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When she's not time traveling, fighting outlaws, or otherworldly creatures, she creates pre-made book covers to order at Gillian's Book Covers, "Judge Your Book By Its Cover".
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The moment Sanya entered the bar, Garran MacLaurin's scent slammed into her, causing the icy fear to twist at her heart. Through the throng of patrons' laughter and carrying on as they drank themselves into oblivion, she spotted him. He sat alone in the back, beneath the dim overhead lights. She immediately scanned the bar looking for his furry sidekick, Harrison Connell. She didn't see him, but she would bet the werewolf lurked somewhere close.
Sanya concentrated on MacLaurin again. He appeared relaxed as if he enjoyed the Irish band's poor rendition of Danny Boy. Good, he hadn't noticed her ... yet.
She backed up a step, then turned and headed for the side door. Once in the alley, she took off at a brisk walk, not wanting to draw attention by shimmering and leaving a preternatural trail. She silently cursed herself for wearing her three-inch stilettos. She should have never bought the darn things, even though they were the perfect shade to go with her slinky red dress. She looked good in red. It flattered her long dark hair and strong Spanish features. Men drooled to be near her and it had nothing to do with her vampire allure. However, these beautiful shoes weren't meant for an evening jog.
She had a good thing going in Boston and she wasn't going to be run out of town just because it was time to switch leaderships again. The rule was every twenty-five years territories exchanged hands. It kept the humans from becoming suspicious when their neighbors didn't age as they did. She was in Boston during the roaring twenties, again in the early eighties — which was the last time MacLaurin ruled with Harrison at his side. She and MacLaurin had a thing for each other back then, but that was history.
MacLaurin was a Grim Sith, created by a Baobhan Sith, one of the most vicious vampires in Scotland. However, MacLaurin ruled his territory with rigid rules that made a vampire want to cut off her head just to end the misery. She had hoped the rumors of MacLaurin's return were false. Tonight, told her otherwise.
Sanya didn't slow her pace as she thought of her escape route out of Boston. MacLaurin's home base was here, even though his rule also covered most of Massachusetts.
Maybe she'd head over to Salem for a few weeks. Give MacLaurin a chance to cool off. By now he would have heard about her little mistake.
She rounded the corner and skidded to a stop, panic rioting through her veins. The sanctimonious jerk knew she'd been at the bar after all. He stood there with his arms folded against his chest and leaning against the brick building in a nonchalant manner.
Her tongue slipped out, licking her suddenly dry lips. "I didn't know you were in town," she lied, trying to bide some time. She took a step back, fighting the urge to run. Fleeing would give MacLaurin all the more reason to chase her. It was all about the hunt with predators. Something she understood all too well, being she was a vampire, too.
"I may have believed ye, darlin', if ye hadn't slinked out the back door of Tony's Pub." Garran MacLaurin's Scottish roll of the tongue was sexy and menacing all in one. The man stood six-five with light hair and eyes. He looked about twenty-five if not a day older, but if she remembered right, he'd been made back when broadswords were all the rage.
Her gaze slid over him, trying to imagine what he would have looked like in a kilt. Yeah, damn good, she thought and shook her head. And now ... some might find him attractive in his worn blue jeans, T-shirt and duster, but he scowled most of the time, making his strong angular features fierce. She'd let the other chicas have him.
She backed up another step. "A girl's gotta eat, Garran."
"Sanya, ye know where ye can obtain the blood ye need."
"Pig's blood," she spat. "I sooner starve."
"Ye should have stuck with that plan then." His eyes glowed with intent as he stalked her. "I don't appreciate havin' to clean up after ye."
"One or two little ol' mistakes. Are you going to hold them against me?" Sanya nervously chuckled.
He was so fast. She didn't even blink and he was there in front of her. His hand snaked out, grabbing her arm and pulling her against him. "Oh aye," he hissed baring his fangs.
Sanya couldn't help whimpering, expecting him to sink his sharp teeth into her, ripping out her throat. It was the way it was often done if an Otherworldly being overstepped in the head honcho's territory. The ruler of the territory set the rules and all his subjects must follow.
MacLaurin was like an avenging angel ... or rather devil. She bit back the urge to chuckle. Yes, he was more like a Fallen Angel with his 'my way or suffer' protocol. Damn him. MacLaurin didn't stake out a territory for hunting. He watched over it and protected the food source instead of indulging in it. Why couldn't one of the vampires, who partook in sampling humans now and again, be in charge? Even a demon ruler would be better than MacLaurin.
MacLaurin's large hand cupped her face, his gaze sliding over her slowly as if memorizing each of her features. She hated to plead, but she didn't want to go out like this. "Please, Garran, you're one of us."
"One of us? How charmin'." His eyebrows rose in mock pretense.
"Sure, you're a vampire even if you were infected with —" He put a finger over her lips, silencing her. She struggled to be free from him, but his grip tightened. She closed her eyes, but instead of him taking her throat, he kissed her.
Something in the back of her mind screamed to fight him, but her body wouldn't listen. She began to relax as his tongue coaxed her to open up to him. She let him devour her mouth and she took too, enjoying this little turn of events. She was a little disoriented when his mouth left hers.
"I'm sorry, Sanya," he whispered.
Before she could decipher what he meant, she felt a sharp pain in her chest. Her eyes widened in surprise as fear and anger knotted inside her. He actually had done it. She had heard rumors he would seduce his victims, not unlike what she would do to a human, but she wasn't human. She hadn't been one since the Spanish Inquisition had its first auto-da-fé held in Seville in 1481. Sanya was older than Garran and should be able to take him, but his determination to follow his creed of right and wrong proved stronger.
She could withstand most attacks and heal. Vampires from every sept were virtually immortal unless beheaded or stabbed through the heart. Garran's hands bit into her arms, pinning them to the side. She waited, expecting to explode into dust as legend claimed. "What's happening?" she stammered, fear gripping her insides.
MacLaurin brushed aside a strand of hair from her face. "Ye didn't believe a stake would actually kill ye, did ye?"
"Yes, I did, you bas —"
"Watch it, lass," he interrupted her attempt at a colorful metaphor. He took an exaggerated breath and shook his head. "A stake through the heart only paralyzes a vampire, while letting the vampire have a full function of his or her thoughts and speech. Did ye know the ancients would bury a vampire, leave them to contemplate their sins while the rats and bugs ate at their flesh? Quite painful I hear, but alas a vampire heals and the process repeats all over again the next night and the next ... forever."
Sanya tried to make her limbs move, but to no avail. "Please, you wouldn't do that to me, would you?"
"I believe ye need to learn a lesson, Sanya."
She heard a vehicle screech to a halt beside the curb and a door opened and shut.
"Are you ready to move her?"
Sanya recognized Connell's voice. She'd known Garran's dog wouldn't be too far behind.
"I believe I'm finished with her," Garran said as he slid his arms beneath her legs and lifted her up to cradle her against his chest.
She had to think. She had to think of something that would save her.
He tossed her in the back of the van like trash going to the dumpsite.
"Wait!" She did have something.
"Give me a good reason why I should be listenin' to ye."
"I know what happened to the last governor of Otherworldy business."
"Go on." Garran nodded. "I'd wondered why Franco Meridos hadn't been here to greet me."
"Uh, yeah ... He was working with a new vamp. They had a falling out."
"So?" Garran's right brow rose as if bored with the news.
"Franco lost." She tried to gage MacLaurin's reaction to the news. He didn't even flinch. The jerk already knew Franco was dust. "The new vamp's claiming to be the new leader of this territory now," she hurried to say. "He's like you, too."
Garran's hands gripped her shoulders and pulled her up so he could look her in the eyes. "What do ye mean like me?"
"He's from Scotland, if his brogue is any indication. He looks like an angel, but ... there's something dark in him. He takes sucking the life out of his victims to a new level." She chuckled with admiration. "I've never seen anything like it. He has to be one of the creations from the she-devil septs from overseas. It's almost like watching an incubus at work, but with an evil twist. You know the uncouth kind that seduces their prey, sucks their life source before ripping them to shreds." If she could, she would have shrugged, but her limbs would not obey even the slightest gesture. "See, I'm not so bad. At least, if they aren't turned, there's something left of my prey for the grieving family to bury."
The side of Garran's cheek pulsed as if he clenched his teeth.
Maybe she shouldn't have added that last part.
"Did this new vampire give ye a name?" His gaze bore into hers.
"I can't remember, but I had the opinion he knew you. We got real cozy, if you know what I mean."
"I can imagine," he said dryly.
"I mentioned how I once knew a highlander Grim Sith. I swear the blood in his veins clotted and he became as still as stone." She cleared her throat as the statement reminded her of her predicament. "Anyway he says you and him were kin. Alexander. That's it. His name is Alexander." If she didn't know better, she'd swear MacLaurin's face paled even more than his usual fair skin appearance. Vampires tended to be lighter skinned due to never being out in the sun, but MacLaurin was once a Highlander, they were all pale as paper in her opinion, vampire or not.
"Where can I find him?" His eyes narrowed.
"I ... I don't know."
He harrumphed and threw her down. "Enjoy the rats."
"Wait! I know where he chills sometimes."
He lifted her up again. "I'm listenin'."
"I would have to go. Obviously, there's been bad blood between you two, in more ways than one." She chuckled, but Garran didn't crack a smile at her pun. She cleared her throat before she spoke again. "If he sees you, he'd only disappear again."
"Do ye expect me to believe ye, Sanya? Please give me some credit."
"Believe what you will. I'm at your mercy, am I not?"
"If ye're lyin' —"
"I'm not. I'll lead you to him. I'll —"
Garran covered her mouth with his index finger. "I don't want to meet with him. I want ye to get close to him, and find out what he's up to."
"You want me to spy on him."
She licked her lips. "I can do that." Really, was she in any position to say otherwise?
"Oh, come on Garran, you don't actually believe her," Harrison Connell spoke up.
"Why don't you keep quiet, Irish dog," Sanya hissed.
"You will mind yer manners, Sanya," Garran told her. "Let me warn ye if ye double cross me, havin' a stake through yer heart will seem like a holiday."
She gulped. "I wouldn't double cross you."
He pulled out the stake and she inhaled, the pain causing her to grip his arms. "Holy ... eff ... ing ..." A stream of Spanish curse words flew from her lips.
"Now, Sanya, is that anyway for a lady to behave? Oh, I forgot, ye aren't a lady, are ye?"
She glared at him, wishing her gaze could burst him into flames. She saw the trick once in a movie. She really wished it were a true talent she could learn.
MacLaurin chuckled as if he read her mind.
Regaining most of her strength, she pushed him away and scrambled out of the van. She straightened her dress that had risen up her thighs.
"No more human attacks," Garran warned. "Ye'll go back to the pig's blood."
"I'll be shaky for days. I'll look like a junkie."
Garran's gaze raked over her. "Ye already look the part with the slip ye have on that's doin' a piss poor job of masqueradin' as a dress."
She hissed baring her fangs.
"I mean it. Boston and the surrounding cities better not have one blood-drained death or I'll be lookin' for ye."
She turned to leave, but he grabbed her arm. "Don't skip town either. Ye're workin' for me until I say otherwise."
She yanked free. "I'll be in touch."
"Aye, that ye will."
* * *
Garran waited until the beautiful Latino sashayed out of sight. He found it difficult to believe he'd once thought the selfish beauty was his soul mate. He glanced at Harrison who stood there with a hand on his hip and shaking his head. "Don't say it, Harrison," he warned him.
"I don't have to. That woman will double cross you, to be sure."
"Aye, but she's the only one who has gotten close to the fiend who calls me kin. We need her to smoke him out so we can clean up the mess Franco didn't."
"You do realize Sanya drained two men and changed another."
"Aye, and I eliminated the minion before I headed over to Tony's tonight."
Harrison paced in frustration. "Sanya is sloppy and endangers other preternatural creatures who are trying to blend into the human population. Like us, for starters." He tapped his chest.
"Sanya will spread the word that we're back in town. We'll have everything under control once more."
Harrison lifted his eyebrows, obviously not sharing his confidence.
Garran sighed, not blaming Harrison for his skepticism. "Sanya won't kill while she thinks I'm a threat. I'm workin' on the other problem. Vampires killin' at will are one thing, but the other menace ..."
Harrison stared at him. "Do you know who the fiend is then? Is he from your sept as Sanya claimed?"
"Aye, he's from my sept. I knew the killin's were like a Grim Sith's. He's livin' off the person's essence — their soul. However, he's leavin' just enough to keep the body alive. For a while, it will throw off the authorities." He sighed in frustration. "Centuries ago, the Bobhan Sith, the females of our sept, used to cover their tracks by rippin' the victim to shreds in hopes the villagers would think they were attacked by a wild animal."
"Hmm ... Aye. Doesn't work so well in the city," Garran said thoughtfully, recognizing Harrison's sarcasm for what it was. "The Bobhan Sith usually don't venture far from the Highlands, but Fallon ..." He could never say his sire's name without bitterness. "She made the Grim Sith, the males of the species. Until her, the human males were turned, used to father their young, then fed upon and discarded. Only the females were kept alive. Ye can see why the Grim Sith don't like to stay in one place for long. A Grim Sith will usually seek adventure elsewhere." He looked up at the moonless night with a frown. The darkness didn't hamper his vision. It enhanced it.
Harrison gave him a wolfish grin, his canines lengthening. "We'll find him. So stop frowning. It doesn't become you."
Garran growled, not liking his moment of melancholy interrupted.
"You know you waste your I-can-beat-the-crap-out-of-you-look on me. Let me buy you a drink and we'll plan our next move. Aye?"
Garran relaxed his features and nodded. When he'd taken on this assignment, it had unsettled him that the killings were similar to the one's after the bloody battle of Culloden, the ones near his home in Balquhidder. That was some three and half centuries ago. The fiend had been Alexander MacLaurin, his cousin, his betrayer. He didn't want to believe it, but the recent deaths screamed of Alexander's handy work. Tonight, Sanya confirmed his fears and named the fiend. Where had the bugger been hiding these past centuries? He'd believed him dead. Had he been in hiding all this time and waiting to exact his revenge?
There's one thing Garran learned in his long life: Time did not heal all wounds; it made them fester.
Excerpted from "Soul Taker"
Copyright © 2013 Karen Michelle Nutt.
Excerpted by permission of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is about a girl who discovers her powers in a world she has been cut out from after a traumatic event. It has a feeling that says, you can't escape destiny or more exactly nobody can take your destiny away from you. It is also a true tale about vampire in the Dracula sense of the word. There are a lot of points that remind of Stoker's Dracula in the bad guy and the way he chooses his victims, as well as in the contrast between Johanna and Isabella which remind of the relationship between Lucy and Mina. This book contains action, romance, revenge and history. It was a really pleasant read.