Friday, November 12, 2021

HALFBLOOD BETRAYED: prompt inspired novel.

Enemies-to-lovers is my favorite trope, so when I saw this prompt my imagination ran wild.


HALFBLOOD BETRAYED

CHAPTER 1


WHO AM I?

Blood poured out of the wound and ran down my leg with every heartbeat.
I applied pressure on the deep stab with my red woolen scarf, the fabric completely soaked through. My body tilted to the left, and I barely had time to reach out a hand and hold on to the grimy wall of the dark alley. If I fell, I wasn’t sure I had the strength to get up again. Breathing hard, I leaned my back against the wall, looking at the full moon, its pure white light slowly being extinguished by thick clouds that promised rain.
Two of the largest clouds combined and a flash of light came. Even though the following near-deafening sound was logical, I startled along with the black cat eating what looked like bolognese leftovers.
Part of me was tempted to allow my shaking legs to surrender and simply sit in that damp alley that smelled like decomposed food.
But a loud, desperate voice in my head screamed that I had to keep moving and find refuge before he tore me apart.
I had no idea who he was.
Hells, I had no idea who I was.
All I knew was that someone had stabbed my abdomen with a silver, cursed dagger and that I needed an antidote and rest if I wanted to recover.
Five more minutes, I bargained with myself.
Just five more minutes to gather my strength and look for the address I’d hastily scrawled on my inner forearm with black ink.
I vaguely remembered writing it. The pain of the wound had been beyond searing. I recalled the anguish clawing at my insides. The ache of betrayal that made my heart race…
Why did I feel betrayed as I ran for my life and who had stabbed me remained a mystery.
My head pulsed with pain. Every nerve ending was painfully alight with a primal warning. The stench of gargoyle magic, that pungent smell of iron and stone, clung to me like an oil stain. Whoever had attacked me used gargoyle magic to erase my memory.
Was it one of the stony bastards who tried to kill me? I wasn’t so sure. Most of us supernaturals had little to no hope of surviving a gargoyle attack. They either killed us or locked us away in a dungeon, condemning us to never see the daylight again. That much I remembered.
Could it get worse than this? Bleeding and weak and chased down by someone who I knew in my gut wanted to silence me forever?
And then, as if the universe were answering, it poured.
Grunting and nearly gagging with the sharp pain, I straightened and walked again. My left leg was half numb by the poison and the pain. I almost had to drag it. One more block, that’s all I had to walk, but it seemed like a mile.
I stopped at the opening of the alley across the back of the apartment building.
The imposing twenty-story building was pristine. Painted in white, the design sleek and modern, not what anyone at all would imagine a vampire den to look like. Admittedly, not only vampires lived there. According to the rumors, there were even human residents, but I knew vampires dwelled within. Those were a few of the recollections that remained; holes in the thick black cloud obscuring most of my memories.
Even the alley was clean, which was a relief for my too-sharp senses.
Gritting my teeth, I made my way towards the service entrance, nearly crashing into a petite human whose head barely reached my chest. I held onto the door before it slammed shut.
The woman, who smelled of cleaning products, squealed in shock, taking in the wound in my stomach and then my face. Fear buzzed from her at once, her pale skin turning almost ghostly, brown eyes wide. Wounded or not, I was still not human, and she could sense it.
“Mind your business,” I warned, opening the door further to step inside.
“You-you’re bleeding,” she mumbled. “D-do you want me to call an ambulance?”
I looked over my shoulder, pain lancing down my leg and up towards my chest. The poison was spreading, and if it reached my heart…
I considered flashing my teeth at the woman, Ella, as stated by the tag pinned on the white shirt of her uniform. But she was scared enough, and some deeply buried instinct made me loathe the idea of being mean to an innocent woman for no good reason.
“No, I know someone inside,” I said. “They’ll help me.” It was technically not a lie.
She nodded, unconvinced, but didn’t try to stop me as I entered. The smell of fresh laundry, lavender, and mint welcomed me, along with warmth that made me shiver and realize how cold and soaked I was. White walls and polished concrete floors. A wide hall with doors led to several large rooms to the right and the elevators to the left.
My sight swam, and my ears ringed.
Minutes. I had minutes before collapsing and then perhaps an hour before a painful death came.
Breathing hard and barely noticing the surprised gasp of a young man and an older half-fey female who were carrying linens, I limped towards the promising silver doors of the service elevator. Nearly groaning in relief when they opened in seconds with a soft ring.
I hastily pushed the button to close the doors before anyone tried to drag me to an ambulance, and then automatically chose floor sixteen. That detail I hadn’t scrawled onto my arm, and I had the feeling I’d been here before. A violent shiver shook me from head to toe. I leaned my head against the cold metal of the elevator and held onto the side of the panel for dear life.
The apartment on floor sixteen was safe. I knew that even if I didn’t know my own name.
The doors pinged open, and it took every last drop of strength I had left to limp to the tall wooden door and knock.
My mouth flooded with saliva, and I would’ve vomited if there was anything in my stomach. I held onto the door frame and lifted my hand to knock again just as the door opened and my eyes landed on…
A vampire male.
So tall his head was almost half a foot above mine.
Pale skinned, buttery blond hair reaching his collar, platinum gray eyes that showed the same shock I was certain was etched on my face. Outrageously and unsurprisingly handsome, with stark features that seemed carved by an artist.
And that was the wrong moment to get caught up in the beauty of a six-foot-and-a-half predator who was sniffing at my blood.
Vampires and werewolves had stopped fighting each other millennia ago when humans had started to burn us all down at the stake. Still, instinctive wariness rose in me. Perhaps because I wasn’t just a werewolf, but also half-fey, and therefore not as strong as him.
And how did I know all that and not my gods-forsaken name?
“Aylana,” the male said, rich voice laced with surprise.
Aylana, my name was Aylana.
Something clicked inside me. A mix of recognition, relief, and fear flooded me as I heard the echo of different voices in my head calling that name. Some sounded loving, others were full of rage and disdain.
I blinked. The vampire’s face was blurring. “I’m safe now, right?” I asked.
And then I was staring at the bone-colored ceiling, which meant I was half a second away from falling back on the floor…
Strong arms circled me, halting my fall. I reached out and my hand landed weakly against a firm chest, right above the thrumming beating of a heart that evoked relief I felt down to the center of my sore body.
Worried platinum eyes were the last I saw before darkness claimed me.

SEBASTIAN

I’m safe now, right?
What the Hells was that supposed to mean?
Aylana’s head lolled back, completely unconscious, probably comatose given the stench of silver and rotten magic stuck to her, overpowering the smell of her blood… Which was probably a good thing. Her heart’s cadence was slow, labored, both because of the massive blood loss and the poison invading her veins. She was pale, her usually tawny skin almost yellow; dark circles surrounded her eyes like bruises, her long raven hair tangled and out of its usual braid.
Part of me wanted to leave her to her own luck. It served her right for all the ceaseless harassment she had subjected me to for weeks.
But my arms were refusing to let her go. Quite the opposite. I was drawing her smaller frame closer, lifting her off the floor and closing the door with my foot nearly on autopilot.
It was a bad idea.
No, it was a terrible idea to settle the bleeding halfblood on the white leather couch.
And there was blood everywhere. My hands, my white shirt, her once light blue t-shirt, the sodden black jeans and jacket she wore. I removed her makeshift bandage, the knitted scarf I’d seen her wear several times before, and cursed.
The two-inch-long wound on the left lower side of her abdomen was viciously deep. It had almost run through her body. Still, the stab itself was far from being lethal to a semi-immortal like Aylana. I was certain she’d have healed in a matter of minutes if the wound had been made with a regular weapon.
But it wasn’t.
It had been performed with one of those magic-laced daggers gargoyles use to hunt us down.
I pulled the fabric of her shirt up to her torso and cursed. Silver tendrils stretched from the wound, further than I expected; even if I rushed her to the hospital, it was unlikely they could fix the wound completely. Aylana would have crippling side effects for years, or perhaps the rest of her life.
Who’d done this? I wondered as I rolled my sleeves. Gargoyles were not allowed in the city, so it seemed unlikely. I knew the cursed daggers could be obtained on the black market. But what kind of miserable coward would do this to Aylana?
The half-blood’s breathing turned shallow, listless body shuddering without control.
I’d have all my answers once she was awake.
Lowering my fangs, I bit down on my inner forearm, cutting through a vein. The taste of my blood hit my tongue, and I pulled back, pouring the crimson liquid over Aylana’s wound. Her stomach rose and fell quickly, her heartbeat sped up. Even while unconscious, I was certain she could feel the agonizing pain caused by the collision of my healing blood and the poison wreaking havoc in her system.
Not wasting time, I squeezed my forearm to draw more blood out of the rapidly closing wound, leaving a small puddle right above her navel. I called for my magic, that well of cool power that rose from my solar plexus and made my eyes shift into their vertical pupil, bright azure form, sharpening my eyesight. Dipping my finger in the small puddle of my blood, I drew a spell I’d seldom used before on her stomach, composed of a sacred geometric figure and glyphs. Blue magic ignited the blood, turning it into translucent energy that sank through Aylana’s skin, leaving behind a faint impression of the spell. A gasp came from the halfblood, her back bowing. My heart raced. What if I’d made it worse? What if I killed her instead of healing her?
Ten slow—goddess, too slow—heartbeats later, Aylana let out a long breath and relaxed against the sofa. Her breathing and pulse stabilized.
Knowing it was going to give me heartburn—but that I had no other option if I wanted to make sure she healed as best as possible—I drew closer and licked her wound.
Hells, gargoyle sorcery was even more repugnant than I remembered. Her contaminated blood burned a fiery path down my stomach, despite being neutralized and diluted by my blood and magic.
Aylana’s heady, red-wine-like essence laid beneath the unpleasant flavor, however. It awakened part of the predator in me, but I beat it down into submission. Saliva flooded my mouth, which was good. I applied as much of it as I could to the wound. I let out a breath as the cut knitted itself back together and the bleeding stopped.
Feeling bizarrely exhausted, I sat back on the coffee table, watching the now steady rise and fall of Aylana’s chest, ignoring the desire to get up and drink a gallon of cold water until the sting in the back of my throat disappeared.
Her dark, damp hair looked like spilled ink on the white cushion. Her exquisite face—all sharp angles, and high cheekbones softened by plump lips—was half swollen, bruised. The swift point of her left ear was bloody too, as if her eardrum had been pierced.
Someone had beaten her and stabbed her.
It was almost hard to believe anyone could cause so much damage to the feisty female. Half fey-half werewolves had the best traits of both races. Some shifted into their lupine forms, some didn’t, but they were strong as Hell, magically gifted, and healed at the same speed pure werewolves did. And Aylana could pack a punch. I knew that from experience.
So who had hurt her?
The daggers she usually had strapped to her legs were absent. So perhaps she was caught off guard?
I sighed, almost running a hand through my hair before I remembered the blood.
Why should I care?
Aylana was a part of Cayne’s pack. The self-righteous, annoying werewolf who patrolled the streets with his buddies, ‘protecting’ humans and supernaturals alike. Or so they claimed. Power should never be given to those who carry prejudices. I knew that all too well. And Cayne hated vampires, especially if they had royal blood as I did.
The enmity between vampires and werewolves had ended over a millennium ago when the church had received a ‘celestial blessing’ in the shape of the gargoyles and thousands of our species were cut down like wheat. But according to my sources, Cayne’s daddy was an old, mean bastard who upheld the age-old tradition of being a racist asshole.
And Aylana…
She was young, younger than me, but she had joined the ‘let’s harass and accuse the newcomer royal vampire of all the crimes in our town, shall we?’ crew at once. And alright, that was a bit my fault, too. I’d been an asshole to her in revenge for her baseless accusations.
Still, the smart thing to do would be to take Aylana to the nearest hospital, where her pack would no doubt find her. Let her be their problem and not mine before they accused me of being the one who had almost killed her.
Yes, that was definitely the best course of action.
But every instinct I have told me she’d be in mortal danger if I did.
And I had the feeling Aylana had felt the same way. Why the Hells would she have limped to the door of her greatest enemy if the hospital or her damn pack were the more logical options?
Her voice echoed in my head; I’m safe now, right?
Fuck.
Goddess helped us both, but yes, she was safe.
For now.

©Selene Kallan, 2022. Halfblood Betrayed.
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HALFBLOOD BETRAYED is a spicy paranormal fantasy with enemies-to-lovers romance, action, mystery, and snark. Perfect for fans of Midnight Breed and Lost Girl. Tap the cover to download it 💜



Disclaimer: violence, mentions of SA, gore, and steamy scenes 🌶️🌶️🌶️


Thursday, November 4, 2021

NEPHILIM HARBINGER: The Cursed and the Fallen 2 by Selene Kallan

 


PROPHECIES ARE A GIRL'S WORST NIGHTMARE...
I definitely angered a god in a past life. I was minding my business and enjoying my burning chemistry with Nox, my demon warden, and then bam! I'm getting dragged to literal Hell under the orders of Lilith, Queen of Hell... and Nox's mother.
It turns out there's a lovely prophecy that says I am the Harbinger, the Catalyst for the Apocalypse that will burn down Hell and Earth. And Lilith wants to kill me to prevent it. Cornered, Nox and I bargain with Lilith, and she agrees to let me live... as long as I keep my dirty Nephilim fingers away from Nox.
Naturally, Nox and I find as many loopholes as possible for our bargain, but our relief is short-lived. New enemies pop around like daisies, and old ones come back even from the dead. Light and darkness lay their claim on us, determined to render our connection to ash.
Are we strong enough to subvert the prophecy before Heaven and Hell cleave us apart? I don't know, but I sure as Hell will fight with everything I've got, even if I burn.
I’ve always loved playing with fire, anyway.

The second installment of The Cursed and The Fallen series.

Praise for DEMON WARDEN ★★★★★ “Holy angelic WOW - this is the pandemic escape I didn't know I needed. Fantasy author Kallan has reached new fantasy heights with this sexy romance-action-adventure.”—Laurie Forest, Bestselling Author of The Black Witch Chronicles.

Fans of Hush Hush, Crescent City, and The Dark Elements will love the mix of urban fantasy and romance fantasy in NEPHILIM HARBINGER.

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HALFBLOOD BETRAYED: prompt inspired novel.

Enemies-to-lovers is my favorite trope, so when I saw this prompt my imagination ran wild. HALFBLOOD BETRAYED CHAPTER 1 WHO AM I? Blood pour...