This Sample is from the first installment of a new paranormal romance series called “Fanged Love.” “Fanged Destiny (Fanged Love #1) will be released late Spring 2013.
“Grace, stop daydreaming.” Nathan appeared over my right shoulder. His clothes smelled like weed. T slid into the chair next to me, near the windows, grinning like an idiot. Both of them were high. In the past, I couldn’t tell when Nathan was stoned. I instantly knew now, but I didn’t care. It didn’t matter anymore. Others couldn’t tell, but I could. Maybe the weed didn’t work on him the way it once did, or maybe Nathan was interested in other ways to get his kicks like using a knife to slice up his girlfriend. With T, it was obvious to everyone around. He thought if Nathan got high with him, they were best buddies again. After hearing Nathan say that T would be a sacrifice for some ceremony, it was evident what T’s future was. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
I elected to ignore them, pretending I was still focusing on the goings-on outside. A very handsome man briefly caught my dazed attention as he passed by and I heard myself make a quick, soft gasp. Who’s that? I thought.
“What do you think is wrong with her tonight?”
I heard Nathan sigh at T’s question. “I don’t know, but I don’t have time for this shit. Will you get her attention please?”
I knew to expect a flood of renewed pain before the blow came. It was T’s way of showing he had the upper hand, not me. He couldn’t lightly tap me on the shoulder or wave his hand in my direction. He had to be a smartass and punch me in the stomach. He had to remind me he was Nathan’s second in command, not me. He prided himself on the fact, that he had assumed my place in the group. Poor T. It was only a matter of time for him too.
Even though the pain radiated down my legs and up my arms, I managed to grit my teeth, swallowing hard, and remained conscious. I didn’t want Nathan to know he was selling off damaged goods. The multiple stab wounds I had given myself earlier in the day were deep. I had wrapped several wide strips of cloth around my waist to hide the bleeding. It was probably starting to show. Hoping knife wounds were as difficult to die from as being shot in the stomach, I was fairly certain it would take me between 16 to 24 hours to die, maybe less if I was lucky. I had hatched my death plan after I ended the call with Nathan. He forgot I could still read his thoughts, even over telephone lines. I knew he wanted to sell me off to the Stephanie chic for a meager five thousand dollars. Was that all I was worth? If I died in the bar and others saw me there lifeless, unconscious in front of these two jerks surely they’d call the police, surely someone would stop Nathan at some point. Hell, they could arrest him for carrying pot if nothing else. Wasn’t that illegal in the state of California?
Granted I realized after I had shoved the knife into my stomach the fifth time, it was a stupid idea. I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly. I probably was distraught, or I just panicked. That’s the appropriate word. I panicked. It was Nathan’s knife, the one he had used on me that night when he had sliced me up in front of his friends. I didn’t think to bring it with me. I could have planted it on him. Well like I said, I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly.
“Hey friend, did I just see you punch that lady in the stomach? What’s wrong with you?”
I didn’t recognize the man’s voice. Then I heard T reply, “Keep walking, GQ. This doesn’t concern you.”
Suddenly the tall man yanked a chair from the adjoining table and plopped down next to T. Sitting across from him, I admired the view. This stranger was the man I had seen pass by the window a few moments ago. He took my breath away. Casually I took inventory of his assets: dark blue jeans, light gray leather jacket, dark T-shirt, light blonde highlights scattered through his dark blonde hair, chiseled face, strong jaw, and amazing blue eyes, the color of sapphires. His clothes appeared to have been tailor-made to fit his exquisite physique. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Now that’s what a knight in shining armor should look like, I decided.
As if he could hear my declaration, he gave me a devastating smile. My heart fluttered. Before I could stop myself, a stupid notion flew into my head. I wanted to live. I wanted to grab this stranger’s hand and run away with him. I didn’t care anymore. Where was he from? He had to be some actor from Los Angeles, visiting San Francisco for the weekend. He looked like he had walked off a movie set.
I recognized that all three guys were staring at me. A smirk settled on the stranger’s face while Nathan and T both glared at me. It was then I realized I had been panting while I gazed at the stranger, panting like a dog. Oh how embarrassing!
“A woman who knows what she wants when she sees it.” The stranger lifted a cigarette to his lips and lit it.
“There’s no smoking in her,” Nathan whined.
The stranger glanced at Nathan and then returned his attention to me. He inhaled deeply and blew cigarette smoke in both guys’ direction.
The smoke sent Nathan into a coughing fit because he was allergic, he said, to any type of smoke.
Slightly I smiled.
“You don’t remember sending for me?” the stranger asked me.
Nathan and T both stopped watching the stranger and turned around to glare at me some more. “What?” Nathan bellowed. “What is he talking about Grace? I told you…”
“I didn’t send for anyone!” I corrected the stranger, knowing Nathan’s threat from earlier could become a reality. I didn’t want this guy to lose his life as a result of a misunderstanding.
“Then why did you hurt yourself?” the stranger retaliated as he extinguished his smoke in Nathan’s remaining beer.
“I’ll kill this son-of-a-bitch,” Nathan said and started to stand up from the table.
“No, no! We don’t have to do anything like that. Nathan, this guy is confused.” I pushed myself to a standing position. A sharp cramp hit me and I froze. “Clearly, clearly confused,” I added weakly. I fell into my chair. Wrapping my arms around my stomach, I rocked my body. If I could calm myself, I would forget the pain. Don’t focus on it, I thought. Forget it. Forget the pain. Forget it, I repeated over and over to myself. I chewed on my lip, hoping to hide my discomfort.
“Grace, I don’t have a lot of time. We need to get going.” The stranger’s voice was music to my ears. He studied me, waiting for a sign of objection.
Can he see that I need his help, I wondered. “Who are you?” I whispered. From out of nowhere, a jolt of energy hit me.
The man’s eyes were as dark and powerful as he was. I probably lost all memory of my relationship with Nathan at that exact moment. I forgot the wounds pulsating in my stomach. Without warning, I felt nothing. I was weightless, free, drifting away. Was the stranger my way out? As I stared at him, I placed my hand over my mouth to close it shut, or to think, or just to buy time. Who are you? I thought.
Nathan erupted, “Grace, what have you done? You idiot! You’re bleeding!”
Startled by his yell, I removed my hand from my face and let it fall. I jerked involuntarily at the thud as it hit the table. The palm of my hand was covered in blood, my blood. Fear seized me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t exhale. I couldn’t do anything. Nathan would surely kill this man. I had to do something! But I couldn’t. I stared blankly at my hand. Either I was having a panic attack or I was truly dying. Gazing at the dark reddish color of my blood, I lost all rational thought. What have I done?
Chapter 4 (partial)
A few minutes passed. Maybe more. My eyes flew open. Nathan and T sat, hunched over each other at the table. They look like they were lovers, having just fallen asleep in each other arms. The stranger sat by them finishing a cigarette.
“What did you do to them?” I asked.
His very tan and well-manicured hand reached out and grabbed mine. He placed a white linen handkerchief in my hand and proceeded to wipe away the blood on my hand. He dabbed it a few times in T’s beer and gently cleaned the blood from my face. The cold liquid instantly revived me. Or was it his touch? A fleeting thought flew through my mind.
“Always worried about others? It’s a fine trait to have if it doesn’t get you in trouble,” he said.
“Are they dead?”
“No, they’re just sleeping. Don’t worry.”
“I don’t believe you. You killed them!”
“No, no, of course not. Here.” The stranger grabbed Nathan’s limp arm and flopped it on the table. “Feel his pulse. It’s still there.”
Pausing for a moment, I did feel a rabid heart beat pulsing under Nathan’s clammy skin.
“You, on the other hand, you’re dying. You realize that, don’t you?”
I shrugged my shoulders. Giving up was my best option, I thought. “So,” I said decisively.
He smiled at me again. A low chuckle rumbled in his throat.
Quickly I glanced away, hoping to not get distracted again by his beauty. But if this was the last thing I saw on Earth, this gorgeous man, what was wrong with that?
“I like your optimism,” the stranger spoke up.
“Did I say that aloud?”
“No, I can hear your thoughts. As an Angel of Death, I can hear mortals’ thoughts.” His dark blue eyes fixed on me, intensely, almost seductively.
I gasped. The room started to spin.
“You sent for me, Grace,” Death replied. “It’s time we get going. Okay? You’re not safe here.”
I gripped the sides of the table to steady myself and muttered something about not wanting to leave Nathan, that I wasn’t ready, that I didn’t fully understand his request, that I was too young to die, and that I was fine to stay here. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t process what this man was saying to me. Was he really who he said he was?
He leaned in closer and whispered to me, “Don’t faint, Grace. Don’t. It’s best if we don’t make a scene here in the bar. However…” His hand delicately rubbed the inside of my throat. “I can carry you if it comes to that. Is that fine?”
I nodded without knowing what it meant. I just nodded. If he truly was the Angel of Death, why not go with him?
“Let me make a quick call and we’ll go, okay?”
Again I simply nodded. I was unable to form any words of objection.
“Ra, it looks like we may have a sighting at a bar called the Golden Skull in California. You know the place? Okay, good deal. I’ve got some errands to run, so call me if you or the others find her. Okay?” He paused for a moment, listening to the other person on the line. Then he continued. “Okay. Got it. Oh, and if you see Gab, tell him I’ve got two guys for containment. I’ll drop them off at the police station. By the way they smell, I’m guessing they’re big time potheads.”
Copyright 2012 Ally Thomas