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The Ravens Revisited: John
by Rhiannon Neeley

Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Romance
Description: Over 200 years ago, a Raven daughter was taken by a monster that walked the night. She was taken and turned?then destroyed by the family who loved her. After that day, The Unkindness of Ravens was formed and the battle began? Now, in the 21st Century, the war still wages. The Unkindness continues on, known now as The Raven Clan. They fight hard and love even harder. And yet? The monsters still haunt the night. Forced to break into small groups called 'Clutches' to survive, the Horde of Vampires still exists.
eBook Publisher: Whispers Publishing, 2006 2006
eBookwise Release Date: March 2012

eBookeBook

Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [227 KB]
Words: 52257
Reading time: 149-209 min.


Prologue

"John, don't you think we're getting a little too well known to be doing this?" Eric asked, slamming the car door shut.

John clenched his teeth. "Don't slam the door."

"Sorry."

The Corvette roared to life, and John slid it expertly out of the underground garage that lay like a sunken lair in the bowels of Ravencrest and pointed the car down the long driveway. The night clung to the surrounding trees, a dark, velvet cloak draped over the compound. The headlights speared the darkness, twin lances parting the night.

"John, seriously, going in using the Raven name...we're taking a huge chance."

"It will work. Trust me." He floored the car as soon as the tires touched the asphalt on the road at the end of the drive.

John Raven hoped it would work. The Devlin Morse Clutch knew about the Raven Clan. Every vampire worth his fangs did. He and Eric were joining the Clutch without changing their names, going in undercover as always. It was a bold move. But bold was called for. This time. Devlin Morse was cocky and arrogant. Devlin's interest had been piqued when John and Eric chose to use the Raven name. That interest had opened the door to the Clutch, allowing them entrance into the underworld of the damned.

And that's all John and his brother, Eric, had needed. Just a crack in the door. Once they were in...

John Raven was the head of the Raven Clan. Their life revolved around history and legend. He would not deny his heritage. Ever. Now, in the twenty-first century, it was harder still. More difficult to seek out the monsters. The Vampires.

They either stayed well-hidden from view, or they blended so well into the underground cultures that existed in the larger cities that they were considered 'normal'.

Normal they were not. They were Vampires, blood-sucking destroyers of life.

It was the mission of the Ravens to wipe them out.

Now and forever.

The story was old--the legend of the Unkindness of Ravens. Centuries ago, when the Unkindness was formed, the pact had begun. They would hunt the monsters for eternity for what they had done.

In old Germany, a vampire had made the mistake of taking a Raven daughter. Soon after, the war between the Unkindness of Ravens and the Vampire Horde began. Today, the war continued, but it waged beneath the surface of polite society.

John and Eric were on their way to Chicago, to infiltrate one of the most vicious Clutches of Vampires they had yet encountered.

True, the Unkindness of Ravens--the Raven Clan as it was known these days--was known to the vampires, but that didn't discourage the Ravens from battle. They would wipe out this scourge on humanity. It was their life, their mission.

He glanced at his brother. Almost a mirror image of himself, John hoped he wasn't putting Eric in a position of intense danger. Every mission was treacherous, but this one somehow seemed more so. They were family.

The Raven Clan consisted of himself, Eric and Dirk. All brothers. Then there was Drake and Holt. The cousins. The Raven men.

The only Raven woman still living was Lark, the matriarch of the Clan, mother of John, Eric, and Dirk. But she was a shell of herself, having been put through hell and still living it, even if only in her mind. Again the vicious murder of his father entered John's mind. It only served to cement his resolve. The thought of his mother and what she had become after witnessing the murder of his father made John's jaw clench, his grip to tighten on the wheel. The bitter taste of hate caused his eyes to narrow as he glared at the twin beams of light shooting from the headlights into the dark.

No matter how risky this assignment became, John was determined.

The Vampire Horde must be destroyed.

No matter what the cost.

* * * *

Chapter One

Finally.

The cannon shot echoed off the sides of the buildings lining Main Street and reverberated for a full minute, setting Maddie's heart thudding in her chest. The crowd lining both sides of the sidewalk cheered over the sound as The River Bend High School Marching Band began to play three blocks down.

The annual River Bend Halloween parade had begun.

Maddie sat on a chilly, metal chair situated on a flat-bed trailer, which was parked in front of The First State Bank. She was one of seven people sitting high above the crowd at the long announcer's table. Wishing she had worn long underwear beneath her jeans, she smiled and clapped as the band stopped in front of the trailer and began the school song. The word 'finally' kept running through her mind as she watched the band do their signature number.

If she was proud and excited to be where she was, her parents, Michael and Kathryn Woods, were even more proud that their wayward daughter had finally secured a place in River Bend Society. Only important locals received invitations to sit at the announcer's table, and this was the first time Maddie had been invited to join them.

Madison Woods had lived all of her twenty-six years in River Bend, Ohio, and her life had been, well, not one she really wanted to discuss. As a teenager she had almost driven her parents crazy with her wild imagination and even wilder ways. But when she was a senior in high school, a certain teacher had commented that Maddie would never amount to anything.

Those words had changed her attitude and her life. She would prove that teacher wrong. Totally wrong.

She'd graduated with passable grades. No valedictorian here. Then she immediately moved into her own tiny apartment, got a job, and put herself through school at the local River Bend Community College. It had been a challenge, but with a bit of financial aid and working every night of the week, she had succeeded. Her love life had died down to nothing, but she stayed focused. She'd show them just what she was made of. And when her novel, When Glory Came Home, was published, Maddie became a prominent, solid citizen in the town. She was no longer known as the Woods' wild teenage daughter. Finally.

After she began to get some recognition, she tried to kick start her life again. Even the men she began to date were 'Michael and Kathryn' worthy. Gone were the rough boys, the oh-so-sexy bad boys. In came the college grads with 'a future'. But she stopped dating after awhile, realizing the so-called 'acceptable' men were too 'River Bend'. At five feet two and one hundred pounds, Maddie had kept her high school figure. She still had the tiny waist that only accentuated the fact that she was busty for her size. Her green eyes were set off by the deep red tones in her shoulder-length hair, and her full lips were a natural coral color that never needed lipstick. She didn't consider herself a beauty, but in her own opinion, she wasn't bad to look at, either.

She had never wanted for dates. While she had plenty of offers, no one seemed to live up to her idea of a man who would hold her interest for more than a month. What she really wanted...what she needed...was a man who was mysterious, dangerous. A man who could titillate her desires as well as her mind. A man with a certain 'darkness' hidden just beneath the skin, who could excite her day after day, month after month. A man she could explore, slowly revealing bit by bit what was beneath the surface, inside and out. But now that she had risen to her parents' expectations of status in society, she didn't want to blow it by letting her hidden, wild side show through. Not now. Not after she had worked so hard for this.

She had shown them all they were wrong about her. She had become an asset to society and recognized for her contribution. Maddie liked her life now. Her life of normalcy--if you could call a horror writer's life normal.

Maddie loved River Bend. Always had. Though it was true she had a wild side, she'd never had the inclination to leave the small town she grew up in. But she craved a good jolt of excitement once in a while.

That was what she was getting now. This Halloween promised to be more exciting than any other. As the band finished its number and marched down the street, George Polk, River Bend's mayor, took up the microphone. "What a wonderful job! Let's give the River Bend High School Marching Band a cheer!" His voice sounded loud and strangely distorted through the PA system. "And while we're waiting for the Sheriff's Posse to mount up and ride our way, let's give another River Bend cheer for the scariest lady in town." Mayor Polk waved his hand at Maddie, motioning for her to stand.

She stood, smiling. Scariest lady in town. That's a good one.

The mayor grinned widely and continued, "Introducing Miss Madison Woods, our resident horror writer!"

John Raven watched her from across the street. Hands shoved deep into the pockets of his long, leather coat, he let his mind drift.

He'd had no idea when they had left Ravencrest two weeks ago that their infiltration of Devlin Morse's Clutch would become this dangerous. Had no idea that he would be sent on what amounted to an 'errand' for Morse. One that John felt would somehow end up defining his life as he knew it.

An errand to find the author, Madison Woods.

He was drawn to her, and not only because Devlin Morse had ordered him to watch and deliver her to him, if necessary. No. It was much more. A couple of times he had reached out and touched her with his mind, a talent he had developed over the years. It came with his heritage and the mission the Raven Clan continued to pursue. Yes, he had touched her mind using only a light touch, but it incited him with the volcanic urge to be near her. She was so guarded with her feelings.

So...alone, it seemed, not letting the real Madison Woods come to the surface. He wanted her to unveil herself instead of trapping her essence inside. She touched him in a way that made him want to protect her, help her. Make her see that she didn't need to hide herself away.

John had been in this business a long time and had always kept women at a distance.

But this time he didn't know if he'd be able to stay away from his quarry. He felt the need to be close to her. She was prey like he had never stalked before. She was human. Warm blooded. And very desirable. "End Excerpt"


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