Sandra ran through the corpses of the slaughtered, her heart hardened to yet another conquered village. She had thought she’d enjoy witnessing one more conquest in the Blessed’s gradual move to the coast. During training, she had listened with fascination to the stories, always amazed by their courage. They had come this far from Old Paris, and had managed to take down or absorb into the Duke’s kingdom every group they found in the barren and forsaken lands.
The dying lands.
None of that mattered right now, because if Sandra didn’t find her Mistress—her Valerie—it would be her head.
No, that wasn’t what Valerie had said. It would be her heart. On a platter, served cold for Valerie’s other servants to consume while she watched.
Part of that threat terrified Sandra, but part of it made her laugh. Sure, she’d seen the darker side of her Mistress. But they’d also spent evenings together staring out over the wasteland that had once been known as Paris… the toppled Eiffel Tower and lines of abandoned cars, all the while wondering what the days had been like before the collapse of civilization.
They’d talked, they’d laughed, and they’d touched. Her Mistress’s hand had found hers, and then her lips, gentle, yet firm. A kiss, given in friendship, and maybe something more?
It had never happened again, and Sandra had been sworn to secrecy. But… it was enough to make her doubt Valerie would ever cause her any real harm.
So yes, fear drove her in this search. But more than that, it was loyalty. The deepest love for a friend one could have, especially when said ‘friend’ was a vampire princess and one’s supposedly ruthless Mistress.
The feeding contributed to the loyalty, she couldn’t ignore that, of course. The taste of Valerie’s blood when she offered it wasn’t what Sandra would call sweet, but it flowed through her, making her feel younger, healthier, and in complete bliss.
The only problem was that it was addictive as hell.
She reached the top of the pile of rubble and, in the distance, saw the rays of sun peeking out over the trees. The other Blessed, as the father of them all had titled his Clan, were pulling back to the cover of darkness. The father, Le Duc Eckhart, was simply referred to as the Duke, his French title from the old days.
That had been before he’d gone into hibernation and slept right through the end of days, or the “Second Falling of Rome,” as he called it. Now, he orchestrated the attacks and insisted on war camps set up at a retreat point, guarded by loyal Weres during the day. A raid would occur, then Eckhart’s children and their children would retreat during the light of day while his other troops cleaned up and established another outpost in his name.
Even the Duke couldn’t survive in sunlight, which meant Valerie definitely could not. Being a non-modified human meant Sandra could, but it didn’t matter. She’d either die here searching for her Mistress, or be torn to pieces by the Duke’s men when she returned without her.
“Valerie,” she called out in a hoarse whisper, her voice overused from calling out her name. One minute Valerie had been at the front lines, charging in to attack with Donovan, and the next she’d wandered off.
As the sky brightened, shadows crept along the road. One of them moved.
Sandra refused to get her hopes up, figuring it was simply a forgotten victim, but then she saw the eyes—red, glimmering, searching.
In the flash that it took her legs to carry her to her Mistress, Sandra was kneeling beside Valerie. She gasped in shock at the sight of her master. In the past, Valerie had returned home with gunshots, Werewolf bites, and worse… but nothing like this. The beating she must have taken to be in this state was unheard of.
Then it hit her. No human could have done this to her Mistress.
“Who betrayed you?” Sandra asked, hands shaking in anger. “I’m sorry I couldn’t find you earlier, I searched, but…where’d you go?”
Valerie almost smiled, but the tears of blood running down her cheeks gave her away. Her mouth opened, but no words came out.
“We have to get you out of the sun,” Sandra said, and then bent down to help her up.
But the movement sent a spasm through Valerie and she screamed in pain.
Again, Sandra glanced at the horizon. The thick, billowing clouds were orange now with highlights of purple, and the tip of the sun was barely visible.
“Drink, Mistress,” she said, holding out her wrist for Valerie. “It’s the only way.”
Valerie stared up at the human. Her servant, yet so much more. There was no way around it. If she hoped to survive long enough to escape the sunlight and one day truly bring justice about, this was the way.
Seemingly every bone in her body snapped and cracked as she tried to lean forward for the bite, but the pain caused her to collapse in agony.
“Please,” she whispered, the words barely escaping her mouth. This was humiliation unheard of. Valerie, the vampire princess, stooping to such lows.
But to not do so meant Donovan won, and that she would not allow.
“Please,” she said again, and this time Sandra heard her, judging by the look of shock in her eyes.
Without hesitation, Sandra pressed her wrist to Valerie’s mouth, flinching only slightly when the fangs pierced her skin.
Warm blood flowed forth and it tasted of life—sweet, aromatic, and soothing. At first, Valerie felt she would close her eyes and just sleep forever, but then a surge of energy and power came over her. She knew that nothing could ever stand in her way.
Skin pulled itself back together and she felt her bones mending themselves. She licked her lips and drank more, closing her eyes in ecstasy and then focusing on the warmth of the blood as it filled her and nursed her back to life.
A soft moan. She looked up, seeing how pale Sandra had become in a matter of seconds, and noticed something else—sunlight forming a halo around her servant’s head. The sunrise had found them.
With one last, sensual lick, Valerie pulled herself back from Sandra’s wrist and told her, “I am forever in your debt.”
Sandra collapsed beside her, falling into the shadows and out of the sun’s path.
Valerie tested her strength and was glad to see it returning. The pain was there, refusing to let her forget as she continued to feel bones mending, and muscles re-attaching. But it was bearable. She put an arm around her servant, and then, spotting a building still mostly intact, dragged herself and Sandra through shadows until they were safely inside.
“The others,” Sandra managed as they leaned against the inside wall, recuperating. “Your father won’t like that we’re not with them.”
Valerie’s eyes flashed red, “My father can kiss my vampiric ass, as long as he doesn’t suck any blood from it.”
Sandra turned with a jolt. Nobody talked of the Duke that way.
Valerie painfully held up a hand to stop whatever Sandra might say, finality in her voice. “We’re not going back. Ever.”
“Then, we’re no better than Forsaken,” Sandra said. “On the run, hunted. I—”
“You’ll do as you’re told,” Valerie said, then glanced at the younger woman’s wrist and cringed, thinking of her honor. “That is, if you’re willing. I cannot force you to make this journey with me.”
Sandra’s eyes went wide at the offer, but then she nodded.
She wasn’t leaving her Mistress’s side.
“What is the plan, Mistress?”
“We get to America before Donovan and his people, set up a base of defense, and see to it that my brother’s journey across the ocean will be his last.”
FROM JUSTIN >>> I’m so excited to share this snippet, because not only do I get to show you how we go into Sandra’s POV – Valerie’s servant. As I write, Sandra has become one of the most awesome characters (next to Valerie, of course). But she’s human, so that makes her badass-ness unique, and I dig that about her.
And then comes the part with Valerie again, the end of the first chapter, and the start of why this book is named Justice is Calling. Thoughts so far? Guesses on what happens next?
You can also get the snippets (1-4) on your e-Reader by grabbing the sneak peek over at Instafreebie.
And as always with these snippets, we want to highlight another indie author we think you’ll enjoy. Today I saw that one of Michael Anderle’s readers wanted more fiction with awesome women kicking butt. So, while it’s fifty-fifty with a guy and gal, I have to tell you about one of my FAVORITES.
THE ZANE HALLOWAY SERIES
Author PT Hylton developed an awesome, butt-kicking character with his Lilly character. Is she who the series is named after? No, but… maybe she should have been? She plays a very large role, and I think she has as much ‘screen time’ as Zane.
The book has assassins and a cool magic system, but also has elves. Why do I make a big deal about elves? Well, because in Hylton’s book the elves KIND OF feel like vampires. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean. Haha! Now you have to.
But don’t worry, you’ll enjoy every last bit of Hylton’s books.
P.S. – PT Hylton is also a really cool dude. I emailed him after reading his books and he was super friendly. Yay for friendly authors!