Seventeen series Book One
A half breed immortal. An international manhunt. A race against time to stop a terrifying plot that threatens to kill millions. The gripping, action-packed debut novel by AD Starrling and the first in the supernatural thriller series Seventeen.
"My name is Lucas Soul.
Today, I died again.
This is my fifteenth death in the last four hundred and fifty years."
The Crovirs and the Bastians. Two races of immortals who have lived side by side with humans for millennia and been engaged in a bloody war since the very dawn of their existence. With the capacity to survive up to sixteen deaths, it was not until the late fourteenth century that they reached an uneasy truce, following a deadly plague that wiped out more than half of their numbers and made the majority of survivors infertile.
Soul is an outcast of both immortal societies. Born of a Bastian mother and a Crovir father, a half breed whose very existence is abhorred by the two races, he spends the first three hundred and fifty years of his life being chased and killed by the Hunters.
One fall night in Boston, the Hunt starts again, resulting in Soul’s fifteenth death and triggering a chain of events that sends him on the run with Reid Hasley, a former US Marine and his human business partner of ten years. When a lead takes them to Washington DC and a biotechnology company with affiliations to the Crovirs, they cross the Atlantic to Europe, on the trail of a French scientist whose research seems intrinsically linked to the reason why the Hunters are after Soul again.
From Paris to Prague, their search for answers will lead them deep into the immortal societies and bring them face to face with someone from Soul’s past. Shocking secrets are uncovered and fresh allies come to the fore as they attempt to put a stop to a new and terrifying threat to both immortals and humans.
Time is running out for Soul. Can he get to the truth before his seventeenth death, protect the ones he loves and prevent another immortal war?
Genre: Paranormal Urban Fantasy
Ends April 18, 2013 at midnight Eastern time
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I woke up in a dark alley behind a building.
Autumn rain plummeted from an angry sky, washing the narrow, walled corridor I lay in with shades of grey. It dripped from the metal rungs of the fire escape above my head and slithered down dirty, barren walls, forming uneven puddles under the garbage dumpsters by my feet. It gurgled in the gutters and storm drains off the main avenue behind me.
It also cleansed away the blood beneath my body.
For once, I was grateful for the downpour: I did not want any evidence left of my recent demise.
I blinked at the drops that struck my face and slowly climbed to my feet. Unbidden, my fingers rose to trace the deep cut in my chest: the blade had missed the unusual birthmark on my skin by less than an inch. I turned and stared at the tower behind me.
I was not sure what I was expecting to see. A face peering over the parapet of the glass and brick structure. An avenging figure drifting down in the rainfall, a bloodied sword in its hands and a crazy smile in its eyes. A flock of silent crows, come to take my unearthly body to its final resting place.
Bar the heavenly deluge, the skyline was fortunately empty.
I pulled my cell phone out of the rear pocket of my jeans and stared at it. It was smashed to pieces. I could hardly blame the makers of the device: they had probably never tested it from the rooftop of a twelve-storey building. As for me, the bruises would start to fade by tomorrow.
It would take another day for the wound in my chest to heal completely.
I glanced at the sky again before walking out of the alley. I found a phone booth at the next intersection, closed the rickety door behind me and dialled a number. Steam rapidly fogged up the glass wall before me. There was a soft click after the fifth ring.
‘Yo,’ said a tired voice.
‘Yo yourself,’ I said.
A barely suppressed yawn travelled down the line. ‘What’s up?’
‘I need a ride,’ I replied. ‘And a new phone.’
There was a short silence. ‘It’s four o’clock in the morning.’ The voice had gone blank, devoid of all traces of emotion.
‘I know,’ I muttered in the same neutral tone.
The sigh at the other end was audible above the pounding of the rain. ‘Where are you?’
‘Corner of Cambridge and Staniford.’
Fifteen minutes later, a battered tan Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up next to the phone booth. ‘Get in,’ said the figure behind the wheel. I opened the door and climbed into the passenger seat. Water dripped onto the leather cover and formed a puddle by my feet. There was a disgruntled mutter from my left. I glanced at the man beside me.
Reid Hasley was my business partner and friend. Together, we were co-owners of the Hasley and Soul Agency. We were private investigators, of sorts. Reid certainly qualified as one, being a former Marine and cop. I, on the other hand, had been neither.
‘You look like hell,’ said Reid as he manoeuvred the car into almost nonexistent traffic. He took something from his raincoat and tossed it across to me. It was a new cell.
I raised my eyebrows slightly. ‘That was fast.’
He grunted indistinct words and struck a match. ‘What happened?’ The orange glow of a cigarette flared into life, casting shadows under his brow and across his crooked nose.
I transferred the data card from the broken phone into the new one and frowned faintly at the bands of smoke drifting towards me. ‘That’s going to kill you one day.’
‘Just answer the question,’ he said testily.
I looked away from his probing gaze and stared blindly at the dark tower at the end of the avenue. ‘I met up with our new client,’ I muttered.
Reid looked at me expectantly. ‘And?’
‘He wasn’t happy to see me.’
Something in my voice made him frown. ‘How unhappy are we talking here?’ he said guardedly.
I sighed. ‘Well, he stuck a sword through my heart and pushed me off the top of the Cramer building. I would say he was pretty unhappy.’
Silence followed my words. ‘That’s not good,’ said Reid finally.
‘It means we’re not gonna get the money,’ he added, clearly heartbroken by the news of my recent passing.
‘I’m fine by the way. Thanks for asking,’ I said wryly.
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