Releasing ~ Zephania’s Chance

Zephanias ChanceTHE FREEDOMERS

Zephania’s Chance

Publisher: Fireborn

Release Date: March 16

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BLURB

Chance Hastings is alone. The person he was closest to was ripped away from him and sent to the world below the high city. Chance is determined to find his sister, no matter what it takes.

Zephania Aroson is being hunted by his own race for believing their leaders were wrong. The more he saw of the people of Earth, the more he realised they needed to be afforded the opportunity to live. He wasn’t willing to stand by and watch the extinction of an entire race because his leaders commanded him to do so.

By saving the life of the human, Zephania finds his mate in Chance Hastings. Together they learn of a legend surrounding Chance and his siblings. With the help of a group of freedomers, Zephania and Chance begin the search for them. Along the way, they save Zephania’s own family, and a new legend is uncovered.

EXCERPT

   July 18, 5023 AD had changed Chance Hastings’ life forever. His view of the world had been irrevocably altered, and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. It had been a bloody rude shock to the system when he’d found out humans weren’t the only intelligent race inhabiting the universe. He hadn’t even been sure it had been aliens, as by all rights and reasoning they hadn’t existed—or so he’d been taught throughout his life. Hell, who had he been kidding? The strangers flooding into cities all over the world were real honest-to-God aliens and not little green men, either. These were more humanoid looking. Word quickly passed from human to human that the aliens had come to take over the world and turn the human populace into mindless slaves. Others were saying the aliens had come to wipe everyone off of the face of the earth so they could claim it for themselves.

   Chance was in the group who believed the latter explanation. So far, from what he’d seen, the newfound alien race was the “shoot first and ask questions never” kind of people. Chance sat against the side wall of Guardian Lowell’s residence and took in the destruction around him, trying to come to grips with what he’d found. Inside the mansion, the whole Lowell family had been slaughtered, and by the state of the decomposition, they’d been murdered a good couple of weeks ago—if not longer. Deep down, Chance knew that if his first guardian had still been alive, the family would have helped Chance if they could. Guardian Lowell had been one of the few guardians who’d actually liked Chance and his siblings. The whole Lowell family had treated them as their own, rather than the wards they truly were. Instead, their lives had been forever changed the night they were taken from the Lowell’s home to live with a new guardian family.

   Chance’s mind wandered over the distant past as he thought about how much their world—the world of the human race—had changed with each passing century. Once, there had only been Earth. Now there were interconnecting cities above the earth’s surface—great cities, each joined to the other via endless corridors of housing. The wealthy thrived in the cities, and the areas joining each city were where the poorer citizens resided. Those people were known as bridgers. Chance had preferred his quadrant of the world rather than being one of the city dwellers. The one strange thing he’d seen was that there were no imperfect people in the upper world. It had taken a long time for him to understand why. Then it was only through overhearing one of his guardians talking that he realised anyone born less than perfect wasn’t tolerated. Imperfect people were taken to the lower world then left to defend themselves as best they could. Chance didn’t know how long the two worlds had been separated—or even why.

   All he knew for sure was that it had been done a long time before he’d been born. He’d learnt since the day he’d eavesdropped on the conversation, how those in charge at the time the worlds separated had chosen who went up and who stayed behind, and the decisions hadn’t been done fairly. The rich had been given preference. All criminals, the disabled, and the dirt-poor people had been left behind to fend for themselves. Families had been torn apart. People hadn’t even been given the choice of remaining with their kin on the surface. They had been just rounded up and taken up to the shining new city to live, and basically told that if they didn’t like it to get over it and start living their happily ever after.

   Sometime Chance had to wonder why he, Faith, and Maven had been up in the city and not on the surface. They were orphans—or so they’d been told over the years by their guardians. It was odd for the three siblings to be allowed to stay together. Usually orphan siblings were separated and doled out to deserving families to use as they wanted. Faith had believed there was something special about the three of them, mostly because they weren’t always treated poorly. At one time, people had actually given them respect. That was, until seven years ago when they had been transferred to their latest guardians. Something had changed, and in the middle of the night, they’d been woken and shipped out of the inner cities to live among the upper-class of the poorer citizens, although going from the life of luxury to being a bridger had been a blessing in some ways. Chance no longer had to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. Luckily, Faith had been like-minded. A week after they had joined Guardian Kremmer’s family, he and Faith woke up to find Maven missing, and the Kremmers weren’t answering any of their questions about where their brother was. Seven years had passed since then, and the reality was that it didn’t even matter anymore. Right now it looked like they wouldn’t survive until the end of the week, let alone long enough to find Maven. Chance knew that if he were going to die, he was going to go out fighting.

   Chance stilled as a small craft flew by overhead. If he didn’t move, maybe they would assume he was dead. At least, he hoped they would. From the pattern of their flight, he surmised they were looking for something—or maybe someone. He hoped they found whoever it was before they found out that he was still alive and roaming free.

   Well, they aren’t going to get me. Not today… Not ever, if I can help it.

   For the past three months Chance had been in hiding. It was more like he’d been on the run with Faith for the first two months, then in jail for the last month, and since getting out, he’d been on the run again for the last week. At least he thought it had only been a week. The day he’d been thrown in jail, the enforcers had carted Faith off, which scared the crap out of him for two reasons.

   The first reason was because once the enforcers assessed Faith, they would send her down to the surface. His sister would now be classed as imperfect, seeing as she was currently deaf. She’d lost her hearing three months ago when Guardian Kremmer had come home after having had too much to drink and had beat her across the back of the head with the object he’d had in his hand, which, at the time, happened to be a hot frying pan—all because he hadn’t liked what she’d prepared for supper.

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Exceprt ~ You Make Me Die In Pieces [TLOM 3]

bad30-2528mlr25292btlom2b32b-2byou2bmake2bme2bdie2bin2bpiecesChapter One

The Fun Never Ends

  For once in his life, Michael Marsden would’ve liked to have woken up when everything was absolutely perfect and he wasn’t in some sort of mortal fucking danger. Burning fury rocketed through him with the force of a lightning strike at the way his day was beginning. On the upside of this whole fucked up situation, this wake-up call had kicked his adrenaline up a notch or three. With a burst of his gifted vampiric speed, he rolled to the side of the bed and dropped to the hard floor as his attacker attempted to permanently remove his head from where it rested on his shoulders.

   Not gonna happen. Well, not today at least.

  There was no doubt in Michael’s mind Venetia was the one behind this current state of being attacked at the arse-crack of dawn. No one else hated him this much. Except for maybe Heather, but honestly he hadn’t been home enough lately to piss her off. Venetia and her rapidly growing band of idiotic followers were starting to become a big fat pain in his arse. The closer Michael got to actually finding a cure for Doyle’s memory loss, the more interference Venetia threw his way. Everything would be okay if the bitch played fair. The only problem was Venetia didn’t believe in fair.

  The truth was Venetia was pissed at him for more reasons than he was able to take the time to count right now, and he was starting to lose track of why she actually wanted him dead. Her intentions seemed to change with each passing day. Michael supposed it really didn’t matter why she hated him, yet he knew her three main motives were: One: he was the mirror image of Benj. Two: when she had orchestrated to have Gypsy taken, Michael had gone in and taken her right back. And three: when she’d had Doyle kidnapped and tortured, Michael had once again walked in and reclaimed what was his. Mind you, the bitch did get the last laugh in taking Doyle’s memories of Michael while leaving everything else intact. Her actions only filled Michael with the desire to fulfil his ultimate goal of seeing her dead.

  Michael lay on the floor wondering why the hell it was taking so long for his attacker to get on with the job. His assailant seemed to stop and listen, as if trying to gauge what Michael’s next move was going to be. The fucker probably didn’t even know how good of a fighter he was. The fact was, he’d had to shut down his pacifist tendencies and harden the fuck up ever since the night long ago when he’d woken up as a vampire and had his existence changed forever. To this day, he still both loved and despised Christian for turning him. He’d completely forgiven him, but it’d still pained him to find out his vampirism was because he resembled Benj so much, even if Christian hadn’t understood why. For a short time in the beginning, he’d loved deeply and hurt greatly when Christian had regained some of his lost memories and the truth had come out.

  He also had come to realise Venetia was taking out her hatred for Benj on him, mainly because she couldn’t get close enough to Benj to harm him. The rumour was at some stage in a distant lifetime, Venetia had loved Benj with her whole being-if such a feat was even possible. Michael very much doubted it, because the bitch had a heart of ice and was twice as cold. The real problem for Venetia was Benj was in love with her brother, Christian. Michael knew she would never forgive Benj for choosing Christian over her.

  Somebody should tell her to build a fucking bridge and get over herself.

  Not that she would listen.

  Also, Venetia was apparently jealous that Christian had been the one in their family to be blessed, or cursed-depending on which way a person looked at it. He had inherited the power of a Drarcaine which ran in the Kincaid lineage. Venetia wanted the magic for herself, and now with her fucked up logic she had gotten it into her head the only way to take said abilities was to kill both Christian and her father, Varnoskulos. Michael couldn’t allow either death to occur. Especially as the whole magic of being a Drarcaine had somehow given him and Christian the same fucking soul to share. Fucked up was an understatement in their strange relationship, especially now as they weren’t even together. Not that it mattered, seeing as Christian had always truly belonged with Benj. Weirdly, the upside of their bond meant Michael and Christian also powered each other up. On the other hand, the downside was if one of them died, so would the other. Yeah, reality was so not fun.

  Christ on a cracker, if his guy didn’t hurry the fuck up Michael was going to die of old age before he started his attack. As an eerie silence filled the room around him, Michael had to wonder if his would-be assassin had disappeared or something. Not that Michael was stupid enough to move to find out. Venetia might be a calculating bitch, but more often than not these lackeys she sent after him were dumber than a box of rocks. He actually relished the breather, the moron above him was probably waiting on Michael to do something. Michael was more than willing to wait the prick out. Having fought so many opponents before he was easily going to defeat this idiot as well.

  As he lay there, Michael’s mind wandered to Doyle Kerwin. Michael believed wholeheartedly he truly belonged to his consort. The major setback with Doyle’s memory loss was he no longer even knew he and Michael had once been something more than friends. Even now, the ‘friends’ thing was a bit of a stretch. With each passing day, Doyle seemed to like him less and less. At first, Doyle had accepted what the rest of the extended family-who he did remember-had told him about being Michael’s consort, yet lately even those memories seemed to be fading from his mind. In the end, Michael had to come to terms with the fact that he probably wasn’t meant to be happy.

  Hence the reason why he now went on so many missions.

  Michael hated Venetia with a passion. He hoped like hell he was the one who got to end her existence. And sooner rather than later. He couldn’t prove yet she was behind what had happened with Doyle, except his gut instinct was screaming at him and he knew without a doubt she was to blame. Hell, everyone at home thought it was her, too. Michael was beginning to think maybe he should forget all about the cure, and concentrate on killing the stupid bitch once and for all, if only for the satisfaction of having done so. In the end, it would give him the same result. If it was the last thing he did, Michael was going to restore what was taken from his friend. If nothing else, Doyle was still his family, and his consort, whether the guy wanted to be or not. Michael had tried to play nice and kind. Now, he needed to play hard and nasty. He had always believed the situation would work itself out and he and Doyle would eventually be together again.

  Then Heather had shown up.

  She had suddenly come onto the scene, and all of Michael’s dreams had shattered the day he’d walked into the living room and found Doyle and Heather in a very intimate moment. The only thing he could do to save his own sanity then was to back away and lock the hurt deep inside him. He hadn’t wanted to do something stupid to ruin what little friendship remained between him and Doyle.

  As Michael lay there on the floor, he got tired of waiting for the idiot to move. “Are you going to attack me yet? If not, I’m a tad hungry so how about we reschedule for next Tuesday?”

  Michael chuckled as a loud roar above him told him to get ready. He reached beneath the bed and extracted one of the daggers hidden there. After too many close calls, Michael was now in the habit of keeping himself well and truly armed. As Gypsy would say: better to be prepared for an apocalypse than sorry later for getting his damn arse handed to him.

  As if sensing Michael was in trouble, Gypsy and Benj were suddenly inside his head. Both of them told him to be careful. While at the same time, they demanded to know why he was just lying there like a tool. Sometimes, he hated how they were permanently linked to him. Peace and quiet were now a thing of the past. Their ongoing questions and wanting to know what the hell was happening weren’t helping his concentration one little bit. “Get the fuck out of my head, or are you purposely trying to get me killed?I’ve done this a million times before. Killing this fucker will be a piece of cake,” he shouted at them.

  In the last few months, Michael had found himself swearing a hell of a lot more than he used to. Gypsy was always ranting at him because he was changing, but what did they expect when some crazy fucked-in-the-head bitch decided to mess with his life?

  Meek little Michael Marsden was long gone.

  With a twist of his body, Michael jumped up and drove the dagger straight through his assailant’s throat until the tip protruded from the nape of the fucker’s neck. The onyx spurt of hot fluid only pissed him off more. He was fighting a fucking demon. Shit was going to be brutal until the very end of the fight. He wasn’t going to be taken out as easily as Michael had first thought, because demons in battle mode never knew they even were injured until they were dead. Most viewed being wounded as a minor annoyance.

  Why is this fucker still standing?

  “Fucking great!” he muttered as he scrambled back beneath the bed in search of the other blade he’d need to end the bastard’s life. In recent times, Michael and his extended family had acquired a whole new set of fighting skills as the war they didn’t want kept finding them and dragging their arses back in. One of the lessons they’d learnt was the only way to permanently kill a demon was to kill it twice, or the fuckers didn’t stay dead for long. The twice kill method involved firstly severing the spinal column as close to the base of the skull as possible. Then, while the first blade was still imbedded deep in the demon, a second one had to be plunged through the demon’s heart, staying there until the damn thing stopped beating.

  A cry of triumph left him as his hand closed around the hilt of his other dagger. The two blades had been gifted to him by the members of Asher’s coven’s inner circle. Michael kicked the demon’s legs out from under him, and as soon as the fucker hit the floor, Michael rammed the weapon through the bastard’s rapidly beating heart. Michael grinned coldly as he saw the life fade from the demon’s eyes.

  One down, only about a gazillion or so to go.

  The moment the demon died, the magical based seal, which had been placed on the room lifted. The door burst open to reveal a slightly dishevelled Tyler standing there fully armed, with murder in his eyes. Right behind him were Aggie and Clyde, both equally irate. The only thing Michael could do was laugh at the sight before him.

  “You’re a bit late, guys. I had to do all the hard work myself.” Michael flopped back on the floor and let his body gain some semblance of control. His muscles ached like a bitch as he waited for the adrenaline to run its course through his system. He hoped it was fast. They needed to get out of here, because when Venetia found out she’d once again failed she’d send in more people and hit him harder.

  Tyler savagely slammed the door closed behind them before he stalked across the room. “Well, if we went home long enough for Chris to convert me, these bastards wouldn’t be able to mind-fuck me enough to leave you unguarded, your Majesty.” Tyler’s use of Michael’s royal title should have clued Michael in as to how pissed off his guard and friend truly was. Instead, he lay there and watched as Tyler viciously kicked the corpse at his feet and snarled. “As soon as we get rid of this fucker we’re making a trip home. Jaxon tells me everyone has now moved to the new place Benj and Chris bought. It’s time, Michael. I lived up to my end of the bargain, now you have to do the same.”

  Recently, Benj and Christian had bought the farm which had once belonged to Michael’s Grandpa Jack. In Michael’s opinion, it should never have been sold off in the first place. It should have stayed with his family. The truth was a greedy uncle had sold it off not long after Grandpa Jack had died, even though the land didn’t belong to him. It had been set aside in the will for Michael and Gypsy’s use.

  Michael tuned out Tyler as he phoned home for a clean-up crew to come and remove all evidence of the fight he’d recently survived. Also the conversation going on inside his head only partially held his concentration. Benj and Gypsy in their need to make the situation less full-on for him were talking him down from his adrenaline rush by giving him a rundown of what was happening at home. More so, how their lives had changed because some dumbarse was once again out on a patrol and not at home where he should be to take care of everything. It was true that ever since the day his heart had shattered over Doyle, Michael had thrown himself into work. Against everyone’s wishes, Michael had put together his own four crew scouting team and gone out. Granted, his goals were more based on finding a cure for Doyle, but the outcome was slowly adjusting as needed with each new mission.

  The tasks also helped him ignore the other crap going on in his life. Most of the vampire nation was up in arms over shit that didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Mainly they were upset because his chosen consort was male, and now with Doyle’s condition worsening they were calling for Doyle to be relieved of his position, and for Michael to get his act together, take a wife, and rule them as they felt he should have done all along. Michael let his thoughts drift back to Doyle.

  What a crock! Until Doyle himself asks to be freed from his position it isn’t going to happen. I’m keeping one small part of him in my life. If they think I’m going to change who I am just to appease them all, they have another thing coming. They chose me as their king, so they’re going to have to put up with me as-is-warts and all.

  Reality crashed over Michael as Benj and Gypsy continued yammering at him. All he wanted them to do was shut up so he could ask some questions of his own. He wanted to know about Doyle. Fuck, he missed the man more than he ever thought he would. Another part of him dreaded hearing how the relationship between Doyle and Heather had strengthened.

  Heather, and how he hated her fucking name, had wormed her way into Doyle’s life the minute they’d left England and returned home to Australia. The woman was like a blood sucking parasite the way she clung to Doyle. His consort had physically gotten stronger since coming back home, but his memories of Michael apparently still eluded him.

  If Michael didn’t know any better he’d swear Doyle was somehow getting top-ups of whatever spell had been used on him, but it couldn’t be possible. In any case, if it were true then there wasn’t a damn thing Michael could do about it. To make matters worse, Michael still felt guilty over the way he, Tyler, Aggie, and Clyde had left pack grounds in their first wave of scouting missions. Unlike them, the rest of the groups were tracking down any and all information on Venetia since lately she was showing herself less and less, and even though her lackeys were attacking, her personal absence was still kind of worrying.

  No wonder Doyle was turning away from him.

  Both sides in their conflict had been shown, or should it be, had learnt many things from the time Michael and his group had spent in England. Mainly, it had given Venetia the knowledge she needed to bring the battle to their doorstep since she believed she had a chance of taking them on and winning. Another reason the bitch probably had him at the top of her hate list was because Michael wasn’t afraid of her. He wasn’t scared of taking her head-on, but even worse for her was the fact he’d been there when Christian had so easily destroyed what was left of their childhood home. Michael glanced at the ring still adorning his finger. Maybe he should give it back to Christian, or maybe even Benj should be the one to wear it, yet the last time he had tried to return the piece of jewellery, Christian had gone off his nut and told him to keep it. The ring was somehow linked to the soul they shared, and whatever it entailed.

  “Are you even listening, Mikey?” Benj snapped inside his mind, and in doing so he brought Michael back to the here and now.

  “Say again?” Michael asked when he realised he must have missed something of importance.

  Benj gave him a mental bitch slap. “I said, if you want to re-stake your claim on Sweetness, you’d better get your arse home. Mind you, I do sense something off about his relationship with Heather. Sometimes, I swear Sweetness is trying to distance himself from her. Word is though, Heather has wedding bells in sight, and Doyle doesn’t seem to be fighting hard enough to deter her.

  Anger and sadness flowed through Michael at the speed of light. Doyle getting engaged had always been a possibility. He just hadn’t believed it would come so soon. The thought was quickly followed by a sudden burst of pain as he calmly answered, “Sweetness isn’t mine anymore. I don’t have a say in what happens to him.

  Michael sighed long and low. “We’re planning on coming home anyway. Tyler has more than convinced me it’s time for him to be converted.” With the silence on the other end of the link, he added,“We also have one small stop to make along the way. We’ve gotten a little side-tracked watching a coven we’ve come across. These guys are as evil as fuck. Clyde and I think they’re holding hostages of the paranormal kind. There’s one kid we’ve seen who’s always restrained whenever they let him outside. He’s a vampire, but he isn’t corporeal in sunlight. He hasn’t yet tasted the blood of a wolf. None of them have, not even the coven’s members themselves. They creep me the fuck out.”

  “Mikey, what’s going on?” His sister’s voice was tinged with a sense of worry.

   “I don’t know. Something inside me says I need to rescue this kid. I get the sense he’s somehow important to our family. If we can’t get him out, I’ll need Chris to come and do the crazy-arsed, scary-as-fuck ashes thing he does so well. He may have to take out the whole coven of fuck-ups. They really don’t deserve to live.

  “Are you sure he’s a captive?” Gypsy interrupted. “Maybe it’s some kind of kinky sex thing.”

  His irritation at her question poured through their mental link and he felt his sister tense. “Gyps, the kid I’m most worried about looks stoned out of his gourd. Besides energy drinks, what the hell would be strong enough to drug a vampire? The kid doesn’t look good at all. He’s gaunt, hell he looks anorexic. Did I mention the whole â€˜he’s always tied up thing’?” Michael sighed again. “Look, I gotta go help Ty before Julian’s clean-up crew gets here. I’ll fill you in when I get home later today, or tomorrow at the latest.

  After Gypsy and Benj faded from his mind, Michael ran a hand over his closely cropped hair, cursing as he spotted the demon corpse again. “Fuck! How the hell are we getting this piece of shit outta the hotel?”

  “Same way we always do. A small, well placed diversion, and a whole lot of luck.” Tyler knelt down beside him and began inspecting Michael from top to bottom. “Were you hurt? Did you get any cuts?”

  They’d learnt the hard way that demon blood when ingested either via the mouth or absorbed through wounds in a fight was as nasty as hell, and stung like a fricken bitch.

  Tyler kept talking. “I told Julian to make sure the bonfire was burning for us when we get home.”

  Michael knocked Tyler’s hands away as he reassured his bodyguard. “I’m cut-free, so quit worrying. All the damage was done to numbnuts over there.” In the last two months, he and Tyler Campbell had become as close as brothers. Michael liked knowing he had the man watching his back when shit got hinky. Their friendship had started out a little rocky due to Michael’s dismal attempt at flirting, but now it was stronger than ever. “Looks like you are gonna get your wish, Ty. We’re going home.” He waggled his eyebrows at Tyler. “I think you should spend some much needed time with Coby, and work out if you’re man enough to tell him how you feel about him.”

  Tyler flipped him the bird. “Since when did you turn into a bleeding teenage girl?” The smile on his face told Michael his friend was only teasing. “Why don’t you take your own advice and tell Doyle who he is to you? Take him to bed and fuck him like crazy, instead of ogling him quietly from afar?”

  “Not likely.” Michael winced as he recalled what Benj had told him. “Apparently he’s getting hitched. Benj tells me things are heating up between my Sweetness and the lovely Heather. So no matter what I want, he already has other plans.”

  “Damn!” Tyler squeezed Michael’s arm in comfort before changing the subject. “Remember back when you didn’t think he was gay and asked me out?” Tyler chuckled as he made his way around the room, double checking to make sure all their belongings were packed and ready to go. Michael didn’t answer, he kept staring at the floor as Aggie and Clyde left to gather their own gear. He didn’t want to see the sympathy in their eyes.

  Once they were out of the room, Michael joked, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why the hell would I ever want to hit on you?” He smirked, even though he’d had the same memory only moments before. Standing, he stripped and proceeded toward the bathroom to take a shower and clean himself up.

  On the way, he paused and freed his daggers from the demon corpse. The longer demon blood was left to dry the harder it was to get off. Still, it was going to be a bitch to remove the shit out of the room. Luckily for them, Clyde and Gareth had worked together and invented a solution that when sprayed on a stain erased the worst of the mess. Like all paranormal creatures, burning was the only sure fire way to completely get rid of the lifeless flesh left behind. When the others had relocated to the farm land, Jaffa had insisted they dig a deep, reinforced fire pit to take care of any and all corpses that might crop up, and lately there were more and more. The problem was the body count didn’t look to be stopping any time soon. In all honesty, Michael believed it was only going to get worse-much worse.

  After his shower, Michael quickly dried himself and his weapons off before dressing. He stepped out of the bathroom when a knock sounded on the bedroom door. Followed closely by Benj saying, “Open up, Mikey. We know you’re in there.”

  How the hell had Benj and the clean-up crew gotten there so fast? Maybe his team wasn’t the only one out on a recon mission. If so, why hadn’t they told him while inside his head? Then again, maybe they had and Michael hadn’t been listening.

  Tyler sheathed his dagger as he opened the door. He then stood to the side as six people entered the room. Among them were not only Benj, but Christian as well.

  “Benj? Babe? What are you doing here?” Michael asked as he pointed to the body the clean-up crew was here for. “You know a heads-up would have been kinda nice.”

  “Lucky for you we weren’t far away. Babe decided since we were already out with another crew, we’d jump ship and tag along with you so we can go and check out this kid you’re so worried about. He thought if we were already here and things went pear-shaped, we wouldn’t have to come back. We can take the kid and the others, and head home,” Benj said as Christian and the others went to get the demon’s remains ready to go.

  The reminder of home brought Doyle to mind. “Have they set a date?” Everyone would know without further explanation who he meant by they.

  Benj shrugged. “Heather seems to be becoming a permanent fixture at the house lately. I can tell you, it’s starting to piss more than a few people off. The more we’ve all tried to get to know her the more everyone thinks there’s something off about her. Hell, Jaffa even had her life investigated. It came back squeaky clean, but a few of us, okay maybe Gyps mostly, think she’s a little too clean. We need you at home where Doyle can see you. Heather won’t take no for an answer, and I don’t know how much longer Sweetness will last. I still get the feeling they haven’t exactly consummated their relationship, but Heather seems intent on getting them both past that hurdle in a hurry. I wouldn’t put it past her to slip something into his drink or maybe give him an energy drink to help speed things along. You know firsthand the effects those have on our kind.”

  Did he ever. Michael had long ago found out energy drinks of all kinds affected vampires the same as normal alcohol would a human.

  With an arch of his eyebrow, Michael studied Benj, who’d decided for all intents and purposes to tell people he was Gypsy and Michael’s brother because of how much alike the three Marsdens were in appearance. The Marsden twins had now become triplets. Most people naturally assumed they were siblings, and aside from having to explain Benj’s accent every once in a while, they found it easier to just go with it. There was something in Benj’s stance making Michael think there was more to the story about Doyle. “What aren’t you telling me?” If they were worrying about getting him home ASAP maybe things were worse than they were letting on.

  “The truth is,” Christian began as he walked over to join them while at the same time gesturing to Benj’s groin. “Gypsy said if we didn’t bring you home to take care of the situation at hand she’s going to feed Benj his balls. I for one like them right where they are, so you need to get your arse home and fix this problem with Doyle.” Christian frowned before adding, “Plus, now there’s this whole other problem at home. I tell you, Michael, there seem to be hangers-on galore arriving on the doorstep every day, and driving everyone to the breaking point. All these newcomers are demanding to talk to you, and I think the wolves are ready to eat them. Hell, I’m ready to let them have at it. Once or twice, I was seconds away from turning them all to dust.” Christian threw his hands in the air in apparent irritation.

  “Apparently the wolves don’t like strangers being on our lands, and neither does the rest of our family for that matter. Right now, we’re in total agreement with the wolves. These freeloaders need to go. And so you know how bad it is even Blake hates them, and the mutt usually loves everyone. He growls every time these people come anywhere near the house. Actually, Blake hates Heather most of all. The damn dog goes ballistic every time she gets anywhere near Sweetness lately. Sweetness says Heather wants us to get rid of Blake. Gyps put her foot down saying Heather could leave if she wanted but the damn dog was staying. The rest of us backed her all the way.”

  The way Christian was talking, Michael knew there was still more to be said, and he needed to work out what it was. Moving over to the nightstand, he picked up his cell phone intending to go into the bathroom to call Charm to find out what the hell was really going on, but the reality was she would probably yell at him and only tell him to get his arse home before hanging up on him. He didn’t want to connect with his sister in his mind either; it would only trigger some sort of signal for Benj to join them.

  What no one seemed to understand was lately every time he and Doyle were in the same room, they always ended up in an argument. Hence the reason Michael willingly went on so many missions. Well that, and he didn’t want to see Doyle falling in love with someone who wasn’t him. The small scene he had witnessed was well and truly enough to scar him for life.

  “Mikey, we don’t have time for you to make calls. Let’s get this over and done with. The quicker it’s done, the sooner you can go home and be there in person,” Benj insisted.

  Michael was about to argue back when Gordon, one of Jaffa’s wolves interrupted, “We’re done here.” The clean-up crew had positioned the dead demon in the wheelchair Gordon himself had arrived in earlier. The plan was to take the body out the same way.

  “There’s our bleeding cue, Babe.” Benj grabbed Christian’s hand and hauled him out of the room.

  “I take it they’re the diversion?” Michael asked as he slipped his phone into the pocket of his jeans. He noticed then the clean-up crew had already grabbed his team’s belongings, and had followed behind Benj and Christian. Turning to Tyler, he asked, “Where’s Aggie and the others?”

  “She and Julian dumped their gear in the car downstairs and took off to check out the coven we’ve been watching. Aggie had one of her gut feelings again.”

  Damn! When Aggie’s gut was talking to her bad shit usually happened. Michael hoped she was wrong.

  By the time he made it downstairs to the check-out desk, the chick behind the counter was too busy ogling Benj and Christian making out in the middle of the foyer to even notice the guy in the wheelchair wasn’t the same one who had been in it before. As soon as Michael had signed them out, he headed to the van and waited as Gordon and Lyle lifted and strapped the corpse into one of the vehicle’s seats. The next time they stopped the vehicle the demon’s body would be transferred to the secret compartment beneath the floor in the cargo hold. Michael buckled himself in and chuckled as he realised he shouldn’t be so comfortable riding around with a dead guy sitting beside to him, yet strangely, in the last three months he had gotten used to a lot of situations he shouldn’t have. Weirder still was how easily his heart was able to disengage when it came to Christian and Benj being together. He thought it would have hurt for a lot longer than it had. Eventually, he’d figured out part of the reason he was so easygoing with it all was because Benj seemed to truly make Christian happy.

  “Benj, stop macking on Babe and get your arse in the car. We’ve got places to be,” Michael sent through their mental link.

  “Spoilsport,” was sent back as Christian and Benj joined them. Michael laughed at Benj’s reply. “Where to, Mikey?”

  Michael gave directions to the coven’s location. The closer they got the more his gut twisted in anguish. He prayed it wasn’t too late to save the kid they’d been watching. He truly hated not being able to rescue the kid before now. In the past week, the kid, mind you he probably wasn’t much younger than Michael himself, had been too well guarded. Hopefully, today would be worth it…He was going to take them all out if necessary.

  “Pull up behind the green Honda Civic up ahead. We’ll walk from here. I don’t want this fucked-up coven even knowing they have visitors until we’re on their fucking doorstep.”

  When everyone had gotten out of the vehicle and the body had been stowed away in the box in the cargo area, Michael pulled Christian to the side. He needed to fill him in further. First, he spoke to one of the clean-up crew. “Keep the chair out. I dare say we’ll need it for the kid,” Michael said to Lyle before he focused on Christian again. “I’m not sure how many in there are going to need our help. For the most part, we reckon the coven is made up of a group of sadistic bastards, and by that I mean pure evil. I truly believe they need to have their existence snuffed out. Once we get inside, we’ll have to work out which ones need rescuing and which ones need to die.”

  As they approached the house, Aggie and Julian were already waiting for them. “We need to get in there, Michael,” Julian said urgently as soon as they were within hearing distance. “Someone’s been screaming for over… hey? Where the hell’s he going?”

  Michael swore as he turned only to realise Christian hadn’t stopped with them. He was currently walking right up the front steps. “Fuck!”

  “What the hell’s he doing?” Benj snarled as they both took off after Christian. They reached the bottom of the steps as Christian knocked on the front door.

  “Beats me,” Michael whispered as the door opened and revealed one of the creepiest men Michael had ever seen in his life. A cold slither of instant dislike slid down his spine. The guy was probably a little short of six feet. His hair was a tangled rat’s nest like it hadn’t been washed in years. Dried blood coated his mouth and chin. Seemingly, hygiene wasn’t a high priority where the guy was concerned either, or maybe it was the whole house in general. The rancid smell wafting out through the entrance made Michael gag, literally. He fought hard not to toss his cookies on the lawn.

  “What?”

  Christian tsked at the nasty looking guy. “Such bad manners. Is this any way to greet your king?”

  “King?” the man appeared totally confused as Michael leant around Benj and gave an innocent little wave.

  “Can we come in?” Christian didn’t wait for an answer as he pushed past the still protesting man. Michael, Benj, and the rest trailed after him, then came to a screeching halt at the sight before them.

  Anger roared to the surface as Michael stood in what in a normal house would be classed as the living room and digested what he was actually seeing. Instead of furniture, there were bare mattresses spread out over the floor of the room and he counted four young men of various ages, all obviously suffering from malnutrition. They were the only ones who were completely naked. The kid he came for wasn’t among them.

   Where the hell is he?

  “What the fuck is going on here?” Michael thundered at the other vampires in the room. “Gordon, free these men and get them the hell out of here.” He turned his wrath on the rest of the fucked-up vampires in the coven. Fear wafted off all of them. “Where’s the other one? I know there’s another captive here.”

  “Who the hell are you, and what the fuck are you doing in my home?”

   Michael spun round to face the degenerate who was coming out of a back room while still in the process of doing up his fly.

  “Aggie, Julian, search the other rooms. I want the kid found. Then everyone get out of here. For the next bit, only Chris and I can stay.” Michael’s team and the clean-up crew would do what he asked without protest, they always did. The truth was they didn’t need to see how powerful Christian was, though he totally expected Benj to stay by their sides, and he wasn’t disappointed.

  The stupid arse got right up in Michael’s face as he once again demanded, “I asked you once already, who the hell are you and what are you doing in my home?”

  Michael grounded himself in the here and now and let all his frustration and anger bubble over as he spoke. “I’m the fucking king. The better question would be, who the fuck are you?”

  The panic emanating from the coven’s other members had tripled as it finally seemed to sink in who Michael was. The stupid fuckers probably already knew they were about to die, except the idiot in front of him seemed incapable of grasping what was happening.

  “I’m Donovan, and this is my coven. I’m the alpha here. You have no right to come in here and take my possessions.”

  “What a crock!” Michael snarled coldly. “Vampires don’t have alphas, numbnuts. We have a king and in case you didn’t get it the first fucking time around, that’s me. I’m not only the king, I’m also your judge, jury, and executioner. I’ve deemed that you and your travesty of a coven, for crimes against the innocent, no longer have the right to exist.”

  “Wait, Michael, did he tell us his name is Donovan? I bet he’s the same bastard who ran Charm off,” Christian growled venomously beside him.

  “I bet he is, too. She’ll be ecstatic when she hears he’s finally fucking dead,” Michael stated matter-of-factly.

  “You can’t do this,” Donovan shouted.

  Boy was this idiot in for a rude shock. “Watch me.” Double checking to make sure the others had all left, Michael held his hand out for Christian to proceed. He was sick to death of this so-called self-proclaimed coven leader. “Babe, if you wouldn’t mind.”

  “Ashes.” The word had no sooner left Christian’s mouth when everything in sight started to decay and crumble.

  “Let’s go home,” Benj said with a notable tremor in his voice.

  Seeing Christian use his powers in such a way was always a little unsettling. Yet right here and now, Michael was glad Christian was on their side. “You’re right. It’s time to go home.”

Sneak Peek (Not Edited) – The Freedomers 1: Zephania’s Chance

600full-brian-molkoChapter One

July eighteenth, five-thousand and twenty-three AD changed Chance Hastings life forever. His view of the world had irrevocably been altered for evermore. A bloody rude shock to the system when he found out humans weren’t the only intelligent race inhabiting in the universe. He wasn’t even sure he meant aliens—as by all rights and reasoning they didn’t exist—or so he’d always been taught thought his life. Hell, who was he kidding? The strangers flooding into city all over the world were real honest-to-god aliens. The word passed from human to human was they’d come to take over the world and turn the human populace all into mindless slaves. Others were saying the aliens had come to wipe everyone off of the face of the earth so they could claim it for themselves.

Chance was in the group who believed the latter explanation. So far from what he’d seen the newfound alien race were the shoot first and ask questions never kind of people. Chance sat against the side wall of Guardian Lowell’s residence and took in the destruction around him. Trying to come to grips with what he’d found. Inside the mansion the Lowell family had been slaughtered. And by the decomposition they’d been murdered a couple of weeks ago—if not longer. Deep down Chance knew if his first Guardian had still been alive they would have helped Chance if they could. Guardian Lowell had been one of the few Guardians who had actually liked Chance and his siblings. The whole Lowell family had treated them as one of their own rather than the wards they were.

Chance’s mind wandered over the past as he thought about how much their world had changed with each passing century. Once there had only been the Earth. Now there were interconnecting cities above the earth. Great cities each joined to the other via an endless corridors of housing. In the cities the wealthy thrived and the area’s joining each city was were the poorer citizens resided and they were known as Bridgers. Chance had preferred his quadrant of the world than the city dwellers. The one strange thing he’d seen was there were no imperfect people in the upper world. It had taken a long time for him to understand why and then, it was only through overhearing his guardians talking that he realised anyone born less than perfect weren’t tolerated. Imperfect people were taken to the lower world and left to defend themselves as best they could. Chance didn’t know how long the two worlds had been separated, or even why.

All he knew for sure was that it had been done way before he had been born. He’d learnt since the day he’d eaves dropped on the conversation how those in charge at the time the worlds separated chose who went up and who stayed behind, and the decisions weren’t done fairly. The rich were given preference. All criminals, the disabled, and the dirt poor people were left behind to fend for themselves. Families were torn apart. People weren’t even given the choice of remaining with their family on the surface. They were just rounded up and taken up to the shining new city to live.

Sometime Chance had to wonder why he, Faith, and Maven had been up in the city and not on the surface. They were orphans, or so they’d been told over the years by their guardians. It was odd for the three siblings to be allowed to stay together. Faith had believed there was something special about the three of them. Most people treated them with respect. That was until seven years ago when they had been transferred to their latest guardians. Something had changed and in the middle of the night they’d been woken and been shipped out of the inner cities to live among the upper-class of the poorer citizens. Going from the life of luxury to being a Bridger had been a blessing in some ways. He no longer had to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. Luckily Faith had been like minded. A week after they had joined Guardian Kremmer’s family he and Faith woke up to find Maven missing, and the Kremmer’s weren’t answering any of their questions about where he was. Seven years had passed since then and the reality was it didn’t even matter. Right now it looked like they wouldn’t survive until the end of the week. Chance knew if he was going to die then he was going to go out fighting.

Chance stilled as a small craft flew by overhead. If he didn’t move than maybe they would assume he was dead. At least he hoped they would. From the pattern of their flight he surmised they were looking for something, or maybe someone.

Well, they aren’t going to get me. Not now—not ever.