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The Damned
     

The Damned

4.4 65
by L. A. Banks
 

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Lilith, the consort of the Unnamed One, has released the Damned, tortured souls from all levels of Hell, to walk the streets as the living dead. A dark chaos leaks onto Earth, taking the form of a deadly contagion that not even the Neteru team can handle. One touch from these deadly creatures infects a human, driving him to madness, death…and

Overview

Lilith, the consort of the Unnamed One, has released the Damned, tortured souls from all levels of Hell, to walk the streets as the living dead. A dark chaos leaks onto Earth, taking the form of a deadly contagion that not even the Neteru team can handle. One touch from these deadly creatures infects a human, driving him to madness, death…and worse.

This time, Damali Richards, the Vampire Huntress (aka the millennium Neteru), Carlos, and the Guardians cannot effectively close ranks. The infection spreads to key team members and threatens to wipe out the entire squad. Even the Covenant is infected. They must track down the Chairman before members of the Neteru-Guardian team are lost and the team implodes. The only antidote is to behead Lilith. But first they must find her.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
All hell breaks loose-literally-in the complex sixth installment of Banks's scorchingly hot-blooded vampire series (after 2005's The Forbidden). Banks gets down with her multicultural cast, as deeply concerned with their relationships as she is with their sacred mission: to vanquish evil and keep hell in hell and not messing with earth folks. The intimacy issues of her African-American diva heroine, Damali, with Carlos, a former vamp, can be as involving as the multilayered plot. At times, though, Damali's brooding over Carlos slows the pace. Thankfully, the action picks up once Carlos sets out to retrieve The Book of the Damned before the big war kicks off to free the lost souls who've escaped from hell, thanks to the evil Lilith, to infect humans and turn them into demons. The stunning climax shows that trying to shut hell's gates can be righteous. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429994545
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
01/24/2006
Series:
Vampire Huntress Legends , #6
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
365,498
File size:
467 KB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

The Damned

A Vampire Huntress Legend


By Leslie Esdaile Banks

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2006 Leslie Esdaile Banks
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9454-5


CHAPTER 1

Chinle, Arizona. Present day.


She didn't need to look into Carlos's eyes or try to go inside his head to know he was pissed. The pulsing muscle in his jaw was always a dead giveaway. So was the attitude.

Damali watched him stare into the distance as she said her goodbyes to the team at the front screen door. There wasn't even a flicker of silver in his irises. That hurt, but she'd live.

"Okay, listen, guys — I'm only five minutes down the road, so it's cool." Her smile was forced, her concerns about her man's mood growing as hugs got passed out on the front porch of Jose's grandfather's house.

"Call us in the mornings, though, D. You ain't gotta be long-winded," Shabazz said, fussing as he ran his palm across Sleeping Beauty. "All a brother wants to know is that you made it through the night. After that, we're cool."

"I will, I will," Damali said, kissing his cheek quickly.

"Any problems, we 'round the corner," Big Mike added, nodding toward Rider. "I'm gonna be in Houston with Inez to visit the baby at her momma's, but still call somebody."

"You send up a flare," Rider said, "and you know your crazy brother, Mike, if he's here, will launch a rocket-propelled grenade from his bedroom window to wake up the neighborhood, if he has to. If he ain't, I got whatever in rifle range. Jack Daniel's or not, I can still nail a target with my eyes closed."

"Sho' you right," Mike said giving Rider a pound.

Damali smiled. Way too much testosterone was flowing in the house this morning.

"Now, if you need anything, baby, you let me and Marj know, and we'll be sure you're stocked at the new place." Marlene sighed, gave Damali a defeated hug, and let her go slowly.

"I will," Damali said, wondering why this was so hard to do and why everyone was so worried at this point. It didn't make sense. She was grown, and had shown them she could hold her own in battle, but she knew some things were just instinct. It was always hard for mother birds to watch one of their own fly away — even if it was just around the corner. She squeezed Marlene's hand and let it go when the older woman smiled.

"You need anything, you call," Marlene repeated, gently placing a finger on her third eye.

The group seemed to be holding its breath, as though Marlene might say something at the last minute to get Damali to reconsider. But when Marlene nodded and moved away from Damali, shoulders slumped.

"That's right," Marj said with emphasis, picking up the mild guilt trip where Marlene had left off. "Towels, blankets, you have everything, right?"

"I'm well stocked," Damali affirmed, attempting to swallow a big smile without much success.

"How about some more rounds?" Berkfield said with skepticism in his voice. He looked at Jose, J.L., and Dan. "Her weapons room is righteous?"

"Yeah," J.L. said, stepping forward on the porch. "It's tight."

"I ain't just concerned about the realms," Jose hedged, glancing at the others. "You know, escaped convicts, crazy SOBs from off America's Most Wanted, and shit like that might not show up on radar."

"See, that's what I mean," Dan said, nodding emphatically. "She's a celeb, too. Somebody could snatch and ransom her, happens every day."

"I ain't worried about that," Shabazz said with a grudging smile. "Bastard will get his heart cut out first. It's nightfall that concerns me."

"We do have a coupla team members who specialize in night work," Damali reminded them, but without saying any names. Speaking of Tara in front of Rider, especially in the same breath with Yonnie, was taboo.

"You ain't scared?" Inez said, reaching for Damali's hand and clasping it. "Girl, I ain't trying to be funny, but —"

"Yeah," Bobby said, glancing at his sister. "Me and Kris could be over there with you as an extra pair of eyes and ears, especially on the computers. All you have to do is say the word, D."

"We could take shifts," Kristen offered eagerly. "It would be fun."

"Uh, that would be no," Damali said, laughing and ignoring their dejected expressions. "You two have to go into heavy training with the seasoned brothers. Nice try."

Juanita folded her arms and leaned against the doorframe. "If the Covenant brothers said she'd be fine and left this house, then I see no reason to worry." Her cool statement delivered with a frosty bite made everyone stop clamoring around Damali for a moment.

Damali ignored her, laughed, and kissed them all again, semiavoiding Jose, but offering him a quick peck on the cheek and then she stepped back. She didn't even approach Juanita or look at her, but quietly served Juanita her ass to kiss. "I'm just around the corner, dang," Damali said as gently as possible, making her tone up-beat. "I'll be fine."

Carlos cut her a sidelong glance from his position away from the group and near the steps. "She always is." He walked farther away from the group and walked down the steps to stand by the driver's side of her black Hummer.

If he didn't get out of here soon, his head was gonna explode. He understood where the brothers were coming from, but it was also the height of disrespect. Before, she didn't need no serious artillery — she had him as her weapon. He had been her night security system, locked and loaded. Fuck Yonnie and Tara being that. Now she needed some old motherfuckers to blow something up or shoot a target from their windows? Mike and Rider needed to step off. Even the young bucks were talking about going over to Damali's as a defense system? Right. The only one who had said anything that made sense had been Juanita. And if Damali called anybody on second-sight impulse, it, by rights, shoulda been him — her man!

Carlos walked a hot path toward her vehicle, his back straight. With that, everybody nervously waved and went into the house, but stood huddled just inside the screen door.

Damali took her time meeting Carlos by her vehicle. She had known he'd take it pretty bad when the day finally came, but she'd expected him to be cooler about it in front of the team. "It's gonna be all right," she said, trying to extend an olive branch of peace. "Your place will be finished in a couple of weeks, they said, and then you'll —"

"It's cool," he said, cutting her off and yanking open her Hummer door. "I'll see you around."

Damn. No kiss, no hug, muscle in his jaw still jumping, no effort to even act like —

"Act like what?" he said evenly, not hiding the fact that he'd read her surface thoughts. "Act like I'm okay with this bullshit? You oughta know me better than that, D. The one thing I don't do is front."

"All right," she said calmly. "I feel you. No problem." She got into her Hummer, casually closed the door, and started the engine. "I'll call you later. On the phone."

Carlos tilted his head. A nonverbal, "Say what?" passed between them. He lifted his chin, turned on his heels, and stormed back into the house. A screen door slamming was his answer.


Her Hummer took to the road as though on autopilot, kicking up dust as she leisurely drove to her destination. Her thoughts were miles away, the scene behind her competing for attention with the perfunctory motor skills required to drive. She wasn't angry, just annoyed. It was what it was. Instant marriage was out. Shacking still meant having a man and his dirty laundry and drama in her space. After what she'd just been through, she wasn't trying to have a baby anytime soon, anyway ... and living with him 24–7 increased the odds that one day or night she might be moved to forget all about lighting her Sankofa.

Damali quietly laughed to herself. She knew how Carlos rolled. Not to mention, he still had a lot of inner personal development to do. By all indicators, the Light wasn't finished with him yet, and as wild as Carlos's ass was, she didn't need to be in lightning-strike range while they honed him. His mild apex in Philly had been rushed and temporary, spiked like a flux, just by seeing Lilith. If he fluxed and started trailing aphrodisiac to draw out lower levels, Tara would be near to protect him; if Yonnie bulked on him, there were enough brothers in the house to cope to make Yonnie stand down ... and Carlos needed to learn how to work with that weapon, too. She couldn't teach him that. The Neteru Queens had intimated as much. This was his battle, not hers.

Naw. Carlos Rivera needed to get his head together, deal with his new circumstances on his own, before bringing that baggage to her door. Uh-uh. Plus, after the heat in bed cooled, and it had, she had enough sense to know that it got real basic — Marlene and Marjorie hadn't needed to tell her that. They were living examples.

Carlos would either get over it, or not. He'd better recognize that the Light worked in mysterious ways, and needed to stop challenging the Father for all the gifts he'd been given. Did the man realize that he was alive, had all body parts accounted for, with a for-real second chance, and had been elevated to Neteru status? Incredulous, she could only shake her head as she drove. "Carlos better stop, y'all. My name is Bennit, and I ain't in-it. Okaaaay."

Shoot, the way he was acting, thunder and freakin' lightning from the sky was likely — and she'd go into the pit for the brother, but wasn't even trying to get in trouble with the Most High. Nope. Not hardly. Especially not over some male ego yang. Puhlease. Hold the line, stay the course, handle her business as the female Neteru, that was it. They already took her long blade behind the nonsense, and she'd gone through too many changes to get back the baby Isis dagger. She'd learned her lesson, and had learned it well. She wasn't going backward, not for love nor money. Uh-uh. He had to step up to her level, this time.

She smiled wider. Live with him while he was challenging the Light's blessings? Hell no. Not until they were evenly yoked. When he got his head right, then she'd consider it. She needed time to breathe and assess. The whole meeting with the Neteru Council had given her serious pause, and before she made another rash move, she wanted to be sure the timing was right.

It wasn't about communal living arrangements any longer, either. Too much water had run under that particular bridge. If Juanita stepped to her wrong one more time ... See, that was the problem; she couldn't just drag her narrow behind out into the front yard and kick her ass old-school style. That would be irresponsible as the Neteru, would have repercussions if the girl got seriously injured, and ... no. Moving out solved a lot of problems, beyond Carlos's mess. A sister needed space, time, privacy, and room for all the thoughts tumbling around in her head.

Damali turned off the engine and hopped out of her vehicle, crossing the dusty driveway and listening to gravel crunch under her feet. What was there to fear, really? She'd literally been to Hell and back already and wasn't even twenty-five years old yet. She'd have her own place, not far from the others, just like Carlos would. But that whole thing of everybody living under one roof was beyond tired. It was better this way — much better.

She leaned on the porch rail, not ready to go inside the house, just staring at the pretty desert flowers and cacti in her front yard. Yeah, after doing the Philadelphia job, it was time to fly the coop ... Even though, truth be told, settling in Chinle was a far cry from usual for a sister from around the way. However, once they'd all seen the majesty of Jose's people's land, all the arguing had stopped. The only one still opposed to the hallowed location had been Rider, who eventually relented. But she could understand that now, too.

Damali sent her gaze across the sheer sandstone canyon walls that towered some six to eight hundred feet above the wide expanse beyond Jose's grandfather's land. Sunlight played with the shadows, turning the layered rocks pink, orange, and red, depending upon its mood. As the sun danced with the wind, it cast vermilion stripes and pastel hues on the porch furniture. Here, in this sacred land, the light was alive, different, a living entity.

In the distance she could make out the sunbaked clay, multistoried, cliff-side dwellings left by the Anasazi people. Canyon de Chelly, tsegi, meaning rock canyon, in Navajo, held more than two thousand years of quiet, mystical wonders and rock art ... profound spirituality within its panoramic vistas. Yes, this was where she and her team needed to be.

The grumbling about being so far from city life, access to modern conveniences, airports, and so-called civilization had ceased the moment they'd set foot upon the land. Spellbound, the group had reached consensus immediately and had squashed the bickering. Yet, deciding where to go had been a delicate balancing act indeed. There were many issues to consider. Some of those worries still lived in her soul.

Without the compound, they'd needed to be somewhere safe while the new construction was underway. They'd needed hallowed ground, but that would have made it virtually impossible for two of the team's valuable members to seek shelter in an emergency. It wasn't like Tara and Yonnie could just blow into a church or temple with the rest of the squad to take cover. But to leave them ass out in a firefight was unacceptable, even to Rider.

What it had come down to was access. Jose had tribal access to thirty-three pristine acres of land deeded to him from his Creek grandfather, who had married a Navajo woman. Under carefully written wills, the land went to his father when his mother passed first, and now eventually to him — something that all of her and Carlos's money combined couldn't buy. It wasn't for sale; birthright dictated reservation and nation acceptance status. Sure, the rest of the team could tag along as Jose's family, but the position of the Navajo nation was clear; if you weren't from the nation, forget real estate development.

Damali smiled as she leaned on the porch rail of her small ranch dwelling. The negotiations to build a couple of cottages and expand upon a simple house made of pine had seemed harder than bargaining for all the world territories she'd temporarily amassed in the Australian master's parlor. Jose's family's house had fallen into disrepair while abandoned, and was currently more shack than house. But to build anything new required a long, drawn-out process of permits and talks.

Perhaps it was the architectural drawings that had freaked them out. The significant technology and barriers, along with a helipad, had gone against the tribal council's sensibilities. They'd been aesthetically offended, so her team had to go back and redraft everything to look as natural a fit to the landscape on the outside as possible. Gone were the exterior, ultramodern-looking cement walls. Good riddance. She agreed with the tribal council on that.

Working with Jose and a good designer from the nation as go-between had finally rendered a concept that was both environmentally and politically correct, while doing what it had to do — namely, serve as a fortress for her Guardians. If it hadn't been for the respectful adherence to prophecy, they still might not have been able to get the deal done. The downside was that everyone who sat at the table knew who they were; their cover was blown within the Navajo community. Soon, that would spread like wildfire to other communities, but it didn't matter. You couldn't just roll up on Navajo reservation lands without permission like that, and the eyes of the people were everywhere to protect their own. Very cool arrangement.

Damali let her breath out hard, but refused to let her thoughts grow dark, even though her squad was holed up in a wood-frame structure with rickety old windows, and only shotguns and artillery, in case it got hectic, like the freakin' OK Corral. She hoped it wouldn't come to that, because the greatest thing they had going for them beyond skills and firepower was an old man and lady's very old prayer. Ancestral shaman guarded the joint.

Until all that was put to rest, she hadn't been able to just up and move out, and never in a million years would she leave her team unprotected, anyway. The big problem that had haunted them all had been where to go during the rebuilding, where to rebuild period? She was so glad once that nonsense had been settled that she'd almost praise-danced in the streets.

Months of living from pillar to post had given them all a case of raw nerves along with persistent headaches that made tempers flare at the slightest provocation. Peace was just beginning to be theirs, and she cherished it as she stared out at the sublime majesty.

Hotels required being constantly on the move to avoid night hazards and the media. There were new, uninitiated members, like Berkfield's kids and wife, to worry about, Inez ... Juanita ... plus the old guard was busted up pretty badly and on the mend. Shabazz was still walking slow, like Big Mike. Marlene's shoulder still wasn't right, and Rider's heart was broken. And until her small ranch was built down the road a piece, in the opposite direction from Carlos's, all of them had to cozy up in a


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Damned by Leslie Esdaile Banks. Copyright © 2006 Leslie Esdaile Banks. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

L. A. BANKS is the author of the Vampire Huntress Legend series and the Crimson Moon Novels. She had a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and a master's in fine arts from Temple University. Banks considered herself a shape-shifter. She wrote romance, women's fiction, crime and suspense, and of course, dark vampire huntress lore. She lived with her daughter in an undisclosed lair somewhere in Philadelphia.


L. A. BANKS was the author of the Vampire Huntress Legend series and the Crimson Moon Novels, including Left for Undead and Never Cry Werewolf. She had a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and a master's in fine arts from Temple University. Banks considered herself a shape-shifter, writing romance, women's fiction, crime and suspense, and of course, dark vampire huntress lore. She lived with her daughter in Philadelphia until her death in 2011.

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Damned (Vampire Huntress Legend Series #6) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
brifole More than 1 year ago
For me these books took on a new meaning for me. It showed that you can write about a subject such as Vampires and still show a great love of God. There was never any disrespect shown and was written in a very tasteful way. For people who might be faltering in there beliefs it can renew their hopes and dreams. It also hits close to home with all of the things that are happening in the world right now. It is definitely a book (or series) that will make you situp and take notice. I loved every one of the books in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It just keeps getting better. In this, the latest installment in the VHS, D and Carlos are not only having to face their fears about their relationship, but face the consequences of their actions in previous books. Carlos, still confused about his 'new' role as the male neteru is feeling insecure as the woman he has sacrificed himself for several times, remains distant and hesitant about their relationship. The Damned, a contagion/virus released by Lilith, the consort of the devil, is reeking havoc on the team and the larger world. The illness is causing death and destruction and could prove to be the end of humankind. While the team searches to stop the spread of the illness, they are battling internally because they too have been affected. Mrs. Banks leaves you spellbound as she shows the dilemma that the team has between their hearts and their duty. We see the teams struggle to live with decisions that they have made in the past, that appear to affect their futures. New characters are introduced and new plots are woven through this delightful story. Although not as fast paced as 'The Bitten' (I would have given that one 10 stars if possible), it gives us information that will lead to a show-down of epic proportions.There are of course unresolved issues between the characters Yonnie/Tara/Rider Carlos/D/Juanita/Jose Kamal/Shabazz & Marlene and JL/Chris/Dan. So we have a lot to look forward to as we see the issues resolved, new powers revealed and a show-down between the group and the unnamed one that I am sure will leave readers breathless. Finally, I will say that the series continues to leave you wanting more, like a drug or a good cup of coffee. Hey, I have already pre-ordered the Forsaken, due out this summer. And although I know the series will eventually end, Mrs. Banks has given us a series that will live in our hearts forever! Continue reading them, they will not disappoint.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Family members meet beloved dead mothers who should have been in heaven, but instead were liberated from hell to bring terror to humanity one touch is all it takes to change a sane person into a raving lunatic or if they are fortunate death. All hell is breaking loose complements of Lilith, the Unamed One¿s consort. She has freed the minions from the layers of hell as a preliminary skirmish in the inevitable war..................................... Even the Neteru-Guardian team has felt the impact with members lost due to the touch of a living dead loved one. Lovers Damali and Carlos interrupt their interlude to stop Lilith and to obtain the key reference The Book of the Damned before all is lost. However to prevent Lilith from furthering her diabolical scheme they must cut off her head a task that is not just daunting, it is impossible. Failure meets pandemic infection of humans with the hell spawned madness....................... The sixth Vampire Huntress Legend tale is an action-packed thriller that grips the audience from the start when the daughter asks her mom why she is not in heaven with a response that only THE DAMNED could provide and never slows down until the final confrontation at the gates of hell. The mother-daughter relationship sets the tone of the tale. Carlos is heroic as he knows what must be done but though expecting to fail courageously sets out to do the job. Surprisingly the usually confident Damali spends a lot time doubting her relationship with her lover and the mission. However, Lilith is the fascinating one in a macabre sense as she liberates the minion to attack living loved ones. This is one series readers can bank on as being powerful and fun.............. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this author and this entire series!, however I can't find another beautiful black heroine series. Help!!!
CScarlett More than 1 year ago
I am such a huge fan of L.A. Banks and all of her books, her writing is amazing. She creates such an amazingly dark paranormal world. ‘The Damned’ is the sixth book in the Vampire Huntress Legend novels and I am hooked. Carlos and Damali are such fierce characters that have been to hell and back, literally, in these books and yet somehow in the sixth installment the story is still fresh and entertaining. I just think the details and descriptions in this book were phenomenal, I can clearly see everything in my head that she writes. This book really threw all her characters for a loop and I really think that’s a huge part of what keeps it so interesting. This is a series that you want to take the time out to read. It’s a great book and she is definitely one of my favorite authors and has been for a long time. She never disappoints!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this one was a bit drawn out, wasnt as packed with emotion and action as the last one, but i kept turning the pages to get to #7
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SaneMind More than 1 year ago
THE STORY SEEM TO GET LOST WITHIN EACH DESCRIPTION...I JUST READ THE SAMPLE AND DISLIKED IT...
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