UNEDITED (This is book 2, grab Hounds of God here. This contains SPOILERS if you haven’t read book 1)
Katherine stood at the edge of the graveyard, watching the relatives she’d never known Danny had, wondering if he ever even knew about them. The setting sun cast an orange and pink hue across the cemetery, long shadows reaching across brown grass that swayed in the coastal breeze. The eerie calmness of it all sent a chill up Katherine’s spine as she imagined the dead rising from their graves to devour this world.
As far as she knew, that wasn’t possible. But then again, most people didn’t believe in werewolves and vampires either, so she didn’t know what could be real anymore.
The relatives had claimed Danny’s body soon after the mass murder was reported. The biggest news north of the border in many years—so many bodies found in a church. Getting his back across the border couldn’t have been easy, but here they were, in the midst of the burial ceremony.
Of course she came to grieve, to pay her respects… but also to see if any other werewolves would show their faces.
Given the reach of Aldrick’s Hounds of God, they had to have known about Danny’s relatives, she imagined. That’s why she stayed hidden in the tree line and her eyes kept wandering over to two men that seemed out of place. They were at the edge of the crowd, glancing around occasionally, likely looking for her.
Little did they know, she was looking for them as well.
These two had suits that looked too expensive for the type of people gathered here. They were larger, the type military leadership would have selected to go on a mission against a known threat such as Katherine.
That’s how Mauro said they’d refer to her, after she took out Aldrick and the others at that church. “A threat.”
Werewolves had started up various cells and networks across the country, infiltrating positions of power and promising the gift of strength and regeneration to those that would listen.
Why use money to bribe when you had such a gift to offer?
Of course, it came with a price. The price of being one of these evil bastards, for one, but also the price Katherine had finally escaped, thanks to Triston and Mauro. No more blacking out on the full moon, no more waking up covered in blood and having no idea what she’d done the night before.
At least, so Mauro said.
One of their heads swiveled in her direction, so she froze, crouched behind a tree, eyes taking him in. Her breaths came quick and she hoped to God she didn’t have to create a scene by killing these two right here.
Killing was something she never wanted to do again, for that matter, but she’d seen what a lack of action can lead to… first hand. When Aldrick had brought that man home for the feeding so long ago. That man would have died at their hands, if not for the intervention of Matthew—the man she’d referred to as “Hunter” for so much of her life.
Speaking of Matthew, where was he? She pulled back farther behind the tree and turned toward the other direction, eyes roaming the street and the houses past the cemetery—El Cerrito, CA, provided a beautiful view of the Bay Area and even the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, but her eyes only momentarily lingered on the view she’d dreamed of seeing so much of her life, then came to rest on the silver car parked in one of the driveways, a man pretending to look at his phone. She could see the suit from here—Matthews telltale sign.
Not enough time had passed for her to come to trust him yet, not one-hundred percent, anyway. But Mauro insisted he be part of the team.
That first night, after fleeing the church and then making their way back to the safe house, they’d been in such a rush, she didn’t even have time for questions.
“Grab everything related to our kind,” Mauro had said, pulling together the maps and folding them between pages of an old, worn leather book. “It’s not likely anyone will trace them back to here, but we have to be prepared.”
“Aldrick knew of this place,” Triston said, still wobbly. Katherine had to help him, but lowered him to the couch while she and Matthew had helped Mauro gather everything up. He didn’t add the rest, about Danny finding them here, because he must’ve known Katherine wasn’t ready to discuss the death of her closest friend, or anything having to do with him really.
Matthew had suddenly moved to the window, his eyes flaring red, and then said, “They already know. They’re coming.”
“How can you tell?” Katherine asked, wanting to finally get some answers. He shook his head and simply said, “Hurry.”
On their way down past the border and into the States, Mauro had explained what he’d learned about Matthew. The son of Aldrick, the poor boy had found his mom’s corpse after Aldrick had killed her on a full moon, as a werewolf. Since that night, the boy had sworn to search the world for werewolves, hunting them until they were extinct, so they could never bring the kind of hurt he’d felt to this world again.
But he’d failed early on and, realizing he wasn’t strong enough, Matthew went in search of other ways to combat his enemies. He even turned to the dark arts.
“And the result was what… he became a vampire?” Katherine had asked.
“Not completely,” a voice interrupted, and she had turned to see Matthew standing there in the night, Triston behind him, listening intently. “More like a half-vampire.”
They’d continued the journey, moving across the border at an unguarded spot in the hills, and then a driver had picked them up and taken them to one of the safe-houses Mauro had set up with his network. Apparently, he had his own group of followers, all committed to his cause. They’d been out searching for Katherine, just like Triston.
Along the way, she’d learned that the ceremony Matthew had been part of in the hidden temples of Central Asia had required a sacrifice for completion—the feeding on an innocent. Realizing he was well on his path to becoming what he’d set out to destroy, he turned on the temple and burned it to the ground before fleeing.
The result was this state of half-vampire, where he could walk in the day and use his senses to track werewolves, but was constantly at risk of losing himself to the darkness within.
So yeah, it was a little hard fully trusting someone that had not only turned to the dark arts as a way of hunting down you and all of your kind, but who could at any minute snap and go full vampire on her.
He glanced her way, and she gave a nod to confirm she’d spotted their targets. Even if he couldn’t fully be trusted, she had no choice but to work with him, for now.
She saw the blue light of his phone as he dialed Mauro, who would be standing by with Triston. The plan was set.
With a deep breath, she steeled her nerves, and then walked out into the open, as if she were moving to a grave nearby to pay her respects.
A movement from the corner of her eye told her that the two men had noticed, and were coming her way. Each step became more forced, and her hands clenched into fists.
Don’t kill them, she told herself. That wasn’t the point of this mission. Her shadow fell long across the grass, and she wished she’d approached them from up the hill, on the east, so the setting sun would’ve given her a hint as to how close they were.
But as it went behind the hills of the North Bay and the shining reflection from the water vanished, her sense of smell picked up and her hearing perked.
They were nearly on her.
Instead of waiting for them to make their move, she ran. Her goal was to get them as far away from the crowd as possible. They were already out of the general area, moving along the decline of the hill the graveyard was set on, and so when she made a sharp right and hit the fence, she felt they were safely out of view.
A snarl sounded behind her, but instead of turning to see the men, she pulled up on the fence, placed her feet against it, and then pushed as she leaped backwards.
It was almost humorous, the look on the two men’s faces as she vaulted over them to land, claws out and sharp teeth bared in a snarl. Her eyes glowed gold, and she could feel strength coursing through her arms and legs as her werewolf energy came like a flood of power.
“Got you,” one of the men said. He took off his suit jacket and tossed it aside as he began to transform—full werewolf mode.
The other started to do the same, but Katherine simply rolled her eyes. “You’re making this too easy,” she said.
With a look of confusion on his half-hairy face, the first paused his transformation and said, “The hell are you talking about?”
She just smiled, and then took a step back so that, as Triston came leaping over the fence, there was room for him and the man to go sprawling across the grass. Not waiting a second longer, Katherine swept the second man’s feet from under him and then landed on top of him with a head-butt that cracked his nose and sent blood gushing.
“I wish you’d keep blood to a minimum,” Matthew said, appearing at their side and gasping for breath. “It’s not necessary, but damn it’s tempting.”
“What the hell?” the man with the broken nose shouted, half trying to fight back, half trying to hold his nose to stop the bleeding.
Triston, meanwhile, had his legs wrapped around the other man, but the man reached behind with clawed fingers and sunk his claws into Triston’s shoulder.
A loud grunt of pain escaped Triston as he too began to transform.
“No need for that,” Matthew said.
The two men, one now nearly fully transformed in Triston’s grip, suddenly stopped resisting.
Matthew had his silver pistol in one hand, a silver blade in the other. “Yeah, I thought that’d get your attention.”
“The hell is this?” the one with the broken nose demanded. “We came for the girl, the rest of you—”
“The rest of us,” Matthew said, “are with the girl. So you have a problem with her, you have a problem with all of us.”
Triston released the hold on the other man and stood, one hand on his fresh wound. He swore and then kicked the man in the face, sending blood and spittle across the grass.
“Do you have any idea who we are?” the man said, turning back to him as he returned to his full human form. “What kind of trouble you’re getting yourselves into?”
“Why do you think we’ve just captured you?” Mauro said, and they all turned to see him standing on the other side of the fence, hands folded behind his back. He wore a suit as well, but with a priest’s collar. “So that we can find out all about the sort of trouble we’re getting ourselves into. After all, we can’t put a stop to it if we don’t fully understand it.”
“You know we’ll never talk,” the bloodied one said, but the blank stare in his eyes showed he was already defeated.
“Oh, I think our friend here might have something to say about that,” Mauro said with a nod to Matthew. “Perhaps you’ve heard of the one they call ‘Hunter’?”
That sent a shiver through the two men, and Katherine couldn’t suppress her smile. She might not fully trust this man, Matthew, but she was glad he was on her side.
FROM JUSTIN >>> This is the second book in my Cursed Night series, and there’s going to be some FUN stuff coming. Big tie-ins to some of my other books, so keep checking in! This book launches March 15, but until then you can grab the preorder for $0.99 (it’ll go up to $3.99 the next day).
Oh, and guess what? The Audiobook for book 1 will be here in MARCH! Get on my mailing list to ensure you don’t miss it (I might even have a couple ARC copies).
The book has vampires, werewolves, and… other stuff. I don’t want to spoil it, so you’ll just have to read. But what can I say? Well, about this intro – you might recall that someone did die in book one 🙁 I know, it’s sad. It’s depressing as hell. BUT it was necessary, and he will forever live on in our memories. Book 2 starts off with that, and how the event kicks off Katherine’s search for the werewolves who have spread to infiltrate society. Yeah, the army of werewolves thing is still a threat, even though the big bad Aldrick is out of the way.
As always, we like to share other books so… Did I share JA Cipriano’s werewolf books yet? Whether I did or not, check it out!
And yes, I wrote that on my nametag.
I was having a great day right up until Justin Bailey, werewolf prince and Grade A Pain-In-My-Ass came barreling into the shop I work at. Then he threw around words like “blood feud,” “sorceress,” and “murderer,” so I couldn’t just kick him out, especially since they all seemed connected to me.
Now the only thing I can do to clear my name is use my magic to help him find the culprit before the council of wolves takes matters into their own hands. If they do, they won’t just kill me, they’ll put the kibosh on anyone who’s ever talked to me.
I guess Uncle Ben was right about that whole responsibility thing.