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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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Shopgirl’s Prophecy (Beasts of Vegas #1)

Read The First Chapter Of My Latest Series (More Coming In 2018)!

The Shopgirl’s Prophecy (Beasts of Vegas #1)

Written by Anna Abner

Copyright Anna Abner 2016

Cover Blurb:

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

Ali Rusenko has dangerous secrets she keeps close to her heart. In search of the truth of her past on the glittery Las Vegas Strip, Ali discovers vampires aren’t the most hospitable creatures. If it weren’t for sexy vampire hunter Connor Beckett, she’d be dinner.

Connor rescues Ali, but they just can’t shake the vampires trailing her. Unfortunately, Connor knows exactly how the creatures feel. He can’t let the beautiful stray go, either, because she awakens a part of him he thought would be denied forever. But if Connor’s going to have a real chance to defeat the horde leader, he can’t allow Ali to leave the country without discovering the one secret she refuses to reveal.

Chapter One

“Get down,” Roz hissed, yanking on Connor’s black jacket. A spotlight swept over their heads, and he tasted dry earth as he flattened onto the sand.

“That was too close,” Roz complained.

They skittered like cockroaches across the ground, avoiding a parked Humvee, and staying out of the guards’ eye line. The things they couldn’t avoid at the secret army facility in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Nevada were surveillance cameras on every wall and post. Hence, the need for speed and an electro-magnetic pulse device the size of a suitcase strapped to Connor’s back. If they were caught breaking into Oleksander the Destroyer’s prison, they’d never see daylight again. Sort of the way Oleksander had been in the dark of an army cell for the past twenty years.

Connor Beckett hadn’t known six months ago—a lackluster engineering student at the University of Chicago—that the Seer Ilvane would write down his name and forever link him with the end of the human race.

Connor from Cleveland will release the Destroyer and trigger the apocalypse.

There wasn’t any way to fix the prophecy and save the world except to kill the vampire lord.

“Push the button,” Connor said, nodding at the EMP. Thank the fates for Anton and Natasha, their very generous benefactors from New Zealand and their high-tech toys.

“Pushing the button.” Roz activated the device, and every electric light on the base, hopefully the cameras and security doors too, blinked off. “Now,” she ordered. “Move.”

Light on the balls of his feet, Connor ran for building 2A, which he knew from poring over satellite photos of the installation, was where the army kept the vampires. He hunched over the card reader controlling the prison’s heavy-duty outer door, sweat rolling down the back of his neck. “Please,” he breathed. A single second delay while they stood like a couple of sore thumbs at the gateway to a vampire’s cell on a secret military base could ruin everything.

He hoped for the best and yanked. The immense door swung open on soundless hinges.

“I was only fifty percent sure the EMP was going to work,” Roz admitted as she followed him inside and sealed the door.

There wasn’t supposed to be a guard on duty at two-thirty in the morning. Except there was.

“What the hell?” complained the unlucky soldier.

Engineering classes hadn’t prepared Connor for this situation. He’d psyched himself up for killing the Destroyer, not innocent bystanders. The soldier glaring at him carried a gun on his hip, and he probably knew how to use it better than Connor could operate the high-tech gear his New Zealand backers had sent.

“Both of you get on the floor. Now.” The man pulled his weapon, but he didn’t call for back up. Connor needed it to stay that way.

“Whoa,” Connor exclaimed, his mind coming back online. He stepped in front of Roz as she followed his lead and held up both hands. “I just want to see the vampire. Don’t shoot me. Jesus!” He cracked a goofy smile.

“Yeah,” Roz parroted. “This idiot promised me we wouldn’t get in trouble.”

“Stay where you are.” The soldier wasn’t buying it. “I’m calling my sergeant.”

Plan C. Or was it D? “Sleep spell?” Connor whispered to Roz out of the corner of his mouth.

“Blessed is my power. I call upon thee.” Roz produced a tiny windstorm that pushed and pulled at her dark clothes. “Sleep, sleep, sleep…”

The guard blinked at Connor in bewilderment before his knees buckled and he crashed to the floor, fast asleep.

“Oh, crap.” Roz said, picking up the soldier’s fallen handgun. “I was only about twenty percent sure I could do that.”

“That’s twice as confident as I was,” Connor admitted, relieved he didn’t have to hurt anyone human. With no magic or supernatural abilities of his own, having a witch as a friend had its perks.

Her windstorm died down. “We gotta hurry. My spell won’t last more than a few minutes.”

Satisfied the guard was out cold, Connor turned his full attention on the pair of cell doors at the far side of the room. Each one had a monitor above it, and under each monitor was a name plaque. The first read: Maksim Volk, vampire lieutenant. The second read: Oleksander the Destroyer, vampire lord. But someone had scratched out lord and written douchebag in permanent marker.

“Grenade,” Connor said, holding out one hand. His voice didn’t even waiver, which was weird considering how terrified he was on the inside.

A cold, egg-shaped bomb landed in his palm. Connor opened the sliding hatch in the cell meant for exchanging food and correspondence and peered inside. Volk lay on a cot with his back to the door wearing an unadorned orange jumpsuit. Connor pulled the pin from the grenade and tossed it into the cell. He watched through the slit as the grenade went off, so loud Connor jumped back from the door. Through the smoke, Volk was suddenly under the cot instead of on it.

“Volk’s down,” Connor announced. He swallowed thickly and gestured shakily for the second grenade.

Roz passed it to him, and Connor opened Oleksander’s mail slot. He’d fantasized about killing the Destroyer so many times he wanted to savor it, to take his time and be certain the vampire was dead. But Oleksander wasn’t visible through the small opening.

He’d never murdered anyone before.

Connor’s skin prickled. Was the vampire in there skulking in a corner? Or had the army moved him in the six hours since Roz had sweet-talked a drunken, off-duty soldier for info at Applebee’s?

The poor sot had admitted nobody guarded the vampires anymore because after twenty years of incarceration, torture, and experimentation both were as docile as a pair of kittens. If the army was stupid enough to believe that, fine. Connor assumed Olek and Volk were every inch the cold-blooded psychopaths they’d been before their bloody capture.

Visible or not, Connor tossed the grenade at Olek and waited. There was a gong as the bomb was thrown back at the exit, and it exploded against the door, warping it outward and filling the entire room with white smoke.

The door remained closed, but it was badly disfigured.

There was a moment, staring wide-eyed at the twisted metal, Connor considered backing out. Nothing catastrophic had happened yet. No one was hurt. So what if a few cameras were sizzled? He could pull his friend out of there and go home.

But he didn’t leave. This was Connor’s best chance to kill the Destroyer and negate his prophecy. He had to kill the vampire.

Connor plucked the third and final grenade from Roz’s vest and rolled it through the wasted door of Olek’s cell. Almost immediately, the grenade skidded right back out again.

Connor launched himself at Roz, and the grenade went off before they hit the ground, blowing them horizontally against a wall.

“Oh, shit,” he said, a ringing in his ears and blood in his mouth.

He wasn’t ready to die for a stupid prophecy. To be honest, he hadn’t totally believed the Destroyer would even be in this cell let alone that he had a chance in hell of slaying the vampire.

Connor was a failure. He was unprepared. He should have stayed home.

He rolled, taking weight off a gnarly wound on his left hip and shook Roz’s arm. “Are you okay?”

No answer.

A very aggressive alarm sounded. So much for the EMP. The base had come back to life. Soon, there’d be soldiers everywhere, and Connor didn’t have a good reason for blowing up their super secret vampire prison or a desire to spend time in a matching cell.

Through the haze, a large orange shape appeared carrying a body over one shoulder.

Oleksander the Destroyer.

Looking as spry and psychotic as ever in a prison jumpsuit.

Unable to tear his gaze from the Destroyer’s nearly black eyes and heavily Slavic features, Connor shielded Roz and prepared to be consumed.

“Thank you,” Olek said and then carried a bloody and unconscious Maksim Volk out of the building.

Chills skittered up and down Connor’s battered and bloody limbs. The Destroyer was much more terrifying in person than he’d been in photographs. He was a monster, a devourer of children. And he seemed to think Connor had just done him a favor.

“Roz,” Connor groaned, the world tilting dizzily. “We have to get out of here.” Olek might realize his mistake and double back to kill them both.

“Connor?” Roz sat up, wincing as she took in the warped cell door through a haze of white smoke. “He’s free?”

“Can you run?” he asked rather than admit the truth.

“If I have to.”

They hobbled, Connor gritting his teeth every time his burned leg touched the earth, toward the back fence as scream after tortured scream reached them. Olek was finally free and obviously enjoying himself.

“Halt,” a commanding voice ordered. More soldiers.

“Smoke bomb?” Conner questioned Roz. They had debated whether it was necessary, but he couldn’t remember if she’d packed it.

She pulled a canister from her waistband, tossed the pin, and threw the explosive over her shoulder. Immediately, they were engulfed in a thick, red cloud. Shots were fired, but nothing found a human target.

Like half-dead rabbits escaping the hunt, they slid through a hole in the chain link, and limped across an expanse of sand dotted with sagebrush.

“Get in, and start the engine,” Connor ordered, ripping a camouflage tarp off his baby, a 1973 Ford F-350 pickup. “They might have helicopters.”

The truck roared to life, and he leaped through the passenger door, hanging on for dear life as Roz raced over desert roads toward the lights of the Las Vegas skyline.

No choppers took flight. No Humvees chased them. No further shots were fired. It was like the base had been swallowed up. Olek was making up for lost time and wiping the secret military installation off the map with nothing but his hands and a pair of fangs.

“What happened?” she demanded.

Connor grimaced at the black smudges on her face, the ashes in her hair, and the blood splattered across her top.

The worst thing possible. “I fulfilled my prophecy.”

#

Maksim Volk’s prison cell faded from sight as he was dragged away by his army-issued prison garb.

Someone had thrown a grenade at him. Even now, his eyes burned and his entire left side felt gooey.

“I miss people trying to kill me with wooden stakes,” he grumbled, squinting to see who or what had a grip on him.

Oleksander the Destroyer.

“Fabulous.” Maks swatted at Olek’s iron-like fist, but only managed to bring his right arm halfway up. Yep, something was definitely wrong with his limbs. Fricking grenades.

Olek hauled him without any gentleness whatsoever across an asphalt parking lot and then roughly over a concrete curb. Maks’ legs, currently numb and useless, had been blown up a bit, it seemed.

Lovely. With a twist and a grunt, Maks freed himself and landed flat on his back.

He sat up to inventory his injuries. His right arm was burned down to bare bone, his left leg was ground beef and cloth, but nothing seemed missing that couldn’t heal. His seventeen-year-old body would regenerate exactly as it had been, leaving him forever looking like a rangy youth.

But the best news he’d received in twenty years? He was a free man.

No matter what happened next, he would never go back into a cell and be anyone’s guinea pig.

Maks crawled on his hands and knees, headed for rocky hills in the distance, and something fragrant tickled his nose. Faint, like a memory. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeper.

Not a memory. Real.

Maks got to his feet despite the pain and stumbled west toward the scent, straining to place it.

“These mortals annoy me,” Olek grumbled as soldiers continued to fire their weapons.

Maks couldn’t care less because he’d finally recognized the scent. Vampires. Lots of rotting vampires under tons of earth. He increased his scuffling and lumbered toward a bare stretch of sand between the outer security fence and the base infirmary. The closer he got, the stronger the smell became.

He ignored the rapport of gunfire and the familiar sounds of Olek feeding messily on human victims to drop to his knees and tear into the earth as the shooting ceased altogether. His right arm was useless so he excavated with his left, scooping and clawing until his fingers were bloody and his nails cracked to the quick.

“Explain yourself,” Olek demanded, appearing behind him.

“Can’t you smell them?” Maks cried.

More specifically, his little bird. He could smell his sweet Katya, and he’d dig until both arms fell off to free her.

“Who?”

“Our people.” His fingers unearthed a trouser leg, and he dug faster.

At last, Olek knelt to help. He wasn’t half blown up and was made stronger from the soldiers he’d gorged on. He was much quicker displacing mounds of dirt.

A body appeared, rapidly followed by another and another. When the army had finished with Olek’s horde, they’d tossed the dried out, skeletal vampires into a mass grave under the base.

His mates. His fellow warriors. At last, he knew they weren’t being kept in a separate facility. They weren’t being tormented and experimented on the way he’d been. No, they’d been used up and thrown out like so much refuse.

Katya among them.

His little bird had been stolen from him so long ago, and yet he pictured her exactly as she’d been two decades earlier, before their capture. Young and beautiful, shy yet passionate. She had set his blood on fire.

Olek uncovered half a dozen more bodies, emaciated corpses, but further down the bodies emerged in pieces. Hands. Feet. Heads.

“No, please.” Maks dug directly at the spot Katya’s scent was strongest. She couldn’t be dead. She couldn’t be.

She was.

Maks lifted a familiar torso, now rotted to pieces, and beside that, a skull with a tuft of strawberry hair still attached.

No.”

The sky collapsed around him, drenching him in shadow. Not possible. She couldn’t be gone. Not the woman who gave his soul life, who gave his wretched existence meaning.

“Sergei, Ilya, and Ivan are beyond saving,” Olek said, picking and choosing bodies from the grave. “But my three best fighters are still strong.”

Lies. Maks didn’t have to look to know Olek’s three brothers Sergei, Ilya, and Ivan were whole and in stasis thanks to their immortality, but Olek had never enjoyed his brothers’ company, not when the four siblings were constantly struggling for control over the vampire horde. But Olek’s three favorite lackeys—Freddie, Dawn, and Lara? They were a different story.

He smelled fresh blood as Olek fed his three acolytes from nearby soldiers’ throats.

Maks didn’t care. His little bird had been cut into pieces. He would never care about anything again.

“How?” He cradled Katya’s head. “We are not animals. We are not experiments.”

Not that the U.S. Army hadn’t tried. For twenty years they’d been cutting imprisoned vampires open, testing their blood, pushing the limits of their mortality. Volk and Olek had been their preferred test subjects, though, and Volk had endured an eternity of pain and agony.

He would repay every second.

“I swear to you,” Olek said as his three warriors rose up around him, “we will make the human race suffer for what they have done. We will burn their world to the ground.”

Olek started to walk away, but Volk didn’t follow. He curled around Katya’s remains and was content to die from the grief splitting him in two.

“We go.” Olek grabbed Maks’ collar and pulled.

Maks scrambled to keep a hold of Katya’s skull, but he was only able to snatch her necklace off her neck, pulling strands of red hair with it before his master tossed him, Freddie, Dawn, and Lara into a Humvee with an unconscious soldier.

If he must live a little longer, then he’d get his revenge.

While they drove out of the base and into the mountains, Maks sank his teeth into the dying soldier’s throat, Katya’s locket clenched in his hand.

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Beasts of Vegas BTS Character Interview (Maks)

Or, I Ask Maksim Volk A Few Questions

*This interview appeared on JB’s Bookworms in March 2018.

Q: Thank you for joining us today, Maksim Volk. Tell us a little bit about your story, Blooddrinker’s ProphecyIs there anything you would change if Anna Abner offered to?

Maksim Volk: To be honest, I’d rather Ms. Abner left me the hell out of her stories. I’m not a character in a book. This is my actual life. By sharing this so-called novel, she’s screwed my anonymity all to hell.

Q: How would you describe Anna Abner?

MV: Not cool. She took my private life and splashed it all over the internet.

Q: Do you feel like she portrayed you correctly?

MV: Hell, no. I’m not nearly as kind as she thinks I am. I have very little sympathy or loyalty to humans. My daughter, excepted.

Q: How about others in the story. Do you feel she did well with them?

MV: ::huffs a disgusted snort:: She made Connor Beckett out to be some kind of hero, though he’s a giant twat. She didn’t describe Oleksander the Destroyer half as diabolical as he really was. The only thing she sort of got right is what a decent young woman Ali Rusenko is. Though, if you ask me, Ali’s even sweeter than Abner portrayed her.

Q: You might be wondering why I’m wearing a scarf on a hot sunny day. It’s not that I don’t trust you ::tightens the scarf:: or anything. I’m just deathly allergic to vampire venom. You know like some people are with bees? So, please don’t bite me.

MV: I’ve considered it, believe me, but your questions amuse me. Continue, and I won’t drain you. Despite what Ms. Abner writes, I have some self-control.

Q: Okay, now that that’s settled. Who created you in the story?

MV: I was turned at seventeen by none other than Oleksander the Destroyer.

Q: Was there a reason for your creation?

MV: He was building an army, and he incorrectly assumed I was a murderer without conscience. Luckily, I’m a world-class liar or I never would have survived this long.

Q: Were you happy or angry about the transition from human to bloodsuc–, I mean vampire?

MV: I wasn’t given a choice, but I took to it like a fish to water, like I was born to carry the infection.

Q: What’s your favorite blood type?

MV: Moppet, the infection is too overpowering for niceties like tastes or preferences. Blood is blood, and I drink it all with equal pleasure.

Q: Where is your favorite place to dine? Some of us might want to avoid any late-night forays there in the future.

MV: Since being forcibly relocated to Las Vegas, I have learned to appreciate American cuisine. Bazaar Meats is one of my new favorite haunts.

Q: Have you seen any more stories in the recesses of Anna Abner’s mind?

MV: From what I gather, she has volumes and volumes of ideas, more’s the pity.

Q: Do you get to play a part in any of those stories?

MV: I can only hope she leaves my daughter and me out of any future novels.

Q: You’re no stranger to darkness. What is your author’s darkest secret?

MV: She reads ::shudders:: superhero comic books.

Q: If Abner makes you mad, you could just bite her when she’s sleeping, you know.

MV: Don’t think I haven’t fantasized about just such a night, moppet.

 

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Beasts of Vegas BTS Character Interview (Connor)

Or, I Ask Hero Connor Beckett A Few Questions

*This character interview appeared at Author’s Secrets in March 2018.

Pull up a chair, grab a drink, a chocolate chip cookie from the plate, and let’s find out a little about The Shopgirl’s Prophecy! Please introduce us to your guests.
Anna Abner: This handsome guy standing next to me is Connor Beckett and the late arrival is Alina Rusenko, the heroine of The Shopgirl’s Prophecy.
Q: Okay, lets start with ConnorWhat event in your past has left the most indelible impression on you?
Connor Beckett: I don’t want to talk about my dad leaving, okay? But if you want something that screwed me up, when my prophecy came out, my whole life got tipped upside down. I went from a mediocre engineering student to a giant disappointment. People who’ve never met me hate me now.

Q: What do you most value?

CB: I don’t really have anything that belongs to me anymore. I live in a hotel. Everything I have was bought by our investors. But if you’re asking what means the most to me, then it’s the memories I have growing up with my grandpa. He was a great man who taught me about respect, hard work, and honor, and I can never repay him.

Q: What is the type of woman you want to spend the rest of your life with?

CB: I’m a little distracted right now with the end of the human race, though I will say I’m partial to blonde cheerleader types.

Q: What do you consider most important in life?

CB: There’s nothing more important than family, and sometimes the family you create is even more important than the family you were born into.

Q: What is your biggest secret?

CB: Well, it wouldn’t be much of a secret if I told everyone who asked. But most people wouldn’t know by looking at me that my bank account is bulging at the seams. That’s all I’m going to say.

Q: Alina Rusenko, who are you really?

AR: Why? What have you heard?

Q: Who were the biggest role models in your life?

AR: My father taught me a lot. Everything I am came from him. I think my mom could have been a big role model for me, but I wasn’t lucky enough to have her growing up.

Q: What kind of man do you want to spend the rest of your life with? (or if you don’t want romance – Why not?)

AR: Romance just isn’t in my future. I’m happy being single, really. It’s safer that way, for everyone.

Q: What kind of man would you never choose?

AR: I’ve had bad experiences with popular jocks. I definitely will never waste time on one of those beefy jerks.

Q: What is most important to you in life?

AR: I value my privacy, as well as peace and quiet.

Q: What is your biggest fear?

AR: There are things I must keep secret, for everyone’s safety. It’s why I live such a secluded life in London.

Q: Anna, tell us a little about writing this story. Was it fun or difficult? Do your characters always act as you expect? Are you a plotter, or fly (write) by the seat of your pants?

AA: Shopgirl’s Prophecy is the beginning of a paranormal series I’ve been obsessed with for over ten years. I’ve always loved this story, and I’m so excited to share it with you. Writing it wasn’t difficult at all! It was a joy to create each character, each setting, and each turning point. That’s not to say the novel didn’t go through several iterations. In one, Oleksander had a mother more vicious than he is. In another, the entire novel takes place in the Ukrainian countryside. But I’m very happy with the final version, and I love the way it turned out.

When I started Shopgirl’s Prophecy, I was a pantser, writing in whichever direction the wind blew. Over time, though, I learned to embrace organization and planning. Currently, before I write a novel, I complete a pre-writing packet and use it as a blueprint for plot and characters. It helps me feel more in control of my work.

 

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Winning NaNoWriMo

Or, Another Fun And Successful November

It was a long month, and there were several days I didn’t write a single word, but despite all that (and catching a cold the last week of the month), I finished National Novel Writing Month. I’m so relieved and feeling amazing.

The novel isn’t finished, of course. In a lot of ways, it’s hardly begun. But I now have a solid foundation for the fifth book in my Beasts of Vegas series, and that excites me.

I loved spending an entire month eating/drinking/breathing vampires, witches, and shapeshifters. In this new novel, the oracle Caitlyn is all grown up and falling for her own tall, dark, and supernatural stranger.

Did you participate this year? Do you have an idea for a novel you’ve always wanted to write? Tell me about it!

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