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One Bad Night

A Collection of Stories in the Beasts of Vegas Universe

Back Cover Blurb:

Sexy shifters, tortured vampires, and powerful witches fight the evil horde on the Las Vegas Strip…

Catch up with favorite characters like Dominic Hull and Lukas Larsson in this collection of stories set in the Beasts of Vegas universe. Meet vampires, witches, and shapeshifters as they struggle to find love, revenge, and a little romance on Las Vegas Boulevard.

One Bad Night, Carly: An evil vampiress wakes up cured and pissed off.

One Bad Night, Dominic: What will shapeshifter Dominic do when his crush needs to drink blood? And he’s the only person nearby?


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Or keep scrolling for the complete collection.


“One Bad Night: Dominic”

A Beasts of Vegas Story

Dominic Hull was having a bad night.

“We’ve all been there,” Ben assured, slapping him between the shoulder blades.

Dominic danced away from the unwanted touch as the pair of six-foot tall shapeshifters weaved against the flow of pedestrian traffic crossing Las Vegas Boulevard and headed toward one of Ben’s favorite clubs.

“Really? You’ve had two shots and walked around the rest of the night with puke on your pants?” Dominic retorted sarcastically.

Jesus, he was turning into a lightweight. It hadn’t been that long ago that he could take shots all night, dance in superheated clubs, and wake up the next morning as if nothing had happened. What the hell was wrong with him?

“Whatever,” Ben said. “I just want to have fun. This curfew has been a nightmare.”

Dominic agreed. His dad, the alpha, was going a little overboard recently with the check-in’s, the curfews, and the rules about going out in pairs. Dominic, being dominant himself, followed the directives only about half the time.

“Why don’t you be the alpha?” Ben gave Dominic a scrutinizing look. “Have you ever thought about it?”

Of course, he’d thought about it. As eldest son of the alpha, he was born to lead, but it didn’t interest him. It meant he’d have to challenge his father and force him to submit.

“I don’t want it. All that bureaucratic bullshit. Listening to everyone’s problems. No, thanks.”

“It’s a responsibility to care for and protect a pack,” Ben countered. “A lot of shifters would gladly take that responsibility. And it would get your dad off our backs.”

Dominic’s phone buzzed in his pocket, and with a curse of pure aggravation, he yanked it free. A text from his friend Lukas Larsson, a bear shifter from the Netherlands currently residing in Vegas.

Have you seen Mercy tonight?

Dominic’s guts twisted. A strange thing to ask. Mercy hadn’t left her suite at the Le Sort Hotel since she’d been dug up from a twenty-year, forced slumber in the earth. Hell, she hadn’t even left her bedroom.

Dominic stalled on the sidewalk and struggled through another wave of nausea before texting back.

What are you talking about? Isn’t she in her room?

Lukas didn’t immediately text back.

Isn’t she??

Dominic pictured the petite young woman with white-blonde hair and eyes perpetually registering panic.

“We gotta swing by Lukas’,” Dominic told Ben. “Something’s come up.”

“What’s wrong?” But Ben’s tone made it very clear he wasn’t thrilled with cutting their night short.

“Lukas can’t find Mercy.” Not willing to waste time, Dominic pushed his way back through the crowds toward the way they’d come. “It’ll only take a couple minutes.”

“Which one’s Mercy again?” Ben asked with a sigh.

Dominic didn’t answer. He’d purposefully kept Mercy’s name and story out of pack gossip. She was too fragile, too vulnerable, and frankly too important to him to share with anyone else.

“Just hurry up,” Dominic growled.

The only sign of pandemonium on the team’s floor of the Le Sort Hotel was Kayla. Mercy’s best friend and self-proclaimed protector visibly shook with agitation when Dominic and Ben strolled into the room she shared with Mercy.

“You called him?” she demanded of Lukas, sending Dominic a disgusted look.

“I’d take his help before I let anyone else know we have an unstable vampire on the loose,” Lukas replied. He sent Dominic his own look of frustration. “She was here—”

“When I fell asleep,” Kayla cut in. “She was in the other bed, rocking.”

Dominic knew Mercy’s emotional issues were sometimes calmed by rocking back and forth. When he came to check on her, he often found her in that position.

“And?” Dominic prompted.

“Something woke me up around 11:30,” she continued. “That’s when I noticed she was gone.”

“Did you look for her?”

“Yes, you moron,” Kayla snapped. “I searched the entire floor, then the hotel lobby, the promenade, and I was running up and down The Strip when I finally texted Lukas for help.”

“No one else knows yet?” Dominic asked.

“They’ll overreact,” she said. “They’ll hunt her, or something, when all she really needs is to see a friendly face and she’ll come right back.”

“Which is why I called Dominic.”

Kayla rolled her eyes. “He’s obsessed with her. The feelings are not mutual.”

That stung. Dominic recalled Mercy’s cool, soft hand folded within his much larger one. She’d trembled everywhere but at their point of contact.

He wasn’t obsessed.

And the feeling was very much mutual.

“I’ll help you look,” he said, though he realized too late he hadn’t been asked. “I know her scent. I can track her more quickly than you can,” he said to Kayla. To Lukas, he said, “I’ll let you know if I find her.”

Ben’s phone chirped, and he reappeared from the corner he’d been hiding in. “Oh, shit. It’s the alpha. He wants me back inside the compound.”

“Then go. I’ve got this.”

“It must be nice having an alpha for a dad,” Ben grouched.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Though faint, Mercy’s scent—a mix of blood and calla lilies—lingered around the elevator doors. Without a thought for anyone else, Dominic took a big breath of her scent and stepped into the next elevator heading down.

As he crisscrossed the busy lobby, Dominic asked himself what a vampire fresh off a two decade long dirt nap would do next. The lights on The Strip were calling to him, but to someone like Mercy, they’d be terrifying. The crowds, too, would intimidate her.

Dominic scanned the lobby for the least populated, least lit area of the hotel. He started away from the glittering main lobby, away from the promenade full of shops and restaurants, and deeper into the bowels of the hotel. Down a long hallway, her scent grew stronger. He followed her footsteps through an emergency exit door, across a patio covered in twinkle lights, and into a garden area that must be meant for smoking or doggie relief. It was unlit and probably free of CCTV cameras, too. The perfect place for a traumatized vampire to hide.

“Mercy?” Dominic hissed, following the ever-increasing scent of fresh blood. “Don’t be scared. It’s Dominic.” He still couldn’t see her, but he scanned and scanned, edging nearer the source of the blood. “Mercy?”

A rustle. An intake of breath.

Dominic zeroed in on a corner in the block wall, a junction made darker by a vine-covered lattice. There, crouched Mercy.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked gently, pausing ten feet away, not wanting to spook her. “We were worried about you.”

“I’m so hungry,” she whispered.

Dominic’s sight began to focus more clearly in the dark. “Mercy, are you bleeding?” He blinked, and her entire figure came into focus. Her face and hands up to the elbows were coated in blood.

“I’m so hungry,” she cried.

“Where did the blood come from?”

Mercy pointed off to the right. Immediately, a crumpled shape became obvious. Dominic rushed over. “Buddy?” he urged, shaking the man.

He caught a pained groan, and relief like Dominic had rarely known flooded his system. Thank God. “You’re gonna be okay, buddy. Just sleep it off.”

There was no reply from the man, but Dominic was confident he’d survive, the feeding marks would heal, maybe before he woke up, and Mercy wouldn’t be implicated.

“Mercy?” Dominic returned to her murky corner. “Are you ready to leave here?”

She raised her big, blue eyes to him. “I’m so hungry.”

Dominic crouched down low. “Then feed from me.”

His words seemed to startle her. “But you’re a shifter. If I infect you, it’ll kill you.”

It was true. As far as legend went, shapeshifters couldn’t survive the vampire infection. If they were exposed to the virus—transmitted through blood—in their human forms, they’d die almost immediately. In their animal forms, however, they were immune the same as any other animal.

“Then don’t infect me.” He lowered himself to the cool lawn, crossing his legs. “Come here.”

Mercy crawled hesitantly from her hiding place, her eyes locked on his.

Touch was a tricky concept for Dominic. Most of the time, it repulsed him. It didn’t matter who touched him or why. But there was something different about Mercy. She was so damaged, he felt compelled to protect her.  Hers was the only touch he sought.

Now, he held out a wrist to her, staying absolutely still otherwise, to avoid spooking her.

He’d never been bitten by a vampire. Mostly, he was excited by the thought of Mercy’s red lips on his skin, of her pointed white canines sinking into his flesh, of her sucking his life blood down her throat…

Dominic expected her to take his hand, but she pounced instead, biting deep into the fleshy part of his arm. It was quick, like a snakebite. And then she slithered into his lap, curling into a soft, blood-soaked ball.

The first few pulls only hurt a little, and he recovered from his initial surprise. He pet her silken hair, one long stroke from scalp to the middle of her narrow back. Her heart raced in her chest, thumping like a bunny’s.

“Better?” he prompted.

Her only answer was a re-shifting of her weight and a guttural groan of assent. He caressed her hair again, tangling his fingers among her tresses and digging his fingers in.

“I got sick tonight, too,” he said into the quiet. “I took a couple shots at a club and threw up. You can probably still smell it.”

Tiny nod.

“It happens to the best of us.” Oh, his legs were numb. He clenched his jaw through a dizzy spell. “Maybe drinking so much bagged blood made you…” What was he saying?

Dominic’s spine softened, and he would have hit the turf if Mercy hadn’t reacted so quickly. She grabbed him by the shirt and shook him gently.

His mind cleared only enough to see into her eyes and sigh in pleasure. “Your eyes sparkle.” Good Lord, had he said it aloud?

She stood and hauled him to his feet, but when he swayed into her, his body brushing hers, she stepped away and forced him to hold his own weight. Luckily, his shifter DNA included rapid healing. Already, he was feeling fractionally stronger.

He cleared his throat, folding his arm closed over the bloody wound. “You okay?”

Rather than answer, she hung her head, no doubt listening to everything, but reacting to nothing.

“Well,” he inhaled deeply, sensing the blood, the victim across the way, and her unique lily scent. “Let’s get upstairs, then. I’m not feeling so good.”

She followed him into the main lobby, keeping to his shadow, using him like a walking shield from the lights and crowds they encountered the nearer they got to the bank of elevators. Dominic pushed for the fifty-first floor, keyed in the access code, and wavered slightly.

“You’re a heavy drinker,” he said, attempting a playful tease.

She glanced up at him in concern, however. “You tasted so delicious,” she told him in a small voice. “I couldn’t stop myself.”

On the team’s private floor, the elevator doors swept open, and Dominic recognized Kayla and Lukas at the other end of the hallway. Without a word of thanks or farewell, Mercy scurried away to her waiting friends, leaving the scent of blood and lilies heavy in her wake.

Read more about Dominic and Mercy in Shapeshifter’s Prophecy (Beasts of Vegas #5)…

“One Bad Night: Carly”

A Beasts of Vegas Story

Carly Alvah was having a bad night.

Gaining consciousness in an ambulance headed for a Las Vegas hospital wasn’t even the worst of it. Because when she came to, she remembered everything—the overgrown bear shifter named Lukas Larsson she’d been running from, his beefy hand clamped around her throat, and oxygen becoming a limited commodity. That son of a bitch had snuffed her out. Her. Like he had any right to raise his eyes off the ground in her presence, let alone put his dirty hands on her.

She was a goddess among mortals, a monster, a blood-worshipping vampire, for God’s sake.

Speaking of…

Carly quickly took stock of her current situation. She lay in an undignified sprawl upon a gurney inside a slightly smelly ambulance. A bored EMT swayed beside her with every bump and roll of the vehicle.

“You’re okay,” the man said. “Take it easy.”

Not going to happen. She needed to get back to her minions among the Four Sons. Now.

She sat up, tearing at the blood pressure cuff around her arm and the oxygen cannula in her nose.

“Nope.” The EMT sighed in annoyance. “Lie back. We’re almost to the ER.” He pressed on her chest and, with an embarrassingly small amount of force, held her flat to the gurney.

She snarled and attacked, striking like a cobra for the tender, blood-infused flesh below his jaw.

Rather than eat his throat out and bathe in a gush of warm, slick blood, Carly lurched half off the gurney and landed with her head in the EMT’s lap.

What the hell?

Had she been drugged? Lobotomized? Where were her enhanced speed, strength, and senses? Come to think of it—she ran the tip of her tongue along her teeth—she had no fangs, either.

Stunned, Carly allowed the EMT to settle her back onto the gurney and reattach the cuff and cannula, clucking under his breath the whole time.

What was happening?

“What did you give me?” she demanded. God, even her voice sounded pathetic.

“Nothing,” he said. “But you were unconscious when we found you. Do you remember what happened?”

“Where did you find me?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.

“In a white van. Is that ringing any bells?”

That tricky, tricky shifter. He must have dosed her with something debilitating and dumped her back in her own vehicle. She’d be tempted to ride out this little annoyance, but she couldn’t let anyone draw and test her blood. They’d discover she was infected with vampirism and she’d never see daylight again. The US Army, in particular, was known for imprisoning and experimenting on infecteds indefinitely.

She had an empire to run. She was too powerful for captivity.

The ambulance slowed to a stop and, before she knew what was happening, the doors were open, her gurney was in motion, and she was whisked against her will down a wide corridor lined with ill humans and medical equipment.

“No,” she complained. “I’m fine.” Her enhanced healing abilities would take care of any lingering damage the shifter had caused in short order. She didn’t need help, she needed out. “I can go.”

Carly sat up and attempted to leap from the gurney to land like a cat before sprinting away. The reality was much more humbling. Again, she reeled forward and a firm hand held her down.

“No,” she repeated, struggling. “Don’t touch me. I’m fine.”

A restraint latched around her left wrist, another around her right. “Settle down, honey, we’re only trying to help.”

“Fuck you,” she screamed. “I’ll eat your heart. I’ll swim in your blood.”

“No one’s going to hurt you,” a calm voice instructed.

She fought so hard against the restraints, her back bowed off the gurney. God damn it, she hadn’t felt so helpless in years. “I’ll kill you all,” she bellowed. “I’m a vampire queen, you bitches. I’ll eat every single one of you.”

“Five of Haldol,” another voice directed. “Call for a psych eval when she wakes up.”

Carly was asleep before she knew she’d been pricked with a needle.

#

This time, when Carly woke up, she understood the irritating situation she was in. Somehow, the shifter Lukas Larsson had taken away her vampire powers. They had to return soon. The infection flooding her system would put her back to normal in no time at all.

Carly tested her right restraint. She sensed it was a fraction looser than the other. She worked at the cuff. Little by little, her hand slipped out. Her thumb ached in pain, and the muscles in her arm quivered in fatigue, but she made progress.

Her right thumb dislocated, and her wrist slid free as a man carrying a clipboard close to his extended belly barged right into her curtained space. Carly cocked her hip to the side, concealing her free hand.

“Hello, young lady,” he greeted with a sickly sweet smile. “How are you feeling?” He checked his notes. “I’m Dr. Wayne, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?” He waited, pen poised for her response.

“Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.” She rattled her remaining restraint. “I’m not injured. I’m fine.”

A little disappointed, he straightened. “I heard you were shouting about being a vampire.”

“Are you deaf?”

He talked on as if he hadn’t heard her. “First thing you should know, your blood was taken and tested by the hospital. You definitely do not have the vampire infection. I promise you that. So, why don’t you tell me why you thought you were infected?”

Finally, reality struck Carly, and she couldn’t respond. The shifter hadn’t dampened the infection. The fucker had cured it.

She blinked numbly at the well-meaning staff member. “You’re sure?”

The man seemed relieved he’d broken through her psychosis. “Absolutely, one hundred percent certain.”

“You tested my blood for vampirism?” she repeated.

It couldn’t be true. There was no cure.

Yet, it made sense. It explained her sudden weakness and the departure of her fangs. It explained everything.

Lukas had had a witch with him. Maybe… Could she…?

“The government,” Dr. Wayne told her, “has mandated testing of all drawn blood for vampirism since the early two thousands when several stray infecteds popped up in U.S. hospitals. It’s done automatically anytime blood is sent to the lab, and you tested negative for vampirism.” He eyed her carefully. “Does that surprise you?”

No. Carly was more pissed than surprised. She barely controlled her rage enough to nod politely. Sanely. “I must have hit my head,” she said through gritted teeth. “I was confused. I thought I was infected, but I can see that I was wrong.” She forced a sneer of a smile. “I feel much better now.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” He didn’t buy her act at all. In fact, he pulled up a chair and settled in. “Let’s talk about why you thought you were infected.”

Twenty-four hours ago, she’d have torn these restraints from their anchors and shoved them down the good doctor’s throat. But then she’d come across Lukas Larsson, and now she was practically helpless.

Not completely helpless, only practically.

She discreetly scanned the room, searching out potential weapons. Not much. A plastic jug of water. The chair the man sat in. The sheet curled around her hips. But Carly was creative, and she’d had lots of experience killing on the spur. She settled on the IV tubing connected to her arm via a needle.

Carly ripped off the final restraint, and a split second later, the doctor realized she was free. As he struggled upright in surprise, Carly launched herself onto the doctor’s chest. She wrapped the tubing around his throat twice and yanked, silencing any attempted call for help and pinching off his air supply. They tumbled to the floor. He tried to kick the chair over to attract passerby, but Carly merely doubled the tubing around her forearm. She glanced at the IV pole that had fallen across the doctor’s chest. A nice heavy weapon all its own.

Sneering, she leaned back on the crass garrote, refusing to be fought off until the man went first stiff and then limp. Even then, she waited another fifteen seconds before climbing to her feet and taking the IV stand in hand. Sore thumb be damned, she slammed the base into the doctor’s face until his nose broke, his lips split, and one eyelid ripped away.

Alive with adrenalin, Carly swiped a hand through his bloodied face, and licked her fingers clean. Blood still ruled her, vampire or not.

Her heart pounding, she ran for it. Screw any further deception or subterfuge. She simply wanted out.

Through doors, down hallways, and finally into a loading bay. She was free.

And she knew exactly who to punish first.

Read more about Carly in Spellspeaker’s Prophecy (Beasts of Vegas #2)…

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Hunter’s Prophecy (Beasts of Vegas #0)

Back Cover Blurb:

Sexy shifters, tortured vampires, and powerful witches fight the evil horde on the Las Vegas Strip…

In this short prequel, Connor Beckett is on a mission to thwart his cursed future and kill Oleksander the Destroyer. The vampire warlord, however, is locked away in a secret army prison. In order to find him, Connor must confront his very first vampire.

Except he can’t possibly comprehend the violence awaiting him.

With the help of his best friend, the witch Roz Carrera, Connor will track a vampire along Las Vegas Boulevard as he defies his prophecy and his future.

Open your free pdf file here.

Or, read the entire story below.

Ilvane’s Prophecy #616: Connor from Cleveland will release the Destroyer and trigger the apocalypse.

Unable to sleep, Connor Beckett propped his arms under his head and clenched his eyes tight as he contemplated his prophecy. What a way to prove himself a fuck-up. The damning words affected him as deeply this morning as they had the first day he’d read them in the newspaper.

Connor from Cleveland.

The moment he’d seen the post, he’d known to his core, it was meant for him.

Connor from Cleveland.

He rolled onto his side in the nylon four-man tent and drew his knees toward his chest. What else was he to do about the prophecy except thwart it?

Roz Carrera shifted uncomfortably, and the entire structure quivered. “It’s so freaking hot,” she complained. “What time is it?”

“Around five. I thought you’d be used to the heat. You’re from Miami, aren’t you?” He seemed to remember she’d talked about Miami. How she’d ended up at the University of Chicago, he still wasn’t sure, but he was damned glad she’d enrolled. He couldn’t have chosen a better partner, though he wouldn’t have guessed it until she’d outed herself at a frat party as a real-life spellspeaker.

“It’s humid in Florida,” she returned. “This is dry as fuck.”

Las Vegas at any time of the year was bound to be both dry and hot, and there wasn’t much they could do about it. They’d spent most of their combined funds to purchase the tent, a couple of packs, and two flights out of O’Hare. The little money they had left was to keep them from starving to death and not for luxuries like hotel rooms with AC.

“Get some sleep,” Connor said. “We’ll search the casinos again today. You’ll be in the air conditioning, then.” They’d been searching for days for leads—eyewitnesses to vampire activity or a real, live infected. They’d run into a lot of rumors and cosplayers so far. No actual vampires. “Any new leads?”

“Not really.” With a huff, she spun and punched at the extra clothes serving as a pillow. Connor turned the opposite way, his back to her. Maybe another guy, a regular guy, a guy without a prophecy hanging over his head would have pulled Roz closer and enjoyed her long, lithe body.

But Connor wasn’t a regular guy, and he did have a prophecy hanging over his head. So, he settled in, closed his eyes, and tried to catch one more hour of sleep. Their partnership was all business, and he needed the witch on his side much more than he needed a hookup.

Besides, Connor preferred blondes.

“I can’t sleep,” she announced. “Do you mind? I need to change clothes.”

Connor roused, stretched, and stepped out of the flimsy structure into the sizzling desert air. Around him, people slept on, oblivious, in other tents, trailers, and RVs across the campsite sprawled in the shadow of the Le Sort Hotel. Squinting, Connor stared up at the shiny towers and endless rows of reflective glass blocking out the sky, imagining staying in a resort with all the luxuries money could buy at his fingertips.

“Must be nice,” he grumbled.

He’d grown up poor in Cleveland, the only child of a single mother. An engineering degree from the University of Chicago was supposed to change his trajectory, but then he’d gone and carpet-bombed his life by running off to Vegas with a strange witch.

There may still be hope for his fiscal future, though. His grandfather had died recently and left him an enormous trust fund, but then an aunt he’d never met had contested the will, and the money was still tied up in probate. Connor might never see a cent of it, which was fine with him. He had so many great memories growing up with his grandpa, and they were worth more than any fund. Somehow, he and Roz would make their plan of finding a real vampire work. Money, or no money.

He dismissed the view of the resort and grabbed his pack, rifling through it for a sketchbook and pencil. Perching on an upturned log, he balanced his book on his knee and picked up where he’d last left off—practicing eyes. Dark, comic, feminine, furious. He drew and drew, spitting out every variation he could think of, trying to improve his style with each stroke of the lead.

But even while drawing, thoughts of vampires were never far away.

It had been a long twenty years since vampires—or infecteds—roamed free in the Ukrainian mountains, spreading vampirism and wreaking havoc. Twenty years since Oleksander the Destroyer had been picked up by the U.S. Army after his failed attempt at invading Prague and been squirreled away somewhere in the Nevada desert along with most of his horde. It had been so long, and vampires had been so quiet since, that people had begun to forget. Connor believed, though, that they were still out there, the leftovers.

“Hope you like potato chips for breakfast,” Roz said, climbing out of the tent with her laptop under one arm and carrying a crumpled bag of chips in the other hand. “It’s all we have left.”

“Go ahead.” He’d rather skip breakfast.

In the lavender glow of dawn, she dropped crisscross onto a patch of synthetic grass and opened her laptop. She munched a couple of chips, clicking the touchpad.

“More emails?” he guessed. She’d been sending messages to wealthy people and companies with known interests in the paranormal asking for help. She had a whole wish list of vehicles, weapons, and tech she hoped to acquire for their mission to find Oleksander’s prison.

The only problem with super secret, underground military prisons was they were really hard to find.

“No, but do you remember the missing persons cases I told you about?” she asked. “I cross-referenced the ones from the last year looking for patterns that might indicate supernatural events.”

Even though he’d gone to the same university as her, Connor only understood about half of that. What he comprehended very well was, he needed to locate a vampire to lead him to Oleksander. Whatever it took.

“Find anything?” While she chewed and scrolled, he put away his sketchbook and started tearing down their campsite for the day. The tent stayed to hold their spot, but he loaded everything portable into one giant pack. The last thing he did was strap a hunting knife in its sheath to his hip. Just in case.

“I don’t know, yet. It’s gonna take some time.” Her voice trailed off as she leaned into her screen.

Connor swung their pack over one shoulder, keeping his wallet and a bottle of water out for their walk. “I’ll go check in with Remy.”

Roz grunted a goodbye.

Remy and his common law wife Precious were sprawled on an outdoor sofa in front of a piecemeal singlewide trailer near the center of camp. Over time, Remy had added a front porch, a roofed garden, and a wraparound wooden deck to protect from the blistering heat, and the structure looked more like an arts and crafts project than a home.

“Can I leave this with you?” Connor greeted, indicating his pack.

“Hey, man.” The grizzled slice of human-shaped beef jerky peeled himself off the sofa. “You bet. Where you off to today?”

Connor propped the heavy pack against the trailer wall. “Casino crawling,” he said. “What about you?”

Remy grinned. “I am the king of all I survey, dude.” He swept his arm out to indicate his campground kingdom.

“Some king,” Precious snorted.

A U.S. Army decal in the trailer’s window caught Connor’s eye. Giving Remy a second look, Connor considered whether the guy could have served in the Vegas area around the time Oleksander and his infected horde disappeared into secret prisons.

“Remy, what do you know about vampires?”

The older man cleared his throat. “Well, just about everything there is to know,” he replied. “Back in my army days, I was ordered to guard their quarters.”

“You’ve seen them? You know where they are?”

Remy put one finger to his lips and winked.

“You think you’re going to hunt vampires?” Precious eyed Connor up and down, all six feet of him, a huff of a laugh escaping. “Good luck.”

“What she said,” Remy replied.

The couple’s out-of-tune laughter followed Connor all the way back to Roz and his campsite.

“Ready?” Roz stuffed the laptop and chips into a knapsack and stomped off toward the road fronting the camp.

It was only a meandering half a mile to The Strip, not far enough to warrant hitchhiking. So, they walked in silence through eerily quiet and empty streets. The only other people up and on the sidewalks before six a.m. were fitness nuts and gamblers who hadn’t gone to bed yet.

Roz bowed her head over her phone. “Whoa. Four days ago,” she said without looking up, “a waitress named Tara Reeves was attacked in the wee hours and drained of blood. She survived. I can’t believe I didn’t see this earlier.”

“Any details?” This could be the break they were waiting for. This Tara person could point them toward the vampire who hurt her.

“Not in the press,” she said, scrolling and clicking at warp speeds. “But social media is a different story.” Roz nearly stepped into a light post, but Connor steered her around it in the knick of time. Still too invested to look up, she added, “Here it is. She works at the Lucky Hand.” Finally, peeling her gaze from her phone, Roz quickened her pace. “Let’s go.”

Inside the cavernous casino, Connor and Roz roamed the floor, checking nametags. A cute little barmaid passed them named LeeAnn.

“Is Tara Reeves working today?” Roz shouted after her.

“Tara’s working the poker machines, love,” the woman said in an adorable British accent that landed pleasantly in Connor’s ears. “Northeast corner.”

From there, it wasn’t hard to find the right waitress.

“Tara Reeves?” Connor questioned.

A tall and svelte woman with overdone brown hair startled at the sound of her name, her tray of half empty tumblers rattling. “Sorry, honey,” she said, avoiding eye contact, “I’m extra busy today. Gotta cover for my friend who didn’t show up.”

Connor elbowed Roz and gave her a nod, indicating she should take this one. Roz had bite to her, but he sensed Tara might talk to a female more easily than him right now. It had only been four days since the attack, and she still sported bruises under a layer of make-up.

The unlucky woman wouldn’t change into a monster, though. He and Roz had done their homework. Vampirism was spread through infected bodily fluids entering a person’s blood stream through a cut. It was usually intentional, not accidental. Tara had been a meal to her attacker, nothing more.

Roz hurried to catch up to the fleeing barmaid. “I know you’re busy. This job probably sucks ass. Can I just ask you a couple of questions? We heard you told the police you were attacked by a vampire. We’d really like to know the details.”

Tara stopped fast, and ice cubes clinked. “You want to know about vampires? Are you two a couple of idiots, or something?”

Roz made an incomprehensible sound before Tara rolled right over her.

“Yeah, I got bit, but the cops don’t give a shit. They talked to him, he had some BS alibi, and they let him go. They weren’t that excited about a serial biter, you get me?”

“You can identify who attacked you?” Roz clarified with more than a little zeal shining in her eyes.

“You really are idiots,” Tara scoffed. “Go see him, then. He calls himself Adrian, and he hangs out at the blackjack tables across the street. Real great guy. Have fun.” With a disgusted snort, she was off again, weaving into the crowd.

Connor sent Roz a nervous look. Could it be that easy?

“They’re really in the city,” he breathed. “It’s not just rumors.”

Roz nodded. “This is why we’re here, right? Let’s go find him.”

A vampire playing blackjack didn’t fit Connor’s preconceived notions of mindless, rabid predators feasting on fountains of blood, but it didn’t sound too dangerous. They’d be in a crowd, after all, and captured on probably a hundred different recording devices.

With a nod, Connor turned and led the way outside into the suffocating heat. Buffeted by the growing crowds, they crossed the street on the pedestrian bridge and strolled into the casino. A Scandinavian-themed mega-resort, there were probably dozens of blackjack tables studding the main casino floor, not to mention private games on other floors for celebrities and high rollers. It might have been a needle in a haystack sort of issue, except the casino floor was nearly empty and Connor knew the infected in the room almost the moment he entered it.

Adrian, who’d attacked Tara the barmaid in the early morning hours and almost drained her to the point of death, hunched over one of the only game tables operating before noon. He was by far the best looking man in sight—glossy auburn hair, a bit of scruff across a well-defined jaw, and a suit that hung tailor-made on his athletic body.

But he didn’t look so tough. He may be handsome, but handsome didn’t threaten Connor. He’d been training for this daily from the moment he stepped off the plane. He could take him.

After readjusting the sheathed knife on his hip, Connor made a beeline for the infected at the blackjack table, only slowing down when he marched to within striking distance. At Connor’s approach, the vampire glanced up.

“Room for one more player?”

Adrian didn’t even let the dealer answer. With inhuman strength and speed, the vampire slammed the woman on the stool next to him into Roz’s arms, toppling them both to the thick carpeting. Connor turned his attention away for a split second just as Adrian struck at him. Teeth, meant for Connor’s carotid artery, sank into his shoulder instead. Cloth and flesh tore. Sinew and tendons crushed.

All Connor wanted to do was talk to the infected. A couple questions about the army, Oleksander, and how to kill the warlord. He hadn’t expected Adrian to attack without hesitation.

Vampires were a lot faster and stronger than he’d anticipated.

Connor’s arms finally came back online, and he pummeled the vampire’s ribs, first his right and then his left, hard punishing blows that didn’t seem to faze Adrian one bit.

A pair of beefy security guards arrived and startled the vampire who tossed Connor to the ground like a discarded toy. He leapt on top of the blackjack table and fled through the crowds at top speeds. One of the security guards halfheartedly ran after, while the other radioed for paramedics as he knelt beside Connor.

“Buddy, how you doing?”

Not too well. “Roz?” Connor called out instead. “You okay?”

“I’m here,” came Roz’s brusque yet annoyed voice in the crowd right before she smacked the guard’s bicep. “He’s fine. Worry about the asshole that did this to him.”

Roz grabbed Connor by the shirt and shook him, not an easy task considering he outweighed her by over fifty pounds. In a lower voice, she said, “Get the fuck up before they call the cops.”

It was difficult to explain to the police why Connor was on a mission to find vampires. They didn’t always subscribe to the Oracle’s prophecies. Best to stay off their radar, so Connor rose on shaky legs and waved off any help from the rent-a-cop.

“I’m good,” he assured. “He was too drunk to do any damage.”

Wishful thinking. The blood may not be visible through Connor’s dark clothing, but he could feel it oozing down his chest and arms, just enough to piss him off.

Stumbling out of the casino and onto the sidewalk, Roz directed Connor into the next public building and a family restroom.

“What are you doing?” he demanded as she locked the door.

“You’re bleeding.” She spread her arms at her sides and said, “Blessed is my power. I call upon thee.” A magical windstorm whipped into being, swirling around her legs and hips. It started at her feet, ruffling her clothes as it spiraled up her body and played with her long dark tresses. When she raised her eyes, they shone with power. “Heal,” she whispered.

As she spoke her spell, repeating words of healing and comfort, Connor watched her. Rozlyn Carrera was a remarkable sight. She seemed to sparkle from her feet all the way up to the crown of dark hair on her head as magic oozed out of her pores.

He stared, mesmerized, as a tickle began in his shoulder. He rolled the wounded arm and sensed the bite was closing up. “It’s working. You’re doing it.”

A few minutes later, her power exhausted, she ceased casting. Connor’s shoulder wasn’t good as new, but it was markedly better than it had been.

“Thanks,” he said, holding the door for her as they made their way back onto Las Vegas Boulevard. “I don’t want to lose him, Roz. He’s the first vampire we’ve even gotten close to.”

“He’s had a taste of blood,” she said. “But he’s not full. I have a hunch he’ll stick around here until he finds a victim he can drain.” She sent him a look full of nervous energy. “We need backup.”

#

Roz stomped onto the camp manager’s front porch amid Precious’ half-hearted protests and settled her hands on her hips. “Remy, do you know anything about vampires, or not?”

“Who do you think locked them up?” Remy inhaled, puffing up his chest. “I was a wet-behind-the-ears private back then, but the army had me pouring cement and bolting steel doors together so the infecteds couldn’t escape.”

“At least one of them got away. He’s on The Strip right now.”

“What?” Remy coughed, his chest deflating. “Are you sure?”

“We’re sure.” She laid a hand on Connor’s shoulder and drew away a blood-red palm. “You in?”

“You want to kill him?” Remy waggled his eyebrows at Precious. “I know places you could dump a body.”

“No.” Connor huffed an uneasy laugh, not sure if the older man was kidding. “No killing. I just want to ask him some questions, but he’s a little hesitant to talk. I need your help convincing him.”

“I’m guessing he’s not too friendly.” Remy locked his front door and jangled his keys at Connor. “You need stitches or something first?”

“Nah.” Connor ignored the pain throbbing through his chest and blinked away a dizzy feeling. “This is more important.”

“Fine.” Remy pointed ahead. “Let’s go.”

“I’m coming, too.” Precious peeled herself off the outdoor sofa. “I’ll get the guns.”

Remy rolled his eyes as Precious hobbled inside the trailer on plastic wedges. When she reemerged, she carried two large handguns. With much pomp and circumstance, she handed a .357 to Remy and a .44 magnum to Connor.

Not sure where to hold it, Connor tucked it into the waistband of his jeans, concealing it under his shirt. He really hoped he didn’t have to use it.

Remy stashed his handgun as well. “What kind of information you all looking for?”

As a group, they meandered toward the lights and noise of The Strip.

“I have to find Oleksander the Destroyer,” Connor said.

Remy stuttered a step. “You must be kidding.” When Connor didn’t answer, he added, “Twenty years ago, the army was so scared of that monster they had him drugged and chained until he was as helpless as a little baby. What are you gonna do with him?”

“Do you know where he is?” Connor pressed. “You said you were there.”

“Well… I was around, that’s for sure, but the army moved them a lot and I don’t know…”

Connor grit his teeth. So, Remy was more storyteller than legitimate asset. It didn’t change what Connor had to do.

“Anyone else want a shot of tequila first?” Precious asked, veering toward a casino bar. “Liquid courage?”

Remy pulled her away from a grinning bartender. “Later.”

Ignoring the couple, Roz touched Connor’s arm, snapping his attention onto her. “You good?”

He nodded jerkily. “The walking helps.” He attempted a smile. “What’s the plan?”

“Well, he’d be an idiot to go back to the same casino,” Roz said, dropping her hand. “The security staff knows his face, and now he won’t be able to walk through the front door without being recognized. But he seems to like the casinos,” she added. “I think he’ll strike again in the same area.”

“We have to find him,” Connor said. “This is the best lead we’ve found since we got here.” While Remy was distracted taking care of Precious, Connor leaned in toward Roz. “I have to kill Oleksander,” he whispered, staring directly into her anxious brown eyes. “I can’t be the guy who lets him out and starts the fucking apocalypse. I can’t.”

“Okay. We’ll talk to Adrian.” Roz started walking again. “But there are thousands of people on the street in constant movement, thousands more on casino floors, not to mention the people in hotel rooms, restaurants, malls, theme parks… I’m estimating a less than one percent chance of finding him before he feeds and disappears.”

“You’re not helping,” Connor grouched as they hit the street in front of the last place they’d seen Adrian.

“This is it?” asked Remy. “This is where he took a chunk outta you?”

Roz ignored the retired soldier and searched the crowds. “If I were him, I’d have left here in a hurry. And there are so many other places I could visit. So many options.”

Yeah, no kidding.

Roz continued, “But if I was hungry, I might go across the street and start over.” She nodded her head in the direction of the palatial resort on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard. “More blackjack. More victims. And a security system that won’t recognize him. Let’s check it out.” She graced Connor with a concerned glance. “What do we have to lose? Right?”

No choice, he thought glumly as he followed her across the pedestrian bridge and into the marble-lined entrance hall.

Precious stumbled in her preposterous shoes. “Can we get a drink now?”

“Soon,” Remy assured, steadying her. “Very soon.”

Adrian lounged at a low-limit blackjack table near the hotel elevators. He wore the same immaculately tailored suit, completely unruffled from their earlier fracas, betting on a new hand. The vampire appeared unperturbed, but Connor could still feel the blood on his skin, dry and scaly.

“You’ve got his habits figured out,” Connor applauded. “Now, I’ll approach him. Stay back and cover the spells in case he gets mean again.”

Connor rolled his aching shoulders, and the vampire caught his eye. The bastard smiled a warm slow smile and wiggled his fingers at Connor before turning back to his game.

“Son of a bitch,” Connor swore. Adrian was going to make this difficult, he could tell. Connor didn’t want to fight him. He only wanted to ask him a few questions.

“Is that him?” Precious asked

“That’s him,” Connor agreed, not taking his eyes off the vampire.

Adrian folded his hand, swept his chips into a pocket of his suit, tipped the dealer, and sauntered casually toward the hotel elevators.

“You and I,” Remy hissed at Connor, “grab him and hold him still. If he tries anything, I’ll shoot him. That seems like a good plan to me.”

Connor nodded as he and Remy followed in his wake. Once the vampire looked back, giving Connor a flirty glance before heading past the elevators into a suite of meeting rooms. Connor started to run. The vampire popped open a locked door and slipped into one of the closed meeting spaces.

“Blessed is my power I call upon thee.” With those words, Roz brought a small invisible windstorm indoors.

Betting an awful lot on Roz’s magic, Connor ducked through the door a step ahead of Remy. The dim space was in varying stages of transformation—the floor was stripped to the bare concrete, one stage had already been framed in, and a multitude of electric and hand tools lay strewn about the room.

Connor didn’t have a chance to locate the vampire before a fist with the power of a battering ram behind it hit him on the side of the head, and he went down. Remy got tossed in the opposite direction, the weapon in his hand skittering across the floor and under the stage.

Connor’s vision dimmed. On his knees, he reached for a handgun that wasn’t there. Damn it. Why hadn’t he kept tabs on his gun?

Poof went any and all magic in the room. Roz didn’t perform well under pressure.

“Hold on a goddamned second,” Connor roared. “We’re not here to hurt you.”

Adrian chuckled. “You think you’re the wolf? No, sweetheart, you’re the bunny.”

“Roz, run,” Connor hissed. But when he caught sight of her, she was frantically trying to call her power.

Connor fumbled for the blade on his hip, missed, grabbed it again and slid it across the floor in Roz’s direction in a lame attempt to protect her.

She didn’t pick it up. The infected did.

Connor watched, numb, as Adrian threw it overhand at Roz. She put her hands up to deflect and thwack the blade pinned her palm to the wall beside her head.

Precious stumbled into the room, brandishing a pocket-sized pistol. “Where’s the bloodsucker?”

Adrian’s arm snaked out, his hand closing around the woman’s throat. As Connor watched, paralyzed, the infected slung her pistol away and crammed his hand into her mouth. With a solid punch and a little wiggling, he reached into her chest cavity via her esophagus.

Vomit spewed uncontrollably as Connor scrambled to his hands and knees. He retched hard enough to cry.

“Roz?” Connor gasped. Good God, where was she? He tried to tell her again to run, just get out as fast and as far as she could, but he couldn’t force the words past his lips as Precious flopped onto the concrete, blood splattering everything within a six foot diameter.

Remy, finally gaining his feet, rushed the vampire, but Adrian used his momentum to spin him face first into the wall.

With a sickening flourish, Adrian bowed over Precious and tore organs from her throat as she spasmed beneath him—lungs, liver, Connor couldn’t differentiate. Whatever the vampire found, he took big, hungry bites from.

Groaning, Connor struggled upright even as his head spun. A concussion was the least of his concerns right then.

“Roz,” he tried again. “Go.”

Remy, coming to, made a move for the vampire and got in a nice tackle before the infected noticed him, but it was no use. Adrian tore a two-by-four the size of a Louisville slugger from the half-constructed stage and captured Remy, holding the board to his throat. With a bloody smile, Adrian pulled back.

He’d made a terrible mistake. Roz was going to die. Remy was going to die. Connor was going to lose everything.

He was an even bigger fool than his prophecy forewarned.

Bracing himself, he saw with perfect clarity all the things he’d done wrong today. Everything from letting himself be led away to bringing Precious along. There had been a lot of errors, and the learning curve was steep when it came to vampire hunting, but he wasn’t finished yet.

No. He could do this. He and Roz could figure this out.

His weapons long gone, Connor picked up a discarded screwdriver and staggered forward.

“Roz, answer me,” he called into the dim room, not daring to look back and take his eyes off the vampire.

“I’m fine,” she whimpered. “Don’t worry about me. Just kill him.”

Gladly.

“I’m so happy you returned.” Adrian chuckled as Remy turned horrific shades of plum. “Thank you. Really. I tried to make it easy for you to find me, and here you are.” He jostled Remy, whose body appeared to be seizing. “And you brought more snacks. Today could not have gone any better.”

Adrian leered as Connor slid through Precious’ blood, his weapon up. The moment Connor was close enough to hit, Adrian kicked out, knocking him flat without ever letting up on Remy’s throat.

The only mistake the vampire made was letting Connor fall within striking distance. Connor stabbed the screwdriver into the infected’s thigh with as much strength as he had left. The tool scraped bone and hit with a wet little punch all the way to the handle.

“Where’s Oleksander?” Connor demanded. “Where’s the Destroyer?”

The vampire swatted Connor in the back of the head, but for a moment, his grip slackened on Remy and the man twisted free, sputtering and puking all over the cold concrete floor. Connor pulled out the tool and lodged it again in the vampire’s thigh. Higher up. This time when he pulled it out, a hot gush of blood spurted. He’d hit an artery.

“Where is he?”

“You little shit,” the vampire spat. “Stay the fuck down.” He hammered his head.

Connor didn’t so much hit the floor as floated there, half conscious, his vision wobbly and corrupt.

Remy had gathered his strength and swung at the back of the vampire’s skull with the board. Over and over. Fast, brutal blows. Blows meant to not only incapacitate but to kill. Three or four of those and the vampire lay motionless beside Connor, his crushed face a mess of blood and gore.

“No,” Connor cried. A dead vampire couldn’t lead them to the army’s secret prison and Oleksander. A dead vampire was of no use.

“Does he have any money?” Remy demanded, ignoring Connor and ransacking the vampire’s pockets. He must have found something because he arched his back and howled like a wolf into the open space. “Wooie, motherfucker. What a rush!” Then he turned on Connor. “What about you, dipshit?” He pulled and patted, thrusting his hands into Connor’s pockets, discovering his last four hundred dollars. Money meant to feed him and Roz for the month. Money that would keep them alive and off the streets.

Then he pilfered Connor’s class ring, his watch, and his shoes.

“Thanks,” Remy guffawed. “I always liked your shoes.”

When he went after Roz, Connor pushed himself to his elbows. The whole room tilted so far to the left he was sure he’d slide right off, and his stomach whined in protest.

“Leave her alone,” Connor slurred.

Remy slammed the end of the board into Roz’s gut, doubling her over. She cried out, and the sound twanged through Connor.

There was an awful moment when all he heard were the sounds of cloth rustling and Roz’s quick, pained breathing.

“I’ll kill you,” Connor said, on his knees now.

“Who are you going to kill?” Remy swung the bat across Connor’s back.

He fell to his side, his body a mass of pain. “I’ll kill you for hurting her.”

“My girl’s gone.” Remy brought the board down hard on Connor’s lower leg. The angle was all wrong, the trajectory too. His bone snapped. “But you don’t have anything to say about that, do you?”

Connor curled upon the floor as the lights flickered and the only sound that reached him was the two-by-four bouncing against concrete as Remy dropped it and fled.

Someone was calling his name. Connor peeled open his eyes.

“Get the fuck up!” Roz smacked him with bloodied hands. “We have to get out of here.”

“Roz?” Everything hurt.

“Get up!” she hissed, yanking at his shirt.

He slid his hands underneath him, found the .44 magnum wedged under his ribs, grabbed it, and with Roz’s help, he climbed to his one good leg. They lurched further into the darkened room.

“I wrecked the cameras outside,” Roz panted, pulling him toward an emergency exit door. “But we gotta hurry. We can’t be here for long.”

Connor’s thoughts cleared enough to remember the vampire. Precious. The blood. The organs. He looked back. There was no body on the ground.

“Where’s Adrian?”

“Gone.” They stumbled through the door into a dark loading area. “He took Precious’ corpse and ran.” She elbowed him in the ribs. “Just keep your head down, and don’t pass out on me.”

#

Connor knew where he was before he even opened his eyes. Hospitals had their own unique vibe. And he knew he’d been there for a while, because his body didn’t hurt the way he expected it to. His leg was surprisingly numb. His head, too. And he was in a soft, comfortable bed that smelled of detergent instead of stale sweat and sleeping bags.

He finally opened his eyes to find Roz hovering at his bedside.

“It’s okay,” she assured. “By some miracle, you’re alive.”

He made a pathetic noise to mean, What happened?

Somehow, she understood. “I didn’t tell the cops anything, so don’t worry about that. If you’re asked, we were jumped at a house party. But,” she sighed, “Remy ran, Precious is dead, the vampire ghosted, and we’re on our own.” She added, “I haven’t gone back to the camp, but I’m guessing whatever gear we left behind is Remy’s now, too.”

Feeling a little stronger, Connor sat up. “Your hand?” he managed.

She raised her neatly bandaged right hand. “Stitches and some physical therapy. No permanent damage.”

He squeezed his eyes closed, so many conflicting thoughts and memories chasing each other inside his head. Their first real encounter with a vampire had been a complete fuck up. A woman was dead. Connor was broken. Maybe he was asking too much of Roz.

How could he expect her to stay in such an awful situation, hunting creatures that could maim her with the flick of a wrist? The prophecy was his, not hers, to bear.

“You don’t have to stay,” he told her.

She swatted his bicep. “Shut the hell up.”

She was so brave, smart, and driven, but he feared he was an anchor around her neck. “You should go home.”

“No.” She scowled at him as if he’d hurt her. Again. “Don’t you remember when you sold me on this little catastrophe back in Chicago? You said—hunt vampires, kill them, find Oleksander, kill him, and do it with my magic backing you up. And I didn’t take you that seriously, I’ll be honest, but then I saw you ready to die to cancel out your prophecy and it hit me how important this is to you.”

“It’s not your fight.”

“I’m not abandoning you. I don’t care about your honor or any of that other crap.” When he didn’t respond, she asked, “When you said you believed in my magic, was that bullshit?”

It wasn’t bullshit. He’d seen her call magic. She was spectacular when she controlled her power.

“I believe in you,” he amended. “But I can’t watch you be stabbed and beaten anymore.”

“Agreed. We need a better plan and better weapons.”

He sighed. She wasn’t getting it. “Roz,” he began.

“No. Shut up. Listen to me for a second. After seeing you lying like a broken, bloody corpse on a dirty Las Vegas sidewalk, I realized how much help you really need. And I decided, then and there, I’m here for the long haul. I promised to support you with every ounce of magic I have, and you promised we’d do some good in this world. Ridding humanity of the vampire infection is damned good work.” She crossed her arms tightly. “I was there in that room with you, don’t forget. I saw him eat Precious alive. I smelled the blood. That creature is too dangerous to live. We need to stop him and everyone else like him. For good.”

Connor shook his head. Watching her in pain and being unable to help had nearly split him in two. He couldn’t do it again.

But Roz spoke first, “Don’t ever tell me to go home again. I don’t have anything to go back to.”

He caught her nervous gaze and read her determination, fearing if he cut her loose, she’d only hunt vampires on her own. He couldn’t risk her getting herself killed.

“Me, either,” he admitted softly. “This is it for me. I don’t have a plan B.”

 “Then we make a promise. We don’t leave until the job is done.” She stuck out her uninjured hand. “Deal?”

Finally, he took her small but strong fingers in his and shook on it. He took a breath to say more when her phone chirped. She frowned at the screen. “It’s an international number. New Zealand, I think. That’s weird. Do you care if I answer it?” she asked, already reaching for the green button and then the speakerphone. “This is Roz.”

“Roz Carrera?” the female voice queried. “The vampire huntress? Is it really you?”

“In the flesh.” She shrugged helplessly at Connor. “Who’s this?”

“Oh, my God,” the woman said, a bit of a Kiwi accent emerging. “Anton,” she shouted over the phone, “it’s her. Get in here.” Then, “Roz, this is Natasha. I got your email last night.”

“I’m sorry,” Roz said, leaning back in her chair, “what is this about?”

“Oh, right.” The lady laughed. “Sorry. My brother and I want to fund your hunt for Oleksander the Destroyer, and we have a lot of ideas to discuss.”

Connor’s eyes widened in cautious excitement.

“That’s amazing,” Roz said. “I have a lot of ideas of my own. First, though, if you’re serious about funding us, we need a place to stay and some very specific gear—today.”

“Absolutely,” the lady said. “Do you know where the Le Sort Hotel is? Daddy went to university with the CFO. I’ll get you a suite for as long as you want it. As for gear, we’ll ship you anything you need. But first, Roz, you gotta tell me—what are vampires really like?”

The story continues in Shopgirl’s Prophecy (Beasts of Vegas #1)…

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<3 Anna

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Also Writing as Sadie West

Or, Do You Like Short, Whumpy, M/M Stories? Me, Too!

Whump: n. A fandom term, commonly used by fan fiction authors to describe physical and/or mental abuse laid on a character in a story. (Source: urbandictionary.com)

Writing paranormal romances has been my lifelong dream, and I will never give it up, but recently I’ve been pestered with new ideas. Short, LGBT ideas chock full of whump. What started as a fun diversion quickly became more serious.

Now, I’m ready to make it official. I’m writing short, gay erotica under the name Sadie West.

All three short stories are available on Amazon, SmashWords, and Barnes and Noble for 99¢ each. A new Gallavich (the Ian Gallagher + Mickey Milkovich relationship from Shameless) fan fiction is live on ArchiveOfOurOwn.org as well as free on my blog.

I hope you enjoy this new facet of my writing. Let me know what you think!

Cover blurb:

A sexy, M/M short story set in high school. When hockey prodigy Danny Holden is in an accident, he has nowhere to turn except his ex-boyfriend’s family. 11,000 words.

Download from Amazon, SmashWords, and Barnes and Noble.

Cover blurb:

A sexy, M/M short story set in high school. Basketball players Alex and Jackson have been best friends since elementary school, but when Alex wants more than friendship, Jackson will have to confront his feelings for his handsome teammate. 2,500 words.

Download from Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Cover blurb:

Snowboarding pro Matthew finds his hot neighbor Noah close to death on the side of a mountain in the dead of winter. With no help coming, they’re alone in a cabin until the storm passes. 6,000 words.

Download from Amazon, SmashWords, and Barnes and Noble.

Cover blurb:

During a late night shift at the Kash and Grab, Ian gets shot during a robbery. While Ian passes in and out of consciousness, he remembers moments from his and Mickey’s relationship. 2,000 words.

Read for free on Archive Of Our Own (AO3) or right here on my blog.

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<3 Anna

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New 5-Star Review of Spell of Vanishing

Or, An Enthusiastic Endorsement For The New Release In The Dark Caster Series

I feel so blessed to have the job I have. Thank you, RC!

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SiMPLiREAD’s review of Spell of Vanishing:

Click here for the original post.

This book is brilliant! It is thoroughly gripping and keeps the reader on the edge of the seat. I enjoyed it, needless to say. The plot beautifully blends the paranormal world of the White Wraith, Dark Caster and Cole with the earthly world. It’s a pretty tough job to create a world of where such fantasies are abound.The book combines many genres at one go – drama, suspense, action and dark fantasy. The author is also an excellent story-teller, having conjoined the suspense and thrills in the lives of the protagonists with the ambience. The characters are perky, witty and mentally strong, all at once. If you love reading books that are fascinating and electrifying, with memorable characters, you would love this one as much as I did! 5 out of 5 stars. –RC Bean

<3 Anna

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“I Lived In A Haunted House” And More!

Or, Swing By The Final 2 Stops In My Blog Tour & Enter To Win A Free Ebook

Enter to win a free ebook copy of my new release Spell of Vanishing here.

SOV quote 1400x2100Fangtastic Books hosted a guest blog for me today. I got to tell my very own ghost story, “I Lived In A Haunted House.” Make sure you read it here, and leave me a hello in the comments.

At my final blog tour spot today is a fun interview on Creatively Green Writer. Read it here.

I had so much fun on my blog tour, visiting new blogs and making new friends. Don’t forget to enter the contest here, and then stop by each blog using this master list.

<3 Anna

 

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My Review of The Texas Lawman’s Woman

Or, What I Thought Of Cathy Gillen Thacker’s Novel

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Back Cover Blurb:

She’s no damsel in distress, but Shelley Meyerson may just need a white knight like deputy sheriff Colt McCabe. Thanks to her scheming ex-husband, Shelley’s about to lose her home. The last person she wants to turn to for help is Colt, the guy who broke her heart the night of the high school prom. But now that she’s back in Laramie, there’s no avoiding him—especially when they’re both serving in the same wedding party.

True, the handsome, gallant lawman is a valuable ally. And he seems genuinely interested in Shelley and her little boy. She could definitely use a friend…and maybe something more. Rekindling their romance is easy—but learning to trust again is hard. Especially when Shelley learns that Colt’s been keeping a secret that could cost him his badge….

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed and the sexual tension was sizzling. The only critique I have is I felt Shelley waited way too long to take action against her no-good, thieving ex-husband. In my opinion, any halfway intelligent woman would have seen through his nonsense a lot sooner.

If you’re looking for a quick, sexy read set in rural Texas, pick up The Texas Lawman’s Woman.

<3 Anna

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Why I Write

Stories and storytelling mean everything to me.

As a young adult my head was buzzing with new worlds, new characters, and new conflicts to explore. The stories poured out of me. Romances, thrillers, YA’s, paranormals, fantasies, horror. I couldn’t write them down fast enough.

Instead of doing chores, I wrote. Instead of hanging out with friends, I wrote. I’m a abashed to admit I even stayed home from high school to write.

That passion for creating worlds has stuck with me. I truly believe that writing is an essential part of me. A part I hold very dear.

Now, as an adult, I have the unbelievably exciting privilege of writing for an audience.

Thank you for sharing this exciting new journey with me.

<3 Anna

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Review of Texas Rain by Jodi Thomas

Or, Why More Subplots Aren’t Always Better

texas rain

The main romantic plot is great and worth reading. The writing is solid, the characters are layered, but the subplots just aren’t that interesting. Specifically, the subplots are snoozers. I skimmed A LOT of stuff that was just happening. It felt to me like the author padded a good romantic plot with a bunch of stuff because she had to make her word count, but if she’d cut all the subplots about pies and whores and kooky boarding house customers, the story would have made a fantastic novella.

My favorite part was the section where the hero and heroine open up to each other through letters, writing personal things they never would have said out loud to each other in person.

<3 Anna

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