Release Date: February 8, 2015
Clementine Journey Hail, awakens to find herself in the middle of a nightmare. Trapped within her own body, she overhears two vampires negotiating over the prices of their latest stock. Little do they realize that she is conscious and fighting to recover her movement. It's only after she is purchased and carted onto a train that she can safely try to escape. But she's not alone. One of the other purchased girls is with her on the train. Both girls risk it all to get away from a certain deadly fate.
Paxton Summers and his brother are graduate students in Ironwall University's Demigod Hunters Program. Their main mission is to track down rogue mythos and fae who would break the laws keeping the various countries of Edra at peace. But part of their training has to deal with going on quests. While attempting to locate the Sword of Freyr, the brothers stumble upon more than they ever hoped to find.
Whoever said “the best things in life are free” should have been shot. Anger clouded my brain. I don’t know how long I lay there, but it felt like an eternity.
Panic and fear were the first contenders that tried to consume me, but eventually, the panic gave up and my fear was replaced by anger. I was livid, and not only because I couldn’t open my eyes, or speak, or feel my body. No, what really enraged me was that I actually believed I could enjoy a night out.
The receptionist at my doctor’s office offered me a set of free tickets to see an off Broadway show. The catch was: the tickets had to be used that night. I thought, Hey, I’m not busy, why not hop a train into the city and see a show? I even invited my cousin, Monica, who was attending medical school and merely a quick subway ride away. However, she canceled at the very last minute. If I had only known she changed her mind, I might have reconsidered going myself.
The last thing I remember was leaving her a voicemail that let her know I understood. But I recall nothing after that. My mind is a complete and total blank.
All of the “could haves,” “would haves,” and “should haves” kept rumbling around in my brain, which did not make my situation any easier. In fact, they only made me feel worse.
Pins and needles slowly began creeping up my fingertips, entering my hands along with my toes and feet. The increasing pain almost made me cry, and I knew if I’d been standing up, I’d surely have fallen flat on my face. Was the paralysis wearing off? One could only hope, right?
Door hinges squeaked from somewhere nearby, and the ensuing anxiety gnawed away at my bones. My heart rate remained stable, ostensibly due to paralysis, but my mind was a spinning cyclone of churning emotions that had no place else to go.
Once the door slammed shut, a deep, scratchy, baritone voice spoke. “And here we have the last items in our selection of merchandise.”
My stomach flipped. Merchandise? What in the world was this guy smoking?
“Feel free to browse. Minimal touching and prodding are acceptable as long as they don’t result in any visible marks.”
A slick voice, dripping with arrogance, responded. “What about sampling the merchandise?”
“We charge a separate fee for that.” I could just picture dollar signs floating around the guy’s head.
“A fee?” he growled. “You said nothing about a fee! After all the money I’ve paid your sorry ass in the past, you should be eagerly offering me one of these blood whores entirely for free!”
“Yes, I understand how you feel.” The voice took on a more soothing tone. “However, I am running a business here, and sampling of the merchandise can only diminish the condition of my products.”
“Fine, I’ll pay your stupid fee. My master is very specific about all of his purchases.” Annoyance coated his indignation. Their footsteps and voices grew louder as their conversation continued.
“Of course, what is several thousand in comparison to several million?”
“Easy for you to say. The fee will likely come out of my commission,” he grumbled.
“Ah, here we are. I believe these humans will suit your employer’s needs.”
Did he just say these humans? What a weirdo! Wait a second. Oh, no. Please don’t tell me that… I wanted to run, hide, scream, cry, and piss my pants all at the same time. Shit! I couldn’t even tell if I were still wearing any pants.
“How long have they been in stasis?” The creepy guy sounded only a few feet away from my head.
“Less than a week. They should be completely mobile within minutes of reanimation.”
The pins and needles sensation continued to move up my limbs. I couldn’t do anything to ease the pain, and tried to focus my attention on what the two sleaze balls were discussing.
“Excellent. Have their minds been cleansed?”
The pungent scent of road kill suddenly clogged my nostrils.
“No, but they are scheduled for reprogramming upon purchase.”
I felt several odd sensations traveling up and down my body as I strained my ears to listen to more of their conversation.
The silence impregnated the room. Where were they? What where they doing? Just say something already! Counting the beats of my own heart, several minutes passed before either one of the men spoke.
“I’ll sample these three.”
“Commendable choice, sir.”
A sharp pain pierced my wrist. It coiled up my arm like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of its prey. Screaming was no option since I couldn’t move. But the pain instantly left.
“Tastes like citrus.” The deep inhalation of air traveled up my body than ended by my ear. “She even smells like citrus.” Pressure around my right eye forced the lids apart. A pasty-faced man with a pointed chin and a hooked nose loomed in my blurry vision. Seconds later, he removed his hand, allowing my eye to close. “Light blue eyes.” A pause. “Where’s her file?”
“Right here, sir.” Audible glee filled the merchant’s voice. “She comes highly recommended. Her procurer claims she came from a suburban area...”
“Yes, yes, it should all be here, correct?” Sheets of paper were being turned. “Has anyone else examined her?”
“Besides our doctor? No. Our other clients were more interested in a pair of males and several other females with different ethnic backgrounds. You’re the first one to show any interest in her. And there’s another added bonus: she’s listed as pristine.”
“Excellent.” His voice began to fade as his steps took him away from where I lay. Two more descriptions followed, and he seemed more than a little excited when he announced the next person tasted like “cherries.” I think he said she had navy-colored eyes.
After several more questions, they moved on to the next item of merchandise. She tasted like apples, which was fine, and had warm, brown eyes. The pasty man was not pleased by the way she tasted, but said that she could fulfill a substitute role for his master adequately enough.
A sense of dread filled my stomach as the nightmare continued. Pages turned and more questions followed. The buyer wanted to know everything about us: the type of food we ate, any allergies we may have had, and where we currently were on our menstrual cycles. He even asked about our bloodlines, and inquired about the health of our parents and grandparents. When he specifically asked about our siblings, his question was interrupted by an urgent text message.
“I’m willing to make an offer for all three of them,” the pasty man stated after answering his text.
“I will seriously consider your offer. We still have several more clients scheduled to inspect the merchandise later tonight.” Great, this guy was going to play hardball with my life! Maybe this was simply a bizarre nightmare. All I had to do was figure out how to wake up. Then I intended to go back to the theater and wait for the show to start.
“This offer will only be valid for fifteen minutes.” The pasty-faced man’s tone hardened. “If you choose to wait, you will lose my master’s business. And we will shop elsewhere in the future.”
I could feel the agitation coming from the salesman. “We have struck an accord.”
“I will have them prepped before transport to our medical facility in Cyniel. Just fill out the form with the information you wish to have programmed into their minds. A suggestion,” he hesitated before adding, “it’s best to give them some sort of background. Otherwise, they can become obsessed with learning their true identities.”
The pasty guy snorted. “They are toys. Pets, at best. You make it seem like they are one of us.”
“As I said earlier, the humans have evolved over the past hundred years. They’re not the same ignorant gnats we used to sell to you.”
“That may be true, but it matters. I want the cherry-flavored one awakened and brought immediately up to my room.”
“What about the programming?”
“You can do that after I’ve fed. See that those two are transported directly to the medical facility in Cyniel then to Grayford Manor when they are ready. My master hates to wait long for his new toys to arrive.”
“And the third purchase?”
“A three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old transition present from my master. She’s to be my new toy for the time being. Hence, I don’t want her out of my sight.” His voice seemed to move away from where I lay, obviously still on display. The doors squeaked again before they slammed shut. The silence returned, along with my outrage.