Serials Archives - Kara Lockharte

Category Archives for Serials

Bonded to the Dragon – authors rough cut serial is no longer available

Bonded to the Dragon has been released into Amazon Kindle Unlimited, which means that if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free!.


According to Amazon exclusivity rules, I can’t leave the serialized version up.

The first chapter of BONDED TO THE DRAGON is still available here as an excerpt.

To be honest, I think the fully edited version of this story is a thousand times better than this version.

And it’s longer.

In addition to more random details at various points, there are two additional chapters in the final version (in which Val finds up what’s up with Sophie’s red barn).

And Grant’s reaction to Sophie’s apparent death? It’s completely different from the draft version presented here.

What’s more, in the final chapter we get to visit Grant’s secret place, find out what keeps his nightmares at bay (hint, it may not be what you think), and see Val coming to terms with what she is…in Val’s sort of way.

What’s more, if you sign up for my mailing list at the special link at the back of the Amazon version of BONDED TO THE DRAGON, you’ll automatically get the special BONUS EPILOGUE.

It’s a hot sexy interlude that just didn’t quite fit at the end of BONDED TO THE DRAGON.

So I made it a bonus for newsletter subscribers 🙂

BONDED TO THE DRAGON - BONUS EPILOGUE - Available only to newsletter subscribers!

If you get the final version of BONDED TO THE DRAGON on Amazon, there’s a special link in the back of the book that will enable you to get Val and Grant’s free BONUS EPILOGUE!

Here’s an exclusive excerpt from the BONUS EPILOGUE!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My mouth tasted like perfumed smoke and incense. My tongue felt big, strange, swollen.

“Val?” said Grant’s voice. “Are you all right?”

“Give me a moment.” My voice sounded strange as if it were underwater. I was slowly getting used to this disorientation of my senses.

It came with what I was: a chaperone or guide to one’s final end (as opposed to the temporary end I had been in when I originally died). Sometimes, I found myself in that place in between, called by a soul who didn’t quite know where to go. I helped them figure out their path. Doing it made me feel good, gave me a purpose. It made me feel right.

The problem was that when I came back from the threshold of death, my senses often were temporarily mixed up. It wasn’t uncommon for me to see smells like chocolate (which looked like red velvet in light oddly enough) or hear bright lights that tinkled like bells.

I opened my eyes, and saw Grant staring at me, as if I were a stranger. This was a little odd. Usually when I came back to myself, he was ready with a cup of tea and even sweets.

My eyes sharpened. Whoah, had the colors on the rug always been so vividly burnt red and blue? I blinked and realized Grant was still looking at me strangely.

“What? What’s wrong?”

He spoke as if to himself. “It is you, Val. Your scent hasn’t changed, and neither has your internal fire within.” He was always referring to the fire or magical something that connected us.

“But… You look different.”

“What?” Sometimes words were hard.

I looked down at myself. And saw —

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Don’t worry, you should feel free to unsubscribe after you subscribe to get the Bonus Epilogue. (But there are additional fun sexy side stories for being on my mailing list, AND I’ll be sending out more fun little stories in the coming months!)

But if you just want a free read, click here for a free hot sexy shifter short of mine (requires newsletter sign up).


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Bonded to the Dragon: Chapter 1 – authors rough cut serial

Bonded to the Dragon has been released into Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

And according to Amazon exclusivity rules, I can’t leave the serialized version up.

But I am allowed to show you the first chapter! (And this is the FINAL, version!)

Chapter 1

Light flared above us. A fireball the size of a bus shot toward me.

I folded my arms. I knew better than to get my hopes up. Life, Part Two, was turning out to be an awful lot like Life, Part One.

The fireball splashed against an invisible bubble barrier, surrounding us with light.

“We’re all going to die!” a woman screamed in panic. “Get back!”

I tried to respond, but my legs wouldn’t move—not out of fear, but because I was still fucking bound to this bitch fairy queen.

Residual memories of cold dark tentacles slithered into my ears, stabbing cold needles of possession into my mind.

I squeezed my eyes shut, determined not to let the stupid fear take me. The Devourer wasn’t in this place, I reminded myself. There was nothing left to be afraid of. I had already died. I had even come to terms with never being able to make things right, being betrayed by the man I’d thought I loved, and you know what? I was okay with all that unfinished business. But Titania, the fucking bitch, had decided that of all the recently deceased human souls in the existence, she wanted mine to be her slave.

A monstrous roar ripped through my thoughts; instinctively, my flesh body tried to cower, needing a place to run and hide, even as I realized that this could be the solution to all my problems.

“… I had nothing to do with it!” Titania said, her voice echoing with magic.

A massive scaled white claw scraped against the protective bubble arcing over us. The black talons broke through the bubble. The resulting blast of air, stinking of smoke, ignited the leaves and trees nearest the break.

A thickly muscled black man, with only a hint of salt and pepper in his hair to betray his age, leaned toward the queen. “You have to get him to stop, Your Majesty.”

Titania gritted her teeth, and for a moment, it looked as if the flowers in her hair had turned into thorns. “What. Does. It. Look. Like. I’m. Doing? None of your human weaponry will work on this one. This is why I needed that thing,” she said, glaring at me, as if I could do something.

He kissed her hand. “Do the right thing, please, Your Majesty.”

Titania sighed.

The fire tornado outside swirled and coalesced around a pillar of white fire reaching skyward.

Out of the inferno walked a man in a white suit.

The man placed a glowing hand on Titania’s bubble. Electric sparks crackled blue, and the air grew heavy with the scent of ozone and ash. There was an intense pressure as if my ears were going to pop.

Then without further fanfare, sound, or fury, Titania’s shield was gone. There was nothing left to stop him.

What the hell? He wasn’t just wearing white but a formal white suit. Were we being sieged by a wedding party?

It was pristine, as if he had just put it on, rather than having spent the last hour or so launching bolts of acidic fire at Titania’s magic shield. The formal jacket was open, revealing a white shirt underneath that was unbuttoned at the throat. The only bits of color were the strip of black belt at his waist and what looked like spotless black Italian leather shoes.

“He’s not in dragon form. He’s not even wearing his armor,” gasped one of Titania’s flower-covered lady/maidens/whatever the fuck they were.

Though his clothing was far from serious, his shockingly handsome face was flat and emotionless. His shoulders were back, his head held high, his gaze trained in on Titania, with only one thing clear on his mind.

If I were lucky, he really would have a death gaze and kill her for me right there and I’d be free.

No such luck, of course.

He strode across the carefully manicured grass with the stance of a conqueror.

Titania sat on her throne, the expression on her face unimpressed, but the stiffness of her posture betrayed her underlying emotion. I had been eavesdropping as her harem guard reported the dragon’s progress. They had begged her to let them go up against the dragon, but she had forbidden every one of them, choosing instead to rely on her own magic.

And now, we were all likely to die.

I smiled.

The dragon stood beneath Titania on the dais, looking up at her, yet it was clear that he had all the power.

Titania sneered. “How long have you been searching for the Angel of Death? Attempt it, dragon, and you’ll never find him, or your sister, Aurora.”

Rory was his sister?

I realized why Titania had ordered me here. I had been there that night, when Aurora—or Rory, as she insisted, I call her—a visitor to Titania’s court, had been abducted from the library by a winged man.

Of all the people in Titania’s court, only Rory had shown me kindness, had been the only one to tell me what I was to help me adjust to my new situation of being brought back from the dead and enslaved to a fairy queen.

What had happened that night?

I closed my eyes, trying to remember. Heat, smoke, the lack of breath.

Something shattering. A snarl. And then darkness.

A needle shoved its way into my skull.

I opened my eyes and saw Titania glancing at me with her calculating eyes.

Had she planned this?

That fucking bitch.

I touched my head. This time she let me.

Had she been interfering with my memories too?

I turned back to the man in white. Dragonfire was what I needed, Aurora had said, to get what I needed.

An end to this fucking imprisonment disguised as a second life.

And any chance of getting what I wanted would be far better with him than being stuck for eternity in this perfumed bitch’s playland as her slave.

“Dragon!” I said, my voice as loud as I could make it. My words sounded terribly squeaky, not at all like I had intended. Wait, Titania was letting me move? Fuck. This was a part of some plan of hers. It was too late for me to back down now. “I was there the night the Angel of Death came for your sister. I can help you—”

The invisible hand of Titania’s magic clamped over my mouth.

I tried to kick out and scream, but Titania’s magic locked down on my limbs like iron chains.

Sense memories tickled in the back of my mind. Once they would have driven me to despair and more drugs, but now, with the distance of death, my old life was more like a movie I had been forced to watch and remember.

“Let her speak,” the dragon said.

“Do it,” said Titania.

A hard shove made me stumble closer.

“Take me! And I will help you find her!” I yelled, as if the volume of my voice could hide the fact that I was lying. I had no idea how to find her. I just wanted him to blow his dragonfire on me and end my useless existence. I had to think of him as a mark, only he didn’t want sex. He wanted vengeance. I could work with that.

The dragon stared at me with his golden eyes, evaluating, measuring, contemplating.

My chances were slipping.

Desperate words spurted out of me like arterial blood. “Your sister told me I was a vengeance demon, a wronged human resurrected to wreck revenge. If you are hunting the Angel of Death, you need me.”

“That’s enough,” said Titania, chopping at the air. Strong arms yanked me back.

“This spirit is bound to me, dragon,” said Titania. “The time and effort in the making of her was dear.”

“Give her to me, and I will go,” said the dragon.

Titania’s eyes narrowed. An odd pressure filled my ears. Magic surged from her, the scent of flowers intensifying. “You think to take my vengeance from me?”

Something odd stirred inside me. Something I had never felt before, something startlingly alive, and yet…

“Tanya,” said the dark-skinned man, placing his hand on her arm. “Balance. His sister was taken from your protection. You owe him something.”

The strange pressure welled up inside me, with a buzzing prickle I had learned to recognize was magic.

Did I have magic?

It moved again inside me.

Titania frowned.

It was magic. I had magic.

The whole world went still at that moment.

She took something off her finger and flicked it to the dragon.

My freedom!

I pulled at the magic inside me, trying to take hold of it, use it, make it obey me somehow, but I didn’t have the faintest clue how. It was like discovering newly attached wings that you didn’t even know how to flap.

I struggled with my magic, trying to get to the sliver of metal that was my fate, my future, my freedom.

Titania’s invisible shackles twisted, and in a blink my potential freedom was gone.

No, not again!

The dragon closed a large fist around it in midair, capturing the ring that bound me to life.

Instantly, I was covered with heat, with his scent and fire.

Before I realized it, I could smell the ash in my chest, feel the weight of gravity in my flesh.

Flesh? I was back in the flesh!

“She’s an onryo,” said Titania.

His gaze slid over me, and my skin flushed hot. It must have been the magic because I was used to being looked over like a piece of meat. “She doesn’t look Japanese.”

Titania waved condescendingly and sneered. “It’s a human word for a human thing, I can’t be expected to keep all the different languages of Man straight. The need for vengeance is universal. Beware of what you ask for, dragon. This one has not quite adjusted to her situation.” Titania chuckled, reminding me of the cheerleading bitches in high school who laughed at me behind my back and turned my mother’s country into an epithet with the words “Mexico girl.”

“How do I know that this isn’t one of those double-edged fairy gifts?” asked the dragon.

“This isn’t a gift,” said Titania. “It’s balance.”

I should have been angry. But instead, I was just cold. Life was slavery. Death was the only true escape.

Fire licked and curled around his suit. The air became strangely hard to breathe as a strange pressure filled the air and the scent of burnt things returned. His voice was a frigid contrast to the living inferno his magic promised. “Nothing can balance your failure to protect my sister, a guest you were honor-bound to defend in your domain.”

Titania glanced at the guard holding me.

I was thrown forward until I sprawled before him on my knees.

I saw him glance at me, his expression unchanged before resuming his death gaze at Titania. Wow. He was good-looking even close up. But I knew without a doubt that it was a mask for the monster he truly was.

Something clattered on the stones next to me.

A diamond-tipped golden spear.

“You know what this is.” Titania smiled, a pointed-tooth smile, the kind she rarely revealed in her true form.

Fuck.

The fairy bitch had planned this whole thing. What the fuck? Titania’s voice was as queenly and smug as ever. “The weapon and this spirit will be more than enough balance. Now go! And get off my lands.”


BETROTHED TO THE DRAGON GIVEAWAY!
Win the first book of this series by entering my Amazon giveaway here! (US only)

Are you in the UK? Do you have AMAZON PRIME UK?

Amazon PRIME UK Members, get BETROTHED TO THE DRAGON now for FREE!

Amazon UK has just placed the VERY first Dragon Lovers book, into the PRIME reading program! (Sorry US readers, Amazon Prime reading is an invite only and Amazon US hasn’t invited the Dragon Lovers to be a part of US PRIME Reading….yet!) So if you have Amazon PRIME in the UK, you can read BETROTHED TO THE DRAGON for FREE!

You deserve a reading escape because you work hard. Isn’t it about time you indulged yourself with a ripped, hot, bulging new…book? 😍


Want to read BONDED TO THE DRAGON for free before it gets released?

🔥BONDED TO THE DRAGON 🔥 will be coming out next month!

FYI I’ll be releasing the unedited rough cut of the story for FREE as a serial BEFORE the book releases!

But due to Amazon’s rules, the serial will have to be taken down BEFORE the book is published.

So the free serial version of BONDED TO THE DRAGON will only be available for a limited time!

Like my page or sign up for my newsletter to be the first to hear when the serial is up! Remember the serial will only be available for FREE for a few weeks!

🔥🔥🔥

Belonging to the Dragon – Limited Time Serial Chapters 3 and 4

*Note that this is the rough draft version of the story as given to my editor. For a typo-free story, edited story, the final version of the book will be released on August 28.

BELONGING TO THE DRAGON has now been published on Amazon. The rest of the serial has been taken down in accordance with Amazon KDP publishing rules. Sign up to Kara’s mailing list to get alerts when she puts out more free fiction!

Belonging to the Dragon – Limited Time Serial Chapters 1 and 2

Belonging to the Dragon Blog Serial

Oh and here’s a cover reveal!

I’ve decided to do the author’s equivalent of showing my undies to the world.

That’s right I’m going to post my UNEDITED chapters of my forthcoming book BELONGING TO THE DRAGON.

(I’m inspired by Ilona Andrews’s fabulous Innkeeper series, in which they serialize the unproofed versions of their books to their blog before having it edited and published. And if you haven’t checked out their current serial out, go do it. You’re welcome 🙂

You’ll get the whole story as I wrote it and handed it to my editor, all typos, no proofing EXCEPT for explicit sexy times and any scene or details that my editors told me I needed to add. For the most part, the story is pretty intact, but I have to admit, I have problems with my epilogues in that I always need my editor’s help in writing a good one that works.

So this serial will not include the wedding epilogue (oh no look, I spoiled it, but come on, this is a romance; you GOTTA know there’s gonna be a happy ending RIGHT?)

I’ll be posting chapters every Monday and Saturday until BELONGING TO THE DRAGON releases on August 28. After August 28, all chapters except for 1, will be taken down in order to comply with Amazon Kindle Unlimited’s exclusivity requirement.

If you enjoy the story, but would like the sexy times and the epilogue, sign up to my mailing list so you can be the first to hear of the limited time new release price drop (hint: DON’T PAY THE FULL PREORDER PRICE!).


BELONGING TO THE DRAGON – THE AUTHOR’S ROUGH CUT SERIAL
(Again, That means unedited, unproofed with all typos included!)

Chapter 1

I twisted the cheap silver ring around my finger, the one my friend Val had given it to me a long time ago. Val was missing now, and it was up to me to find her.

There was a chime on the intercom and on the linked app on my phone, an image popped up.

My stomach fluttered at the sight of the last man that I thought I would see.

He gazed at me with those blue eyes I had crushed on as a teenager, the ones I had tried to forget, and now haunted my dreams. “I know you’re in there Lana. Open up.”

Three months ago, I had tried to stab those baby-blues with a magical dagger. To be fair, he had been trying to cut off my head but we had both been under the control of a monster from another world. Even so, some things were hard to get over.

I tapped on the green button on my phone screen, allowing him entrance.

I only had moments before the elevator would arrive at my floor. I kicked my three-inch heels under the couch, grabbed a bathrobe and threw it on over my gold curve-hugging dress. A quick stop in the bathroom to wipe off my lipstick while I ran my fingers through my hair.

A knock sounded and I took a deep breath, opening the door.

You’d think at this point, after knowing him since he was a chubby little eight-year old I’d be immune to his charms.

But this was the all grown up version of rich boy Lucas Randall. He was a towering vision of aggressively ripped don’t-fuck-with-me masculine perfection. Mountainous shoulders threaten to explode out of the short sleeve gray Einstein t-shirt he was wearing even though it was mid-November in New York City.

Those laser blues focused on down me, and belatedly I realized I still had eye shadow and mascara on.

Shit. Still, no choice but to keep going and hope he didn’t notice.

He leaned forward, taking up almost all of the space in the door frame, holding up his phone so I could see the screen.

It was a picture of me, well, my body without a face. It should have been anonymous, but there was that tell-tale birthmark on my hip in the shape of a star. He must have seen it at some point when we were younger. How would he even remember?

Apparently, he had.

Nostrils flared. Pupils darkened, he asked. “Are you soliciting anonymous sex from strangers?”

A thousand potential replies flashed in my mind in a quarter of a second. I settled on casual disregard and disdain, even as my heart fluttered in my chest. I folded my arms, drawing my bathrobe closed, as if I were trying to hide my heartbeat. “After so many months, this is what you come here to ask me? In case you’ve forgotten, I don’t answer to you.”

A golden flame flickered in his eyes. If I didn’t know what he was, I would have called it a trick of the light.

But I knew his secret.

And I couldn’t let him find out mine.

He leaned further inward, and with my heightened senses I could smell him, all sweet smoke and musk. His words were all gravel. “You stink of perfume. You’ve got eye makeup on. Your nails are done. Tell me you’re not doing what I think you’re doing.”

I almost wanted to take a step back from his invasion of my space but I held my ground. I could stop him. I had that power now.

But if he knew what I could do, it would raise more questions that I didn’t have time to, nor did I want to answer.

And my time was limited. “My life is not your business.” I paused wavering on whether I should take the shot, low and dirty as it was.

He leaned forward, seeking to intimidate me into compliance.

I felt a strange exasperation mixed with regret. Just like a Randall. Some things never changed. “I’m not your employee, Lucas.”

My mother had been his nanny and housekeeper. We had grown up together in a strange kind of sense. I had once thought we were friends, but looking back with the distance and knowledge of adulthood, I realized I was just…convenient.

A thick vein popped in relief from his neck and he looked as if he was about to roar like the beast he truly was. “I never thought you were. I just want to know: Why?”

There were a million reasons why. Because I felt like it. Because I had nothing else now, now that I had lost my job. Because there was something bizarre and strange inside me that enjoyed the hunt. But more importantly, there I had a promise to keep to a friend.

None of which were reasons that I owed him.

So I used the most potent weapon I had. Guilt.

I began to close the door on him. “Go away, Lucas. You almost killed me last time. I lost my job because of what I did for you and your friends. I’m done with dragons, magic, fairy princesses and immortal monsters. Leave me alone to my normal human life.”

The attack worked better than I expected. My words were like water on his rage, melting it away to a stony expression. To my surprise, he actually let me close the door.

I locked the knob, the deadbolt, and braced my back against the door, as if that would stop him. If he was truly intent on pressing the issue, he could break it down with a sneeze if he wanted to.

I listened for footsteps, and heard him walk away. Double-checking to security app on my phone revealed him actually leaving the building.

That was easier than I had thought it would be. Was it a residual effect of the armor?

I pulled up the arm of my robe, looked at my smooth brown skin. For a moment it remained the same. I concentrated, and my skin began to itch. Then black scales rippled forth.

I stared at them, shining, almost metallic.

Once they had horrified me.

Now, for better or worse, they were a part of me, to be accepted like my brown skin, curly hair, and behind that was far rounder than I would have liked.

Months ago, I had agreed to help some old childhood friends. Like Lucas, they were also dragons, actually his cousins, but unlike Lucas, they had actually made an attempt to keep in touch with me as we had grown up. We had liked and commented on each other’s social media posts and had rare, if deep chats over random things like the violent and tender nature of humanity and the best organic fertilizer for a container garden. I was still positive that Daniel was using magic for his cherry tomatoes.

We had been captured by what I now understood to be literally some alien monster that had been bent on hunting and eating all magical creatures of Earth, of which there weren’t many left. For some reason, the monster had placed mind-control bands on our heads and had us try to kill one another.

The monster had also forced something else on me, a power that had given me odd, inhuman abilities.

And yet, Sophie’s friend Chloe, who was a real witch with sparkling magical hands they had charged with my care, had said that I was free and clear of the monster’s magic.

The scales along my arm flickered, responding to my thought of the Devourer with a visceral hate that at times, felt more solid than the ground I stood on.
It was that hate that strangely enough, made me feel safe about letting it live inside me.

From the images it had shown me, I knew this much about: It was a symbiotic life form that had been a weapon of the dragons in their old world. It remembered being deployed against the Devourer when the dragons were fleeing to Earth. It’s original bearer, a grizzly old bearded warrior whose favorite weapon was a massive axe that was bigger than my coffee table had died when the Devourer destroyed the original homeworld of the dragons, but somehow it survived.

I couldn’t get much else out of it. It otherwise expressed itself in feelings like rage and hunger.

It was the blood hunger that was most troubling. And perhaps one day I would have to show someone what had happened.

But not right now. Not while Val was in trouble.

I dropped my arm, sleeve falling and covering my scales.

Cursed I might be, but right now I needed the monster’s magic.

I had a serial killer to track down and a friend to save.

 

***

The line to the club was out the door, wrapping around the corner, and as I walked up in my four-inch golden heels, the music thumped in to the street, Damn girl. You got it girl you got it girl.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have any experience hunting criminals. I had worked for the FBI after all, not as an agent, but from behind screens, whiteboards and closed doors. I had been one of the many contract data analysts it had once deployed until budget cuts had killed the obscure department I had worked for.

Of course, having Daniel turn in a resignation letter when I was in a traumatized coma didn’t help the job situation either.

Lucas, covered with blood, screaming my name, as I swung a sword at his head.

I squeezed my eyes shut, slapping the side of my head as if I could knock the memory away.

The Devourer had captured Lucas and I, and placed devices on our heads, controlling us like puppets, forcing us to fight each other.

The scales underneath my skin itched at the memory of the Devourer.

I took a deep breath, opened my eyes, and centered myself in the present.

Damn girl. You got it girl you got it girl.

I strutted up to Jamal, the bouncer in the front. He was a big brown bald monolith of a man, standing there, arms folded with a look designed to mean business.

“Hey,” I said, with a smile. “Got some room in there for me?”

Jamal unhooked the velvet rope. I had helped his girlfriend out of a sticky situation with some corrupt cops not too long ago. “For you? Always.”

I ignored the cold jealous stares of the others in line as I entered through the doors into a universe of swirling flashing neon lights and a base beat that reverberated in my core.

Damn girl. You got it girl you got it girl.

I had never been much of a club goer but I was here because this is the last place anyone had ever seen Val. We had taken different paths, but a long time ago, Val and I had once been the only two brown girls in Oakwood elementary. In kindergarten, Val had gotten in trouble for getting in a fight with Tommy Warner, the mayor’s son, after he had broken my glasses on purpose and called me a nigger.

I wish I could say that she had been my best friend from that day on.

But that’s not the way things worked out.

Damn girl. You got it girl you got it girl.

Some guy with a backward baseball cap and sneakers way too white, made his way towards me, beer cup sloshing in his hand. He planted himself in front of me and yelled.

“Is your name Wi-Fi? Because I’m feeling a connection!”

I turned, and he put his hand on my left breast and squeezed. I glared at him in disbelief.

He shrugged with an unabashed grin. “You can’t be wearing a dress like that and not expect to be touched.”

I briefly checked the space behind him. All clear.

I smiled, put my hand in the middle of his chest and shoved.

He went flying, crashing into empty barstools behind him as I put my best “whoops” face on, before disappearing into the crowd.

Shit, I was underestimating my strength.

I kept dancing, shimmying and shaking my shoulders into the mess of people letting the music come over me. I put my hands up.

Prey.

Once in awhile, the armor spoke in my head, always when it was hungry, always when it sensed food nearby.

Something tingled in my head indicating where the prey was. There was a momentary green shimmer around the man, a totally unremarkable guy with ash blond hair. Average height, short hair, black collared shirt, surveying the crowd from behind a drink like any number of other people watchers in the crowd.

I caught his gaze and smiled as I shimmied and turned in the dance.

That was something I had never understood about clubs, all the people which came to sit and drink and watch people dance without being part of the dance themselves.

In another lifetime, that probably would’ve been me. Always watching, never part of the dance.

But now I had the power to accomplish things I had never dreamed of.

Prey.

Damn girl. You got it girl you got it girl.

I danced my way through the crowd towards him. Once more I made brief eye contact with him and smiled. And then I turned my back and ignore him for a few minutes.

Hunger erupted inside me, so empty, so dry, craving the taste of fresh warm blood.

My own horror blossomed along side it, the human part of me that knew that this feeling wasn’t right, wasn’t normal

And just as quickly the gaping maw hunger was closed off, as if it had closed the connection between us.

Then just the simple word again.

Prey.

When I caught the quarry’s eye again, he gestured to the empty seat next to him.

I turned away from him and danced little more, making sure to shake my ass at him letting the lights play over my shimmering gold dress.

In a few minutes I made my way to the bar, casually next to him. I ordered a drink, something expensive, and looked at him.

“Put her drink on my tab,” he said, his stare glued to my exaggerated and exposed cleavage. If the neckline was any lower, I’d be showing nipple. “Those were some nice moves.”

At least it wasn’t another Wi-Fi pick up line though he got no points for originality. “Thanks.”

He opened his jacket and handed me a card. “I run an agency of sorts. I have some prestigious clients who I think would be very interested in you.”

He thought I was an escort. Perfect. “I’m not for sale.”

“I wasn’t implying that you were.” Underneath the clashing club scents of smoke, and pot, liquor, and sweat, and perfume, and cologne, I suddenly scented him… bleach and acid.

 

Just like the other serial killers I had found.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

“I’m not easy to handle,” I said, playing with the umbrella in my drink.

His hand snaked to my waist. I wanted to chop it off and leave him with a bleeding stump. The blood hunger from the armor agreed. “Maybe you just need the right master,” he said.

“Master?” I arched my carefully contoured eyebrow as sexily as I could, and fluttered my fake eyelashes at him. “And you think you’re up to the challenge?”

He leaned close, reeking of alcohol. “I’m up for any challenge involving you.”

I wanted to let my forearm scales emerge into a blade, pierce him the gut, feel his warm delicious blood in my hands. I forced myself to put my hand on his groin, felt his semi-hard cock go instantly flaccid at my touch.

Serial killers who targeted women didn’t like it when women took control. And their dislike turned anger at my insolence was the perfect way of making sure that I would be their next target.

“Let’s get out of here.”

He grabbed my wrist and I followed him out of club.

His cold hands were clammy and I resisted the urge to break his grip on my and wipe my palm off on my dress or spray it with hand-sanitizer.

“Do you like fast cars?”

I pulled away, unable to bear his touch any longer. “I don’t know,” I said in a deliberately teasing tone. “I’m particular about my ride.”

The valet-lady pulled up in a Maserati.

I remembered I was supposed to be feeling seductive. “That will do,” I said, feigning impressment.

We got in, and the engine thrummed to life, as he said. “I’ve got a place out on Long Island.”

What was it with Long Island and serial killers? This was like the fourth serial killer on Long Island I had found.

I brushed an imaginary speck off his shoulder, even as I imagined slicing a red line along his throat. “As long as you give me a ride back to the city.”

We stopped at a red light. He slid his hand along my thigh. I shuddered in disgust.

He smiled at my reaction, clearly, taking my shudder for desire.

And then I felt a sharp pain my outer thigh.

I looked down and saw a syringe with a clear liquid sticking out of my thigh.

“What the hell is this?”

The first genuine smile appeared in his face, complete with eye crinkles at the side. “You’ll see. Nighty-night.”

“What —”

I rolled my eyes in the back of my head and slumped into the seat, hoping that that was what he expected.

“You must be tired,” he said with a lightness in his voice that would have frightened me, if I hadn’t known what I was doing. “None of the others fell asleep so quickly.”

The armor’s eagerness flashed bright inside me. Food was coming.

He buckled me in, almost lovingly now. “I can’t wait to bring you home.”

The car hugged a winding path, one that literally felt like it took forever. The pace quickened, lights brightened and sounds hollowed as we went through a tunnel. From where we had been, it might have been the Hudson, though who knows maybe he made good time and got to the Midtown.

Hard to tell because he kept playing this stupid elevator saxophone music on repeat.

Of all the things for a serial killer to listen to, Kenny G was his choice of music?

The saxophone set played itself at least twice before the car turned and slowed. Gradually the noise of highway traffic died/faded.

The sounds of gravel skittered underneath the car. As he opened his door, I got a whiff of salt. We were near the ocean. I remained deadweight as he hefted me over his shoulder, ignoring the shoes falling off my feet. He kicked the car door closed.

I peeked one eye open, and saw tall pine trees, and a walkway of solar lamps. An old weather worn garden gnome with a chipped nose stood on the front lawn.

Whistling the same goddamn Kenny G song that had just been playing in the car, he opened the front door.

And my blood ran hot at the scent.

It was the scent of fresh blood, fresh meat, the odor of a butcher shop.

It was also the scent of the Devourer, the very monster that had mind-controlled Lucas and I to fight to the death.

The hunger inside me mingled with fear as he rolled me on to a couch and then his footsteps moved away. I was torn between a desperate desire to run far away, and to stay and finish the hunt.

But this wasn’t about running, or hunting, I reminded myself.

It was about finding Val.

At first, I cracked my eyes opened the smallest amount. A giant cube of a TV sat in a massive piece of oak furniture. Around it on glass shelves were wine glasses filled with translucent plastic like bits in which obviously plastic flowers were anchored. An old embroidered banner hung off one of the shelves, which read “Bless this House,” but it was oddly burnt on one edge.

A door opened, and his laugh echoed through the house.

So what if the Devourer was here? Most likely, it was a piece of it, and well, I could handle it.

And if I didn’t well, I had known the risk I was taking, right?

Prey.

Right. I had to focus on that. Hunger.

Prey.

And then the door closed behind him.

I sprang to my feet. In the attached dining room with a plastic covering over a lace tablecloth, a series of computer screens hummed, their blue lights illuminating the place. I would have ignored them if my enhanced vision hadn’t recognized an email address I had seen before.

I went over, scrolled through the email chain.

And then I saw it. Val’s picture. But she looked beaten and drugged.

I followed the email chain. More pictures of captured, beaten and drugged women.

She had been here. But they had sent her to another facility.

Where was the other facility?

This was a far bigger operation than just a single serial killer.

I logged onto one of the many cloud drives and I had set it up to download.

Prey.

Chains clinked. Someone whimpered.

There was a scream cut short.

Oh gods. What had he said? Sisters? The nausea burned through my throat like acid.

There were others he had captured in this house.

Scales emerged from my skin, sheathing my body underneath my clothes, giving me a strength that was beyond mortal.

Prey.

I followed the scented trail of the man to a door by the kitchen. I kicked it open, and had to hold my hands over my eyes from the sudden blinding brightness of the basement.

At the end of the steps, I could only see his sneakers, and a pool of blood.

“You’re awake,” he said like his favorite puppy had arrived. “Just in time.”

Senses enhanced abruptly, telling me that we were the only two living things in the house. My stomach felt hollow as I realized that there had been others I could have saved.

Other Vals.

And I hadn’t.

Prey.

“Shut up!” I screamed.

He rounded the stairs. I backed away, as the scales that shielded my hands turned them into black taloned claws.

My flesh trembled, but not from fear. It was the armor’s excitement, the shuddering anticipation of a hunger on the verge of a feast.

I had no idea what awaited in the basement so I backed up a few steps, still playing the victim. And the knowledge that confronting an enemy in a known space was far better than confronting them in an unknown space.

He came at me fast, in a rush that telegraphed his training: strength and a moderate amount of skill. And had I not been what I was, I would have been screwed.

But I was different now.

I held my ground, the scales absorbing the kinetic energy of his charge, and reflecting it back at him.

The impact sent him flying and he crashed into the armoire behind him. Glass shattered.

I picked my way around the shards towards him, even though the scales that covered my feet in a black boot that was more than enough protection.

His trembling, his fear, his panic: it was all too delicious not to savor it for as long as I could. The armor read what the tiny little translucent bits in the vase had been. Human nail cuttings.

From his victims? Disgust roiled my stomach.

“You’re done,” I said. “You will hunt no more.”

Blood streamed down his face, he scrambled, and ran out the door.

I laughed in anticipation, in joy. Oh this was going to be so much fun.

I exited the house and he tripped, falling. The thrill of a hunt and feeding coursed through me.

He staggered to his feet, tried to run.

A long glowing whip lashed out of my hand, wrapping around his ankle. I yanked and he fell. I tugged/hauled him toward me, my wriggling fish, his 200 pound plus weight no match for my strength fueled armor.

And soon he was at my feet, my foot pressed on his throat.

“How many have you taken?”

“Twelve,” he rasped.

I made needles emerge from my feet, piercing his skin, tasting his blood. So delicious. “Where are the bodies?”

He screamed, his voice a high pitched crying whine. “In the basement.”

His blood was almost intoxicating. I felt the urge to slice him in half and fall into his chest cavity. “So original,” I said.

“Please,” he said.

I smiled, and leaned down into his stinking face. “No.”

Talons extended from my scaled fingers and I drove them into his chest, ripping out his heart.

The horror on his face as his heart beat in my hand, was one I would remember forever, as the life fled from his eyes and he was left nothing more than a hunk of meat.

Slowly, the heart dwindled as the armor drank in the blood. It wanted more, need more, so I shoved my taloned hands deep into his chest so I could satiate the monster inside me. The armor drank, sucking the body dry.

And when I finally felt full and satisfied, I stood up. For now, the ever-present hunger of the armor was quiet.

I had done it. I had killed another serial killer, and with the files I had copied tonight, I was one step closer to finding Val.

A twig cracked behind me. I spun, blades shooting from my fore arms, ready for any incoming.

“Lucas,” I said in surprise.

 

Lucas Randall, still in his Einstein t-shirt, watched me from behind the sights of a weapon that looked like a hyper alien evolved version of a rifle.

The weapon was pointed at me, humming in an ominous whine.

 

“Devourer.” Lucas’s voice was rumbling thunder. “I know what you are. And I will end you tonight.”

 

He fired the weapon.

***

EDITED ON AUGUST 27, 2018 –

Please note that this serial is now complete. The first two chapters have been left up as an excerpt, but the rest of the story has been taken down as as per Amazon publishing rules, since the final version has been published on Amazon and is now available here.

 

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