Demons Not Included (Night Tracker Series #1)by Cheyenne McCray
Meet Nyx. This half-human, half–Drow private eye investigates paranormal crimes by day and is an elite Tracker of demons by night. She prefers working solo—and playing rough. So when a terrifying force starts murdering innocent humans and paranorms, and leaving strange demonic symbols burned into their buildings, it's a case Nyx takes very/i>… See more details below
Meet Nyx. This half-human, half–Drow private eye investigates paranormal crimes by day and is an elite Tracker of demons by night. She prefers working solo—and playing rough. So when a terrifying force starts murdering innocent humans and paranorms, and leaving strange demonic symbols burned into their buildings, it's a case Nyx takes very personally…
Meanwhile, Nyx's fellow Trackers are being killed one by one—and a sexy new Tracker named Torin is shadowing her every move. Torin has powers Nyx can't read, and sometimes she wonders whose side he's on. Nyx's instincts tell her something's brewing in the city's meanest supernatural streets, and that it's ready to unleash hell on Earth. Who can she trust? Now it's five minutes to permanent midnight…and Nyx's last chance means risking everything—even her own life.
Demons Not Included is the first Night Tracker Novel from bestselling author Cheyenne McCray.
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Demons Not Included
A Night Tracker Novel
By Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Cheyenne McCray
All rights reserved.
Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
A burn hit the back of my throat and I almost snorted my vanilla latte through my nose when I caught a glimpse of Olivia's T-shirt. Instead I choked and coughed as the PI firm's door slid shut behind my partner with a soft whoosh over the doormat.
"You okay?" Olivia's dark eyes looked more amused than concerned as she tugged off her blue New York Mets sweat jacket. She bypassed the two chairs in front of her desk and tossed her jacket next to her computer monitor. Her Sig Sauer was firmly in its shoulder holster.
The dark waves of her hair were swept up in a clip as usual, the style accentuating her high cheekbones and her beauty. A few strands had escaped due to a cool New York September breeze and she brushed them out of her eyes.
"You'd better be okay," she said. "I'd hate to lose my partner and go back to working for Captain Leiferman, the NYPD's finest jerkwad."
"You'd just miss being around the Vamps." I drummed my fingers on my polished desk, made from beautiful wood a Dryad would eventually make me pay dearly for. "I saw you with that bloodsucker, Seth, at the Pit Saturday night."
Worn blue jeans and the red T-shirt tightened against Olivia's full curves as she plopped in the black leather chair behind her desk. She put her feet up on the desk and crossed her legs at the ankles, her Keds red to match today's T-shirt.
Olivia leaned back in her chair and raised her arms, her skin like dark golden silk. She stretched her five-foot- two frame and tilted her head back before looking at me with eyes so dark brown they were almost black. With my enhanced Drow senses I caught her freesia perfume.
"Seth and I were only talking while we had a few drinks." Her expression was one of total innocence when she added, "We're not having sex until next Saturday night."
This time I almost spit out my latte, only it would have speckled my cream Dior blouse. "Olivia —"
"I'm kidding." She grinned as she settled herself in front of her wide-screen monitor and gel pad. "Sort of."
"Sort of, my ass."
Even though she was unassuming and down-to-earth, Olivia kept me guessing what she'd do next. She had a wit as sharp as a Drow blade and a bit of mischievousness that had gotten us both into trouble on a couple of occasions. Actually, mischievousness was too mild a word.
Olivia's mother was Kenyan, her father from Puerto Rico, and Olivia could speak several languages. Over the past year and a half, since she'd become my partner, she'd even picked up quite a bit of Drow, especially the curse words that I used when I exploded over one thing or another.
She refused to wear anything designer and prided herself on hitting the sales racks at just the right time. She was jeans and cotton from bargain stores, and the shirts usually had amusing sayings like the one she was wearing. Today's was perfect considering all of the paranormal dangers that existed without most norms having a clue.
The T-shirt that worried me was one she wore once to the Pit —
There's too much blood in my alcohol system.
Those damn Vamps.
Where Olivia was sales rack, I was Neiman Marcus and designer all the way from my Hermès silk scarf to my Fendi crepe jacket, and even my leather holster, specially crafted by the Dark Elves, that held my 9mm Kahr. A girl's got to spoil herself when she can. And I don't mind admitting it, being who I am, I was pretty spoiled already.
I brushed my fingers over the neckband that I wore as a concession to my father, so that any Drow male would know I'm a Princess. Which meant off-limits without the King's permission, or off with the warrior's head.
Like some kind of morbid fairy tale.
And it wasn't a bluff. One Drow male found that out the hard way. Not that he was around anymore to complain about it.
I drew my slim XPhone from my favorite Dolce & Gabbana handbag, which matched today's outfit. "You're human and you should be with some great-looking norm," I said. "There are plenty of decent guys out there." I made a sweeping gesture with one arm as if encompassing all of Manhattan before I pointed my finger at her. "But if you're going to go for a paranorm, why not a nice Doppler? Preferably one without fangs and claws when he shifts. A Doppler beagle would be perfect."
"Ha." Olivia snorted. "Serving Purina Dog Chow for dinner isn't in this girl's future. Besides, Vamps are so hot," she said with a totally serious expression even though I knew she was working to get a rise out of me. She so liked to give me a hard time.
The XPhone screen felt like cool gel beneath my index finger as I touched the screen and it lit up. I wrinkled my nose when I looked back up at her. "Vamps are actually pasty, creepy bloodsuckers. You just can't see them hiding behind handsome glamours because you're a norm."
"We can't all have gorgeous Elvin bosses we can screw just because we feel like it." Olivia obviously enjoyed the sudden rush of red behind the heat in my cheeks. "So how is Rodán these days?"
"I'm not seeing him in that way anymore." I cleared my throat. "He's just my mentor and friend."
"Ah." Olivia nodded like she knew the exact reason. And of course she nailed it. "Detective Adam Boyd. You've had the hots for him since you met him. So why haven't you done anything about it?"
The warmth in my face blossomed to my chest. "He's human. Not so sure he'd be crazy about me if he saw me after dark."
"Eh." Olivia waved me off with a dismissive gesture. "Purple and blue are cool colors. He'll be all over you once you give him a chance."
"Amethyst, not purple." I bit the inside of my cheek. If I let Adam see me change ...
Somehow I knew he'd accept me for who I am, but there was still a part of me that couldn't get over the reaction of the norm in my first serious relationship.
My heart clenched for a moment. With Stan it hadn't been worth the chance at all. I should never have —
Should've, could've, would've. What difference did it make now?
The wheels of my office chair rattled over the ceramic tiled floor as I shifted so that I could set my XPhone on a clear space on my desk — which wasn't easy considering the stacks of files, sticky notes, and pens littering it. Sometimes — make that often — I was too lazy to put the notes into my XPhone until later, so I had to scrounge.
"Tell me, what were you doing with Rodán last night?" Olivia casually examined her fingernails. "If you weren't humping him."
The only way to get Olivia off a subject she was enjoying was to change it to something more important.
"Rodán, the other Trackers, and I have been working on finding ways to get rid of these underling Demons before they kill any more paranorms," I said.
"Underling Demons?" Olivia swung her feet onto the floor, her expression intense. "You're telling me there are worse Demons than the ones you've been facing?"
I nodded. "Rodán has it directly from the Great Guardian herself that this is only the beginning."
"Just great." Olivia scowled. "I imagine your all-powerful Guardian isn't going to deign to help the Trackers."
The way Olivia often spoke about the Great Guardian, she was lucky the GG didn't bother with humans.
I, on the other hand, should have been worried, considering I was just as bad if not worse than Olivia when it came to my frequent irreverent attitude toward the GG.
My partner settled herself and opened a file folder on her equally loaded desk. "Developments?"
The ache in my jaws when I clenched my teeth was great enough to shoot sharp pain to my forehead. Strands of my long, straight black hair slid over my silk blouse and against my cheek as I bent my head to rub my temples with my thumb and forefinger. "A group of Demons murdered — and ate — at least a dozen paranorms in Manhattan last night."
"Oh, shit." All traces of amusement left Olivia's voice.
"Those weren't the words I used." No, I'd sworn in Drow, and if I hadn't fought to keep control I would have created a maelstrom in Rodán's conference chamber by releasing every one of my elemental powers at once.
Olivia folded her arms on her desk. "This is getting worse every day."
"Yeah." I leaned back in my chair and stared at the Drow weapons and warrior breastplates I'd mounted on the walls, reminders of home. "All of the Trackers met with Rodán early this morning after the night patrol of our territories." I let my gaze drift from the weapons to meet Olivia's dark eyes as I continued. "Rodán asked me to contact all of the local human liaisons and let them know what's going on. And to see if they've had anything unusual pop up."
"Like human-looking flesh-eating Demons." Olivia touched the long gel keyboard in front of her that brought up files on her computer screen. "I'm sure the Demons have no problem fitting in with this big melting pot of a city."
"At least they only come out around midnight." Almost absently, I brushed my fingers again over the smooth lines of my choker, with its runes that were invisible to humans. The choker had been crafted when I was a child, made from an alloy the Dark Elves mined. The alloy was imbued with elemental magic and more precious than human platinum, and it had expanded to fit me as I grew.
Olivia continued frowning but had a distant look to her eyes. No doubt she was mulling over everything I had shared. Her sharp mind had helped us solve countless cases.
I let my thoughts drift to eliminating each Demon and focused again on the wall in front of my desk. Fine diamond-headed arrows in their quivers and bows fashioned from precious Dryad wood were braced on the wall. I could have used Drow arrows or a long sword like any of the ones on my wall, but I preferred my weapons of choice, which were better for close combat. The seventeen-inch-long, two-inch-wide Drow-made dragon-claw daggers that had been designed just for me were perfect.
I drew my stylus from the slot at the side of the XPhone, my fingers pale against the navy blue of the device. "The Demons seem to have a taste for paranorms instead of humans. Like they want to eradicate the lot of us."
Before I headed out, I'd use my stylus to scribble a few thoughts on my XPhone. It was easier for me to keep organized that way since I wrote in a Drow form of shorthand and had to translate. My friend Manny, the computer whiz, was working on a program to make that part of organizing my work easier by translating Drow into English.
"It's time I helped you on the Demon thing." Olivia's gaze was clear when I met her eyes again. "Stop shielding me."
"This case is too dangerous. We've never faced Demons before." I had not ever deliberately kept Olivia off a case before, but this one — I just couldn't let her out there. I looked up at the ornate crown molding on the ceiling before meeting her gaze again. "It's almost impossible to kill them."
"Almost. That's an important word." Olivia frowned at me. "You keeping me out of this case is starting to piss me off, Nyx."
"I'm serious." I rubbed my temples again. "This is really bad. To get rid of a single Demon, a Tracker has to strike and pierce a small sac of blue fluid at the hollow of the Demon's neck."
I continued without giving her a chance to speak. "Even though they look human, it's impossible to behead or injure any part of a Demon's body. They're even fireproof." Which made my fire-element power useless against them. "Only piercing that one vulnerable spot can kill these Demons."
"You know I'm a perfect shot with my Sig." Olivia touched her shoulder holster, just above her weapon. "I can nail them right where it hurts."
"Guns aren't good for close combat," I said.
"I've got blades on me," she said, "which are perfect for close encounters of the third kind."
I wanted to yank my hair out in frustration. I didn't want Olivia hurt. "This is not something like tracking down a missing Sprite, a Metamorph taking over a human, a rogue Were, or a Vamp gone bad."
"Don't patronize me." Olivia's eyes flashed and I knew I had a battle on my hands.
I sighed. "You know I'm not. I just worry."
"I'll talk with Rodán." This was something I wasn't going to win, but I could stall for time if I was lucky. "He's the word on these things."
"You can get him to agree to anything." Her expression lightened a little. "Just fuck it out of him."
My cheeks went hot.
Since I'd started to get to know Adam, I had stayed away from sex with my lover and mentor, Rodán. He understood. He always understood me.
I avoided Olivia's eyes as I retrieved my XPhone. "For now I've got to get hold of the norm liaisons."
"I'm not giving in on this," she said.
Her voice turned teasing in an instant. "Bet I know which human liaison you'll be calling first." The glint was back in Olivia's eyes when I looked up at her. "I'm sure Detective Boyd will be very happy to hear from you."
Memories flashed through my mind of Stan, the human male I'd cared about before he learned of my true nature. Months of a close relationship — during the day. Then all it took was one night, and he was gone.
I didn't know if I could put my heart through pain like that again.CHAPTER 2
A couple of hours later I was about to say to hell with speculation and phone calls for now when I looked at Olivia. She had her head cocked and was staring at the window of our entrance. "I really think our business sign needs a little more jazz."
"Shhh." I leaned back in my office chair and looked around like there might be a spy. "Nancy will spell your mouth shut if she hears you say that. Although that might not be such a bad idea."
Olivia crumpled up a piece of paper on her desk and threw it at me. She would have nailed me in the forehead if I didn't have such fast Drow reflexes.
I caught it, threw it back at her, and hit her in the chest. "Ha."
A fellow Tracker, Nancy, had put a glamour on the entrance to the PI office and on our front window so humans wouldn't notice our business. Pixies can be bitchy but are excellent with glamours.
In iridescent amethyst and sapphire, the window read:
Paranormal Crimes Private Investigator
By appointment only
Ciar was in deference to my father, who I loved very much. Like Fae and Light Elves and just about any other being in Otherworld, Dark Elves don't have last names — only the usual "Zan, son of Barth" kind of thing.
"What's it been?" Olivia adjusted the bra strap that helped contain her melon-sized breasts. "Two years since you moved into this place and she put up the sign?"
"August, the day after my twenty-fifth birthday." When he'd recruited me, Rodán had helped purchase the office space and the apartment above for me. I hadn't had a clue what norms did for things like property, but my human mother had prepared me as much as she could before I left the Drow realm.
I got right to work when I was set up and ready to roll. Being the fast learner that I am, in no time I'd accumulated a lot of the knowledge and the tricks of the trade of being a PI.
I tried not to smile as I continued, "And after I was settled in, I had the misfortune of meeting you six months later."
Olivia snapped her bra straps in place. "This place was a mess before you had the privilege of me coming to work as your partner."
"Ha." I looked down at my breasts, which were small in comparison to Olivia's. I hadn't known they grew them as big as hers until I moved here from the Drow Realm. Elves and Fae — peaches in comparison. I looked back at her. "That Sprite would have had you singing Broadway show tunes if I hadn't arrived. Before he fed you to his buddy, the Were."
"I'll let you have your delusions." Olivia twisted a wisp of dark hair that had escaped her clip. "I would have had them if you hadn't interfered."
Considering Olivia had a black belt in karate, been on NYPD's SWAT team, and was kick-ass all the way, the Sprite hadn't had a chance with her. The Were, though — that would have been tough, but Olivia was also a dead-shot with her Sig.
My XPhone vibrated on the top of my desk and belted out "Walk this Way," an old classic tune by Aerosmith, my current ringtone.
"Unknown" came up on the caller screen. "Nyx," I answered.
"Are you going to be at the Pit tonight, chica?" Caprice, one of my closest friends, said. "I am so hungry for one of Hector's burgers."
"I could really go for a martini right now. Extra dry." I leaned back in my chair and imagined relaxing with my favorite drink. "Yeah, after the past twenty-four hours that's just what I need."
"Nadia's going, too." I could picture Caprice's pretty hazel eyes and warm smile as she spoke. "We'll meet up with you there."
I looked at Olivia, who nodded before I took my life in my own hands as I said to Caprice. "Olivia can't stay away, so I'm sure she'll be trying to pick up some paranorm." Olivia grabbed a rubber band off of her desktop, made a slingshot, loaded it with an eraser, and aimed it at me. With a grin, I held up my hand to ward off Olivia's revenge attack. "See you."
Excerpted from Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray. Copyright © 2009 Cheyenne McCray. 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.
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Half-human, half-Drow Nyx Ciar may be Princess of the Dark Elves, but she's currently living in New York as a paranormal private investigator by day and Tracker of demons by night. When fellow Trackers are killed, Nyx soon discovers that a Demon Apocalypse is nigh. Cheyenne McCray has done such a good job with the secondary characters that I like them more than the primary ones. Nadia's past in the Bermuda Triangle sounds exotic and intriguing, and Olivia DeSantos is undoubtedly awesome. Unlike Nyx, Olivia is all-human, and thus her fighting skills and whatnot are even more impressive because she doesn't have magical genes and powers. But she has personality plus, and is great fun. However, the author overdoes it by having Olivia wear T-shirts bearing witticisms. The character is so vibrant that the hokey slogans aren't needed, and thus make them seem lame. Unfortunately, Olivia is not the main character here, and thus plays second fiddle to the annoying Nyx. At first the Princess's voice is kind of fun, and she's honest enough to admit that she's spoiled. The problem, however, is that she doesn't try to change that. Excluding the fighting scenes, nary a page goes by without a brand name appearing. Everything from clothes, coffee, chips and cat food. And her XPhone, let's not forget. She doesn't just pick up her phone; Nyx picks up her XPHONE, specified all the freaking time. Yes, the phone has more capabilities than just calling and texting, but the persistent and ever-present brand names just make her seem incredibly shallow. Mind you, everyone consistently telling her how beautiful she is doesn't exactly make Nyx get over herself. Beautiful in human form, beautiful in Drow form, and her skin isn't purple - it's AMETHYST. And being Drow doesn't mean just being Drow, because apparently that's not enough. Nyx has several kinds of elemental power. The key to creating likeable characters is to make them more realistic, and if she'd only had power with ONE element, that would've been fine. If the Night Tracker series has a different heroine for every book, this could actually be quite good - the world-building and plot certainly are page-turning - but if Nyx continues to narrate each novel, I don't know if I could summon up the enthusiasm to stick with the Night Trackers.
In present day New York City, Half-breed (human and drow elf) Nyx and her purebred human partner Olivia investigate supernatural felonies. At night when her darker elf side takes control, she is an elitist Tracker working for Rodan hunting down demons not included in the Underworld. --------------- Nyx and her Tracker peers are shocked when one of her elite teammates is murdered and a human police liaison vanishes. Nyx fears something nasty is coming at the same she mentors a new Tracker Torin, whose essence she cannot read; something she finds intolerable and distrustful. She also hides her attraction to human police detective Adam Boyd, who is working the case; as she assumes he will reject her drow side. As other Trackers die, Nyx panics that the midnight end is now. -------------- Leaving the "Magic" saga behind, Cheyenne McCray begins a new urban fantasy enchantment series with the first Night Tracker thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, yet Ms. McCray introduces fans to her vision of a paranormal New York City through the investigations. Nyx is a kick butt heroine who keeps the exhilarating plot focused on the inquiry into the serial killing of Trackers. DEMONS NOT INCLUDED is a super extremely dark Manhattan supernatural police procedural.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil… prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon. – Terry Pratchett Monsters are real. You just can’t see them. And if you do? Well, a Soothsayer will make sure you forget all about it. So, it’s all good, right? Olivia’s T-Shirt says it all: People like you are the reason People like me need medication. And there is heavy need for medication going around. Because the Ruhin Demon Gate has been breached, the Gatekeeper murdered, and demons are at, and past, the gate. Nyx is a Tracker, protector of the people of Earth from the things that go bump in the night. Of course, Nyx is one of those things that go bump in the night – a Drow Princess, half Dark Elf, half human, crazily strong, crazily brave, and more fragile than most would understand. She lives between worlds, not only as a Tracker but also in her very makeup. By day, she works as a PI beside her friend Olivia, a human. But by night, Nyx is Drow, or as close as she can get. Her half-blood heritage means she her skin is amethyst rather than blue, her hair cobalt rather than sapphire, but she is still Drow in her heart, and her Drow powers of manipulation of the elements, strength and speed mean that she is very, very good at her job. But the sudden presence of demons in Manhattan changes everything. As Trackers die, and their human liaisons disappear, Nyx’s strength will be tested beyond anything she ever imagined – and the whole world will be at risk. This first in the series had the potential to be “just another UF.” There is the expected cast of characters – vampires, werewolves and elves (Oh, my) as well as characters that aren’t often seen, such as shadow stalkers and metamorphs. But Cheyenne McCray has done a wonderful job of taking this book to a new level, writing a much more character-driven novel than one normally sees. There are twists and turns, some seriously messed-up stuff, and the truth of never knowing if those who you believe to be your friends truly are. This is a great start to the series, and I look forward to reading more. I was given this book as a gift from a friend. All thoughts are my own.
I loved this book. It is and will always be a must read, preread, and a reread. If you love danger, romance, and action you must read this.
I really enjoy Cheyenne McCray's writing style and this series doesn't disappoint! Strong women characters that are not over done. Interesting story line and great character development. Perfect for the paranormal and suspense fan!
This was a great book and I cant wait to read the rest of the series :)
This was a paranormal thriller that had some highs and lows. The author barely touches on the characters' background leaving me feeling unconnected to them. The overall story had an interesting premise that fell flat, at times.