarship to NYU, and I wanted to make her something special to celebrate.
My voice dropped a decibel. “She passed through without incident. They always do.”
“I’m sure she misses you, too, Kris. You two became close while she was here,” he said, trying his best to cheer me up.
He reached over and put his hand through mine. Even though he couldn’t physically touch me, I could still feel him in the way of energy pulses, like my hand was suffering from an uncontrollable tick. The way ghosts made me feel used to freak me right out. But as long as it was done with good intention and with my full consent, it didn’t bother me anymore.
“She grew on me.”
His hand moved up and down, a phantom pat of assurance. “She grew on me, too. I think I’ll miss her god-awful singing most.”
“She did have heart, though,” I said, thinking about the cat calls she termed singing.
“Yes, she did.”
Feeling a little better, I walked over to the fridge and reached in. What I took out made Jude’s eyeballs pop.
“Did you have to make that, of all things?” he whined.
I chuckled as I set the double-layered chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing in the middle of the dining room table. I then set dessert plates and forks next to it, using the good silver and china for the special occasion.
“I’m sorry, you big baby, but it’s Torra’s favorite dessert. You can handle seeing it for one night.”
Chocolate cake was Jude’s favorite, too. As a matter of fact, anything chocolate left the poor ghost’s mouth watering. It had to suck, not to be able to eat. His taste bud problems would be solved if only he would let me help him cross over, but he was stubborn about the idea of moving on, saying that there was nothing and no one on the other side waiting for him. He was happy there with me and my dull life of solitude.
Thinking on it, I realized we were a pretty pathetic pair. Thank God, I had a sister to look after, or I would be the worst kind of recluse. I could already envision myself as an old lady, collecting a hundred cats to fill the void left by self-imposed seclusion. But instead of making felines my constant companions, I suspect I would have a collection of ghostly ones.
As I was finalizing my place settings, the phone rang. I walked across the kitchen and picked up the receiver.
“Hi, Kris, it’s Rush.”
“I already told you. No.” I went to hang up, but the urgency in his tone made me hesitate.
“Wait. This is important. I need to come over. We need to talk about Torra.”
My heart skipped a beat; he had my full attention. “What about her? If there’s something wrong, you better tell me now.”
“It would be best if we had this conversation in person. See you in twenty minutes.”
Before I could protest, he hung up.
“What’s going on? Who was that?” Jude asked, floating up next to me.
I stood like a zombie next to the sink with the phone in my hand. I was unable to move. A long
slipped from the phone receiver
“It’s Torra. Something’s wrong.”
Twenty minutes later, I heard the sound of footsteps plodding across the front porch. After a few more seconds, I heard a rapping on the door. I rushed to open it.
“Get your butt in here and tell me what’s going on!”
Before he stepped foot inside the house, he made sure to wipe his black Berlutis on the
mat. Such a considerate fellow was the head council member of Necromancers. I took in the highly polished, rich black leather of his shoes; he was also an apparent shoe dandy. Those kicks cost a fortune.
“Well, ‘hello’ to you, too, Kristina. You’ve always been such a gracious host,” Rush said on his way over the threshold.
“Yeah…whatever. Tell me what’s going on with Torra.” I was impatient, not noticing the sexy dimple in his chin…at all.
He paused, and then walked over to the couch. After pulling up the legs of his slacks, he took a seat.
“I’ll have some tea. Be sure to add lemon, please.” He looked directly at Jude.
His request took me by surprise. First off, I wasn’t used to anybody being able to see Jude. And second, I didn’t like his bossiness. We weren’t at the Center. Maybe that dimple wasn’t as cute as I’d first thought. I looked again…dang it!
Jude’s face scrunched up in a
what the hell?
expression. “If you’re waiting to be served, your majesty, then you’ll be waiting a long time. Besides, I’m a ghost, Einstein.” Jude waggled his transparent fingers in the air.
Rush looked at us, dumbfounded. He laughed. I had a feeling it was Jude and me he found so comical, and I didn’t like it. Not one flecking bit.
“Do you mean to tell me that your spirit companion can’t lift a simple cup?” he asked, chuckling again. “There is so much to teach you.”
What did he mean by
? Jude was a ghost. One among the many I had been able to communicate with ever since I could remember. Not once, did any of the ghosts I’d come in contact with have the ability to move objects by touch. Mean-spirited poltergeists could move things around with their dark and malevolent energy, but to actually pick something up with their hands? No way. Rush had to be smoking something.
“You have my full attention, as long as we talk about my sister. Not the Center.”
The longer we sat there without my little sister walking through that door, which she should have done about a half hour before, the more I feared that something bad had happened to her. I pushed down the beginnings of a panic attack.
“Stop jerking her around, asshole, and tell her what’s going on,” Jude growled. He knew first-hand how out of control my emotions could get. Plus, he was like my brother, and because of our close relationship, he was overprotective of me.
Rush stood. His usual charming, but passive, expression had turned to worry. “I’m sorry, Ms. Chase. I really didn’t mean to upset you. Here.” He held his hand out to me. “Come sit down. I won’t make you wait any longer.”
I did as he asked and took a seat next to him on the couch. I was extremely anxious to hear what he had to say. Jude hovered in place next to the coffee table. He had a habit of disappearing when company was over, not being able to interact with them, but that time, he stuck around. He was just as freaked out as I was.
“Your sister has gone missing,” Rush began.
I jumped up, leaned over, and put my face inches from his. “When…how?”
I had no clue what I was going to accomplish by getting into Rush’s face like that. Maybe I felt like I could scare the facts away. Or maybe that was a good example of what
referred to as
wanting to kill the messenger.
Whatever the reasons, I was having a hard time staying rational.
Rush removed a square, thin case from his jacket pocket. “Here, play this.”
I snatched the disc from his hand and practically flew across the living room to get to the DVD player. I reached down, opened the clear case, and loaded the disc. After picking up the remote, I went and sat back down next to Rush.