Chapter 01 sneak preview of my current work-in-progress:
Luca – Book 1 of the Demon Born Series (paranormal romance).
Pre-edit version. May change before publication.
As promised, here’s the first instalment of the paranormal romance novel I’m writing. It’s the first book in my new ‘Demon Born’ series. I’ll be posting the follow-on parts over the coming weeks.
Hope you enjoy it 🙂
Not a leaf stirred, nor a branch broke beneath his feet. And cold midnight remained wrapped in her quiet, dark sleep.
But the seductive scent of blood hung around him, human blood, warm and still trapped in a moving body. And it urged him on, calling for his claws to tear open flesh and let the red heat flow onto the brittle undergrowth.
He took another measured step forward, and hunter and prey played out a dance as old as time.
“You feel that?” A teenager stopped in the clearing ahead, his eyes wide in the pale light of the quarter moon.
“Fuck it, Johnny!” the taller teen with him snapped. “You worse than a girl, yeah? We got a job to do, so stuff your feelings and come on.”
“This ain’t right, Stu. You know this place be haunted.” Johnny glanced at the trees behind him like a nervous rabbit.
The stench of fear thickened the air, and the beast curled his lips back over his fangs and filled his lungs. He straightened in the shadows, pure muscle and sinew, and almost as tall as both lads stacked atop each other. Tipping back his wolf head, he savoured their acidic fear, his pointed ears alert, and the hulking muscles of his human-like torso primed to pounce.
“Fuck your ghosts!” Stu shoved Johnny ahead of him. “We here for the flower, the diamonds. I just want them diamonds, right?”
“But the elders! They said this place be cursed. It don’t feel right, Stu. We shouldn’t ‘ave come.”
“Then go crying back to the elders, lil babe. I ain’t leaving without my diamonds.” And shouldering past Johnny, Stu stomped off into the overgrown garden where clinging plants whipped his waist, and the trees knotted thick above his head like a catacomb ceiling.
He disappeared past a gnarled tree, and Johnny panicked, “Wait, Stu!” and raced after him.
The beast paused. They were out of sight, but their heavy blundering steps were as clear as if they were walking past him. In the space of two breaths, both men could be laid out lifeless at his feet. It would be less effort than swatting a fly.
He pressed his hand against a tree trunk and dug his claws into the dry bark. The rough surface dug back into the still-healing welts across his palm. The ancient iron bars that had caged him had fought against his brute strength, biting into the leathery skin of his hands, and not giving way until they’d shredded him ragged. He’d heal. He always did, and fast. But right now, the burning pain of the tree bark against his wounds was just enough to hold him in place.
‘Pain. Pain was bad. Killing was pain. Killing was bad.’
Faint knowledge wafted through the darkness of his mind like a long-forgotten language. It kept his torn hand pressed tight against the torturous bark even as his powerful body yearned to chase down his prey and tear into soft flesh.
‘Pain. Pain was bad…’
A soft growl escaped his lips.
‘My love…’ The woman’s honey voice sang through his mind, sweeping over the other.
‘Pain…’ This was important. He had to hold onto it.
‘My love. Why do you wait?’ She was stronger now, and slowly, helplessly, he turned his mind to her.
‘They come for me.’ Her voice was insistent and the only thing he knew.
‘Protect me, my love. Come to me.’
Her need pierced his thundering heart like sharp thorns, and rage like black fire filled him. The intruders would pay.
He tipped his head back on a blood-curdling howl, and tearing his hand from the tree, charged forward.
“Did you hear that? Did you hear that?” Johnny whipped his head this way and that, desperately trying to make out shadow shapes in the dark.
Stu kicked a bramble clump out of the way and hurried forward. “Shut up. It’s a wolf, yeah? They’re like big dogs is all. There’s plenty of ‘em in the forest.”
“I—I never heard no wolf like that.” Johnny stumbled on in Stu’s wake, battling the thorns and vines that tried to tangle him. “Oh come on, Stu. Let’s go home. I—I think I pee’d myself proper back there.”
Scents filled the cold night air: fear, piss, greed. Deep in the shadows, the beast strained forward.
Stu stepped through an arched hedge and stood facing his prize. “Now… that’s a beauty,” he breathed in reverence.
Once-white marble columns rose into the sky, guarding between them the ornate, black iron doors of a crypt. The only identifying symbol on the structure was the fierce wolf head carved into the stone above the bolted doors.
But in front of the three steps leading up to the door grew a lone rose. It glowed white as if lit from within, and its single black stem reached up and offered its ghostly petals like a gift to the pale moon overhead.
Johnny peeked past Stu. “It’s just a flower,” he whispered.
“It’s no bloody ordinary flower.” And Stu stepped towards the rose.
The beast growled, low and deadly, a final warning as he clawed towards them.
“Fuckin’ ‘ell! You hear that?” Johnny all but ran to catch up with Stu.
“Shut it, you baby. I heard nothin’. All I see is this ‘ere beauty, and I want to know if them stories are true.” And reaching out, Stu touched one white rose petal.
It shimmered beneath his fingers and then dropped away, crumbling to sparkling diamond dust as it fell, but disappearing like fairy dreams on touching the ground.
Icy fingers squeezed the beast’s heart, and for a moment he couldn’t breathe. Another petal fallen. Another step closer to his end.
The air chilled like the inside of a tomb, and the gentle night breeze died, leaving only eerie silence.
“Them diamonds disappeared.” Johnny’s breath came out in fearful misty puffs. He grabbed Stu’s hand back from the flower. “Don’t touch it again.”
Stu shook him off. “I’ll catch it this time before it hits the ground.” And he reached for another petal.
The beast’s roar rent the air. And with a leap he was on them, claws ready to slice their throats and still their desperate screams.
But fire, hot and burning, thumped into his chest like a battle ram and knocked him back from his victims. He sprawled on the ground.
Dazed, he shook his head. The sudden scent of daemons hung heavy everywhere, and the searing pain burning his chest only added to his vicious rage. On another roar, he swung to his haunches and began straightening to his full intimidating height to attack.
‘Stay down, Luca.’ The man’s voice cracked like a whip in his mind.
The words hadn’t been spoken aloud. They were just for him, and with them came a force that weighed his body from the inside and pushed him back down to his knees.
Chase… The familiar name rose into his consciousness. He’d felt this power before too. He was supposed to know it, but right now all he knew was murderous fury. And gathering his mental strength, he pushed back against the new voice and its power until it shattered.
“Hell!” The tall man in front of him staggered back.
With a guttural growl of satisfaction, the beast stood, ready to slaughter these new intruders.
“If he doesn’t bloody stay down, he’ll get a blast to the head this time.” A second man stepped forward, his right hand glowing with a glove of fire that gathered into a fireball in his palm.
Ash… Another fleeting name.
“Don’t hurt him.” Chase barred Ash’s path with an outstretched arm.
The beast bared his teeth in a grin. He had no such qualms. The first fireball still burned a hole in him, and he would gladly visit an equal amount of hurt on them all. He narrowed his eyes and surveyed them. The two human thieves cowered in foetal balls by the crypt steps while the two daemons faced him, wary but defiant.
Good. He preferred a fight.
And with an earsplitting roar, he leaped for their throats.
He only caught a glimpse of the third daemon—who’d stepped out of the shadows, arm raised, gun pointed—before the bullet ripped through his chest and smashed him to the hard ground, knocking all the air out of him.
The world dropped to silent black.
To be continued next week…