Eighteen-year-old Ziarre had been haunted by secrets related to her birth in Los Angeles. And, greedy monsters in her life had made her into a cold and hostile creature. The nightmare didn’t end there. Human remains found at Malibu Shores forced her to make another sacrifice. An FBI agent, Gina O’Neill, suspected Ziarre’s involvement in these cold-blooded crimes. Agent O’Neill invited her old friend Natt Whitehall, who was a new assistant professor of chemistry, to help her on solving this mystery. Agent O’Neill indeed smelled something. The preying instinct was in Ziarre’s blood. However, the motivation behind these cruel murders was beyond everyone’s imagination. More secrets waited as Agent O’Neill and Natt Whitehall continued their investigations.
Ziarre struggled between her family and the calling of her nature. Ziarre needed to fight for her freedom with all her might. With already enough trouble at hand, another deadly surprise was waiting for her. Can she survive another murderous monster in order to live a real life? Was it too much to ask for?
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.27(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Isabel Chloe
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Isabel Chloe
All rights reserved.
HER SOLES FELT THE uneven stone floor. She frowned a little. A chilly wind hit her face. She narrowed her eyes and raised her head. A tiny raindrop fell on her eyelashes. She sighed, lightly, in contrast to the heavy clouds.
The rain was only a little heavier than the snowflakes had been last month. It fell onto her hair, her trench coat, the floor, and everything in her sight. The rain was light on her coat, and the thousands of tiny drops reflected the evening sky.
She rushed toward a lane. Colorful houses and hanging flower baskets looked less vivid through the curtain of rain, and the colors were still too much for her eyes at seven o'clock. She approached the only pink house without hanging flower baskets on the lane.
Lilacs in the lavender pots on the floor looked bright in the gradually fading light. She had few irregular and rapid heartbeats. She frowned and felt the tightness of her skin between her eyebrows.
She hummed deep from her solar plexus. She stopped at the chocolate brown door of the house. She reached for the keys in her pocket. As her fingers found the keys, she heard footsteps on the other side of the door. She pulled back her hand. The scent of the lavender abruptly hit her nose, and her fingers relaxed a little.
When the door opened, an old lady in a black dress said, "Welcome back, Miss Ziarre."
Ziarre nodded and headed inside.
The old lady took a step back and said, "You have a guest."
A figure approached from the second living room and said, "Miss Donaldson. It's great to see you again." As she stood by the door, the skin over her high cheekbones reflected the lights from the window.
Ziarre scowled and narrowed her eyes. "Nice meeting you again, Agent O'Neill."
"Sorry I didn't call first. I was in town for other business. Greens made a call, and I am with the CIA now," Agent O'Neill said.
Ziarre narrowed her eyes even more. Her face froze. She looked toward Agent O'Neill's direction and started to unbutton her trench.
The old woman helped Ziarre with the coat.
"Thank you, Mary." Ziarre walked toward Agent O'Neill. "Some tea?"
Agent O'Neill burst into laughter. "I have had enough already."
Ziarre exhaled heavily. She raised an arm to indicate sitting.
Agent O'Neill walked to the sofa and sat down. Her tight pants showed off her athletic bottom and thighs.
Ziarre sat down on the opposite sofa. "Let's cut to the chase," she said.
"Do you know why I am here today?" Agent O'Neill asked.
Ziarre frowned and curled her fingers. "No."
"Joe Evans claimed that you are responsible for an attempted murder of him last Saturday."
Ziarre shivered when she heard the name. A chill ran through her blood vessels, and her lips twitched.
The room was completely silent for ten seconds.
"Pardon?" Ziarre's face looked was as pale as a marble statue.
"Nothing to worry. I checked before I came, of course. I know someone in Scotland Yard, and he owed me a favor," Agent O'Neill said. "CCTV showed your trip to the church. I never imagined you as the church type."
Umm, that's why she came now. Ziarre held her breath.
Agent O'Neill gazed at Ziarre, and said, "He was found unconscious in his cell by the guard when he didn't step out for lunch. He was sent to the hospital and woke up after a few hours. He claimed that you snuck into the cell to murder him. He said it was 'God's grace' for him to live. He burst into tears and shrieked, 'You have to catch and execute this monster. Bring me the real justice! You hear me? The true justice!' He should take part in Days of Our Lives. He has a natural talent."
She laughed loudly.
Ziarre's shoulders felt stiff.
Agent O'Neill's laughter finally ceased. There was even some wetness at her outer eye corners. She looked toward Ziarre again. "Umm." She raised an eyebrow. "I guess you don't want to know the details."
Ziarre said, "Why not?"
"The window rails were cut. When he was found, he was on the floor from a heavy blow to the back of his head. The cutter for the window rails was found outside the window—with your fingerprints on it."
Ziarre held with her breath.
"His skin tissue was on the cutter, but the hilarious part is that he claimed you faced him and swung the cutter toward the back of his head. He was stupid enough to hire someone not your height. The blunt angle was so wrong," Agent O'Neill said.
Ziarre's shoulders relaxed a bit. Her breathing was deliberate.
"If the suspect was not you, the lack of palm prints on the cutter would be enough," Agent O'Neill said. "But the suspect was you."
"Anyway. He bribed one of the guards to stage everything." Agent O'Neill opened her mouth to yawn, but she deliberately closed it within half a second. She held her breath and remained silent for few seconds. "Have you talked to Natt recently?"
Ziarre exhaled heavily and said, "No. Why?"
Agent O'Neill gasped, but she quickly put herself together. "Really?"
"No." Ziarre said.
"Oh?" Agent O'Neill said. "Did you know he moved to Cambridge?"
"Yes, he phoned me a few months ago," Ziarre said.
Agent O'Neill scowled and said, "You two never met in England?"
"No," Ziarre paused, then continued, "By the way, that man mailed me a month ago. He asked me to fly back to the States for his birthday."
Agent O'Neill stared at Ziarre. She paused for few seconds, and then said, "Joe Evans asked you to go back to the states?"
"His birthday was last Saturday. He insisted me on visiting him in prison on his birthday in the letter," Ziarre said.
"But you didn't head back?"
"Because you realized something was wrong?"
"No ... because I have changed."
"I don't get it," Agent O'Neill said.
"He thought I would go back after many struggles—as I always did in the past." Ziarre took a deep breath.
Agent O'Neill sighed.
Mary approached and said, "Miss Ziarre, is Miss O'Neill staying for dinner?"
"No," Agent O'Neill said while standing up. "My pal in the Scotland Yard is expecting a drink with me."
Ziarre stood up, reached out her hand, and said, "Nice meeting you again, Agent O'Neill."
"You too, Miss Donaldson." Agent O'Neill shook Ziarre's hand.
Ziarre paused and forced a smooch onto Agent O'Neill's right cheek.
Agent O'Neill froze for a second and quickly drew her hand back.
"Mary, please walk Miss O'Neill out."
When Agent O'Neill headed out the door, Ziarre sat down again. She took a heavy breath and looked toward the French doors.
After the darkness swallowed the dim lights of sunset, Ziarre toward the door and almost bumped into Mary.
"Dinner is ready, Miss Ziarre."
Ziarre nodded. She walked toward the dining room, carefully humming every note of a church hymn.
After dinner, Ziarre walked into the conservatory. It started to rain heavily. Rain was loudly splashing on the windows, but the room was quiet. She sat down. The darkness outside was obscured by the rain. The London weather was unpredictable. The only certain thing was that the sun wouldn't be seen for the next nine hours.
She stared at the wall, and memories gradually blurred her sights. It had been a year ago in Los Angeles.
ZIARRE WALKED OUT OF the CEO's office. The man behind her shouted manically, "If you live under my roof, you will learn to take my orders! You hear me? You freeloader. Don't you dare walk away from me. You hear me?"
Ziarre headed to the stairs. The man's voice faded into the cold air in the white hallway. She walked downstairs. After arriving on the ground floor, Ziarre walked out the back door. Five hundred meters away, there was a gray cement building. Once she reached the gate of that building, she flashed her security card at the scanner.
"Welcome, Miss Evans," a woman said.
She pushed the steel door open and walked into the building. Different equipment, large and small, was on the ground floor, and there were two humongous elevators. There were also two floors of labs. People in white robes were working behind big glass windows.
"Welcome, Miss Evans."
Ziarre turned to the voice.
A man with heavy glasses smiled at her. "Here are the copies you requested." He handed her a stack of paper in a folder.
Ziarre took the folder.
"Confidential," she said.
The man nodded and said, "You know the rest."
"Yes," she responded.
She headed to the gate. The man hurried to scan his security card to open the gate for her. "Good-bye, Miss Evans," said the man.
"Good-bye." She didn't turn her head.
She passed the main building and reached the parking lot. Her cell rang, but she ignored it and headed to her car. She clicked the remote to unlock it, opened the door, threw the folder in the passenger seat, and got in. She thought for a few seconds and decided to take the local roads home. The cell rang again. She knew it was from that man. All she did was start the engine.
After forty minutes of driving, she arrived at the family house. She parked her car along the road and rushed in. She preheated the oven and found a pizza in the freezer. She set the timer on the oven and headed to her room.
Ziarre put the folder on her empty desk and opened it. She opened the bottom drawer to pull out a map. There were different color circles on it. She read through the pages. She turned on her computer and searched. She smiled at a social network profile and typed a few more searches. She found a colored pencil and drew a new circle on the map. She frowned and unintentionally pressed the pencil tip to her lips. Her upper lip was about to open, and her hand pushed the pencil slightly into her mouth. She froze. Her eyes looked down at the pencil. She frowned, removed the pencil from her lips, and stared at the map again.
The timer beeped sharply and loudly. She put the colored pencil back in the box on the table, packed the map back in the drawer, and started to shred the papers and the folder. She reached into the bottom drawer for a plastic bag and emptied the shredder in it. She tied the bag and dumped it next to the desk. Before she left the room, she looked at an empty cardboard box with enormous pinholes and several pins in it.
She headed for the kitchen. Pictures of a man and a woman were everywhere, but Ziarre was missing in all the pictures but one—the big one in the living room. Ziarre grabbed a plate and pulled the pizza from the oven. She sat down, stared at the wall, and ate. She finished the pizza, washed the dishes, and headed back to her room.
She left the house with a plastic bag of shredded paper in her hand and something around her waist beneath her blazer. She got into the car and drove toward the bright city lights.
After thirty-five minutes, Ziarre was back at the office. She parked, grabbed the plastic bag, and got out. She scanned her badge, and the door buzzed open. She walked to the end of the hallway, opened a door, and emptied the bag into the incinerator. The smell disgusted her.
Ziarre drove to the edge of downtown. She parked at a meter and grabbed a cape from the passenger seat. There was a metro bus stop seven meters away. She waited in the shadow of a traffic light.
At 9:30, a black van stopped five meters away from the bus stop. The windshield was tinted, and she couldn't see inside. The license plates said Quebec.
Within minutes, a young man walked across the street toward the bus stop. He wore a white shirt and black pants.
Ziarre felt the blood rushing to her brain. She quickly scanned the surroundings and ran across the street.
The young man listened to his iPod at the bus stop.
The van started and moved toward the stop. The side door opened, and a few dark shadows jumped out of the van.
The young man was nodding his head to the music. Ziarre was close enough to hear the muffled music from his earphones. The lead creature approached the young man and jumped toward his neck.
The man gasped. "What—"
The creature didn't seem to hear the scream. The attack happened so fast. Its claws grabbed the man's shoulder, and its mouth appeared out of nowhere. Two lines of sharp gray teeth aimed at the victim's neck.
Ziarre rushed to the next creature and pulled two sharp objects from her waist, one in each hand. She simultaneously stabbed into the areas above both creatures' mouths. The creatures shrieked and howled loudly and painfully. The first creature couldn't hold onto the man and fell to the ground. The creatures began to shrink.
The black van approached steadily.
Ziarre looked inside, but she only saw two enormous black shiny eyes staring at her. She felt hatred, anger, and madness, but there was no time to panic.
The young man tripped, and his head banged to the ground.
The van engine roared, and the other creatures hurried after it.
Ziarre, without blinking, stabbed two at a time. The street was full of traumatized screams. These screams were quickly swallowed by the concrete and the darkness of the night. The other creatures started to shrink too. They became lumps of black gunk on the ground.
Ziarre couldn't hear anything—not even her heavy breaths. An unexpected wind brought her back to reality. She pushed the two sharp objects back toward her waist. She squinted at the unconscious young man.
A man across the street yelled, "You!"
Ziarre raised her head and looked toward to the voice.
"You! Are you?"
Ziarre ran toward her car, and the approaching steps and heavy breathing faded. She jumped into the car, started the engine, and rushed to the next traffic light.
The man chased Ziarre to the traffic light and watched her speed away. When he saw the man on the ground, he ran across the street while reaching to his pocket for his cell phone.
"911. What's your emergency?"
"There is an unconscious man here." He checked the man's pulse. "He is still alive. He's got a pulse!"
"Sir, where are you right now?"
The man specified the intersection, and gave his name as requested, "Natt Whitehall. Dr. Natt Whitehall."
"No, I am not a medical doctor. I am an academic doctor."
"Okay, Dr. Whitehall. Please stay where you are until the ambulance arrives. Can you do that?"
Within minutes, a police car and an ambulance arrived. The unconscious man started to move and moan. Natt pointed the medical personnel toward the man. They rushed to check and move him.
An officer walked toward Natt. "Mister?"
"Can you describe—"
More vehicles rushed toward them. The hasty brake sounds irritated the crowd on the street.
A fit woman stepped out of her car and yelled, "This is our crime scene now! FBI. Federal agents." She flashed her badge.
A bunch of men came out of the other vehicles and started to unroll caution tape.
She walked toward the officer, "What have we here? Natt Whitehall. What are you doing here?"
"Gina?" Natt said.
"Natt Whitehall. What are you doing here? This is not the time for a reunion!"
The police officer looked at her and said, "He's the witness."
Gina said, "He can speak for himself, can't he?"
The office looked disturbed, but Gina paid him no more attention.
"What have you seen, Natt?"
"I was heading for a sandwich, and I heard loud screams. I rushed over, and I saw a teenage boy in a suit standing next to this unconscious man from the opposite side of the street."
An agent walked over from the ambulance and waved a wallet. "The victim's name is Adam Davis."
Gina squatted and examined the ground carefully.
An officer called to the officer next to Gina and passed him the phone. "Agent O'Neill, we have been given instructions. Can we leave now?"
"Yes, you can." She even didn't raise her head.
The officer shook his head, chuckled, and headed to his vehicle.
Gina stood up and looked across the street. "Where were you exactly when you heard the screams?"
"Right next to that traffic light," Natt said.
"Walk me through the whole thing again." Gina was about to cross the street.
Natt walked with her. The agents in their way quickly yielded. Natt described everything again. He thought the boy was in trouble, and he was going to ask if the boy was all right, but the boy started running.
"I chased after him, but he was unbelievably fast. Unbelievable." paused. "He was about five-foot-three. Skinny. With a cape. Very pale. He only seemed thirteen or fourteen, but he rushed to jump into a car and drove away."
Excerpted from A Blossom by Isabel Chloe. Copyright © 2013 Isabel Chloe. Excerpted by permission of Balboa 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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