Sinners in the Dark
(Running in the Dark #2)
Publication date: March 25th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
War is coming between vampires and humans, and the Vampire Nation will stop at nothing to eliminate their enemies.
Former assassin, Echo sees the Nation for what it is – a corrupt organization with its sights set on destroying the Sect, a group formed to eradicate all things vampire.
Now Echo is a Ghost, a traitor of the Vampire Nation, determined to build a new life with the Sect.
But choices he’s made in the past might cost him the one person who could truly redeem his soul.
Give as Good as You Get
Give as Good as You Get
Via crept slowly along the back wall of the seedy motel, keeping her body out of the light. Quietly, she tucked her lucky silver cross in her shirt and reached to her side to pull her queb, a weapon made from wood, from her belt. With her other hand, she palmed her gun and released it from her side. She studied the two hoodlums with intense disdain as they eyed the mom and pop diner. Via knew the owners, and ate there often back when she was a dollar away from being homeless.Gang vampires were a tricky bunch. They often traveled in groups, and more times than not, had two or more lookouts. Via glanced around the back alley in search of anything amiss, but was greeted with nothing. Turning back to the group assembling before her, she noted their clothing; the red and gold shirts of the vamp-bangers told Via two things. First, they were not generals in the gang, but mere henchmen. And second, they were stupid as fuck, as this was their rival’s territory. She’d had many encounters with both gangs, on account of them liking to kidnap and rape women; enjoying their screams as she gutted them like a fish with her queb.
The sound of glass shattering pulled her out of her thoughts. Now would be the time Via should pull her cell from her pocket and dial up her dhampir partner, Echo. Her stomach roiled at the thought, and though Austin believed it a good idea to partner a human with a trusted dhampir, Via wasn’t feeling the love. Using the excuse of having her hands full, she didn’t make the call and inched closer to the opening leading out to the main street. She darted across the street and damn near ninja dove into the window. Once she cleared the glass and debris, she smoothly rolled under the nearest table for cover.
Via was no fool, with vamps’ excellent hearing and sniffers, they’d easily discover her in the café, but she was banking on one thing to help her out. She took a quick peek at the bottom of her queb for reassurance. The stake-like rod was thick as a baton, the tip sharp as a razor’s edge, and it gave a faint glow from the rune placed on it by an enchantress. This particular rune obliterated Via’s human scent. A handy tool when hiding from vamps.
Like with any mission, sanctioned or unsanctioned, Via had a plan: attack, kill, and repeat, until all vamps were dead. Ordinarily, Echo had point and took out the lookouts. His superior vision and hearing had often given him and Via an advantage, but since he wasn’t with her, it’d be like old times.
Vamp number one, who she’d decided to call Lefty, since he was missing his right eye, slid to a halt in front of the broken window. Ambient light from the streetlights filtered into the small café, creating shadows across Lefty’s perplexed face. Via inched her gun up—loaded with silver nitrate bullets—and readied her queb just as the pale faced vamp turned. The first shot rang out like an explosion in the night. Seared flesh, blood, and pieces of Lefty’s remaining eye showered around Via.
Standing to take care of the second vamp sliding around the corner, she lost her balance in the blood and fell to the floor. In a second, she made the choice to drop the queb, and aim the weapon. To her surprise, instead of one vampire, there were now three. These were more than some run-of-the-mill gangbangers, breaking and entering. The one she’d aptly named Blue, for his intense electric blue eyes, held a few boxes in his hand, and not one of them had made their way to the cash register, or the wall safe.
Blue’s eyes widened at the sight of her. “Hey, baby.” His voice held a sickening slimy quality. He handed the boxes to Tyson, who she’d named Mike Tyson since they both had those stupid matching face tattoos. “Did you come to play?” Licking his lips, his eyes did a perusal of her body, taking time to linger on her breasts.
Slowly, Via stood and placed her empty hand on her hip while keeping her gun aimed. “Stop, in the name of the law.” None of the vamps spoke. The silence filled the room and Via tensed. Okay, so these guys didn’t like her joke.
The three vamps, Blue, Tyson and Shit Eater—no explanation for nickname needed—stared at her longer, before there was a blur of movement, and one of the three stooges knocked the gun from her hands. Next came a gut-crushing blow to her stomach. Bile rose in her throat as she hit the ground.
If Via lived to tell this story, she would say that in seconds she was up again ready and raring to take on the vamps—which would be a lie. Those who had called her hardheaded would be happy to know that too was a lie because as her skull hit the floor with a deafening crack. Via’s body refused to listen to her command to get the fuck up. Even with skill such as Via’s, taking on three vamps in the middle of the night, with no damned back up, was something akin to suicide.
After closing the door behind him, Echo removed the Aris Rock from his pocket. He gently laid the cloth-covered stone on the nightstand and walked to the window. Spring was coming, but winter frost still freshened the air. Seasons changed, yet he and his brother would always remain the same. Each one settled in the past, allowing it to dictate their actions.
His brother knew where he lived and had made the first move. He wondered how long Vasily had known he was in the States. While he didn’t trust Vasily, he would uphold the war custom made famous in Russia by his father. The Aris Rock was to be placed in a scrap of cloth once worn by the former king then tied with the new king’s cloth. It was a message, a warning, and a question all in one.
Via entered the room, tugging Echo from his thoughts. “You okay?”
The sincerity in her voice caught him by surprise, and Echo turned from the window to face her. A slick sheen of sweat laced her skin and her knuckles were bruised and bleeding. “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” He watched her. Waiting. She was a bit out of breath and the entire package—breasts heaving, glistening skin, and sexy smirk—made him want to touch her. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you panting?” He turned around completely, allowing himself to take her all in.
She smiled. “Your friends didn’t think I should come and talk to you.”
He gave her a devilish grin. “And you thought differently, of course.” She was a pain in the ass, and he was realizing he was appreciative of her presence.
She meandered over to the bed and hopped onto it. “When have I ever been agreeable?”
He raised a brow. “Shit, never. So . . .” Echo walked over to the bed in front of her. He watched her before a sly smile graced his lips. Leaning in, he made sure to be eye level with her as he spoke. “You’re worried about me.”
Surprise flitted across her face. “You aren’t the type who needs someone worrying about you.” Her voice had softened to a low, delicate purr. So much unlike the angry growls he’d been used to hearing from her.
Echo placed a hand over hers and stroked her soft skin. Goosebumps broke out across her flesh. Unable to look her in the eye he said, “I’m not too sure about that sometimes.”
A frown fell across her lips. “No, I’ll never believe ‘Mister needs no one’ would need me to worry over him.” She laughed, but Echo didn’t see the humor.
He’d spent the first few years of his life, as the youngest son of King Alexeevich, with at least four royal guards around him, and his mother had never left his side. But when exiled as a young adult, he’d learned his new life would be one of isolation. He’d steeled himself to that truth, but it was in fact a lie. “Maybe you can change me; maybe you can be my shoulder to lean on?”
He pulled his hands from her and shoved them into his pockets. Her skin felt too soft, too warm and much too inviting. He desired to touch her, and not just because she was beautiful. Her warm skin would ground him and make him feel alive, when most of the time he walked around in his own dark miasma, an infectious power pilfering and burning away everything good in his life. He’d created it, and she’d seen through it. He’d thought no one had that ability until he met her.
Via raced to the door at the sound of the doorbell. She opened it to a tall, tanned man wearing a pair of sunglasses and a leather coat. With his cell phone glued to his ear, he spoke in a low, soothing tone to the person on the other line. She could tell he, too, was from an Eastern European country, only his accent was much lighter than Echo’s. Though he was probably a friend, Via was taking no chances.
She cocked her head to the side and gripped her blade. “Who are you?”
He took her in, eyeing her with curiosity, yet didn’t answer. “Baby, I’ll call you back. I’m here and I’m safe. Stop worrying so much. Yes, I love you too.” He hung up the phone and stuck it in his back pocket. Leaning against the doorjamb, he pushed his sunglasses up onto his head. “You the bouncer here?” Laughter danced in his eyes, but Via wasn’t playing.
“Yup. What’s your name, so I can see if it’s on my list?” She set a hand on her hip.
The man burst into laughter. “The name’s Trace. May I please come in?”
Just as Via opened her mouth to speak, Luca interrupted her. “Eh, Trace, get in here, man.” Luca held a sandwich in one hand and his pistol in the other. He pointed to Via with a free finger. “She’s such a hardass! Nearly kicked me in the nuts when I wouldn’t let her upstairs to bug Echo.” He snickered when she narrowed her eyes at him.
“No,” she drew out the word, “as I recall it, I did kick you in the balls.” As per normal, both men ignored her.
Trace entered and threw his bag by the door. “So, this is the new place?” He looked around, a frown marring his face. “I’m used to the little bachelor pad in Florida.” Via’s ears perked up at the possible mention of Echo’s exploits. “This is too much damned space.” Removing his phone from his pocket, Trace glanced at the screen.
Luca plopped down on the couch. “Ever since you got married, whenever you aren’t with your wife, you’re texting her on that damn phone.”
Via sat on the arm of the couch, next to Luca. “Jealous much?”
Luca shot his hand out, pushing Via off the couch. She hit the floor with a hard plop.
“Ahh! Asshole.” Just before she went to pull her knife from her shoe and slice his annoying ass up, another knock at the door grabbed her attention, and she looked up sharply. Exasperated, she groaned. “What is this, Grand Central Station?”
Trace pulled his gun from his waistband and quickly strode to the door. Echo had told her his brother would follow tradition and not contact him again until their meeting, but Luca and Trace appeared to feel differently. Via agreed. Better safe than sorry.
Luca aimed his weapon at the door as Trace opened it slightly; peeking out, he moved back and opened the door wide. “Long time no see,” he said, as Irish and the wolf charmer walked through the door.
The woman was extremely beautiful. Via had never seen a woman so tall and thin in her life. She made a mental note to ask Echo about wolf charmers’ physical traits. Personally, she had no clue how they’d stayed hidden for so long.
Irish escorted Ophelia to the living room sofa where she sat down, crossing one leg over the other and placing her hands atop her lap. She appeared so regal, Via was tempted to bow to her. Ophelia glanced in Via’s direction, and a smile curled the corner of her lips. “Nice to see you again. I’d like to thank you and your husband for helping us.”
Via almost lost herself in her soft, whimsical voice until she realized what Ophelia had said. “What? Oh God, no. We aren’t married.” She cleared her throat. Everyone stared at her as if she’d grown two heads. Why are they looking at me like that?
Ophelia removed the fur hood, revealing a full head of silver-gray hair. “How is it that you live together but aren’t married?” Shock filled her voice. Ophelia’s face reddened, and her hand flew to her mouth. “How presumptuous of me.” She hung her head in shame. “I didn’t mean to assume you lived together. I just . . . Mr. Irish said . . .”
Via had a hard time believing Moon Sister Ophelia and her people would be any use against Vasily if they broke down as easily as she did; yet as she watched her, Via sensed latent power rumbling beneath her skin. Her long legs were honed and lean, and her gaze held strength.
Via knelt beside her. She smelled of rich earth and fallen leaves. “It’s okay, you haven’t offended me. Why did you think Echo and I were married?” It was an odd assumption to make about two people she’d just met.
Ophelia cleared her throat. “I can read feelings, so . . . I know how you two feel about each other,” she whispered. Leaning back, she pulled an orange stone from her pocket and palmed it.
YEARS AND YEARS – TAKE SHELTER
YEARS AND YEARS – WORSHIP
DEFTONES – PRAYERS/TRIANGELS
ALLMAN BROWN – ANCIENT LIGHT
AMY LEE – WITH OR WITHOUT YOU
RACHEL TAYLOR - SILENCE LOOKS GOOD ON YOU
ENIGMA - GRAVITY OF LOVE
KALEIDA - THINK
BASTILLE – LAUGHTER LINES
ANGEL HAZE & SIA – BATTLE CRY
She lives in Virginia Beach with her overweight lap cat, Max and her tree hugging boyfriend Joshua.
She spends 90 percent of her time in Barnes and Noble and the other ten pretending not to want to be in Barnes and Noble.
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