Tuesday Teaser with J. A. Campbell

Ack! so a little late today.  And a bonus since I didn’t post anything on Friday. Today will have two teasers. One is a short one from the upcomming Senior Year Bites 🙂 And the other is a longer scene from Shattered Days. This is one that probably won’t be published, it also isn’t heavily edited and I wrote it a while ago, so there may be typos.

~~~

I bent, putting the girl on the ground and stood. Cold hands closed around my arms—fingers crushing muscle to bone. I cried out as teeth tore into my shoulder. Rage enveloped me and I thrashed, immobilized, unable to see my attacker.

The thing holding me screamed in pain and flung me into the air. I crashed into one of the stacks of pallets. They splintered around me, digging into my back, piercing my arm and scraping my bare skin. I felt a momentary surge of panic but nothing pierced my heart, and though I didn’t know if that legend was correct or not, I didn’t want to find out the hard way.

Blood soaked my shirt while I lay there. Pain ripped through me when I shifted my body. I tried not to move, hoping Alexander would be able to help me, hoping that the cold iron knife would scare off the evil fairy and we could go home safe and sound.

~~~

Shattered Days

Leaving the Kids with Judas was one of the harder things I’d done recently, but I wanted him there so I could keep track of them through our mental link.  I could have taken everyone, but I was soon going to have enough to keep track of.  Dix, Oaks and several others, including some family members were holed up at the library, which was of course on the far side of town.  There were a lot of people at the library.  Most of them were getting killed.

Dix and Oaks had set the library as a gathering point with as many of the team as they could get a hold of.  None of them were willing to leave family unguarded and everyone, including family knew where the library was.  Unfortunately it was also under heavy attack.  It hadn’t been open when the chaos had started, but it was now as people had fled to the safety of the book stacks.  Now it was a hunting ground.

I dragged Cade along as fast as he could go, praying we’d be quick enough.  We couldn’t save them all, as I’d told Jin, but I could try and save as many as possible and I was more than happy to start with people I knew wouldn’t just roll over and die at a later date.  I wasn’t interested in saving sheep.

I dodged an explosion, almost pulling Cade off his feet.  I glanced at him.  He was sweating in the hot Charleston night, his expression was shocked, wide-eyed, but grim at the same time.  I knew he wouldn’t fail in a fight and I knew he’d have my back.  That was comforting.  I also knew I was close to dislocating his arm.

Cade wasn’t complaining but he gave me a grateful look when I slowed my pace.  I squeezed his hand but didn’t drop it.  We needed to stay together and we needed to move fast and the only way we were going to do that is if I dragged him along at speeds normal humans couldn’t run.  Hell, I wasn’t even sure if a Hunter could match the speed I was dragging Cade along at, not without help anyway.  I don’t think a human would have made it.

I was ignoring the screams, the burning, the death, the smell of blood and charred meat.  I was ignoring the challenges I received as I ran, other vampires looking for a fight.  I ignored a lot of things while I ran, intent on my goal.

Cade was out of breath when we reached the library.  Surprisingly the modern building was intact, at least on the outside.  I could see lights flicker on the inside, shadows flash past windows, screams, breaking glass.  The smell of blood, stronger here, was threatening to overwhelm me.  Damn but I was hungry.

Cade gave me a wary look before tugging me towards the library.

“Are you ok?”

I nodded.  “I’m fine, just very hungry.”

Cade shook his head.  “As much as I, uh, respect your general eating habits, you really shouldn’t starve yourself.”

I shook my head.  “Not much I can do about it Cade.  At least not right now.”

“Right.  Well, let’s go save the day.”

“They are supposed to be in the fiction section.”

“Great.  Know which genre?”

I shrugged, “Crime thrillers?”

Cade groaned.

I laughed and started jogging towards the building.

“Ok, next question.  Do you know where the fiction section is?”

“Not a clue.”

“Great.”

“We’ll find them.  I can sense Dixon.”  I stopped by the front door, peering through the shattered doors.  There was no one directly visible, but I could sense several humans around the corner, fear coming off of them in almost visible waves, intoxicating in its strength.  I took a deep breath trying to focus.

“Does he know this?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Can you sense me?”

“Yes.”

Cade did not seem comforted by this.

“I know you fairly well Cade, I’ve tasted your blood, I’ve saved your life several times.  That makes it easier.”

“Oh.”

Something exploded out on the street behind us, sending a wave of hot, dry air rolling over us.

“Come on.”

“Right.”

I dashed across the open doorway, hoping we didn’t attract attention.  Someone shouted, someone else screamed and I ran up the stairs leaving crashing and blood curdling cries in my wake.

“Damn,” Cade said softly as we reached the second level.

There were bodies everywhere, draped over chairs, tossed into toppled bookshelves, blood soaking into the pages of the books, filling the room with a heady scent.  Damn it, this was so not good.  I clenched my fists, taking shallow breaths.

“Kat?”

“I’m fine,” I said through clenched teeth.

“Right.”

I glanced at him, more of a glare.  Cade held his hands out to the side.

“Unless you’re prepared to do something about it, leave me alone.”

Cade blinked.  “Sorry Kat.”  He glanced around.  “I don’t think it’s safe here.”

I sighed.  I knew that.  “Come on, they’re over here.”

Cade bravely followed me into the blood soaked room and ran into my back when the lights flickered and died.  That brought me closer to loosing control of myself than I had been in many years.  I turned, grabbing Cade’s arms before I could stop myself, the physical contact eroding my will power.

Cade tensed and for the second time in my life he shoved a gun in my face.  Firelight from the burning buildings around us provided the only illumination, light shining off the barrel of his gun, dancing across his face, flickering in his eyes.  I ignored the gun and met his eyes.

“Are you ok?” he asked again.

I shut my eyes and nodded.  “I’m sorry Cade.  Just, try not to touch me.”

“You’re the one with the death grip on my arms Kat.”

I forced myself to let go.  Cade lowered his gun.  “You can have my blood, but only if you’re in control of yourself,” he whispered, almost as if he wasn’t really believing that he was saying it.

“Thanks.  Now is definitely not a good time.”

He almost laughed, but it came out more as a strangled choke.

We went further into the room towards what I assumed was the fiction section.

A shot rang out.  Cade and I reflexively ducked behind a counter.

Something yelped, someone else swore.  Damn.  I’d been concentrating on finding Dix and hadn’t paid enough attention to whatever else was around.  Of course my hunger and the large amount of blood wasn’t helping.

“Don’t shoot us!” I yelled.

“Kat!”

“Dix, Cade and I are here.”

A wolf howled.  Several more yipped happily.  That didn’t fill me with warm fuzzies.  I didn’t want were creatures happy to see me as a general rule.

Cade looked at me.  I shrugged.

“There are several wolves and I think at least one vampire.  How they’ve held them off so far I’m not sure,” I said quietly.

“Unless they knew you’d come for your boyfriend.”

I sighed.  “Unfortunately that is a possibility.”  I considered for a moment, before drawing my sword from across my back.  “Cade, why don’t you cover me.”

“Kat…”

“Look, we can’t risk hitting anyone friendly and the wolves are between us.  I can take them but I need you to stay out of my way and watch my back.”

“Even as hungry as you are?”

I nodded.  “That almost makes it easier.  Of course I’m hoping that none of Oaks’s people shoot me once I kill the weres but, well I guess that’s a chance I have to take.”

“Ok.  Be careful.  I don’t want to have to explain to Judas how you got yourself killed.”

I smiled.  “No, you don’t want that job.  I’ll make sure you don’t have it.”

I stood and vaulted over the counter, sauntering towards the were creatures.

“Well, well, the famous, or should I say infamous Ekatarine, vampire slayer.  Or is it murder when you’re killing your own kind?” a quiet, cultured, male voice said.  He was an older vampire, old enough to have achieved some power, some influence, but not old enough that I was afraid of fighting him, though he seemed oddly familiar.

I showed my teeth.  “Well, I suppose when I’m the one making the rules it doesn’t really matter what it’s called.”  I continued to saunter, holding my short sword ready.

“We will see who is making the rules here.”

I laughed and dodged to the side as a were charged me from behind.  I spun, sword connecting with the were’s midsection, spilling her intestines.  She cried in pain and I swung again, removing her head from her shoulders and ending her pain.

I stalked forward, eyeing the remaining were creatures.  Between them and the vampire there were more than enough of them to take the cops, guns and all.  They must have been waiting for me.

“I take it you’ve been waiting for me?”

I could hear a couple of Oaks’s people mutter when I said that and I could imagine several other things had caught their attention as well.  They were hiding back in the stacks and I didn’t have time to see how many there were.

The other vampire laughed.  “Of course.  I’ve heard you’re good in a fight, but I wished to see for myself.  I thought perhaps if you lived up to expectations, you could be one of my lieutenants.”

“Right, because I’d work for someone else.”  I danced forward and took a swipe at the wolf in front of me, but it was a halfhearted attack and the creature dodged it easily, grinning at me.  I smiled back.

Normally I didn’t go in for the chatter and posturing before a fight but right now information was important and if I could get anything useful putting up with the banter would be worth it.

“I wasn’t planning on giving you a choice.”  The vampire’s image in front of me blurred and only Cade’s shout let me dodge in time as the vampire rushed at me from behind.

I’d seen another vampire do that before and wondered if Donovan had learned it from this vampire who’s name I still couldn’t remember but I was sure I knew him.

I growled and stabbed out with my sword, but there was nothing there.  Damn it anyway.  Apparently talk was over, the were’s converged.

“Kat!” Cade shouted, sounding semi panicked.

Unfortunately I had my hands full with the four weres surrounding me.  Shots rang out but nothing seemed to connect with anyone, at least that I could tell.  I let the last vestiges of humanity go, it had no place in this fight.  I dropped my shields, and let my aura mingle with the weres’s auras, tickling them, enraging them, confusing their senses, making their hearts race in fear.  After that it was just a quick clean up as I danced through the wolves, making short work of separating their confused minds from their shoulders.

I spun, crouching, remembering Cade’s panicked shout and was almost amused at what I saw.  The vampire was holding Cade up by his collar, obviously intending to threaten either him or me but both he and Cade were staring at me, jaws dropped in amazement.

I laughed and sauntered forward, sword held casually ready.

The vampire’s eyes went wide and he dropped Cade, almost throwing him at me, and ran.  I paused just long enough to make sure Cade was ok before taking off after him.  That bastard would not escape.

I finally cornered the bastard in the children’s section.  He stopped running and turned to face me, trying again to confuse my senses but with my shields dropped and my aura wide open there was no way he could succeed.  I grinned.  He paled.

*          *            *

I had managed to rebuild my shields by the time I made it back to the fiction section.  I paused just out of sight, listening.

“No, really we should wait for Kat to get back,” Cade was saying.

“But she’s one of those things! And, well… damn,” someone, I thought it was Eileen was saying.

“No shit, and she’s the only way we’re going to get to safety alive.”

“Dix, aren’t you dating her?” Eileen asked after a short pause.

“Uh, yeah.”  He sounded a little in shock.  I guess I didn’t blame him.

I let my aura flair a little, warning Cade I was coming before I wandered around the corner, trying to be my normal, meek self.  Not that I was every really meek, but in comparison.

Cade glanced at me and paled a little but he forced a smile.

“You alright?”

“Of course.  Come on, we need to get out of here.”

Everyone, including Dix, stared at me.

“What?”  I guess it could be that I was covered in blood, but somehow I thought that wasn’t the only issue.

“Umm…”

I rolled my eyes and walked over to Cade, hoping he wouldn’t flinch away.  That might make it a little harder to get them out of here.  I could feel Cade tense but he didn’t visibly react to my closer proximity.

“Relax,” I whispered.  “I’m not hungry anymore.”

Cade burst out laughing.  “Damn it Kat, you never cease to amaze me.”

I smiled, not bothering to hide my fangs anymore.  “Good.”

Dix came over, trying not to be hesitant and mostly succeeding.  I slid my arm around his waist and squeezed gently.

“Are you ok?” I asked.

“Yeah.  Thanks for coming for us.”

“Of course.  Let’s get out of here.”

Dix nodded.

After that it wasn’t too hard to convince them to follow me out.  Of course I didn’t tell them until after we were all safely inside that I was taking them to a vampire hang out.

*          *            *

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