Kindle Edition - $7.99
Kindle Edition - $7.99
Josephine Tepes is not human. Well, not entirely. Perpetually living in two worlds she feels as if she belongs in neither. Hounded by Feds that are intrigued with her unique DNA and fending off a High Blood race that seems determined to control her destiny takes up most of Jo's time. When her brother is attacked and nearly killed Jo is forced back into contact with the FBI and brought face to face with her future. Or at least, the future everyone else, including fate, have invented for her. Unfortunately for all of them, Jo has no intention of going quietly.
In the shadows they hid, praying to their cocaine and heroin gods while sacrificing their arms to the needle’s dirty miracles.
Josephine Tepes stood at the edge of the alley and watched. She was not drawn by the addicts who smelled of sweat and despair, but by the man who was awash in human blood. But there was something else as well. Intermingled with the decaying scent of spilt blood hid the aroma of something decidedly not human.
She was pulled by the odor of masculine skin and its sour yet enticing undercurrent. Jo stopped a few feet shy of the target and paused to drink in the human’s aura in its entirety. The scent was now so strong that she felt it in her joints.
He turned towards her and although he was beautiful she didn’t allow her eyes to linger on the strong jaw or the full lips. Instead they were pulled like magnets downward to his shirt. Underneath the leather jacket he wore a cotton shirt that was spackled with red and a few remaining patches of white.
Her skin tingled in response but in the pit of her belly a dot of warmth that represented uneasiness and not arousal grew. Her attention was drawn upward when the human reached out a hand.
A syringe rested in his open palm. She smirked at that idea that his narcotics might offer some kind of pleasure for her. He took a step closer and the movement brought the maddening smell forward in a new assault.
The night air was suddenly full of sensory delights and the parts of her that were human sunk into obscurity and the beast in her swelled forward. As the addicts fell deep into their chemical worship their skin gave off an odor that bit at her nostrils and caused her stomach to roil with desire.
Through half-closed lids she watched as the man extended the syringe in offering to her. Jo smiled lazily as she wallowed in the magnificent cloud of blood that drifted off of him each time he moved.
His drugs would do nothing for her but she wanted him to come closer so that when she partook of the metallic nectar in his veins it would appear to any onlooker as nothing more than an embrace.
He closed the gap and she lifted her arm willingly in invitation. The sting of metal preceded the pleasing warmth as it violated her veins. She moved to tip her head forward so she could put her mouth against his throat but her neck seemed incapable of supporting her head.
“How to catch a vampire in two easy steps,” he whispered into her ear.
Her legs began to turn to rubber and her head flopped loosely on her neck. She found herself staring up into the dim beam of light from the bug encrusted lamp overhead.
“So lovely,” he said as he leaned down to admire her eyes.
“Nocturne,” she said, though what came out of her mouth sounded more like mad gibberish. Surprisingly he smiled and nodded.
“That you are, but I like vampire better. It’s less snotty.” There was another sting in her arm and a new invasion of heat.
As the second round of drugs was introduced her mind ceased communicating with any and all parts. She hit the ground and flopped backwards. Her head smacked the tarred surface with a distant, meaty thump that was negated by the drugs so that the pain made only a minor twinge along her nerve endings. She was able to focus on the human long enough to vaguely appreciate the loveliness of his face before blackness consumed her.
Jo’s return to consciousness was abrupt. Her eyes were open but they were greeted with a new darkness. She moved to dislodge the material covering her face but was unable to bring her arms forward. Each wrist was held separately by metal that bit into her skin when she pulled against it. The floor upon which she was curled was cold and it crawled along her entire left side with nothing to deter it. She didn’t need her eyes to know that she was naked.
Jo got to her knees. Her movement was followed by an equal movement behind her as the human approached. The scent of old dried blood on his skin was cloying and yet served to confirm that she was still in the company of the man from the alley.
The bag was torn away from her face and the light assaulted her sensitive pupils causing them to constrict to pinholes. The odor, one of human waste and terror, accosted her full force.
The room she found herself in was constructed of cinder block and was not more than twenty by twenty feet in its entirety. It was gray and lifeless except for the dank walls that were festooned with neon graffiti depicting all manner of incoherent phrases. Her eyes traveled the landscape and found no windows, no furniture and a single door.
She looked over her shoulder to see that she was tethered to a metal pole anchored into both the floor and the ceiling. The metal cord that held her wrists was looped through a chain that encircled the pole.
Jo rose to her feet and the chain slid upward allowing her to stand. Across the room her eyes settled on a human girl clothed only in a filthy shirt. The girl was on all fours and her waist was girded by a chain that was fastened to a bar along the floor. There was a bandage around her left thigh with a tiny blossom of dried blood on its surface.
The corner wall that was a yard or so beyond the girl was decorated with a grisly yet beautiful design of swirling red that was seeping into the concrete. The obvious arterial spray had painted a work of art and the scent that hovered around it in a great cloud was that of something not human.
The combined aromas of human and non-human blood that had lured Jo into the alley had originated here. A small sense of sadness crept along Jo’s mind at the knowledge that one of her own kind had died here. The amount of blood on the wall left her in no doubt of that.
The man finally moved from behind Jo and when he did she lunged at him. The move was ineffective as the metal cables wouldn’t surrender. She bared her teeth at him in rage and the elongated fangs that resided above her canines descended in response.
The girl began screaming at the sight of Jo's deadly mouth and she continued to wail in terror until the man crossed the room and slapped her with an open palm across the cheek. He repeated the movement several times before the girl crumpled into a heap and whimpered against her forearm.
He knelt beside her and watched the girl cry with a strange look of concern not unlike a father who is troubled by a child’s distress.
“There, there, Chloe,” he said, stroking her head. The girl cringed at his touch but didn’t attempt to move away. “I won’t let the monster harm you.”
Chloe turned her teary eyes in Jo’s direction and the terror in them confirmed that she believed Jo might be related to the kind of thing that hid under the bed, or waited in a dark closet to devour any innocent that dared to stumble within reach. In other circumstances Jo might have balked at the idea, but the puncture wounds riddling the girl’s throat and shoulders also told Jo that the human had firsthand knowledge of what a nocturne was capable of.
Seemingly satisfied with Chloe the man turned to Jo. He gave a smile that showed off a set of filed incisors and canines that might have been comical under other circumstances.
The fact that he knew her name was bothersome since she hadn’t been carrying any identification. As trivial as it seemed, the fact that he knew her but she didn’t know him made her feel more vulnerable.
“Who the hell are you?” she asked, though she wasn’t sure that she expected him to answer. He surprised her by doing just that.
“I am Adonis,” he said, before turning on his heels and exiting by the only door.
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Paulette Clay lives in Northern Indiana. A lifelong Hoosier she protects the waters of the State of Indiana as a career. Her soul, however, belongs to writing. An avid reader of fiction her tastes are eclectic as her bookcase clearly shows. An odd combination of Caleb Carr, Anne Rice, Jack London, Jane Austen and Shakespeare reside there. And of course there are three shelves dedicated solely to the master, Stephen King, whose books have been read into a dog-eared but much loved state.