Chapter One

July 1, 2013

Elder Antonio Farrar, the closest person I had known to a father while growing up, turned his attention to the window he had my gun pointed at while echoes of warfare clashed in the air, fighting their own personal battle for loudest demand.

Screams of agony.

Shouts of victory.

Booming explosions.

Cries of the innocent.

Ricocheting gunshots.

Curses of reckoning.

Demands of the organized.

Shrieks of loss.

Antonio’s golden eyes narrowed, and he fired my weapon as another Com tried to enter through the broken window. Our enemies, the Commoners, were swarming outside our safe zone, the late Mrs Jonas’s office. The only entry: the window I had thrown my uncle out of earlier today, before I had executed him with a single silver bullet to his forehead.

Ezra Zeller, the Prodigy Vampire and one of my very best friends, stepped in front of me, sheltering my body from the window’s access. Any of his visible skin was covered in drying blood, which was not his own. His black ceremonial robe was still soaked with it, sticking to his powerfully massive frame. At six feet, five inches tall and built for protection, no stray bullets would hit my much smaller five feet, two inches, hidden behind him.

Which I didn’t appreciate. I didn’t want him hurt any more than he wanted me harmed.

“You want us to run?” Ezra asked in disbelief, his large, almond-shaped spring green eyes narrowing on Antonio. “I thought you were the terrifying Mage! You fought in the damn war beside my dad! He told me stories about you!” Ezra shook his head rigidly. “You may have trained Lily to run, but my father,” Elder Cahal Zeller, one hell of a powerful Vampire, “sure as f**k didn’t teach me to run away with my tail tucked between my legs. Mysticals are being attacked out there,” his body was beginning to tremble, his muscles bulging under his blood drenched robe, “and I’m sure as hell not running like a damn coward.” To my complete shock, Ezra turned on his heel and stalked toward the broken window, shouting over his shoulder, “Keep everyone in here safe while the Mystical with the balls takes care of business.”

“Stop him.” Antonio’s quiet eyes met my stunned gaze. “We don’t have time for this.”

Reacting on instinct, and both irritated and scared for Ezra as he neared the exit, I leaped using my Shifter strength. My shoulder slammed against the small of his back, even as I wrapped my arms around his stomach.

We went down, both of us grunting.

I knew he would twist inside my hold, and I let him. What I hadn’t expected was for him to flip our positions. I should have, but I didn’t. My back landed ruthlessly on the floor.

Ezra loomed over me as his fangs bared, lowering his body, which was firm and heavy, on top of mine. The tips of our noses touching, he hissed, “You didn’t see what I did. There are things out there that will slaughter Mysticals. They’re powerful and strong, even if unorganized. I saw them rip Mys brats into shreds before I could kill them.” His Vampire growled, absolutely furious, and he started to lift off me. “Don’t tell me to run from this.”

In pure panic, I fisted his hair and yanked his face back to mine. I did the one thing I knew would give him pause. Lifting my own head, I flicked my tongue over one of his extended fangs, and he physically jerked against me. Knowing it would feel like a sensual caress, I sucked lightly on his long, sharp fang, gently running my tongue up and down it.

Hearing his breathing hitch, I took the opportunity given. I heaved, jerking him to the side and flipping us so that I was now pressing down on him, blocking his body — somewhat — from the broken window and any Com who might appear there. I kept my grip tight on his hair as I lifted my head away.

The blood staining his face did nothing to hide his expression.


Perfect. Exactly what I had wanted. He was no longer furious.

“Antonio is an Elder.” I spoke fact, trying to get through to him. “He’s giving us an order, and we’re under attack. You follow his direction even if you don’t understand why.”

Spring green eyes disappeared, only to reappear gradually, in a slow blink. “I can’t believe you did that.”

I sighed heavily. “I had to. You were about to commit suicide.” I shook his head inside my hold when he continued to lay there blinking. “Antonio said we’re surrounded. That there are two more,” I paused when Antonio fired again and killed another Com attempting to enter through the window, “waves of Coms,” my breath rushed past my lips as Ezra flipped us to press my back once more to the unforgiving floor and lay on top of me to hold me down, but I kept on, “about to surge. It’s time to run. Trust me on this. Trust Antonio. He wouldn’t tell us to do something if it wasn’t in our best interest.”

Fangs still extended, Ezra lowered his head so that his features were an inch from mine. “There are things out there I need to kill.”

“You killed all there are here today,” Antonio shouted, clearly past compromising. “Quit rolling around on the damn floor and get up.”

Ezra’s lips thinned as his gaze darted to Antonio. “They’re all dead?”

“Yes,” Antonio muttered through his teeth. “Listen to me when I say that you four need to leave. Lily’s right. You might not understand, but you will,” his eyes instantly glowed golden, “obey me or you will face punishment. I am your damn Elder, with years more experience than you.” His lips lifted into a smile that wasn’t pleasant. “Your choice, Ezra.”

His jaw clenching, the threat clear, Ezra slowly nodded. “As long as they’re all dead, I’ll do as you say.”

Antonio chuckled derisively and fired at another Com. “You’re definitely your father’s son.” It didn’t sound like a compliment.

Ezra ignored Antonio’s razzing, his eyes darting down to mine and deliberately running over my features. “Your distraction was effective,” his monstrous, blood-tainted face lowered further as he placed his warm lips against my ear, “but you’re so getting payback, sweetheart.”

I imagined he would try. You never messed with a Vampire’s fangs. My own, even if small because of my hidden hybrid nature, were extremely sensitive. Ezra knew I understood. Retribution was definitely in my foreseeable future as long as we lived through this.

“Ezra, dear, I agree with Elder Farrar,” Vivian — Ezra’s mom — murmured from her hidden space under the desk, her voice dry. “You should quit rolling on the floor with a Shifter.”