When Patrick is murdered, Katelina is left with questions. Jorick, one of his so-called friends, has dark answers: Patrick betrayed a coven of vampires; vampires that may now be after Katelina.
Though it sounds crazy, proof appears in a flash of fangs. Katelina and Jorick only just escape to a secret mansion. There, she discovers horror in the halls and learns the truth about her protector. Blood and destruction follow, leaving scars Katelina may never heal from.
The disturbing opener to the Amaranthine series pulls Katelina into darkness that tastes like fear and smells like blood, a world where night is eternal and vampires don’t sparkle.
BONUS: Includes the first chapter of Legacy of Ghosts.
The door was locked. Katelina knocked and rattled the knob, but the only answer was silence. This was just like him. Their relationship might not be committed, but it should involve basic respect
The small house sat alone on a dead end road. Paint peeled from the weathered siding and golden weeds sighed against the foundation.
Katelina woke the following day to filtered sunlight splashed across her face. Faint impressions of a dream lingered, like half formed fingerprints in warm clay.
The door was locked. Katelina knocked and rattled the knob, but the only answer was silence. This was just like him. Their relationship might not be committed, but it should involve basic respect.
She moved the grocery bag to her other arm and struggled the key out of her purse and into the lock. The door clicked and, with a gentle push, swung inwards.
The small apartment was dark except for the bright swath of light let in by the opened door. It was like a glowing path that beckoned her forward; a yellow brick road bound for hell.
She followed it.
The light switch felt loose as she clicked it. Part of her was screaming, “Don’t turn around! Just walk away!” but she didn’t listen to it. She couldn’t. The past couldn’t be changed by shouting at it.
She turned around and a strangled cry escaped her lips. He lay on the floor in a heap. A puddle of congealing gore, so dark it looked black, spread out around him and made the carpet fibers stiff. The flesh of his throat was torn away. Muscles were stripped to reveal the gleam of his spine shining through the gelatinous, clotted blood.
Her knees gave in and she fell to the floor. Oh God, she needed to call someone – the police, an ambulance, but she couldn’t even stand-
The voice tore through her thoughts and brought her back to the newspaper office. She sat on a stool in the break area, her elbows planted on the counter top. A forgotten mug of coffee steamed next to her, untouched.
She swung her eyes to see Sarah standing next to her. Her friend was the picture of independent feminism; soft brown curls framed her face and her khaki dress clung in just the right places. Though she usually wore a smile, her eyes made it clear that nonsense was not acceptable; she had things to do, places to go and people to see. At the moment, though, those eyes reflected uncertainty.
“Are you all right?”
Katelina shook her head to chase away the tattered remnants of a nightmare become reality. “Yeah,” she answered flatly. “I’m great.”
“You don’t look great.” Sarah’s lips clamped together as she scrutinized her. Though Katelina’s blonde hair fell down her back in a tight ponytail, and long bangs carefully framed her pale face, her blue eyes were rimmed with lack of sleep and a month’s worth of depression. She’d tried to look “okay”, but it wasn’t enough.
“Are you thinking about Patrick again?” Sarah asked softly.
Katelina waved her hand as if she could make Sarah’s concerns drift away like smoke. “No. I’m fine. What did you need?”
“You have a phone call.” Sarah sighed and then added softly, “If you decide you want to talk about it…”
“I’m fine, I told you. So who’s on the phone?”
“I don’t know.” Sarah turned teasing. “It’s a man. He asked for you by name, said it was personal.”
“Personal? I bet it’s just the police again.” In the last month they’d called more times than she could count. Always the same questions and the same answers. “No, I don’t know who might have wanted to kill Patrick. No, I don’t know who he was last with. No, I wasn’t really his girlfriend; we just had an arrangement…”
She wound her way through the office, her shoulders slumped, and cautiously approached the secretary’s desk.
“I have a call?” It was more a question than a statement.
The secretary glanced up, her eyes narrowed and her tone acidic. “Make it fast. You know the rule about personal calls.”
“Of course.” Katelina wanted to say that there was no need to be so impatient. She hadn’t asked for any of this. But she kept the thoughts to herself and pressed the receiver to her ear. “Hello?”
The voice was deep, warm and, despite the fact that very few people had her work number, unfamiliar. “This is she. Who is this?”
“I know who killed your lover.”
She blinked and lifted a hand to her throat. A flash of Patrick’s mutilated form appeared behind her eyes. “Excuse me?”
“I know who killed your lover. Meet me tonight just as the suns sets. I’ll be at a house on Farm Mill road; it’s the only house, the road is a dead end. Come alone.”
The phone clicked loudly and she called, “Wait – I . . .” but there was no point. Her only answer was the quiet buzz of disconnected line. She clutched the receiver to her ear, as if it would bring the stranger back.