Thursday, October 2, 2008
Is making love in a graveyard creepy?
Not for Vex Savaker and Chastity Worthington! Tell me the craziest places you've gotten all hot and bothered and I'll enter you into a drawing for a download of my newest release, Nocturnally Vexed! Winner announced on Halloween!
Here's the blurb and a little taste for you.
Vex had never wooed a human and he wasn’t certain he had a clue of how to go about it, but Chastity, he decided, was worth it. The quicker he could claim her as his mate, the better he liked it. The question was, could he protect Chass from the denizens of Xurath—the bloodsuckers and shifter-rapts that lived among the humans and preyed upon them? Could he protect her from his own beasts?
Before the Dawn
Long before cave dwellers roamed our land, eons before the giant lizards, when Earth revolved around our brilliant star—the ball of fire that warms us—there was life. Life shrouded in darkness. Creatures were formed, brought to life by vile gods before the one true God created life in His image. The world was black, dank and miserable, and full of endless suffering. Those brave enough to live, forged a dark existence, struggling to survive in the most sinister of places. A place known back then as Xurath, Land of the Undead.
Born into being were two beastly breeds. Two evil sects of incarnation brought to fruition with one purpose in mind, to kill one another. Two dark gods, Folog and Garmut, warred with one another, casting dismal souls upon the black earth to outdo the other. Folog bred the bloodsuckers, undead malformations of his wicked design, walking on two legs, never meant to see the light of day. Garmut bred the shifter-rapts, creatures of many shapes and designs, bearing a cruel combination of hideous features—able to shift and change into various creatures on a whim, a most useful tool in dark Xurath.
The bloodsuckers survived on the shifter-rapts while the shifter-rapts survived on lesser creatures, born from lesser, dark gods. As Xurath journeyed and twirled on its twisted orbit for millions of years, long before our giant star set the world ablaze with light, creatures battled. Fighting to keep their existence, many of them developed special powers over the centuries. Powers that would keep them alive long after the new star was born.
Mutants and hybrids were formed, all of them struggling to overcome black Xurath and live. Many died, killed off by the stronger creatures of the nocturnal land, but those that survived, thrived. A cross creature, born of both bloodsucker and shifter-rapt parentage, a freak of nature some would say, came into being. This creature ruled Xurath before the dawn and still rules today, thriving both in dark and light. He is called Vex. He battles the creatures of bygone centuries. Creatures vile, clever and crafty enough to cross over into the new world, leaving bleak Xurath behind them where living for a day was ordinary. His purpose here and now was to extinguish the rest and send them back.
King’s Cross Station, London, England, 2006
“He’s killed again, Vex.”
Vex stared at the grainy black-and-white photos, taken one hundred and eighteen years earlier, comparing them to full color photos taken last night. Detective Red O’Malley had no choice but to ask for his help. Vex was their last resort. He was used to dealing with the undead, whether it be of the bloodsucker variety or the elusive shifter-rapt; after all, he was a combination of the two.
“I don’t understand,” Vex mumbled, half to himself.
“We think it’s the same guy,” O’Malley added.
“Not just a copycat?”
“We have DNA to back it up.”
Vex’s head shot up as he looked the detective squarely in the eye. “Then why can’t you bloody catch him?”
“We matched DNA from the Whitechapel murders to this murder, but back in 1888, there was no database in play. And so far, this guy’s been clean. At least in this century.”
“Where’d you get the DNA?”
“A piece of hair. Well, a tiny fragment of hair. Less than a centimeter, found trapped in the wax he sealed the letter with.”
“The famous letter to the police? The one promising to kill again?” Vex asked, catching on quickly.
“Yes. For years the letter was thought to be a fake.”
“DNA evidence is hard to dispute,” Vex argued.
O’Malley nodded. “Particularly in this case. It’s a perfect match.”
“Where was the DNA evidence on the recent victim?”
“Semen? That’s odd. Jack’s never raped before,” Vex replied, scratching his chin.
“Yeah, well he has now. Three times in a row.”
“Looks like he still enjoys pulling out the intestines, uterus and organs,” Vex added while flipping through the photos.
“And mutilating the victim’s face,” O’Malley said, while pointing to a color photo of the most recent killing.
“I’d never taken Jack for a shifter-rapt.”
“Explains why they never caught him,” O’Malley mused.
Vex grunted as he flipped through the photos, comparing the old to the new, all of them eerily similar in method.
“Good Ole’ Jack the Ripper. Who would’ve thought he’d resurface?”
“Seems all the demons are coming out of the woodwork these days,” O’Malley answered.
Vex tucked the photos into his coat pocket as streams of people passed by, boarding the morning train.
“Has the press caught wind of this yet?”
“Not yet. We’re trying to keep a tight lid on this one, considering the hysteria he raised over a century ago.”
“Good thinking,” Vex agreed.
“We won’t be able to stall them long, though. Word travels fast. Rumors are swirling. I heard tell that one of the locals who discovered one of the bodies before dawn has been talking to the tabloids.”
“Who?” Vex asked.
“You know I can’t tell you, Vex. You’ll go threaten him.”
“You’re damn right, O’Malley. Now who is it? Spill the beans. We’ve got three dead girls on our hands. All of them beautiful, young women whose lives were cut short. I need a name.”
O’Malley sighed. It was no use. The hybrid bloodsucker, shifter-rapt would find out anyhow. He seemed to know everyone or every kind, rather. He’d find out. He had his ways and O’Malley knew it. “He’s a bartender. He was on his way home after work. He lives just outside Whitechapel.”
“A name, O’Malley,” Vex repeated, staring the man down.
“Ralph Finnigan. He’s co-owner of the pub.”
Vex was gone before the detective uttered the man’s last name. O’Malley watched as the common black bird flew out of King’s Crossing Station and into the light of day.
* * * *
Chastity Worthington was alone at her desk. The newsroom was deserted at this hour. Everyone else had gone home to join their families, have dinner and turn in for the night. Chass wasn’t tired. Not in the least. She’d gotten a hot tip and, if it was real, this story could take her all the way to the top. She surfed the Net, stopping on one of the foremost Ripperologist sites. She clicked onto grisly black-and-white photos. She clicked again, enlarging the photo of Mary Jane Kelly, Jack’s final victim, killed on November 9, 1888. Chass cringed when she clicked again, enlarging the photo further. Mary Jane’s face was hardly recognizable as anything other than a piece of meat. Her desk phone rang, making her jump half out of her skin. She grabbed it on the second ring.
“Worthington here,” she chirped into the receiver as she swiveled around, glancing at the darkened news room of the Daily Mirror.
“What on earth are you doing up there at this hour?” Bartholomew Worthington bellowed.
“Working late,” Chass drawled, rolling her eyes.
“We stopped by your flat after dinner.”
“I’m not there,” Chass replied dryly.
“We can see that, darling. Your mum’s worried sick. She’s been thinking a lot about Tabitha. The anniversary is next week.”
Chass sighed as she clicked onto another victim’s remains. How long would she have to suffer because of her sister’s abduction fifteen years before? “Tell her I’m fine. Just working late.”
“On what? You’ve met your deadline.”
Chass thought of what to say while she read about the Whitechapel murders.
“Did you get a lead on something?” her father asked, his concern quickly fading to interest. As senior editor of the Daily Mirror, Bartholomew Worthington was always looking for the next big story.
“Daddy, I think I’ve got something here. I’ll call you back in a bit,” Chass answered, hanging up abruptly. She knew her father would quiz her. She wanted all her facts straight before telling him about the new lead.
Chass glanced down at her notes. The ones she’d jotted down the night before. There were ink smears all over the darn thing. She’d been taking a bubble bath, after finally reaching a heavy deadline and calling it a night. The police scanner she kept on in her bedroom began chattering away just as she was about to fall back into the bubbles, wetting her long, black hair. She’d reached for the notebook on the window ledge with one slender leg, knocking it down with her big toe. She leaned forward, catching it before it fell in the water. She ignored her dripping hands as she unhooked the pen and began scribbling like mad. She strained to hear. That damn faucet, if it would stop that infernal dripping! She jammed her toe into the round hole. Warm water drizzled down her foot. Static sizzled and popped.
We have a 10-45.
More crackling and popping. Chass strained to hear. She knew a 10-45 was a fatality. In the Whitechapel Area. We need back up. He’s struck again.
Despite the warm water, Chass shivered. She jotted down Whitechapel and then turned back to the page before when she first received that strange call. She read her own inky scrawl. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. You work for the paper, don’t you, my lady?
Chass had cleared her throat, just waking up, answering the phone while half asleep that very morning. “Yes,” she’d mumbled.
This is Jack. Tell your boss I’m back in town.
The accent was thick cockney with a certain quality that Chass had never heard. The line went dead. Chass sat there, now fully awake, surrounded by satin pillows. The fan whirred above her, reminding her that she was indeed awake. She looked at the receiver wondering if she’d dreamt it and grabbed the phone in her sleep. She glanced at the caller I.D. It said unavailable. Great. That figured. How was she going to tell her boss who Jack was? He never left his last name. She’d scampered off the bed, straight to the bathroom, fetching her notebook. She immediately wrote down everything the caller had said, word for word.
* * * *
It was half past midnight when Vex walked through the solid oak doors of The Shamrock, a local Irish pub. A lively bunch crouched around the bar. Six men laughed raucously as Celtic music played in the background. One woman sat at the bar. Vex studied her back, steadying his retina on her spine, instantly scanning her inner DNA. Good, she was human. Female shifter-rapts were wild bitches, and he was in no mood tonight. A bloodsucker he could handle, but not a crafty shifter-rapt and definitely not in the female form. They were generally cleverer than their male counterparts, able to shift quicker and even hypnotize, a craft that only bloodsuckers possessed until around ten years ago. The gene pool was growing.
Vex sat down beside the woman. Her scent hardened him instantly. He shifted in his seat. She glanced over at him, eyeing him through the crook in her arm that held a stiff rum and coke. One silky lock of ebony hair fell over one large green eye. He smiled back.
Chass swirled her glass, chinking the ice. Butterflies skittered through her belly at the sight of the man next to her. She’d been frequenting this bar for years. She’d never run into a bloke like him. His size alone made her shudder and his smell. Bloody hell, the man smelled like fresh gingerbread. The pub owner, Ralph Finnegan, walked up to Vex.
“Whatcha ‘avin mister?”
“A baby giraffe,” Vex replied in a thick English accent, using the rhyming slang term for a half pint of draft beer.
Bloody great. Now it’d be impossible to question the pub owner with stud of the year sitting next to her. Ralph had contacted the paper, saying he needed to speak to someone in charge. Being the boss’s daughter usually got these calls forwarded her way, a most passive-aggressive move from other reporters who felt as if she didn’t have to prove herself to ‘Steely Bart’. This time it had worked in her favor.
Ralph turned to fetch the half pint of lager. Vex scanned his spine. Good. Another human. This was gonna be a piece of cake.
Ralph placed the foamy beer in front of Vex. It bubbled over the side and onto the shamrock napkin. Vex took a sip as Chass set down her empty glass.
“Buy you another, miss?” Vex asked, eyeing her, wondering what it was about this woman that called to him.
Hell, he’d half forgotten he was here on business. Jack would have to wait. Never had he met a human female as stunning as she. More often than not, a crafty shifter-rapt could mesmerize him with her beauty, but half of it was magic. Once her true form was really revealed, a hag lurked beneath, possibly hundreds of years old, made beautiful by ancient spells. Vex had no use for any of them. Their souls were blackened. They’d seen too much war, too much battle on Xurath.
He’d killed so many of them he’d lost count. Most of them were a detriment to society, as were the bloodsuckers, transients that frequented graveyards and alleyways. As long as their criminal record was clean and they contributed to society, he’d allow them to live. Many could be rehabilitated if they truly wanted to blend with humans and live a good life. It was Vex’s job to sort out the nasty and dispose of the vermin. There were only a handful of creatures like Vex and all of them were related to him. He was the oldest, coming nearly one hundred years before his younger brothers, Knight, Jett, Daze and Stone.
His parents had been dead for centuries. His father, Cole, a bloodsucker, had been leader of his clan. He had led the bloody battle back on Xurath, killing off one of the deadliest of shifter-rapt clans, except for one little shifter-rapt girl, Zephyria. Cole raised her, teaching her the ways of the bloodsucker before falling in love with her and marrying her. She had been saved from the life of the shifter-rapt, learning to live life in her natural form, which was one of uncommon beauty among her clan. She had been mistreated for it and would have surely been killed. Cole had heard stories of the fair shifter-rapt, wanting to see if she were real. Indeed she was, but the descriptions of her beauty paled in comparison to the real creature.
Their hybrid children were born with dual powers, possessing psychic, magical powers like those of the bloodsuckers as well as the elusive shifting powers of the shifter-rapts. But the one power that separated the hybrid species from all others was their ultra sensory powers. These creatures had the ability to scan the DNA of any creature on Earth. These powers were of great use to the authorities. All five brothers worked for various law enforcement agencies, depending upon their location. Two worked for the CIA and the FBI, back in the states, while two others did strictly contract work. Vex worked for the Metropolitan Police, formerly Scotland Yard.
The public knew of bloodsuckers and shifter-rapts, but most of them believed they were extinct. Of course, there were the usual interest groups, like ghost hunters who formed out of curiosity, searching for the beasts with infra-red equipment. Even a few shows had popped up on the tele, but none of them of any real consequence. Both species knew how to hide and blend into society and each of them did it exceedingly well. It was Vex’s job to find the dangerous ones and get rid of them. You couldn’t lock them up in the pen, like a regular criminal. They were far too powerful. A bloodsucker could hypnotize the whole joint, suck them dry and be out in a matter of hours. A shifter-rapt could just change shape and flee. Vex’s clan was well respected by the authorities and paid handsomely for their work.
Chass shrugged. What the hell? One drink won’t hurt. The stud was costing her a good interview. She had no intentions of asking him questions now and Ralph didn’t know she was coming. He’d given his address and phone numbers. She told him she’d be in touch.
“Thank you. I’d love one,” Chass answered, tilting her head sideways, smiling at the gorgeous stranger.
His crotch tightened further. Vex shifted in his seat. What was it about this woman? The bloodsucker in him kicked into high gear. He sniffed the air around her.
Christ, she’s a virgin! A super-fine bitch like her? No way!
Vex motioned to Ralph with one finger. “The lady wants another.”
Ralph nodded, turning to make another rum and coke. Chass fished around in her purse for a mirror and lip gloss. She smiled nervously at the man beside her. When she flipped the compact open, she saw two, round green eyes staring back at her. Her heart began to race. She caught him out of the corner of her eye, running a large hand through his long hair. She noticed the hue matched hers perfectly. She applied shiny, clear lip gloss at least three times before snapping her compact shut and turning to face her excitement. She stuck out her hand.
“Hi, I’m Chass.”
The man smiled back, nearly taking her breath away. He should smile more often. All of those perfectly straight, white teeth and that face. Bloody hell, I’m in trouble!
Vex slammed his mug down and took her hand in his.
“Vex, nice to meet you, miss.”
They stared at one another for a very long five seconds before releasing. Her dainty hands were so warm. She licked her already polished lips.
Damn! I can’t even look at this woman!
He shifted again, now unbearably uncomfortable. He hadn’t had a stiffie like this in ages.
Chass smiled up at him, tossing her silky, raven colored hair behind her. “I’ve never seen you here before.”
“Just passing by. My throat’s a bit dry,” Vex replied.
It was no lie. His throat was as dry as a summer breeze and her smell! He hadn’t met a virgin her age since ... well, never. She had to be at least twenty-five. Most virgins he ran into were fourteen at the oldest. Is she a damn nun or what? Nah, nuns don’t frequent bars. She smells bloody delicious! He didn’t know whether to suck her dry or just fuck her. Vex shook his head. He didn’t suck people anyhow, though any full blooded bloodsucker would have given it a go. He scanned the room, instantly detecting the DNA of all the men at the bar. Good. All of them were human. She’d be less at risk.
Where did this fluff come from? He wanted to walk her home. She shouldn’t be on the streets at this hour, especially someone as prime as herself. She was grade A. She’d make a tasty meal for any bloodsucker and there were more in London than anywhere else in Europe. Hell, Vex could see them fighting over this one. This was going to be a long night. He’d have to find a way to follow her home. Something about this woman made him want to protect her, and not just from bloodsuckers and shifter-rapts. From the whole damn world! All he could think of was taking her back to his flat and fucking her senseless. His hardness throbbed beneath his button-flies. Vex shifted again. Keep it up, bloke and she’ll think you have ants in your pants!
“You okay?” Chass asked, sipping her drink, eyeing him curiously.
“Just dandy,” Vex answered. Just dandy? Where the hell had that come from? Behave, bloke, she’ll think you’re a wanker.
Chass chuckled softly. She could tell when a man was attracted to her, and the thought of this particular man finding her pretty sent her mind whirling. She studied his fierce jaw line as he took a long drink of beer. His black sideburns were manicured perfectly, stopping just below the temple where she noticed a throbbing. My, he must be nervous. A single bead of sweat slid out of the sideburn, zigzagging into the rough stubble that lined the better part of his stern face. She wished he’d smile again. He looked much too serious and she liked the way one smile had sent her reeling.
He wore a button-up white shirt that was open at the collar. His tanned neck showed through. Chass wondered about his heritage. The sun had been hidden behind clouds for months now. It was autumn in London. She doubted it was a tan. He wore an ivory, beaded necklace, resembling Indian jewelry that reminded her of a piece her father had brought her back from the States. She’d never seen a man with hair so long. She wanted to ask him what hair products he used, but decided against it. Maybe later, if she ever got to know him ... but she doubted that would happen, either. She’d all but given up on men, deciding to concentrate on her career. Her last boyfriend left her because she refused to have sex with him. She was old fashioned. So what? She wanted to wait until she was married. Any man that didn’t understand that could just bugger off! The problem was that no men were willing to wait these days. She sighed at the thought.
“Shagged-out?” Vex asked.
Hell, he wasn’t. He was rearing to go. Damn, he wanted to shag this sexy skirt. He had about made up his mind that it must be a matter of morals. Why else would a woman as desirable as Chass remain a virgin? He liked her already. She had values, something he found lacking in every bloodsucker, shifter-rapt, and most humans.
“A tad,” Chass admitted. What’s the use? This man would never date her and if he did, surely he’d expect intercourse. Someone as good looking as Vex didn’t survive on bread and water alone. And it would seem a shame to deprive him. She was reconsidering her high moral ground when Ralph returned.
Vex looked at Chass, raising his eyebrows in question.
“Sure,” she answered, feeling extra wicked and naughty for staying up on a school night as her mum would have said, partying on a working day of the week.
Ralph looked at Vex.
“Me, too,” Vex said.
He’d have twelve drinks if it meant sitting next to this dolly. Ralph left to refill their glasses.
“What do you do, Vex?” Chass asked, genuinely curious. What would someone that looked like him do for a living?
Vex rubbed his chin. A scratching sound came from the effort. Chass wanted to reach up and touch his rough cheek, but she didn’t dare. Damn, he was a looker.
Chass wrinkled her nose. An exterminator? Surely not. He could model undies for fuck’s sake! Vex saw the disbelief in her eyes and roared with laughter. Chass laughed with him.
“Honestly, how do you make ends meet?” she managed to ask between bubbles of laughter.
“I work for Scotland Yard.”
He didn’t want to lie to her and something told him they’d meet again. Scotland Yard was an old term. Londoners referred to the police as the Metropolitan Police nowadays, but of course Vex had been around forever.
Her face lit up. “You’re a bobby?” she asked. That made sense. She could believe he was a police officer.
“Absobloodylutely!” Vex replied.
He never tired of the expression of awe in a woman’s eyes when he mentioned that he worked for the police.
“How bloody wonderful!”
“Not so sure about all of that, but it pays my flat. What do you do?”
Ralph returned with the drinks. Chass waited until he was gone. She didn’t want him to hear where she worked. Not just yet. She was having too much fun.
“I’m a reporter at the Daily Mirror.”
Chass decided to let Vex in on the story. She wasn’t sure why, but with his connections to the Metropolitan Police, she figured he might have heard something as well. It was worth a try.
“It really is fascinating, Vex.”
Bloody hell! Say my name again, Chass! The sound of her voice, saying his name made his head swim. She was rambling on and on. He was watching her lips when he saw three words form over that lovely mouth of hers. Jack the Ripper. His ears pricked up at the first mention of it.
“Vex, have you caught wind of anything like that?” she asked, taking a sip of her drink, eyeballing him.
Vex cleared his throat. “Who told you about this?” Damn, O’Malley! Had he leaked the news already? He knew the old bobby was shagging the receptionist down at the Mirror. He’d have to have a stern word with him.
“Well, it’s the funniest thing, really. I have a police scanner and I listen to it while I take a bath.”
More shifting in the seat. Uncomfortable shifting at the mention of Chass taking a bath, naked and all.
“Did the bloody bobbies speak of it on the scanner?” Vex could hardly believe that. All of the police used special codes for that particular reason.
“No, of course not. I just put two and two together and came here,” Chass answered, wiggling her forefinger at Vex, motioning for him to come closer so she could whisper in his ear.
“See Ralph over there?”
Vex nodded. Every inch of his being was zoned in on her words and on Ralph at the end of the bar. “He called the Mirror and asked to speak to someone. I was the jammy sod! He told me he had run across a dead body the other night, in the Whitechapel district. Apparently, the police are keeping it hush-hush for the time being!”
Bloody Christ, she was at the pub for the very same reason!
“I think I may have a big story. And that’s not all. I got a strange call yesterday morning. Someone claiming to be Jack the Ripper himself! He said he had a message for my boss ….”
Vex didn’t let her finish. He threw down a wedge of bills and yanked her off the stool. “We need to get you to a safe place, my lady!”
“What are you barking about?” Chass exclaimed, now alarmed more than ever. He hoisted her up as if she were his woman.
“Safe place? I’ll go to my flat, sir!”
“Chass, I’ll explain later. Now, please, don’t make me bloody well beg you!”
Vex pulled out his wallet and flashed his badge. She’d seen enough to know it was real. She yanked her purse off of the bar.
“One sec,” Vex added before whistling at Ralph.
Ralph looked up and waved at him with a dish rag. He must have thought the man was saying good-bye. He turned to wipe the bar down. Vex whistled again.
Ralph looked up again, this time annoyed. “What is it, bugger?”
Vex walked back to the bar in two easy strides, Chass on his arm, dragging her along. He didn’t want to leave her for half a second. He flashed the man his badge. “Keep you bloody mouth shut about the crime, bloke! You hear?”
Ralph nodded frantically.
“And for fuck’s sake, don’t ring the Mirror again! This is a fragile investigation we have here! Don’t go jamming it up with your flim-flam! Put a bloody sock in it or I’ll haul you in myself for corrupting.”
“No sir, ay won’t!” Ralph promised.
Vex turned on his heel, pulling Chass alongside him. This was going to be a very long night indeed.
“Where are we going?” Chass asked as she struggled to keep up with Vex’s long stride. He was practically running.
Chass’s heel caught in a crack in the sidewalk. She tripped and fell, ripping her stocking to shreds. “Bloody hell!” she cried. Vex cringed when he turned and found her in a heap, beneath a tall street lamp. An ugly red scrape covered her left knee. Vex scanned the street. He could smell a bloodsucker nearby and now the air was sweet with the smell of her. Crouching at her side, he ripped the sleeve from his arm and wrapped it around her wound.
“Vex! It’s just a scrape. I’ll be fine,” Chass protested.
He ignored her as he scanned the street. Three bloodsuckers where walking toward them. Vex could hear their teeth chattering inside their closed mouths in anticipation of the kill. No bloodsucker could resist virgin blood. He sensed movement from behind a van parked across the road. He sniffed. Shifter-rapts. Four of them. Shifter-rapts rarely attacked, feeding off of small birds and animals and never humans, unless they were pure and by the looks of the entourage closing in on them, Chass was as pure as they came. There was going to be a war over her blood. Seven vile creatures left over from Xurath. Vex had his work cut out for him, especially now. Not only would he have to kill them all, he’d have to keep them from killing Chass in the process. Damn, I don’t want to shift now! I’ll shock her half to death!
Vex had no choice. He picked Chass up into his arms and carried her a few feet away, to the darkened awning of a closed book store. He sat her in the corner.
“Close your eyes. Wait for me here,” Vex ordered.
“Close my bloody eyes? Are you mental?” Chass asked, struggling to stand. “Someone’s coming,” she replied as two shifter-rapts walked into the shadows of the awning.
Vex shook her by the shoulders. “Listen to me, Chass! They’re after you! You have to trust me. Now close your eyes!”
Chass could see two long shadows fall on Vex’s back as he shielded her from the thirsty pair. Now Chass could hear a clinking noise. She wondered about the sound as she shut her eyes tight, pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around her legs. She had no other choice than to believe Vex. She knew something terrible was about to happen, she just didn’t know what. Did he say they were after her? Bloody hell!
Vex shifted into the largest creature he could think of in two seconds flat. He had seconds to spare and it was the first thing that had popped into his head. It had taken hundreds of years to speed up his shifting ability. Chass heard a roar like nothing she’d heard in any zoo, ever. She shut her eyes tighter. Her body shook as adrenaline poured through her veins. Keep them closed, Chass, keep them closed! She knew Vex had told her to close her eyes for a reason and she tried her best, but now there were screams, like a woman gone mad. No, it sounded more like a bobcat. She’d heard them at the zoo and their screams sounded very much like a woman’s, but on the streets of London? She covered her face with her hands. Behind her hands, she opened her eyes, seeing only the blackness of her palms against her face. Slowly, she spread two fingers apart. Nothing could have prepared her for what she saw next.
Chass screamed, unable to control her hysteria. A seven-foot grizzly bear stood only a few feet away. She watched in horror as he lumbered toward a group of men approaching. The fat on his large behind swayed beneath the tiny nub of a tail. He lunged forward. His hind claws scratched on the pavement as he swiped at the first man to dare him. The man screamed, but it didn’t sound like a man. That was the same scream she’d heard before. Chass craned her neck around the giant bear and blinked her eyes. The man turned into a leopard in mid-air, struck a van parked across the road and disintegrated. Another man walked forward. Chass was amazed he’d walk up to the bear, after seeing what happened to his friend. Again the bear lunged forward with a deafening growl, slapping the man with a giant paw. Chass watched as the man’s head flew clean off. His remains quickly turned into a headless bird. Chass guessed it was a vulture, but she couldn’t be sure. And then he was gone, disappeared into thin air.
Two men closed in on the sides of the bear, all of them making that eerie clinking sound that Chass had heard before. Chass screamed again and this time the bear turned, growling right at her, his giant maw wide open, saliva flowing along the sides of it. His eyes glittered with rage. Chass clasped both hands on her mouth and just sat there, wanting to die as her bones shook uncontrollably. She kept her eyes open, unable to shut them, not because she didn’t try, but because she couldn’t. She was frozen, except for the shaking. The bear turned back around to face the two men who were only a mere foot away. Chass watched as the men vanished. Suddenly two bats flew on either side of the bear, coming straight for her. Chass pushed herself into the hard brick wall of the store, scraping her back. She heard her shirt rip and then the bats were on her. Both of them, flapping against her face, chattering like mad squirrels, their eyes, four steely balls of bright blue. She swatted them and screamed, flailing like crazy. She kicked and slapped at the little buggers, but they just kept coming.
A giant shadow loomed over her, thrusting her into total blackness. She screamed, thinking she was near death. In the dark, the bear plucked the bats out of mid air, stopping them from clawing up her face further. He hurled one of them against the brick wall and the other on the ground before stomping it like a cockroach. Both of them disappeared instantly. Chass knew he would kill her next, but she was frozen again. She stared up at him in the darkness. Her eyes had adjusted further. The bear cocked his head to the side and stared at her. The fine hairs on her arms stood on end. She prepared herself for death. It was true. Her entire life passed through her mind’s eye, like a movie in fast forward. She saw herself as a little girl, swimming with her parents on holiday. Each birthday ticked off, one by one, like a car passing a wooden fence, each post a year of her life. She watched herself grow, go to school, graduate, go to work and to her surprise, the bear sniffed the air around her, grunted and turned.
She watched him shift his great weight as he walked toward the sidewalk and then stop and sniff again. Suddenly he ran into the deserted street and pulled the door off the van parked across the road. He pulled two men out, one by one, as if they were dolls. Each of them changed instantly. One of them into an owl and the other into a tiger. He caught the owl by the feet before it could fly away. He tossed it into another car, busting the windshield. It vanished. The tiger reared up on its hind legs, challenging the bear. Chass watched as a police car raced to the scene, coming to a screeching halt a few feet from the animals, illuminating them with headlights. The tiger hissed at the blinding light. The bear took advantage of the tiger’s temporary blindness, lunging forward, slashing its throat with one long swipe. The tiger looked stunned, shutting its jaw and dropping to the pavement where it took two steps and then faded away.
O’Malley stayed in the car, waiting for Vex to change back. The grizzly turned to check on Chass, but she was gone. He sniffed the air and roared. The roar echoed off of the buildings. He returned to all fours, running at amazing speed for a creature his size, down the London streets, looking for Chass. He heard her scream and found her down an alley. A bloodsucker had her on top of a dumpster. She was lying over the beast’s shoulder, looking limp and half dead.
Bloody hell! Chass! Chass!
The grizzly jumped to the top of the dumpster, snatching Chass back, tossing her over his furry shoulder. The bloodsucker laughed, throwing his head back, showing off his fangs and when he did, the grizzly tore at his throat with one giant bite. The bloodsucker melted beneath him, like airy candle wax that blew into the brisk autumn wind.
The bear leapt off of the dumpster, carrying Chass over to the light of a nearby lamp. He sniffed and examined her neck. She was clean of bites. He placed his furry head on her chest. Her heart was fluttering inside, still strong, but in shock. She had fainted and for good reason. He took two steps forward, out of the alleyway. When he emerged, the bear was Vex. O’Malley stepped out of his car and came running.
“Is she okay?”
“Yes. Just passed out cold. I told her not to look.”
O’Malley chuckled. “Do women ever listen?”
Posted by Alisha at 2:00 PM