We have come to the end and I have gone through so much to get these wonderful characters out and share their voices with the world. This has been a fun learning experience and I thank everyone who has supported me in this and waited on this release. A big thank you to actress Kimberly Hill for being my kick-butt looking cover model & photographer Kris Mayeshiro for an incredible image. You both were a godsend!
To my support system and muses: My mom (Sakina): you were the first to help me grow my library. The first to help me fall in love with the fantasy stories and romance I adored. Before book clubs it was us discussing the various books we shared. You instilled in me my love for books and reading as well as supported my bookstore habit. I love you and appreciated the hand you had in the creation of my imagination. To my little brother “T”: for asking about that novel. To Grams, all of my uncles (Skip, George, Petie), my cousins (Aisha, Felice, Breiona), and the rest of my family: for embracing me in everything I've done and continue to do. (Uncle Shannon, I miss you.)
To Liz, Ashely, Paulette: for being true to me in this life and supporting me in this all. To Nikki-Michelle: for pushing me to send this story, loving my characters, and helping me through this writing process by kicking my procrastinating butt. Love you, sis. To Ms. B (Brenda Hampton): you saw something in this story, stood by me and my work then took a chance on a newbie. I'll always be thankful for what you've done and to L.A. Banks (Momma Banks) for having inspired me in this journey and leaving your words as a marker of wisdom for me.
Finally but not last, to my supporters (Zansheree, Natasha, Lawrence, and others): Thank you. To those I've forgotten and you the reader: Thank you for trusting in my work and for diligently asking for more. We are on this journey until we ride it to the end and hopefully you all will love this series as I have. #TeamSineaters, I appreciate you all and let's hope for more stories to come.
Dear #Teamsineaters, it was requested to add an index for the fans to reference the terms and sayings in the series. This can now be found in the back of the book.
Welcome back to the world of the
and Cursed. When the Light and Dark are at war, sometimes the Grey can only be your salvation.
The past . . .
“Where are you going to go, boy? You're surrounded!”
Like hell, woulda ever let ya take me down, boss,
rushed into his mind as he ran. More like sprinted through the thick, grasping trees that surrounded him. Rigged branches reached out to him as if they had a mind of their own. Their thick almost-black rooted stems twisted in their uprooting from the bowels of the earth to make him trip, but he was smarter than the trees. He leaped and veered out of their menacing way and his arms jolted outward to part through bushes.
With all of the trees that surrounded him, he would not have believed that he was back in Harlem, had he known any better; but for those who don't know it by that name, New York was where he was. The bustling city lights covered the sky like fireflies splashed across the sky's black canvas. The noisy zipping of various buckets and hacks driving carelessly pass tourists and city folk gave him a sense of how close he exactly was to civilization. It also gave him a sense of purpose.
Twigs snapped suddenly and the rustling of leaves tussling against each other let him know they were still hot on his trail. His mind was racing as he looked for an out. All of this was too familiar to him. Beady red eyes flickered at him in the darkness of the wildernessâno, of the park. He was in Central Park. He should have realized that. Those piercing eyes stared at him in delight, ready to seize the opportunity to hogtie him so that he could be their little plaything but he would not give them that satisfaction. Not yet.
Beads of midnight dew kissed his face the moment he stepped through the thicket. His wingtip shoes abruptly skidded as they made contact with wet, slick grass. He jumped. Then he lifted in the air, almost floating for a mere second. Both of his large feet clacked against pebbled stone the moment they met the ground.
He could hear the enemy. He could feel them breathing against the back of his neck. Each hair on his body stood in salute, coming alive in electric awareness. In this life at least, he knew he could die on his terms and die giving them a fight. In seven minutes, his time would be up soon anyway, so what could he really do about not being bumped off?
Seven . . .
A whizzing sound sizzled past his ear and he felt the hot trickle of blood mixing with his sweat and the quick pop of the gun after the fact. They wanted to play dirty. They wanted to make him appear to be a patsy and a hood. He had to laugh; he was better than a hood. Sure, at one time, he had to fill that slot but now he was his own man, a bruno to a well-known trouble boy who protected the meek of Harlem. They worked together with his gang to find those who were kidnapped or were bumping gums to the wrong people. They worked to regain money lost in predatory loans and schemes and wrongful repositions. They worked to build up their people and to protect all who walked the streets of Harlem from the highbinders that made it their mission to tear down the community. But these men who were after him, the very scum and thugs themselves, were no normal men.
Corrupted monsters in the flesh of coppers more like it.
Oh, what he wouldn't give to go out between the gams of a looker for a change.
Six . . .
The menacing snarl of dogs in the distance made him grimly chuckle before closing his eyes with the feel of his body vibrating with his gift. His gift allowed him to use the sound waves around him to channel it into music. With a slight part of his lips, he let out a low hum. Whistling, he changed the pitched and dropped into a low crouch. Both hands extended outward and he observed his skin lighting up in swirling patterns against its burnished surface. That was his clue to project that vibrating power out in waves toward the hunting dogs. A change in his vision instantly allowed him to see through their glittering eyes. He then knew where to run next. With a quick shift of the pitch of his song, he caused the dogs to halt their barks, whimper, and then stopped in their tracks to turn.
was his simple mental command and he watched the dogs attack their owners before sprinting away in retreat.
His sweat dripped down his face like rain on the ground before him. His ragged breath came out in sharp bursts and he pushed up to start his run again. They wouldn't get what he had been given a vision to find. That he was sure he had hidden well; he had taken something priceless, something rare, and something they wanted destroyed but couldn't. Something they had to hide from his people because he had learned it could kill the leader of their kind.
Five . . .
This was a once-in-a-lifetime win for their side and he had to make sure they would never get their hands on it. He knew the enemy had Warlocks and Witches who could work into his mind. Luckily, for him, his Mystic gifts were too strong for them to break through, so he inwardly laughed and stopped once he met the end of a pond.
He could hear them and he knew he was at his rope's end. The jig was up. He felt himself snagged by the ankles and thrown to the ground. The heckling and putrid nostril-burning plumes of a Dark Gargoyle let him know that the enemy had him. Yep, there was nothing for him to do but practice constraint, settled in his mind.
. . .
“Boy gave us a good show, but tonight we will feast on your filthy Light-filled body,” a voice sounded around him, causing him to glare toward the thicket then narrow his glowing jade eyes.
Two Anarchy Snatchers stood before him, something that was very rare for him to meet. A blonde with a finger-wave bob and curves that clearly whispered she was lethal stepped forward. She wore a form-fitting ruby gown that fit the current times and her movie-star looks, with a tiny dot near the corner of her blood-red plump lips that dripped that “it” factor. Sure, he was familiar with her from where he worked. She was new at the Phoenix Club. Her ambiguous race made her the bees knees with the patrons at the club. But it was her ass and those lips and sultry voice that always told those she so wanted to join her true birth. He had to laugh because as he watched her, black currents dripped from her fingertips like squid ink and snaked its way toward him while forming a slick black rope. Yup, this broad's true birth was nothing her meat bag of a shell perpetrated.
“What a shame, what a shame. I would have loved to keep you around a little longer my dear sap,” the woman cooed. She gave off a chilling light laugh then sashayed forward.
At that same moment, her companion, who was what the women would call a “beefcake,” strolled near her side. He flipped his lighter and lit a white cigarette with an impassionate sneer across his chiseled face. The tall, jet-black-haired Rudolph Valentino doppelganger whistled and more coppers appeared from behind the trees to surround them on all sides.
“You took from us, boy. Do you have anything you want to say before I make you my bitch and give you to our master?” His captor snapped his fingers and flashed his pearly whites, staring down at him, his leather shoe pressed against his windpipe cutting off his air. “Nothing to say? Stand him up, darling. I can't hear him.”
Three . . .
It felt good to get off the wet grass. He felt his body being snatched up by his feet to stand upright. The pair had moxie, which amused him. But they were as stupid as rocks for not frisking him. Working his wrist, his blade snaked from his hands and he gave a raspy reply: “Hey.
C'est si bon,
It was simple for him to drop the blade around his ankles and use his power to cut his ankles free. His fists landed into the first copper who jumped him. An elbow connected into the ribs of another. A quick neck grab then lunge over his broad shoulder had him light a third minion aflame in holy Mystic power.
“My name ain't boy and screw your torpedo scum squad. You may have caught me this time but it is only because I let ya. By the way, spiffy shoes, cat, but mine are much better.” His jubilant brawl with the enemy had him blindsided and shackled by black ropes from the female Anarchy Snatcher.
Sparking trusses of power snaked around him. She pulled, which had him falling backward hard on the ground. The hussy's demonic strength allowed her to hoist him into the air; another thick rope tightened around his throat. He knew what was about to occur before it even happened and that familiar sound of rope snapping against a tree limb made him close his eyes in acceptance.
. . .
“What a pitiful shame,” he heard the blonde mocked. The cords she controlled tightened around his throat, painfully cutting into his flesh at the same time.
“He has nothing to snitch about so end this because this is nothing but a vacation for him.” His captor yawned exasperatedly. He turned on his heel to light up another ciggy then coolly walked away. “Until we meet again, boy.”
It was time. He bore his teeth in a triumphant grin and his eyes blazed their familiar jade iridescence.
Never break your cool,
he told himself. He connected to his birthright and power blazed around his body causing the mob around him to back up in fear of being touched by the light. They were going to burn tonight, like all those innocents, those demons snatched from their homes or cars; and as they blazed, he was going to have his moment of peace.
Yes, he'd get to see that glimpse of his family at the gates before coming back to exact his vengeance but he hoped that maybe this time he'd get to see her. He fought for her. His true love. The one they had kidnapped long ago and with his every return entry into the divine plane, it let him know that she could still be out there, reborn somewhere. Whenever he couldn't find her. This gave him hope to save her, as he should have before. But now he had something that would give his side the advantage over this never-ending war and soon he would start this cycle all over again.
So with a happy birthday to him, he focused on his spirit. Willing it to remember all he had ever done. With a brazen shout, he spit at his enemies feet, “My name is Calvin . . . never âboy.'”
The taut snap of a rope and crack of a tree's limb sounded in the night. The image of a man in a long, sweeping black coat with a billy club in his hand and a blade in his other hand flashed across his faltering gaze. Piercing, icy blue eyes surrounded by long black curling hair stared back at him in grief. The male aggressively cut at his enemies before his remorseful eyes made Calvin solemnly smile one last time. A whoosh with a flash of dimming light and the sound of a gong signaled . . . and then he was gone.