Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Children of Jarilo Book One
Alpha Draike Weatherby has enjoyed many years of peace in his districts. He’s made agreements with the various shifter races as well as the Vampire Lord of London to keep crime down and their existence safe from human knowledge. Until now.
A loyal gang of nonhuman runaways are systematically losing members. Rat shifters have grown bold, increasing crime in his area and risking their secret. Then there’s Olivia. Naked, bleeding, and fleeing a trio of unsavory characters, she runs straight into his arms…and stirs his most protective instincts.
As he digs deeper, he discovers an interconnecting web with a single common thread: Olivia. To uncover the truth, he must gain the trust of the terrified woman who entices his fox. But she guards a secret that could destroy or save her.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content/Theme(s): Shifters, Fox, Vampires, Mystery, Romance
Release Date: June 05, 2014
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing
Excerpt & More
Olivia pushed her sodden hair from her eyes as she ran through the deserted streets. The streetlamps flickered to life several hours earlier, but the downpour distorted and dimmed their light and created more shadows. She ignored the stones digging into her bare feet and the chill wind and rain biting into her skin. With her clothing taken by those who pursued her, the elements conspired to chill her bruised and naked body and sap her strength. She rubbed her arms for some relief against the stinging chill and searched for someplace to hide from her pursuers.
For the first time in weeks, her guards had relaxed their watch enough to enable her to run. Brent rode high on the thrill of murdering some poor cook from a local nightclub. The rat shifter’s voice dripped with sadistic glee with each vivid detail of the man’s death—his muffled screams, his pathetic begging, and the taste of his blood. She shuddered when he revealed how they butchered the corpse with the local alpha still inside the building. They left the body as a challenge to his authority…and a warning. This was their territory now.
A rare stop on their trip left her alone with the two humans. Rico and Clay stepped out of the car for a cigarette, and she caught a brief glimpse of freedom. They argued, moving closer to each other at the front of the vehicle. Olivia eased open a door. Her punishment would be severe if they caught her, but she had to make the attempt. When they started fighting, she bolted from the car and into the darkness. There had to be someone, somewhere, who would help her.
The buildings mocked her with promises of warmth and safety. Muted light filtered through heavy drapes. Muffled laughter stressed the insanity of her life. Desperation drove her to knock on a door, seek protection and aid, but one of the guests passed by the window and she changed her mind. The petite woman inside cast the distinctive shadow of a large rat upon the lacy curtains. She backed away from the house and put as much distance as she could between her and the unknown shifter. Falling into their hands would be just as terrifying as returning to her captors. She swallowed a sob as thunder rolled in the distance.
Lightning streaked across the sky and confirmed her fear. They were closing the gap. She muttered a curse and darted across the narrow street into a large park. She had to find a safe place, soon. The mud sucked at her feet, draining more of her faltering energy with every step. As she squeezed between a pair of bushes, she tripped over a root.
The fall robbed her breath and sent pain radiating through her body. Her muscles screamed at her to stay and rest. For a second, she gave in. The temptation was strong to curl up beneath the bushes and pretend none of this had happened. One of her pursuers called to another, shattering her brief respite, and she struggled to her feet. Her legs and arms shook with effort, but she succeeded. There was no time to celebrate the minor victory, however. Olivia pushed deeper into the thicket. No matter how badly she needed rest, she couldn’t stop until she found shelter. She wouldn’t survive recapture.
With a triumphant shout, the men spread out to block all means of escape. One followed her into the park while the other two ran along the roads parallel to the green space. Olivia fought her way through the dense trees. Branches reached out and scratched her arms and face. Rocks pierced and bruised her feet. Tall weeds wrapped around her legs and ankles. The last branch fell away and she stumbled out of the wooded area of the park and stared across a flat, open field.
She suppressed the sob clawing its way up her throat. There was no time for tears. Pain stabbed her side as she took a brief rest from her flight. Her lungs ached with the need for more air. She longed to curl up and sink into the painless nothing of unconsciousness, but the pounding feet and shouted orders behind her pushed her onward. She didn’t dare falter once she made it onto the green. As the sounds of her pursuers grew closer, she pushed her protesting body into a sprint.
The waterlogged grass and mud squished between her toes as she ran. Desperation lent her speed she never knew she possessed, but it came with a price. Exhaustion slowed her aching legs and urged her to stop; fear propelled her forward. She searched for a place to hide and prayed she’d find it in a darkened alley across the narrow road. Ducking into the shadows, she checked every corner for a safe haven. She was cold, wet, and weak from blood loss, malnutrition, and lack of sleep. Terror threatened to overwhelm her when she stumbled around a debris-laden corner only to face—a wall. She’d run into a dead end. A wail bubbled up to her throat; one she could not allow free. Olivia raced to the first door and jiggled the handle. Glancing over her shoulder, she rattled the knob then darted to the next. Then the next. She tried each door along the alleyway to no avail. None were unlocked or ajar enough to squeeze through.
On her third attempt, a hand clamped across her mouth, and a strong arm encircled her waist. Unable to scream, she fought the man who dragged her into the small alcove. She twisted and turned, but he held her immobile. She longed to surrender to the stranger’s alluring warmth, but his unyielding embrace forced his jacket to bite into the wounds on her back, causing significant pain. She aimed her heel at his instep, but his grip never faltered. It was like kicking the wall. Her muffled sobs shook her body and ground her bleeding back into the rough cloth.
“Cease your struggles, m’dear, unless you want us to be discovered.”
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