Blood Ties [Order of Terminus]
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by Olivia Starke
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Romance
Description: Hannah Evans had wanted to die human, yet her one time savior, Nicholas Black, came to her one last time stealing away her humanity. An opportunity of revenge against a Dissenter who robbed her of her family is too good to pass up--if only Nicholas wasn't on the same hunt. Nicholas Black has always kept close tabs on the little girl he saved from a Dissenter attack. Now a beautiful woman, Hannah doesn't know the terrible secret he harbors. When she stubbornly refuses to back down from a hunt, will the truth destroy their fragile bond?
eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [53 KB]
Reading time: 29-41 min.
Hannah cowered in her hiding spot repeating the Lord's Prayer inside her head, "Our Father, which art in Heaven..."
The screams of her family had died away some time ago, but she was still too terrified to leave the sanctuary she'd found in the dark cellar beneath the kitchen floor. Footsteps creaked above her. They were searching for her. She held her breath. Suddenly the door built into the floor above was thrown back and a tall figure, a giant in her ten year-old mind, filled the doorway.
She bit back a scream of terror, and fresh, hot tears spilled down her cheeks. One of the demons had found her. Within moments, strong arms encircled her waist. She let out a piercing scream. Hannah wouldn't go down without a fight, and fight she did--much like a wildcat's cub pulled from its' mother's den.
Damp cotton sheets twisted around Hannah Evans' body, and she kicked and thrashed against them. She cried out in frustration as her eyes flew open. The ceiling fan whirled above her in lazy circles, its blades drawing long-armed shadows across the ceiling. Its soft whine was drowned out by her ragged, shallow breaths. She blinked against the glare of the lamp she left on each night. Darkness frightened her. She brushed away the hair that had wrapped around her face and spat an errant lock from her mouth. Looking toward her nightstand, she read the red digital display of her alarm clock. Three-sixteen a.m. After flinging an arm across her face, she groaned.
The central air kicked on, and she stretched her arms over her head while yawning broadly. Her tense muscles relaxed some as she relished the cold air that washed over her skin. Vampires ran hot, even half-bloods. Reluctantly, she slid from the damp sheets and walked into her small bathroom, where she turned on the shower. After she adjusted the stream to cool, she stepped beneath the sharp spray of water.
She sighed. It was good to be home.
Hannah had spent the last week stalking a pocket of Dissenters, feral vampires that threatened to expose the existence of their species. She'd staked out an abandoned farmhouse the pocket had called home. A week spent crawling around in a dusty old cornfield in Iowa wasn't her idea of a vacation, but she'd been in worse places. An article in the small town's local newspaper told the story at the end of the hunt: Local Abandoned Farmhouse Destroyed by Homemade Explosive.
The article further read that there were no injuries, and authorities had no suspects. As a Hunter in the Order of Terminus, Hannah did her job above expectations despite having never taken human blood. She only possessed a portion of a vampire's abilities as a half-blood, but she made up for it with smarts and stealth. She prided herself on the skills she'd perfected over the past hundred years.
Hannah leaned her face into the shower and allowed the water to wash away the final traces of sleep. The same nightmare had haunted her since before she'd been changed. It was a remnant from her childhood from when she'd lost her family. She scrubbed her skin with a bar of soap until the lavender scented suds did their job. She then lathered shampoo into her hair.
The doorbell chimed, and she knit her brows together.
Who the heck could be here at this hour?
She shut off the water and stepped from the shower, wrapping a towel around her body before cautiously approaching the front door.
"Who's there?" she called out.
Silence answered her.
She brushed away the shampoo lather that threatened to spill into her eyes and listened intently. Nothing moved outside. She peered through the peephole at the empty front porch. Then she cracked open the door and peeked out.
A large manila envelope lay just past the door jamb. After searching the dark, deserted street, she stepped outside. Not a soul stirred at such an early hour. She picked up the envelope and carried it inside. Turning it over in her hands, she searched for some sort of identification or an address, but saw nothing. Her curiosity piqued, she tore open the envelope to find two black and white photos.
One was of a group of five individuals, none of whom looked familiar. Frowning, she flipped over the photograph. Dissenter pocket #105211 was scrawled across the back.
"What the heck?" She blinked. Davis, her Contact, hadn't given her a heads up on any new assignment. And the writing was in a delicate calligraphy she didn't recognize.
She pulled out the second photo, a close-up of one of the vampires in the first photograph. A young male in his late teens stared at her from the still shot. He was tall and youthfully lean, with features that would've filled out to be ruggedly masculine if he were capable of aging. He had a head full of black hair and a dark, piercing gaze that seemed oddly familiar. She turned on a nearby lamp and studied the boy more closely. Then she flipped the photo over. Case belonging to Nicholas Black, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was jotted across the back. Hannah's breath caught in her throat. She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth.
Her stomach did a flip flop. She hadn't seen him since she'd turned twenty-eight, over a century before--and she'd had no intention of ever laying eyes on the man ever again, not after what he'd taken from her.
"What is this about? Who would've sent this to me?" Hannah asked aloud in the empty room.
She stared a hole through the photo of the young man. Something familiar in his features tickled the back of her mind--his slightly aquiline nose, full lips, and harsh, penetrating eyes. She ground her teeth together in concentration.
Then it clicked.
It was just after midnight on her tenth birthday. Her aunt, uncle, and two young cousins were visiting her parents' Nebraska homestead for her party later that day. A noise had disturbed her sleep and she sat up in bed, searching the darkness. Only her two little cousins, Freddy and Edith, were in the room sleeping soundly on a cot nearby
The demons, savage and hellish, appeared from the shadows, attacking her family while they lay in their beds. Hannah managed to scramble, unhurt, through the blood and gore to the cellar under the kitchen floor. She hid beneath the canning shelves with her hands clamped over her ears trying to deafen the screams of her family and the growls of the demons. She stifled her own sobs, terrified that she'd be discovered
Before her escape she'd seen one of the demon's faces--a slightly aquiline nose with full lips drawn tight over sharp, bloodied teeth. Its hard black eyes had darkened to an awful red color in their sockets.
She sucked in a sharp breath. She was holding a photograph of one the Dissenters who had murdered her family. She'd searched over the years, but hadn't been able to catch a solid lead on the pocket of feral vampires that had stolen them from her. Now only one man stood in the way of her revenge.
Hannah would have to make the trip to Oklahoma City and face the man who'd passed on this curse to her, tying himself to her in blood. Forever.