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"THE CURSE"


Chapter 1
A Darkness Within

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

While he sipped on his brandy, he looked around the bar, taking in all the half-naked bodies gyrating on the dance floor to Marilyn Manson. The Cat Club was packed tonight, full of freaks and wannabes, dressed in a ghastly fashion between gothic black leather, tight mini-skirts and ripped jeans. To him, they all appeared as rejects or outcasts who did not fit in with normal society.

But then, he wondered, what was considered normal? If indeed, there were a checklist, he definitely would not fit into those categories. No, he was something else. Something dark, sinister . . . cruel. Going by the diagnosis of his childhood psychologist, he suffered from a chronic mental disorder with violent tendencies, an inability to love, and a lack of remorse or guilt. At age thirteen, he showed all the traits of a psychopath. Dismembering stray cats was the beginning of his vile and sadistic behavior.

Although, it wasn’t like he had the best upbringing. His father was an abusive drunk, and his mother felt trapped, fearing if she left him, he would track her down and kill her. He’d witnessed firsthand all the threats and abuse his mother endured. As he dredged up those painful memories, his body responded to the remembered horror of his mother’s battered and bruised body. His heart ached just thinking about it. He brought his hand up and touched the center of his chest. He would never forget that one horrific day. The worst day of his life. It was a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon. He was only five years old at the time, but he remembered that tragic incident like it was yesterday. His mother was late coming home after a run to the liquor store to appease his father’s addiction. By the time she arrived, he was already in a drunken stupor. In a fit of rage, he repeatedly kicked and beat her. No matter how much he pleaded and begged his father to stop, the bastard continued his brutality. Before his father beat his mother unconscious, she dragged herself over to him and reached out. She could barely open her swollen eyes. She said one last thing before he watched the light in her eyes dim and then go out.

“Don’t ever forget . . . Mommy will always love you.”

He could still hear himself calling out to her over and over again.  

That was the day his life changed forever, and when he shot his father. As he thought back on that day, he was surprised at that young age he was capable of firing his father’s 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Although it didn’t kill him, he had meant for it to.

When the neighbors heard the blast from the gun, they called the police. As they arrived, he still had it in his hand and aimed at his father. He would never forget the female officer that arrived at the scene. She had dark skin, braided hair, and big brown, caring eyes. He kept her face and the sound of her voice embedded in his memory.

“Put the gun down, honey.” Her voice had been soft and comforting like his mother’s. “I know you didn’t mean to hurt anyone. We’re here to help you.”

“He hurt my mommy,” I remember hearing myself tell the officer. “I won’t let him hurt her no more.”

“I know,” the officer soothed, her expression softening with understanding. “What’s your name, honey?”

“Joseph,” I answered, looking at the officer with troubled blue eyes that seemed to carry a lifetime of violence and pain behind them.

“Okay, listen to me, Joseph. My name is Officer Katie, and I’m here to help you. Do you understand?”

When I nodded an understanding, she continued to say, “I promise I won’t let anyone hurt your mother, but I need you to do something for me.” She knelt down and held out her hand. “Please, Joseph. Please give me the gun.”  

“I can’t,” I told her. “He’ll kill her.”

Back then, he wasn’t the cold and calculating person he was today. He was just a scared little boy trying to protect his mother. It took almost thirty minutes, but finally, Officer Katie coaxed him into giving her the gun. Then, he remembered watching as the paramedics loaded his mother into the ambulance and drove away.  

The next day, she suffered from an aneurysm, caused by all the blunt force and died in the hospital. Immediately following her death, the police arrested his father. Charged with aggravated assault in the first degree, the judge sentenced him to twenty years in prison. During his father’s trial and with no other living relatives, he’d been placed in foster care. Spending most of his childhood in the system wasn’t exactly any better than what he had at home. He’d went through ten foster families before he was carted off in a straitjacket—due to his psychopathic behavior—and put into a mental institution where he spent most of his adolescent years.    
  
Twenty-one years later, here he was, rehabilitated and back in the real world. During the years he’d spent in the mental hospital, he quickly mastered the skills of manipulation. He said all the right words and all the things his therapists wanted to hear. For good behavior and therapeutic reasons, they allowed him to take online college courses of which were funded by the government. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle. For the first year, despite the fact that he’d been released, it was mandatory to check in with his therapist on a weekly basis.

Soon after, he discovered his father’s whereabouts. A year prior, after doing his time, dear ol’ dad was now living as a civilian. His father should have killed him when he had the chance, or better yet, made his mother abort him before he was ever born. No amount of therapy, drugs, or shock treatment could cure what he was. If you were unlucky enough to be one of his victims, the monsters in your worst nightmares would be nothing compared to what his father had created. At least in a dream, you always woke up. 

Growing up in an abusive household was just something he learned to cope with. No matter how hard he wished it, he couldn’t change the hand that had been dealt. He couldn’t stop himself from wishing things were different, though. That maybe he could have been born into a normal family.

His mind took him back to that day, to the memories of when his father took his last gurgling breath. He’d sliced his throat so deep, it nearly severed his head. There was so much blood. He was gratified to watch his father’s life drain in a pool of crimson red. He had been planning to kill him the day a social worker delivered the dreadful news of his mother’s death. At that moment, it was as if something evil—a dark, soulless entity—clawed its way inside of him and inhabited his body. It was the day he heard the voice whisper in his head. It introduced itself as the Shadow and spoke to him in a way that was both soothing and malicious. Although he was just a child, the Shadow gave him courage, taught him things, helped him survive, and kept his mind focused for all those years. Focused on one thing. To kill

While he reminisced of the past, and before his imagination got the best of him, someone caught his eye. Across the crowded dance floor, a young girl with long blonde hair, dressed in a pink strapless top and a pair of tight jeans, stood by the bar observing all the social misfits.

He leaned back in his chair and simply watched her. The short distance that separated them, he studied every detail, every curve. Regardless of the high-heeled boots she wore, she couldn’t have been any taller than five-foot-two, and no older than twenty-five. The smoothness and flawless lines on her sun-kissed skin gave her a youthful glow. She had that girl next door look to her. Pretty, but not overly attractive. She looked out of place like she didn’t belong here. He noticed the way she chewed at her bottom lip and the swell of her breasts as she took each breath. And she appeared to be alone.

“She’s perrrrfect,” the Shadow whispered to him in a soft purr. “We need her.” Its voice remained calm and collective, but also insistent. “Pick her, Joseph.” 

Joseph briefly closed his eyes and drew in a wavering breath. The Shadow was his driving force to take lives, always in his head, always picking out their next victim. It was like having an evil twin inside your head twenty-four-seven. Sometimes it was exhausting. God, he thought, how in the hell have I made it all these years without going mad.

“Well, you are clinically insane,” the Shadow answered. “Admit it, Joseph. You need me. You’re weak without me.”

In a flash, he recalled the day the Shadow gave him the courage to go back to his parent’s home one last time, to avenge his mother. God, he could still remember how his father begged for his pathetic life. But mostly, he looked back on the memory of watching the house go up in flames with his father’s body burning inside. As he savored that moment, he felt reborn.  
     
Yes, Joseph silently agreed. I need you, Shadow. He would kill if the Shadow asked it of him. Slaughter anyone without a thought or hesitation. Besides, everyone eventually dies. He just sped the process up a little. And then, he smiled, his eyes growing hooded as his gaze lingered on the girl’s lips. But to his surprise, she wandered off, probably heading for the ladies' room. His smile disappeared.

“Don’t let her get away,” the Shadow urged. “Follow her, Joseph!”

Joseph tossed back the rest of his drink, swallowing it whole. The minute he rose from his chair, a waitress wearing a bustier made of leather and lace, a studded choker that resembled a dog collar, skin-tight leopard pants, and four-inch heels came up to his table, working her hips as if they were double-jointed.  
 
She swirled her tongue over her black-coated lips and said, “How ‘bout another round, sweetheart?”

For a brief, lapsing moment, the Shadow’s voice came back to him. “Hurry, Joseph! The girl is leaving the bar!”

Joseph quickly reached into the front pocket of his jeans and dug out a twenty-dollar bill. “No thanks,” he said, placing the money on the table. “I was just leaving.”
 
To be continued . . .
 

 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong, they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends their life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

DOUBLE BONDED - In some cases, male Breedline twins bond with the same female.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have a book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the Breedline council. Punishment for taking another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life, and the life of another - they will instantly shift into a rogue wolf for life and shunned by the Breedline Covenants.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

RED (BLOOD) MOON - During this time, all Breedline species have a strong desire to create offspring. This is a time when Breedline females are more fertile for the conception of twins.

CHIANG-SHIH DEMON (Kiang shi, a.k.a. Ramael Arminius) - An ancient demon that can inhabit the body of a Breedline fetus, or during a Breedline's death. It continues to take the soul over the natural lifespan of a child, or the deceased Breedline. When the demon possesses a fetus, it breaks the bonding and telepathic abilities with its twin. If the demon possesses a deceased Breedline's body, it must do so before the soul passes on. If the soul is not intact, the body will soon die. The demon's sole purpose is to seek world domination.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

SHADOW WALKER (a.k.a. Shadow Figure, or Black Mass) - When a Breedline species dies and their soul continues to roam the earth as a shadow of themselves - a ghost - because they have unfinished business before their death.

ZADKIEL (Tzadqiel, a.k.a. (Righteousness of God) - The archangel of freedom, benevolence, and mercy, and the patron angel of all who forgives. The Breedline species considers Zadkiel the Angel of Mercy.

SUCCUBUS (a.k.a. Creepers) - A succubus feeds off the blood of a Breedline species. They are skilled with hypnotic abilities and capable of using their beautiful features to influence the thoughts of the Breedline species and humans.

HALF-BREED - A species born with the genes from both a Breedline and a succubus. They can bond with either species. Although they cannot shift into a wolf, they need blood from a Breedline to survive.

WICCA (or Wise One) - According to the Breedline species, a Wicca is the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts, and necromancy. They can do white magic (good) or dark (evil).

GUARDIANS (a.k.a. Spirits of the Forest) - They originated during the Middle Ages with the purpose of protecting the Breedline from the destruction of any creation of a dark Wicca. They can stay invisible with the power to move through any barrier and over any distance instantly.

THERIOMORPH - They are born with the genes of a Breedline, but do not shift into a wolf. They shape-shift into an enormous black panther. They possess powers of mind manipulation and random visions of the future. They must use the drug dopamine to suppress their urges. Their eye color shifts into a bright lavender when their Theriomorph nature takes over. In some cases, the Breedline see them as a threat to their species.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with super-strength, they can move from one place to another at supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

LUPA (she-wolf) - The ancestors descended from the old legend of the lycanthrope, but the moon has no power over them. The species only affects female offspring. A Lupa is a dangerous creature of which shape-shifts into a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature.


Chapter 2
Something in the Fog

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Previously . . .

After witnessing his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive father—Joseph Parker, the couple’s five-year-old son, mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits Joseph’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow. At that moment, it changed Joseph’s life forever, and the day it helped him plan for his father’s death.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.
  

By age thirteen, Joseph had went through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.   

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s guidance, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After he’d savagely murdered his father, it was time to search for another. With the Shadow’s hunger and driving force to take lives, it helped Joseph choose their next victim.


Continued . . .

On her way out of the bar, the blonde-haired girl swiped her phone and initiated a call. After a few rings, it went straight to voicemail.

“Dammit, Kevin,” she cursed under her breath, and ended the call. This had been the fourth time her boyfriend was a no-show, and this time she’d make damn sure it was his last. He was a total loser with a fat trust fund. And to make matters worse, he’d made plans with her later tonight for a supposedly romantic Valentine’s dinner. 
  
It was already after midnight, and she should probably call for an Uber, but her apartment building was only five blocks away. Besides, she was pissed and the walk might do some good.

As she walked along, she noticed some of the businesses were hopping. Other than the Cat Club, there was Dino’s bar and grill, JJ’s Smoke Shop, and a hole-in-the-wall pool hall further down the main strip. Across the street was a tattoo parlor, an adult/lingerie shop, a Mexican restaurant, a pizza place where you can make your own pies and a little burger joint around the corner. Above the Cat Club, there were loft rentals that suited the local bartenders and servers. Most of the places seemed safe enough, especially for a female all by her lonesome at this hour. Although, there were a couple of places she didn’t care for. Ziggy’s pool hall had been one of them. It mostly brought in a rougher crowd that usually involved the police before closing time. She knew this because her cousin Rodney was the manager. The Cat Club had been the other place she disliked. If it weren’t for Kevin saying he’d meet her there, she would have never stepped foot in that particular bar in the first place. The clientele that hung out there easily stereotyped as members of the Vampire-Goth subculture, and not exactly her type. With a passion to help others and currently employed as an assistance program counselor for substance abuse, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

When she rounded the corner and walked past Biggy’s Burgers, she got an uneasy feeling in the pit of her gut like someone was following her. As she turned to look, she saw that no one was there. She exhaled a sigh of relief when a noisy crowd of people suddenly walked out of the burger joint. With her nerves still intact, she hurried across the street toward Sunset. By the time she got on Richmond, she noticed it was unusually quiet. The street looked deserted, but her apartment complex was just a few more blocks away.

A thick fog hung in the air, but the streetlights overhead and the headlights from an occasional passing car made the visibility tolerable. She slowed when leering whistles caught her attention.

Don’t look back, her inner voice warned her. Keep your eyes forward and stay focused on getting home.

Ignoring the obnoxious catcalls, she rolled her eyes and kept moving.

Then, to her surprise, two men hurriedly crossed the street and jogged up to her from behind. Quickly, she reached into her purse, searching for the taser her uncle—who was a detective at the San Francisco Police Department—had given her a few months ago. It had been a gift for her birthday along with a container of pepper spray.

“What’s a pretty girl like you doing out at this hour all alone?” the tall one said as he came up alongside her, his eyes trailing down her body and then back up again.

Her eyes rounded in fear but she kept them focused ahead, preparing to defend herself by any means if he made a move. 

“Damn girl,” the other guy said, his beady eyes focused on her hips. “You’re fine as hell.”

Not far down the street, Joseph stopped in his tracks when he caught sight of the two men ogling the blond-haired girl he’d spotted in the bar. It appeared as though they were taunting her, and maybe contemplating on assaulting her.  

With his hands fisted at his sides, Joseph stood back and watched as the tall guy circled her.

"How ‘bout we give you a lift?” he asked, winking at his bug-eyed buddy. “Seriously, it’s no trouble. Our car is just across the street.” He held up his hands in question. “Whaddaya say, sweetheart?”

She ignored him and picked up her pace. Where in the hell is that damn taser? Her hand continued to fumble aimlessly inside of her purse. Then, a knot formed at the back of her throat. It was at that moment she remembered she’d left the damn thing in her gym bag and the pepper spray at home. Shit!

“We are not going to just stand back,” the Shadow said, “and do nothing. She belongs to us.”  
       

“It’s too risky,” Joseph said in a hushed voice. “Besides, there’s two of them.”

“But there’s two of us,” the Shadow pointed out.

“I don’t know.” Joseph furrowed his brows, contemplating the idea. “One of them could have a gun.”

“Pussy!” 

Desperate to drown out the Shadow’s derogatory remark, Joseph closed his eyes and let out a deep breath.

Just as the girl was about to step onto a crosswalk, the tall creep grabbed her from behind.

Joseph’s lids flipped back open at the sound of a high-pitched scream. The taller guy had his arms wrapped around the girl’s waist and was dragging her backward. Although, she was putting up one hell of a fight, kicking and punching.

He managed to get her in a chokehold and roared in her ear, “Shut the hell up, bitch!”

She choked as his arm tightened around her neck making it nearly impossible for her to breathe. He smelled like sweaty pits and a dirty ashtray. She felt her stomach churn as he dragged her off the sidewalk and to a dark alley. The other beady-eyed creep followed them as they took her deeper into the shadows. They pushed her up against a brick wall of a vacant building. The tall, foul-smelling guy held her in place by the throat while the beady-eyed guy pinned her wrists over her head with one hand and pressed them against the rough exterior of the building. As soon as the stinky one slipped his free hand underneath her blouse, she screamed. He slapped her hard, splitting her lip open.

“You scream one more time,” the tall guy muttered, his breath filling her nose, reeking of cigarettes and alcohol, “and my buddy here will cut you.” 

When the guy with bulging eyes put a knife to her throat, she felt the sharp edge of the cold steel as it slightly pierced her skin.

“Are you going to keep that mouth of yours shut?”

She slowly nodded, averting her tear-stained eyes from the man that held a knife to her throat and to the one who stunk like he hadn’t bathed in days. 

“Good girl,” the tall guy said as he leaned in and drew his tongue over her cheek. “Mmm,” he purred deep in his throat. “You taste sweet.”

She cringed and held back her gag reflex.

The other guy chuckled and lowered the blade. “I bet the rest of her tastes even sweeter.”

“Stop wasting time, Joseph,” the Shadow demanded. “Kill them and take the girl.”

As though something had taken control of his body, Joseph’s expression took the shape of a stone-cold killer. His handsome face twisted into a snarl, and he began to breathe in a strange rhythm. It was almost as if two people were inhaling and exhaling at the same time. Suddenly, he stopped blinking and the teal blue color along with the whites of his eyes turned as black as coal.

Before Joseph started forward, an outpouring of guttural sounds exploded from the thick veil of fog. It sounded like the growls coming from a wild animal or a rabid dog. Then, out of nowhere, something big moved at the speed of a blur and tackled the tall guy, knocking him off the girl and onto the ground.

Joseph’s jaw dropped. “What the—” He could not believe what was transpiring right before his very eyes. How was this even possible?

No matter, he thought. Despite the nightmarish spectacle, Joseph refused to cower. Besides, he had the Shadow to give him strength and he did not frighten easily. Instead, he took a couple of steps back and hid in the shadows, watching in stunned disbelief as an enormous wolfish creature with dark matted fur tore at the man’s throat in a snarling frenzy. The man’s blood-curdling screams lasted only a few seconds before he went still.  
  
The girl screamed into the palm of her hand and fell to her knees, so paralyzed with fear she found she could no longer stand.

It was a werewolf of some sort, Joseph realized, recalling the eerie mythical stories he’d read from the institute’s library. It was said that the immortal creatures had been once human until they’d been bitten and infected with the virus.

He couldn’t believe what his eyes were telling him. The stories were real.

While the savage creature ripped and feasted on the man’s flesh, the other girl’s attacker turned to flee. As he ran, believing he could actually get away, something heavy with the speed of a moving train hit him from behind. As he toppled to the ground, he felt the weight of the ravenous creature on top of him, pinning him down.

“Please...” the beady-eyed guy called out. “...help—”

His call for help was cut off by the blunt force inflicted by the creature as it crushed the guy’s skull. Blood coursed from every orifice of his face, pooling on the ground beneath him. His body twitched and convulsed, then finally went limp.

Throwing back its head, the wolfish fiend let out a thunderous roar.   

With a bolt of adrenaline, the girl got to her feet and ran, her screams filling the alleyway.

To Joseph’s surprise, the creature did not chase after her. Although it seemed inconceivable, he could have sworn that it was somehow here to protect her. But why, he wondered.

“What are you waiting for, Joseph?” the Shadow said, sounding impatient. “Go after the girl.” 

To be continued . . .

 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms and cast of characters especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin√??√?¬¢??s emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends their life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

DOUBLE BONDED - In some cases, male Breedline twins bond with the same female.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have a book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the Breedline council. Punishment for taking another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life, and the life of another - they will instantly shift into a rogue wolf for life and shunned by the Breedline Covenants.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

RED (BLOOD) MOON - During this time, all Breedline species have a strong desire to create offspring. This is a time when Breedline females are more fertile for the conception of twins.

CHIANG-SHIH DEMON (Kiang shi, a.k.a. Ramael Arminius) - An ancient demon that can inhabit the body of a Breedline fetus, or during a Breedline's death. It continues to take the soul over the natural lifespan of a child, or the deceased Breedline. When the demon possesses a fetus, it breaks the bonding and telepathic abilities with its twin. If the demon possesses a deceased Breedline's body, it must do so before the soul passes on. If the soul is not intact, the body will soon die. The demon's sole purpose is to seek world domination.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

SHADOW WALKER (a.k.a. Shadow Figure, or Black Mass) - When a Breedline species dies and their soul continues to roam the earth as a shadow of themselves - a ghost - because they have unfinished business before their death.

ZADKIEL (Tzadqiel, a.k.a. 'Righteousness of God') - The archangel of freedom, benevolence, and mercy, and the patron angel of all who forgives. The Breedline species considers Zadkiel the Angel of Mercy.

SUCCUBUS (a.k.a. Creepers) - A succubus feeds off the blood of a Breedline species. They are skilled with hypnotic abilities and capable of using their beautiful features to influence the thoughts of the Breedline species and humans.

HALF-BREED - A species born with the genes from both a Breedline and a succubus. They can bond with either species. Although they cannot shift into a wolf, they need blood from a Breedline to survive.

WICCA (or Wise One) - According to the Breedline species, a Wicca is the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts, and necromancy. They can do white magic (good) or dark (evil).

GUARDIANS (a.k.a. Spirits of the Forest) - They originated during the Middle Ages with the purpose of protecting the Breedline from the destruction of any creation of a dark Wicca. They can stay invisible with the power to move through any barrier and over any distance instantly.

THERIOMORPH - They are born with the genes of a Breedline, but do not shift into a wolf. They shape-shift into an enormous black panther. They possess powers of mind manipulation and random visions of the future. They must use the drug dopamine to suppress their urges. Their eye color shifts into a bright lavender when their Theriomorph nature takes over. In some cases, the Breedline see them as a threat to their species.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with super-strength, they can move from one place to another at supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

LUPA (she-wolf) - The ancestors descended from the old legend of the lycanthrope, but the moon has no power over them. The species only affects female offspring. A Lupa is a dangerous creature of which shape-shifts into a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature.


Chapter 3
Werewolves are Real

By scongrove

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.
  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years. 
 

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.


When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away.  
      
  

Continued . . .

She didn’t stop running until she was at the door to her apartment. Her hands shook and her lungs screamed inside her chest. She felt as though she was going to hyperventilate before she ever made it inside. It wasn’t until she reached for the door that she realized it was locked.

Keys, she feverishly thought as she dug into the pockets of her jeans. Dammit, where are my keys?

At that moment, she remembered where they were. Her apartment keys and her phone were in her purse. Shit! It was in that alley where she’d been attacked, and there was no way in hell she was going back there.

“Jessica!” She shouted and pounded on the door, praying her roommate was home. “Jessica! Please, Jess . . . open the door!”

When she finally accepted the fact that her roommate wasn’t home, she leaned against her apartment door as panic and terror quickly took hold. She blinked her eyes, trying to get the nightmarish images out of her head. God, she could still see all the blood and hear those awful screams. And that thing . . . what was it? It looked like a werewolf. Whatever attacked those two creeps wasn’t exactly human. No matter how hard she tried, nothing made sense. Although, whatever it was, it kept her from getting raped and most likely saved her life. That’s when the tears started. They streaked down her cheeks in what seemed like an endless river. She wiped at her eyes, feeling as though she had stepped into an alternate universe where nothing seemed real. Then, she placed both hands over face and fell apart. 
 
“Carrie—”

At the sound of her roommate’s voice, she lowered her hands and cleared her throat. “Oh, thank, God.”

Jessica came forward, realizing her friend was in a state of distress and reached out to her. “What happened, Carrie?”

She pushed her long, blonde hair out of her face and wiped her tear-stained eyes. “I—I’m locked out,” she choked the words out.

“Where’s your keys?”

“I—In my purse,” she muttered in a shaky voice. “And I lost... my purse.”

“Where?”

“I—In an alley.”

Confusion spiked her brows. “What in the world were you doing in an alley?”

“I was... attacked,” she finally said.
  
“Oh, my God, Carrie,” Jessica blurted and took hold of her hand. “Are you okay?”

Carrie slowly nodded. “I just need to sit down.”

“Come on, girlfriend,” Jessica said as she went to unlock the door. “Let’s get you inside. And we need to file a report. I’ll be damned if whoever did this gets away with it.”

As Jessica guided her inside and helped her to the couch, her friend’s statement wasn’t far from the truth. The fact of the matter was, those two creeps were certainly out of commission, Carrie thought as she stretched out on the thickly padded sofa. There was no doubt about it. They were no longer able—or living for that matter—to prey on the weak and helpless ever again. She was definitely their last victim.

Jessica looked down at Carrie with a concerned expression and said, “Do you want me to get something for your lip?”

“Thanks.” She shook her head. “It’s fine.”

“Want to talk about it?” 

Carrie sighed and scooted higher on the couch. She tucked her legs in close, making room for Jessica to sit down. “Jess, you’ll think I’ve gone mad,” Carrie said, exhaling a sigh. “And I’m not entirely sure I haven’t.”

Jessica plopped down next to Carrie and placed her hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Remember, it’s me you’re talking to, girl. How long have we known each other?”

“Since kindergarten,” Carrie replied.

“That’s right.” Jessica smiled. “And we’ve always told each other everything, no matter what it is. Besides, nothing you say will make me think you’re crazy. You trust me, don’t you?”  

Carrie nodded. “Of course I trust you. It’s just so,” she paused and shook her head, “hard to talk about. It makes me sick just thinking about it.”

Jessica lightly squeezed her shoulder. “Oh God, Carrie. Were you,” she swallowed hard, “raped?”

“No.” Carrie slowly shook her head again. “I got away before it went that far.”

Jessica let out a sigh of relief. “Thank God. Do you know the person who attacked you?”

“There were two of them, and no, I’ve never seen them before.”

“Jeez, girl. How did you get away? Did you use that taser your Uncle Frank got you?”

“Hell no, but I was going to. I forgot it in my gym bag.”

Jessica shrugged. “So, how did you manage to get away from those assholes?”

“This is the part that doesn’t make any sense,” Carrie told her. 

“I’m listening,” Jessica said, encouraging her friend to continue.

Carrie leaned in close and looked her friend square in the eyes. “You promise you won’t think I’m crazy?”

“I swear,” Jessica said. “Cross my heart.” She made the sign of a cross. 
 
“Something attacked those guys, and . . . killed them.” 

Jessica straightened. “Are you serious?”

When Carrie nodded, Jessica said, “Did you see who it was?”

“I know this is going to sound insane, but I swear, I saw it with my own two eyes.”

“Come on, Carrie.” Her voice sounded impatient. “What did you see?”

“It was some kind of animal.”

“An animal? What kind?”

“Jess, it looked like a damn werewolf.”

Jessica’s eyes rounded. “Really, Carrie? A werewolf?”

“I knew it!” Carrie huffed out. “I knew you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Now wait a minute,” Jessica said, holding up a halting hand. “Maybe what you thought you saw was just a rabid dog or a coyote.”

“I know what I saw,” Carrie bluntly stated. “And it wasn’t a rabid dog or a coyote for that matter. The damn thing stood at least six-feet and ran upright.”

“Okay, okay,” Jessica said. “I believe you.”

Carrie narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, Carrie. I know you. If you say that’s what you saw, I don’t doubt you. So, what are you going to do? Are you going to report this?”

“I have to,” Carrie said. “Although those creeps got what was coming, I still have to tell someone. I mean hell, my purse is somewhere in that alley. Whoever discovers those bodies, they’ll eventually find out I was there.”

“Maybe you should call your Uncle Frank,” Jessica suggested. “After all, he is a detective.”

“My phone is in my purse,” Carrie pointed out. “Would you mind calling him?”

“Of course I’ll call him. You just sit back and try to relax,” Jessica said. “Don’t worry. We’ll figure this out.”

“Thanks, Jess.”

“It’s no biggie, girl. That’s what friends are for. Besides, you’d do the same for me.”

“Hey, I forgot to ask,” Carrie said, changing the subject. “How’d it go tonight? Did you and Ryan have that talk?”

With her phone in her hand, Jessica turned toward Carrie with a gloomy look on her face and sighed.

“Uh-oh.” Carrie frowned. “I know that look. What happened?”

“I broke it off,” Jessica said, shrugging as though it was nothing. “It was for the best. I mean, we’ve only been dating a few months, but he’s been acting strange lately.”

Carrie raised a brow. “Strange how?”

“It’s hard to explain,” Jessica said. “He just seems preoccupied all the time like he’s hiding something. Every time I’d bring it up, he’d act like nothing was wrong and change the subject.”

“You think he’s seeing someone else?”

Jessica shook her head. “No, it’s not like that. He was very attentive, and he always wanted to see me, but when we were together, I could tell something was bothering him. It was like he was keeping a big secret that he was afraid to tell me.”

“That’s too bad. I thought you two made a cute couple. I have to say, Ryan was definitely easy on the eyes. All that gorgeous blonde hair and those baby blues . . .”

“Jeez, girl.” Jessica let out a little moaning sound. “You’re killing me here. I’ve been trying to erase those perfect images of him from my head, and now—”

 “Sorry.” Carrie shot her a half-smile. “Anyway, I’m sorry it didn’t work out. If it makes you feel any better, my love life isn’t all that great either. Kevin stood me up again.”

“I told you that guy was no good,” Jessica said. “Sure, Kevin’s loaded, but still, he’s a total loser.”

“I know, I know,” Carrie groaned. “I should have taken your advice a long time ago.”

“Oh well.” Jessica reached out with her free hand and placed it over Carrie’s. “Maybe someday we’ll find the right guys.”

“Yeah,” Carrie laughed a little. “Probably when hell freezes over.”

Jessica giggled. “You’re probably right. Well, it looks like it’s gonna be a shitty Valentine’s for the two of us.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Carrie grudgingly said. “I’ve got a bottle of wine I was saving for tonight. Now that we’re both technically single, and I hate to see a good red go to waste, let’s drown our sorrows in it.”

“That sounds like a great idea. But right now, we’ve got more important things to worry about like making that call to your uncle.”

To be continued . . .
 

 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends their life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

DOUBLE BONDED - In some cases, male Breedline twins bond with the same female.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have a book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the Breedline council. Punishment for taking another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life, and the life of another - they will instantly shift into a rogue wolf for life and shunned by the Breedline Covenants.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

RED (BLOOD) MOON - During this time, all Breedline species have a strong desire to create offspring. This is a time when Breedline females are more fertile for the conception of twins.

CHIANG-SHIH DEMON (Kiang shi, a.k.a. Ramael Arminius) - An ancient demon that can inhabit the body of a Breedline fetus, or during a Breedline's death. It continues to take the soul over the natural lifespan of a child, or the deceased Breedline. When the demon possesses a fetus, it breaks the bonding and telepathic abilities with its twin. If the demon possesses a deceased Breedline's body, it must do so before the soul passes on. If the soul is not intact, the body will soon die. The demon's sole purpose is to seek world domination.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

SHADOW WALKER (a.k.a. Shadow Figure, or Black Mass) - When a Breedline species dies and their soul continues to roam the earth as a shadow of themselves - a ghost - because they have unfinished business before their death.

ZADKIEL (Tzadqiel, a.k.a. 'Righteousness of God') - The archangel of freedom, benevolence, and mercy, and the patron angel of all who forgives. The Breedline species considers Zadkiel the Angel of Mercy.

SUCCUBUS (a.k.a. Creepers) - A succubus feeds off the blood of a Breedline species. They are skilled with hypnotic abilities and capable of using their beautiful features to influence the thoughts of the Breedline species and humans.

HALF-BREED - A species born with the genes from both a Breedline and a succubus. They can bond with either species. Although they cannot shift into a wolf, they need blood from a Breedline to survive.

WICCA (or Wise One) - According to the Breedline species, a Wicca is the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts, and necromancy. They can do white magic (good) or dark (evil).

GUARDIANS (a.k.a. Spirits of the Forest) - They originated during the Middle Ages with the purpose of protecting the Breedline from the destruction of any creation of a dark Wicca. They can stay invisible with the power to move through any barrier and over any distance instantly.

THERIOMORPH - They are born with the genes of a Breedline, but do not shift into a wolf. They shape-shift into an enormous black panther. They possess powers of mind manipulation and random visions of the future. They must use the drug dopamine to suppress their urges. Their eye color shifts into a bright lavender when their Theriomorph nature takes over. In some cases, the Breedline see them as a threat to their species.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with super-strength, they can move from one place to another at supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

LUPA (she-wolf) - The ancestors descended from the old legend of the lycanthrope, but the moon has no power over them. The species only affects female offspring. A Lupa is a dangerous creature of which shape-shifts into a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature.


Chapter 4
Magnificent CREATURES

By scongrove

Previously . . .
When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.  

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 


When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces.   
  
    

Continued . . .
 
Detective Perkins turned off his computer and reached for his jacket. The cubicles and desks in the precinct were quiet, the staff normally at a bare minimum at this hour. Before he left for the night, he went over to his partner’s desk with his brows furrowed. “You’re not pulling another all-nighter, are you?”

Manuel looked up at Frank. In his hand, he had a box of chocolates, one that was in the shape of a heart.

“What’s the occasion?” he asked Frank. “Is it your and Missy’s anniversary or something?”

“Did you forget, buddy? It’s Valentine’s Day.”

“Dammit,” Manuel cursed under his breath. “It completely slipped my mind.” He exhaled a deep breath. “You think I still got time to get something for Kathryn?”

Frank arched a brow. “Nothing like waiting until the last minute.”

“Give me a break.” Manuel rolled his eyes. “This dating thing is all new to me.”

Frank set the box of chocolates on Manuel’s desk. “Missy bought these for you to give to Kathryn. She figured you’d forget.”

Manuel sighed. “I told you, I’m not good at this stuff. Tell Missy thanks and I owe her.”

“You can tell her yourself over dinner tonight,” Frank told him. “Or did you forget about the dinner reservation we made at DeVito’s?”

“For Pete's sake.” Manuel threw his hands up in defeat. “Where the hell is my head? I totally forgot we had a double date tonight.”

“It’s time to slow your roll, partner. You’re working too many late nights.”

Manuel groaned. “I think I’m just getting too damn old for all this.”

“Are you referring to dating or this job?”

Manuel shrugged. “Maybe both.”

“Come on, buddy,” Frank said around a light chuckle. “You’re an excellent detective. Besides, you and I both know you can still give a young man a run for his money. And not to mention all your charisma and charming personality.”

Manuel cocked a brow. “Are you taking a jab at me?” 

Frank laughed. “The part about you being a great detective is true. And I’ve seen you kick some ass in the ring. You nearly knocked out Detective O’Brien last week. I admit, you’re no longer a spring chicken, and neither am I, but you got one hell of a left hook, partner. But the charming personality part... that was definitely a jab.”

“Yeah.” Manuel smirked. “I guess you’re right. I’m not exactly, Mr. Charming.”

“All I’m saying is you could use a little work in that department. Don’t take everything so serious all the time. Learn to relax a little.”

“Okay, okay,” Manuel grumbled. “I’ll work on it.”

Frank nodded. “And try smiling more. I’m sure Jacky wouldn’t complain.”   
    
Manuel shot him a fake smile. “So I guess I’ll see you tonight. Oh, yeah. What time is our reservation again?”

Frank shook his head, and as he was about to answer his question, Manuel’s phone rang.

As Manuel reached across his desk for it, he didn’t recognize the caller ID. “Hang on, partner. I better take this call.”

“Detective Sanchez,” he answered, realizing it was almost two o’clock in the morning, which ruled out telemarketers and suggested either dispatch calling or a wrong number.

“Hello, this is Jessica Phillips. I’m Carrie Randall’s roommate, and I’m trying to get in touch with her uncle, Frank Perkins. I tried earlier, but he didn’t answer his phone, so Carrie had me call you.”

“Yeah,” Manuel said. “He’s right here. Is everything okay?”

There was a moment of silence, and then Jessica finally said, “I need to report an incident. Carrie was attacked tonight.”

Manuel shot to his feet. “What?” He raised his voice. “Is Carrie all right?”

“She’s shook up, but physically okay, I think,” Jessica said. “She doesn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone else but her Uncle Frank.”

Manuel nodded against the receiver. “I completely understand. Hold on, Ms. Phillips. I’ll give the phone to Frank so she can speak with him.”

Before Manuel handed Frank the phone, he put the call on hold and said, “It’s your niece’s roommate, Jessica Phillips. Carrie wants to talk to you. She’s been attacked. That’s all I know so far.”

“Oh, my God,” Frank gasped as he took the phone from Manuel. He went pale and his insides shuddered at the mere thought of some bastard attacking his niece. What kind of person would do this?  

He nodded at Manuel as he put the phone up to his ear.

When Manuel took it off hold, Frank said, “Carrie, this is Uncle Frank. Are you okay, sweetheart?”

“I—I’m okay, Uncle Frank,” Carrie said in a small voice. “Can you please come to my apartment?”

“Of course, honey. Do you need any medical attention?”

“No, no,” she quickly replied. “I’m not hurt. I managed to get away before...” her voice trailed off for a second. “Please, just get here quick. It’s better if I explain in person.”

“I’m on my way, honey,” he said as he looked at Manuel. “Oh, do you mind if I bring my partner, Detective Sanchez? I’ll need his help since you’ll be filing a report.”

“Yeah,” she muttered. “It’s okay.”

“Alright, sweetheart. You stay put and keep the doors locked. We’re on our way.”

When Frank handed the phone back to Manuel, he said, “Whoever hurt my niece is going to regret the day they were born.”
 
***
 
One minute the wolfish creature was feasting on its fallen prey, devouring the two men almost entirely, and next, it disappeared from sight as though it had shifted somehow, mixing with the thick fog, and drifted away.  

Now, more than ever, he wanted to find the girl. The Shadow demanded it of him. But unfortunately, she got away. How in the hell was he supposed to find her now? Joseph’s shoulders sagged in defeat. The moment he’d seen her he’d wanted her just as much as the Shadow did. He wondered what her name was. The shameful truth of it was, though, he wanted to know more than her name. He felt drawn to her in a strange way. For a split second, he recalled the terrified look on her face when those two men attacked her. An awful chill sank into his bones. It brought back the memory of his mother and the terrified look she got during his father’s drunken benders. Would the girl have looked at him the same way?

“Yesss,” the Shadow hissed.  

Joseph thought of the number of times his father had gotten drunk and beaten his mother. His first memory was at age three. Every time his father beat his mother, he’d always promise he would never do it again. Although, there had always been a next time. And a next time. Always with the same outcome in the end.

“Do you remember how that made you feel?” the Shadow asked.

Joseph nodded. “I hated him.”

“Your father got what was coming to him in the end, did he not?” 

For a moment, Joseph stood there silent. Then he said in a low voice, “Yes.”

“Tell me, Joseph, why did you let the girl get away?” Anguish warred with disappointment in the Shadow’s voice. 
 
“I’m sorry,” Joseph murmured. “That thing,” he paused and shook his head, “distracted me. I don’t understand. What in the hell was it?”

“Do not worry about what you do not understand,” the Shadow said. “Besides, it cannot harm us.”

“Why did it not kill the girl?”

“The creature only hunts evil.”  

“What keeps it from attacking us?”

“We are not human,” the Shadow explained.

Joseph shrugged. “Then... what are we?”

“Exceptional and magnificent creatures!” 

Joseph smiled and nodded a silent understanding. As he turned to leave, something on the ground caught his eye. It wasn’t until he moved closer that he realized what it was. The girl’s purse. The white, small handbag glistened under the light of the full moon. He bent over and plucked it from the grass that was wet with morning dew. While he searched the contents inside, he found a cell phone and a photo ID. Bingo! He had her name and address.

“Her name is Carrie Randall,” Joseph said, keeping his voice low. “She lives at 1477 Fillmore Street.”

“Exxxceeellent,” the Shadow said approvingly. “She’s ours for the taking.”
 
To be continued . . .

 

Author Notes BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.


Chapter 5
Mr. Hyde

By scongrove

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.  

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 

When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces.
 
Continued . . .
 
The mind-numbing phone conversation with his niece just moments ago sliced through Frank’s heart like he’d been cut with a knife. He’d never be able to get her terrified voice out of his head.  

“Buckle up, partner,” Frank said as he hit the lights on his unmarked car and floored it. 

It was raining and the roads were wet, so when he hit the gas, his Ford Taurus fishtailed a little. The car then sprang forward as he exited the precinct’s parking lot and bolted onto the interstate that led to his niece’s apartment complex on Fillmore Street.

Manuel shot his partner a look. “I’d like to get there…” he sputtered, bracing his arm against the car’s dashboard. “…in one piece, if it’s any concern to you.”

“Come on, buddy,” Frank chortled. “Where’s your sense of adventure? You used to love this shit.”

“Yeah,” Manuel grumbled. “That was twenty years ago. Before we got old.”

“Awe, now.” Frank shrugged with his hands tight on the wheel. “Age has nothing to do with it. You’re only as old as you feel.”

Manuel glared at Frank. “How old is dirt? ‘Cuz right about now, that’s how old I feel.”  

Frank glanced toward the passenger’s seat and cocked a brow. “That’s not what I hear.”

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Our women are friends,” Frank said. “They talk.”

Manuel’s eyes rounded. “Whaddaya mean, they talk? About what?”

“Well, you didn’t hear this from me, but Missy said Kathryn told her you remind her of that Spanish actor, Antonio Banderas.”

“In what way?”

“She meant you look like the guy.” 

“So, is that a good thing?” Manuel continued to grill his partner.

Frank batted his brows. “According to Kathryn it is.”

“Is that so?” The corners of Manuel’s lips curled up. “Well, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. The last time your wife set me up on a blind date, which seems like a decade ago, she told me I looked like that actor.”

Frank smirked. “Yeah, I also recall Jena saying something like that to you the first time we met her in the hospital.”

Manuel nodded, his thoughts going back to that day. Back then, Jena was just a frightened, innocent girl—who had been bitten by a creature and cursed—and now she was the most courageous person he knew. After Jena destroyed the creature, she was doomed to take its place except she would never harm an innocent person. She would only kill evil. Which in turn, rid the city of the worst criminals as well as helping them with their job. As he came back to focus, he said, “I wonder how she’s adjusting to her new life? I mean, with the curse and all. Have you heard from Nicolas?”

“As a matter of fact, I talked to him the other day. They just got back from their trip. Nicolas said it’s taking her some getting used to, you know…” he took one hand off the wheel and made finger quotations. “…the werewolf thing and killing people.” 

“Yeah, but she’s killing bad people,” Manuel pointed out.

“Still, the whole thing is kind of morbid when you think about it,” Frank said grimly. “I can’t fathom living my life knowing I have a curse which drives me to eat people.”

“Eat bad people,” Manuel said as though he was making light of the situation. “Besides, remember what the battle angels said. Jena will be helping them by eliminating Satan’s future soldiers, and it saves the city tax money. That’s less evil the battle angels will have to fight and fewer offenders we have to go after. Think about the number of criminals, and I’m talking about the worst kind, who are sent to prison. Our tax dollars support those SOBs. If it was up to me, I’d give Jena the key to all their cells.” He chuckled a little. “Think of it like this. It’d be an all-you-can-eat buffet to her.”

Frank rolled his eyes. “That’s just messed up, buddy.”

“That’s a matter of opinion, partner,” Manuel replied.
          
Fifteen minutes later, as they pulled into the parking lot where Carrie lived, they noticed someone dart around the building wearing a black hoodie. 
 
Manuel’s eyes rounded. “What the f—”

“My words exactly,” Frank said, switching off the lights. “It’s after two o’clock, and too damn early for a morning stroll.”

Manuel reached for the passenger door when the vehicle skidded to a stop in an empty parking space next to Carrie’s Jeep Expedition.

“Let’s check it out,” he said in a low voice as he stepped out of the car at the same time Frank came out of the driver’s side. Then, he signaled Frank, pointing to the rear of the apartment building. “You head toward the back while I go around the front,” he told him. “Maybe we can block him in from both sides.”

Frank nodded with a thumb’s up and took off toward the back of his niece’s apartment complex. As he neared the rear of the building, he pulled his gun from his holster and peered around the corner. He could hear the sound of footsteps climbing the outside back stairway, heading up to second floor to Carrie’s apartment. When Frank spotted his partner, he waved him over and pointed to the stairs.

Manuel nodded and motioned for him to go up while he covered him from the rear.

As Frank came up behind the hooded stranger, who was moving toward the sliding glass doors to his niece’s apartment, he raised his gun and said, “Hold it right there. Don’t make another move.”

When the hooded guy spun around and saw Frank and his partner, who had their weapons aimed forward, he instantly held up his hands. “What the—”

“Keep your hands where we can see them,” Manuel directed, “and don’t make a move.”

“What’s going on?” The hooded man sputtered, keeping his hands high.

“Keep your pie-hole shut,” Frank gritted out. “I’ll be the one asking all the questions, is that clear?”

With a shocked look on his face, the guy quickly nodded a silent understanding.

“What are you doing at this apartment building?”

“M—my girlfriend lives here,” the guy said. “And I live on the top floor.”

“What’s your girlfriend’s name?”

“Jessica Phillips. Well, actually, she’s my ex-girlfriend. She broke up with me earlier and I just wanted to…” he swallowed hard. “…talk to her.”

“What’s your name?” Frank asked.

“Ryan,” he said. “Ryan Grayson.”

“Do you have an ID on you?”

Ryan nodded. “My wallet is in the back pocket of my jeans.”

“Have you been drinking tonight, Mr. Grayson?”

“I’ve had a few drinks,” he said. “But I haven’t been driving. I took a taxi.”

“Can you tell us your whereabouts tonight?”

“I was at the Alibi. You know... that popular bar off Main Street. I met Jessica there for drinks earlier.”

“What time did you last see her?”

“About an hour ago.” Ryan clenched his brows in confusion. “Why? Did something happen?”

“Listen to what I tell you, Ryan,” Frank said. “Using one hand, I want you to slowly reach into your back pocket and get your wallet. Then, I want you to toss it over to my partner. Do you understand?”

“Y-yes, sir.” 

After Ryan carefully took out his wallet and tossed it to Manuel, Frank said, “Do you know Ms. Phillip’s roommate?”

Ryan nodded again. “Yeah, I mean, yes, sir. I know Carrie. Please, Detective. Is Jessica all right?”

Manuel interjected and said, “Looks like he checks out.”

“Mr. Grayson, your ex-girlfriend is fine,” Frank stated. “We got a call from her about twenty minutes ago. Carrie was attacked tonight, and we’re here to get a report of the incident.”

Ryan’s eyes rounded. “Oh my, God. Is she okay?”

Before Manuel replied, he looked to the sliding glass doors as it made a whooshing sound when it came open.

Jessica’s mouth dropped when her eyes caught sight of her ex-boyfriend with his hands above his head. “Ryan—” She looked toward the two detectives, and then back to Ryan again. “What’s going on?”

“You can drop your hands now, Mr. Grayson,” Frank said as he and his partner lowered their weapons.

Ryan slowly lowered his hands and gave Jessica a despairing little shrug.

“We caught your boyfriend going around the back when we arrived,” Manuel explained. “At this hour, he looked suspicious, so we followed him. He says you two were together earlier. We’re just checking his story out to make sure he’s not giving us a line of BS.”

Jessica crossed her arms. “For starters, he’s my ex-boyfriend. And he’s telling the truth.” She let out a heavy sigh. “I was with him about an hour ago. We had drinks at the Alibi tonight.”

“Well, that’s what he told us,” Frank said. “It seems he came back to talk to you, but considering the situation, I think it best that lover-boy comes back to chit-chat another time. Of course, he’ll stop by at a respectful hour of the day.” He shot Ryan a look. “Isn’t that right, Mr. Grayson?”

Ryan quickly bobbed his head up and down. “Y-yes, sir.”

As he turned to leave, Jessica said, “I’m free around noon, if you still want to talk.”

Ryan’s face instantly brightened. “That would be great, Jess.” He smiled and waved at her. “I’ll see you then.” After he turned to leave, he briefly looked back and said, “I hope Carrie is all right. Call me if you need anything.”

Jessica nodded. “Thanks, Ryan.”

Manuel rolled his eyes and Frank said, “How’s my niece?”

“Much better than I would be,” Jessica said, shaking her head. “Especially after what she’s been through.” She motioned them inside. “Carrie will be glad to see you, and man, she’s got one crazy story to tell you. Just please, keep an open mind, because what she’s about to tell you goes beyond reality.”
 
***
 
With his mind still focused on the girl, Joseph was about to cross the street when the sound of humming caught his attention. As he turned to look, he spotted a woman not far down the sidewalk moving in his direction. She had long, blonde hair, similar to Carrie’s, but this girl was a lot taller.

“Well, heeello,” the Shadow purred. “I like her, Joseph.”

“What about, Carrie?” he whispered.

“Save her for later.” The Shadow smacked his lips. “I’m starving. This one will do.” 

Before he approached the girl, his eyes searched the surroundings, making sure the streets were clear of any onlookers... or eyewitnesses. When Joseph saw the coast was clear, his upper lip curled up into a snarl and his face twisted into a mask of horror. His breaths came out deeper and more guttural as though another person was inside of him breathing. He was changing quickly. Already the shape of his face was less human and more demonic. His eyes were like black, soulless pits. It was as if he’d transformed into something similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“Yummy.” The Shadow’s voice beamed with exaltation. “Take her, Joseph. Do it for me.”

He started forward, moving with long strides and a determination to please the Shadow. But his efforts availed him nothing. It was like some sort of magic trick. The girl simply vanished before his very eyes, leaving behind a thick veil of fog.

“What—”

“Look out, Joseph,” the Shadow warned. “She’s behind you!”

When Joseph spun around on the balls of his feet, he came face-to-face with the girl. Her eyes were like burning coals and the lines of her face seemed odd. It was stretching and bulging as though her features were reshaping itself into something beastly. Joseph watched, paralyzed, as black hairs swiftly poured out of her skin, instantly covering her entire face.

“Shiiittt!” The Shadow cursed in irritation. “The girl…” he paused, and made a gagging sound in the back of his throat. “…is the creature.” 
                    
The girl’s blouse ripped apart as her chest quickly expanded and her arms and legs began to lengthen, growing at an alarming rate. She now stood at least a foot taller than him and her features were entirely unrecognizable. What was once a feminine mouth was now a muzzle chock-full of razor-sharp teeth, and atop its hideous, wolf-like head were two lupine ears. 
      
Rendered speechless, Joseph took a few steps back. For a moment, he stared at her in disbelief, and then his black eyes flared with unspeakable fury. Joseph was trembling with rage, but the Shadow seemed consumed by curiosity.

Hold steady, Joseph,” the Shadow said.

The wolfish fiend drew closer to Joseph and spoke in a deep, raspy baritone. “What are you?”

Joseph stood firm and said simply, “We are exceptional and magnificent creatures.”

Again, the wolfish creature edged closer and drew up its shoulders. “Who’s we?” 

Before Joseph could get a word out, the sound of voices caught him off guard. As he turned to look, he saw a man and a woman engaging in a conversation not far down the street. It had only been seconds, but when looked back, the creature was nowhere in sight. It was as if it had magically disappeared in thin air.

“Hmmm,” the Shadow pondered. “The creature is hideous, but quite skillful and fascinating.”

“What now?” Joseph queried.

“We find another.”

“What about Carrie?”

“Oh, we’ll have her,” the Shadow deviously replied. “Sooner or later.”
 
To be continued …
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Author Notes BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.


Chapter 6
The Headless

By scongrove

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.  

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 

When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces. 
 

Continued . . .
 
When Carrie told Frank and Manuel what had happened to her earlier, including the part about the werewolf, it completely rendered them speechless. Although, if she had told this to anyone else, she’d been hauled off to the looney bin and put in a straitjacket. Considering what the two detectives had experienced in the last year—discovering a secret species of supernatural beings with the ability to shift into wolves, as well as real live battle angels and much more bizarre creatures—they believed her every word. Nevertheless, they told her to keep the incident, especially the werewolf part, under wraps until further notice.

After they took Carrie’s statement, promising they would check things out and search for her purse, they drove to the crime scene. Even though they didn’t know her attacker’s identity, they had a pretty good idea who saved Carrie. By her description of the wolfish creature, it had to be Jena. However, they still weren’t a hundred percent sure. There was a possibility it could have been someone or something else.

By the time they arrived to the location, the area was completely deserted. As Frank parked alongside the street, Manuel said, “You think we should contact Tim Ross?”

“Let’s check the crime scene first. Besides, it’s four o’clock in the morning. There’s no reason to wake the Covenant until we get the facts. Besides, if we call Tim, he’ll have to notify Tessa. I hate to wake her at this hour since she’s got her hands full with twins boys.”

Manuel checked his watch and sighed. “Yeah, you’re right,” he grudgingly replied. “Let’s go see what kind of mess we’re dealing with.”

“This is the part I hate about my job,” Frank said as he took the keys from the ignition. “Although by now, you’d think I’d be used to bloody body parts.”

“Suck it up, buttercup,” Manuel mocked Frank as he reached to open the passenger door.

Frank smirked and stepped out of the vehicle. “Thanks for all the moral support, partner,” he said, narrowing his eyes at Manuel.

Manuel ignored Frank’s comment and aimed a flashlight toward a dark alley that led to the vacant building Carrie had mentioned. “Carrie said those bastards dragged her over there,” Manuel said, directing the portable light ahead.

When they got closer, the glare from the light displayed spray-painted profanity and obscene gestures all over the front of the brick building. As they searched the area, Frank shook his head. “I just wish one of those bastards were still alive so I could...”

“So do I, partner,” Manuel said as Frank’s voice trailed off. “But I’ve got a feeling if this was Jena, she didn’t leave much behind or alive for that matter.”

Frank extended his hand and pointed toward the ground a few feet ahead. “Jesus. Is that what I think it is?”

When Manuel shined the flashlight in the direction Frank was pointing, they both cringed and took a step back. Lying in the grass were the severed heads of Carrie’s attackers. The one that had a repulsive odor was staring blankly at nothing with dead, glassy eyes, and his bug-eyed sidekick was barely recognizable. His skull appeared crushed like an elephant had stomped on it.

“Yep,” Manuel finally said. “It looks like two human heads to me. I believe it’s a good time as any to make that call.”
 
“We better do it soon,” Frank said. “It’ll be daylight in a few hours and we sure as hell don’t want this reported in. Captain will have a damn heart attack if he thinks there’s another werewolf on the loose.”

“No shit,” Manuel shot back. “While I call Tim, look for your niece’s purse.” He handed Frank the flashlight. “She said she dropped it somewhere around here. We don’t need Carrie connected to any of this. If word gets out, we’ll have another panicked outbreak on our hands.”

After Manuel got off the phone, he said, “Tim, Drakon, and Roman are on their way.”

“Speaking of Roman,” Frank said. “How’s it going with him and your sister?”

“By what Lailah tells me, they’ve been talking about tying the knot.”

Frank’s eyes widened. “Already?”

Manuel nodded. “I guess somethings are just meant to be.”

“Are you okay with your sister marrying Roman?”

“Yeah,” Manuel said. “Roman’s a good guy. In addition, he treats Lailah like a queen and I feel confident he will keep her safe. As long as it stays that way, I’ll give him my blessing. Lailah deserves happiness after everything she’s been through. I still can’t believe she’s back.”

“I can’t get over the fact that she was a battle angel,” Frank said. “Lailah lost her life at such a young age and then became a kick-ass angel. Not to mention the powers she had. I’d never guess in a million years an angel would be able to conjure fire with their wings, much less bring back the dead. And now she’s human again.”

“I know.” Manuel let out a heavy sigh. “Go figure.”

“Well, I’m glad everything worked out for her.” Then, Frank changed the subject and asked, “So, what did Tim say about the sketchy situation we’re in? Oh, and did he notify Tessa?”
       
“Yes, Tim said he’d let Tessa know what’s going on before he leaves. As soon as they get here, they’ll take care of this before someone discovers Jena’s leftovers.”

Frank frowned at Manuel. “That’s a sick way of putting it.”

“Well,” Manuel said, shrugging it off like it was nothing. “Just saying it like it is. So, did you find your niece’s purse?”

“Hell no,” Frank groaned. “I’ve looked everywhere, but it’s nowhere in sight. Do you think Jena could have picked it up after she—”

“Ate those guys?” Manuel said, finishing Frank’s sentence.

When Frank nodded with an unsettled expression, Manuel said, “She could have, but we still don’t know for sure if it was her. Although, there’s only one way to find out.”

“You think we should call Nicolas?” Frank suggested. “He is the closest person to Jena.”

“It wouldn’t hurt to try,” Manuel said.

“I’ll wait to see what Tim says when he arrives with the others,” Frank said. “I just hope this isn’t going to be a habit with Jena.”

“She’s not going to stop killing bad people. Jena is cursed for eternity.”

“I know, but what are we supposed to do?” Frank queried. “Follow her around and clean up the mess she leaves behind?”

Manuel nodded. “You’ve got a point there, partner. I guess that’s something we need to discuss with the Covenant. We can’t have bits and pieces of dead bodies left all over the city. All hell will break loose, not to mention the press. If this was to get out, they’d have a damn field day over all this shit.”  
 
To be continued…

 

 

Author Notes BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species, and the head council of the California Covenant.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - Raised by a single mother, Manuel never knew his real father. At age thirteen, his older sister Lailah was murdered, and never solved. Consumed by Lailah's death, Manuel chooses a career in police enforcement hoping someday he will catch her killer and bring justice to his sister. Now in his fifties - living his life as a bachelor and a homicide detective -he discovers he is not entirely human, and has inherited his father's Breedline genetics.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner, and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.


Chapter 7
His Beating Heart

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care. 
 

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years. 
 

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 

When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces.
 

Continued . . .
 
Carrie flinched when a loud knock sounded at the front door. She looked at Jessica wide-eyed and said, “Are you expecting company?”

Jessica looked at Carrie in question. “Are you kidding me? It’s freaking four o’clock in the morning.”

“Carrie!” A blaring male voice called out, followed by another round of loud knocks that sounded more like pounding fists. “Open the damn door, Carrie! It’s me, Kevin!” 

Carrie rolled her eyes and groaned.

“What an asshole,” Jessica said, keeping her voice low. “Ignore that bastard.”

“Oh,” Carrie huffed out. “Trust me. I’m not talking to that piece of shit. He can just stand out there all night if I care.”

“Carrrieee!” Kevin shouted in a slurred voice. “Come, on! I know you’re in there!”

Jessica grumbled. “That stupid-ass sounds drunk. If he keeps this up, I’ll call the damn cops.”

“He won’t last long,” Carrie said. “He has a problem with that sort of thing.” She looked at Jessica with a raised brow. “If you know what I mean.”

Jessica snickered. “What a loser. I guess his Mommy and Daddy’s money can’t buy him stamina.”

They both burst into laughter. Then, after a few more seconds of knocking and carrying on, Kevin finally gave up.

“See, I told you,” Carrie said around a light chuckle. “He never lasts more than a few seconds.”

Jessica laughed again. “I’m glad you’re finally getting rid of that jerk. You deserve so much better.”

“I agree,” Carrie replied. “So, what did Ryan want earlier?”

Jessica’s face lit up. “He said he wanted to talk.”

“Really?” Carrie looked at Jessica curiously. “Maybe he wants to tell you about the so-called secret he’s been keeping.”

“Maybe.” Jessica shrugged. “We’ll see.”

“Well, whatever it is, don’t be holding out on me. I want details later.”

“You know it, girl,” Jessica said, batting her brows.

Carrie yawned. “So, are you ready to turn in?” 

“Hell, yes,” Jessica quickly replied. “It’s been a long day.”

Meanwhile, as Carrie and Jessica got ready for bed, Kevin—who had way too much alcohol—staggered to the parking lot where he half-assed parked his Porsche, taking up two parking spaces in the process.

When he finally made his way over to his shiny red sports car, he stood outside the driver’s side and fumbled for his keys inside the front pocket of his designer jeans. He was oblivious to his surroundings and the dark figure that came up behind him. As he looked up to unlock the door, his eyes rounded in sheer terror. The image in the tinted window staring back at him nearly brought him to his knees.

Kevin opened his mouth to scream, but only the sounds of gurgling blood came out. As his life shot out like a crimson geyser and sprayed all over his expensive car, he felt as though something with immense force had punched a hole through his chest. Then, he heard a steady rhythm like the sound of a heartbeat. “Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub.”

With a gasping breath, he managed to lower his head, but to his dismay, he was shocked at what he saw. Protruding out of an opening in his chest was a bloody hand in which held his still-beating heart. 

As Kevin’s body started to collapse forward, Joseph grabbed his arm with his free hand. Holding him steady, he pulled the other hand back through Kevin’s chest cavity with his heart still in his grasp.   
  
When Joseph brought the blood-drenched heart close to his lips, the Shadow purred deep in his throat.

“Mmmmm,” the Shadow said as its long, lizard-like tongue emerged from Joseph’s mouth and swirled over his lips in one circular motion. “That will make a tasty snack.”

Before Joseph devoured the bloody organ, he let go of Kevin. The car alarm went off as his lifeless body smacked into the driver’s window.

Joseph’s jaws spontaneously began to widen and elongate as though his mouth was made of flexible elastic. With one big gulp, he swallowed the heart and licked the blood from his fingers, savoring each drop.

“Delicious,” the Shadow murmured in satisfaction.

As the car alarm continued to blare, the sound carried into Carrie and Jessica’s apartment.

“Un-freaking-believable.” Jessica let out a frustrated groan. “That better not be your stupid-ass boyfriend.”

Carrie crossed her arms and frowned. “You mean stupid-ass, ex-boyfriend.”

“Sorry,” Jessica muttered. “I swear though, I’m fixing to go out there and kick his spoiled, rich ass.”

“I second that,” Carrie said as she went to the closet door. As she opened it, she reached into her gym bag. With the taser in her hand, she held it up and said, “I’ll bring back-up.”

Jessica grabbed her cell phone and said, “And I might just call the cops after I beat ‘em and you tase his ass.”

Carrie laughed and unlocked the front door. She held the door open and said, “Come on. I’ll bet you fifty bucks he’s passed out in his car.”

“You’re on,” Jessica replied as she hurried to the door. “I doubt the jerk didn’t even make it that far. I bet he’s passed out in the parking lot.”
 
It didn’t take long for them to locate Kevin’s car. The sound of the blaring car alarm guided them straight to it. When Carrie and Jessica came up to the Porsche, they saw Kevin lying on his back next to his car. He wasn’t moving and there was blood everywhere.

“Oh my, God.” Carrie gasped into the palm of her hand. “Kevin—”  

“Shit,” Jessica spouted, noticing the giant hole in Kevin’s chest. Her insides churned at the image. “How in the hell did that happen?”

“I-I can’t believe it,” Carrie muttered in a tear-laced voice. “Who would do this?”

Jessica looked around, wondering if the assailant was still around. “Maybe it was that werewolf,” she fearfully commented.

“I feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare,” Carrie said, wiping at her eyes. “Please, God. Please, let me wake up.”

Jessica sighed. “Well, I guess this means you owe me fifty bucks.”

Carrie shot her a look. “For crying-out-loud, Jessica!”

“Sorry,” Jessica regretfully said, holding up her arms as if in surrender. “I didn’t mean—”

“Please, Jess,” Carrie cut her off, her voice nearly hysterical. “For the love of God, just call my Uncle Frank.”
 
To be continued…

 

 

Author Notes BREEDLINE - A species of humans with the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.


Chapter 8
A Werewolf Thing

By scongrove

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.  

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 

When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces.
 

Continued . . .
 
 It wasn’t long before the bright headlights of a black SUV pulled in behind Frank’s unmarked car. Then, came the sounds of doors opening and closing, followed by several heavy footsteps. When Manuel caught sight of a black Mohawk, he sighed in relief, realizing it was Drakon, which meant the members of the Breedline Covenant had arrived.

So far, Manuel was still getting used to the Breedline. Finding out a secret species of people with the ability to shift into wolves as big, if not bigger, than horses actually existed, blew his mind. Not to mention that he was born with the same genetics, although he did not have an identical twin, so he didn’t possess the wolf thing.   

As the members of the Breedline crew took in the gruesome scene, a tense muscle worked in Tim’s jaw. “Explain to me again what all happened here.”

“Well, to make a long story short,” Manuel began to explain. “We think these two bastards…” he cringed as Frank shined the flashlight on the severed heads. “…are the remains of Jena’s last meal.”

Tim crossed his arms and said, “How did you find them?”

“They attacked my niece tonight,” Frank replied.

Drakon and Roman’s expression blackened and became visibly angry. Tim shook his head, muttering something under his breath.

“Is she all right?” Drakon asked menacingly.

Frank nodded. “Carrie is pretty shook-up, but she managed to get away with just a split lip. One of those bastards hit her. She called me right after the attack.”

“Damn,” Roman chimed into the conversation. “How did she get away?”

“Jena, that’s how,” Frank said. “Or we think it was her. By Carrie’s description of what looked to be a werewolf, immediately, we thought of Jena’s creature.”

“Shit,” Tim said under his breath. “Your niece saw Jena’s creature?”

“She saved my niece before those creeps—”

As Frank’s voice trailed off, Tim placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Frank.” He wore a look of understanding. “The important thing is Carrie is safe. If this indeed was our Jena, she did a good thing tonight.”

“You didn’t tell Carrie about Jena, did you?” Drakon hesitantly asked.

“No, no,” Frank said. “We just told her we would check it out and for her to keep what she saw between the four of us.”

“The four of you?” Tim looked at Frank confused. “Besides you two and your niece, who else are you referring to?”

“Oh, I forgot to mention Carrie’s roommate, Jessica Phillips,” Frank said. “She’s the first person who Carrie talked to right after her attack. Jessica is her best friend and someone she trusts. Since Carrie lost her phone, she asked Jessica to call me.”

Roman shook his head. “You think you can trust your niece and her roommate not to talk about the werewolf thing?” 
 
“I believe they’ll keep this quiet,” Frank replied. “Anyway, who’d believe a story like that?”

“You’d be surprised,” Drakon said in a deep baritone. “Reporters would eat this shit up.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Frank nodded. “I remember the last time something like this got out. It was all over the news.”

“Sorry to change the subject,” Manuel said. “Although I don’t think we have to worry about Carrie and Jessica saying anything to anyone. Before you arrived, we found the assailant’s vehicle across the street. I ran their tags and got an ID on the two guys. It looks like one of them did fifteen years for raping an under-aged girl. He’d only been out of the penitentiary for a month. The other guy, the one that looks like his head has been through a meat grinder, is a felon with a long criminal history. In my opinion, whoever killed these SOBs did everyone a favor, and less shit we have to clean off the streets.”

“Well, it looks like Jena’s MO alright,” Drakon commented. “Roman and I will get this cleaned up. Besides, I don’t think anyone will be missing these two jokers, or what’s left of them anyway.”

“That’s another thing we want to talk to you all about,” Manuel said. “Is this going to be a thing with Jena? I mean, are we going to have to clean up after her... well, you know.” He pointed to the severed heads. “Leftover body parts.”

“I don’t know, Detective.” Tim shrugged. “That’s something we’ll have to discuss with Jena. As soon as we speak to her, we’ll get in touch with you.”

“There’s something else,” Frank pointed out. “Carrie said she dropped her purse here during the attack. I’ve looked everywhere, but unfortunately, I came up empty. Would you ask Jena if she happened to have picked it up?” 

Tim nodded. “Of course. I’ll let you know as soon as I get some answers.” 

As the two detectives started for the car, Frank’s cell phone went off. When he looked at the caller ID, he recognized the number.

Before he answered, he looked at Manuel wide-eyed and said, “It’s Jessica.” 

“Well, what are you waiting for? See what she wants.”

Frank swiped his phone to answer and put it up to his ear. “Detective Perkins speaking.”

After a few moments of silence, everyone noticed that Frank’s face grew pale.

“Stay inside the apartment and don’t answer the door until we get there,” Frank finally said. “And keep the doors locked. We’re on our way.”

As he ended the call, Manuel said, “What’s going on?”

Frank’s stomach turned over as he traded glances with Manuel and the others. It sickened him to think his niece had to deal with something so gruesome. “Carrie’s boyfriend came by the apartment not long after we left,” he finally said. “Jessica said he sounded like he had been drinking and was beating on their door, wanting to talk to Carrie. I guess after he’d stood her up one too many times, she decided it was over, so they ignored him and the guy finally went away. Within a few minutes, they heard a car alarm going off. The girls just figured he passed out in his car. When they went to check, they found him lying on the ground by his car. Jessica also said blood was everywhere and the guy’s chest was ripped open.”

“What—” Manuel’s mouth dropped. “Is he dead?”

“Going by Jessica’s description, I believe so. She said it looked like his heart was missing.”

“Shit,” Manuel said under his breath. “We better head that way.”

Frank averted his eyes from his partner and looked to the others in question. “Should we call this one in?”

“Not just yet,” Tim said. “Let’s see if we’re dealing with something supernatural first. You two go on ahead. We’ll meet you there as soon as we take care the situation here.”

Frank nodded and followed Manuel as he headed for the car.
 
To be continued . . .

 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into a wolf form. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans with a bite or scratch like the Lycanthropy myth.
The Breedline only get their wolf if they are born with an identical twin. Although they live among humans, their species is secret.
In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illnesses or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only thing that can kill a Breedline.
All males change into their wolf at the age of eighteen. Females do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - Identical twins that are born from either one or both parents of the Breedline species. They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense the other's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins are so strong, they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of a Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs their laws and oversees the species population.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have an ancient book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the possibility of being shunned, and no longer protected by their Covenant. If a Breedline takes another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life, and the life of another - they will never have the ability to shift back into human form.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - Raised by a single mother, Manuel never knew his real father. At age thirteen, his older sister Lailah was murdered, and her killer never apprehended. Consumed by Lailah's death, Manuel chooses a career in police enforcement hoping someday he will bring justice to his sister. Now in his fifties - living his life as a bachelor and a homicide detective - he discovers he's not entirely human and has inherited his father's Breedline genetics.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner, and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species, and the head council of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species. Enraged by his first bonded mate's death at the hands of her father, Drakon breaks the Breedline's True Law and kills him. After he is shunned by the Covenant and forced to live as a rogue wolf, he's promised his humanity back if he joins the Chiang-Shih demon's army. When Drakon discovers the demon's plans to destroy all humans and half-breeds, he betrays him and joins forces with the Breedline. As time passes, he bonds with another mate, Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele - a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research - he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade, and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice and Lena.


Chapter 9
A Bloody Valentine

By scongrove

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.  

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 

When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces.
 

Continued . . .
 
Tim’s phone went off not two minutes after Manuel and Frank drove away. As he retrieved it from his back pocket, he looked at the caller ID. The moment he saw who was calling, he quickly swiped to answer. “Tessa, is everything all right?”

“I know you guys are busy,” Tessa replied on the other end, “but we’ve got a bit of another situation on our hands.”

“What’s going on?”

“I just spoke with Jena. The Detectives were right. She’s the one that killed those two men. Jena said she had no choice. Her instincts drove her to save a young girl from being raped, and possibly murdered. But that’s not the only reason I’m calling.” She exhaled a deep breath. “Not long after Jena saved the girl, she came in contact with something unusually odd.”

“Unusually odd?” Tim queried.

“It’s hard to explain,” Tessa said, “but Jena described it as some kind of supernatural being. She said it looked evil and inhuman, like a man with demonic features. His eyes were entirely black, almost soulless.”

“Did Jena kill it?”  
 
“No,” Tessa replied. “But she spoke to it.”

“What did this thing say?”

“When she asked what he was, his answer was strange. He told her we are exceptional and magnificent creatures. It was as though he addressed himself like he was more than one person.”    
                
“That’s odd,” Tim said. “I wonder why?”

“Jena thought the exact same. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the chance to find out because there were people not far away and she didn’t want to be seen in her current condition. Although, she did mention that this thing acted as though he was going to attack her while she was in her human form.”

“Hmmm,” Tim muttered. “That’s interesting. I’m guessing Jena shifted into her creature.”

“Yep,” Tessa simply said.

“I wonder why he didn’t try to attack her after she shifted.”

“Maybe this thing is like her,” Tessa pointed out. “It hunts only humans.”

“Could be,” Tim said, nodding against the phone. “So did Jena mention anyone else other than the two men that attacked that girl?”

“No, why?”

“The girl Jena saved was Detective Frank Perkins’s niece, Carrie Randall, and she just called Frank again. Carrie said her and her roommate found her boyfriend in the parking lot at their apartment with his chest ripped open and his heart missing.”

“Oh, my, gosh,” Tessa gasped. “That’s awful. Do you need more help? I can send Jace and Jem your way.”

“No, but thanks anyway. Between me, Drakon, and Roman, we’ve got this covered.”

“What do you think about this demonic creature Jena described?” Tessa asked. “Do you think it’s linked to the boyfriend’s death?” 

“It could be. We’re headed that way to meet up with Detective Perkins and his partner, Detective Sanchez. I’ll let you know what we find out.” Before he ended the call, Tim said, “Would you ask Jena if she picked up a purse where Frank’s niece was attacked?”

“Sure,” Tessa replied. “Did it belong to her or something?”

“Yeah, and it’s missing. Frank said his niece told him she dropped it when those guys attacked her, but it’s not here. We thought maybe Jena may have picked it up.”

“I’ll ask her.”

“Thanks, Tessa.”

There was a brief moment of silence and then Tessa finally said, “How are we going to deal with Frank’s niece? She obviously saw Jena’s creature. I’m worried she’ll stir up the werewolf theory again.”

“I talked to Frank and he seems positive his niece will keep this quiet. But there’s also another person who knows.”

“Who?”

“Carrie’s roommate, Jessica Phillips. She was the one who contacted Frank. And she’s also a witness to this other murder we’re fixing to deal with.”   

“Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about it now.” Tessa sighed into the phone. “We’ll discuss all this later. Call if you need anything.” 

When Tim ended the call, muddled pieces of the conversation with Tessa kept surfacing in his brain as he drove to Carrie’s apartment complex, now a crime scene. His nerves, along with Drakon and Roman’s, were on edge. His fingers gripped the wheel with enough force that his knuckles showed white over the wheel of the SUV. What in the hell were they dealing with now? Was this a demon or some type of new creature they’d never heard of? He wondered what the damn thing wanted, and if it could be destroyed? If so, how? To make matters worse, they had to deal with Frank’s niece and her roommate. Carrie had witnessed Jena in her werewolf form and relayed what she saw to her friend, Jessica. How were they going to deal with this shit storm? It was crucial that their species remained secret from humans, although they had made a few exceptions in the past with Jace and Jem’s adopted parents and Detective Frank Perkins. Which, all things considered, he was responsible for keeping their world safe and protected. While Tim tried to come up with a solution, the Breedline True Laws came to mind. Rules were designed for a good reason, not to be broken.
      
“So, this demon possessed person,” Drakon spoke out, breaking the silence. “Or whatever the hell you call it.” His deep voice seemed a little agitated. “Did Jena find out what it wants?”

Tim shook his head. “As far as we know, no one has a clue to what it wants or what it is for that matter.”

Roman glanced at Tim. “Do you think this demonic thing had something to do with this other dead guy?” 

“Who knows?” Tim shrugged. “I’m not throwing the possibility out the window.”

As always, Tim’s faith in God remained strong, but now, as he pulled into the parking lot and parked by Frank’s unmarked car, he decided that if there truly was a supreme deity, today they needed the His help. He was desperate at this point.

When Tim stepped out of the vehicle, his heart filled with dread. He spotted an area roped off with yellow tape where officers were working the crime scene. Obviously, Detective Perkins and his partner had chosen to report the incident. His throat tightened as he, Drakon, and Roman moved closer. A wide stain of red covered the window of a Porsche and over the ground where a body lay behind the roped-off crime scene.

Tim noticed two young women standing away from the scene. One of them appeared to be crying, leaning for support against the other girl.

Detective Frank Perkins approached them with a grim look on his face. “Sorry, Tim. I know you wanted us to wait until you got here, but we had to call this one in. We made a positive ID on the victim. His name is Kevin Rossi. He’s the son of Rossi’s Exotic Car Dealerships.”

“No need to apologize, Detective,” Tim said. “You’re just doing your job.”

Frank nodded. “I know one thing for sure.” He kept his voice low. “Jessica was right about the guy’s missing heart. It’s the damnedest thing. The victim has an entry wound beginning at the upper portion of his back that exits clean through his chest cavity.”

“Damn,” Roman chimed in. “Who in the hell could do something like that?”

“You mean, what,” Drakon commented. 

“Do you think this could be Jena?” Frank asked.

Tim shook his head. “I got a call from Tessa before we got here. She said Jena told her about killing those two guys that attacked your niece, but she didn’t do this. Although, Jena did mention something rather strange.”

“Strange how?” Manuel said as he walked up behind his partner, catching the butt end of the conversation.

“Jena was confronted by some kind of unknown thing,” Tim went on. “She said it looked like a man with demonic-like features. She sensed it was going to attack her while she was in her human form, but when she shifted, it stood down.”

“Well, hell,” Manuel shot back. “I don’t doubt it. I’ve seen the creature Jena shifts into. The sight of it would make the bravest of any man piss his damn pants.”

“So, you think this thing killed Mr. Rossi?” Frank asked.

“We don’t know for sure,” Tim said. “But it’s definitely a possibility.”

“Shit,” Manuel grumbled. “Just when I thought things were starting to get back to normal.”

“It’s never normal in the Breedline world,” Drakon said. “And now you two are part of it.”

Tim focused on Frank and said, “How’s your niece and her roommate faring?” 

“They’re pretty shaken up, but considering everything they’ve been through, especially Carrie, I think they’ll be okay after they get some rest. I’ll stop by later to check on them.”

“It wouldn’t hurt if they talked to someone, particularly your niece,” Tim suggested. “After everything that’s happened, she could be suffering from trauma.”

Frank shot Tim a confused look. “I thought you wanted the girls to keep this quiet.”

“I do, but I was referring to Dr. Helen Carrington. I can set it up with Helen if your niece agrees to see her. Of course, it will be confidential and free of charge.”

“Okay.” Frank slowly nodded. “That sounds like a good idea. I’ll talk to her about it. She did ask about those guys that attacked her. She wanted to know if they were still alive.”

Tim raised a brow. “What did you tell her?”

“I didn’t give her a definite answer. I just told her she never had to worry about them hurting her or anyone else ever again.”

“Good answer, Detective. By the way, I did ask Tessa to find out if Jena took your niece’s purse. I’ll keep you posted.”

“Thanks, Tim,” Frank replied.

Manuel’s phone beeped and he drew it from the inside of his jacket, looked at the screen, and noticed a text. “Shit,” he said through gritted teeth. “It’s Captain Hodge.” Then, he looked over at Frank. “Looks like we’ve got a long day ahead of us, partner.”

“There goes our plans for tonight,” Frank groaned. “Missy is not going to be happy about that.” He looked up at the cloud-covered sky as drops of rain began to fall. “Great. It looks like we’re about to get soaked. Why does it have to do this now?”

“You’ll have to talk to the man upstairs about that one,” Manuel said around a light chuckle. 

Frank cut him an exasperated look. “But it’s Valentine’s Day,” he ground out.

“Tell that to the freak who stole Mr. Rossi’s heart.”

Frank rolled his eyes but kept his comments to himself. Instead, he focused on the others and extended his hand. “Thanks again for helping us out.”

“No problem, Detective,” Tim said as he shook hands with Frank and reached out to Manuel. “We’re happy to help anytime.”
 
 To be continued . . .

 

Author Notes This is not part of the chapter. A reference to terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins are so strong, they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends their life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

DOUBLE BONDED - In some cases, male Breedline twins bond with the same female.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs their laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have a book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the Breedline council. Punishment for taking another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life, and the life of another - they will instantly shift into a rogue wolf for life and shunned by the Breedline Covenants.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers his birth father - who is possessed by the Chiang-Shih demon - murdered his mother when he and his twin brother were four years old. Raised by their new foster family and their Uncle Jacks, he later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast. With the help of his identical twin brother, Jem, and his bonded mate, Tessa, they help him cope with his rage to keep the Beast at bay. He's an IT engineer, and is the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electric energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species, and the head council of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species. Enraged by his first bonded mate's death at the hands of her father, Drakon breaks the Breedline's True Law and kills him. After he is shunned by the Covenant and forced to live as a rogue wolf, he's promised his humanity back if he joins the Chiang-Shih demon's army. When Drakon discovers the demon's plans to destroy all humans and half-breeds, he betrays him and joins forces with the Breedline. As time passes, he bonds with another mate, Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele - a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research - he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade, and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice and Lena.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - Raised by a single mother, Manuel never knew his real father. At age thirteen, his older sister Lailah was murdered, and never solved. Consumed by Lailah's death, Manuel chooses a career in police enforcement hoping someday he will catch her killer and bring justice to his sister. Now in his fifties - living his life as a bachelor and a homicide detective -he discovers he is not entirely human, and has inherited his father's Breedline genetics.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner, and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Captain James Hodge - Unaware of the Breedline species, he is Detective Manuel Sanchez and Detective Frank Perkins superior at the San Francisco, California Police Department.


Chapter 10
Breathless

By scongrove

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.  

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 

When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces.
 

Continued . . .
 
Nicolas opened his eyes when Jena shifted onto her side and away from him. Then, she rolled back over, facing the ceiling. A second later, she flipped over on her stomach. Somehow, during all the tossing and turning, she wiggled out from underneath the covers. When he slowly tugged the blanket over her body, she snuggled deeper into it and let out a long sigh. 

“I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You didn’t,” she said. “I was already awake.” 
 
“You’ve tossed and turned almost the entire night, sweetheart,” Nicolas said, stroking Jena’s arm, wishing he could do something to help clear her mind.

“I know.” She took a deep breath and rolled back over, her strong, warrior blue eyes meeting his. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” He reached for her hand. “You want to talk about it?”

When Jena shrugged, Nicolas said, “You’re worried about that girl, aren’t you?”

Jena squeezed her eyes shut. Her forehead wrinkled as images of the girl’s terrified expression flooded her mind. It was all because of her. The poor girl must have been horrified at what she saw.

“Jena, please. Talk to me.”

She lifted her lids and looked into his lavender eyes. “All this,” her voice cracked, “wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for me.”

Nicolas lightly squeezed her hand. “That girl was about to raped, and maybe worse. You saved her life, honey.”

As she lifted higher on her pillow, her long, golden locks fell around her shoulders in total disarray. “But you didn’t see the look on her face. She was horrified. And I’ve created more problems for the Covenant. What if the girl tells someone and this gets out to the public?”

“Trust me. Everything will be okay,” he soothed. “That’s the least of our problems. What worries me is that thing you encountered. Whatever it is, and going by your description, it sounds dangerous.”

“Well, it’s definitely not human, or it didn’t appear to be,” Jena said. “I sensed evil from it, but also something else.”

“What do you mean?”

Jena furrowed her brows. “I’m not entirely sure. It was more like a feeling of intense sorrow. An emotion you get when someone you love dies. Then I sensed something else.”

“What’s that?”

“Hunger… a hunger far more powerful than mine.” 

Nicolas looked at her bewildered. “That’s strange. And you said it appeared as though it was coming after you, right? I mean, while you were still in your human form.”

When Jena nodded, Nicolas said, “I wonder what it wanted? Do you think it was after blood?”

“I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty positive it intended to kill me at first.”

Nicolas cocked a brow. “Although, it didn’t attack you when you shifted.”

“No. It realized then I wasn’t human.”

“Do you believe this thing is hunting humans?”

Jena nodded silently.

“Tim texted me earlier,” Nicolas mentioned.

Jena looked at him concerned. “What did he say?”

“I was going to wait to tell you, but maybe now is the best time.”

“I’m already awake, so tell me.”

“The girl you saved is Detective Frank Perkins’ niece.”

“What—” 

“Hang on,” Nicolas said softly, giving her hand another squeeze. “Before you get upset, you’ll want to hear the rest.”

“Okay.” Jena sighed. “I’m listening.”

“Frank is grateful for what you did for his niece. Her name is Carrie Randall. I’ve worked with Frank on the force for more than fifteen years and during that time, I’ve got to know him and his family. Carrie has been more like a daughter to Frank and his wife Missy than anything else. You see, Carrie was Frank’s sisters’ daughter.”

“What do you mean by was? Did something happen?”

“Carrie’s parents were killed in a freak car accident when she was just five years old.”

“Oh my, gosh,” Jena gasped. “That’s awful.”

Nicolas regretfully nodded. “It was on a late Saturday night and it had been raining. They had just left Frank’s house for a family gathering on Christmas Eve. We never figured out why, maybe Carrie’s dad fell asleep, but their car went off a bridge before they made it home. There were no signs of tire marks and no evidence of another car involved. By the time first responders arrived, the vehicle had already sunk to the bottom.”

Jena shook her head. “How did Carrie manage to survive?”

“After all these years, it’s still a mystery,” Nicolas said. “A passing semi stopped when the driver saw her standing by the bridge. When the truck driver asked her what she was doing alone on the side of the road, she told him about the car accident.”

“I don’t understand.” Jena shrugged. “How did she get out of the car?”

“No one really knows,” Nicolas said. “When asked, she said a giant angel with red hair and black wings saved her. Of course, at her young age, everyone thought it was her imagination and the trauma of losing her family. And the incident gets more bizarre. Carrie was completely dry when the truck driver found her. Not even as much as a drop. It was as though she wasn’t even in the car when it went into the river.”

“That is odd,” Jena said. “Although, it sounds like the same angel that saved you.”

“Yeah, it does,” Nicolas replied. “I can’t believe it never dawned on me before. Lailah’s description is similar. During the time she was a battle angel, she did have black wings and her hair is red.”

“If indeed it was Lailah, I wonder why she saved Carrie and not her parents.”

“I don’t know.” Nicolas shook his head. “Maybe she had a reason.” 

Jena changed the subject and said, “Did Tim mention anything else?”

Nicolas nodded. “When Tim, Drakon, and Roman went to help Frank and Manuel clean up...” he paused, dreading to say the words. “…what was left of Carrie’s attackers, Frank got another call from his niece. Apparently, Carrie, along with her roommate, found her boyfriend murdered in the parking lot at her apartment building.”

“That poor girl. She must be so traumatized at this point.”

“And there’s more to the story,” Nicolas went on. “Which brings to mind that unknown thing you came in contact with.”

“Why is that?”

“Because, Tim said the guy that was murdered had his heart completely ripped from his chest cavity. I don’t know any human being capable of such, do you?”

Jena let out a deep breath. “No. It does sound unusual, and of course, it wasn’t me.”

“Tim knows you aren’t responsible,” he said in a reassuring voice. “Tessa talked to him earlier. He also mentioned a meeting here in the Covenant taking place later this morning. They want us to attend.” Nicolas reached up and stroked his hand through her long, blonde waves. “Maybe you should try to go back to sleep. You need to rest, honey.”

The softness of his touch and the southern drawl in his voice left her breathless.

“That feels wonderful,” she said, then made a soft, moaning sound. “Forget sleep.” She batted her brows. “I’d rather look at you.”

He smiled at her, loving the quirky things she sometimes said to him. Jena was his everything. Although Nicolas’s life had begun in New Orleans during the eighteenth-century, he’d adapted to living as an immortal while the world around him changed and evolved. Now, his life had taken on a new meaning since Jena had come into it. She gave him a sense of belonging and purpose that filled his heart with happiness. The first time he looked into her lovely sapphire eyes, he’d thought she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He also knew without a doubt, she was the one.  
     
Jena tilted her head a little and studied his face. God, Nicolas’s eyes were breathtaking. As she admired the rare color, it reminded her of her favorite flower. The light shade of lavender shimmered against his pale, flawless complexion and the ink-black color of his shoulder length hair. And his smooth lips were perfectly shaped. The lower one was fuller than the top. Her eyes trailed lower, below his masculine jaw and past his neck and to his perfectly, defined chest. She briefly closed her eyes, feeling as though she was going to come apart by the mere sight of him.
     
Although Jena had only known Nicolas for a short period, it felt like it had already been a lifetime. It was as if they were fated to be together forever.

Nicolas moved closer and put his lips on hers. With their mouths locked, she gazed into his half-lidded eyes and whispered, “Nicolas...” Her breathy tone was ripe with surrender. “I need you.” Her body moistened with a heated desire. To his surprise, she shifted on the bed and parted her legs as an invitation for him to ravish her.

He purred his approval and deepened the kiss. As she gasped, his tongue invaded her mouth and skillfully stroked over her own. Goosebumps prickled over her skin when his hand trailed over her bare shoulder and slowly inched down her arm. Jena closed her eyes, absorbing the feel of his caressing and sensual touch. While his hand worked its way lower, in a matter of seconds, she felt a heat bloom within her that nearly took her over the edge. She arched her back and moaned against his lips.

For a fleeting moment, he released her mouth and then shifted his body so that he was looking down into her eyes from beneath his lush, inky lashes without pressing his weight on top of her. His stare was intense and full of desire. “I love you, Jena,” he confessed. His lavender eyes were dark with need. “I’ve wanted you from the moment I first saw you.”

Before she could reply, he captured her mouth again. Without as much as a thought, she grabbed onto his shoulders, wanting to feel his warm skin and his weight on top of her. He held back for a moment, but then relaxed, realizing what she needed from him, and finally eased his body onto hers.  

It wasn’t long before Nicolas had Jena undressed, her silk nightgown gone, and her lace panties tossed aside. His body was blazing for her, stimulated by centuries of waiting to be right where he was. To be with his beloved, Jena.

After he had stripped her of what little she had on, he shrugged out of his pajama bottoms and wrapped his arms around her. He gathered her close, so close, Jena could hear the rhythm of his heart, beating wildly inside his chest.

Jena’s hands dug into the strands of his silky hair, her flushed body writhing against the warmth of his flesh. “Please,” she pled in a throaty murmur that nearly undid him.

His mouth came down over hers, kissing her as if he’d die if their lips were parted.

As they made love, gasping and panting, their intertwined bodies fit together as though they were made for each other. Jena was his destiny, and he was hers, Nicolas thought as they ascended the heights of passion.

When an hour had passed, Jena stirred from a peaceful slumber and lifted her head. “Nicolas?”

“Go back to sleep, honey,” he whispered, shifting her body so she was against his chest. “Everything is fine.”

Jena sighed when she felt his arm around her waist. Despite the fact that she was more than capable of taking care of herself, lying in Nicolas’s arms gave her a sense that no matter what tragic situation she faced, she could survive anything. He enabled the strength she needed to face her fears and be whoever she wanted to be.
 
To be continued . . .

 

Author Notes This is not part of the chapter. A reference to terms and characters, especially for new readers.

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs their laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have a book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the Breedline council. Punishment for taking another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life, and the life of another - they will instantly shift into a rogue wolf for life and shunned by the Breedline Covenants.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species, and the head council of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species. Enraged by his first bonded mate's death at the hands of her father, Drakon breaks the Breedline's True Law and kills him. After he is shunned by the Covenant and forced to live as a rogue wolf, he's promised his humanity back if he joins the Chiang-Shih demon's army. When Drakon discovers the demon's plans to destroy all humans and half-breeds, he betrays him and joins forces with the Breedline. As time passes, he bonds with another mate, Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele - a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research - he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade, and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice and Lena.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - Raised by a single mother, Manuel never knew his real father. At age thirteen, his older sister Lailah was murdered, and never solved. Consumed by Lailah's death, Manuel chooses a career in police enforcement hoping someday he will catch her killer and bring justice to his sister. Now in his fifties - living his life as a bachelor and a homicide detective - he discovers he is not entirely human, and has inherited his father's Breedline genetics.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner, and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.


Chapter 11
The Handsome Stranger

By scongrove

Previously . . .

When five-year-old Joseph Parker witnesses his mother’s brutal death—by the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father—he mysteriously starts to hear voices in his head that changes his life forever. As this dark, soulless entity inhabits the young boy’s body, it introduces itself as the Shadow and teaches him how to survive and how to focus on one thing. To kill.

Immediately following the incident, police arrested Joseph’s father and later sentenced him to twenty years in prison. Without any other living relatives, social workers placed Joseph in foster care.  

By age thirteen, Joseph had gone through ten foster families before a psychologist placed him into a mental institution due to his psychopathic and sadistic behavior where he spent most of his adolescent years.  

Twenty-one years later, after mastering the skills of manipulation with the Shadow’s help, Joseph was back in the real world. The day the institute finally discharged him, believing he’d been cured, it wasn’t long before he landed a job as a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and his opportunity to avenge his mother after his father was back in society living as a free man.

After Joseph tracked down his father and took his life, it was time to appease the Shadow’s ravenous appetite for human flesh. With his newfound driving force to take lives, the Shadow guides Joseph to a young girl who is alone in a bar.

When the girl leaves on foot, Joseph follows her to what appears to be a deserted street. Before he has a chance to take the girl, two men show up out of nowhere and attack her. As they drag her to a vacant building with the intention of doing her harm, the Shadow commands Joseph to kill the men and take the girl. Prepared to obey the Shadow, Joseph’s features begin to transform into something evil and demonic. As he moves in to strike, something big with speed of lightning suddenly leaps out of the fog and viciously attacks both men while the girl manages to get away. 

When Joseph realizes it’s a werewolf, he watches in stunned disbelief as it rips the girl’s attackers to pieces.
 

Continued . . .
 
Although Carrie was desperate for sleep, she couldn’t shut her eyes. Every time she tried her mind kicked up all those horrible images from earlier. Lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, her thoughts continued to torment her. Her imagination seemed to be getting the best of her, spinning out of control. Tears fell from the corners of her eyes as flashbacks of Kevin’s body came to mind. There was so much blood. It was everywhere. Just thinking about it sent chills up her spine. She huddled beneath the covers like a child afraid of the dark.

Who could have done such a thing? And why Kevin? Then, her thoughts went to another place: to the vacant building, to the sickening memory of those creeps putting their hands on her, and to the thing that looked to be something straight out of a horror flick. Were werewolves real? It didn’t seem possible that something like that could exist. She felt like she was losing her mind.

Could that thing be responsible for Kevin’s death? She swallowed the knot that had formed in the back of her throat and whispered, “Could it be… coming after me?”

But morning arrived without incident, and when she went downstairs, she heard voices coming from the kitchen. Carrie stopped and listened. She clearly recognized her roommate’s, but not the other voice. It sounded like a man. Maybe it was Ryan, she thought.

“Jessica…” She hesitantly called out.

“I’m in the kitchen,” Jessica hollered back. “I hope you’re dressed. We’ve got company.”

As Carrie started for the entrance to the kitchen, she stopped short when she caught sight of the guy inside. Nope, he wasn’t Ryan, she thought. Although Ryan was easy on the eyes, this guy was not exactly your average Joe. Going by his profile alone, his attractiveness registered off the charts. His dark, shoulder-length hair—pushed behind his ears—reminded her of the lead actor in the movie, John Wick, minus the facial hair. She wondered what color his eyes were.

“Oh, there you are,” Jessica said.

Carrie focused on her roommate as she motioned her inside. “Come… meet our new friend.”

When Carrie looked away from Jessica and gazed at the handsome stranger, she felt her mouth drop. The minute she noticed his mysterious eyes, goosebumps trailed over her skin. She sensed something dark and lethal behind his blue eyes.

Hmm… she thought. For some strange reason, she expected the color to be brown.

“Carrie, this is Joseph Parker,” Jessica said, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Joseph smiled, revealing a perfect set of teeth. He stepped forward with an extended hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you… Carrie.”

Carrie nodded hello and instantly took his hand. “It’s nice to meet you too, Joseph.”

The Shadow appeared in Joseph’s head. “Mmmm… she looks scrumptious.”

As he released her hand, Carrie tilted her head in question. “You look familiar. Have we met before?”

Joseph narrowed his eyes and paused for a moment, wondering if she’d spotted him last night in the Cat Club. Surely, she didn’t see him during the attack… did she?

“No,” the Shadow simply said. 

Finally, Joseph shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t believe so.”

“He’s come to your rescue,” Jessica said. Her smile brightened and her eyes narrowed on Joseph’s face. “Isn’t that right, Joseph?”

The Shadow laughed. “We’ve come to take your soul.”

Carrie glanced over at her friend and then back to Joseph. He looked nervous. Then, after a few seconds, he brought his other hand forward. “I… ah, found your purse.”

“Can you believe it?” Jessica said. “Isn’t that great, Carrie?”

There was silence for a moment. Carrie seemed lost for words. She couldn’t take her eyes off the white handbag he held in his grasp. Impossible, she thought. Finally, she looked to his handsome face and muttered, “Where did you… find it?”

“I found it on Richmond Street,” Joseph said as Carrie slowly reached for the purse. “That’s the route I usually bike. I spotted it in a ditch. The silver handle caught my attention. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen it in all those tall weeds.”

“We are good liars,” the Shadow whispered to Joseph.

“How did you know it belonged to me?” Carrie hesitantly asked.

“Sorry, but I...” He shot her a half-smile. “Looked at your ID.” 

Carrie unzipped the small handbag and dug her hand inside. When she found her wallet and her cell phone, she looked back up at Joseph. “I don’t know what to say?”

“How about thank you,” Jessica chimed in. 

“Oh, of course,” Carrie said, smiling ruefully. “You’ll have to excuse me. I’m not thinking too clearly this morning. It’s been a long night.” She set the purse down on the counter and offered her hand to Joseph. “Thank you, Joseph.”

He took her hand and lightly squeezed. “You’re welcome, Carrie.”

Then, an uneasy silence filled the room.

“Joseph was telling me about his exciting job,” Jessica blurted, breaking the tension. “He’s a freelance journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.”

“I like Jessica.” The Shadow smacked his lips. “She looks tasty.” 

“Oh, really.” Carrie cocked her head to the side. “That’s interesting. How long have you been a writer?”

“Basically, since I was a teenager,” he said, nervously shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “The day I read my first mystery novel I knew I wanted to be a writer. That’s when I decided to jump into journalism.”

With her interest piqued, she said, “So, who’s your favorite?”

He looked at her in question. “As in… a writer?”

Carrie nodded.

“I’d have to say, Ernest Hemingway.”

“Liar,” the Shadow remarked. “Stephen King is our favorite.”

“How so?” Carrie queried.

“Mostly because of his works, although…” Joseph cocked a brow. “There’s one quote that that he wrote that really stayed with me growing up.”

“Well,” Jessica butted into the conversation. “We’re dying to hear it.”

“Oh, you’ll be dying,” the Shadow drawled. “I promise.”

 Joseph’s voice softened. “The world breaks everyone, and afterward,” he paused and looked pointedly at Carrie, “some are strong at the broken places.”

“Smooothhh…” the Shadow hissed.

Carrie shivered at the musical lilt of his voice, and the way he pronounced his words. It spread through her, calming her, comforting her somehow. She wanted to know more about this mysterious, handsome man.

“I like it,” Carrie said, gazing into his piercing blue eyes. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Joseph checked his watch. “Sure. I have a few minutes, but only if it’s no trouble.”

“Of course not. I was about to make a fresh pot anyway.” She smiled and glanced at her roommate. “How about you, Jess?”

“Oh, no thanks. I’m meeting Ryan across the street at Chloe’s Café.” She averted her eyes from Carrie and shot Joseph a look. “Maybe you two would like to join us?”

Carrie looked at Joseph as though she was gauging his reaction.

“Make up an excuse,” the Shadow urged.

“Sorry,” he said. “I’ve got to leave in half an hour. Work never ends.” He sighed. “Maybe another time?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jessica said. “Give Joseph your number, Carrie.” She flashed Carrie a shit-eating grin. “We’ll plan a double date.”

Carrie blushed and shot her roommate a look.

“Uh…” Joseph stammered. “Okay.”

Before Jessica left, she winked at Carrie and said, “It was nice meeting you, Joseph. Enjoy your coffee.”

Thanks,” he replied. “You too.”
 
To be continued . . . hopefully soon. I have gotten behind on this story due to work schedule and re-editing my other three books. I will get back to it as soon as I can. I appreciate everyone that has supported me and given me so much advice and encouragement. YOU make a difference! All my love to everyone!


Chapter 12
Out of the Shadows

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Due to all the craziness going on in the world, I have a big work schedule change and not much time to write in my new novel, THE CURSE. So, I've decided to place some of my previous works of my Novels of the Breedline series here. I hate to not share here. It's been my life for six years now and I truly feel incomplete without FanStory and all the talented writers here. You have all been such a great help in my writing. I am currently re-editing all my previous novels along with this one. If you notice something that needs work or typos, please let me know. Your feedback is so helpful. Enjoy!  

Located in downtown San Francisco…

 
As Steven Pasquale rode in the back of a packed bus, he noticed a man across the aisle that appeared odd. He was pale and thin-boned, wearing dark-tinted glasses and a long, black trench coat. Every now and then, the creepy looking guy would glance at Steven from out of the corner of his eye. It looked as if he was watching his every move. Then it dawned on Steven. Could the man be one of Dr. Autenburg’s hired henchmen? With his nerves on pins and needles, he quickly decided to get off at the next stop.

When Steven climbed out, the streets looked deserted. That’s when he realized he’d gotten off in a bad part of town. After a half-hour of searching for a place that was open, he finally found a hotel. He’d almost walked past it, thinking it was just an old, abandoned building before he noticed the neon sign. The vacancy light flickered on and off, buzzing endlessly as if it was on the verge of burning out. The sign above the run-down entrance was hard to read due to the worn paint.  

Steven went on full alert, scanning his surroundings before making the decision to go inside. For some reason, a cold chill washed over him. He stopped at the entrance and looked up. He noticed the windows had been boarded and the stone structure had eroded from the city’s pollution. It was obvious the building had been neglected for years. The humid air suddenly stirred, sending trash from the sidewalk into the street. The air smelled of garbage and something else. Something thick and sour that filled his throat and made him sick to his stomach. Shifting back to focus, he noticed several streetlights were out, though the one closest to the hotel’s front window cast a dim glow over cracked glass.

Where were all the people? Steven wondered. Although it was two in the morning, in San Francisco, the city never looked this deserted. He swallowed back his nerves and reached for the door. When he stepped inside, he looked for someone at the front desk but found it unattended. The place looked haunted… cursed. He spotted a bell on the counter and as he moved toward it, his pulse quickened with each step. The instant he started to ring it, a growl froze his hand in place. His heart hammered inside his chest. For a second, he wondered if he’d imagined it.

Finally, he found the courage to look. Slowly, he turned around and called out, “Hello… is anyone there?”

Out of nowhere, a dark silhouette stepped from the shadows. As it came closer, Steven recognized the shadowed figure. It was Dr. Markus Ludwig, a twisted colleague of Dr. Hans Autenburg. He wore a black trench coat and a flat-brimmed hat. Following alongside the mad physician was a deranged-looking man. He had pale skin and tattoos covering his bald head. A snarl marred his unsightly face, revealing the tips of sharp-pointed teeth. The guy looked at Steven with pure hatred.

To his surprise, another dark figure pushed their way through the shadows with the swiftness of a serpent and stood on the opposite side of Dr. Ludwig. Steven recognized him as the same creepy man that sat across from him on the bus, except he wasn’t wearing the dark-tinted glasses. He focused on Steven with blood-red eyes and a smug look on his face. 

Steven stood in silence with a sudden urge to shove his fist through the creep’s chest and wipe that grin off his face forever.

“Hello Steffen,” Dr. Ludwig finally said in a German accent. “Your time has run out. Come vith us peacefully, and no harm vill be brought to you.”

Steven shook his head and took a few steps back. “You’re not taking me back,” he said through gritted teeth. “I’d rather die than go back to that hellhole. I’m through living like an animal trapped in a cage. I’m no longer your science project.”

Dr. Ludwig lifted his chin and let out a seedy, bone-chilling chuckle. Then, his humor quickly turned to fury. When the mad physician snapped his fingers, two enormous creatures emerged from the shadows. It was then Steven realized what they were. They were one of Dr. Autenburg’s specimens he’d created. A Breedline hybrid of some kind.

With dread curdling in the pit of his stomach, Steven watched as the two unnatural hybrids stalked forward on all fours, snarling and growling.

Seconds later, Dr. Ludwig and his cronies looked at Steven in stunned disbelief. His transformation came instantly. Steven’s skin took on a luminous sheen, expanding until his frame grew twice the size. Powerful muscles bulged atop his bare chest and claws jutted from his hands and feet.

He charged head-on and pummeled into one of the hybrids. After he easily snapped its neck, the second hybrid raced toward him with its ears flattened against its enormous head. As it struck Steven, the noise was like nothing Dr. Ludwig had ever heard. The howls of rage changed to a whimpering defeat and ended in dead silence. Without hesitation, Steven severed the hybrid’s spinal cord and threw it at Dr. Lugwig’s feet.  

The mad physician stepped behind his bald henchmen and shouted, “Shoot him!”

Before the man could fire his weapon, Steven lunged at Dr. Ludwig. A bone-cracking sound came next. Then the physician dropped to the floor with his neck twisted in an unnatural angle.

When the red-eyed henchman reacted and lunged forward, he stopped in his tracks as Steven shoved his fist through the guy’s chest cavity. As the guy fell limp to the floor, the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked suddenly came from behind Steven.

“Don’t move,” the tatted, bald guy said.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. As Steven whirled around at the speed of a blur and sliced the guy’s throat with his razor-sharp claws, the blast of the gun echoed like the crack of lightning. Simultaneously, the bald guy flew back with blood spurting from his throat, and Steven fell to his knees with his hand covering his chest.

Continued...
 
 

 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference to terms and characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with super-strength, they can move from one place to another in supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. After taken from his mother at birth by two evil German physicians, he endured a life of endless, painful experiments. Without the knowledge of his real family, Steven finally manages to escape his captors, locating his biological parents and his fraternal twin, Tessa Fairchild. He bonds with Abbey.


Chapter 13
Lucifer's Spell

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Take a sneak look back into a chapter of the fourth Novel of the Breedline series... Sins of Chaos.

In a dark, padded cell, Sebastian lay with his arms bound inside a straitjacket and his ears tensed for the slightest noise. The buzzing coming from the fluorescent lights outside the door and the rhythm of his beating heart were the only sounds to be heard. Since Sebastian lost his ability to use a portal, this was the first time in his life he felt utterly helpless. When he’d told the Breedline of hearing Thomas’s voice—his dead twin brother—they thought him insane, including Eve, and committed him to a Breedline psychiatric institution... a lunatic asylum. It was like a punch to the gut. Even though he was guilty of many things, death would be more merciful than eternal insanity.

He hadn’t heard Thomas’s voice for hours. Forcing himself to think of something else, he wondered how his sons were faring and thought of what Eve had said in the note she left him. Maybe she was right. Perhaps they were better off without him.

Although the sedative he was given made him doze off a couple of times, he concentrated on staying awake. As much as he fought to keep his eyes open, he lost the battle and sleep finally overtook him.

Out of nowhere, he sensed an eerie presence looming over him. He kept his lids closed and pretended to be asleep. He shivered when the temperature in the room dropped. Steam exhaled as he parted his lips.  
 
Something prodded his leg with sharp fingers and whispered, “Wake up, Sebastian.”

When an unknown presence leaned over Sebastian, a rank breath crept into his nostrils. Then, strong hands grabbed a fistful of his hair and wrenched his head back and said, “I know you’re awake… you worthless piece of crap.”

He recognized his brother’s angry voice and opened his eyes. Although, it was impossible. Thomas was dead. The monster taunting his sanity was something entirely different. But who was it? he thought. And what did it want? 
  
Sebastian felt enraged but remained calm. In his current condition, he was helpless against whatever this thing was. If only he could manage to free himself of the restricting constraint.

“Where are you?” Sebastian called out as his eyes darted over the poorly lit room. “Show yourself.”

He flinched at the sound of a chair scuffling along the floor. When it slid in his field of vision, he came face-to-face with his twin brother. His features appeared haunted and his eyes were black… soulless.  

Thomas reached inside his jacket and pulled out a dagger. As he reached forward with it, Sebastian clenched his eyes and stiffened, preparing to feel the burn of the blade. Oddly, he found exquisite relief instead. His arms were now free.  
      
“Why did you free me?” Sebastian asked. “You’re not really Thomas, are you?”

“So many questions,” his look-a-like said. “The answer to your first question... who am I?” He arrogantly grinned, his fangs shining like ivory pins. “I was once God’s favorite angel, and now...” he paused, drawing his lips tight. “I am the darkness of night.”

“Lucifer,” Sebastian muttered, narrowing his stare.

“Yesss…” he answered with the S lingering. “I have been called by that name for centuries now, along with many others. The devil... Satan. But if you prefer Lucifer, it’s your choice.”

“Why?” Sebastian said, swallowing the knot in his throat. “Why are you taking Thomas’s form?”

“Why not?” Lucifer asked, leaning closer. “Does this body make you feel guilty?”

Sebastian gripped the bare mattress and pulled himself upright. “Why would I feel guilty? Thomas caused his own death.”

Lucifer threw his head back and laughed. The short, sharp bark sent shivers up Sebastian’s spine. “You hated your brother. You wanted Thomas to die.”

“No!” Sebastian fired back. “That’s not true!”

Lucifer crossed his arms. “Isn’t it?”

“What the hell do you want with me?” Sebastian urged. “And why can’t I use my powers?”

Lucifer rose to his feet, straightened his black tailored suit and leaned against the padded wall of Sebastian’s cell. “I want something that belongs to you, but I cannot take it freely. You must convince your beloved Eve to give it to me of her free will. Give me what I want, and I will release you from this misery. I will then restore your power to create a portal.”

Sebastian went quiet for a minute. He wondered what Lucifer wanted that was so precious. Then he realized it was his son. Lucifer wanted Arius for his powers.

Another surge of rage swept over Sebastian. He stood up on shaking legs, preparing to lunge at Lucifer, but found himself strangely confined in his straitjacket again. “Stay away from my son…” Sebastian snarled his upper lip. “I swear I’ll…”

“You’ll what?” Lucifer smirked. “Kill me?”

Sebastian looked at Lucifer, his yellow eyes shooting daggers.

“You know…” Lucifer cocked a brow. “We’re not that different.”

“I’m nothing like you!”

“Aren’t we?” Lucifer said, pursing his mouth in a self-satisfied grin. “I have to say, what you did to Tessa is an all-time low. Raping your half-brother’s mate is a detestable sin.”

“I didn’t rape her!”

“Same difference,” Lucifer said. “You used your succubus skills and put those images in her head, leading her to believe it.” He slowly shook his head. “Only to piss off Jace. By my book, that’s shady as hell.”

Sebastian glared at Lucifer. “Go to hell!”
   
“That,” Lucifer said in a tone laced with promise, “can be arranged.”

Before Sebastian knew what hit him, Lucifer shot over with incredible speed, so fast he was nearly a blur, and gripped him around the throat. “Give me what I want.” He bared his sharp pointed teeth. “Or suffer your fate.” 

Sebastian choked and thrashed against Lucifer’s hold.

Eve gasped as she peered through the tiny glass window of Sebastian’s cell. 

“Guards!” Eve yelled. “Open this door!”

Lucifer curled back his upper lip. “You will suffer my wrath with eternal sleep, reliving the horrors of your childhood past.”

Panic seized Sebastian. “No,” he gasped. “Please... no.” 

Sebastian braced himself as Lucifer bit into his throat.

As the door sprang open, Lucifer instantly vanished. Eve caught her breath when she saw Sebastian drop to the floor. Blood trickled down his throat as though he’d been bitten. 

Eve hesitated, but only for a moment, and rushed over to Sebastian. When she knelt beside him, she gently placed her hand on the side of his face. “Sebastian, talk to me, please,” she helplessly cried out. “Sebastian…” She wiped at the blood on his neck. “Can you hear me?” When there was no response, she glanced up at the guard. “Get this damn thing off him. He needs medical attention now!”

After the guard had called for backup, he quickly removed Sebastian’s straitjacket.

When Bruce Carmichael—Eve’s guard who escorted her each time she visited Sebastian at the mental institution—stepped into the room, he froze in his tracks, taken aback by the bizarre spectacle before him. 

Eve looked down when she heard a light moan. Sebastian had his eyes slightly cracked. He strained to keep them open.

“Oh, thank God, Sebastian,” Eve sobbed.

“Eve...” he said hoarsely. “Please… listen to me.”

“You’re going to be fine, Sebastian,” Eve said in a tear-laced voice. “You just need my blood.”

He shook his head as she held her wrist close to his lips. “No, Eve.”

“Sebastian, please,” Eve persisted. “I can fix this. Take my blood.”

“You must save Arius… from Lucifer.” He started to weep while struggling to keep his focus. “I love... you.” Then, he closed his eyes and went limp, falling deeper into a state of unconsciousness. The fault of his son’s destiny was his. To keep Arius from the hands of evil, Sebastian was willing to suffer a thousand-fold. Now his fate had come. The thing he had dreaded and feared long ago. His punishment was now a reality. Sebastian would be lost in the horrors of his childhood past, reliving each day he’d fought so hard to forget.

“No…” Eve cried. “Please, Sebastian. Don’t leave me. I believe you. Did you hear me?” She shook his shoulders, desperate for him to open his eyes. “You’re not crazy. I saw him. I believe you, Sebastian.”

The succubus side in her confirmed what her brain had been denying. Sebastian wasn’t crazy. Someone had attacked him. She saw it with her own eyes. Eve had no idea how she was going to do it, but she had to fight to bring Sebastian back and protect her son from... Lucifer.

To be continued... 

 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers.

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Eve - She is a half-breed, and Sebastian's bonded mate.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Arius and Tidus - They are Sebastian and Eve's identical twin boys. Both have inherited their parent's genetics of a half-breed. Arius carries the mark of the Chiang-Shih demon with the power to create a portal and the ability to heal others.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

SUCCUBUS (a.k.a. Creepers) - A succubus feeds off the blood of a Breedline species. They are skilled with hypnotic abilities and capable of using their beautiful features to influence the thoughts of the Breedline species and humans.

HALF-BREED - A species born with the genes from both a Breedline and a succubus. They can bond with either species. Although they cannot shift into a wolf, they need blood from a Breedline to survive.


Chapter 14
Chaos Below

By scongrove

Take a sneak look back into a scene of the fifth Novel of the Breedline series... THE IMMORTAL. 

In the heavens above, the Creator watched all the chaos below, realizing he had no choice but to intervene.

When he sensed an approaching angel, he looked up as Cronus gracefully descended from above.

As his boots landed on solid ground, Cronus dropped to one knee and lowered his gaze. “My Lord…” he said, tucking in his giant wings. 

Cronus was a loyal and devoted warrior, willing to give his life to protect the heavens and all of God’s creations. With the power of the sword of truth, and the ability to use his body as a shield, his purpose for existence was to serve the Creator in war against demons and evil havoc on earth.

“There’s not much time,” the Creator said. “My children on earth depend on you. Choose four of your best soldiers and prepare for war. Do not destroy the Fury. Render them powerless and bring them to me.” 

“Yes, my Lord...” Cronus said. “We will not fail you.”

Determination pulsed from the angel as his giant wings carried him to the In-Between where all the battle angels guarded heaven’s gate. Before Cronus got to his destination, he had come to a decision. By far, Lailah was his first pick. Her special gift would be essential in successfully rendering the Fury powerless. She possessed the power to shape and manipulate holy flames. She used her fiery wings to trap and immobilize their enemies rather than killing them outright. It was especially effective against demons and other evil supernatural beings. Although, this mission would involve someone from her past. Someone she dearly loved.

Icarus was his second choice. He was new to the group, but his love and loyalty toward the Creator never once faltered. Gifted with the power of telekinesis, he could influence, manipulate, and move matter using his mind. It also gave him the capability to absorb and convert energy which was very resourceful in physical combat.

Cronus chose Helios—a descendent of a mighty African king—for his third pick. He was the biggest and deadliest of all the Creator’s battle angels. The tips of his giant wings were shaped like knives, capable of shredding through skin and bone. Helios was born without vocal cords, but he could communicate with his mind.

Lastly, his fourth choice was no ordinary angel. Frigg was one of God’s originals, serving as a battle angel for more than a century. With a personality bigger than life, and a doppelganger of Billy Idol—sporting the same trademark bleached spiked hair—Frigg still had a few of his human weaknesses. He loved rock-n-roll, cheeseburgers and old classic movies. Aside from a few bad habits and a smart mouth, the Creator gifted him with the unique power of shapeshifting. Frigg could transform and reshape himself into any living thing.

Each of the Creator’s indigenous battle angels, on average, stood ten feet tall. Some however, towered to the height of twelve feet with a more muscular build. All were tattooed with unique warrior markings, wore armor typical of ancient heroes with swords associated with a long-gone empire. Their intimidating giant wings were black, nothing like the majestic white wings of a guardian angel. Even though they did not have a golden halo hovering their heads, the battle angels were particularly fond of all humans. They considered themselves humanity’s special protectors.  
  
After Cronus summoned his four warriors and prepared them for their task ahead, he asked to speak with Lailah in private.

“There is no other angel I admire more than you,” Cronus said. “I have faith in your strength and ability to help us win this battle against the Fury.”

Lailah frowned and said, “I get the feeling this isn’t a pep talk just to build my confidence.”   

“There’s something you need to know before we leave,” Cronus said. “This involves your brother.”

“Manuel—” she gasped. “Is he okay?”

“Hold on.” Cronus held up a halting hand. “He’s fine. But I want to warn you. He will be at the place we are going into battle.”

“What… why?”

“Manuel is a homicide detective, and he’s been thrown into the middle of all this.”

“But… what about the Breedline? Does he know about our father’s bloodline?”

“Yes.” Cronus nodded.

“I… I have to protect him.”

“We’ll do everything we can to ensure your brother’s safety.” Cronus placed his hand on her shoulder. “I give you my word.”

“Thank you, Cronus. So, what if Manuel recognizes me?”

“Then maybe he’ll finally have peace with your death.”

Lailah nodded in silence, and then lowered her head.

“Lailah… look at me.”

When her weary eyes met his, he pinned her with a hard stare and said, “Remember, the survival of God’s children depends on us. Can I count on you to be focused?”

“Yes, commander.”

“Warriors…” Cronus called out. “I need everyone to gather around.”

When Helios, Icarus, and Frigg gathered together, Cronus looked to his warriors and said, “Soldiers of war… are you prepared to fight in battle?”

The response was immediate. “I’m in,” Icarus said, and Helios nodded silently.

“Oh, bloody hell… I guess,” Frigg grumbled. “Even though I’ll be missing my favorite classic of all time.”

Everyone turned to Frigg, who sported a pouty lip with his arms crossed.

Icarus looked at Cronus and said, “Can I please have permission to beat him?”

Cronus rolled his eyes. “As soon as we get back.”

Icarus smirked and Helios cracked a smile.

“I swear…” Frigg groaned. “One of these days… I’m going to put in a request for another position. Maybe I’ll be a guardian angel.”

Lailah and Icarus busted into laughter. Even Helios chuckled silently.

Frigg furrowed his brows. “You guys suck.”

“Okay… that’s enough,” Cronus said. “Time is ticking. We have a battle waiting.”

To be continued...

 

Author Notes A reference for terms, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.


Chapter 15
Human Buffet

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

I am taking a break from the sixth book of a Novel of the Breedline series... THE CURSE, to republish and re-edit all my four previous books. Here's a look back into a chapter of Sins of Chaos.

Humans were like cattle, Apollyon thought to himself as he peered over the heads of a crowded, smoke-filled bar, located on the seedy edge of San Francisco Bay. The Cat Club was your standard-issue dive bar. Sports cars, American sedans, and Harleys were parked outside the lot of a single-story building. From big windows, bright glowing signs flashed LIVE NUDE DANCERS. 
   
It was like a sumptuous buffet of Homo sapiens, ready for the taking. As he explored the center of the club, his sisters cased the outer perimeters like two lionesses stalking their prey.  

Callisto used her looks to lure in men. She was beautiful, with delicate small features. Her face was a compilation of perfect angles and her skin was as smooth and flawless as a pearl. Her eyes were the color of the brightest sunset, and her lips plump and soft. And then there was the black hair that flowed in thick waves past her firm hips, and yeah… her legs went on for miles. She had a figure that hypnotized men into full submission, leaving them putty in her hands. Callisto was like the black widow, devouring her victims after mating.  

Electra, on the other hand, gave off an entirely different vibe. She was built like a male, intimidating and powerful. She resembled the 1980’s six-time Ms. Olympia. Her hair color was identical to Callisto’s but cut short like a pixie. Electra’s silver eyes shimmered behind a pair of dark sunglasses, but her vision was crystal clear. In spite of her lethal muscular body, she attracted men like bees to honey. Instead of using her looks, Electra used her dominant side. Rough sex was in fashion these days, and she had more than enough volunteers, begging to be handcuffed and whipped. Born with the ability to surge a powerful electrical current, she tortured her victims with a silver whip. Unlike Callisto, however, she never used men for sex. To her, men were just a delicious piece of meat, something to be eaten, not played with.  

As Apollyon weeded through the mass of people, a woman grabbed his arm as if the orgasm of her life was about to escape her grasp. He was a sex God, an erotic legend among the other men in the joint. His masculine jaw and rockin’ hard body were just the tips of the iceberg. He had the most amazing head of hair. The long, thick, dark waves were outrageously beautiful. And his cat-like eyes, that shimmered gold, added to his whole look. He wore lots of leather and entered a room like he owned the whole world. Apollyon was definitely easy on the eyes. There was no doubt about it, but he also had a dangerous aura about him as well. Being possessed by a man like him would be an unforgettable experience. He was the total package of male dominance.

With fast reflexes, Apollyon stopped in his tracks and turned around, his eyes fixed in a narrowed stare at a blonde female, all sexed-up like the rest of her kind in the bar. As far as he was concerned, she would serve as a tasty appetizer before his main meal.

When the woman stared into his gaze, her instincts knocked around in her chest, sending all kinds of dangerous signals. He looked angry, but... good lord, he was beautiful, oddly reminding her of that famous actor Jason Momoa. In fact, his features were so perfect she had to blink a couple of times. And his body was just as spectacular as his face.

“Hello, handsome,” she said in a low, sultry voice. The blonde looked Apollyon over, sizing up his clothes, eyeing the shiny ring on his finger that had a weird symbol in the center.

Trina was a regular in the bar, always sniffing around, offering herself for drugs. He had the sense she saw him as someone who paid for sex, and it irritated him.

“Aren’t you going to say hello?” Trina asked. Her blue eyes glided over him. And when she reached out to stroke his hair, he quickly grabbed her by the throat.

As she gasped for air, he eased up on his grip but did not let go. Her slender neck was warm, soft and he could feel blood racing through the veins that came up from her heart. He leaned down and inhaled deeply.

He bristled, the scent of her blood wafted out a potent odor, like chemicals or cleaning products. The woman was obviously a meth-head. Apollyon was annoyed now. Anger tightened his hands on her throat. “Go back to the hole you crawled out of,” he snarled, baring his teeth.

Her body immediately stiffened, like cement setting solid. In a panic and desperate for air, she dug her nails into Apollyon’s skin trying to break free from his hold.

A demanding voice came from behind. “Let her go, Apollyon. You’re going to draw attention.”

Trina looked to the left, her eyes pleading. A tall, masculine woman dressed in black leather, with a pixie haircut stared back.

Apollyon twisted his torso and looked at Electra. His eyes squinted and then focused back on the woman.

“We promised to keep this discreet,” Electra said in a hushed voice. A sharp torrent of words followed, spoken in a different language. 

Abruptly, Apollyon let the woman go and stepped back. “Consider this your lucky day.” 

With her hand on her throat, Trina gasped for air and staggered away.

Electra glared at her brother and forced her eyes not to roll. “What the hell were you thinking, Apollyon?” she growled. “We cannot draw attention to ourselves. At least not until we’ve gathered our strength.”

He ignored his sister’s warning and walked away.

Electra put her hands on her hips and groaned. Oh, this was great. Her brother’s reckless behavior was going to be a problem. The years they’d spent imprisoned in a state of induced sleep—by their father—had sucked out anything even remotely tolerant in Apollyon. He was nothing but an empty vessel trapped in a ravenous body. His curse for bloodlust was out of control and producing risky behavior. If this continued, he was going to be a serious problem. All three of them were born a live wire with too much power and a thirst for blood, a defect they could not harness.

When Apollyon stalked toward the main part of the club, he looked over the crowd as couples and trios gyrated on the dance floor. They seemed to mesh together as strobe lights bounced off their shadowy faces and bodies. With the beat of a Marilyn Manson song pounding in his ears, the smell of beer and human bodies drifted into his nostrils. In the mix of all the mortals, he sensed something odd. And then he caught an unusual and intoxicating scent. The thick, heady fragrance smelled erotic.

From out of nowhere, a dangerous, greedy lust slapped hold of Apollyon and nearly sent him to his knees. With long strides, a leggy female with the face of a Greek Goddess walked through the sea of people. God, she was one of a kind and beautiful enough with her red hair and those jade-green eyes. His body needed to feed. As she moved closer, he could feel the hunger in him rising.

When the redhead noticed Apollyon, she froze, feeling like she’d seen him somewhere before. There was something about him; almost animalistic. Something dark and lethal seethed behind his spectacular looks. He gave off the vibe like he could wipe out everyone in the place with his bare hands.

She was the one he wanted tonight. As Apollyon crooked his finger at the female, she came when called. He liked that in a human.

As the redhead moved toward him, she got a load of Apollyon’s ensemble: black Valentino silk long-sleeve that was tucked into black leathers. The black boots topped him out at six-five or so. In the gothic getup, he was drop-dead gorgeous. Standing before him, the shaking started in her knees and worked its way up into the muscles of her thighs. When it hit between her legs, she felt her core tingle with a needy sensation.   

Apollyon leaned down and offered his hand. “Come with me.” 

 To be continued...

 


Chapter 16
Attack of the Rogue Wolf

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

With his mind focused on Captain Hodge’s office, Manuel started down the hall when he heard shouts as two officers led a guy in handcuffs toward the conference room. As Manuel stopped and cast a glance in their direction, the prisoner glared at him and shouted, “What the hell are you lookin’ at, pig?”

One of the detectives that were guiding the convict said something back, but Manuel didn’t hear it. Whatever he’d muttered was effective, as the shaved head scumbag immediately shut up. He was a witness in the Benedetti crime family, who had been trafficking guns, drugs, and prostitution for generations. His name was Jimmy Fratianno III, grandson of the late Aladino “Jimmy the Weasel” Fratianno. Three years ago, they brought him in on cocaine and heroin transportation charges. Captain Hodge had offered him a deal in exchange for a bigger fish. If Jimmy gave up the names of his connections, it could take five years off his sentence.

When Manuel turned around, his partner was motioning him over.

“Get your ass in gear, Detective,” Frank told him. “You’ve got exactly thirty seconds before Captain rips you a new one.”

“Keep your pants on. I’m coming.” Manuel was about to start for the door when he heard a shotgun go off.

He instantly ducked. “What the f—”

In the corner of his eye, Manuel caught sight of his partner’s torso twist like a rope. Frank went with the force of the blast, spinning to the ground with his hand covering his shoulder.

Moving fast and low, Manuel got Frank the hell out of the way, managing to take cover behind a desk in case the shooter was ready for round two.

“Stay down,” Manuel told Frank as he quickly took stock of his injury. It was nothing too serious. Fortunately, it was just a graze.

Frank winced. “It burns like a son of a bitch.”

Manuel slipped out of his jacket and pressed it against Frank’s wound. “Oh hell, Perkins,” Manuel grumbled quietly. “Suck it up. The slug barely grazed you. It’s bleeding like a sieve, but it’ll slow if you keep pressure on it.”

As Frank held the jacket over his wound, Captain Hodge shot around the corner on his hands and knees like a bat out of hell.

“What the hell is going on?” Hodge demanded. Then his eyes homed in on Frank’s bloody shoulder. “Shit! You all right, Detective?”

Frank nodded. “It’s just a flesh wound, Captain.”

Hodge let out a heavy sigh. “Did either of you get a look at the shooter?”

With his eyes locked on the captain’s, Manuel shook his head. “No, but I think I have a pretty good idea who the asshole is,” he said to Hodge. “It’s Jimmy Fratianno.”

Hodge checked his watch, realizing it was time for Mr. Fratianno’s deposition. “Shit,” he cursed through gritted teeth. “I almost forgot about the damn Beneditti case.”

“Yeah,” Manuel said. “Jimmy was supposed to give up those names, but it looks like he suddenly had a change of heart.”

“For Chrissakes,” Frank chimed in. “How in the hell did he manage to get his hands on a damn shotgun?”

Manuel reached for his Colt .45 and kept his voice low, “I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out. Captain, stay here with Frank. I’m going in.”

Captain Hodge nodded in agreement. “Head around the back,” he said as he put a hand on his holster that held a Glock .40 caliber. “I’ll cover you from the rear.”

With his weapon in hand, Manuel slipped out from behind the desk and made a run for it while Hodge covered his back.

Craaack! The blast from a shotgun split the silence and hit Hodge’s office door, sending wood splintering into pieces.

Blam! Blam! Blam! Captain Hodge immediately fired back.

Shit! Manuel cursed as he swung around a corner and flattened himself against the wall. Then, more shots fired. Thinking quickly, he jogged down a narrow hallway, past several armed officers who were crouched behind their desks and came to the backside of the conference room. When he peered around the corner, he saw the two detectives from earlier, lying on the floor, appearing unconscious. Beside them was Jimmy’s attorney. Blood pooled on the floor beneath him.

As Manuel looked away, he saw Jimmy Fratianno, setting up, taking aim at the desk where his captain and partner took cover.

“Jimmy!” Manuel yelled before he could fire off another shot.

Jimmy heard his name and turned just in time to see Manuel, a semiautomatic in his grasp and the barrel aimed in his direction.

“Drop your weapon, now!” Manuel ordered.

Jimmy turned to fire his weapon, realizing it was over. In that nanosecond before he pulled the trigger, Manuel unloaded his.

It seemed as though everything moved in slow motion. He watched as Jimmy’s body took the impact and the shotgun flung from his hand. Blood spurted from his head and torso like a crimson geyser as he toppled to the floor.

Manuel moved next to Jimmy’s body with his weapon drawn and kicked the shotgun away. As he crouched down to check for a pulse, something strange happened.

Straining muscles rippled beneath Jimmy’s face, while the tendons in his neck stood out like thick cable. Then, one by one, the gunshot wound in his left temple and chest contracted, disgorging the embedded fragments. The bloody bullets clattered onto the floor and rolled across the tile toward Manuel’s boots.

“What the—”

In the blink of an eye, Jimmy’s body began to expand like something within him was overtaking his natural form. As his orange prison jumpsuit came apart at the seams, coarse black fur sprouted from his pale skin, covering the two bullet holes and various prison tats throughout his body. All the flesh-twisting carnage took Manuel by surprise.

The detective’s eyes widened in alarm as he finally became fully aware of what was happening. In that moment, the 1981 British-American horror film, An American Werewolf in London suddenly came to mind. Whatever Jimmy had shifted into, it looked similar to the grisly werewolf in that movie. Acting on instinct, Manuel raised his gun, but the snarling creature swatted it away with a sweep of its massive paw. Knocked off balance by the force of Jimmy’s newfound transformation, Manuel staggered backward.

As the wolfish beast stalked toward Manuel on all fours, police officers swarmed forward with their guns raised. When the creature heard the distinctive sounds of rifles cocking, it stopped in its tracks and growled. The rogue wolf in Jimmy wanted nothing more than to lunge for Manuel’s throat. Regardless of the odds against him, the wolfish fiend realized that, even with his supernatural strength, he could very well be at a severe disadvantage if their weapons were loaded with silver. Although, silver wasn’t lethal to his kind, but it burned like hell. Searching for an escape route, its glowing eyes seized on one of the windows. The hideous beast growled at Manuel one last time, then sprang through the window. Glass shattered and rained down onto the floor with the force of the monstrous impact. Police officers shouted, and opened fire, missing the mysterious creature by mere inches.

Damn it! Manuel watched in disbelief as some sort of werewolf managed to escape a precinct full of armed men and women.

Did it really matter? he thought. Whatever Jimmy Fratianno was, the son of a bitch somehow survived a bullet to the head, not to mention the one that hit him square in the heart. The question weighed heavily on his mind. Did Jimmy’s transformation have anything to do with the creature they were after? It couldn’t be the same creature, Manuel figured. Jimmy Fratianno had been behind bars during all the recent attacks. It was bad enough having to deal with one freak of nature. Now there were two? Shit!

Continued...


 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Captain James Hodge - Unaware of the Breedline species, he is Detective Manuel Sanchez's and Detective Frank Perkins' superior at the San Francisco, California Police Department.


Chapter 17
Blood & War

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Jace cocked his head and looked at Steven confused. “Are you saying you’re the only one that can kill those things?”

“Like me, they’re impervious to silver. But if you’re fast enough, and they don’t kill you first, go for the neck. That’s their weakness.”

“So, you’re saying, if we break their necks, they’ll die?”

Steven nodded at Jace. “Or… in your case, you could just rip their heads off. That’ll do.”

“Now you’re talking my language.” Jace clapped a hand over Steven’s shoulder. “I think I’m really starting to like you, Steven.”

Drakon pointed at the monitor as two dark sedans pulled up to the outside gate. “Take a look, guys. We’ve got more company.”

The second everyone turned to look, at least a dozen hybrids, if not more, scurried over the gate and across the lawn.

“Shit…” Tim cursed under his breath, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck rise. “Get ready, everyone. We’re about to go into battle.” He swallowed hard. “We’ll have to shift since silver bullets won’t kill those things. Steven and Jem... I need you two positioned at the front entrance while the rest of us slip out from the back and attack them from behind.”

Steven gave a quick nod and then turned to Jem. “It’s now or never.”

“I’m ready,” Jem replied. “Let’s do this.”

Tim looked at Jace and said, “You ready to wake up the Beast?”

“Hell yah!”

Before their transformation began, everyone reached back for the wall to steady themselves when a distant explosion shook the Covenant.

“What the hell,” Jace growled.

Tim looked to Steven and Jem. “Okay guys, on my count, you two go to the front. The rest of us will hit them from behind. One, two… three!”

Steven broke off into a run, and Jem followed in close behind. In the blink of an eye, Steven started transforming. His skin took on a luminous sheen and his eyes glimmered like diamonds. When his transformation was complete, he took out two shooters outside the entrance while Jem extended his palm and blasted a lightning bolt, downing two more.  

Seconds later, a shot came from behind and Jem went down, clutching his arm. When he heard a cracking noise like the sound of bones breaking, he turned to look. That’s when he saw Steven releasing a gunman with his neck twisted in an unnatural angle.

Steven rushed to Jem and knelt next to him, eyeballing the blood on his shirt. “You think your strong enough to stand?”

“Yah,” Jem grunted. “It’s just a graze.”

Steven extended his hand. “Come on, then.”

When Jem took hold of Steven’s hand, he hauled him to his feet.
“You ready?”

Jem nodded. “Let’s finish this.”

As the gunfire escalated, Jace’s adrenaline shot through the roof. He quickly looked to the others in alarm. It was then they all realized they had not a second to spare.

Jace was the first to begin shifting. He yanked his shirt over his head and toed-off his boots. His body expanded as if something within him was overtaking his natural form. For a moment, he hovered in that in-between state, flickering between human and Beast and said, “Bastards…” his words were deep and distorted. “I’m going to rip them into pieces.”

Kyle shot Casey a look. “Let’s go kick some ass.”

Casey nodded, realizing what had to be done. Exposing his secret was something he had to risk in order to save his friends he considered family.

Jace’s body quaked with fury, the creature within itching to be released. It curdled in his veins, calling to the Beast inside him.   

At first, it looked as if there was something inside of his body too large for his skin. His face began to bulge and move in odd ways. In a matter of seconds, white course hairs grew out of his pores and covered his skin.   
  
Kyle’s eyes widened as he looked up at Jace’s beast. Shit!

Tim, Drakon, Casey, and Kyle stepped back as Jace’s seven-foot creature let out a thunderous roar. The Beast lowered his big head and snarled before he tore off, leaving the others to complete their transformation.

Relieved to still be in one piece, Kyle heaved out a deep breath. “Okay guys… here goes nothing.”

The muscles in his body began tremble as the Breedline rose inside him with raw power. Straining muscles rippled beneath his skin, while the tendons in his neck stood out like drawn bowstrings. Thick hairs sprouted from his pores as the change came upon Kyle instantly. Faster than the human eye could perceive, dark fur covered his entire body. The Breedline wolf in him wanted nothing more than to take down his enemies in battle. Throwing his head back, he howled a purely inhuman sound and rushed onward.

Drakon suddenly dropped to all fours when an uncontrollable rush broke out all over his body. Spasms twisted his gut and thick veins bulged from his skin bringing forth his rogue wolf.

Tim watched the beginnings of Drakon’s transformation while he felt the change within his own body begin to take hold.

A low growl caught Casey’s attention. He averted his eyes from Drakon and focused on Tim’s gigantic wolf as he charged onward with Drakon on his heels.

Casey closed his eyes and did what he had to do. He focused on his Theriomorph side and called to the panther within him. Embracing the animal, he surrendered to the change.

As he bounded forward on padded feet, the shrill roar of his panther echoed throughout the Covenant and beyond.

As the Beast smashed through the back door, wood splintered into pieces and masses of Dr. Crane’s hybrid wolves rushed toward him with their powerful gaping jaws. The weight of their impact knocked him off balance, and as he fell to the ground, they attacked him like any animal of the wild moving in for the kill.

Although the Beast was at a disadvantage, he was not alone. Drakon’s enormous rogue-wolf charged forward. Using his dagger-size teeth, he snatched one of the hybrids off the Beast and slung him like a rag doll. Before Tim and Kyle jumped in to help, Drakon grabbed another hybrid and pinned it to the ground. He snapped his jaws and crushed its skull like an eggshell.  

As Tim and Kyle surged into action, they got attacked from both sides. There were so many hybrids, they couldn’t even fathom the amount, only hear the growls of the monsters.

The battle had only begun, Tim realized, and he knew they were all outnumbered. Hot hybrid blood sprayed as the Breedline fought tooth and nail.

A hissing noise came from beyond, catching Tim’s attention. In the split-second he turned to look an enormous black panther leaped in mid-air. When it landed, a deafening scream came from its jaws. With one quick swipe of its massive paw, a headless body of a hybrid dropped to the ground.  
      
In anger, Jace’s beast had not only the instincts of the savage killer but his Breedline blood and something else left from the man he used to be. He remembered his beloved and his unborn sons. It was his job to protect them. Using his razor-sharp claws, the Beast slashed into the flesh of his enemies. As his claws struck them, slicing through their hide, the hybrids howled in pain—pain that brought the Beast into focus, fueling his rage. 

Tim had never heard such anguish from animal or human like the wails coming from the hybrids.

As if on cue, Tim saw the giant figure of Casey’s panther bounding after a black sedan and easily overtaking it. First, it leaped onto the roof, and then dropped down in front of the windshield as the vehicle swerved. Glass exploded as it came to a screeching halt.

The battle was still raging when Steven and Jem stepped out of the fog and into the heat of the conflict. The air reeked of blood and war. A scene of utter chaos and carnage greeted their eyes. Their attention was drawn to a wrecked vehicle with a man screaming inside while an enormous black panther attacked him through the shattered windshield.

They shifted their focus and looked to the sound of Jace’s beast. Its white pelt was covered in blood as it fought with a vengeance. Although they had taken out many hybrids, they were still severely outnumbered. Jem counted at least a dozen or more. Despite the grim situation, he refused to give up. He would die fighting if that’s what it took. His family needed every ally they could spare if any of them hoped to survive this bloodbath.

The second Jem blasted a blazing fireball from the palm of his hand, flames torched several of their enemies and filled the air with smoke and death.

In the speed of a blur, Steven tackled a monstrous hybrid the size of two Breedline wolves without it even registering his movement. He had one arm locked around the creature’s throat as it thrashed and struggled against his tight grip. With a forceful twist, he snapped its neck, sending the unholy creature to its death.

To be continued...
 
 

 

Author Notes A list of terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

THERIOMORPH - They are born with the genes of a Breedline, but do not shift into a wolf. They shapeshift into an enormous black panther. They possess powers of mind manipulation and random visions of the future. They must use the drug dopamine to suppress their urges. Their eye color shifts into a bright lavender when their Theriomorph nature takes over. In some cases, the Breedline see them as a threat to their species.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Kyle Jones - He is a Breedline species that resides in the California Covenant. Celina Baldolf is his bonded mate. He's a mechanic and plays bass in the rock band Chaos.

Casey Barton - He is a Theriomorph and lives in the California Covenant. He is a clothing model and plays backup bass and keyboards in the band Chaos.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.


Chapter 18
Unbridled Fury

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Within all the havoc surrounding Jem, he heard an unearthly howl in the near distance. He looked up at the same time his brother’s beast vaulted over the stair railing like he’d been launched from a catapult. As he landed, the floor cracked beneath him.

The crowded bar responded with terror. Instantly, they pushed and shoved at one another, scrambling to get to the exit. 
     
Alexander’s wolf moved next to the Beast. Its bristling pelt was the color of virgin snow, and its fearless eyes were as red as blood. Together, they stood side by side, ready to destroy the Fury. They had to succeed. The human species was not prepared to deal with the kind of power the Fury bestowed. 

Jem shifted his focus when Apollyon came into view… or what looked to be him. He had morphed into a creature that looked like the devil himself. A type of hybrid… a genetic cross between a Breedline and another species he had never encountered before. And somehow, it miraculously healed from all the bullet holes. Never had he witnessed anything like this. He had thought the Breedline hybrids they’d fought against were unnaturally massive and unholy, but Apollyon’s creature was even larger, much more monstrous. A sudden feeling of dread crept over him.

The size of Apollyon’s creature was enormous, towering at least seven-foot-tall, with sharp protruding teeth and glowing eyes. Dark fur partly covered his skin, and it had huge leathery, bat-like wings with a row of deadly-looking spiked talons down his spine.

While Jem took this in, he had the strange feeling that he was looking at pure evil, one utterly devoid of humanity. 
 
The Beast moved swiftly. It lunged at Apollyon, knocking him back with brute force. Before Apollyon hit the floor, he vanished into thin air.

An instant later, the huge winged creature that seemed indestructible reappeared behind the Beast and tore into him using his razor-sharp claws. As Apollyon struck his hide, the Beast howled in pain.  

No… Jem feverishly thought.

Instinct took over, and all that mattered was saving his brother from Apollyon’s savagery. Jem palmed up a firebomb, ready to take aim, careful not to catch the Beast in the crossfire. But before he could launch it, a furious roar shattered the moment. Then, Alexander charged forward like a rabid dog and lunged at Apollyon.

Jem watched in astonishment as Alexander’s spectacular wolf moved in to defend the Beast taking a gory chunk out of Apollyon’s leg.  

Apollyon let out a tremendous roar giving the Beast an upper hand. He spun around swiping with his claws, but Apollyon dodged the attack and vanished again. 
     
When Apollyon reappeared, he was crouched on the balcony above them, his back facing Colonel Deshazo’s team. Peering down at the Beast, Apollyon’s golden eyes glimmered with homicidal rage. The Breedline’s interference galled his soul.

Using the opportunity, Gunny inched closer to Apollyon with his semi-automatic, poised and ready.

The flash of Gunny’s muzzle gave Apollyon barely enough warning. In a split second, he leaped off the balcony the instant he fired his weapon. Bullets smacked into the ceiling, sending pulverized tiles flying everywhere.

“Hold your fire!” the colonel called out.

When the gunfire came to a halt, the Beast scrambled up the wall using his claws, impatient to sink his teeth into Apollyon’s throat. The others watched as he climbed higher and higher. His ability to defy gravity was astounding to behold. 
 
Fueled by anger, the Beast caught sight of Apollyon perched on a ledge two feet away. He focused on the shiny object around his finger with keen eyesight.

Apollyon growled defiantly at the Beast as if daring him to attack.

Then, without warning, an unexpected dark figure pounced on Apollyon from the rear, slashing away at his wings with dagger size claws.

Drakon’s rogue wolf had the weight advantage over Apollyon, which he pressed by fighting tooth and nail against the fearsome creature.

The Beast watched as Drakon knocked Apollyon off the ledge. It was a long drop to the lower level of the bar, and when he landed… he hit hard.

Apollyon slowly moved upright and before he got to his feet, he heard the pounding of heavy footsteps moving at a high speed. When he looked up, the Beast was seething with anger and charging forward.

As he lunged toward Apollyon, the snap of a whip came from behind and hurled forward at lightning speed. It carried with it a sizzling bolt of electricity that crackled through the air, end over end, and struck the Beast like a blazing torch. He toppled over and howled as it burned and scorched his hide.

A look of satisfaction came over Apollyon’s face when he saw Electra with a whip in her grasp. Taking full advantage, Apollyon shot forward and took hold of the Beast’s head. And with a sharp yank, came a loud snap.

“No…” Jem gasped. “Jace!”

There was a heartbeat of stunned silence as Jem helplessly watched Apollyon release his brother’s lifeless, beastly form.

Jem instantly rushed over. When he sank to his knees, his brother’s beast suddenly began to shrink. It was if the impending changes took on a will of its own. He watched as every pore in Jace’s skin absorbed all the hair that covered his body until the Beast was no more.

At that moment, Jem said a silent prayer as he visualized the terror the Fury was about to inflict on anyone that stood in their way. He knew his brother wasn’t dead. It would take more than a broken neck to kill the him, but still... things weren’t looking good.

God... if you can hear me, you may be our only hope.

To be continued...

 

Author Notes A reference to terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Alexander Crest - He is a Breedline species, Jace and Jem's biological father. He is bonded to Dr. Helen Carrington.

The Fury - Three fraternal twins: Apollyon, Electra, and Callisto. They were created by an evil German scientist named Dr. Hans Autenburg. Using his own DNA, he mixed it with the genetics of a Breedline, an Adalwolf, and a powerful Wiccan.


Chapter 19
The Beast Unleashed

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

On the southside of the research facility, Dr. Crane’s guards had Jace’s wrists and ankles shackled to chains that were embedded deep in the floor. He was so incapacitated from all the sedatives and the restraints made of silver he could barely hold his head up.

Suddenly, blurred images flashed before him. Jace remembered the battle with the hybrids and then, out of nowhere, he’d been rendered unconscious by a huge blast. The moment he regained consciousness and opened his eyes, he immediately recognized the person peering down at him. No matter how hard he tried to forget, seeing his half-brother brought back all the dark memories of the past. He’d never forgive him for what he’d done to Tessa. Before he got the chance to rip that smug look off his face, someone from behind had drugged him. Although he had no recollection at all of who it was, the memory of Sebastian’s face was still fresh in his mind.

His head was spinning. He tried to gather himself, tried to think, to shake off the effects of the drugs and call upon his Beast.

I need to focus, he feverishly thought. I’ve got to save Tessa.  
 
Shaking, he prayed for a miracle. “Please God,” he choked the words out. “Please help…” His voice trailed off when he heard the door burst open.

Jace looked forward and watched through blurred vision as several people in white lab coats entered the poorly lit room. He nervously glanced side to side as they formed a circle around him. Desperate to be free, he tugged at the chains that were bound to his wrists, but it was hopeless, he was too weak.

“Dammit,” he gasped.   
  
When a pale, thin man wearing round spectacles stepped forward and faced him, Jace stared at him in silent menace. The pale-faced man looked evil and unrelenting in his Neo-Nazi uniform, oddly resembling Adolf Hitler.

“Bring forth your Beast,” he ordered in a callous, German accent.

Jace shook his head. “I can’t…”

“You will do as I say!”

“Go to hell,” Jace said, snarling his upper lip.

“Bring in Heinrich!”

Seconds later, a bearded man came into the room with what looked to be a silver whip in his grasp. He wore army fatigues and a black beret. As he moved in behind Jace, Hitler’s doppelganger backed away.

Jace braced himself and gritted his teeth, preparing to feel the burn of the whip. It whirled high in the air, end over end, and struck his back like a blazing torch. He instantly dropped to his knees and howled in pain.

The bearded man seemed to have no end as he continued his vicious savagery. He slashed his flesh again and again, until finally, Jace went limp against his restraints.

“Enough!” the Hitler look-alike shouted. “Leave us!”

After everyone filed out of the room, Hitler’s doppelganger came forward and leaned over Jace’s bloodied body. “Do you know who I am?”

With all the strength Jace could muster, his lifted his chin to meet his captor’s eyes and remained silent.

“You’re very stubborn, Mr. Chamberlain. You remind me of Steven.”

Jace narrowed his eyes. “You’re that bastard Dr. Crane, aren’t you?”

“My name is Dr. Hubert Crane, and you are my prisoner.”

“Why? What did I do to you?”

“It’s not what you did to me. It’s what you’re going to do for me.”

Jace lowered his head and spat blood on the physician’s boots. “I’m not going to do a damn thing for you.”

“Oh…” Dr. Crane lifted a brow. “I think I can persuade you. If you do not produce your Beast within the hour, your precious mate will pay the price for your defiance.”

Jace tried to lunge at him, but the chains held him back. “Don’t you touch her,” he growled. 

As the physician walked away, Jace yelled, “I swear… I’ll kill you!”

Before he left the room, he glanced over his shoulder at Jace. “You have one hour.”  
   
When the door slammed shut, something deep within Jace overrode the drugs and the silver. An unbridled fury took control and reawakened the Beast. 

At first, nothing happened. Then Jace’s breathing suddenly became deeper and more guttural. It was at that moment he gasped in relief, realizing the impending changes were rising fast. Already, straining muscles rippled beneath his skin, while coarse white hairs sprouted from every pore and began to cover the bloody welts on his back. The shape of his face twisted and stretched until his human features were no more. Jace felt himself expanding as if his skin could no longer contain its natural state. His inner Beast throbbed with power and a lust for blood—the blood of the physician who had threatened to hurt Tessa.

With a thunderous roar, he tugged at the silver shackles, snapping them apart as though they were twigs.

The noise coming from inside instantly alerted Dr. Crane’s men who stood guard outside the door.

“Sound the alarm!” Heinrich ordered as he sprung open the door.

When the Beast turned to look, he saw the bearded man reach for his whip. Fueled with anger, Jace’s beast charged at the speed of lightning with broken chains dangling from his wrists. He sent them slicing through the air, giving Heinrich a taste of his own medicine. The force of the impact knocked him off balance and shattered his torso. As he toppled over in agony, the Beast threw his head back and howled in triumph.

To be continued. . .

 

Author Notes A reference to terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have a book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the Breedline council. Punishment for taking another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life and the life of another - they will instantly shift into a rogue wolf for life and shunned by the Breedline Covenants.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.


Chapter 20
Unleashing Chaos

By scongrove

While the others hung back and waited, Jem and Steven charged forward. As they neared the security gate that led into the research facility, Jem wasted no time and launched a fireball straight out of the palm of his hand. The two guards posted outside took notice of what was coming and made a run for it. When it made contact, it exploded and ripped the steel barricade blocking the entrance.

On cue, Tim, Drakon, Kyle and Casey came rushing forward. It wasn’t long before they were met by Dr. Crane’s men. The second they opened fire Jem took them by surprise with another blast. It exploded when it hit the ground. After a few minutes, the smoke and dust finally cleared. It looked like a bomb had gone off. The front entrance to the facility had been destroyed and at least a dozen guards were scattered among the debris.  

As they hurried past all the wreckage, Drakon stopped long enough to snatch a security access card from one of the guards. He caught up with Kyle and said, “This should give you clearance to all the doors.”

Kyle smiled as he took the key card. “Like I said… you’re the man, Drakon.”

Drakon smirked. “Let’s just pray it works.”

When everyone gathered outside the entrance that had a hole in it the size of a crater, Tim said, “This is where we split up.” He focused on Kyle and Casey. “I’m counting on you guys to locate Tessa and her mother. Use your radio to stay in contact.”

Kyle nodded and rushed inside with Casey right on his heels. 

On the other end of the facility, an alarm echoed, bringing forth armed guards. As they charged into the room where Jace was held prisoner, they opened fire when they saw he had shifted into his Beast. As the hail of bullets slammed into his chest, his body thrashed wildly, and blood streamed from his white pelt. He crouched into a fight stance and howled as the silver-tipped slugs burned his hide.
 
“Hold your fire!” Dr. Crane ordered as he rushed inside with a tranquilizer gun. “I want him alive!”

The gunfire finally came to a halt, and before Dr. Crane managed to sedate the Beast, its supernatural speed outweighed his human pace. As he shot forward and pummeled into the physician, the bone-jarring force knocked the tranquilizer gun from his grasp. Momentum hammered him into one of his men and sent them tumbling across the floor.

Dr. Crane gritted his teeth and grunted but managed to pull himself up. The second it took him to grab the tranquilizer gun, wolfish fingers closed around his throat and hoisted him off the floor. He instantly dropped the sedative and gasped for breath. He clawed at the Beast’s tight grip and kicked his feet.
 
When bullets nailed the Beast from behind, he quickly released the physician and spun around to face the shooter.

Then, the sound of a doleful clicking noise took the gunman by surprise. He realized he was out of bullets and wearily took a few steps back.

Hungry for the taste of blood, the Beast locked onto the man’s jugular and peeled back his lips. As he prepared to attack, an explosion of glass and gunfire momentarily distracted him. Then, an impact rocked the facility so hard, it felt as though it had been hit by a meteorite. A portion of the ceiling came crashing down, nearly hitting the Beast. Fluorescent tubes shattered in an explosion of sparks, barely giving them enough light to see by.

“Release the hybrids!” Dr. Crane called out as he pushed his way through all the fragments of rubble and broken glass. 
     
As much as the Beast longed to sink his teeth into the human’s flesh and rip out the physician’s throat, something more important drove him forward. He dropped to all fours and bolted out of the room and made his way through a long corridor that led to the heart of the facility.

Meanwhile, Kyle and Casey moved slowly down a hallway, checking every room. As they came to an open doorway, they went inside, but unfortunately, there were no signs of Tessa or her mother.

“Tim… do you read me?” 

Tim heard Kyle’s voice over the radio as bullets zinged by him and the others. When they took cover, Tim reached for his two-way radio and said, “Kyle, did you find Tessa?”

“So far, nothing. What about the rest of you?”

“We’re making our way to the other wing as fast as we can. Keep looking, Kyle. Tessa has to be somewhere—”

Tim’s voice cut off as bullets kicked up plaster close to where he and the others had taken cover.

“Tim, are you guys okay?”

After a few moments, Tim said, “Don’t worry about us. We’re okay. Just ran into a few hiccups. Just keep searching for Tessa and her mother. Keep me informed.”

“Roger that. We won’t stop looking until we find them.”   

As soon as Tim put away the radio, something immense and heavy thundered close by. It sounded like a stampede of onrushing bulls.

Tim rolled his eyes. “What the hell now?”

Drakon peered around the corner to get a closer look, and as soon as he saw what was heading in their direction, he motioned toward the others and shouted, “Run!”

In a matter of seconds, the floor beneath their feet began to tremble as they took off in the opposite direction.

Steven’s eyes bulged as he glanced over his shoulder and saw about a dozen hybrids charging after them. 

When Jem spotted a door a few feet ahead, he directed the others toward it, praying the damn thing was unlocked. He let out a sigh of relief as he pushed through it and held it open for the others. As soon as everyone made it inside, Jem slammed it shut.  
       
They listened at the chorus of howls as the hybrids tore past the door seemingly focused on something else.

“Shit,” Drakon said, breathing hard. “That was close.”

“They weren’t after us,” Jem said.

“Then… what the hell are they after?”

Before Jem could respond, a thunderous roar echoed in the distance.

Drakon exchanged glances with Jem and the others. “Is that who I think it is?”

“Yep.” Jem heaved out a deep breath. “That is definitely Jace’s beast.”

“He’s going to need backup,” Tim said. “There’s no way he can take on all those hybrids alone. We’re going to have to shift.”  

To be continued . . .   

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.

Kyle Jones - He is a Breedline species that resides in the California Covenant. Celina Baldolf is his bonded mate. He's a mechanic and plays bass in the rock band Chaos.

Casey Barton - He is a Theriomorph and lives in the California Covenant. He is a clothing model and plays backup bass and keyboards in the band Chaos.


Chapter 21
The Fury's Wraith

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

The bristly hairs on Drakon’s back rose as he peered down at the lower level of the bar. His ears flattened against his massive head and a deep growl rumbled inside his chest.

When Apollyon heard him, he looked up snarled his top lip. “What are you waiting for,” he said, deliberately baiting Drakon.

A muscle ticked in Drakon’s jaw. In a split second, he leaped a good twenty feet across the room and landed on the stair railing. Using the strength of his hind legs, he sprang forward... directly at Apollyon.

At the same time, Apollyon launched himself upward and pummeled Drakon in midair. The powerful blow sent Drakon flying across the room and head-on into a wall.

His comrades at arms watched helplessly as Drakon’s body went limp and dropped to the floor.

As Apollyon closed in on Drakon, Casey’s panther lunged forward at the speed of a blur. When the giant cat hit him from behind, it sent Apollyon sprawling across the floor.

In his weakened state, Drakon managed to push himself up. When he lifted his head, he looked into the lavender eyes of the enormous panther to whom he now owed his life. 

Apollyon finally rolled to his knees and got to his feet. The smug look on his face dared the majestic animal to a challenge.

When the panther leaped toward Apollyon, Electra’s whip slashed into the air and wound tightly around the feline’s throat. As she tugged it back with all her strength, it snapped the animal’s neck like a twig. 

Electra’s cruel face had no remorse when Casey’s panther dropped to the floor.  

Kyle was ready to kill. When he looked to Nathan, they locked eyes. As Nathan’s Breedline wolf gave him a subtle nod, Kyle glared in silent understanding.

They attacked Electra with such ferocity, she felt like she’d been hit by semi-truck. The blunt force knocked her completely off balance, and she went down like a ton of bricks.

Electra’s expression told them without words that she was pissed as the two hulking wolves stared down at her.

Out of nowhere, the air around Electra warped, as if her anger were the source of her power. Without warning, an electrical current exploded from her body and blasted into the two Breedline wolves. The surging shock waves struck them with full force, sending them tumbling several feet away. 

“Open fire,” the colonel shouted.       
      
His team opened fire, as did the others, even though they knew it would take more than the power of an M60 to take down the Fury. 

Ready to serve up another round of payback, Jem palmed up a fireball the shape of a sphere and sent it rolling right at Electra.

Unfortunately, Callisto’s shield kept everything from making contact.

Jem’s throat tightened, and despair washed over him. His face maintained a brave front, but inside he felt powerless.  
 
When the flames of Jem’s explosive ball of fire dissipated, Electra’s eyes flashed brightly. A smirk lifted the corners of her lips as she rose to her feet and raised a crackling whip.

At the top level of the bar, Sebastian’s eyes widened as he looked down at the carnage below. He shouted a warning as Electra brought down the lash with a fury. But it was too late. Jem absorbed the blow, and the impact twisted his torso like a rope. He went with the force of the hit, pitching forward in agony. Gathering his strength, he quickly scanned his body, taking stock of his injuries. Nothing too deep, just some of the skin on his chest burned, but still intact.
   
For the first time, the Breedline found themselves fearing what the Fury was truly capable of ... and the outcome of their fate.

To be continued...

 

 

Author Notes A reference to terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

THERIOMORPH - They are born with the genes of a Breedline, but do not shift into a wolf. They shapeshift into an enormous black panther. They possess powers of mind manipulation and random visions of the future. They must use the drug dopamine to suppress their urges. Their eye color shifts into a bright lavender when their Theriomorph nature takes over. In some cases, the Breedline see them as a threat to their species.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Kyle Jones - He is a Breedline species that resides in the California Covenant. Celina Baldolf is his bonded mate. He's a mechanic and plays bass in the rock band Chaos.

Casey Barton - He is a Theriomorph and lives in the California Covenant. He is a clothing model and plays backup bass and keyboards in the band Chaos.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Nathan Gage (a.k.a. Nate) - He is a Breedline and the owner of several upscale night clubs in the largest metropolitan areas of Northern California.

The Fury - Three fraternal twins created by an evil German scientist named Dr. Hans Autenburg. Using his own DNA, he mixed it with the genetics of a Breedline, an Adalwolf, and a powerful Wiccan. After he kidnapped Sonya Hothburn for her genetics of a full-blooded succubus, he forced her into surrogacy. When the children were born, he forbid Sonya to see her children.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.


Chapter 22
Prisoner

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Hours later, Abbey awoke from heavy sedation and looked wildly around her, trying to perceive her surroundings. But what she found brought back all the memories of the endless lab tests she’d suffered as a child. Treating her as less than human, Dr. Autenburg’s men had shackled her wrists and ankles like a dangerous animal, bound to the wall by thick chains. Even though someone had clothed her, Abbey’s state of mind was physically exposed and vulnerable.

Her breathing came out erratically as she glanced around the enclosed, dark space she found herself trapped in. Gritting her teeth, she pulled and tugged against the tight restraints until they cut into her skin.

A noise filtered through the walls, coming from the next room, and she froze. It was the disturbing sound of a blunt object hitting flesh. Sudden terror tore through her body at the sound of a high-pitched shriek, the sound of someone in unspeakable agony. As the screams persisted, she recognized the voice.

She scooted against the wall, lifted her head toward the ceiling, and closed her eyes, squeezing them tight. “Oh, God, no,” she gasped. “Father...”

She tucked her knees against her chest and rocked herself back and forth, weeping, not just from fear, but from the horror her father was enduring. Both Dr. Autenburg and Dr. Crane had tried to break her until she no longer cared whether she lived or died. When their tireless efforts to force Abbey to shift into her Lupa failed, they became frustrated. Her ability to withstand pain was proving difficult. It was hard to hurt someone who just didn’t care. But what she did care for were her father and Steven.

When the door opened, the flash of light blinded Abbey. With her eyes squinted, she could barely make out the images that entered the room.

“You have proved ein disappointment,” Dr. Autenburg said in a thick German accent. “Now your father vill pay zee price for your continuous defiance, Fräulein Abigail.”

She scrambled to her feet as they shoved her father to the floor. “Father!” she cried out.

The door slammed shut behind him, plunging the cell into temporary darkness once more.

She dropped to her knees and tried to wrap her arms around him, but the short chains that bound her wrists and ankles wouldn’t reach far enough.

“Oh, my God.” Her voice trembled. “Daddy, are you okay?”

His breaths came in low, pain-filled rasps as he reached out to her. “I’m okay, sweetheart,” Jonah said in a whispered voice.

“I’m so sorry,” she pleaded with her sobs. “It’s my fault. They’re punishing you because of me.”

She could feel his battle as he struggled to move. Then slowly he maneuvered himself closer and grasped hold of her hand. “No, Abbey. Don’t blame yourself for this. You didn’t do anything.”

She never felt so helpless in her life. She didn’t know what to do—she wanted to offer him comfort if nothing else. Lightly squeezing his hand, she whispered, “What did they do?”

“Ah, honey, don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay,” Jonah gritted out. “Nothing’s broken. Besides, you know I will heal in no time.”

She knew her father was an Adalwolf, but she couldn’t stand the thought of him suffering because she refused to turn. Rage built in her veins until her blood simmered and boiled. She could feel the she-wolf from inside itching to be released. She hated Dr. Autenburg and all his bastard colleagues as much as she imagined ever hating anyone, but here and now, her anger was dangerous.

“Those bastards,” she spat, her voice ending in a growl. “I’ll make them pay for what they did to you.”

Jonah squeezed her hand to offer her comfort and tensed in pain. “Please, sweetheart. You must stay calm. Don’t let your anger get out of control.”

She could feel his gaze burning into her even though the darkness prevented her from seeing much more than the outline of her father’s face. Slipping his hand from hers, he reached up and caressed her cheek. She knew what he was telling her. He’d always warned her as she grew up. Don’t let the anger take control, Abbey, even if it came to the worst. Never reveal your Lupa to them.

“You’re a survivor, Abbey. Don’t worry about me. What they’ve done to me is nothing I can’t heal from, honey. Have faith that I can endure, and don’t react to anything they do to me.”

Tears slipped down her cheeks. It was telling that even now, when her father appeared so beaten, that his strength held them both up. If he could suffer so much, then so could she.

“What do we do, now?” she asked, infusing strength into her voice.

“They’ll probably leave us here with no food or water. Try to wear us down. If that doesn’t work, they’ll take another shot at me.”

Despite her restraint not to become angry, she couldn’t control the shiver that racked her body.

“Maybe if I turn... I can, somehow, get away.”

“No, Abbey,” he demanded. “You do nothing, and I mean nothing. You do whatever it is you have to do to keep from turning. Trust me, honey. I’ve tried using my Adalwolf against them. They will only sedate you. I’ll get us out of this Abbey, I swear.”

The door suddenly burst open, bringing with it a blinding flood of light. Jonah lifted himself upright on his knees, and Abbey didn’t know how he’d managed after what had been done to him only moments ago. She knew it had been excruciating, as he got to his feet, his hands fisted at his sides.

A stream of German erupted from the doorway, and two men came into the room and took Jonah by the arms.

Stay calm, she silently said told herself. Don’t lose control. She wouldn’t give in to the anger. Her father wanted her to stay strong, like him. She wouldn’t fail him, especially when he was sacrificing so much for her.

Moments later, her mental focus snapped to full attention as she fell back against the wall to steady herself when a distant explosion rocked the compound. And then the door flew open, but this time she heard a familiar voice call out to her.

“Abbey.”

“Steven?”

“Yes, baby. It’s me,” he said, rushing toward her.

She opened her arms and swallowed back a sob. The shackles attached to her wrists rattled as he gathered her close. “Abbey,” he said reassuringly. “It’s okay now.”

Her knees buckled as realization set in. Steven tightened his arms around her before she fell. She anchored herself to him, holding on for dear life.

He pulled back and ran his hand over her face, wiping the tears away. “Abbey, we need to get out of here now.

Her brow wrinkled in question. “What happened?”

“I’m not sure.” He shook his head. “I barely made it out of my cell. The walls completely collapsed. We’ve got to go before the whole compound crumbles.”

She lifted her bound hands and extended them. “How are we going to get these off?”

When he reached for the chains attached to her ankles and wrists, she shuddered as she looked into his eyes. Steven’s green irises shifted into a shimmering white glow. They reminded her of two brilliant, sparkling diamonds.

She watched as his body transformed into the most beautiful creature. Steven’s skin took on a luminous sheen, expanding until his frame grew twice the size. Powerful muscles bulged atop his bare chest, and claws jutted from his hands and feet.

Without any effort, he snapped the chains like twigs, freeing her ankles and wrists. “Abbey, let’s go,” he said, his voice sounding deeper and distorted.

As he reached for her hand, another blast hit the compound, shaking the walls. Steven quickly grasped hold of Abbey to steady her.

With his hand gripping hers, he tugged her forward. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

When they got to the center of the facility, she stopped when she heard screams in the near distance. “Wait. What about my father? We need to find him.”

“We don’t have time, Abbey,” he said, pulling at her arm. “If we wait any longer, we’ll get trapped inside.”

Her expression became desperate. “But we can’t just leave him behind. What about the other prisoners held captive?” she pleaded with him. “We can’t let them all die.”

Steven shook his head. “I promised your father I would get you to safety.”

When she opened her mouth to disagree, windows exploded everywhere, sending slivers slicing her small frame. Then she hit the floor as he threw her down and covered her with his body. A portion of the ceiling came crashing down, nearly hitting them, and electric lights shattered in an explosion of glass and sparks. Only the glow of a few fluorescent tubes lit their surroundings, casting flickering shadows over them.

“Cover your ears!” he yelled.

Abbey barely had time to cover her ears before a tremendous impact shook the compound, as though a bomb had gone off. The palms of her hands did little to stop the concussion from the blast.

Before she could collect herself, Steven was dragging her to a small opening in the wall a short distance away.

Panic flooded her as she grasped at the fate of her father. “No!” she screamed, a growl forming at the back of her throat. And then unbridled fury took control, awakening the she-wolf inside her.

As she embraced the change, bristling dark fur erupted from her skin, and her teeth tugged painfully at the roots. She no longer looked human as she rose to her feet. Her eyes were pools of molten blackness. When her petite frame swelled to massive proportions, shredding her constricting clothes, Steven shouted, “Please, Abbey! No!”

Although it was too late. Her transformation was almost complete. A canine snout protruded from her face, and sharp teeth filled her gaping jaws as she threw her head back and howled, echoing across the facility and beyond.

With a driving force to rescue her father, Abbey dropped onto all fours and bolted toward a long passageway in the building, putting as much distance as possible between them.

Out of the corner of his eye, Steven caught sight of dust and debris raining down from above. Shit! He ducked into a narrow hallway as the ceiling came crashing down into the center of the compound with a thunderous roar. Chunks of concrete slammed into the floor like meteors. Steven threw a hand up against the wall to steady himself. When tremors shook the floor, he began to fear that she would be buried alive.

To be continued...

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have superstrength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for his bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with superstrength, they can move from one place to another with supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

LUPA (she-wolf) - The ancestors descended from the old legend of the lycanthrope, but the moon has no power over them. The species only affects female offspring. A Lupa is a dangerous creature which shapeshifts into a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.

Abbey (a.k.a. Abigail Winthrop) - She inherited the genetics of a Lupa from her mother and is bonded with Steven Craven.


Chapter 23
His Forgiveness

By scongrove

In one swift motion, Cronus raised his sword and stabbed it into the floor. The glowing blade drove into the concrete as easily as slicing through butter. The instant it embedded in deep, the Fury felt as if every nerve in their bodies were lit on fire.

Apollyon couldn’t breathe for the great agony of his suffering. Gasping, he struggled to draw air in. He tried to fight it, tried to overcome Cronus’s powers, but there was no reserve left to call upon. As he curled over onto his side and drew his knees up against his chest, it felt as if he was going to die.
Abruptly, he started to shake, the trembling in his torso escalating until his eyes rolled back into his head. But instead of dying, a bright light passed through him, loosening the evil within him.

Within seconds, a heavy vibration came up through the floor, throwing everyone inside the bar off balance.

When Cronus plucked his sword from the floor’s surface, it released the Fury’s suffering. He turned to Lailah and nodded. She bowed and unsheathed her glorious wings. As they flapped together, the dark plumage ignited into flames.

Callisto looked over her shoulder and searched for an exit. Before she managed to escape, Lailah extended her fiery wings and trapped her within a circle of flames, rendering her powerless.

As Electra tried to make a run for it, she found herself surrounded by Lailah’s holy fire too.

Apollyon took a labored breath and shifted back to his human form. Moments later, he felt something comforting and warm envelope his entire body. He’d never felt anything like it. It was the first time in his life he felt free of his demons and his bloodlust.

As Apollyon pushed himself up, he looked at Cronus, confused. Before he opened his mouth to speak, Cronus said, “Here... take hold,” and extended his hand. “Let me help you to your feet.”

Apollyon took a couple of deep breaths. “Why did you spare our lives?”

“Because God forgives all. You have been given a second chance, but you must go back with us.”

Apollyon nodded. “We will go freely.”

“You will have one chance to say your goodbyes,” Cronus said.

“I don’t understand.”

“Close your eyes, and you will see.”

Puzzled, Apollyon looked at the giant angel but did as he was told.

“Apollyon...”

Apollyon couldn’t believe his eyes when he opened them.

“Yelena?”

Apollyon placed his hand against Yelena’s cheek. She leaned into his palm and shuddered at the warmth of his touch.

“Yelena? Is this really you?”

She nodded as tears trickled down her cheeks and collided with his hand.

He instantly wrapped his arms around her and held her in a warm embrace. “I thought I would never see you again,” he whispered close to her ear. “I’m sorry, Yelena.”

She closed her eyes and squeezed him. “I have faith we’ll be together again.”

He pulled away from their embrace and smiled. “Until then,... my beloved.”

Cronus reached for Apollyon. “It’s time.”

Yelena tucked her arms around herself as he reached for the angel’s hand.

Before he took hold, he looked at his sisters. “We will go with them peacefully.”

When Electra and Callisto nodded in agreement, Lailah’s holy fire dissipated, setting them free.

Helios took hold of Electra’s hand, and Icarus intertwined his fingers with Callisto’s. Frigg stood close by with his arms crossed, tapping his foot, anxiously waiting to get the show on the road.

In perfect synchronization, the angels rose, except for Lailah. She moved next to Sebastian and knelt by his body. With gentle hands, she plucked him off the floor and cradled his lifeless body in her arms.

Jem stepped forward. “Where are you taking him?”

“He gave his life for another,” she replied. “The Creator has asked for him. He’s to come back with us.”

Jem nodded in silence and stepped back.

Before she joined the other angels, she caught sight of a tall man with tanned skin. His hair was thick, the long dark strands pulled back from his handsome face. As he stepped forward and stood next to Jem, the more mesmerized she became. She took a deep breath and inhaled his scent. It was the most exhilarating fragrance she’d ever encountered. And she responded to it, warming... wanting...

Roman tilted his head and focused on Lailah’s beautiful face. With his dark eyes locked on hers, he suddenly felt a heated rush all the way down to his toes.

“Lailah,” Cronus called out, “it’s time to go.”

She couldn’t bear to look away from the handsome man. Finally, after a few heartbeats, she dipped her head and turned to Cronus.

As she rose above the floor with Sebastian’s limp body cradled in her arms, Manuel leaned over the stair railing and called out to her.

She recognized his voice and looked up. “Manuel...”

“Is that really you, Lailah?”

She nodded and smiled at him. “Yes, little brother.”

“Oh, Lailah... I’m so sorry.” His voice cracked. “I’ve never forgotten you.”

“I will always be with you. I love you, little brother.”

As she rose higher, he reached out to her. “I love you, Sis.”

There was a period of silence as the angels magically exited through the bar’s open rooftop, disappearing into the star-filled sky.

To be continued. . .

 

Author Notes A reference to terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Yelena Smirnov - A full-blooded succubus from Russia. She is bonded with Apollyon.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele - billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research - he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice, and Lena.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

The Fury - Three fraternal twins: Apollyon, Electra, and Callisto, created by an evil German scientist named Dr. Hans Autenburg. Using his own DNA, he mixed it with the genetics of a Breedline, an Adalwolf, and a powerful Wiccan.

Battle angels - Their one purpose for existence is to serve the Creator in the war against demons and evil havoc on earth. The battle angels are unlike any of the Creator's angels. The indigenous battle angels, on average, stand ten feet tall, although a few tower to the height of twelve feet with a more muscular build. Tattooed with unique warrior markings, the black-winged warriors are suited with armor typical of ancient heroes, and they wield a type of sword associated with a long-gone empire. They are the bravest of angels, who consider only the importance of their mission, and are perfectly willing to give their life in the service of righteousness. Gifted with special powers, they fight against the dark side. They are particularly fond of the human race and consider themselves humanity's special protectors.


Chapter 24
Final Warning

By scongrove

As the Breedline species—a race of humans born with special powers and the gift to change into wolf form—finally destroy Dr. Hubert Crane and his unholy creation of Breedline hybrids, they are faced with something far more dangerous... and deadly. When widespread reports of gruesome attacks on homeless victims sweep across Berkeley California and the San Francisco Bay area, two local human Detectives are desperate to catch whoever is responsible for the disturbing and heinous crimes. But… they are not prepared for what they discover when they encounter three malevolent supernatural beings called... the Fury.

Continued . . .

While Cronus descended from the sky, getting closer to the roof of Nathan’s bar, he communicated with his soldiers all at once, readying them to prepare to make a grand entrance and smash through.

Lailah tucked her wings into her back, preparing for a hard landing as she peered down at the colorful human world. It had been years since she’d seen it. Blue and red lights flashed from the crowded streets, and voices chattered frantically.

“Remember,” Cronus called out, “we are to bring the Fury back to the Creator alive.”

Nods of agreement met his words.

“Let’s get this done and get back!” Frigg said with a whoop. “Phantom of the Opera is playing tonight.”

Icarus rolled his eyes. “It never ends.”

Voices grew louder as the battle angels got closer. They heard screams and pleas for help. They picked up enough speed, using their wings to propel them faster.

“Now!” Cronus shouted.

In unison, the warriors crashed through the rooftop of the bar with firm grips on their swords. As wood and scattered bits of material exploded into pieces, everyone inside the bar ducked for cover. Dust and debris filled the air, making it difficult to see.

Finally, as it cleared, Cronus and his warriors stepped into what looked to be hell on earth. Cronus’s stomach twisted as he caught sight of Apollyon’s transformation. The winged creature went far beyond anything he’d seen and far beyond wickedness. Although he had fought against his share of demons, nothing came close to resembling Satan himself.

There was a stretch of silence within the Breedline as they took in the sight of the impressive angels that towered at least ten feet or more. Having just been through hell, and having their asses handed to them, they felt as though their prayers had finally been heard by a higher power.

Relieved by their presence, Jem leaned forward and pressed his hands to his face. Thank you, God.

Sebastian was confused as he caught sight of the giant, black-winged creatures down below. Are those supposed to be... angels?

Cronus pointed in the direction he wanted each warrior to go. As they split up, they formed a circle and surrounded the Fury.

When Lailah’s sword ignited into flames, chaos erupted. There was no warning, no small chit-chat, and no voice of reason. Electra drew back her whip, and whirled it in Lailah’s direction, but Icarus was having none of that. Using his powers of telekinesis, he summoned Electra’s whip from her grasp and sent it flying several feet away.

Thrown off guard, Electra shot Icarus a menacing look. Her eyes were like two blowtorches mounted on the back of her skull, but Icarus didn’t bat an eye. She could go volcano if she wanted. He was not intimidated by her in the least.

“I betcha didn’t see that coming,” Icarus said, looking at Electra with a wide smile.

She hissed like an angry cat.

Frank peered over the balcony of the top level and noticed several injured people. He looked at his partner. “We’ve got to get the injured medical attention.”

Manuel didn’t hear a word he said because he couldn’t comprehend what he was looking at. “Lailah...” he gasped and rubbed his hand over his face, feeling like he was going to lose his ever-loving mind. Was he really looking at his sister that had been murdered years ago? It was Lailah’s face just as he remembered, but she was a giant angel.

“Manuel,” Frank persisted, “did you hear me?”

He pointed at Lailah and muttered, “Th-that’s my sister.”

When Frank looked in the direction his partner was pointing, his mouth dropped open. “What the hell?”

“It’s Lailah,” Manuel spouted. “But... how did she—”

Distant sirens caught Manuel’s attention, shifting his focus away from Lailah.

As they grew louder, Cronus looked at Colonel Deshazo, who was positioned nearby. “Have your men take the humans to a safe place and get the injured medical attention. We’ll take care of the Fury.”

The colonel nodded in agreement.

Cronus stepped forward with his sword raised. “Hear me out, creatures of the Fury. You have been summoned by the Creator. We can do things two ways: surrender yourselves and come with us peacefully; resist, and we’ll do this the hard way.”

Tension crackled in the air.

Cronus gave his final warning, “It’s your choice.”

Apollyon bared his teeth like a rabid dog, growling. Electra’s bright eyes ceased to shimmer, and her expression, for once, grew troubled.

There was a long silence as the magnitude of what they were all thinking hit home.

Callisto stared across at Apollyon. “What do we do, Brother?”

To be continued . . .  

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have superstrength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who later discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Nathan Gage (a.k.a. Nate) - He is a Breedline and the owner of several upscale night clubs in the largest metropolitan areas of Northern California.

Cronus - He is a loyal and devoted warrior in charge of God's battle angels. He wields the power of the sword of truth and has the ability to use his body as a shield. His mission is to protect the heavens and all God's creations.

Lailah - She is a battle angel gifted with holy fire used to trap or immobilize demons and other evil supernatural beings, rather than killing them outright. Forty-one years ago, in her human life at age seventeen, she was savagely murdered. Although her killer got away with the crime, her younger brother, Detective Manuel Sanchez, promises to dedicate his life trying to solve the murder.

Icarus - He is a gorgeous battle angel gifted with the power of telekinesis. He can influence, manipulate, and move matter using his mind.

Frigg - He is one of God's originals, serving as a battle angel for more than a century. With a personality bigger than life, a bit of an attitude, and a love for rock-n-roll, cheeseburgers, and classic black-and-white movies, he oddly resembles the singer, Billy Idol of the '80s punk rock band, sporting the same trademark bleached spiked hair and English accent. He has the unique power of shapeshifting. He can transform and reshape himself into any living thing.

The Fury - Three fraternal twins: Apollyon, Electra, and Callisto; created by an evil German scientist named Dr. Hans Autenburg. Using his own DNA, he mixed it with the genetics of a Breedline, an Adalwolf, and a powerful Wiccan.


Chapter 25
Life after Death

By scongrove

Before Steven could get a word out, one of Dr. Crane’s men aimed his weapon at Lilith. Before he pulled the trigger, Sebastian did the unbelievable. He dove between her and Steven, using his body as a shield. He was hit in the throat, and the bullet sliced alongside his carotid artery.

As Sebastian fell to the floor, Jem shot a blazing fireball out of the palm of his hand and took out the gunman. Then, he looked at what was left of Dr. Crane’s men and said, “Unless you want to become ashes, I suggest you drop your weapons and keep your hands where I can see them.”

As soon as they surrendered, Lilith knelt next to Sebastian and said, “Why did you risk your life for us?”

He looked up at her with teary eyes. “Because,…” he said in a strained voice, “…you both deserve to live a normal life.”

As she placed her hand over his wound, blood seeped through her fingers in a steady flow. “Hang on, Sebastian,” she said. “I’m going to try and heal you.”
 
“No!” Steven yelled as he scrambled to his knees. “Please… don’t do this. Your body isn’t what it was. You can no longer heal a fatal wound.”

Lilith looked into Steven’s pleading eyes. “I’m sorry, but I have to help him. It’s not his time.”

“This will kill you,” Steven urged. “He’s not worth dying for. Please…” he placed his hand on her shoulder. “I won’t be able to heal you from this.”

Jace stood back, feeling helpless as precious time continued to get away. Then, to his surprise, a crackling noise came from his radio.

“Jace… do you read me?”

He grabbed the radio and said, “I’m here, Kyle. Where are you?”

“We’re outside the facility with Tessa.”

“How is she?”

“You need to hurry, Jace.” Kyle’s voice sounded grim. “It doesn’t look good.” 

Steven helplessly watched as his mother ignored his pleas and took on Sebastian’s wound. In a matter of seconds, Lilith released Sebastian and put her hand over her throat.

“Mother…” Steven reached for Lilith as she started to tilt back. He caught her before she collapsed and eased her down on the floor.

“No, no, no…” he painfully cried out as he cradled Lilith’s limp body in his arms. “Stay with me.”

Lilith shook her head and grasped his arm. “Steven…” Tears spilled from her eyes. “I don’t have… much… time.”

“You can’t leave me.” Steven pulled her closer. “I’ve just found you.”

Through all the pain, she forced a smile. “I love you.” She closed her eyes, and before she took one last gasping breath, she said, “Tell Tessa… I love her.”

“Please…” he sobbed, caressing her lifeless face. “Don’t go.”

Desperate for help, Jace turned toward Jem and said, “Please, Brother… it’s up to you. Will you help Tessa?”

“But Jace, I’ve never used my powers to heal. What if I can’t control it? It could hurt the twins or… kill Tessa.” 
 
“They could die regardless,” Jace said. “Please... I’m begging you.”

Jem nodded. “I will try.”

Jace put the two-way radio up to his mouth and said, “Kyle, stay put. We’re heading your way.”

“Copy that,” Kyle replied.

Before Jem created a portal, he quickly explained the situation to Tim and Drakon, leaving them to take care of the rest of Dr. Crane’s men and Sebastian.

The moment they stepped through the portal and Jace saw Tessa in Kyle’s arms, he instantly rushed over.

“Oh my, God…” Jace said, reaching for Tessa. “Is she still breathing?”

Kyle placed Tessa in his arms and said, “Yes, but it’s seems weak. Where’s Steven?”

Jem shot Kyle a despairing look. “He’s not coming.”

Kyle’s eyes rounded. “What...?”

“I don’t have time to explain,” Jem said. “I’m here to take Steven’s place…” he briefly paused and released a sigh, “…to try and heal Tessa.”

“But what if—”

Jem cut Kyle off with a halting hand. The last thing they needed was to upset Jace any more than he already was. Besides, he knew Jem’s healing powers could end in disaster.   
  
Jace pressed his lips to Tessa’s forehead and concentrated on linking with her mind. “Please, Tessa... fight your way back to me.”

Jace flinched when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Brother…” Jem said, wishing he could take away Jace’s pain. “I need you to put her down.”

Jace eased Tessa onto the ground like she was a piece of glass in fear of shattering. When he looked down at his hands, they were covered in blood. Instantly, he looked for an injury. His heart nearly stopped when he noticed blood between her inner thighs. “Oh, God…” In that moment, he realized all those nightmares of her death had become real. He looked up at Jem and stared at him for a few seconds, but it seemed to last forever as time slowly ticked by. Tick, tock … tick, tock…

“Please…” Jace finally said. “Tell me you can save her.”

“I think it’s best if we get her back to the Covenant,” Jem said. “I’m afraid if I try to heal her, it might further complicate her pregnancy. Please Jace, let Helen examine her first.”

Jace nodded and carefully gathered Tessa back in his arms.

Jem looked to Kyle and Casey and said, “Guys… go back inside the facility. The others are going to need your help.”

“Don’t worry,” Kyle said. “We’ll take care of things here. You just take care of our girl.” 

Casey, who had been totally silent since Jem and Jace got here, looked at Jace with sympathy written all over his face. He felt guilty and irresponsible for not telling him about the visions he’d had of Tessa’s death. Would it have made any difference? After all, no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t cheat death. Fate was inevitable. With all the courage he could muster, he parted his lips and said, “Tessa is going to be all right, Jace. She’s too stubborn not to.”

When they disappeared through the portal, Kyle and Casey hurried back inside the research facility to search for Tim, Drakon, and Steven. It wasn’t hard to find them. The trail of dead hybrids and the bodies of Dr. Crane’s men led them straight there. As they got closer, they could hear someone sobbing.

They looked to where it was coming from and saw Steven. He was kneeling next to the young woman who they’d discovered with Tessa earlier. It couldn’t have been thirty minutes since they last saw her vanish through a portal with Sebastian. Now she was lying motionless on the floor, and going by all the blood on her throat, things didn’t look good.

Shit… Kyle thought. Poor Steven.

On the opposite side of Steven was Sebastian, and he too, was covered in blood. He was on his knees, silently watching as Steven fell apart. Oddly, it looked as though Sebastian was fighting back tears.  
       
Kyle averted his eyes from the heartbreaking display and looked to the others with a bewildered expression on his face. “What the hell happened?”

“One of Dr. Crane’s men fired his weapon,” Tim said. “Sebastian…” he paused and shook his head, “…believe it or not, he jumped in the line of fire.”

Casey shrugged. “So, if Sebastian took a bullet, why isn't he dead?”

“Steven’s mother healed Sebastian,” Drakon chimed in. “I’m not sure why, but when she took on his injury, she didn’t survive.”

“Damn…” Kyle huffed. “Who the hell would risk their life for that piece of shit?”

“I hear ya,” Drakon said. “I was just wondering that myself.”

“Shit…” Tim rolled his eyes. “I was so wrapped up with all this, I almost forgot to ask. What’s the situation with Tessa?”

“It’s not good,” Kyle regretfully said. “It looked as though she was hemorrhaging. Jem thought it was best if they take her back to the Covenant so Helen could examine her before he tried to do anything.”

“My God…” Tim sighed in frustration. “Well, he did the right thing. She’ll be in good hands. All we can do now is pray.”

“So…” Casey briefly hesitated, “…what are we going to do about Steven?”

“I’ll take care of it,” Tim said. “While I go talk to him,” he paused and looked between the two of them, “I want you guys to stay here with Drakon and make sure the rest of Dr. Crane’s men are contained.” 

“What about Sebastian?” Kyle said. “How are we going to stop him from using a portal to escape?”

“That’s a good question,” Tim replied. “Maybe he’ll do the right thing and surrender to the Covenant.”

Kyle smirked. “Yeah, good luck with all that.”

“You never know,” Tim said as he turned toward Steven. “Stranger things have happened.”

Moments later, as Tim went over and knelt next to Steven, he said, “I’m so sorry—” Tim suddenly went silent, his jaw nearly hitting the floor when a ghostly form appeared from out of nowhere.

Behind him, Sebastian looked shellshocked as he stared up at what looked to be Lilith, except she was no longer corporeal... a beautiful ghostlike figure of some sort. Even Dr. Crane’s men looked pale and shaken.   
    
Tim tapped Steven on the shoulder. “Steven… are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

He didn’t hear a word Tim said, because he couldn’t believe what his eyes were telling him. It was his mother… sort of. It was her face and her body, only she was… an angel.

“Mother?”

Steven slowly got to his feet, and after a brief hesitation, he reached out to her and put his hand to her glowing face.

“Is this really you?” he said.

Lilith nodded and leaned into his hand. She could tell he’d been crying by the tears on his face and the redness in his eyes.

“I’m finally at peace,” she said, her lips forming a smile.

“I thought…” Steven’s voice trembled, “…I’d never see you again.”

“I’ll always be with you and Tessa,” she said. “Right here.” She placed her hand to his chest. “Close to your heart.”

Steven gulped in steadying breaths, but God he wanted to break down and cry like a baby. He opened his mouth to speak, but instead, he wrapped his arms around her.

Lilith closed her eyes and gently enfolded him in her embrace. “I love you, son,” she whispered close to his ear. Then, in the blink of an eye, she was gone.

When Steven finally looked to the others, all eyes turned in his direction.

Tim stepped forward with a grim expression and said, “We need to get back to the Covenant.”

Pain flashed in Steven’s eyes. “Something’s wrong with Tessa, isn’t there?”

Tim gestured at Steven. “Come on, before it’s too late.”


To be continued . . .
 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have superstrength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (the Breedline queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an aspiring artist.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Kyle Jones - He is a Breedline species that resides in the California Covenant. Celina Baldolf is his bonded mate. He's a mechanic and plays bass in the rock band Chaos.

Casey Barton - He is a Theriomorph and lives in the California Covenant. He is a clothing model and plays backup bass and keyboards in the band Chaos.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.

Lisa Wellington (a.k.a. Lilith) - She is a Breedline with the gift to heal. She is Steven Craven and Tessa Fairchild's biological mother.


Chapter 26
Saving Tessa/Part 1

By scongrove

Through Jace’s eyes, everything seemed to move at the speed of a snail: Helen and Cassie rushing over the instant they arrived at the Covenant. Their mouths were moving, but he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Jem looking at him, trying to tell him something, but whatever it was, it didn’t register in his brain. It was as if the volume in his ears had been turned all the way down. He felt froze in the place he stood, completely incoherent, holding Tessa in his arms. Then suddenly, Helen’s voice rang loud and clear. It was like someone had cranked up the volume, snapping him back to focus.

“Jace…” Helen put her hand on his shoulder. “Did you hear what I said?”

He flinched. “What…?”

She raised her voice, “Put her down, so I can get her to the examination room.”

Instantly, Jace obeyed Helen’s orders and carefully placed Tessa on top of a gurney.

Moments later, as they wheeled Tessa inside, Jace said, “Please, Helen… tell me she’s going to be okay.”

Helen looked at him sympathetically. “I promise, I’ll do everything I can.”

As Helen and Cassie traded clinical terms while examining Tessa, Jace bent down and pressed his lips to her forehead. “I love you, Tessa,” he whispered close to her ear. “Please come back to me.”

“Jace.”

Jace glanced up to see his brother standing next to him, his expression pained.   


“Come on, Brother.” Jem lightly tugged at Jace’s arm. “Let’s give them some room.” 

Jace swallowed and nodded numbly, allowing himself to be pulled away.
 
It wasn’t long after Jem and Jace stepped back when Helen said, “We’re going to have to do an emergency C-section.”

“But… the twins,” Jace said with a panicked look on his face. “They’re not due for another two weeks.”

“I don’t have a choice,” Helen replied. “The babies are in distress and Tessa has lost a lot of blood.”

Jem came forward and said, “Helen, do you want us to step out?”

“Stay close,” she said. “I may need you, Jem.”

While Cassie started an IV, and Helen laid out surgical tools, Jace went pale. When he started to sway, Jem grabbed his arm.

“Jace… are you going to be okay?”

He took a deep breath. “I’ll be fine.”

Jem lightly squeezed his arm. “Jace... Tessa is a survivor. She'll get through this.”

"She's got to," Jace said, despair seeping into his soul. "I'd be lost without her."

"If Helen can't save her," Jem reluctantly said, "you know I will do whatever it takes to bring her back."

“I know you will,” Jace simply said.

As they watched Helen and Cassie prepare Tessa for delivery, Jace closed his eyes and said a silent prayer. Then, at the sound of a baby’s cry, his lids popped open. It nearly brought him to his knees.

“This one has definitely got a set of lungs on him,” Helen said, handing the first baby to Cassie. “Now… let’s get baby number two.” 
     
After Cassie did a quick examination, she swaddled the tiny infant in a blanket. “Even though he’s a few weeks early,” Cassie said, handing the baby to Jace, “his vital signs are great.”

Jace was silent for a moment, and he looked over at Jem with tears in his eyes. “I’m…” he sucked in a breath, “…a father.”

The corner of Jem’s mouth lifted. “Congratulations, Brother.”

Jace lowered his gaze to the tiny bundle in his arms. “My son…” He bit back tears and looked at Jem again. “I’m naming my first born after you.”

Jem’s eyes brightened. “I’m honored.”    
    
“Cassie,” Helen finally said. “I’ve got baby number two.”

As Cassie took the baby from Helen, Jace noticed he wasn’t crying. He patiently waited while Cassie worked fast with a suction syringe over the baby’s mouth and nose. Shortly after, came a high-pitched cry, relieving some of the tension in the room.

“He’s just fine,” Cassie said, wrapping the baby in a blanket.

Jem reached out as Cassie placed the baby in his arms. “Hey there, little man,” he said with tears brimming his eyes. “I’m your Uncle, Jem.”

“Tessa and I,” Jace said, “decided to name our second born after Uncle Jacks. Except we’re spelling it a little different.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Jem said, smiling down at the baby. “The name suits him.”

Jace opened his mouth to respond but hesitated at the urgency of Helen’s voice.

“Quick Cassie… I need your help. She’s hemorrhaging.”

To be continued . . .
 
 
 

 
 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have superstrength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for his bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (the Breedline queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an aspiring artist.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Cassie Chamberlain - Adopted at age two by Jace and Jem's adoptive parents after her mother abandons her. Later, she discovers she is a Breedline species and bonds with the handsome Drakon Hexus. She is a nurse practitioner, specializing in the neonatal intensive care unit.


Chapter 27
Saving Tessa/Part 2

By scongrove

Jace stood with his son in his arms while Cassie and Helen worked on Tessa, feeling like the life had gone right out of him. He was sick with worry that this might be his last memory of her. His anxiety only increased when got a glimpse of the amount of blood covering their surgical gloves. It took every bit of strength he had not to rush over, but he stayed back so they could do their job. 

As Cassie and Helen continued to do everything possible to stop the bleeding, it felt like an eternity as Jace and Jem stood back and waited. Then, out of nowhere, Jem heard a voice whisper softly inside his head.

“Jem… use your powers.”

He turned to Jace and said, “Did you say something?”

Jace shrugged. “What?”

“I-I thought I heard…” He broke off, his voice laced with confusion, “...someone say something.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You have the power to save Tessa.” The voice spoke to him again. “Hurry, Jem. There’s not much time.”  

Jem linked his mind with the voice and said, “Who… are you?”  

“My name is Lilith. I’m Tessa’s mother.”

“I don’t understand. How is this possible?”

“Listen to me, Jem. There’s no time to explain. You have a special gift of healing. Please, you must save my daughter.”

He lowered his head in frustration. “But… how?”

“All you have to do is take hold of her hand.” Lilith’s voice started to fade. “Concentrate on thoughts… of healing.”

“How can you be sure it won’t harm her?”

When there was no response, Jem put everything he had into reaching out to Tessa’s mother. “Lilith… are you still there?”

Fear and uncertainty paralyzed him. He warred with the consequences if his powers didn’t heal Tessa, but instead, killed her. If it came down to it, he’d give her life at the expense of his own in a heartbeat. And then he heard another voice. 
        
“Jem…”

He instantly snapped back to focus and looked up.

“We’ve done everything we can,” Helen said, her expression appearing hopeless. “The bleeding… it won’t stop. Whatever has been done to her, it’s interfering with her natural Breedline healing. Jem… you’re her last hope. You’ve got to try to use your powers.”

“Do it, Brother,” Jace said, releasing a strangled breath. “Please…”

As Jem turned to face his twin, he could see the fear and desperation etched into every groove of his face.

“I promise,” Jem said. “I’ll do everything in my power to save her.”

Cassie hurried over and gently took the baby from Jem’s arms. As he went over to Tessa’s bedside, Jace followed close behind, holding onto his son.

Jem took a shuddering breath as he peered down at Tessa. She was so pale and lifeless. If he hadn’t previously known what a strong-willed and determined person she was, he’d thought she’d already given up the fight. The moment he grasped ahold of her hand, he closed his eyes and blocked out everything around him: the beeping noise coming from the portable heart monitor, the sound of his own heartbeat ringing in his ears, and even Jace who loomed over Tessa.

As death closed in, Jem knew that it was almost too late for her. With all the strength, and all the perseverance he could muster, he concentrated on a pathway to link with Tessa’s mind.

And then, a warm presence surrounded her, replacing the darkness with light.

“Tessa…”

She instantly recognized the voice in her head. It was Jem. Tessa was desperate to respond to his soothing voice, but she was so weak. In the silence, she waited, praying to hear his voice again.

“Tessa… if you can hear my voice, give me a sign. Please Tessa. You’ve got to help me. I can’t do this all alone. Fight with all your strength. Fight for Jace and your newborn sons.”

In that moment, she felt warmth radiating from his body to hers. That’s when she realized he was fighting for her… healing her. And she was pretty damn sure Jace was right by his side. She drew in every ounce of strength she had left and sent him a message.

When a single tear slipped out of the corner of her eye, Jem said, “That’s it, Tessa. Keep fighting. I know you can do this.”  
         

As more tears fell from her eyes, she linked her mind with Jem and Jace, forming a telepathic pathway between the three of them.

“I’m here.” Her voice was faint. “Please… don’t let me go.”

“No one is letting you go, Tessa,” Jem said.

“Oh my God…” Jace said fiercely.

“Jace…” Tessa gasped. “Is that you?”

 “I’m here, baby,” he said, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead. “And I’m not letting you go. Please… fight your way back. Our sons need you. I need you.”

“It’s okay now, Tessa,” Jem said as warmth spread to every pore in her body. “You’re going to be just fine. All you have to do is open your eyes.”

Tessa’s long eyelashes fluttered, and as her lids slowly opened, she became aware that she wasn’t alone. Although her vision blurred a little, she could still make out the image looking down at her. Jace was leaning over her, his eyes filled with tears. His long, blond hair hung over his shoulders, some of it falling forward into his face. He was smiling so big that his cheeks dimpled. God… she’d never grow tired of looking into his gorgeous face and those baby blues that stared at her with such intensity. Not only was Jace standing above her, Jem, Cassie, and Helen were hoovering close by.

“Welcome back, sweetheart,” Jace softly said. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” she replied, her voice hoarse. “But it feels good to be alive.”

She lifted her head and searched for the twins. Her brows furrowed when she didn’t see them anywhere.

“My babies,” Tessa said, her voice frantic. “Where’s my babies?”

“Shhh, it’s okay,” Jace said, leaning over with the baby in his arms. “They’re perfectly fine, honey.”

Tessa eyes brightened with joy and relief when she saw her baby for the first time. The instant she reached up and smoothed her hand over his soft, fine hair, he turned to her and cooed.

“He’s beautiful,” Tessa said in a tear-laced voice. “Just like his daddy.”

“Honey,” Jace said, lowering the baby in Tessa’s arms, “meet our first born.”  

“Hello, little Jem,” Tessa murmured, cradling the baby close. Then, she looked up at Cassie. “Is that little Jax?”

Cassie smiled. “It sure is,” she said, placing the baby next to his twin brother. “They’re both the cutest babies I’ve ever seen. I’ll go tell the others that Mommy and babies are doing just fine. I’m sure everyone is worried sick.”

“Thank you, Cassie,” Tessa said.

As Cassie headed for the door, Tessa gazed into little Jax’s bright blue eyes and said, “Well… aren’t you just the spitting image of your father.”

“I don’t know,” Jem chuckled. “I think he takes more after his uncle.”

Jace wrapped his arm around Jem and tugged him close. “Ha-ha. Very funny, Brother.”

Tessa laughed a little and then focused on Jem. “It was you, wasn’t it? You’re the one who saved me.”
        
Jem merely smiled. “Well… sort of,” he said. “I have to admit. I had a little help.”

Tessa slightly tilted her head. “What do you mean?”

“Your mother spoke to me, Tessa,” Jem explained. “She told me what to do.”

“But… I don’t understand.” Tessa shook her head. “How is that possible?”

Jem kept silent for moment, trying to find the right words, and before he opened his mouth to speak, Tessa said, “She’s gone, isn’t she?”

Jem regretfully nodded. “I’m sorry, Tessa.”

For a moment, what he’d said didn’t sink in, but when it did, tears burned her eyelids and ran freely down her face. Her mother’s death tore her to shreds. She’d only recently found her, and now… she was gone.
  
Jace wiped at the tears running down her cheeks. “It’s going to be okay, honey. I’m here for you. We’re all here for you.”

Tessa’s lips crooked up a little, her throat aching with emotion as the too-short memories of her mother flooded her mind.  
  
“I hate to interrupt,” Helen said, her eyes focusing on Tessa. “But I need to give you a quick examination, just to make sure there’s no more bleeding.”

When Tessa nodded in agreement, everyone stepped back so Helen could do her thing. It wasn’t long before she faced Tessa and said, “I’ve never seen our kind heal this fast. Your incisions are completely gone. If I hadn’t done the C-section myself, I wouldn’t believe you had one.” She looked over at Jem. “Whatever you did, it worked a miracle.”

“Where’s everyone else?” Tessa asked. “Does my father know about my mother? And what about Steven? Has anyone told him?”

Jace moved next to her and slid his hand over hers. “We haven’t said anything to Kenneth, but Steven…” he hesitated for a second, “…he was there when your mother passed. He tried to save her.”

Tessa’s brow wrinkled and she stared questionably up at Jace. “How did my mother—”

She bit her lip, but Jace could still see her mouth trembling.

“Oh, sweetheart.” Jace lightly squeezed her hand. “You’ve been through so much. How ‘bout we talk about this later, after things settle down.”

She nodded solemnly. “You’re right. We can talk about it later.”

A knock at the door drew their attention. When everyone turned to look, the door cracked open and Cassie stuck his head in. “I brought someone to see you. I just wanted to make sure you’re up for visitors.”

“Of course,” Tessa said.

When Cassie opened the door further and stepped inside, Kenneth came in behind her. His eyes lit up when he saw that Tessa was awake. To his further surprise, there were two tiny babies, nestled contently beside her.

“Hey, sweetheart,” Kenneth said. “Are you sure it’s okay?”

“Don’t be silly, Dad.” She smiled and waved him over. “Come meet your grandbabies.”

When Tessa held up an arm to hug Kenneth, he leaned down and carefully hugged her.

“I love you, Tessa,” he whispered.

“I love you, too.”

Finally, as Kenneth pulled from their embrace, he said, “I was so worried for you. Everyone has been worried, honey.”

“I’m too stubborn to give up that easily,” she said. “Besides, I have too much here to live for.”

“You take after your mother,” he said with a light chuckle. “The stubborn part, that is.”

At that moment, Tessa thought about telling him the dreadful news about her mother, but instead, she decided against it. Besides, this was supposed to be a happy occasion and a moment to celebrate new life.

“So…,” Kenneth said, cocking a brow, “…what does a grandpa have to do around here to get permission to hold his grandsons?”

“Oh, Dad…” Tessa laughed. “When it comes to family, permission is always implied.”

“On that note,” he said, reaching for one of the babies, “I start with this little guy.”

“His name is Jem,” Jace said to Kenneth.

“I like it,” Kenneth said, smiling at Jace. “He looks like a Jem.” Then he carefully scooped the baby in his arms and softly said, “Hello, little Jem. I’m your papa, and I’m going to spoil you and your brother rotten.”

A series of chuckles from the others seemed to brighten the tension in the room.

After moments of coddling and admiring his grandson, Kenneth swopped babies with Tessa and said, “And who do I have here?”

“That’s Jax,” Tessa told him. “He was born four minutes after his big brother.”

“Whoa,” Kenneth said, smiling down at the baby. “A whole four minutes. What took you so long, little fella?”

Jax’s lips curved up into the biggest smile.

“Well, what do ya know,” Kenneth boasted. “I think he likes his ‘ol grandpa. He smiled at me.”

Jace chortled and said, “Are you positive that was a happy smile or a poopy smile?”

Tessa rolled her eyes. “Jace…”

“Well, whoever is holding the baby when he makes a poopy has to obey the golden rule.”

“Oh…” Kenneth looked at Jace puzzled. “And what’s the golden rule?”

“You’re the one stuck with changing the poopy diaper.”

Kenneth laughed. “I’ll have to remember that rule.”  

To be continued. . .

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have superstrength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for his bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (the Breedline queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an aspiring artist.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Cassie Chamberlain - Adopted at age two by Jace and Jem's adoptive parents after her mother abandons her. Later, she discovers she is a Breedline species and bonds with the handsome Drakon Hexus. She is a nurse practitioner, specializing in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.

Dr. Kenneth Craven - He is a Breedline and an orthopedic surgeon at the San Francisco General Hospital. He is Steven Craven and Tessa Fairchild's father.

Lisa Wellington (a.k.a. Lilith) - She is a Breedline with the gift to heal. She is Steven Craven and Tessa Fairchild's biological mother.


Chapter 28
The Man-Wolf

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Tara looked over at the speedometer and then cast Brandon a sidelong glance.

“Brandon...” she grumbled.

“What?”

“Slow down. The roads are wet. You’re going to get us killed.”

“Take it easy, Tara.” He chuckled. “It’s just misting. I’m not going to wreck.”

“No, I mean it, Brandon. Please.”

He slid his hand across the seat to reach for her. “Come here, honey.”

She sighed and scooted away from him. “Damn it, Brandon.”

“What?” he echoed.

“Will you please keep both hands on the wheel?”

She saw a half-smile form at the corner of his mouth.

Tara stuffed her hands into the pockets of her fleece jacket and fixed him with a worried frown. “I’m serious,” she said. “It’s not funny.”

“Okay, okay,” Brandon said, easing his foot off the accelerator.

She looked up at him and let out a deep breath. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

He quickly looked away from the dashboard, winked an eye at her and said, “Sure thing, princess.”

Tara groaned. “I hate that.”

“Hate what?”

“When you call me princess,” she said, her voice laced with irritation. “It’s like you’re categorizing me as a drama queen.”

He cocked a brow. “Well, you’ve got your moments.”

“Whatever...”

Brandon smirked. “Why don’t you lay your head back and get some rest. You’ve got to be exhausted after pulling a double shift at the hospital.”

“Nah, I’ll be fine,” she said around a yawn. “Besides, we’ll be home in fifteen minutes.”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself. So, anything exciting happen at work?”

“Nope,” she shot back. “Unless you consider giving sponge baths and changing bedpans exciting.”

He grimaced. “Sorry, honey.”

“Hey, it’s just part of the job.”

He briefly took his eyes off the road and looked in her direction. “You have a big heart, Tara. I’ve never met anyone that cares for people the way you do.”

She smiled. “Thanks, babe.”

Her smile touched a private spot in his heart. With a nod, he turned away and focused his eyes back on the road. Silently, he wondered if he’d made a big mistake; the kind that could change a course in their relationship. After all, they had been living together for almost two years. Sure, they had their share of problems, but maybe this year he would find the courage to ask Tara to marry him. Maybe...

As they sailed along the highway, Tara leaned against her door and stared out the window of the pickup. The moon among the tops of the trees seemed to be watching her through the clouds, and the red color was both eerie and hypnotizing at the same time. Tara shivered and burrowed deeper into her jacket. Why did full moons make her think of creepy things like... ghosts, vampires, and werewolves?

“Hey, are you falling asleep?”

Tara turned to Brandon and muttered, “No, I’m not falling asleep.” She rolled her eyes and turned back to her window.

A few minutes later, she closed her eyes. The hum of the motor mixed with the sound of the windshield wipers and the rocking motion of the truck made her drift off. Tara was in a pleasant state between sleep and awareness, where everything seemed warm and safe. She forced her eyes open and gazed out into the darkness, out at the bloody moon. Then something fast-moving caught her eye. She focused on the side of the road. Something big was traveling swiftly through the tall, thick weeds, keeping pace with Brandon’s truck, but it was so foggy she could barely see a thing.

Tara looked over at the speedometer. They were going... sixty.

Her hands were gripping the edge of the seat, and there was a growing tightness in her chest.
Oh God...

“What the—” she gasped.

“What’s wrong?” Brandon mumbled.

Tara opened her mouth and tried to warn him, but never got the chance.

As a dark shape, the size of an enormous animal came out of the fog, Brandon hit the brakes and Tara screamed. The tires screeched and the truck skidded across the wet, black asphalt and began to spin. Whirling around in circles, Tara could see the monstrous, dark silhouette standing on all fours, statue-like in the middle of the road watching them with yellow, glowing eyes. Waiting...

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. As Brandon desperately tried to reach for Tara, his head slammed into the window, and the truck careened off the road, landing in a deep, muddy ditch. The impact nearly jarred Tara’s teeth loose. She screamed in protest when her body whipped against the seatbelt. All Tara could think in those last few seconds before she went unconscious was... we’re going to die.

He crouched on the road and waited. The image of the two humans, who appeared wounded, fueled its rage and gave the creature direction. The rage blended with hunger and consumed his mind in flames. Quickly, his crouching form slipped into the grassy, open field and moved in behind some bushes to watch his prey more closely. This is better, he thought, better for surprises, better for an attack.

Brandon and Tara did not see or hear the creature as it crept out of its hiding place on all fours like a tiger on the hunt, stalking its prey. After his visit at Jena’s room, he’d spotted the young couple leaving the hospital and followed their vehicle.
He circled around and around the pickup with the moon shining above him, deciding which one he was going to take first. He finally stopped outside the driver’s side and peered into the window. Inside, the couple lay unconscious and unaware of his presence. Preparing to strike, he paused, taking notice of his own reflection in the window staring back at him. Dark hair covered his face, and his amber eyes steamed with hatred. The humans were oblivious to his long, black claws that reached for the door handle.

As Brandon opened his eyes, they rounded in sheer terror. The creature’s mouth opened into a white grin of sharp teeth, and a low grumble that sounded almost like cackling issued from its hideous mouth. It looked like a wolf with distinctive human features, but it was as big as a horse. Its lupine ears came to a point atop its huge head and its pupils appeared split like a cat’s.

The predator and the prey stayed there staring at one another as though time had suspended. Savoring the moment, the man-wolf could already feel its fangs gorging on the warm flesh of the man’s jugular. As it tore the door completely from its hinges, Tara suddenly roused by the distinctive sounds of creaking metal and Brandon’s voice.

“Oh, God, Tara—run!”

He screamed in a voice she couldn’t believe was his. It grew into a long spiraling cry of agony as if being ripped apart. In the end, there was only a garbled wail streaming from his throat, joined by a terrifying howl of rage, followed by dead silence.

With a ragged cry, Tara tried to lift her head, praying Brandon was still alive. In desperation, she searched the driver’s side for him but found it abandoned. Blood took his place, coating everything. The seat... the steering wheel... the dashboard...
“Brandon,” she said hoarsely. “Brandon!”

As though she was in a dream, her sight blurry and mind disoriented, she saw something dark and sinister dragging Brandon across the grassy pasture as if he was nothing but a lifeless, flimsy doll. Then the sickening sounds of flesh and muscle tearing from bone echoed across the open grassland to Tara.

She moaned, swallowing back the pain. “H-help,” she breathlessly pleaded. “Someone please, help us.”

Lying there on her back, all alone in the dark cab of the truck, her head throbbed, and she struggled to comprehend what she had seen. Her brain felt short-circuited. All Tara could sense was the cold, wet mask of her face, and she wasn’t sure if it was tears or blood.

Finally, after several attempts, she managed to unfasten her seatbelt and reach for the steering wheel. She winced at the searing pain coming from her torso as she pulled herself up. It hurt just to draw even the shallowest of breaths. Just as Tara looked to where the door had once been, she saw Brandon’s murderer in the distance rise on its hind legs. It glared in her direction as if she was its next victim.

Oh, please... God...

When it set off after her, she grabbed the passenger’s door handle and pushed it open with the strength and ability brought forth by pure adrenaline. It drove her willpower to keep moving. A sense of calm descended, washing away the paralyzing fear. Before, she had Brandon to protect her. Now it was up to her to save herself.

No one can save you now but you, she tried to convince herself.

Tara fell to her hands and knees on the wet, mucky ground. On all fours, she forced her injured body onward and crawled until her bare hands felt the rough exterior of the road. Despite the pain and the loss of blood from a cut on her forehead, she managed to get to her feet. She was shaking so she could barely trust her legs to support her weight. All the while, feeling dizzy and lightheaded, she kept waiting for the feel of the beast’s sharp claws, knowing it was getting close.

Without warning, a horn blared behind her. Tara flinched and whirled around as a black Hummer screeched to a stop only three feet away. She put her hand above her eyes to block its bright headlights, noticing another SUV as it pulled up alongside it. Then one of the windows slid down.

“Ma’am, are you all right?” said a man. His voice was a deep baritone.

To be continued . . .

 

Author Notes Artwork by Joe Roberts


Chapter 29
The Wolf-Man/Part 2

By scongrove

Previously. . .

Tara fell to her hands and knees on the wet, mucky ground. On all fours, she forced her injured body onward and crawled until her bare hands felt the rough exterior of the road. Despite the pain and the loss of blood from a cut on her forehead, she managed to get to her feet. She was shaking so she could barely trust her legs to support her weight. All the while, feeling dizzy and lightheaded, she kept waiting for the feel of the beast’s sharp claws, knowing it was getting close.

Without warning, a horn blared behind her. Tara flinched and whirled around as a black Hummer screeched to a stop only three feet away. She put her hand above her eyes to block its bright headlights, noticing another SUV as it pulled up alongside it. Then one of the windows slid down.

“Ma’am, are you all right?” said a man. His voice was a deep baritone.


Tara shook her head. Even though it was a complete stranger, she felt an immense sense of relief. When she turned to look for the creature, it was gone. It simply vanished, leaving nothing but empty shadows.

“P-please, I need help,” was all Tara could think of to say as she toppled forward and dropped to her hands and knees.

Seconds later, the sound of doors opening, voices ex­changing, and heavy footsteps came next. Then she felt a pair of strong hands gently cradle her body as if she was a small child. The stranger lifted her off the ground effortlessly.

“Don’t worry, ma’am,” the man told her, carefully placing her inside the large SUV. “I’m a trained medic.”

As he placed a cloth on her forehead and applied pressure to the deep cut, she caught a glimpse of his face. He had the oddest color of eyes. They were so green the color glimmered in the darkness. He was dark-skinned and ruggedly handsome, reminding her of the character Raze in the movie Underworld.

His emerald-green gaze looked upon her with kindness as he began to examine her with professional efficiency. “Are you injured anywhere else?”

Tara moved her hand on her left side and gasped in pain.

“Easy there,” he soothed Tara, softly caressing her shoulder. “You may have some broken ribs.” Then she heard him speak to someone else. “We need to get her to the Bates Hospital.”

Tara listened to the other man say, “Shouldn’t we check to make sure no one else was in the accident?” He spoke with some kind of European accent.

An overwhelming feeling suddenly took hold of Tara. Her body felt as though she was floating and her lids started to close.

The Raze doppelganger lightly shook her shoulder and said, “Miss, I need you to keep your eyes open for me. Can you tell me your name?”

Forcing her eyes to stay focused, she muttered, “T-Tara.” She cleared her throat. “Tara Hood.”

“Tara, my name is Lawrence Colbert. And my friend here is Roman Kincaid,” he said in a reassuring voice. “I promise we’re going to get you help. But before we take you to the hospital, we need to know if there was anyone else with you.”

For a brief second, the world went hazy. Suddenly, the sounds of Brandon’s nightmarish screams and the image of the creature dragging his lifeless body flashed inside her head. As her lips began to tremble, tears spilled down her cheeks. “Oh God,” she cried out. “Brandon...”

Lawrence looked away from Tara and shifted his eyes toward Roman. “Stay here with her,” he said. “I’ll go check.”

Tara grabbed ahold of Lawrence’s shirt with a tight grip. “It’s too late,” she said, sobbing. “It killed him.”

Lawrence narrowed his eyes. “What killed him, Tara?”

Her eyes rounded in fear. “I tried to warn him, but it ran out in front of us. I... it just came out of nowhere,” she stammered. “Brandon tried to stop. H-he swerved. He tried not to hit it.”

Hit what?” Lawrence queried.

Fiercely, she shook her head as more images pounded in her subconscious. “It was dark... foggy.” Her voice was trembling, her whole body shaking. “It was something... big!”

She buried her face in her hands and struggled to breathe. It was too much shock for her to process. God, she wanted this to be only a dream.

“Please, Ms. Tara,” Lawrence pressed further. “Try to calm down. This is very important. What was it you saw?”

As Tara lowered her hands, she stared at Lawrence in mute horror. Then she exhaled a deep breath and said, “It was some kind of wild animal. It looked like a wolf, yet it stood like a man.”

Lawrence shot Roman a look that told him without words what he was thinking.

Shit! Roman silently mouthed.

“I need you to think, Tara,” said Lawrence. He had a seriousness to his tone. “Did this animal bite you?”

When she shook her head, Roman exhaled, realizing he’d been holding his breath.

“Okay, good,” Lawrence said, breathing a sigh of relief. “Let’s get you to the hospital.”

“What about...” she briefly paused, her lips quivering, “Brandon’s body?”

“Don’t worry, Tara,” Roman said, trying his best to console her. “While Lawrence drives you to the hospital, I’ll stay here and see to it he’s properly taken care of.”

She frantically shook her head. “Please, it’s not safe.” She raised her voice. “That thing could still be out here. You need to call the—”

“Trust me, Ms. Tara,” Lawrence interjected. “Roman will be just fine. He’ll call for help.”

There was a rock-hard assurance to his voice and a comforting look in his eyes. Despite her fears, the unwavering confidence in his words soothed her.

Tara sighed. “Thank you, both,” she said, her voice laced with gratitude. “If you hadn’t gotten here when you did.” She swallowed back tears. “You saved my life.”


To be continued . . .

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele - a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research - he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice, and Lena.

Lawrence Colbert - A Breedline council member of the New Jersey Covenant, trained in military tactics and as a medic who worked alongside Roman Kincaid, the Special Ops team, and the Breedline Covenant to help take down Valkin Steele.


Chapter 30
The Wolf-Man/Part 3

By scongrove

He had to act quickly. He’d been forced to seek cover, hiding in the dark shadows as two men intervened with his next kill. Yet, they were not human, he realized.

He could smell their scent, too—as surely as he smelled the blood from the remnants of the raw meat of his victim’s flesh.

Should he attack and take what rightly belonged to him? As the desperate need to kill surged through every vein, filling him with agony, he did not.

No matter, he thought. He would follow them. They would lead him to the girl.

As his mind drifted to Jena, he closed his eyes and remembered the last time he had gazed upon her face. It wouldn’t be long now. Her life as she knew it was drawing near the end, and finally, she would be his. The anticipation was almost more than he could bear. Just thinking of it made him ache. She would learn submission and oh, how she would love him. He would take her to his own private world of eternal darkness.

“Jena,” he whispered and then turned at the sound of approaching footsteps.

In a kind of fascination, he watched as three men engaged in conversation only a few feet away. They were different from the ones before. But they too were not human.

He narrowed his eyes and listened.

The one with a dark Mohawk sounded frustrated, his words tinged with discontent as he stood addressing two men with long, blond hair who were obviously identical twins.

“I just got off the phone with Tim,” Drakon said. “Instead of taking Ms. Tara Hood to the hospital, he’s having Lawrence deliver her to the Covenant. Helen is meeting them there.”

Both Jace’s and Jem’s eyes rounded.

Jace huffed in exasperation. “What the... but she’s human,” he protested. Then he cast a glance at his twin, who stood next to him, his expression grim. “I think it’s a bad idea.”

Jem shifted uncomfortably and heaved a sigh. “I don’t see any way around it. We can’t have her talking to the police. They’ll think she’s lost her damn mind. We already have enough to deal with. If human reporters find out the girl’s identity that was attacked in the cemetery, they’ll hound her relentlessly. Besides, she’ll need our protection. It’s possible whatever this creature is, both girls could be in danger. It may see them as a threat and try to finish what it set out to do in the first place.”

“I agree,” Drakon confirmed, smoothing a hand over the spiked strip of hair down the middle of his head. “They’ll be safe in the Covenant. Tim is going to have Helen relocate Ms. McCain in our care after she’s released from the hospital. She’ll need to be monitored for the next hundred or so days.”

Jace shrugged. “What for?”

“Because...” Drakon paused, clearing his throat, “Ms. McCain was bitten by the creature.”

“You’re not talking about the curse of the Rougarou are you?” Jem queried.

Jace’s eyes narrowed and he turned to stare at his brother. “I thought that was just a myth.”

Drakon shook his head. “No, it’s real. The creature can stay dormant underground for years until it’s time to feed again. This savage killer has preyed on humans since the 1800s. He’s been responsible for several unsolved crimes throughout history,” he continued to explain. “Among the Breedline, he is known as The Werewolf of New Orleans, The Louisiana Vampire, The Blood Moon Killer, and The Beast Man. It’s said that he was thought to be the notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.”

“Holy shit,” Jace muttered. “Are you serious?”

“He’s right,” Jem pointed out. “And what’s worse, we cannot destroy it.”

Jace made a dry sound of amusement. “That’s messed up. So, what the hell are we going to do?”

We are not going to do anything,” Roman said as he walked up behind them.

Everyone turned to Roman in surprise.

Jace narrowed his eyes in confusion. “What do you mean we are not going to do anything? Why the hell not?”

Roman moved closer. “Hold on,” he fired back, holding a hand up. “Let me explain.”

Jace cocked a brow. “Well, I’m waiting.” His voice sounded impatient. “Let’s hear it.”

“Earlier today, Lawrence and I went to see his sister, Melanie,” Roman hesitantly said. “She has a special ability that is supposed to be kept a secret from humans, but considering the dire situation, and the fact that we don’t exactly fall into that category, I think it’s safe to say I won’t be breaking any rules by telling you.”

“What are you getting at, Roman?” Drakon chimed in.

Roman let out a deep breath and simply said, “Melanie can speak to angels.”

Jace leaned in and held up his hands in question. “And?”

“Remember the redheaded battle angel that took Sebastian?”

When Drakon, Jace, and Jem nodded at Roman, he continued to explain. “Well, her name is Lailah, and Mel contacted her. She and another battle angel, you know the one that looked a lot like Billy Idol?

When they nodded, he continued, “Anyway, they are coming back to help us destroy this creature.”

“Thank God,” Jace said with a sigh of relief.

“There’s more, isn’t there, Roman?” Drakon asked in a deep baritone.

Roman looked agonized. His jaw clenched and he glanced at all of them as if weighing whether or not to tell them the rest.

Jem placed his hand on Roman’s shoulder. “Roman, we need to know everything Lawrence’s sister told you. Whatever it is, we’re not going to judge or otherwise say anything negative about Melanie.” He eyed Jace, making sure he understood the implied suggestion.

Without voicing his opinion, which was rare, Jace nodded an understanding.

“None of the battle angels have the power to destroy this creature,” Roman said. “Lailah can only trap it with her holy fire. I’m not sure what the other angel can do, but apparently God has tasked them to bring four others along who possess the ability to help take down this creature.”

“Do you know who they are?” Jem asked.

“Sebastian and the Fury,” said Roman.

Jace shot forward, and he was about to explode, but Jem flung his hand out to silence his brother, his expression fierce. Jace’s lips tightened but he stepped back and didn’t further interrupt.

The look on Drakon’s face ranged from incredulity, to doubt, to what in the hell is Roman smoking? He shook his head. This whole thing sounded crazy. He couldn’t even wrap his head around it. But the important thing was that Lawrence believed his sister, and Roman believed her too.

“What did Lawrence’s sister say about the Fury?” Drakon asked Roman. “Won’t they be just as dangerous as this creature we’re dealing with?”

“Melanie said God has lifted their lust for human blood. She explained it as if they’d been reborn.”

“So, I guess this means Sebastian is alive,” Jace finally said. “How is that bastard tied into all this?”

Roman looked at Jace, despair gleaming in the shadowed depths. “I’m sorry, Jace. Mel didn’t say.”

“Did she... did she give you any idea when this is all supposed to take place?” Drakon hedged.

“Mel just said soon,” Roman replied.

Shit! Drakon thought. “Okay, this is what we’re going to do,” he said, taking charge. “I’ll call Tim while you guys finish cleaning up the body so we can tow the truck to the Covenant. Between Tim and Tessa, maybe they can figure out what the hell we need to do next.”

“Someone needs to tell Eve and Anna about Sebastian,” Jem spoke out, changing the subject. “They deserve to know he’s still alive. Especially since it’s a good possibility he’ll show up at the Covenant.”

“I don’t know.” Jace shook his head. “I think it’s a bad idea. Besides, if I catch him near my family—”

“Come on, Jace,” Jem cut him off. “Put yourself in their shoes. What if it were you? Don’t you think Tessa and Cassie would want to know the truth if they thought you were dead?”

“He’s right, Jace,” Drakon pointed out. “I agree with your brother. They need to know.”

Jace threw his hands up in defeat. “Alright, alright,” he grumbled. “I get it already.”

“I’ll tell Mia as soon as we get back to the Covenant,” Jem said. “I think it would be best for Eve to hear it from her sister. Since Eve has become close to Sebastian’s sister, I’m sure she would want to be the one to tell her.”

Drakon nodded. “I agree. Thanks, Jem.”

As he watched the four men walk away, a sinister smile curled his wolfish lips. They were all mistaken, he thought. Only my own kind has the power to destroy me.

To be continued. . .

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele-a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research-he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice, and Lena.

Lawrence Colbert - A Breedline council member of the New Jersey Covenant, trained in military tactics and as a medic who worked alongside Roman Kincaid, the Special Ops team, and the Breedline Covenant to help take down Valkin Steele.


Chapter 31
The Shadow

By scongrove

Although Carrie was desperate for sleep, she couldn’t shut her eyes. Every time she tried, her mind kicked up all those horrible images from earlier. Lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, her thoughts continued to torment her. Her imagination seemed to be getting the best of her, spinning out of control. Tears fell from the corners of her eyes as flashbacks of Kevin’s body came to mind. There had been so much blood. It was everywhere. Just thinking about it sent chills up her spine. She huddled beneath the covers like a child afraid of the dark.

Who could have done such a thing? And why Kevin? Then, her thoughts went to another place. To the sickening memory of those creeps putting their hands on her, and to the thing that killed them. Whatever it was, it looked like something straight out of a horror flick. Were werewolves real? It didn’t seem possible that something like that could exist. She felt like she was losing her mind.

Could that werewolf thing be responsible for Kevin’s death? She swallowed the knot that had formed in the back of her throat and whispered, “Could it be… coming after me?”

But morning arrived without incident. When she got dressed and went downstairs, she heard voices coming from the kitchen. Carrie stopped and listened. She clearly recognized her roommate’s, but not the other voice. It sounded like a man. Maybe it was Ryan, she thought.

“Jessica…” she hesitantly called out.

“I’m in the kitchen,” Jessica hollered back. “I hope you’re dressed. We’ve got company.”

As Carrie started for the entrance to the kitchen, she stopped short when she caught sight of the guy inside. He wasn’t Ryan. Although Ryan was easy on the eyes, this guy didn't appear to be your average Joe. Going by his profile alone, his attractiveness registered off the charts. His dark, shoulder-length hair—pushed behind his ears—reminded her of the lead actor in the movie, John Wick, but with less facial hair. He had a lean muscular build and long legs. For some strange reason, she wondered what color his eyes were.

“Oh, there you are,” Jessica said, noticing Carrie standing outside the kitchen.

The guy faced her. As intense, blues eyes bored into her, Carrie’s body stiffened.  

Jessica motioned her inside. “Come meet my new friend.”

When Carrie looked between her roommate and the handsome stranger, she felt her mouth drop. A trail of goosebumps prickled over her skin, sensing something dark and lethal behind his spectacular blue eyes.

“Carrie, this is Joseph Parker,” Jessica said, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Joseph smiled, revealing a perfect set of teeth. He stepped forward and extended his hand. “Hello, Carrie,” he said softly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Carrie nodded hello and instantly took his hand. “It’s nice to meet you too, Joseph.”

The Shadow spoke into Joseph’s subconscious. “Mmmm… she looks scrumptious.”

As he released her hand, Carrie tilted her head in question, feeling like she’d seen him somewhere before. “You look familiar. Have we previously met?”

Joseph narrowed his eyes, wondering if she’d spotted him last night in the bar. Surely, she didn’t see him during the attack… did she?

“Tell her no,” the Shadow simply said. 

Joseph shook his head. “I don’t believe so.”

“He’s come to your rescue,” Jessica said. “Isn’t that right, Joseph?”

The Shadow laughed. “We’ve come to take your soul.”

Carrie glanced over at her friend and then looked back at Joseph. He appeared nervous. Then, after a few seconds, he brought his hand forward again. This time, he had a purse in his grasp. “I… ah, think this belongs to you.”

“Can you believe it?” Jessica’s eyes lit up. “He found your purse. Isn’t that great, Carrie?”

There was silence for a moment. Carrie seemed lost for words. She couldn’t take her eyes off the white handbag. Impossible, she thought. Finally, she looked to his handsome face and muttered, “Where did you find it?”

“I found it on Richmond Street this morning,” Joseph said as Carrie slowly reached for the purse. “That’s the route I usually bike. I spotted it in a ditch. The silver handle caught my attention. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen it in all those weeds.”

“We are good liars,” the Shadow whispered to Joseph.

“How did you know it belonged to me?” Carrie hesitantly asked.

He tuned out the voice in his head and shot her an apologetic smile. “Sorry, but I looked at your ID.” 

Carrie unzipped the small handbag and dug her hand inside. When she found her wallet and her cell phone, she looked back up at Joseph. “I don’t know what to say?”

“How about thank you,” Jessica spouted.  

“Oh, of course,” Carrie said, smiling ruefully. “You’ll have to excuse me. I’m not thinking too clearly this morning. It’s been a long night.” She set the purse down on the counter and offered her hand to Joseph. “Thank you for returning it.”

He took her hand and lightly squeezed. “You’re welcome, Carrie.”

Then, an awkward silence filled the room.

“Joseph was telling me about his exciting job,” Jessica said, breaking the tension. “He’s a freelance journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.”

“I like Jessica.” The Shadow smacked his lips. “She looks tasty.” 

“Oh, really.” Carrie cocked her head to the side. “That’s interesting. How long have you been a writer?”

“Basically, since I was a teenager,” he said, nervously shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “The day I read my first mystery novel I knew I wanted to be a writer. That’s when I decided to jump into journalism.”

With her interest piqued, she said, “So, who’s your favorite?”

“As in,” he shrugged, “a writer?”

Carrie nodded.

“I’d have to say, Ernest Hemingway.”

“Liar,” the Shadow remarked. “Stephen King is our favorite.”

“How so?” Carrie queried.

“Mostly because of his works, although,” Joseph cocked a brow, “there’s one quote he wrote that really stayed with me growing up.”

“Well…” Jessica butted into the conversation again. “Tell us. We’re dying to know.”

“Oh, you’ll be dying,” the Shadow drawled. “I promise.”

 Joseph kept his eyes locked on Carrie’s and said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

“Smooothhh…” the Shadow hissed.

Carrie shivered at the musical lilt of Joseph’s voice, and the way he pronounced his words. It spread through her, calming her, comforting her somehow. She wanted to know more about this mysterious, handsome man.

“I like it,” Carrie said, gazing into his piercing blue eyes. “Would you care for a cup of coffee?”

Joseph checked his watch. “Sure. I have a few minutes, but only if it’s no trouble.”

“Of course not. I was about to make one myself.” She smiled and glanced at her roommate. “How about you, Jess?”

“Oh, no thanks. I’m meeting Ryan across the street at Chloe’s Café.” She averted her eyes from Carrie and looked to Joseph. “Maybe you two would like to join us?”

“Make up an excuse,” the Shadow urged.

“Sorry,” Joseph said. “I don’t have long. I’ve got to be somewhere shortly. Maybe another time?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jessica said and then turned toward Carrie, flashing her a mischievous grin. “Give Joseph your number so we can plan a double date.”

Carrie blushed and shot her roommate a menacing look.

“Or, if you’d like,” Joseph said, “maybe just the two of us could go out for dinner sometime.”

With a smile, Carrie clipped her emotions in place, putting the previous night in the back of her mind and said, “S-sure. That sounds nice. Actually,” she paused and smiled, “I should be the one offering you dinner. You saved me a lot of trouble.”

“It was no problem,” Joseph said. “I’m glad I could help out. But I would still like to take you out to dinner. How about tonight? But if that’s too short notice…”

“She’d love to,” Jessica blurted. “Besides,” she batted her brows, “it is Valentine’s Day.”

Carrie frowned at Jessica.

“Oh, crap…” Joseph threw his hands up. “I totally forgot. If you already have plans, I completely understand.” 

“No, it’s fine,” Carrie said. “My plans have recently changed. I’m free tonight.”

“You sure? I mean, if you don’t want to go…”

“No, no,” Carrie said. “I want to go.” 

“Great.” Joseph smiled. “It’s a date then.”
   
“Yummy,” the Shadow said. “I can’t wait.”

“I better get going,” Jessica said. “It was nice meeting you, Joseph.”

“Thanks.” He dipped his head a little. “You too.”

Jessica winked at Carrie as she turned to leave and said, “Enjoy your coffee.”

A few minutes later, Carrie poured two cups of coffee and said, “So Joseph, how do you take your coffee?”

“Just black, please.”

Carrie arched a brow. “Are you sure?”

When he nodded, she said, “Well, I’m the opposite. I need lots of sugar in mine.” Her face scrunched up like she’d bit into something sour. “I don’t know how you drink it without it.”

She placed both mugs on the table and said, “Please, make yourself comfortable.”

“Thanks,” he said, sitting down in a chair across from hers.

He watched her take careful sips of her coffee, noticing how lovely her face was. The bone structure so delicate, her jaw a graceful arch running from her small ears to her perfectly shaped chin, her cheeks high and tinted with a small amount of blush. Her lips were plump, the bottom fuller than the top. Her long, sandy blonde hair was pulled up into a ponytail. 

“So, Carrie,” he said, breaking the silence, “what do you like to eat?”

She looked up from her coffee. “Pretty much anything as long as it’s fully cooked.”

“I take it you’re not a big fan of Sushi.”

She raised her upper lip. “That and oysters.”

He chuckled. “I’ll make note of that.”

“What about you?” she asked. “Is there anything particular you dislike?”

“Nope. I’ll eat pretty much anything.”

“And everything,” the Shadow muttered inside Joseph’s head. “Especially pretty blondes.”

Joseph reached for his coffee and before he took a sip, he said, “Aside from disliking Sushi and oysters, what do you do? I mean… as in work.”

“I’m a substance abuse counselor. I specialize in treating patients who have a chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol.”

“Oh god…” the Shadow groaned. “That sounds too much like a shrink. Let’s eat her before she tries to get inside our head.”

“Really?” Joseph said, raising a brow. “That sounds interesting. How long have you been a counselor?”

“Right after I graduated college and became licensed, I applied at New Hope Foundation here in Berkeley. I’ve been there for three years now.”

“That’s great,” he said, trying his best to sound enthusiastic. “Sounds like you enjoy what you do.”

“Yeah.” The tone in her voice deflated a little. “Most of it anyway.”

He shrugged. “What do you mean by that?”

“Oh…” she sighed, “…don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy helping people, it’s just that sometimes the people you work for can turn your passion into something you dread.”

“It’s your boss, isn’t it?”

Carrie’s mouth formed a lop-sided grin. “How did you guess?”

“It’s in your eyes, and the tone of your voice when I asked if you enjoyed what you did for a living.”

Oh Lord, she thought. Not only is he handsome and smart, he’s observant as well.

“I’ve seen this kind of thing go on where I work,” he went on to say. “I’m betting your boss is a female. Am I right?”

She looked at him puzzled. “Yeah, why do you ask?”

“Isn’t it obvious,” he said. “You’re young, pretty, and intelligent. I’m sure your boss is good at what she does, but I’m guessing she’s not as young, not that attractive and a little on the heavy side. Am I right so far?”

When she nodded, he said, “She’s probably one of those jealous types and see’s you as a threat.”

She narrowed her eyes. “You really think so?”

“More than likely. Why else would she go out of her way to make you miserable at work? A few women employed at the Chronicle have been let go for this kind of behavior. Believe it or not, one of my male colleagues had something similar with his boss. It was so bad, he finally had to go to corporate.”

“That’s horrible. Did your employers ever do anything about it?”

Joseph nodded. “It took a while, but eventually, they got rid of him.”

“Why do some people have to be so immature?” Carrie said, rolling her eyes. “Jeez… it’s so childish. Why can’t everyone just be professional?”

“I wish I had the answers.” He shook his head. “Although, I’m a big believer of karma. Good or bad, whatever you put out there in the world eventually comes back to you.”

“You really think so?”

“Trust me,” he said. “I’ve witnessed it myself a time or two.”

“Are you saying you’ve seen bad things happen to bad people?”

“Bad people taste sweeter,” the Shadow retorted. “Kevin was delicious.” 

“Yep.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Take my colleague’s situation for example. His boss lost his job. A year later, I heard he couldn’t find employment and lost everything he owned, plus his wife divorced him. And I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before your boss gets hers.”

“Give us the bitch’s name and address,” the Shadow said, drawling out the S’s like the warning of a rattler’s tail. “We can take care of her like we did Kevin.”  
      
“Although Veronica clearly deserves her share of karma,” she said. “I never wish ill-will on anyone, not even a jerk like her.”

“That’s because you’re a good person, Carrie. You deserve good things.”

“Joseph… what are you saying?” the Shadow grumbled. “Remember… she’s food.”  
 
“Thanks Joseph.” Carrie’s eyes brightened, and for some reason, her cheeks flushed. “Although I’m relieved you found my purse,” she bashfully said, “I’m actually glad I got the chance to meet you. You come across as a genuine guy. That’s something a girl doesn’t easily come by these days.”

“Dear God,” the Shadow moaned. “What’s with this broad? She’s ruining my appetite.” 
                     

Joseph reached across the table and placed his hand over hers. “It doesn’t matter what brought me here,” he said softly. “I’m just glad our paths crossed.”

Carrie's heart practically skipped a beat as Joseph removed his hand. Was she dreaming? She had to be, because guys like him didn’t exist in her reality… or did they? If so, she’d never known one. All the guys she’d ever met were like Kevin or worse. And then, she wondered what kind of lover he was. God, she could only imagine. By his caring eyes, the soft tone of his voice, his kissable lips, his perfect skin, and those long legs… he was probably amazing.

“Oh, look at the time,” Joseph said, his voice snapping her back to focus. “I’d love to stay longer and chit-chat, but I’ve got to get going.” He quickly took another drink of his coffee and rose from his chair.

“Yeah, me too,” she said as she scooted her chair back and pushed to her feet. “I’m already in hot water for calling in late. If I don’t make it in before noon, I’ll never hear the end of it.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t realize you weren’t feeling well. You’re not coming down with something are you?” he asked, although he already knew the reason why she’d called in late.

“No, I’m fine,” she said. “Just didn’t sleep all that good last night.”

“I take it you were worried about misplacing your purse.”

“Yeah…” she hesitantly said. “Something like that.”

He extended his hand. “Well, it was a pleasure meeting you, Carrie.”

She grasped a hold of his hand and said, “You too, Joseph.”

“I’ll see you tonight,” he said, releasing her hand. “I’ll pick you up, say… around six?”

“That’s perfect.”

As he turned away, she said, “Oh wait… maybe we should exchange numbers in case something comes up. I mean, you never know.”

“What are you waiting for?” the Shadow asked. “Take her, Joseph. I’m starving.”

He wheeled around and stared blankly off into the distance. His face was as white as a sheet.

“Joseph?”

He said nothing, just stood there, staring.

“Joseph, are you okay?”

“Do it, Joseph,” the Shadow demanded. “Do it now!”

Joseph flinched and said, “Sorry… what did you say?”

“Um…” Carrie looked at him perplexed. “I was just asking if you wanted my number.”

“Oh yeah,” he lightly chuckled. “I forgot to ask you.”

After he retrieved his cell phone from his back pocket, he smiled tightly and said, “You’re not going to give me a fake number, are you?”

She set aside his odd behavior and said, “That sounds like something my roommate would do. Besides, you already know where I live, so…”

They laughed and exchanged numbers.

A few minutes later, as Joseph left Carrie’s apartment and got behind the wheel of his Jeep Wrangler, the Shadow said, “Why didn’t you take the girl?”

“You know I can’t be late for my appointments,” Joseph said in a hushed voice, looking into the rearview mirror as black, soulless eyes peered back at him. “I’m still on probation. If my therapist detects any odd behavior, I could be sent back to the institute.”

“You like her… don’t you, Joseph?”

“I think Carrie is a good person. I don’t want to…,” he swallowed hard, “…hurt her.”

“Have your fun with the girl,” the Shadow said, “but don’t get too attached. One way or another, we will have her.” 

To be continued . . .   
 
 

 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Carrie Randall - She's in her mid-twenties and works as an substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California.

Kevin - Carrie's ex-boyfriend, brutally murdered by the Shadow.

Jessica Phillips - She's Carrie's close friend and roommate.

Ryan Grayson - He's Jessica's boyfriend.

Joseph Parker - He's in his mid-twenties and works as a freelance journalist for the Sans Francisco Chronicle. At a very young age, while he witnessed his father beat his mother to death, an evil entity, called the Shadow, invaded his body, teaching him how to survive as he grew up in abusive foster families, until eventually, he was placed in a mental institution due to his psychopathic behavior. Years later, with the Shadow's guidance, Joseph manipulated his counselors into believing he could live among society. Now that he is free, the Shadow remains inside Joseph's subconscious, driving him to kill whomever he desires.


Chapter 32
The Mysterious Visitor

By scongrove

Jena was eager to absorb herself into Nicolas’s story once again. As she slipped back into bed, she reached for the journal. Before she began to read, she noticed there seemed to be several pages missing, as though, for some specific reason, someone had torn them out. How strange, Jena thought. Regardless, she continued to read.

The night before I would say my final farewell, I went to bed as usual, feeling overcome with sorrow and despair, but after hours of staring at the ceiling, I finally fell asleep.

As I lay in bed, something alarming roused me from a deep slumber. I sensed a presence looking down on me. My eyes rounded in fear when I opened them. For a moment, I doubted if it were real or just a dream. The room was the same, unchanged in any way since I fell asleep. I could see the brilliance of the moonlight shining through the thin drapery covering the windows. It was then I began to rub my eyes to see if I were truly awake. It felt like a nightmare to me, and I expected that I should suddenly awake and find myself alone in my bed, but my eyes were not to be deceived. I was indeed awake but found that I could not move. My body felt as though it was frozen in place. I could barely manage the effort to breathe.

I was not alone.

It appeared to be a man standing above me. A tall, older man dressed in a black hooded robe. He loomed over me in a manner that made me fear for my life. Strands of long, white hair flowed from the inside of his large, loose cowl and past his wide shoulders. As he lowered himself closer, his ab­normal and unearthly features rendered me speechless. His ghostly complexion was almost translucent, and his eyes were as black as coal. It looked to be the angel of death coming to claim my soul.

When the hooded stranger reached out his hand, I quickly shut my eyes and shuddered in terror. The instant he placed his palm against my arm, it was cold as ice, more like the hand of the dead than the living.

I was afraid to raise my eyelids but peeked out from the corner of my eye and saw perfectly as he bowed in a courtly way. I remember his words all too clearly as he said, “I’ve come to ease your soul.”

His intriguing words brought my head around and my eyes to meet his pale-skinned face.

My mouth fell open as a stutter escaped, “H-how?”

When he removed his hand from my arm, he then extended it out to me. “Take my hand, Nicolas,” he said, “so that I may show you.”

Although peculiarly sharp white teeth protruded over his lips when he spoke, his soothing and spellbinding voice seemed to have dissipated all my fears. Then, I wondered, how did this ghostly visitor know my name? As I debated my decision, I noticed his nails were long and filed to sharp points. Who was this stranger, I feverishly asked myself, and what did he really want? I found that I could no longer hold my tongue and asked, “Who are you?”

His lips took on a cruel curve. “I am... the Master.”

“Why are you here?” I hesitated to ask, but my emotions were on edge, and I refused to continue to cower at the face that would frighten most men.

He stepped closer, narrowing his haunting eyes on me that seemed to be almost red when they contrasted with the pale, yellow moon. “I have the power to bring your brother back to the living.”

A weighted pause fell between us as I deliberated over the meaning of his words. “But how,” said I, “is it possible to bring back the dead? Tell me, I beg you!”

The Master smiled, and his long, sharp teeth peeked out from beneath his lips. “Take hold, Nicolas,” he murmured, bringing his hand closer. “The answers you seek are just within my grasp.”

As he awaited my decision, inviting me to join hands, somehow his soulless eyes spoke to me as though they were daring me to seek what I desperately wanted. I remained silent, staring at him in anticipation. It was with some weakness in my heart that I finally reached out and took hold of his icy-cold hand.

Then his mind meshed with my own, relaying things that were impossible and unimaginable. In that instant, an agreement exchanged between our minds and swept through me as quick as lightning.

While looking at my face attentively, the Master said in a soft whisper, “You are, and will forever be... the immortal.”

I instantly became weak and feverish, but it faded as quickly as it came. I realized at that moment what was trans­piring. I was dying. From then on, my body grew stronger and I experienced things that I cannot put into words. It was as if I had been reborn, looking at everything through a new set of eyes, eyes that could see beyond the human eyes I once possessed. It was as though all my senses awakened for the first time.

Then the Master went on to explain in detail of how I was to resurrect Ashton. His instructions were chilling and seemingly unforbidden, but I later followed them with per­fect precision.

If only I’d known what was to become of my brother, I would have never brought him back from the dead. Gifted with eternal life and heightened perceptions were what I sought for my brother and me, although Ash was entirely something else, something derived from hell itself.

To be continued. . .

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Jena McCain - An artist with an odd gift to speak to the dead. She is in her early twenties and has been bitten by an old age creature. She is cursed and has one hundred and one days to resist the urge for human blood. If she succumbs to the bloodlust, the curse will be lifted. If not, she will become the creature who has cursed her.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is from the 1800s and Ashton's younger brother.


Chapter 33
The Creature

By scongrove

Jena turned, her eyes searching the graveyard desperately for Lailah and the other battle angels. She couldn’t see them through all the smoke, but she heard growling, and then several pairs of glowing eyes suddenly flickered in the darkness. She scrambled closer on her hands and knees, trying to get a better view, but she could make out only the flash of weapons that looked to be swords and the dark shapes of enormous wolves along with another dark outline of what seemed to be an enormous feline of some sort.

Jena turned to scramble back only to find Ashton waiting for her, in his human form, standing next to his brother’s motionless body. He bitterly smiled down at Jena, who was too shocked to do anything but stare up at him.

“I’m going to ask you one more time,” he said, offering her his hand. His voice was harsh, impatient. “Join me, my beloved.”

The shrieking noises coming from the five-headed serpent caused Jena to flinch and look away. There was a scream, and among the smoke and burning flames, she could see three dark figures that looked to be a woman and two men, standing before the demonic creature. It snorted plumes of smoke and hissed at them like a cobra, readying itself to strike in unison. Jena took a deep, shuddering breath and tore her eyes away from the horror. For a moment, everything seemed to hang in suspension. Then her attention focused back to Ashton, her eyes darkening as they met his gaze. As she stared into his haunted eyes, she remembered the intimate night they had shared. Images, more than thoughts, were rushing through Jena’s mind, terrible and disturbing images of the next morning, of the monstrous creature she’d become, of the repulsive face looking back at her in the mirror. It was like a distant dream, like something that had happened to someone else and not her. Then her mind came back to focus. Somehow, Ashton managed to seduce her then, but now, she was determined not to give in to him a second time.

“No.” She shook her head, crawling back slowly. “I refuse to be the monster you have become.”

His face twisted into a mask of rage and his eyes blazed with a wave of painful anger. It was then that Jena braced herself, noticing his impending changes were rising fast. She watched in silence, pleading to God to stop it, as his features began to contort and elongate until he was entirely unrecog­nizable. Jena was amazed at how quickly his transition took over. Thick black hair pushed out of every inch of his bare skin and trailed down his broad shoulders. In a matter of seconds, it covered him completely.

With her eyes fixed on his hideous face, Jena felt her chest tighten. Ashton looked very angry. Angry enough to kill her. The vicious expression on his face was enough to impel Jena to her feet.

The moment she stood, she heard him growl deep in his throat, and then his clawed hand was on her arm, gripping painfully, forcing her forward.

Jena took a shaking breath. “Please, don’t do this,” she pleaded, straining against his strong hold, but her resistance only infuriated him further. He jerked her arm with such force her feet went out from under her. Jena fell to her knees, agony shooting through her as the skin tore from the bits of gravel and the uneven ground below.

“Get up,” he growled.

Painfully Jena turned her head, searching for help, but she couldn’t see past all the smoked-filled darkness. Her head jerked back when something sharp dug into her skin and wrapped tightly around her ankle. Jena cringed but didn’t scream, biting her lip to keep it at bay. In sheer panic, she clawed at the ground as Ashton dragged her from behind.

“Let her go,” a stern voice said, seemingly close by.

Ashton froze in his tracks but kept a firm grip on Jena. He looked away from her and to the unfamiliar voice.

“Let her go?” Ashton said, squinting his shrewd luminous eyes, searching for the stranger among the thick cloud of smoke. “Who dares to tell me...” He let out a deep-throated cackle. “...what to do? And more to the point, whoever you are, what do you mean to do about it? Surely, by now, it would seem obvious that none of your kind can kill me.”

A tall blond, who Jena recognized as Jace’s twin brother—the one who Angie described as the Chosen Son—emerged from the veil of smoke as though he came out of nowhere. Behind him were huge wolves, perhaps as many as ten, a giant black panther, and Jace’s beast. They paced back and forth, growling and snarling.

“Maybe we cannot kill you,” Jem said as he stepped forward, his palm crackling with light. “But sometimes there are far worse things than death.”

Jena watched in amazement at what looked to be a bolt of lightning shooting straight out of the palm of Jem’s hand. As it made contact with Ashton’s chest, he instantly howled and clutched at his charred and scorched hide.

Among his piercing howls, Jena could hear the sounds of wings flapping. Crouched on the ground, she looked to the dark sky and a sense of relief suddenly took hold. Flying above—so close she could feel a soothing current of air breeze against her face—were the glorious battle angels, equipped with swords, preparing to fight against the five-headed serpent. Then she heard them shouting.

“Attack!” Cronus called out, leading his comrades in arms into battle.

With lightning speed, Icarus swung his sharp-edged weapon as one of the serpents snapped its head forward, slicing clean through its thick-scaled skin. The monstrous head struck the ground and blood spurted like an acidic red fountain.

The remainder of the reptilian creatures simultaneously let loose a hellish shriek as though they felt the death of the fifth companion.

Seething with anger and unbearable agony, Ashton fell to his knees, grieving over the foreseen death of his Master. A look of despair flashed across his face by the tragedy of his loss, but it passed quickly, and unbridled fury reawakened inside him.

“Now!” Cronus yelled, louder this time. We can do this, he thought silently, rearing back his sword, getting ready to slay his enemy. God created us for this, to protect the innocent from evil, and we will not fail him. As he swung his mighty sword that was as long as his forearm, Helios, Lailah, and Frigg followed suit. All at once, they decapitated the snake-like heads in the flash of light, and at the same time it released Jena’s binding spell. Now, their task was almost complete.

At first, nothing happened. Then Jena’s breathing suddenly became deeper and more guttural. It was at that moment she gasped in relief, realizing the spell had been broken and she was changing quickly now. Already, straining muscles rippled beneath Jena’s skin, while coarse black hairs sprouted from every pore and began to cover the vulnerability of her nakedness. The shape of her face twisted and stretched until her human features were no more. Jena felt herself expanding as if her skin could no longer contain its human form. Her inner creature throbbed with power and a lust for blood—the blood of the monster who had created her.

Ashton’s eyes widened in alarm as he grasped what was transpiring. He slowly rose to his feet and backed away, wary of Jena’s creature. “No,” he uttered in stunned disbelief. Then his voice became angry, “This cannot be!”

Jem and his allies stood back and watched as Jena released a predator’s growl and moved into an upright position, her body rising and rising until she towered to the height of at least six feet or more.

For the first time in over two hundred years, Ashton took a step backward in fear of his life.

“Remember, Jena,” Ashton said, looking at her desperately, continuing to slowly back away, getting closer to the opening in the ground. “If you kill me, Nicolas dies.”

Jena was fully aware that Ashton was trying to dissuade her, but she ignored his statement and kept her focus. Although she now had the instincts of a killer, an important part of her still remained intact, something Ashton had lost a long time ago—his humanity.

“I hold all the power,” Jena simply said.

Baring her teeth, she lunged forward and struck Ashton with a flash of fangs and claws, driving him backward. Time seemed to slow as they fell over the edge of the pit below and disappeared into what looked to be Satan’s dark abyss. The haunting sound of a mournful howl went on and on, fading into a distant echo.

To be continued . . .

 

Author Notes A reference to terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Jena McCain - She is a young artist with the ability to speak with the dead. She has been cursed by an age old creature who feeds off the blood and flesh of humans. She has one hundred and one days to resist her bloodlust. If she succumbs to the curse, she will become the creature who has bitten her.

Ashton Ratcliff - He is from the 1800s. He took his own life when his beloved refused to marry him. His younger brother, Nicolas was tricked by an evil entity, promising to bring Ashton back to the living in order to save his soul. When Nicolas discovers what his brother has become, he is desperate to destroy him and save Jena.

Angie - She is a Breedline and Jena's best friend.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Battle angels - (Lailah, Cronus, Helios, Icarus, and Frigg) Their one purpose for existence is to serve the Creator in the war against demons and evil havoc on earth. The battle angels are unlike any of the Creator's angels. The indigenous battle angels, on average, stand ten feet tall, although a few tower to the height of twelve feet with a more muscular build. Tattooed with unique warrior markings, the black-winged warriors are suited with armor typical of ancient heroes, and they wield a type of sword associated with a long-gone empire. They are the bravest of angels, who consider only the importance of their mission, and are perfectly willing to give their life in the service of righteousness. Gifted with special powers, they fight against the dark side. They are particularly fond of the human race and consider themselves humanity's special protectors.


Chapter 34
The Shadow/Part 2

By scongrove

Joseph pulled into the vacant parking space outside the building where he had an appointment to meet with his therapist. His thoughts were anything but calm. The idea of drudging up all those painful memories of his childhood always made him nervous. He’d spent years burying his past, so digging it back up was difficult. It had taken him a long time to put it to rest.

He imagined himself standing once again in the house he grew up in. Although he had burned it to the ground, he could still remember every detail. From the rancid odor of cigarettes and liquor, to the hidden bloodstains on the carpet. Eventually, the droplets of blood had gotten too big to cover up. Then, an image of his father came to mind, clear as a photograph. He saw the hateful scowl on his face. The dark and sinister look in his eyes. He was evil, straight down to the core. His thoughts shifted to that dreadful day, where he watched his father beat his mother. He could still recall her last words.

“You father was an abusive drunk,” the Shadow whispered into his subconscious. “But that’s in the past. He got what was coming.”   

When Joseph peered into the rearview mirror, the Shadow’s image stared back at him. “After what he did to my mother,” he said, snarling his upper lip, “he deserved to die.”

“Yesss…” the Shadow hissed. “And now… his soul belongs to us.”  

Joseph inhaled a deep breath and held it for a few seconds before he let it out. “Let’s get this over with.”

He was on autopilot as he got out of the vehicle and made his way across the parking lot. When he walked up to a set of double doors, he stepped aside as a woman with long black hair came through. She kept her eyes forward and hurriedly moved passed him. Although he barely got a glimpse of her face, her perfume lingered. The sweet fragrance reminded him of his mother’s. He swallowed the knot that had formed in the back of his throat and pushed his way through the entrance.

On the other side, the small waiting area looked empty. As he moved toward the receptionist’s desk, he made eye contact with a pretty redhead who was seated in a chair in the far corner of the room.

“Yummm…,” the Shadow purred. “Look at all that red, luscious hair. So delectable.” 

Joseph quickly looked away, ignoring the voice in his head and trudged forward. When he approached the front desk, a man with a bright, yellow polka dot bow tie, and tortoiseshell glasses addressed him.

“Good morning.” He dipped his head a little. “Please sign in and I’ll call your name when the doctor is ready to see you.”

Joseph nodded and signed in.

It wasn’t long after he took a seat, he heard his name called. As he got to his feet, he quickly glanced at the redhead. She noticed and smiled at him.

“She likes you, Joseph,” the Shadow said in a taunting voice. “You should ask for her number.”   

Joseph focused on the nurse who stood in the doorway. She greeted him with a smile and said, “Right this way, Mr. Parker.”

Joseph followed her down a long corridor, feeling as if he were going to the gallows. The passageway seemed to go on forever. Moments later, the nurse stopped outside a door and placed a thick binder inside a file holder mounted on the wall. He briefly stared at them, realizing it held all the documented pages of his childhood past. God… If only he could make them disappear.

The sound of the door opening suddenly brought him back to focus.

“Please, make yourself comfortable,” the nurse said, motioning him inside. “Dr. Mendoza will be with you shortly.”

“Mendoza?” Joseph slightly tilted his head, the name sounding oddly familiar. “Where’s Dr. Conover?”

“I’m sorry, but Dr. Conover is no longer with us. Dr. Mendoza is taking over all his patients.  If there’s a problem, we can reschedule you with another therapist.”

Joseph shook his head. “No, it’s fine.”   

The nurse nodded and waited outside the doorway while Joseph went inside. As he stepped into the spacious room, a sweet aroma, like French vanilla, invaded his senses. He found it comforting and refreshing.

As soon as the door closed, he sat down in oversized chair next to a window overlooking the city. The colors of the walls were dusty blue and across the room, above a desk, was a painting of the beach. Although his nerves were pins and needles, it gave him a sense of calm and relaxation.

“I wonder if the new shrink is a male or a female,” the Shadow spoke. “I hope it’s a female.” He deepened his voice. “An attractive female.”  

Joseph flinched and looked up when the door sprung open. He felt his mouth go wide when he saw the woman standing in the doorway with his folder in her grasp. She had dark skin and long braided hair neatly arranged on top of her head. She wore khakis and a blue pinstriped jacket. She had small gold hoops in each of her earlobes and a pair of reading glasses attached to a lanyard around her neck. Her big brown eyes reminded him of someone from the past.   

She came forward with her hand outstretched. “Good morning, Joseph.”

Recognizing her soft voice, he slowly rose to his feet and took her hand.

“G-Good morning,” he said, his heart beating like it was going to burst from his chest.

She smiled. “You do remember me, don’t you?”

He quickly bobbed his head up and down. “Y-You’re the police officer…” he swallowed hard, feeling like his knees were going to buckle, “…that helped me.” There was a pause. “But how?”

“Please, Joseph,” she said, looking at him with kind eyes, “have a seat and we’ll talk.”

The Shadow huffed. “Don’t let her get inside your head, Joseph.” 

When he settled back into his chair, she walked over to her desk and sat down behind it.

“First, let me reintroduce myself,” she said, placing the file on top of the desk. “My name is Dr. Katie Mendoza. And yes, I was that officer.” She raised a speculative brow. “You see, Joseph… that day changed both of our lives. You were just an innocent child and you didn’t deserve what happened to you. When I watched child services take you away, it broke my heart. You lost both your parents at such a young age. Considering the circumstances, it would have been traumatizing for anyone. I’ll never forget that look in your eyes. From then on, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life helping people.”

“But, isn’t that what police officers do?”

“Of course,” she replied. “They do protect and serve others, but I wanted to do more. So, I went back to school and got my degree in psychology. I’ve been a licensed therapist for fifteen years now.”

The blank expression on Joseph’s face made her uneasy. She leaned forward and said, “Joseph, if talking to me makes you uncomfortable, I completely understand. You can reschedule with another therapist…”

“No, no,” he quickly interjected. “I’m fine. Actually…” he released a deep breath. “I’d rather talk with you.”   

Her eyes lit up. “That’s wonderful, Joseph.” She straightened her shoulders. “Do you mind if I record our session? Everything will be kept confidential.”

When he nodded in agreement, she placed a small recorder on her desk.

“I noticed you changed your last name,” she said. “It used to be Harris, am I correct?”

“Yes. I wanted a fresh start, so I took my mother’s maiden name.” 

“I see.” She nodded slowly, reaching for her glasses. “So, tell me about yourself, Joseph,” she went on to say, focusing on his face through a thick pair of lenses. “I read over your file and it says you’re a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle.”

“Not to mention a stone-cold killer,” the Shadow said in a calculating voice.

“Yes.” Joseph smiled at her. 

“That must be an exciting career. How is that going?”

“I love my job,” he replied. “It’s very rewarding.”

“I’m glad to hear that. What got you interested in journalism?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I guess I’ve always wanted to be a writer.”

“There must have been something that piqued your interest. A certain book or an author maybe?”

“Boring…” the Shadow said around a yawn. “Kill her, Joseph. Let’s just eat her heart and be done with it already.”  
 
Suddenly, Joseph’s expression went blank. He looked past Dr. Mendoza and stared off into the distance.

“Joseph, is something wrong?”

As time passed and he didn’t answer, she raised her voice, “Joseph…”

He jerked. “I’m sorry. Did you say something?”

“What happened?” She looked at him in question. “I lost you there for a minute.”

“Sorry. I was just thinking.”

 “What were you thinking about, Joseph?”

“Eating you,” the Shadow replied.    

“Oh, nothing really.”

“You seemed to be lost in thought. Is there something you want to talk about?”

“Don’t fall for her tricks, Joseph,” the Shadow said. “She’s playing mind games with you.”

“Well… there’s this girl I met.”

“Seriously, Joseph?” The Shadow groaned.

“That doesn’t sound like nothing.” Her voice took on a curious note. “How did you meet her?”

“I found her purse.”

Her brows lifted. “You found her purse?”

He nodded. “I was out biking early this morning and found a purse on the side of the road.”

The Shadow cackled. “You are such a liar.”

“It had a phone and an ID inside,” he continued on, “so I took it to the owner. She invited me to stay for coffee. We started talking, and then I asked her out. She said yes.”

“I’m happy for you, Joseph. When are you going out?”

“Tonight.”

“Wonderful,” she boasted. “And how romantic. Your first date is on Valentine’s Day. Are you taking her anywhere special?”

“I thought about Kiraku’s, but she doesn’t like Sushi. So, I decided on Corso’s.”

“Great choice. She’ll love it. The food is delicious. And save room for dessert.”

“Don’t worry,” the Shadow mocked. “We’ll have plenty of room for more than dessert.”  

“I was wondering,” Joseph abruptly said, drowning out the voice in his head. “Could I ask you for some advice?”

“Sure. I’ll do my best.”

“Should I…” he briefly paused, “…bring her flowers?”

“I’m pretty sure she would appreciate flowers. Especially since it’s Valentine’s Day.”

Joseph smiled. “Thank you, Dr. Mendoza.”

“I’m glad I could help. So, what does this lucky, young lady do for a living?”

“She’s a substance abuse counselor at the New Hope Foundation.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” he said. “She helps people… like you.”

“She sounds delightful, Joseph.”

“And delicious,” the Shadow said, smacking his lips.

“You know… after all these years,” she said, shaking her head, “I’ve always wondered how things turned out for you. I’d hoped you’d be placed into a home with a loving family. Although it’s obvious you’ve had your share of trials and tribulations, it appears you’re adjusting quite well. Am I right?” 

Joseph shifted nervously in his chair.

“Tell her you’re fine,” the Shadow urged.

 “Don’t worry, Dr. Mendoza. I’m doing fine.”

“Are you sure? I mean, if there’s something you’d like to talk about, that’s what I’m here for.”

As silence overtook the room, he felt like an idiot for not saying anything. The fact of the matter was, he knew she wanted to bring up his past. But he just didn’t have it in him to talk about it, especially that dreadful day.

Finally, she broke the silence and said, “What about your mother? Would you like to talk about her?”

From out of nowhere, he felt an overwhelming pain in the center of his chest. It was as though his heart was breaking into a million pieces. 
     
“Be cautious, Joseph,” the Shadow warned.

Joseph briefly closed his eyes, remembering the last time he saw his mother. Images of her flashed through his mind. They were so clear and vivid. Her bruised and swollen face... Her eyes wet with tears and full of regret...

With an overpowering urge to leave, he forced himself to stay and said, “I loved… my mother.”

“Of course, you did,” she said, her voice expressing compassion. “And I’m sure she loved you dearly.”

He quickly lowered his head and bit back tears.

“Don’t give in to weakness,” the Shadow said. “Together, we are strong.”   

“Joseph, there’s something I’d like to discuss with you. It’s about the institute.” 

He looked back up. His face was stoic. Although his outer appearance seemed calm, his insides were positively screaming. Oh, God… He wanted to throw up. He swallowed and nodded instead.

“As I was going over your records, something caught my attention. Your physician, Dr. Manos at the Summit Behavioral Institute, stated you suffered from a lack of empathy and displayed symptoms of schizophrenia at age seven. He mentioned you heard voices, and they told you to do bad things. Do you still hear those voices?”

“Lie,” the Shadow demanded.

Joseph shook his head.

“Are you sure, Joseph?”

“Lie better.”

“Yes.” He smiled a little. “I’m sure.”

“Okay,” she said, staring over the rim of her glasses. The look in her eyes said she didn’t believe him.

Joseph glanced down at his watch. It was almost noon. God, he prayed the session would soon be over.

“I think that’s enough for today,” she said, noticing the time.

The Shadow grumbled, “FINALLY.”

“I’d like to set up another session in two weeks.”

Joseph took a deep breath. “Yeah, sure.”

When she rose from her chair, she said, “It was nice to see you again, Joseph.”

He quickly pulled himself up, moved toward the desk, and extended his hand. “Thank you, Dr. Mendoza.”

“I look forward to our next session,” she said, clasping ahold of his hand. “And good luck on your date tonight. I hope you both have a great time.”

He smiled. “Thanks. Me too.”

It hadn’t been long after Joseph left when Dr. Mendoza rewound the recording of the session. As she began to listen, she heard something odd in the background. It sounded like a third voice. No, she thought. There must be something wrong with the recording. Instantly, she hit the stop button and pushed rewind. After a few seconds, she pressed play. She turned up the volume and listened carefully. Oh, God… There it was again. She went stiff. Abruptly, the hairs on her arms stood on end. She was trembling from head to foot. Although the voice was muffled and difficult to understand, she was positive she heard the words, kill her.     

To be continued. . .
 
 
 

 

Author Notes Joseph Parker - At age five, his abusive father murdered his mother. When his father was sent to prison for twenty years, Joseph was placed in foster care. Dealing with the death of his mother, he later suffered with what was thought to be schizophrenia and placed into a mental institute. Although he heard voices, it wasn't due to a mental illness. It was an evil entity called the Shadow. Over the years, the Shadow taught him how to manipulate his physicians into believing he completely normal and ready to be released into society.


Chapter 35
The Shadow/Part 3

By scongrove

Nearly six hours later, Joseph stood nervously outside the door to Carrie’s apartment with one hand behind his back, holding onto a single, long-stemmed rose. Before he reached up to ring the doorbell, he blew out a deep breath and relaxed as best he could. The therapy session from earlier weighed heavily on his mind. Had it been just a coincidence that the officer from years ago was now his therapist? Or could it be some sort of sign? Whatever the case, it had dug up those painful memories he’d buried a long time ago.   

“If it makes you feel better,” the Shadow spoke out, “we could eat Dr. Mendoza.”

“No,” Joseph said in a hushed voice. “I don’t want to hurt her. Besides, I have more sessions to go to. And please… give me some time alone with Carrie tonight.”

“Come on, Joseph. Don’t push me out.”

 Calling on his inner strength, Joseph pressed the doorbell and waited.

As the door swung open, Carrie’s roommate greeted him with a smile. “Hey, Joseph.”

“Jesssicaaa…” the Shadow said in a sensual, disembodied drawl.    
 
Joseph cleared his throat. “Hi, Jessica. Is Carrie around?”

She nodded and stepped aside. “Carrie…” she called out. “Your date is here.”

The minute Carrie came into view, Joseph nearly swallowed his tongue. She was so lovely. Her hair fell loosely past her shoulders in thick, blonde waves. Due to her natural beauty, and her delicate features, she wore a minimal amount of makeup, and the only jewelry she had on was a pair of tiny diamond earrings. As his eyes ventured lower, the little black dress she had on suddenly brought him to attention.  

“Oh, how yummy,” the Shadow said, his words ending in a soft purr.

Joseph tuned out the voice in his head and gazed into her big, brown eyes. For some odd reason, the color soothed him in a way he could not explain.

“Hello, Carrie,” he softly said, presenting the rose he had behind his back.

“Oh, how lovely,” she said, admiring the blood rose that was the size of a grapefruit.  
  
“You look beautiful.”

“Why, thank you, Joseph.”

He smiled. “You’re welcome.”

“Please, come in,” she said, motioning him inside. “I’m almost ready. I just need to get my purse and jacket. I won’t be but a second.”

“Of course.” He bowed his head a little. “Take your time. There’s no hurry.”

As he moved past her, Carrie noticed how handsome he looked. God, he smelled wonderful. A hint of lavender, yet manly and unbelievably sexy. He had on black tailored slacks, a matching belt and a long-sleeve dress shirt. His square-toed shoes were buffed to a shine and his shoulder-length hair was neatly pulled back. In spite of his good looks, there was something about him… something dark and mysterious that made her want to know more. He was like a drug and she found herself becoming addicted.

Moments later, as they made their way to the vehicle, Joseph jogged ahead and waited by the passenger door. He opened it as she approached and said, “After you, my dear.”

She looked up at him funny. “You’re opening the door for me?”

He smiled. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “I guess I wasn’t expecting you to be such a gentleman. You’re actually the first person to ever open a door for me.”

He drew his brows tight. “Really?”

“Yeah,” she said with a slight smirk in her voice. “I didn’t realize chivalry still existed.”

“What can I say,” he said, opening the door wider. “I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy.” 

She ducked inside and before he closed the door, she looked up at him and said, “By the way, you look very handsome.”

His smile broadened. “Thank you.”

He quickly moved to the driver’s side and slide behind the wheel. When he turned on the ignition, he glanced at her and said, “Have you ever ate at Corso’s?”

“No, but I heard the food is fantastic. Is that where you’re taking me?”

“Yep.” He nodded. “I was told to save room for their dessert. And since it’s technically Valentine’s Day, I think we should order some after dinner, preferably something in chocolate.”

“Count me in,” she said with a giggle. “I love chocolate.”

He arched a brow. “Well then, we’ve definitely got something in common.”

As they arrived at the restaurant, the parking lot was full. When Joseph escorted Carrie inside, they were instantly greeted by a female hostess. She had a tall, willowy model’s figure and jet-black hair arranged in a long, thick braid. Her green eyes, surrounded by thick, long eyelashes, lingered on Joseph’s face. “Welcome to Corso’s.” Her red-coated lips formed a flirtatious grin. “What is the name of the party?”

“Parker,” Joseph replied.

“Reservations for two?” she asked as if Carrie was nonexistent.

When Joseph nodded, the hostess said, “Please, right this way, Mr. Parker.”

She led them to their table that was close to a window overlooking the patio. The view was breathtaking. It had a five-tier granite waterfall surrounded by lights and landscaped with a variety of plants. The sound of rushing water was tranquil, creating a pleasant atmosphere.    
  
Joseph pulled out a chair for Carrie and said, “Ladies first.”

As soon as they were seated, the hostess presented them with menus and said, “Your server will be with you shortly.” She stepped a little closer to Joseph. “Can I get you anything to drink while you wait?”
 
He looked across the table, waiting for Carrie to speak.

“What kind of white wine do you have?” she asked.

As the hostess went over the list, Joseph kept his eyes trained on Carrie’s face. Although she wasn’t overly pretty, more like the girl next door, she captivated him to no end.

“I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay, please,” Carrie said.

The hostess faked a smile. “Perfect.” She focused on Joseph and cleared her throat. “And for you, sir?”

Joseph didn’t take his eyes off Carrie. “I’ll have the same, thank you.”

“Are you sure?” the hostess said, trying to get Joseph to look her way. “The Cabernet Sauvignon goes quite well with the Italian.”

“The Chardonnay will be fine. Thanks.”
 
The hostess took the hint. “Very well.” She dipped her head. “Your waiter will be back with your drinks.”

When they were alone, Joseph said, “So, I’m dying to know. How did work go today? Your boss wasn’t a jerk to you, was she?”

Carrie sighed. “You really want to know?”

“Uh-oh… that doesn’t sound good. If you don’t feel like talking about it…”

“No, it’s fine,” she said, waving it off like it was no big deal. “I guess it wasn’t too bad. But I’m probably going to get a tongue lashing first thing in the morning.”

“Whys that?”

“When I showed up late today, it didn’t go over too well with her. I was supposed stay after work to make up my time.”

Joseph frowned. “But, it’s Valentine’s Day.”

“Yeah well, Veronica doesn’t give a hoot about my social life or anyone else’s for that matter. Last year, I spent the entire Thanksgiving Day at the office.”

“That’s ludicrous,” Joseph spouted. “What was so important that it couldn’t wait?”

“It was over a guy,” she said.

He looked at her confused. “A guy?”

She nodded. “A few of our counselors quit right before the holidays and it left us short-handed. So, we had to find new replacements. They hired Janey Cook and Dan Whitmore. It was obvious my boss was attracted to Dan. She practically made a spectacle of herself. It was rather embarrassing. The entire office felt sorry for the guy. And boy did she pour on the sugar. It’s not like her to be nice to anyone, especially her own employees. To make a long story short, he ignored her advances and asked me out.”

Joseph chuckled. “I bet she didn’t like that.”

Carrie shook her head. “Not in the least.”

“So, I’m guessing she took it out on you, right?”

“Yep,” she replied. “And I didn’t even go out with him. But still, she does everything she can to punish me.”

“That’s messed up, Carrie. She’s harassing you. Don’t let her get away with that. You need to report her to upper management.”

Carrie sighed. “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Her father is the CEO.”

“Damn,” Joseph muttered under his breath. “That explains a lot. No wonder she gets away with treating her employees poorly. I’m sorry, Carrie.” His brows clenched. “That type of crap pisses me off. It’s not right.”

“I know,” Carrie groaned. “And I’ve thought about leaving, but I love my job. Other than my boss, all my coworkers are wonderful to work with. I just hate to let one shitty person ruin what I’ve worked so hard for. You know what I mean?” 

He reached across the table and placed his hand over hers. “Yes, I know exactly how you feel.” His expression softened. “Hang in there. Remember what I said about karma. You reap what you sow.”

“Yesss…” the Shadow suddenly whispered into Joseph’s subconscious. “And we are the reaper.”

“Thanks for listening,” she said with a smile in her voice. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to be such a Debbie Downer.”

“No, you’re fine.” He lightly squeezed her hand. “You can talk to me about anything.”

“I can’t wrap my mind around why a guy like you hasn’t already been snatched up by now,” she said, blushing a little. “You’re the nicest guy, Joseph. Any girl would be lucky to date you.”

“Well, maybe I just haven’t found the right girl.” He winked. “Until now.”

Carrie’s brows lifted. “Hmmm… maybe.”

They were distracted when a male server came over and placed their drinks on the table. “Hi, I’m Gary,” he said with a high, feminine pitch. “I’ll be your waiter for the evening. Have you had time to look over the menu?”

Joseph removed his hand from Carrie’s and reached for his menu. “Could you give us a few more minutes, Gary?”

“Of course. If I may suggest, the Penne alla vodka is one of our popular dishes,” he said, using his hands to express his words. “It’s one of my favorites. But please, take your time. I’ll give you a few minutes to decide.”

Joseph nodded. “Thanks Gary.”

As the waiter sauntered off, the Shadow cackled. “I think Gary is a little light in the loafers.”

Joseph tuned out the Shadow’s crude remark and said, “I think I’ll try what Gary suggested.” He closed his menu and smiled at Carrie. “It sounds good. What about you?”

“Good choice,” she said as her eyes flipped up to meet his. “I think I’ll have the same.”

He reached for his glass of wine and before he took a sip, he said, “Well, you know what they say?”

“And what’s that?” she asked.

“Great minds think alike.”

“Carrie… what are you doing here?”

Joseph lifted his eyes to meet a pudgy, middle-aged woman wearing a gold sequin cocktail dress that reminded him of a disco ball. Her bleach blonde hair and blue mascara above her eyes made her look like a cheap hooker. Her silicone injected lips were pursed, and she was hovering over Carrie with a menacing stare.

Carrie stiffened in her chair. “V-Veronica…”

The Shadow inhaled sharply, then said, “Now that’s what I call a full course meal. I’ll have her to go.”  

Veronica huffed. “Aren’t you supposed to be working late?”

“Um… I-I had a date,” Carrie nervously stumbled over her words.

Joseph instantly got to his feet and extended his hand. “I’m Joseph. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss…”

She took hold of his hand. “It’s Hernandez,” she answered, a smug look on her face. “Veronica Hernandez.”

He felt like a bug under a microscope as her eyes roamed over his face and ventured lower.

Joseph released her hand and said, “Are you a friend or a family member of Carrie’s?”

“Neither,” Veronica snidely remarked. “I’m her boss.”  
 
“Oh, I see.” He raised a brow. “Well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how lucky you are to have Carrie as an employee. From what I clearly see, she’s dedicated to her work and a great person all around.”

Carrie smiled and Veronica said, “Obviously you haven’t known her for long.”

Joseph frowned and Carrie’s smile diminished.

“No, I have not,” Joseph firmly stated. “But it doesn’t take me long to figure out a person’s character.” He glared at Veronica. “I know a bad egg when I see one.”

Carrie quickly covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

Veronica smirked. “Is that so?”

Suddenly, Gary appeared to take their order in the nick of time.

“If you don’t mind, Miss Hernandez,” Joseph said, “I have a lovely date I’d like to get back to.”

Veronica’s overly plump lips tightened. “Fine.” She looked away from Joseph and stared at Carrie with a scowl on her face. “I’ll expect to see you first thing in the morning.” Her voice dropped deeper. “And don’t be late this time.”

Carrie heaved a sigh of relief as Veronica stomped off, leaving them in peace.

A few minutes later, after Gary left with their order, Carrie’s body shimmered back to life.

“Thank you, Joseph.”

“For what?”

“For standing up to my boss,” she said. “And I have to say,” she arched a brow, “what you said to her was priceless.”

“You’re welcome, Carrie.” He grinned. “And she had that coming. When you said your boss was a jerk, you were being polite. The word I have in mind is far worse. There’s a special place for people who treat others that way.”  
   
“Yah,” the Shadow said. “We’ll be sending her there soon.”  
 
“No one has ever stood up for me like that. I mean, sure, my family and Jessica have always had my back, but no guy I’ve dated has ever done something so… nice.”

“I’m surprised to hear that,” he said, looking at her bewildered. “And to tell you the truth, I’m surprised you’re single.”

“I was dating a guy recently,” she hesitantly said. “But it didn’t work out.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. He must have been nuts to let a girl like you get away.”

“Well actually…” She looked down. “He’s dead.”

“I’m so sorry, Carrie. What happened?”

Her eyes lifted slowly. “H-He was murdered.”

“What?” His eyes rounded. “That’s horrible. And this was… recently?”

She nodded. “I’m sorry. I probably should have told you.”

“No, it’s okay, Carrie.” His eyes softened. “My God. Were you close?”

“No. We’d only been dating a few months. He wasn’t good to me. Last night was the last straw. He’d stood me up and it wasn’t the first time. That’s when I decided to break it off. Then, around three in the morning, he came to my apartment. He was drunk. I refused to answer the door. When he finally gave up, Jessica and I was about to go to bed, and that’s when we heard a car alarm going off. We figured he might have passed out in his car, so we went to check. We found him…” She shook her head. “It was awful.”

“And he was tasty,” the Shadow hissed. “The bad one’s always taste better.”

A sick taste of guilt welled up inside Joseph. He swallowed, forcing it down and muttered, “I-I—”

He was abruptly cut off when Gary suddenly arrived with their food.  

To be continued. . .
 
 
                 
  
     
 
    
    

 

Author Notes A reference for cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

Joseph Parker - He is a freelance journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. At age five, after his father murdered his mother, an evil entity invaded his body. It speaks inside his subconscious, forcing him to kill.

Carrie Randall - She is a counselor for substance abuse in Berkeley California.

Jessica Phillips - She is Carrie's best friend and roommate.

The Shadow - An evil entity that possesses a host who feeds off human hearts to gain their souls.


Chapter 36
The Shadow/Part 4

By scongrove

Tim and Tessa anxiously stood in the Covenant’s library, waiting for everyone to arrive. Not only did they want to discuss the situation dealing with Jena’s curse, they wanted to alert everyone about the guy Jena had previously encountered. By what she had described to Tessa, he didn’t sound human. To make matters worse, she sensed he was hunting for food, particularly the humankind. After Detective Manuel Sanchez and his partner, Frank Perkins discovered Kevin Russo’s body in the parking lot of the apartment complex where Frank’s niece lived, Tim had a hunch that the mysterious stranger was linked to the crime scene.

“Let’s go ahead a take a seat,” Tim said, pulling out a chair for Tessa. “I have a feeling it’s going to be awhile before everyone shows up.”

“Well, we didn’t give them much notice,” Tessa said as she sat down and scooted her chair up to the table. “Plus, some of us had to find babysitters.”

Tim sat down across from her and said, “It’s fine. There’s no hurry.” 
     
Lawrence and Roman were the first ones to arrive to the meeting. Following behind them were, Bull, Justice, and Lena. All five team members were new to the California Covenant, but were already considered part of the Breedline family.

Angie rushed in and caught up with Bull. “Sorry I’m late,” she whispered to him. “My flight was delayed twice.”

He reached for her hand. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. You’re fine. We just got here ourselves.” He intertwined his fingers with hers. “I’m just glad you made it. By the way, happy Valentine’s Day.”

“Aw…” she sighed. “Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.”

As they approached the table, Angie searched the room. “Where’s Jena?”

“Don’t worry.” He lightly squeezed her hand. “I’m sure she will be here with Nicolas shortly.”

Angie smiled up at Bull, realizing how much she loved this man. Bull was a giant compared to the average male and built like a brick house, not to mention sexy as hell. With a common military background, and a soldier of war, Bull was the type of person who stood up for all mankind. His compassion for others spoke volumes for his character. He was genuine and trustworthy unlike anyone she’d ever met, besides her best friend, Jena. Although their relationship was new, there was no doubt he was the one for her. They fit good together. Damn good.   
   
“Go ahead a take a seat,” Tim directed them, bringing Angie back to focus. “We’ll get started as soon as everyone gets here.”

As they settled behind a table that would easily seat thirty people, Drakon came into the room. The beard he’d recently grown out, along with his dark Mohawk made him look more lethal and menacing than usual. He was big, towering to the height of six-seven and stronger than all the other men residing in the Covenant. Although Drakon was born a Breedline, an unfortunate incident from his past had altered his transformation. He’d been cursed to live the remainder of his life as a rogue wolf. But, unlike most rogues, who were banished by their Covenant and forbidden to ever shift back into their human forms, Drakon was an exception to the rule. Due to his undying loyalty to the Breedline, vowing to protect their species and humans from the dark forces, he was given a second chance. Now that he’d found love again, his life had taken on a whole new meaning, especially after he’d recently found out he was going to be a father. Before he took a seat next to Roman, he dipped his head in Tessa’s direction and took a seat alongside Tim.

Jem and Mia strolled into the room holding hands and sat down in the empty chairs next to Drakon. Although Mia was drop dead gorgeous with her long, silky black hair, legs like a gazelle and a body that practically drove men to their knees, there was only room for one man in her life. The first time she saw Jem, it was love at first sight. Besides, he wasn’t your average looking Joe. With a fantastic head of hair most women would die for, broad shoulders and a lean, muscular physique, Jem was the type that turned heads.   
     
Drakon leaned in close to Mia and Jem. “Where’s little Evie?”

“She’s with Cassie,” Mia said. “I guess you had already left before we stopped by.”

“Ah, sorry I missed her,” Drakon said. “I’m sure Cassie was thrilled to babysit for you. She can’t wait to be a mother herself.” 

“With all the practice she’s had working in the Neonatal unit and babysitting all the kiddos in the Covenant,” Jem said, “she’ll make an excellent mom.”

“Yeah,” Drakon replied, grinning ear to ear. “She already has that motherhood glow about her.”

“So…” Jem cocked a brow. “Are you ready for fatherhood?”

“Knowing I’m about to be a father is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, besides marrying your sister.”

Jem and Mia, along with all the others, smiled at Drakon.  

“Where’s Jace?” Drakon asked, glancing between Tessa and the door. “He usually gets here when you do.”

“He should be here any minute,” she replied. “He had to make a quick pitstop. He’s dropping off the twins at Anna’s. She’s watching them during the meeting.”

“I like Anna,” Drakon commented. “She fits into the Covenant quite well, wouldn’t you say?”

Tessa nodded. “Absolutely. I just adore her.”

“So does Zeke Rizzo,” Drakon said. “Here lately, I’ve noticed the two spending more time together.”

“It’s rather odd,” Jem said. “I’d never put the two together. They seem like total opposites.”

“You know what they say,” Tessa said. “Opposites do attract.”

“I can tell you this,” Mia spoke out, “Anna has been a godsend to both Jem and I, not to mention my sister Eve. I’ve never met another person that loves children as much as Anna. It’s like clockwork every morning. She stops by our room with little Arius and Tidus, offering to take Evie with them downstairs for breakfast.”

“I have to admit,” Jem pointed out, “although Anna is Sebastian’s sister, I don’t think the girl has a mean bone in her body. And since she’s been stopping by to take our daughter in the mornings, those few hours Mia and I get alone have been nice.”

“I agree,” Mia said, smiling at Jem.

“Well, speak of the devil,” Drakon said as he caught sight of Jace entering the open doorway.

The second Jace saw Tessa, he smiled. Before he settled into the chair beside her, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “Hey, sweetheart.”

Fatherhood had changed Jace, his short temper dialed down a notch. Which was a good thing. Underneath all that long, gorgeous blond hair and a face just as spectacular, lurked a seven-foot hairy beast that looked like the abominable snowman crossed with a werewolf on steroids. When Jace’s beast was provoked, everyone, Drakon included, quickly cleared a path and prayed like hell they weren’t on his menu. So far, they’d been lucky. The Beast was an asset to the Breedline species, fighting alongside them against the bad guys.  

“Thanks for dropping off the boys,” Tessa said, placing her hand over Jace’s. “Did they take to Anna okay?”

“Oh yeah,” Jace said, waving it off like it was nothing. “They clung to her like glue as soon as I got there.”

Tessa’s eyes rounded. “Did they fuss when you left?”

“Heck no,” Jace laughed a little. “Arius and Tidus were there. The second they noticed them I became nonexistent. All they cared about was getting to play with their cousins.”

“Anna is going to have her hands full with two sets of twin boys,” Jem mentioned.

“She had help,” Jace said. “Eve, Tara, and Lailah were there.”

Jem nodded and Tessa looked relieved.

“I’m proud of everyone,” Tim chimed in. “Especially you, Jace. Forgiving Eve and Sebastian proves you have a good heart. And it sets a great example for your sons.”

“Thanks Tim, but it’s not always easy,” Jace said with a clear smirk in his voice. “Sometimes it takes everything I have not to kick his ass. I try to keep my distance as much as possible.”

“Believe me,” Tim let out a deep breath, “I completely understand.”

“Speaking of Sebastian,” Drakon said, looking between Tim and Tessa. “Is he coming to the meeting?”

Tim shook his head. “Although we’re starting to trust him, I don’t think he’s ready to be included in our meetings. Not yet anyway. At some point, we’ll see how it works out.” 

“I have to admit,” Tessa said. “Sebastian has made a complete turnaround.”

“Yeah,” Drakon muttered. “And it’s hard to believe your brother has buddied up with him. I figured if Jace didn’t end up killing Sebastian, Steven surely would.”

“I’m glad everyone has given Sebastian a second chance,” Tessa said. “Forgiveness heals the soul.”

“Heals who’s soul?” Steven asked as he walked into the room, catching the butt end of the conversation.

“Great timing, buddy,” Jace snickered. “We were just talking about you.”

“Oh? What about?”

“Ah, everyone is getting all warm and fuzzy about me and you playing nice with Sebastian.”

“Is that right?” Steven said with a slight chuckle. “Since you brought up the subject, Sebastian and I were going to ask if anyone here is interested in a guy’s trip.”

Jace cocked a brow. “A guy’s trip?”

“Yah, why not?” Steven shrugged. “I thought we’d take the bikes to Arizona for a few days. I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon.”

“Sorry to burst your bubble,” Tim interjected. “As much as I like the idea, we’ll have to postpone the guy trip. We’ve got more pressing issues at hand. That’s why Tessa and I called this meeting.”  

“What guy trip?” 

When everyone turned toward the doorway, Kyle and Casey stood side-by-side with a look of enthusiasm stamped all over their faces.

Tim waved them over. “Come have a seat, guys.”

The minute they sat down, Kyle said, “So what’s this guy trip I overheard you talking about?”

“I thought it’d be nice if we took a road trip to Arizona for a few days,” Steven said, “until Tim crushed my plans.”

“Oh man,” Kyle groaned, averting his eyes from Steven. He looked at Tim with a pitiful expression. “What’s so dire that we can’t go on a guy’s trip?”

“As I was saying…” Tim sighed. “That’s what this meeting is about. As soon as everyone gets here, we’ll talk.” 
 
“Damn,” Kyle grumbled. “We never get to have fun.”

Tessa focused on her brother and said, “Is Abbey coming?”

“No, she’s with Jonah,” Steven replied. “He’s a little fussy this morning.”

“Oh, no,” Tessa said, her voice laced with concern. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s been teething.”

“Aw,” Tessa sighed. “Poor little guy.”

“Yeah, he’s not too happy,” Steven said. “He’s been up most of the night.”

“I bet Abbey is exhausted.”

Steven nodded. “She is, but thanks to Kyle’s little woman, Abbey is getting a break. Celina volunteered to watch Jonah for a few hours.”

“That’s my girl,” Kyle boasted.

Steven smiled at Kyle. “Noah seems to really take to her. Celina will make a wonderful mom someday.”

“Yep.” Kyle grinned. “One of these days.”

Alexander stepped into the room with Helen and said, “I hope we’re not too late.”

“No, you’re fine,” Tessa said. “Please, have a seat. We’re just waiting on Nicolas and Jena.”

“We’re here,” Jena said as she made her way inside with Nicolas trailing behind. “Sorry we’re running late.” Her eyes roamed over the occupants in the room. “I hope we didn’t make you wait too long.”

“You’re fine, Jena,” Tim said. “Have a seat and we’ll get started.”

As Nicolas and Jena sat down in the chairs close to Angie and Bull, Helen said, “What about Detectives’ Sanchez and Perkins? Shouldn’t they be here?”

“Yah,” Kyle blurted. “And what about the Fury?”

“I invited Manuel and Frank,” Tim replied, “but they couldn’t make it. They had to meet up with their superior this morning. Hopefully they’ll have some new information on Mr. Russo’s murder. I didn’t invite the Fury,” he added. “Since we don’t have much to go on, and this meeting will be quick, I didn’t feel the need for them to attend. I’ll speak with them later unless anyone feels like they need to be here.”

“That’s fine by me,” Kyle muttered. “That Apollyon guy makes me nervous.”

“Not to mention his sisters,” Casey said, voicing his opinion. “It wasn’t that long ago they tried to kill us.”

“Well, actually,” Kyle mumbled to Casey, “Electra did break your neck.”

“We have to move on and put the past behind us,” Tim said. “Besides, if God can give them a second chance, so can we.”

“Remember guys,” Tessa pointed out. “We are a family of forgiveness.”

Casey nodded and Kyle said, “Okay, okay. But don’t expect me to buddy up with the guy.”

“All I ask is for you to give them a chance,” Tessa said. “After all, Apollyon did save Jena.”
         
Jena changed the subject and hesitantly asked, “Have you heard how Detective Perkin’s niece is doing?”

“When I spoke to Frank this morning,” Tim said, “he told me Carrie seemed to be taking it well. Although, considering everything she’s been through, I’m surprised.”

“This morning, I received a call from Carrie,” Helen spoke out. “Apparently she took her uncle’s advice to get counseling. She’s stopping by my office later this week.”

“How did she sound?” Tim asked.

“She seemed nervous over the phone,” Helen replied.

“I don’t blame her,” Jena said. “I feel responsible for all this.”

Nicolas reached for her hand. “It’s not your fault, Jena. If it weren’t for you, she probably wouldn’t be alive.”

“He’s right, girl,” Angie said. “You did what your instincts told you. You saved an innocent life. And those two creeps that attacked her got what was coming.”

“I second that,” Jace said, nodding at Jena. “Karma is a bitch.” 

“I agree,” Tessa said. “Not only did you save Carrie, but more than likely those men would have assaulted other women. And I know you didn’t ask for this curse. None of this is your fault, Jena. I promise, we’ll help you through this.”

Jena smiled a little. “Thank you all for being so supportive.”

“I do have one question,” Drakon said, addressing Jena. “And please forgive me if I sound too straight forward. But it’s something we have to discuss.”

When Jena nodded, Drakon went on to say, “How are we going to deal with the body parts your creature leaves behind?”

Jena lowered her eyes and shifted nervously in her chair.

“It’s okay, Jena,” Tim said. “We’re not upset with you.”

When Jena looked up at Tim, he continued to say, “We just need to come up with a solution. My ears are open to any suggestions.”

“I’m not sure what I can do,” Jena said, her eyes searching over the room, trying to read the expressions on their faces. “I don’t have a lot of control over the creature inside me once it detects evil.”

“We’ll continue to work on that,” Tim said, “and maybe we’ll come up with a plan. Until then, I want you to contact me when there is another incident. I will make sure whatever is left behind gets taken care of. In the meantime,” he said, his eyes searching over everyone seated at the table, “I need to bring up the other issue that Jena has brought to my attention. It appears that Mr. Russo’s death may have not been committed by a human but rather something supernatural.”

Jace focused on Jena. “Please don’t tell me it’s not another creature like the one who cursed you.”  
    
“It’s not the same creature,” Jena began to explain. “And it doesn’t hunt evil. What I saw was evil. It’s some sort of demonic entity, possessing a man. It looked as though it was going to attack me until he realized I wasn’t exactly human.”

“How did he know you weren’t human?” Jem queried.

“Because I shifted,” Jena replied.

“If this thing is indeed evil,” Tessa said, “why didn’t your creature destroy it? I thought the battle angels said you would hunt down evil.”

“I was caught off guard,” Jena said. “There were people nearby. I had to get out of there before I was seen. But he did speak to me.”

“What did he say?”

“It was rather strange,” Jena told Tessa. “He called himself the Shadow.”  
   
Roman interjected into the conversation and said, “I think I’ve encountered this creature before.”

Everyone looked at Roman in surprise.

“It was a long time ago,” Roman went on. “I was just a kid.”

“So, what the hell is this thing?” Jace blurted. 

“I’m pretty positive it’s a demon,” Roman said. “When I was ten years old, I witnessed it myself. There was a boy in my neighborhood,” Roman paused, drawing his brows tight. “His name was Joseph Harris. The poor kid didn’t have a very good home life. His father was nothing but an abusive drunk. It was evident he beat his wife. On several occasions, we saw cuts and bruises on her face. My parents tried to help her, but she was too afraid to leave her husband. To make a long story short, one Saturday afternoon, he beat her so bad, she died in the hospital the next day. Joseph was only five years old at the time.”

“Oh my gosh,” Tessa gasped. “What happened to the boy?”

“Before the ambulance came for Joseph’s mother, he shot his father.”

“Dang,” Jace spouted. “Joseph was one tough five-year-old. Did his father die?” 
 
“He survived but was later sentenced to twenty years in prison.”

“Jace frowned. “So… what does this demon have to do with the little boy?”

“Hold on.” Roman held up a halting hand. “I’ll get to that part.”

When Jace nodded, Roman continued to explain, “Since Joseph was a minor and there was no other family member to step in, he was placed in foster care. My parents would have offered to take him in, but at the time, my father could barely support our family. Then, a few years later, word got out about him being sent to a mental institute. My parents felt bad for Joseph, so they decided to go see if there was anything they could do. I’ll never forget that day. That’s when I saw it.”
             
“You mean…” Jace reluctantly said, “you actually saw the Shadow?”

Roman nodded. “I was left alone with Joseph while my parents spoke with his physician. He attacked me except he didn’t look like Joseph. His face…” he swallowed hard, “…it had morphed into something evil. It was demonic looking. His eyes were completely black, soulless. And it spoke to me. It addressed itself as the Shadow.”

“Damn…” Jace’s eyes rounded. “What happened next?”

“Joseph nearly choked me to death,” Roman said. “Although I was bigger than him, outweighing him by at least fifty pounds, he was much stronger. It was like a demonic presence had taken over his body. Thankfully there were guards close. It took three of them to pull him off.”

Tim crossed his arms and said, “Do you know if Joseph was ever released?”

“I don’t know,” Roman replied. “That was the last time I saw him.”

“What about your parents?” Tim asked. “Did they stay in contact?”

Roman shook his head. “After that incident, the institute wouldn’t allow him any more visitors.”
 
“What about the institute he was kept in? Do you happen to remember the name of that place?”
 
He nodded at Tim. “It was the Summit Behavioral Institute here in Berkeley.”

“Well, going by all the similarities,” Tim said, “it appears Joseph could be the person responsible for Kevin Russo’s murder.”

“You mean…,” Jace said, deepening his voice, “…the Shadow.”

“Whatever the case,” Drakon cut in. “We need to find out if Joseph was released. I’ll do some digging.”

“Count me in too,” Roman said.

Tim nodded. “Thanks guys. And we also need to find out how to destroy this thing.”  

“What about the archives?” Tessa pointed out. “There could be something in there on this particular creature.”

 “That’s a good idea,” Tim said. “If Jena cannot destroy it, maybe we’ll get lucky enough to find out what will.”

“We better get busy,” Kyle said. “I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before this Shadow thing kills again.”

“Looks like we have our work cut out.” Tim clapped his hands. “Let’s get to work.”
  
As everyone started to rise from their chairs, Steven said, “I think we should include Sebastian.”

Tim looked at Steven in question. “I thought we discussed this.”

“Just hear me out for a second,” Steven said. “Many of you may not know, but Sebastian is an expert on Mythology.”

Jace rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever.”

“No, it’s true,” Steven said. “During the years he grew up in the private boarding school his stepfather forced him into, he studied Mythology. He knows everything from Greek Mythology to fables and folklores. He might be able to speed up the process. Don’t you think it’s worth a try?”

“Okay.” Tim nodded. “What do we have to lose.”

“I’ll ask him,” Steven said. “I’m sure he’ll be more than willing to help out.”

“Great,” Jace grumbled, throwing his hands up in defeat. “Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse.”

“Remember honey,” Tessa said. “We are a forgiving family.”

“I know, I know,” Jace groaned. “This is starting out to be the worst Valentine’s Day ever.”

Tessa raised up on her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around Jace. “Your parents are babysitting for us tonight,” she said in a hushed voice. “That gives us some alone time.”

“Hmmm…” he said, arching a brow. “Maybe it’s not so bad after all.” 

To be continued. . .     
 
 

 

Author Notes A reference to terms and cast of characters, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Mia Blackwood - She is a half-breed and Jem's bonded mate. Abandoned at birth and raised in human foster care, she later finds her identical twin sister, Eve.

Eve - She is a half-breed, and Sebastian's bonded mate.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Alexander Crest - He is a Breedline species, Jace and Jem's biological father. He is bonded to Dr. Helen Carrington.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Kyle Jones - He is a Breedline species that resides in the California Covenant. Celina Baldolf is his bonded mate. He's a mechanic and plays bass in the rock band Chaos.

Casey Barton - He is a Theriomorph and lives in the California Covenant. He is a clothing model and plays backup bass and keyboards in the band Chaos.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Cassie Chamberlain - Adopted at age two by Jace and Jem's adoptive parents after her mother abandons her. Later, she discovers she is a Breedline species and bonds with the handsome Drakon Hexus. She is a nurse practitioner, specializing in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Celina Baldolf - She is a Breedline species with the power of a Wiccan, but only practices white witchcraft. Her twin sister, Taliah-a dark Wicca-murdered their parents when they were twelve years old. Dr. Helen Carrington is their aunt, and Kyle Jones is Celina's Breedline bonded mate. She is an editor for a local publishing company.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.

Abbey (a.k.a. Abigail Winthrop) - She inherited the genetics of a Lupa from her mother and is bonded with Steven Craven.

Zeke Rizzo - He is a Breedline, born with a curse of a sin-eater, and the owner of the Cat Club. He is bonded with Anna Saeni.

Anna Saeni - She was born with the genetics of a Breedline from her father's side, who died when Anna was a baby, but she does not shift into a wolf. She is like a sister to Sebastian Crow and bonded with Zeke Rizzo.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele-a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research-he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice, and Lena.

Lawrence Colbert - A Breedline council member of the New Jersey Covenant, trained in military tactics and as a medic who worked alongside Roman Kincaid, the Special Ops team, and the Breedline Covenant to help take down Valkin Steele.

Tara Wood - She is a Breedline and Lawrence's bonded mate.

Lena - She is a Breedline, highly trained in survival skills, martial arts, and anything dealing with weapons, hand-to-hand combat, and hired by Roman Kincaid to help take down Valkin Steele. She oddly resembles the character Xena the Warrior Princess from the '80s television series. She is also Bull's little sister and is bonded to Justice.

Bull (a.k.a. Benjamin Allen Calvero) - He is a Breedline, highly trained and an expert in a variety of military tactics, who is part of Roman Kincaid's team. He gets his nickname because of his size.

Angie Hawkridge - She is a Breedline and Bull's bonded mate.

Justice - He is a Breedline who is part of Roman Kincaid's team. He's highly trained in military tactics, an expert with explosives, hand-to-hand combat, sniper training and is a pilot. He is bonded to Lena.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

The Fury - Three fraternal twins: Apollyon, Electra, and Callisto, created by an evil German scientist named Dr. Hans Autenburg. Using his own DNA, he mixed it with the genetics of a Breedline, an Adalwolf, and a powerful Wiccan.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Sanchez's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California.

Jena McCain - She is an artist with the ability to speak with the dead. She has been cursed by an age-old creature with a lust for human blood, although she will only kill evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with extraordinary powers of invisibility. He has fallen in love with Jena.


Chapter 37
My Valentine

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

It was getting close to dinner when Tessa decided to call it quits. They all but exhausted themselves searching tirelessly through the library’s archives, hoping to find something on the creature who Jena and Roman referred to as the Shadow. They discovered a few things, thanks to Sebastian’s expertise in Mythology, but nothing on how to destroy it. So far, the only thing they had to go on was it inhabited a vulnerable host, like a child. It preyed on their weaknesses and controlled their mental structure, especially as a motive force. And its main purpose was to gain access to souls by feeding on human hearts. This type of demon was a dark entity with a ravenous appetite. The very root of all evil.

“Please…” Tessa called out, her eyes roaming over the occupants of the room, “…go enjoy the rest of your evening. I’m sure most of you have plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and some of you have kiddos to pick up. I appreciate all your help.” 

Drakon came forward and said, “I’ll go check out the Summit Behavioral Institute first thing in the morning. Hopefully, I can get some information on this Joseph Harris. If in fact he was released, it’s a possibility he could be the guy we’re looking for.”

“I’ll go with you,” Roman chimed in, his eyes focused on Drakon. “Just shoot me a text before you head out.” 
 
When Drakon nodded, Tim said, “Count me in as well. Let me know before you two leave. I’ll ride with you guys.” 

“Will do,” Drakon said.

“In the meantime,” Tessa said, “I’ll make sure everyone is informed if anything turns up. Enjoy your evening.”

As Tessa stepped out of the room with Jace, she felt overwhelmed and disappointed. She had hoped they’d find something… anything that would explain how to destroy this mysterious Shadow. Although, in the back of her mind, she still hadn’t given up on Jena’s creature. If they were lucky, she was the one who could destroy it. With her fingers crossed, she said a silent prayer.

Out of nowhere, Tessa felt a stiffness in the base of her neck. As it continued to knot up, she reached her hand around and did her best to rub it.

“Here, babe,” Jace said, moving behind her. “Let me take care of that.”

Moving her hand aside, he used both of his and started at her shoulders and worked his way up her neck and then back again.

As his strong hands skillfully massaged over her tense muscles, she relaxed her head slightly forward and released a contented sigh. “That feels amazing, honey.”

“Since my parents are keeping the twins overnight,” he playfully said, “maybe we should take this somewhere private.”

Tessa turned, tilting her head up so she could look up at him. “Is that so?”

He held out his hand. “Shall we?”

She smiled and placed her hand in his. “Lead the way.”   
        
As he led the way, she went freely and followed him upstairs. The moment they made their way into their bedroom, Tessa’s jaw nearly dropped. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The room was lit up with candles, soft music was playing in the background, and rose petals, formed in the shape of a heart, covered the satin sheets. And next to the bed, sitting on top of the nightstand, were two glasses of bubbly champagne, a bowl of her favorite berries, and a single, long-stemmed red rose. 
    
“Oh, Jace…” She covered her mouth. “How did you—” 

“I already knew you were having my parents pick up the boys,” he said, sliding his hands over her shoulders. “So, I wanted to do something special. It’s been awhile since we had some alone time.”

She leaned back into him and looked up with tears in her eyes. “I love it, honey.”

“And I love you, sweetheart,” he said, gliding his fingers up her neck to the slender column of her throat and to her jaw. Then he leaned down and pressed his lips to her forehead. “Tessa… you’re everything to me.”

As Tessa turned to face him, he loved the way she looked at him, like he was her whole world. But in truth, she ruled his. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for her. Hell, he’d step in front of a moving train. He’d give her the damn world if she asked for it. Tessa made him want to be a better person. She completed him. Not only did she have a heart of gold and amazing art skills, she was flat-out stunning, for a lack of a better word. She had long, thick mahogany hair, green eyes that sparkled like emeralds, flawless skin, a set of lips to die for. And she was so petite, but tough as nails. Although he was a foot taller than her, she could hold her own. Tessa by no means was a helpless, defenseless female. She was fearless and her determination was as big as Texas, not to mention the wolf she shifted into. It was twice the size of the ordinary Breedline. 
        
“You make me so happy, Jace,” she said, her trembling voice bringing him back to focus. “I love you so much.”

As she spoke, she reached for his hand and intertwined her fingers with his.

In that moment, as the song Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran started to play, Jace gently took her other hand in his and whispered, “Dance with me, Tessa.”

When she smiled, he pulled her close until their bodies crushed together. Slowly, they swayed to the romantic tempo.

As the song ended, she rose on her tiptoes with desire in her eyes and said, “Kiss me.”

He instantly lowered his mouth to hers. Just before their lips touched, she heard him release a soft sigh. His kiss was tender, sending shivers over her skin.

He shook against her as images of them making love consumed his thoughts. He wanted to touch and kiss all of her. His heart thundered in his chest, picturing their bodies tangled in a heated passion.   

“Make love to me,” she whispered against his lips.

He slowly pulled away. As she gazed into his blue eyes, they burned with desire. His nostrils flared with the effort of his breathing, and when he spoke, his words came out in a rush.

“I’ll do anything you want.” 

Then, he reached out and stroked her cheek with the pad of his thumb, then trailed it over her bottom lip. A few kisses later, they were undressed and under the rose covered, satin sheets.  

“Come here,” he softly whispered, taking her against his body.

She gasped at the warmth of his bare skin and the indication of his desire, creating a needy sensation within her.

“I want you, Tessa.”

His voice was low, a deep rumble in his firm chest.

“I’m all yours,” she breathed in a whisper.

When his lips touched her neck, she opened her mouth and moaned in anticipation. An instant fire ignited between her thighs, feeling as though she was going to go up in flames. She quickly parted her legs in an invitation to ravish her.

The second he shifted his body over hers and captured her lips, she buried her hands in the long strands of his hair.

He almost lost all control as she wrapped her legs around his hips. In an instant, he threw back his head and gritted his teeth, throbbing with the need to take her. With all the strength he had left, he looked down and gazed into her piercing green eyes.

She smiled up at him, acknowledging that familiar look of desire on his face.

“What are you waiting for,” she said in a breathy sigh, her body withering underneath him. “Take me.”

To be continued. . .
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

BELOVED - A word used by a Breedline to express the bond to their mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele-a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research-he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice, and Lena.

Jena McCain - She's an artist with a gift to speak with the dead. She has been bitten by an age-old creature, cursed for eternity with the ability to transform into a werewolf-like creature. Although she lusts for human blood, she only hunts evil.


Chapter 38
To kill, or not to kill?

By scongrove

Joseph watched as Carrie took the last bite of her dessert. “So, how was the chocolate cake?”

She eased back into her chair with a contented sigh. “Delicious. Everything tasted fantastic. Thanks for dinner, Joseph.”

“You’re welcome.” He smiled. “Glad you enjoyed.”

While sipping on wine and waiting for Gary to bring them the bill, Joseph and Carrie easily fell into a conversation. He tuned out the background noise in the restaurant and simply absorbed her every word. She talked a bit about her ex-boyfriend Kevin and her past, telling him about how her Uncle Frank and his wife Missy had taken her in and practically raised her after the death of her parents. Then she went on to tell him about her friendship with Jessica and Jessica's new boyfriend Ryan. Next was college and how she landed her job.

“I feel like I’m talking your head off,” she finally said. “I hope I’m not boring you with all my crazy life stories.”

“Not in the least,” he quickly said. “As a matter of fact, it’s pretty interesting. It sounds like you’ve had a rough start, but life turned out well for you.”

“What about you?” She slightly tilted her head and went on to ask, “Any serious relationships?”

“I’ve been out on a few dates. But nothing serious. I guess my work keeps me busy.”

 “I see,” she replied. “Have you lived here all your life?”

“Yes, I’ve always lived here in Berkeley. But someday, I’d like to do some traveling and see the world.”

Her brows drew together. “You mean… you’ve never been out of the city?”

“Nope,” he sighed. “I guess you could say I’m sort of a homebody.”

“Really?” She looked at him bewildered. “I’d figure you as the sightseer type, especially since you’re a journalist.”

“It’s hard to travel,” the Shadow chimed in, “when you’re locked up in a loony bin.” 

Joseph chuckled, ignoring the voice in his head. “Yah, you’d think, right?”

“You’re kind of a mystery, Joseph. So, does your family live here?”

Suddenly, he got that ‘deer in the headlights’ look. He stiffened in his chair and looked away, becoming silent, unmoving.

Her question seemed to echo in his head, bringing forth a memory and the smell of blood. And the taste of it.

“She’s asking too many questions, Joseph,” the Shadow gritted out. “You need to get rid of her.” 

When Joseph didn’t answer right away, Carrie reached across the table. “Joseph, are you okay?”

Her voice snapped him back. “Sorry… I’m fine,” he said, taking hold of her hand.

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

He nodded even though he wasn’t. “Yes, I was just thinking.”

“What were you thinking about?”

“Oh nothing,” he said, releasing her hand as he relaxed back in his chair. “It’s just…” he paused and let out a deep breath. “Sometimes, I lose my train of thought, that’s all.”

Abruptly, Gary came up to their table and said, “How was everything?”

Joseph smiled up at him and said, “The food was great.”

“Oh, wonderful,” Gary boasted, placing the check presenter on the table. “I hope you come again soon.”

Joseph nodded. “Thank you, Gary.”

Moments later, after Joseph took care of the check, he said, “You ready to go?”

When Carrie nodded, he got out of his chair and quickly moved behind hers. As he scooted her chair back, she stood and said, “Thank you, Joseph.”

He slid his hand around her waist and guided her out of the restaurant and toward the parking lot. As they came up to the Jeep, he opened the passenger door and helped her inside. When he got behind the wheel and started the engine, he said, “It’s still early. Would you care to go somewhere for a drink or better yet, a cup of coffee?”

She turned toward him. “Actually, I’d like to change into something more comfortable. Would you like to stop by my place?” She arched a brow. “I’ve got plenty of coffee.”

“Say yes, Joseph,” the Shadow demanded.

“O-Okay…” he hesitantly said. “Sure.”

“It’s fine if you don’t want—”

“No, no,” he interjected. “Coffee at your place sounds great.” 

He shifted in drive, and before he accelerated forward, he said, “Thanks for having dinner with me, Carrie. I had a great time.”

Her eyes lit up. “Me too.”

On the way, he felt her eyes on him. He could sense the wheels in her head turning with all sorts of questions. And he knew sooner or later, he’d have to answer them.

As Joseph brought the Jeep to a stop in the parking lot of her apartment building, Carrie went to reach for the door. He put his hand on her arm to stop her.

“Stay put while I get that for you.”

Carrie nodded with a slight grin and quickly dropped her eyes as though she was bashful by the way he fussed over her.

Joseph got out and as he opened Carrie’s door, she said, “You know… a girl could really get used to all this attention.”

“Good,” he said with his hand out, waiting for her to take hold. “You deserve no less.”

“Thanks,” she said as she placed her hand in his. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

As soon as they made their way into the apartment, she locked the door from the inside. While she went to turn on the lights, he stood back and waited.

“You want me to take your jacket?”

“Sure, thanks,” he said, sliding it from his broad shoulders and handing it to her.

After she hung it in the coat closet, she gestured toward the sofa. “Please, make yourself comfortable. I’ll go start the coffee. If you don’t mind, while it’s brewing, I’m going to change out of this dress.”

“Of course not.” He shook his head. “If you’d like, I can make the coffee.”

“Are you sure?”

“Go ahead,” he said, waving it off like it was nothing. “It’s no problem. Besides, I know my way around a kitchen.”

“Wow…” Her lips curled up. “I really hit the jackpot. I finally met a guy who still believes in chivalry and can also make coffee.”

He chuckled. “Lucky you.”

“I won’t be but a second,” she said as she started up the stairs. “The coffee and filters are in the cabinet above the coffee maker.”

A few minutes later, Joseph came from the kitchen with two cups of coffee. Carrie was on the couch with her legs tucked under her. She had on pink leggings and an oversized grey sweatshirt that revealed a little shoulder.

“I remembered you liked sugar and cream in yours,” he said, extending the cup he’d made for her.

“Oh, thanks.” She reached for the cup of coffee. “Please, sit wherever you like.”

When he sat down in the wingback chair next to the couch, she said, “I hope you don’t mind me putting on something to relax in.” She tugged at her top. “Sorry it’s nothing fancy.”

“Nah, you’re fine. Besides, you’d look good in just about anything.”

She smiled and blushed.

“The hell with her clothes. She looks good enough to eat.”

“Anyway,” Joseph went on to say, overlooking the Shadow’s obnoxious comment, “I’m normally a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. It’s all about comfort, right?”

“Absolutely,” she replied. “Next time we go out, we’ll go somewhere casual. Um… I mean… that is… if you want to go out again.”

He beamed. “Of course, I do.”

“Stop stalling, Joseph,” the Shadow grumbled. “Kill her.”  
                
Joseph took a sip of his coffee and disregarded the Shadow’s demands.

“Joseph,” Carrie paused and cleared her throat. “Did I say something wrong at the restaurant?”

He looked at her confused. “What do you mean?”

“Well…” she said, seemingly hesitant. “When I asked you about your family, it looked as though the question made you feel uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to pry. I just wanted to . . . you know… get to know you better.”

“Oh, here we go,” the Shadow groaned. “I warned you, Joseph.”  
         
“No, Carrie. You didn’t say anything wrong. It’s just that…” He let out a deep breath, thinking if he told her the truth about his parents, it would terrify her. And for some odd reason, he didn’t want to scare her off. She made him feel good in a way he’d never felt before. “Talking about my family is hard,” he continued, feeling vulnerable and exposed. “Both of my parents are… deceased.”

“Oh… I’m so sorry, Joseph.” Her eyes were apologetic. “You don’t have to talk about it. I probably shouldn’t have brought it up.”

“It’s okay.” His lips slightly turned up. “It was a long time ago.”

A sound coming from outside the door suddenly drew their attention. The moment they turned to look, it swung open and Jessica stepped inside with Ryan following behind her. When Jessica caught sight of them, her brows went up. “Well, well, well…” She cracked a smile. “Hey Carrie… Hey Joseph. I hope we’re not interrupting anything.”

“Hi, guys,” Carrie said. “We were just visiting over coffee. Joseph made a fresh pot if you’d like to join us.”

Jessica looked between Ryan and Joseph. “You two haven’t met, have you?”

When Ryan shook his head, Joseph got to his feet and extended his hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Joseph.”

“Hey, Joseph,” Ryan said as he took hold of his hand. “I’m Ryan.” 

"Hmmm..." the Shadow remarked. "Ryan is keeping secrets." He chuckled in amusement. "If only they knew."

“Thanks for the offer,” Jessica said as she moved closer to the sofa. “We’re not staying long. I just wanted to change into a pair of jeans before we head over to the club. You guys want to join us?”

Carrie immediately turned toward Joseph to gauge his reaction. She could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t interested, and neither was she.

“If it’s okay with you,” Carrie said, keeping her eyes focused on Joseph, “I’d rather stay in for the night.”

“Yeah, me too,” Joseph said, glancing at his watch. “Besides, I probably should get going.”  

“What’s the hurry?” Jessica smirked. “It’s only nine o’ clock.”

“Carrie has to work tomorrow,” Joseph said.

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Jessica furrowed her brows. “On a Sunday?”

“Well, you know the usual punishment,” Carrie said, releasing a sigh. “I was supposed to stay late tonight, so?”

Jessica put her hands on her hips. “Your boss is a total b—”

“I know, I know,” Carrie said, cutting her off. “But when your father is the CEO of the company…”

“That’s bullshit and you know it, Carrie,” Jessica huffed. “Something has got to be done about that woman. I swear, one of these days, she’s going to get exactly what she deserves.”

“Oh… we can make that happen,” the Shadow remarked. “Sooner than later.”

“So, Carrie,” Ryan chimed in. “If you don’t mind me asking, what’s the deal with your boss? Why does she have it in for you?”

“It’s over a damn man,” Jessica blurted before Carrie could answer. “She’s been punishing Carrie ever since the new guy at work, who her boss has the hots for, asked her out on a date.”

“That’s messed up,” Ryan said.

“That’s more than messed up,” Joseph commented, crossing his arms over his chest. “It’s morally wrong.” He averted his eyes from Ryan and looked to Carrie with a raised brow. “She needs to be reprimanded, or better yet, fired.”

Ryan focused on Carrie and said, “Hey, I’ve got a friend that’s a big shot attorney. I could talk to him. His law firm takes on companies with the same issues. Maybe he could give you some advice.”

When Carrie didn’t immediately reply, Joseph said, “It’s worth a try. What do you have to lose?”

Carrie sighed. “But… I don’t want to take the chance of losing my job.”

“Jeez Carrie,” Jessica groaned. “Just talk to the guy. It doesn’t mean you have to hire him. You’re just getting the man’s advice.”

“Okay.” Carrie shrugged. “I guess you’re right.”

Ryan nodded. “I’ll give him a call tomorrow.”

“Thanks Ryan.”

“No problem,” Ryan said. “Anytime.”

“Well, I guess I better be heading out,” Joseph said, looking at Jessica and then to Ryan. “It was nice to meet you, Ryan.”

“Yeah,” Ryan replied with a smile. “You too, Joseph.”

Carrie instantly rose from the sofa and looked up at Joseph. “Please, let me see you out.”

As Carrie walked Joseph to the door, Jessica called out, “Hey, Joseph…”

When he turned toward her, she continued to say, “If you’re free next Saturday, say around six, we’d love to have you over. Ryan and I are cooking dinner for Carrie. It’s her birthday.”

“Oh, sure. I’d love to,” he said. He looked away from Jessica and faced Carrie. “That is, if it’s okay with you.”

“Sorry,” Carrie said, her expression apologetic. “I was going to invite you, but it completely slipped my mind. I’d love for you to come.”

“It’s nothing fancy,” Ryan mentioned. “We’re just barbequing ribs at my place. I live in the apartment upstairs.”

“Count me in,” Joseph said. “Do I need to bring anything?”

“If you don’t mind, we could use a bottle of Rum,” Jessica said. “That’s Carrie’s favorite.” 

Joseph nodded and then turned toward Carrie with a smile. “I believe I can make that happen.”

After they said their good-byes, and Joseph got behind the wheel of his Jeep, the Shadow groaned into his subconscious. “What are you doing, Joseph?”
   
Joseph closed his eyes and rubbed at his temples, trying his best to suppress the voice inside his head.

“Look at me, Joseph.”

“No…” Joseph whispered. “Please, not now.”

“I said,” the Shadow raised his voice. “Look at me.”

Finally, Joseph opened his lids. As he peered into the rearview mirror at his own reflection, a pair of crow black eyes stared back.

“Sooner or later… you will kill them all.”

To be continued. . . 

  
             

 

Author Notes A reference to cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

Carrie Randall - She is a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley California. She has an love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, after his father beat his mother to death, an evil entity invaded his body. When his father was charged with his mother's murder and sent to prison for twenty years, Joseph was placed in foster families. As time passed, Joseph became diagnosed as a psychopath with schizophrenia, he was placed in a mental institute for most of his adolescence. With the help of the evil voice in his head, he was able to manipulate his way into the real world.

The Shadow - An evil presence that inhabits a vulnerable host, like a child. It preys on their weaknesses and controls their mental structure, especially as a motive force. And its main purpose was to gain access to souls by feeding on human hearts. This type of demon is a dark entity with a ravenous appetite and has possessed Joseph Parker.

Jessica Phillips - She is Carrie's best friend and roommate.

Ryan Grayson - He is Jessica's boyfriend.


Chapter 39
The Voices in the Night

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Lying next to Nicolas in a peaceful slumber, Jena had let her fears of the unknown and all the uncertainties of the future drift away. With the curse weighing on her shoulders, it was as though he was the only solid thing in her life.

Hours later, Jena woke up out of breath, her heart pounding. She instantly sat up in bed. She could hear voices coming from a distance like a beacon calling out to her. A woman was crying for help, begging for her life. Then she heard a small child, desperately pleading, “Please… don’t hurt my Mommy.” 

She felt a painful yearning to go to them, to save them. It was agony suddenly. Every muscle in her body wanted to spring out and run to their rescue.    
 
Without further delay, Jena sprang from the bed and rushed toward the glass doors that led to the balcony. As she looked out, her eyes searching through the darkness, she heard the voices again. For a fleeting moment, Jena felt as if she couldn’t move. Her muscles were tense, and her senses on overload. She stood there taken back by the sounds she was hearing. Somewhere far off, a little girl was screaming for help.

Nicolas woke up to find Jena standing by the balcony doors. Her eyes were fixated on something outside.

“Jena…” he said. “Is something wrong?” 

Although she registered Nicolas’s voice, it seemed miles away. She ignored his efforts and continued to peer out the glass barrier that separated her from the distressed voices beckoning her.  And then, a strange, and pressing urge called out to her, Go save them!   

Out of nowhere, her fingernails and toenails began to tingle. She could feel them stretching and elongating until they formed into sharp points. Then, the prickle of tiny hairs began to emerge from her shoulders. It grew thicker, spreading to her arms, covering her hands and all ten of her fingers. In a matter of seconds, it completely blanketed every inch of her skin. Her nightgown ripped at the seams as her ribcage contorted and the muscles in her body enlarged, taking on an unnatural form. Her stature lengthened and expanded to gigantic proportions.     
          
Witnessing all the skin twisting carnage, Nicolas then realized the curse had taken over Jena and there wasn’t anything he could do to stop it.

Jena was completely unrecognizable. Her delicate features and the feminine contours of her body had been replaced with a hideous wolfish beast. Every inch of her pale and flawless complexion was now covered in thick, black matted fur. It was almost too terrifying to put into words.

Nicolas called out, attempting to stop Jena as she went to open the doors.

She whirled around, snarling her upper lip. “Don’t follow me, Nicolas,” she said in a guttural voice, tossing the remnants of her nightgown to the floor. “I must save them before it’s too late.”

He nodded and watched in silence as she dashed through the opening of the balcony and disappeared into the night.  

With one giant leap, Jena dropped from the balcony’s ledge and landed on the ground with ease. For only a moment, she waited and listened. Then she heard the voices again. Although she knew better, it was as though they were only a few feet away. Their pleas for mercy were loud and clear. It created a raw sensation in the back of her throat, nearly choking her. 
   
She pivoted on the balls of her feet and sprang forward, landing on all fours. In the speed of a blur, she bounded across the large terrain surrounding the Breedline Covenant. The split second it took her to vault over the wrought iron gates, alarms were sounded. She remained focused and continued her endeavor to get away.

A few minutes later, she came upon a country road with twists and turns. It was dark and desolate, but the voices were louder now, keeping her on track. It wasn’t long before the gravel roadway led her to an old, two-story house. It had obviously been neglected for years. The paint on the wood appeared weathered and the grass stood knee-high. Although the place looked abandoned, she noticed a black van parked in the front. The windows were tinted, and the license plate was missing. With the swiftness of a feline, she crept closer to the rickety structure covering the doorway. When she inhaled deep, a pungent scent flooded her senses. It was the scent of something sinister and evil. The overpowering smell sparked a hunger within and a desire to kill.

As Jena’s wolfish lips curled up into a snarl, a low growl rumbled inside her chest.  
    
A woman screaming immediately alerted Jena and brought her head around. They were coming from inside, urgent and panic-stricken. She rose on two feet and in an instant, she used the strength in her powerful thighs and bolted toward the entrance. With the force of her new transformation, she charged through like a battering ram, rendering the door into pieces.

Inside was a man, tearing at a woman’s clothes as though he was about to rape her. She was struggling underneath his weight, kicking and screaming.

The foul odor perforating from the man angered Jena further. He reeked of cigarettes and cheap whiskey like he hadn’t bathed in days.  

Across the room, huddled in the floor, wearing only panties was a little girl, maybe five at most, her tear-stained eyes rounded in sheer terror. Her hands and feet were bound with rope.

The horrifying images fueled Jena’s rage. With lightning speed, she lunged at the man with slashing claws. The force of the impact knocked him off the woman and sent him tumbling back. He fell and cracked his head against the hard floor. Blood pooled beneath him, igniting Jena’s bloodlust. She allowed him no time to recover as she pounced on top of him. His mouth fell open and his eyes grew large as he looked up at Jena’s gaping jaws. He bellowed in pain as she sunk her canines deep into his shoulder. The taste of his blood intensified her hunger, driving her instincts to go in for the kill. Soon after, she surrendered to the primal impulse of her savage beast. With her eyes locked on the man’s throat, she peeled back her wolfish lips and tore into his flesh.

While Jena feasted on the man, the woman scrambled to her feet and rushed to free the little girl. She kept a watchful eye as she feverishly worked at the ropes with shaky hands. A few minutes later, she scooped the child off the floor and into her arms. As she turned to flee, she came upon Jena’s creature. Keeping a tight hold on the child, the woman took a few steps back with her eyes locked on the beastly creature towering over her.

“Please,” she begged with tears staining her cheeks. “Please, don’t harm my little girl.”

Jena looked into the woman’s swollen eyes and then to the frightened child in her arms. Her heart ached for them. She wanted nothing more than to take away their pain and erase this terrifying night from their memories forever.

“I’m not going to harm either of you,” Jena said in a gravel voice. “I came to save you.”

The woman stared wearily up at Jena and muttered, “W-What are you?”

Jena went silent, pondering on the woman’s question. What was she? The only answer that came to mind was cursed. Although, she realized if she tried to explain what she was, it would be confusing and seem more terrifying. And to make matters worse, there was a small child present. The poor little girl had already witnessed too much for such young eyes.

“I-I’m sort of like… God’s helper,” Jena hesitantly said. “I was created to destroy evil.”

The woman’s shoulders sagged a little. “But why do you look like a werewolf?”

Jena heaved out a sigh. “It’s a long story.”

“You’re a good wolf,” said the little girl. “You saved my Mommy.”

Jena’s eyes softened. “I’m glad I got to you both in time. There’s a van outside.” She extended her hairy hand and offered the woman a set of keys. “Please, get to a safe place.”

The woman took the keys from Jena and looked to the dead man who lay mangled and half-eaten. Then, she focused her eyes back to Jena and said, “What about that man? I have no idea who he is. Shouldn’t we call the police?”

“No,” Jena quickly said. “Forget you ever saw him. I will take care of everything.”

When the woman nodded, Jena said, "Do either of you need medical attention?"

"We'll be fine," the woman replied. "Thanks to you." 

“Can you go with us?” asked the little girl.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.” Jena shook her head. “But you see, I can’t be seen by other people. They wouldn’t understand like you. They would be scared.”

“I’m not scared of you,” the little girl said as she reached out to Jena.

Jena’s wolfish lips curled up as she gently took hold of her tiny hand. “You’re a very brave little girl.”  
  
“My name is Amy,” the little girl said. “What’s your name?”

“It’s nice to meet you, Amy. My name is… Jena.”

“I like your name.” Amy smiled. “It’s pretty.”
 
Jena swallowed back tears. “Thank you, Amy.”

“Come on, honey,” Amy’s mother said. “Let’s get you home.”

As the woman moved past Jena, Amy looked back and waved. “Bye-bye, Jena.”

She waved back. “Good-bye, Amy.”

As Jena watched them leave, an unexpected realization hit her suddenly. The creature she was to be for eternity was not entirely a curse. It was also a gift. It gave her the ability to save innocent lives like little Amy. The thought soothed her heart, giving her a renowned sense of purpose.
 
To be continued. . . 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

Jena McCain - she is an inspiring artist with the gift to speak with the dead. After an age-old creature rises from years of peaceful slumber to feast on humans, it attacks her and infects her with a curse. Now that Jena is cursed to carry on the creature's bloodlust, instead of killing innocent lives, she preys on the evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal and is bonded to Jena McCain. His older brother, Ashton was the creature who attacked and cursed Jena.

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.


Chapter 40
My Valentine/Part Two

By scongrove

Tessa’s eyelids flipped open when she felt a warm hand on her shoulder. Goosebumps prickled over her skin as it slid down her arm, soft and featherlike. She turned her head and came face-to-face with the most gorgeous pair of blue eyes. The color practically glowed. The man they belonged to was even more spectacular. His expression was intense, a combination of desire and admiration.

As she gazed into Jace’s amazing baby blues, he glided his fingertips back up her arm and then toward her face. Ever so gently, he smoothed his hand down the side of her cheek and lower to her lips. Using his thumb, he brushed over her lower one and said, “You’re so beautiful, Tessa.”  
 
Before she could respond, he leaned in and pressed his mouth to hers. His kiss was tender, and his lips were warm against hers.

When he pulled back, she said, “Thanks for last night, honey. You made my Valentine’s day so special. Everything was perfect, especially the massage part.”

“You’re welcome, sweetheart.” He smiled. “And there’s more where that came from,” he tacked on, winking at her.

“Oh?” she said, arching a brow. “Well then, I may have to take you up on that offer.”

Suddenly, the cell phone on Tessa’s nightstand went off. Her attention was alerted by the ringtone, realizing it was Tim Ross calling. She glanced at the clock and noticed it was too early for anyone to be calling on a Sunday. 

Jace groaned as she went to reach for it.

Sorry, babe,” she said, looking at him with sad eyes. “This might be important.”

He nodded with his bottom lip puffed out.

Tessa swiped her phone to answer. “This is Tessa.”

There was a long pause of silence and going by the expression on Tessa’s face, whatever was being said on the other end didn’t appear good. Finally, she said, “Okay, we’ll meet you downstairs as soon as we get dressed.”

The minute she put the phone back on the nightstand, Jace said, “I get the feeling that wasn’t good news.”

She turned toward him with a concerned look on her face. “It’s Jena. She killed someone last night.”

Jace’s eyes rounded. “What? Who?”

“Apparently, Jena heard someone calling out for help last night,” Tessa started to explain. “She shifted into the creature and went to help them. When Jena followed the voices, it led her to an abandoned two-story house a few miles from here. A man had abducted a woman and her small child. Jena found the man trying to rape the woman and the child was tied up, witnessing her mother being attacked.”

“Oh my, God,” Jace gasped, rising from his pillow. “Are they okay?” 

Tessa nodded. “Jena got to them in the nick of time before—”

“Where’s Jena?” Jace asked as Tessa’s voice trailed off.

“She’s in her room resting. According to what Tim told me just now, when Jena came back, she led him, along with Nicolas, Drakon, and Jem to the two-story house. They helped clean up what was left of that man.”

Jace curled his upper lip. “Sounds like they had one hell of a bloody Valentine’s. So, why didn’t they tell us?”

Tessa shot him a half-smile. “Tim and the others didn’t want to ruin our night.”

“Well, that was pretty decent of them,” Jace said. “I can’t say I hate that we missed cleaning up after what Jena’s creature left behind. But, how in the world did Jena get past the security?”

“Tim said the guards sounded the alarms, but Jena was gone before they managed to go after her.”

“I wonder why we didn’t hear the alarms last night?” Jace said, scrunching his brows in question. 
 
Tessa smirked. “I think we had a little too much champagne. And I have to admit, it was rather nice getting some alone time. Since the twins were born, those days are far and few, not to mention it’s been a while since we had a good night’s rest.”

“Yeah,” Jace chuckled. “I guess you’re right. And last night, I slept like a rock.”

She leaned over and kissed him. “Come on, honey. Let’s get dressed. We’re supposed to meet Tim and the others downstairs in the kitchen for breakfast to discuss a few things. And Detective Manuel Sanchez and his partner Frank Perkins are joining us.”

Jace quickly got to his feet and said, “Good. I’m starving.”

As Tessa slipped out of bed to get dressed, Jace took notice of how her silk nightgown clung to her body. Although she was petite, she had curves in all the right places. God, she was beautiful. The sight of her nearly took his breath away.

It had only been a few years ago when they'd first met. Most of his life, Jace had been a player. He wasn't the settling down type, and it was true enough that he'd enjoyed his share of women. But the moment he laid eyes on Tessa, it blind-sided him. He felt powerfully drawn to her in a way he could not explain. It was as though they were destined for one another, bound by an unbreakable force. From then on, he was a one-woman man. Tessa was his heart, his beloved, his everything. Hell, according to him, she practically hung the damn moon. 

He called out to her, “Come here, sweetheart.”

When she faced him, she recognized the look in his eyes. It was the same look he gave her last night, right before they made love.

“Jace,” she groaned. “We don’t have time.”

“I know,” he said, motioning her over. “But can I get a hug first?”

Her brows pinched together. “You know where this will lead to, right?”

“Back to bed?” he said, wiggling his brows.   

“You’re incorrigible, you know.”

He gestured her over. “I promise. Just one little hug.”

As she got close to him, he put one arm around her waist and tugged her against him. Instantly, he buried his other hand in her hair and crushed his lips to hers. And it wasn’t just one little hug, nor a peck on the lips. He kissed her hungrily, so passionately, it ignited a desire she couldn’t resist.

“Jace…” she moaned against his lips.

He picked her up, easily lifting her legs over his arms. Tessa weighed less than nothing. She put her arms around his neck, letting her fingers slide through his long, blond waves.

A few seconds later, they were back in bed, tangled in a heat of passion.

To be continued. . .
 
 
           
         
              
 
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms, cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jena McCain - She is an artist with the odd ability to speak with the dead. After an age-old creature rises from years of peaceful slumber to feast on humans, it attacks her and infects her with a virus. Now that she is fated to be the thing that infected her, she will be forever stuck with a curse. Although she will hunt for human blood, she will only kill evil as voices of the innocent cry out to her for help.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He has been alive since the 1800s after he sold his soul in order to bring his brother back to the living. Now that he has fallen in love with Jena McCain, he dedicates his immortal life to guide her through her newfound curse.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.


Chapter 41
Murder Mystery

By scongrove

There was something about Kevin Russo’s murder that didn’t make a damn bit of sense, Manuel thought as he drove to the Breedline Covenant. Who or what had the kind of strength to rip a man’s heart completely out of his chest cavity? And for what reason? He’d never seen anything like it in all his years working as a detective.

Of course, he’d never believe in a million years that there were humans with the ability to shift into wolves. And not your average wolves either. They were as big, if not bigger, than horses. They called themselves Breedlines. Not to mention other supernatural creatures he’d only thought to be a myth or a fairytale. The Breedline species had, in each state, their own laws and a Covenant. They served as protectors for all mankind against evil forces. Now, he and his partner, Frank Perkins somehow found themselves smack dab in the middle of their world. And to add to all the madness, he’d recently found out he carried their DNA. 

According to the Breedline, you had to be born with an identical twin for the wolf thing to happen. Since the Breedline males shifted on their eighteenth birthday, and Manuel was already in his fifties and to his knowledge he’d never produced a tail or howled at the moon, it was evident he wasn’t going to transform into a hairy beast anytime soon.    
 
As he refocused back to Mr. Russo’s murder, the only thing that he could come up with was human organ trafficking. To make matters worse, they had nothing to go by, no leads, not even a single drop of evidence at the crime scene.

Instantly, his gut clenched as his thoughts took him to the worst part of his job. Having to tell someone their loved one had been murdered was something you could never get out of your head. He’d traveled down that road one too many times in the last thirty years he’d spent in homicide. He could still picture all the grief-stricken faces and all the heart-wrenching tears. It was something he knew all too well. He’d never forget the day his mother had received the news of his sister’s murder. It had been years ago, but it still stuck in his head like it was yesterday. That day had changed his life forever. It had been the main reason he’d chosen a career in law enforcement. He took an oath to serve and protect the innocent and that’s exactly what he’d promised his mother before she passed away. To finally bring justice to his sister’s case. Dealing with complete strangers was one thing, but when it happened in your own home, that was another.

“So, you think the Covenant has a lead on Mr. Russo’s case?”

With his hand gripped around the wheel, Manuel briefly glanced at his partner and said, “Let’s hope they hell they do. So far, we’ve got shit to go on.”

“Yeah,” Frank sighed. “Right now, anything would be better than nothing.”

“How’s your niece?” Manuel said, changing the subject a little.

“Carrie seems to be doing alright, considering what all she’s been through. And as a matter of fact, according to what my wife says, Carrie has met someone.”

“Really?” Manuel cocked a brow. “When did this happen?”

“Remember when she lost her purse?”

Manuel nodded, thinking back to that dreadful day when Frank’s niece was attacked. If it weren’t for Jena McCain intervening, God knows what would have happened. It also made him wonder about how they were going to keep up with all the body parts Jena’s creature left behind. Were they going to have to continue their efforts of covering it up or would the Breedline Covenant find a way to solve the issue? Although Jena only hunted evil people, which in turn kept the city safer by eliminating rapist and killers, he was still concerned that her creature would be seen by an innocent onlooker. If word got out about another werewolf siting, they’d have a widespread panic on their hands yet again. Dealing with human monsters were one thing, but the supernatural kind… that was entirely out of their league.

Manuel came back to reality when Frank went on say, “Apparently, some guy found it. He got Carrie’s address from her ID and took it to her. I guess they somehow hit it off by what Missy said when she talked to Carrie the other day. He asked her out on a date.”
 
“It sounds like things are turning up for her,” Manuel said. “After everything she’s had to endure, she deserves some good luck for a change.”

“I agree.” Frank nodded. “That poor girl has definitely had her share of hardships.”

“Have you met him?”

“No,” Frank said. “Not yet. But her roommate has. Jessica seems to approve.”

“Are you going to run a background check on this guy?”
  
“Nah,” Frank said, shaking his head. “I think I’ll give Carrie the benefit of the doubt this time. She seems to really like the guy and going by what she described to my wife, so far, he’s a true gentleman. She said it’s the first time a guy has opened a car door for her.”

“That’s rare these days, especially with the younger generation,” Manuel said. “What’s this guy do for a living?”

“He’s a freelance journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.”

“Well, at least this one’s got a job and doesn’t live off mommy and daddy like her last boyfriend. Speaking of Mr. Russo, how’s Carrie handling his death?”

Frank shrugged. “She seems to be taking it fairly well. I think meeting someone new has helped. Besides, I have to say, Kevin Russo wasn’t exactly the nicest guy. He was nothing more than a spoiled brat and he treated Carrie like she was beneath him.”

“Yeah,” Manuel said with a slight smirk in his voice. “You can thank his parents for that. Hell, what do you expect when you buy your adult kid a car that costs as much as a house? And not to mention the penthouse they were paying for. That’s what’s wrong with all these young adults nowadays. They never learn the meaning of hard-earned money. Instead of making them work for it, their parents just keep doling out the cash.”

“I hear ya, Detective,” Frank said. “I’m just grateful my parents taught me the value of a dollar so I could pass it on. It’s discouraging that in today’s times a lot of parents don’t teach their children good work ethics. I think Missy and I did a pretty decent job raising Carrie. That young lady is one hard worker. We’re so proud of her. She was so young when her parents died. After Missy and I took her in, we’ve always considered her as our daughter. Since we couldn’t have children of our own, Carrie was like a blessing.” Then he chuckled. “Listen to us go on. We sound like a couple of old coots.”

“Have you looked in the mirror lately?” Manuel grunted. “We’re not exactly spring chickens.”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a red sports car cut in front of them.

“Shit!” Manuel said through gritted teeth, slamming on the brakes.

As the driver peered into his rearview mirror, he got a glimpse of flashing red and blue lights. He instantly pumped his brakes and slowed down.  

“Probably one of those little rich bastards,” Manuel said as he sped up and rode the guys bumper.

“Maybe we ought to pull him over and give him a few driving pointers,” Frank remarked. “And a big ol’ fat ticket to go with it."

Manuel checked his watch. “Next time, partner,” he said, smiling as they passed by the driver who had pulled over, obviously expecting a ticket. “We’ve got more pressing issues to deal with.”

“Whatever you say, buddy,” Frank said. “But if it had been me, I would have pulled that guy over and gave him a good old-fashioned tongue lashing.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Manuel grumbled as he switched off the flashing lights and stomped on the accelerator. “Let’s just focus on our task ahead. I’m dying to know the reason Tim Ross asked us to stop by the Covenant so early on a Sunday.” 
 
“Didn’t he say why in the message he left you?”

“No.” Manuel shook his head. “He invited us over for breakfast and mentioned they had a situation last night they wanted to discuss.”

“A situation?” Frank queried, tilting his head. “I wonder if this has anything to do with Jena?”

“Who knows. Although I’m hoping they found some information on whoever murdered Kevin Russo.”

“Maybe this time we’ll catch a break,” Frank replied.

“Yeah, well… keep your fingers crossed.” Manuel let out a frustrated sigh. “Considering our luck lately, we’re going to need all the help we can get.”   

To be continued. . .  
  
 
       
         

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

TRUE LAW - All Breedline Covenants have a book of laws. If disobeyed, they must face the Breedline council. Punishment for taking another life out of revenge, or evil - other than protecting their life and the life of another - they will instantly shift into a rogue wolf for life and shunned by the Breedline Covenants.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Carrie Randall - She is a substance abuse counselor. She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece.

Jessica Phillips - She is Carrie's roommate and best friend.

Kevin Russo - He is Carrie's ex-boyfriend.

Jena McCain - She is a young artist with the ability to speak with the dead. After an age-old creature rises from years of peaceful slumber to feast on humans, he attacks Jena and curses her for eternity. Although she later destroys the creature, she will take on its bloodlust, but only hunts evil people.


Chapter 42
Murder Mystery/Part Two

By scongrove

A half hour later, Tessa and Jace finally made their way downstairs. Before they stepped into the kitchen, whatever was cooking on the inside instantly invaded their senses and ignited Jace’s appetite.

As he pushed through the set of double doors and held one side open for Tessa, they were surprised to see the kitchen already packed. For the exception of Jena and Nicolas, everyone else in the Covenant were gathered around the table.

Tessa noticed Alexander sitting close to Helen with his arm around her. It warmed her heart to see them in love, and it made her wonder when they were finally going to tie the knot. Settled in the chairs across from them were Cassie—Jace’s little sister—and her husband Drakon. They were facing each other, and by the look on their faces, Tessa could tell how much they loved one another. And if she had to bet, the two were most likely talking about baby things. Cassie was moving along in her pregnancy, and they were excited to have a family of their own.

Alongside the pregnant couple sat Mia and her husband Jem, who was Jace’s twin brother. Nestled in Jem’s lap was their daughter, Evie. She was the spitting image of her mother with Jem’s blond hair and blue eyes. Everyone in the Covenant adored her, especially all her cousins and Tim and Angel’s little girl, Natalie.

Seated at the far end of the table next to Alexander were Eve and Sebastian. Their twin boys, Arius and Tidus, were sitting in highchairs nearby. Both boys had dark curly hair and golden eyes like their father's. They were eating biscuits with jelly, although most of the strawberry jam covered their faces.

Sitting in the chair beside Helen was Abbey. Her husband Steven, Tessa’s fraternal twin brother sat close to Abbey who was holding onto their son, Jonah.

The rest of the Breedline crew were engaged in conversation, chatting and laughing. Although Tessa enjoyed every minute she had alone with her husband, all the voices inside the crowded room made her feel at home. The only thing missing were their twin boys. The thought made her want to call Jace’s parents, but she decided to be patient and let them have more time with their grandbabies. Besides, they had been practically begging to keep the boys overnight and she wasn’t the type to say no to her in-laws. John and Sarah were wonderful people and took excellent care of little Jem and Jax.  

“Is that bacon and eggs I smell?” Jace asked, rubbing his stomach.

Tim rose from his chair and motioned them over. “Please, come join us.”

Tessa smiled at Tim and nodded at Angel, who was sitting next to him. Natalie, their daughter, was in a highchair close by, drinking out of a pink sippy cup. 

Two seats were empty at the far side of the couple, and Tessa and Jace went to sit next to them.

“Sorry we’re running late,” Tessa said as Jace pulled out the chair for her.

“You’re fine.” Tim smiled, realizing it had been a while since Tessa and Jace had time alone. Besides, he knew all too well what it was like chasing after a toddler, and they had double the trouble.

“As a matter of fact,” Tim went on to say, “we’re still waiting on Detectives’ Sanchez and Perkins to arrive. They should be here shortly.”

“They better get here soon,” Jace said, settling in the chair next to Tessa. “I’m starving.”

“Someone better feed him,” Kyle chortled. “I’d hate to see Jace’s beast rear its ugly head. We all might end up on the menu.”

“Careful Kyle,” Casey pointed out. “Remember the last time Jace got pissed off.”

Jace rolled his eyes. “Whatever.” 

Mia held up a plate of biscuits. “Help yourself, Jace. Maybe this will tide you over until the detectives get here.”

“They’re delicious,” Drakon spoke out. “I’ve already had two.”

“Me too,” Lawrence said with his mouth full.

“They must be good,” Roman snidely remarked, grinning at Lawrence. “That was your third one.”

Lawrence merely smirked at Roman.

“Thanks Mia.” Jace reached for a biscuit. “You’re a lifesaver.”

When Jace stuffed the entire thing in his mouth, Tessa shook her head, clearly annoyed by his caveman manners. Just as she was about to say something, Bruce Carmichael, one of the guards, popped his head inside the kitchen and said, “Detectives’ Manuel Sanchez an’ Frank Perkins have arrived.” He spoke with a thick, Scottish accent. “Should ah escort them in?” 

“Of course,” Tessa said. “Thank you, Bruce.”

He nodded and ushered the two detectives into the kitchen.

“Make yourself comfortable, Detectives,” Tim said, easing back into his chair. “You too, Bruce. And I hope you guys brought your appetite. Angel, Mia, and Eve made quite the spread.”

“Thank ye, Mr. Ross,” Bruce said.

“Yeah,” Manuel said. “Thanks for having us over. Everything looks delicious.”

Frank eyeballed all the platters of food as they sat down. “You ladies out did yourselves. Thanks for inviting us.”

“You’re welcome, Detectives,” Angel replied. “Please, dig in.”  

“After we eat,” Tim said, “we’ll meet in the library to talk in private.”

Frank nodded and Manuel said, “Sounds like a plan.”

Not long after everyone finished eating, the women stayed back to clean up, except for Tessa and Helen, while the group of men escorted the two detectives to the library.

The moment everyone gathered around the seating area, Manuel said, “I hope what you have to say has something to do with Mr. Russo’s case.”

“I’m sorry, Detective,” Tim regretfully said. “This is about Jena. But I promise, we’re still working on that issue.”

“I had a feeling this was about Jena.” Manuel exhaled a deep breath. “So, what’s going on?”

After Tim explained the situation concerning the woman and her daughter, including the man who kidnapped them, everyone at the table went speechless.

Finally, Manuel said, “I take it there’s not much left of the kidnapper, am I right?”

Tim shook his head. “His remains are in our morgue.”

“What about that abandoned house?” Frank asked.

“Don’t worry, Detective,” Drakon spoke out. “We made sure everything was taken care of.”

Manuel arched a brow. “Are you saying all the evidence has been destroyed?”

“What would you have us do, Detective?” Drakon replied. “We already know the details, unless you want us to notify the authorities so they can waste taxpayer’s money on an investigation.”

“Okay, okay,” Manuel said. “I get your point. The last thing we need is for this to get out.”

“I know covering up evidence isn’t the best option,” Tim said. “But in this case, we had no other choice.”

“I agree,” Tessa spoke out. “And it’s what God granted Jena to do.”   

“What about an ID?” Manuel said. “Do we know the assailant’s identity?”

Tim placed what looked to be a man’s billfold on the table and said, “We found the guy’s wallet. Peter Ferguson was the name listed on his driver’s license.”

“May I see that?” Manuel asked, pointing to the wallet.

“Of course,” Tim said, sliding it down to Manuel. 

When Manuel got a look at the picture on the driver’s license, his brows went up. It was obvious he recognized the guy.

Frank tilted his head. “Is that who I think it is?”

“It sure the hell is,” Manuel replied, looking up at Frank.

“Well…” Jace shrugged. “Are you going to clue in the rest of us?”

“Jena just solved a big case.” Manuel smiled, but only one side of his mouth curled up. “We’ve been working on it for over two years.”

“What case?” Jace queried.

“He’s talking about the Ferguson case,” Frank interjected. “The guy Jena took out was a notorious rapist and a brutal killer. We just haven’t been able to catch the guy. He’s responsible for the death of fifteen women. And those are just the one’s we found his DNA on. It’s possible there’s more.”

“I’ve heard about this on the news,” Jem commented. “They called him Slippery Pete.”

“Yep,” Frank said. “That’s him alright. Every time we’d get a lead on the guy, he somehow managed to slip through the cracks. Although, I have to say, I’m relieved it’s over.” He threw his hands up in defeat. “Go figure.” 
    
“Well, I guess Jena solved your problems,” Jace said. “Ol’ Slippery Pete won’t be able to put his hands on another woman ever again.”

“You said that right,” Kyle said. “I’m betting the guy didn’t even have a limb left after Jena’s creature got ahold of him.”

“Actually, she did leave him one arm,” Drakon sarcastically said.

Kyle curled his upper lip and Jace spouted, “Serves him right. If it had been my Beast, the bastard would be lucky to have a head.”

“Okay guys,” Tim grumbled. “I think we get the picture.” 
   
“What about the woman and her child?” Frank asked. “Are they okay?”

“Thanks to Jena, they survived,” Tim replied. “And she got the woman’s name and address. Miss Martha Dunlap lives at the Adeline Street apartments.”

“Oh man,” Jace muttered, shaking his head. “What’s she doing raising a kid in that area? It’s in a real bad location. Those apartments are overrun with drug dealers.”

 Tim averted his eyes from Jace and looked to Helen. “If you don’t mind, we’d like you to go check on Martha and her daughter. Jena promised we’d make sure they had a medical examination. By what Jena said, and the low-income housing, I take it they don’t have the funds to pay for medical expenses.”

“Of course,” Helen said. “I’d be more than happy to offer my services.” 

“Helen shouldn’t go alone,” Alexander spoke out. “I’ll go with her.”

“Thank you, Alexander,” Tim said. “I was planning on going, but since you’re volunteering, I will go on ahead to the institute with Drakon and Roman.”

Manuel looked at Tim in question. “What institute?”

“The Summit Behavioral Institute,” Tim replied. “It has something to do with Kevin Russo’s murder. We’re not sure, but we may have a lead.”

“What kind of lead?” Manuel asked.

“How ‘bout you and Frank go with us,” Tim pointed out. “We’ll give you the details on the way. Plus, your badge’s might help us get the information we’re looking for.”

“If this will get us closer to finding the perpetrator,” Manuel said, “we’ll definitely do all we can.”  
       
“Sorry to change the subject,” Jem said, “but just as a precaution, I think it’s a good idea if I go with Helen and Alexander. Jace was right about that apartment complex. It’s really bad.”  
   
Tim nodded. “Thanks Jem.” 

A soft voice came from the doorway, “I’d like to go too.”

When everyone turned to look, they saw Jena with the door slightly propped open and Nicolas standing behind her.

Tim rose from his chair. “Please….” He motioned them toward the table. “Join us.”

As they approached the table, Nicolas settled Jena in a chair next to Tim and then sat down on the opposite side of her.

“Are you sure you want to go along?” Tim said, looking between Jena and Nicolas. “It would mean giving up your true identity to Miss Dunlap and her daughter.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” Jena stated. “I want to reassure them. To let them know someone cares.”

“Jena, you saved their lives,” Tessa pointed out. “I’m sure Miss Dunlap realizes that. I don’t think it’s in your best interest to reveal who you are.”

“I know,” Jena said. “But it would mean a lot to me if I could visit Martha and her daughter, Amy. I want them to see me as I truly am, and not the scary monster they witnessed.”

“If I agree to this,” Tessa said, releasing a sigh, “promise me you’ll keep the Covenant a secret.”  

Jena nodded in agreement. “I give you my word.”
 
To be continued. . . 
 
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Mia Blackwood - She is a half-breed and Jem's bonded mate. Abandoned at birth and raised in human foster care, she later finds her identical twin sister, Eve.

Eve - She is a half-breed, and Sebastian's bonded mate.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Alexander Crest - He is a Breedline species, Jace and Jem's biological father. He is bonded to Dr. Helen Carrington.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Angel - She is a half-breed and Tim's bonded mate.

Natalie - She is a half-breed and Tim and Angel's daughter.

Kyle Jones - He is a Breedline species that resides in the California Covenant. Celina Baldolf is his bonded mate. He's a mechanic and plays bass in the rock band Chaos.

Casey Barton - He is a Theriomorph and lives in the California Covenant. He is a clothing model and plays backup bass and keyboards in the band Chaos.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Cassie Chamberlain - Adopted at age two by Jace and Jem's adoptive parents after her mother abandons her. Later, she discovers she is a Breedline species and bonds with the handsome Drakon Hexus. She is a nurse practitioner, specializing in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.

Abbey (a.k.a. Abigail Winthrop) - She inherited the genetics of a Lupa from her mother and is bonded with Steven Craven.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil.

Lawrence Colbert - A Breedline council member of the New Jersey Covenant, trained in military tactics and as a medic who worked alongside Roman Kincaid, the Special Ops team, and the Breedline Covenant to help take down Valkin Steele.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Jena McCain - She is a young artist with the ability to speak with the dead. After an age-old creature rises from years of slumber to feast on humans, it attacks Jena, leaving her cursed to take it's place. Although she will live for eternity killing for blood, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal and is in love with Jena McCain.


Chapter 43
Saving Amy

By scongrove

When Jem pulled into the parking lot of the Adeline Street apartments, Helen’s brows drew together, her expression sorrowful as she took in the condition of the rundown building. There were bars covering the outside windows of each unit and some were cracked while others were busted out completely. By the overgrown weeds surrounding the dilapidated brick structure and trash littering the parking lot, it was obviously poorly managed. The place didn’t even look livable or safe by any means. 
 
“Jace was right,” Helen said, shaking her head. “This is definitely not a good environment to raise a child.” 

Jem nodded in agreement and cut the engine to the SUV.

“Poor little Amy,” Jena said, peering out of the backseat window. “There’s got to be something we can do to help them.”

Nicolas looked over at Jena. “I know someone who can help.”

She faced him with an optimistic look in her eyes. “You do?”

“There’s an organization that helps single mothers,” he said. “They provide housing and other provisions along with financial assistance for anyone who qualifies. I can get in contact with the person in charge if Miss Dunlap agrees to it.”

Jena reached for his hand. “Thank you, Nicolas.”

He smiled. “You’re welcome, sweetheart.”

As a red Mustang pulled into the space next to them, the loud music coming from inside drew their attention. The dark tinted windows made it impossible to see who was inside. Then, everything went quiet as two guys emerged from the vehicle, along with a thick cloud of cigarette smoke. The one behind the wheel had on a black hoodie with an image of a marijuana leaf on the front and the passenger wore a Yankees ball cap with a black satchel strapped over his shoulder.
 
Before Jem and the others got out of the SUV, they waited until the two guys went into the apartment complex. As soon as they were out of sight, Jem said, “Remember the plan, ladies.” He looked to the passenger seat at Helen and then toward the backseat at Jena. “You two stay close behind us. The minute we find apartment 10B, I’ll knock, and we’ll go from there.”

Helen nodded and Jena said, “Martha won’t answer the door unless my name is mentioned.”

“Okay, good,” he replied. “If she asks who it is, you can announce yourself.”

Moments later, as they made their way upstairs, it wasn’t long before they located Martha’s apartment. After Jem knocked, they waited for what seemed like several minutes before they heard a woman’s voice.

“Who is it?”

When Jem nodded at Jena, giving her the OK to answer, she said, “Martha… it’s Jena.”

Finally, the door slowly cracked open. Behind a deadbolt chain, a thin-faced woman with swollen and bruised eyes looked directly at the pretty young woman with long, blonde hair outside the door. She seemed confused by Jena’s human appearance, remembering the wolfish beast who had saved her and her daughter’s life.

“Jena?” the woman said, her voice laced with bewilderment. “Is that…” She was hesitant, tilting her head. “…really you?”

Although Jena could barely make out the woman’s features through the tiny opening, she instantly recognized her. The scared look in her eyes and her battered face was a dead giveaway. 

“Yes, Martha,” Jena replied with a smile. “It’s Jena. I’m the one who helped you last night. And I brought along some friends. Remember… I promised I’d bring a doctor for you and Amy.”

There was a hint of relief that shadowed Martha’s face before uncertainty crept back in. It was as though she was grappling with the decision to unlock the door.

“I give you my word,” Jena went on to say. “No one is going to harm you or your daughter. We’re here to help.”

After a few moments, Martha finally slide the deadbolt chain to unlock the door. Slowly, she cracked the door wider, but not all the way. 

And then, a little girl’s freckled face suddenly appeared from behind Martha. She had on a flowery nightgown and her long, auburn hair was arranged in pigtails. Her mouth was smeared with what looked to be grape jelly and she had a worn-out, stuffed cloth doll in her hand that looked handmade. She immediately tucked one arm around her mother’s leg, anchoring herself close.  

Jena crouched down and said, “Hi Amy.”

The little girl gave a deer-in-the-headlights look as she glanced up at her mother with big brown eyes and then back to Jena. Then finally, her gaze flickered warily up at the other people crowded outside the door. The giant man with pale blue eyes and long, white-blond hair made her flinch back in fear.

“It’s all right, Amy. They’re my friends.” Jena averted her eyes from the frightened child and looked up at Alexander, realizing how intimidating he must appear to her. He towered to the height of at least six-five with broad shoulders and a menacing stare. He reminded Jena of the famous actor who portrayed the Marvel character Thor. When Jena focused her eyes back on Amy, she said, “I told them what a brave little girl you are.”

With wide eyes, Amy edged more firmly behind her mother and swiped at her jelly covered mouth with the back of her hand.

“What’s their names?”

Jena smiled at the child and then looked back up at Alexander with a slight nod. He came forward and got down on one knee.

“My name is Alexander.” His voice was deep but gentle. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Amy.” He looked up at Jem who stood beside him. “And that’s my son, Jem.”

“Hello Amy,” Jem said, waving at the little girl looking up at him with a curious expression on her face. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Helen leaned over and said, “Hi Amy. My name is Helen and I’m a doctor.”

When Helen noticed Amy eyeballing the stethoscope that was around her neck with fascination, she said, “Amy, would you like to listen to your heartbeat?”

She answered by bobbing her head up and down.  
 
“And this is my best friend, Nicolas,” Jena said, drawing Amy’s attention. “He’s a policeman.”

She shifted her gaze toward a man who came forward and stood close to Jena. He had ink-black, shoulder length hair and lavender eyes. He smiled down at her and said, “Hello, sweetheart.” His voice had a thick, southern accent and sounded funny to Amy.

She bashfully hid her face and let out a giggle.

Nicolas bent down and pointed to the doll. “Who do you have there?”

Amy held up the old, tattered looking doll by its flimsy arm. “This is my friend Maisie.”

“Maisie is a great name for a doll,” Nicolas said, smiling. “Did you name her?”

“Uh-huh,” Amy muttered, nodding.  

Jena inched closer. “Amy, do you remember the good wolf named Jena who saved your Mommy?”  

Amy’s eyes went big on her small face. “Jena is my friend,” she said with a smile in her voice.

“Well…” Jena briefly paused, trying to find the right words to say. “That was… me. I’m Jena.”   

As Amy moved closer, her eyes searched over Jena’s face. A few seconds later, it was like a light bulb had suddenly gone off. Her recognition was almost instantaneous. She jumped up and down with excitement stamped all over her sticky face.

“Mama! Mama!” Amy squealed. “It’s Jena! Hurry… let them in!”

Before Martha managed to step aside, Amy darted past her with her tiny hand outstretched.

The second Jena took hold, Amy tugged her forward. “Hurry Jena,” she feverishly muttered. “And bring your friends. Come meet my new kitty-cat.”

As Jena and the others hurriedly followed her into the apartment, Amy rushed over to a shabby couch riddled with holes. Lying on top of one of the armrests was a scraggly, long-haired tabby. Amy quickly set her doll down and scooped the feline into her arms.

 It went limp and meowed when she held it up for Jena to see.

Jena knelt on the worn and ratty carpet, smiling at Amy. “What’s the kitty’s name?” 

“I named her Alley Cat cuz Mommy found her in the alley eating out of the trash. You can pet her. She likes wolves.”

“Oh… okay,” Jena said, surprised by Amy’s statement, not sure what to reply. “That’s good to know.”

While Jena was introduced to the family pet, Helen strode over to where Martha stood and extended her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Dunlap. I’m Dr. Helen Carrington.”

Martha tentatively took Helen’s hand. “It’s Martha, and thank you for coming, Dr. Carrington.”

“Please…” Helen said, releasing Martha’s hand. “You can call me Helen. And if you don’t mind…” Helen glanced over her shoulder at Amy, “…is there somewhere private where we can talk?”

“We only have one bedroom,” Martha reluctantly replied. “Will that be okay?”

“Of course.” Helen nodded. “That will do just fine.”  
   
As Martha took Helen to the back room, the guys crowded in the small living room. Alexander noticed how warm and muggy it was. Then, he realized there was no air conditioning. The windows, the ones in which weren’t already busted out, were wide open to allow some air to get in. It was gut-wrenching to imagine them living here. And by how malnourished Martha appeared, it was obvious she was struggling to survive.

“We can’t just leave them here,” he whispered to Nicolas and Jem. “This place is not suitable for anyone much less a small child.”

“And it’s definitely not safe,” Nicolas mentioned, keeping his voice low. “You saw those guys that pulled up next to us. I’ve been a detective for most of my life. I recognize a drug dealer when I see one, and those two immediately set off my radar.” 

Jem nodded. “I agree. What do you propose we do?”

“It will take at least a week or two to get them assistance,” Nicolas said. “And hopefully there’s an opening to get them housing.”

Alexander exhaled a heavy sigh and said, “There’s no way I’m walking away, leaving that precious little girl in this rathole another day.”

“So where can we take them?” Jem shrugged. “You heard what Tessa said. She didn’t want Jena involving the Covenant.”

“I have an extra room,” Nicolas said. “Martha and Amy are welcome to stay at my place as long as they want. Besides, I mostly stay with Jena in the Covenant.”

“That’s very generous of you,” Alexander said, patting Nicolas on the shoulder. “Now all we have to do is convince Martha and get them packed up and ready to go.”

“You think she’ll agree to let us help her?” Jem asked.

Nicolas shook his head. “I don’t know, but there’s only one way to find out.”

“Yeah,” Jem replied. “And after what Martha has been through, she might not be so trusting.”

“I say we bring it up with Jena,” Alexander pointed out. “Amy seems crazy about her. Maybe if Jena asks Martha, she’ll agree to it.”

“Good idea,” Nicolas said. “I’ll ask Jena.”

As Nicolas started to make his way over to talk to Jena, Amy ran up to him, stopping him in his tracks.

“Jena said my Mommy and I could come sleepover at your house,” she said with excitement, holding up the cat. “And Alley Cat, too!”

Nicolas smiled at Amy, and when he lifted his gaze to meet Jena’s, her expression was one of sympathy.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” Nicolas said as he focused back on Amy. “How about we go tell your Mommy?”

Then, to Nicola’s surprise, Amy quickly put the cat down and wrapped her arms around his legs.

“Thank you, Mr. policeman,” she murmured, squeezing tighter.

Tears gathered in Nicolas’s eyes. “You’re welcome, sweetheart.”   
 
To be continued. . . 
 
 
 
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Alexander Crest - He is a Breedline species, Jace and Jem's biological father. He is bonded to Dr. Helen Carrington.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Jena McCain - She is a young artist with the ability to speak with the dead. After an age-old creature rises from years of peaceful slumber to feast on human blood, he attacks Jena. Now that she is cursed to take the creature's place, she will only hunt pure evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal and is an detective for the San Francisco police department. He is in love with Jena McCain.

Martha Dunlap - Her and her five-year-old daughter, Amy was kidnapped by a serial rapist. During the kidnapping, Jena heard Amy calling out for help. As she shifted into her wolfish creature, she found Amy and her mother in an old abandoned house. Before Martha was raped, Jena attacked the man and killed him. Helping them flee, Jena promised she would bring Martha and her daughter medical help from a trusted physician.


Chapter 44
Test Subjects

By scongrove

So far Drakon—after a sleepless night of searching—had finally stumbled upon some crucial information dealing with the Summit Behavioral Institute. Although he’d dug up a list of patients, it frustrated the hell out of him that there was nothing on a Joseph Harris, or anyone going by that first name.

As he dug deeper, he uncovered something peculiar. He found a file listed as classified. Using his computer geek skills and the Covenant’s decryption software, he broke through the encrypted files and opened them. What he’d managed to come across was completely shocking. The institute was using mental patients as guinea pigs. They were mixing human and animal DNA in the hopes of advancing medical research for a pharmaceutical drug company called (A&E) Adam & Eve Pharmaceuticals. 

And then Drakon uncovered financial records. Payments were being made to the institute by A&E and another private facility outside Berkeley, California.

Right after the morning meeting and ensuring Helen had enough backup while she went on a house call in a well-known drug district, Drakon met up with Tim, Roman, and Detectives’ Manuel Sanchez and Frank Perkins to go over what he’d discovered. 

“This stuff is classified information,” Drakon started to explain, “and it took me hours to crack through the institute’s encrypted files. A&E and another unknown facility is paying them to experiment on their own patients.”

“Son of a b—” Manuel grumbled under his breath. “Did you manage to get the names of those patients?”

“I printed out the list,” Drakon said, reaching into his back pocket. “These patients are separated from the others.” He handed Manuel a folded piece of paper. “They’re being held in some type of secret ward in the institute.”

“And probably against their will,” Frank piped in.

Drakon nodded. “Most likely.”

“Did you find anything on this Joseph Harris guy?” Manuel asked.

Drakon shook his head. “No, not a damn thing.”

“Well, that’s not surprising.” Manuel sighed. “That would be too easy. Although, the institute could have him listed anonymously.”

“It’s possible,” Drakon replied. 

Tim looked between the two detectives and said, “So where do we go from here?”

“Before we do anything, we’ll need a search warrant,” Manuel pointed out, roaming over the names listed on the printout Drakon had given him.

“How long is that going to take?” Roman asked.

“About the same amount of time it will take us to get to the institute,” Manuel replied, focusing on the list.

“How’s that possible?” Roman asked, looking at Manuel, wondering how he was going to get a judge to authorize a warrant that quick.

“Because,” Manuel said, lifting his gaze to meet Roman’s. “One of the patients listed here is Judge Weaver’s granddaughter. She turned up missing a few weeks ago. According to the law, that gives us probable cause.”

Tim grimaced. “My god… how old is this girl?”

“Susan just turned eighteen,” Manuel said. “She had a bright future ahead. She was planning to go to Princeton right after she finished her senior year.”

“Well…” Drakon shrugged. “What are we doing standing around? Time is ticking. Let’s go shut this place down and bring Susan back to her grandmother.”

“Then let’s do it,” Manuel said, tossing the car keys to Frank. “You’re driving, partner.”  
       
The moment Tim, Roman, and Drakon made it to the institute, they parked their SUV alongside Detectives’ Manuel Sanchez and Frank Perkins’s unmarked car, who’d arrived just moments earlier.

“You guys hang back while Frank and I go in,” Manuel said, handing Tim a two-way radio. “We’ll holler if we run into any trouble.”

“Wait,” Roman said. “Didn’t you call in for backup?”

“That’s what you guys are here for,” Frank commented. “Depending on what we’re going up against, and what’s lurking behind those doors, things might get a little ugly if you catch my meaning.”

“He’s right,” Manuel said. “It would be a waste of time calling the precinct for backup. If indeed they’re experimenting with patients, we might encounter something supernatural. And that’s where you guys come in.” 

Drakon nodded and Roman said, “We got your back, Detectives.”

“You think we’re enough?” Tim asked. “The Covenant is only a phone call away. I can have Tessa send others?”

“It wouldn’t hurt to give her a call,” Manuel replied. “But for now, keep them on standby. At least they’ll be aware of the situation if things go south.”

Tim held up the handheld transceiver and said, “Keep us informed.”

Manuel dipped his head. “You can count on it.”

As soon as both detectives started for entrance to the institute, Tim quickly phoned Tessa and gave her a heads up. The second he ended the call, he closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead wearily. He was worried Manuel and Frank were getting in way over their heads even though they’ve proved themselves damn capable of getting the job done. Although, this wasn’t just their average criminals they were dealing with. They might very well encounter whatever was being created to profit A&E pharmaceuticals. And he suspected the government also had a hand in this.

“I’m not sure this is such a good idea,” Drakon spoke out, drawing Tim’s attention.

“What do you mean?” Tim said, looking over at Drakon.

“I don’t know.” Drakon shook his head. “After uncovering all that stuff… I have a bad feeling. Are you sure they should be going in alone? I mean… this is some serious shit.”

Tim shrugged. “Did we have a choice?” 
             
 “Not really, but when did that ever stop us?”

“You have a point,” Tim said, cocking a brow. “And I have a hunch the government is involved.”

Roman leaned in from the backseat and focused on Drakon. “The government could be the private facility who’s helping fund the institute’s research.”

“Yah,” Drakon agreed, his jaw visibly clenched. “That’s what I was thinking.”

Tim put a restraining hand on Drakon’s arm, worried he’d say screw it and charge into the institute. “Let’s not overreact just yet,” he calmly said. “We’ll give the detectives a few more minutes.” He looked down at his watch. “If we don’t hear anything in the next twenty minutes, we’ll go in.”

As they waited in ready silence, it seemed an hour had passed according to Tim. Although, by his watch, it had only been ten minutes. And he wasn’t the only one edgy and restless. Drakon and Roman were a bundle of nerves.    

“How long has it been?” Roman blurted, breaking the silence.

As if on cue, Frank’s voice suddenly came over the two-way radio. “We need backup. Over. I repeat… we need you guys.”

“Shit,” Tim muttered under his breath. He put the handheld transceiver up to his mouth and said, “Copy that, Detective. We’re on our way.”

Tim glanced between Drakon and Roman and said, “Let’s do this.”
 
“Let’s go kick some ass,” Roman urged, reaching for the door.

“I second that,” Drakon hedged.

The minute everyone piled out of the vehicle, they sprinted double time to institute’s front entrance.

As Drakon burst through the doors first, Tim and Roman charged in behind him. All three came to a screeching halt when they came upon the staff who were all on the floor huddled together in the corner. They looked scared out of their minds.

When they heard screams and gun fire, they shot past everyone and ran down a corridor toward an open door where the sounds were coming from.

They immediately stopped dead in their tracks at the sight before them. There was blood everywhere. It looked like someone painted the walls with it.

“What the hell happened here?” Roman sputtered. 

Tim reached for the two-way radio clipped to his belt and pressed the push-to-talk button. “Frank… where the hell are you guys?”
 
“We’re on the east side of the building,” Frank replied, sounding out of breath. “Come quick and you better get prepared. By that, I mean you better shift.”

Tim blew out a deep breath. “Can you tell me what we’re up against?”

“Hell… it’s hard to describe,” Frank said. “It’s a hybrid wolf of some kind. The damn thing is as big as a house.”

“Ah shit,” Drakon said, rolling his eyes. “Ask him if he has any idea where it’s at.”

Tim nodded at Drakon. “Frank, do you have the subject’s location?”

“It’s on the lower level. We’ve got ourselves barricaded but we’re not sure how long it will last. If this thing figures out where we are, it won’t take much for it to get in.”

“Stay put and give us a few minutes,” Tim said. “We’re headed that way.”

“Copy that,” Frank said. “But it might be a good time to ask Tessa for backup. Jace’s beast might be the only thing that can go toe to toe with this thing.”

“Affirmative,” Tim said. “We’ll contact Tessa. Until then, hang tight.” 

To be continued. . .
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Dr. Helen Carrington √¢?? She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

Joseph Harris (a.k.a Joseph Parker) - At age five, the moment his father murdered his mother, an evil entity, known as the Shadow, invaded Joseph's body. While his father was sent to prison, he had no other family member to take him in. Living most of his adolescent years in foster care, he is later diagnosed a psychopath with schizophrenia tendencies and sent to a mental institute. With the Shadow's guidance, Joseph convinces his therapists he is completely healed and is later released by the time he reaches adulthood. Now, he is a freelance journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle killing whoever the Shadow picks for his next victim.


Chapter 45
Lunch Date

By scongrove

By the time Carrie arrived at work, she noticed how bare the parking lot was. Of course, she thought, rolling her eyes, who works on a Sunday?

“Damn it, Veronica,” she groaned. “Why do you have to be such a jerk?”

She swallowed back her pride and reached to open the door. A dinging sound coming from her purse suddenly caught her by surprise. As she reached inside to retrieve her phone, she noticed there was a text from Joseph.


Are you allowed a lunch break?

Carrie’s lips instantly curled up. She texted back a laughing emoji and typed: The warden allows me an hour every day.

Her phone dinged with another text: LOL. Pick you up at noon?

Sounds great. Where are we going?

Her phone dinged. You choose the place.

How’s Augie’s Deli sound?

He texted a hungry emoji face and added: Perfect! Can’t wait!

After she texted him a thumbs up emoji, she put her phone back inside her purse and opened her door to get out, wearing a smile.  

The second Carrie exited her Volkswagen Beetle, a sporty black Mercedes pulled up alongside her. She immediately recognized her boss’s expensive car and grumbled under her breath.   
  
Although Carrie was ready to get the day over with, she stood there and waited as Veronica got out of her car.

She lifted her designer sunglasses and glared at Carrie underneath a thick layer of blue eyeshadow. “Well, I’m surprised you made it in,” she snidely remarked. Then, she glanced at her watch and added, “And on time, too.”

“Good morning to you too, Miss Hernandez,” Carrie shot back.

Veronica arched a brow. “Looks like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed. What’s a matter?” She smirked at Carrie. “Did your Valentine’s date go sour?”

“As a matter of fact,” Carrie said, “I had a wonderful time. Joseph is a great guy.”

“Is that so?” Veronica said, tilting her head. “You know… I was surprised to see you out on a date.”

Carrie shrugged. “Why’s that?” 

“Wasn’t your boyfriend murdered recently?”

“Kevin was my ex-boyfriend,” Carrie replied. “And yes, his life was taken tragically. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to keep my personal life private.”

“Fine,” Veronica huffed. “But it sounds a little odd to be dating someone else so soon. Just saying…”

Carrie rolled her eyes and before she started for the front entrance, Veronica called out, “Hold up, Carrie. I’ve got a few boxes of files in my trunk that need brought to my office. I’ll need you to take care of those.” And then she tossed Carrie her car keys. “Make sure you lock up when you’re done.”

“Wait a minute,” Carrie said, stopping Veronica before she walked away. “They’re not patient files, are they?”

Veronica shrugged one shoulder. “Yah, why?”

“When did we start taking our patient’s files home? Doesn’t that violate HIPAA?”

“Honestly Carrie,” Veronica said in a despairing tone. “Are we really going to go there?”

“But I was just—”

“Stop undermining my authority,” Veronica interjected. “I don’t pay you to question my judgement. Just keep your mouth shut and do your damn job. And hurry up with those boxes,” she added as she turned away, flipping her hair. “You keep flapping your jaw and we’ll be here all day.”

Finally, after Carrie set down the last of the four boxes, she said, “This is the last one.”

“Good.” Veronica sneered. “Now you can file them.”

“I don’t understand.” Carrie looked at her perplexed. “Isn’t that your assistant’s job?”

“Yes,” Veronica replied with a spiteful pitch in her voice. “But for today… you’re taking her place.”

“But—”

“Please, don’t argue with me,” Veronica snapped, cutting Carrie off. “I don’t have the patience today. Just do what I ask for once. Besides, do you really think I enjoy being here, Carrie? You wouldn’t be here in the first place if you hadn’t been late Saturday morning.”

“Miss Hernandez, did you ever consider the reason why I was late?”

“You said it was personal.”

“It was,” Carrie replied. “I was attacked and almost raped by two men. And after I managed to get away, later that night, me and my roommate found Kevin’s body in the parking lot of my apartment building.”

A moment of silence cropped up between them. Then, Veronica muttered, “Oh…” She visibly swallowed. “Well… you should have called in sick that day.”

“This is why I didn’t call in sick.” Carrie threw her hands up in defeat. “I was afraid you’d make me work through the entire weekend to make up my hours. I’m not some hourly factory worker, for Pete’s sake. I’m a licensed substance abuse counselor, and a damn good one at that.”

“How dare you take that tone with me,” Veronica said through gritted teeth. “Remember who you’re talking to. And if you think I buy all that garbage, Miss Randall, think again. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like some coffee before you start filing.”

Carrie’s jaw dropped, completely astounded by Veronica’s harsh words. She’d never met anyone so cruel, so heartless. She wanted nothing more than to tell her boss to go to hell, but instead, she said, “If you’ll excuse me…” She bit back tears. “I need a moment.”

As Carrie turned to leave, Veronica said, “Don’t forget about my coffee. I take it with cream and sugar.”  

The day seemed to painfully tick away at a snail’s pace. Carrie spent most of it filing and fetching coffee while her boss talked on the phone. She could tell by Veronica’s flirtatious voice, whoever was on the other end didn’t have anything to do with work. Nevertheless, Carrie did whatever she had to do to get through the day.

A long exhale escaped Carrie’s lips the moment she looked at the clock and saw it was almost noon. Thank goodness, she thought. At least my day isn’t completely ruined.

“Carrie,” Veronica called out. “I need you to go pick up my lunch. I called in an order at Ike’s Sandwich Shop.”

“Why don’t you just have Ike’s deliver?” Carrie said. “They’re not far from here.”

“Because,” Veronica said, snarling her upper lip, “I told you to go pick it up.”

“It’ll take a while,” Carrie said. “I’ve got a lunch date. But I can stop by and get it on my way back.”

“Oh…” Veronica cocked a brow. “Is this that Joseph fella or someone else?”

“It’s Joseph… the same guy you met last night.”

“Yes, I remember. The tall handsome guy with a bit of an attitude. So, what does he do for a living, or…” she lightly snickered, “…does he even have a job?”

Carrie ignored Veronica’s insults and said, “He’s a freelance journalist for the Chronicle.”

 “Well, well, well,” Veronica said in a dragged-out fashion. “Lucky you. Seems like you landed someone with not only looks, but brains. Tell me… is he any good in the sack?”

Carrie furrowed her brows. “This conversation is making me uncomfortable and it’s inappropriate.” 

“Oh, come on, Carrie. Don’t be such a stick in the mud. You take everything way too serious.”

“I take my job very serious, Miss Hernandez. I think there’s a time and place for personal business and this is not one of them.”

“Alright, alright,” Veronica said, waving it off like it was nothing. “Forget I said anything. Go have fun on your little lunch date. I’ll call Ike’s back and have them deliver my food.”

As soon as Veronica finally shut her pie-hole, Carrie scurried out of the office, shot through security, and exited the building in less than two minutes. When she saw a black Jeep pull into the parking lot and park by her car, she waived in Joseph’s direction.

Before she reached for the door handle, she took a deep breath. As the anxiety eased off a little, she proceeded to open the door. A voice calling out stopped her hand mid-way.

“Wait… let me get that for you.”

Carrie looked up as Joseph got out of the driver’s side and hurried over to open her door.

“You don’t have to do that,” she said, looking over her shoulder at him with the biggest grin on her face. “I can open my own door.”

“I know,” he said, smiling back at her. “But I enjoy it.”

After she climbed inside, he closed the passenger door and got back behind the wheel.

“I’m starving,” he said as he put the Jeep in reverse. “How about you?”

“Famished,” she simply said.

“Good.” He wiggled his brows. “I like a girl with a healthy appetite.”

She smiled up at him as he shifted in drive and tore out of the parking lot.

When they arrived at Augie’s Deli and ordered their food, Joseph sat down in the chair across from Carrie and reached for her hand. “Is something wrong, Carrie?” he kept his voice low. “You look a little upset.”

She sighed. “I’m sorry, Joseph. I don’t mean to ruin our lunch date.”

“No, no,” he quickly replied, lightly squeezing her tense hand. “You’re not ruining anything. You wanna talk about it?”

“It’s just… hard for me to talk about.”

“It’s your boss again, isn’t it?”

“It’s time to take care of Miss Veronica,” the Shadow whispered into Joseph’s subconscious. “I’m starving, and I’m losing my patience, Joseph.”

Carrie closed her eyes and when they reopened, the heartache shining nearly sent Joseph over the edge.

“Listen to me, Carrie. You can trust me.”

She shook herself and forced a smile. “It’s nothing I can’t handle myself. Let’s talk about you. How’s your day so far?”

“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” His eyes met hers steadily. “I’ve been told I’m a good listener.”

“What?” the Shadow remarked. “You never listen to anything I say.”

Carrie stared at him for a long moment, as if she was debating what to tell him. “Well… after today, I’ve decided to give that attorney a call. My boss has overstepped the boundaries.”

“Good for you, Carrie. I think you’re making the right decision.”

The sincerity and encouragement in Joseph’s voice lifted some of the weight off her shoulders. 

“Me too,” she said. “And you’re right. You are a good listener. Thanks Joseph.”

“She’s wasting her time,” the Shadow said. “After we get done with Miss Veronica, her problems will be solved indefinitely. Instead of an attorney, she’ll need her boss’s dental records to identify what’s left of her body.”  

To be continued. . .

 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. It's main purpose is to gain access to souls by using it's host to kill, consuming human flesh.


Chapter 46
Saving Amy/Part Two

By scongrove

While Jena and the guys kept little Amy occupied, Dr. Helen Carrington took Martha in the back bedroom to examine her injuries.

As Martha sat down on the bed, Helen reached for the stethoscope around her neck, noticing how fragile and thin she looked.

She peered at Martha over her glasses and said, “Martha, when was the last time you had a meal?”

“I tried to eat yesterday,” Martha said as tears immediately swirled. She bit her lip to keep the moan of despair from escaping. “But… I can’t keep anything down.”

Helen’s face twisted in sympathy. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”

Martha lowered her head and nodded.

“You can trust me, Martha.” Helen placed her hand on her shoulder. “Please, let me help you.”

Martha slowly lifted her chin. “I have… cancer,” she said around the catch in her throat. “It started in my colon and has spread to my liver and then to my kidneys.”

Helen’s heart nearly seized. “I’m so sorry, Martha.” She looked at her with empathy and compassion. “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

As Martha dipped her head, Helen said, “How long have you known?”

“I found out four months ago.”

“What did the doctors say about treatment?”

“It’s too far advanced,” Martha choked out. “Stage four. And I don’t have medical insurance, so…”   

For a split second, a memory flooded Helen’s mind like random pictures from her childhood past. They were images of her older sister and how she died at such a young age. Although Helen was only seven years old at the time, everything about Hanna’s death was still so clear:  Hospital beds, needles, and all the chemo treatments. In an awful mental snapshot, she saw her sister’s bald head, sickly pale skin, and a tiny, frail body who didn’t look like the flourishing person she was before. Near the end, Hanna was completely unrecognizable. 

“Martha,” Helen said soothingly, tossing the dreadful memory aside. “Does Amy know?”

“No,” she said with sorrow burning brightly in her eyes. “She’s too young to understand.”

Helen sighed then squatted beside Martha. “Do you have a plan for Amy? I mean, if—”

“If I die,” Martha said as Helen’s voice trailed off.

When Helen reluctantly nodded, Martha went on to say, “Amy’s father died in a car accident when she was just a baby and his family isn’t what you’d call responsible caretakers. I never knew my biological parents. I was given up for adoption and went from one foster family to another. My childhood wasn’t exactly good. So basically, it’s just the two of us and I’m not sure how much time I have left.”

Deciding to step in, Helen said, “If I offered, would you let me help you and Amy?”

“I don’t understand,” Martha said, furrowing her brows. “Why would you do that? You don’t even know us.”

“Because Martha, I know what’s it’s like to go through something tragic. And you and your daughter are going to need help.”

“I-I don’t have anything to give you in return.”

“I’m not asking for anything, except for your trust.”

Emotion knotted Martha’s throat and tears burned her eyelids. Unable to speak, she simply reached out to Helen and took her hand in hers.

“Stay here and dry your tears,” Helen said softly. “I’ll be right back, Martha.”

As Helen walked out of the room, Martha’s illness plagued her mind. How long did she have and who would care for little Amy when the time came? That was the million-dollar question. Then, her thoughts suddenly went to Steven and the rare gift he possessed. She wondered if he could heal Martha's illness. If not, maybe Jem could use his powers of healing. 

She felt some of the tension ease at the sound of Amy’s laughter. It instantly brought her mind around. The minute she stepped into the living room where the others gathered, Alexander came forward.

“How is she?” he asked, noticing the grim expression on Helen’s face.

Reluctantly, Helen kept her voice low and told him everything about Martha’s condition.

Alexander stared at her for a moment and then shook his head. “My god…” he gasped. “What do you suggest?”

“I want to help them,” Helen said. “They shouldn’t stay here one more day. Martha needs medical attention as soon as possible. I’m going to have them stay at my place so I can keep her in my care. I have the extra room and besides, they have nowhere else to go and no family they can turn to. It will give us the opportunity to prepare Amy for her mother’s illness and find her a guardian when the time comes.”

“Did Martha agree to let us help her?”

Helen nodded. “She knows time is wearing thin, leaving her no alternative.”

"What about Steven?" Alexander asked. "Do you think he could heal Martha?"

"The thought came to mind," Helen said. "And I also considered Jem. I'll discuss the possibilities with the others as soon as we get back to the Covenant. This might be our last option. Although there are risks involved, I'm afraid if we don't try, Martha won't survive much longer."

Alexander smiled at Helen and reached for her hand. “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”

“Every day,” she said, smiling back. “But I never tire of hearing it.”

He brought her hand up to his lips and lightly kissed it. “I love you, sweetheart.”

“I love you, too.”

“Speaking of Martha and Amy,” Alexander said. “Nicolas has offered his home to them. And Amy seems quite thrilled with his invitation.”

“That’s very kind of Nicolas,” Helen commented. “I’ll bring it up with Martha, but I don’t see any reason why she’d turn either offer down. At this point, what options does she have?”
  
 A few minutes later, after Martha dried her tears, she pushed herself to her feet. Nausea welled in her stomach, feeling as though she was going to be sick, but she swallowed it down and forced herself forward.

As she padded down the small hallway, she stopped and peeked into the room where Amy and the others were. Everyone was focused on her daughter, smiling and listening as she kept up a constant stream of chatter over her excitement of getting to sleepover at the policemen’s house and play in his backyard with her cat. She mentioned Jena more than once, reminding her how much Alley Cat loves wolves. It brought a smile to her face.

And then, she thought how wonderful it must be to be part of such a loving family. Everyone in Jena’s circle seemed tight knit. Was it fate that brought them together or just a coincidence? Although she had never been a big believer of fate, maybe this was God’s way of taking care of her daughter. Afterall, who’d believe there were such things as werewolves? Never in her wildest dreams would she imagine one would save her and her daughter’s life.  All the fiction horror movies portrayed them as savage killers, not saviors. It was then she realized Jena was not a coincidence. It was God who had sent her.  

Suddenly, tears burned the edges of her eyes and she quickly blinked them away, not wanting to worry her daughter. Not when she had something to look forward to. In fact, everything was moving in the right direction. Perhaps this was the answer to her prayers. Finally, she’d found a loving family for Amy.
   
Martha glanced up to see Helen motioning her to come in. After wiping her eyes, she went into the living room to join the others.

“Ah, look Amy,” Alexander said, looking between Martha and Amy. “Your Mama is back. Why don’t you tell her the good news?”

 Amy’s eyes lit up when she saw her mother.

“Mama! Mama!” she said with enthusiasm, running towards her. “Pack some clothes! Mr. Policeman said we could come to his house for a sleepover! And Alley Cat, too!”

Martha smiled, delighted by Amy’s excitement.

“That’s wonderful news, sweetheart,” she said, lightly ruffling Amy’s hair. “Go on ahead and start packing some of your things. I’ll be in there in a minute to help you.”

“Okay, Mama,” Amy said with a smile.

As soon as Amy left the room, Martha roamed over the faces standing before her. They all looked so very sincere. And sympathetic.

“How can I ever thank you enough?” she said with tears in her eyes. 

Jena came forward and gathered Martha’s hands in hers. “We want to do this for you and Amy.” She smiled a little. “You’ll have our entire family behind you.”

“You’ve been through a lot,” Alexander said in a somber voice. “And I can tell you’re a strong person… a fighter. Think about what you’ve done so far and everything you’ve endured. I have faith you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

“And you won’t have to do it alone,” Jem chimed in.

“Our point is that everyone needs help at one time or another,” Nicolas said. “I’ve had my share of fears and issues to work through.” He looked at Jena and then to the others. “I wouldn’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for everyone in this room.” He refocused his eyes back on Martha. “This is a group of good people I’m proud to call my family. And just like me, you’ll learn to appreciate what family—or at least this family—is all about.”

Emotion filled Martha’s heart until tears streamed down her cheeks. She had no idea what to say or if she could even speak at all. She bit her lip, desperate to hold back the sobs that welled in her throat. 

“It’s okay, Martha,” Helen said softly. “You’ve earned the right to cry all you want.”

The moment Martha started to sob, Jena, Helen, Alexander, Nicolas, and Jem gathered around her. As they all embraced her in loving arms, she wept and let the joyous moment invade her soul.

To be continued. . .
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal and a detective for the San Francisco Police Department. He has bonded with Jena McCain.

Martha Dunlap - Her and her daughter were kidnapped by a serial rapist. Before they were harmed, Jena's creature saved them and killed their kidnapper.

Amy Dunlap - She is Martha's five year old daughter.

Alexander Crest - He is a Breedline species, Jace and Jem's biological father. He is bonded to Dr. Helen Carrington.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.


Chapter 47
Test Subjects/Part Two

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

When Tim ended the phone call with Tessa—urging her to send backup—he was out of his clothes within seconds. Thick, dark hair sprouted all over him, covering him from head to toe. His face lost all recognition as it began to twist and elongate. His mouth protruded until it took the shape of a dog’s muzzle with long curving fangs.

While he continued to transform into his Breedline wolf, Drakon too, felt his own impending changes coming on fast. His gut spasmed and his skin sizzled.

With no time to spare, he toed out of his boots, stripped off his shirt, and hurriedly removed his pants. Instantaneously, wiry hair poured out of his scalp and trailed down his shoulders. In the speed of lightning, it spread over his entire body, blanketing his skin with a shiny coat of black fur.

Drakon was down on all fours before he even willed it, growling and snarling like a rabid dog. Although he’d been born a Breedline, an incident from his past had changed him. Instead of converting into a Breedline wolf, he was something entirely other. Most thought it to be a curse, but according to Drakon, he believed otherwise. His rogue wolf was massive, twice the size of an average Breedline. And the immense strength he bestowed had its benefits, especially in situations like the one they were about to face.  

As his body began to expand, he could feel his skin reshaping and his bones reforming. It was an exquisite sensation, like being reborn. The moment his transformation was achieved, he felt his throat open with a howl. Instead of giving in to his primal instincts, he remained silent, waiting for his comrades to complete their transitions.

Roman was the last to shift. Grabbing the hem of his shirt, he quickly pulled it over his head and tossed it aside. He took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled, trying to focus on the task ahead. Realizing time was of the essence, he gritted his teeth and brought forth his Adalwolf. His transformation came on strong and fast-moving. Roman’s pants ripped at the seams as his frame expanded and grew twice the size. His features mutated beyond what he’d looked just moments before. He still resembled somewhat of a man but crossed with a wolfish beast. His skin took on a luminous, grayish sheen and his eyes sparkled like diamonds. He stood on two feet, every bulging muscle in his body taut with a rage he’d never felt before.

The sound of an animal’s thunderous roar echoing in the near distance quickly sent their adrenaline racing. They knew a hybrid wolf when they heard one. And going by the pitch of the thing, it was obviously big. As it grew louder, they realized it was moving in their direction fast.

Readying themselves for battle, Tim bared his sharp teeth, and Drakon pawed at the ground while Roman stood firm, clawed hands twitching at his sides.

Then, out of nowhere, a giant furry creature leaped from out of the shadows. It came at them so fast they had no time to think. Acting on pure instinct, Roman lunged forward with slashing claws and sliced at the creature’s throat. Blood sprayed like a crimson geyser, coating Roman and the white-washed walls behind him.

The wolfish hybrid collapsed onto the floor, convulsing with spasms as its life drained in a pool of red. When it finally went limp, Detective Manuel Sanchez burst into the room. He was too focused on the giant creature lying on the floor, covered in its own blood to register Tim, Drakon, and Roman’s presence.  

The sound of several footsteps drawing near made the detective look up. He sagged in relief, realizing it was Jace and Tessa. As they came up to the dead creature, Jace’s jaw nearly dropped. “Dayum…” he said in stunned disbelief. “It looks like you didn’t need my help after all.”

“Is everyone okay?” Tessa said, looking at Detective Sanchez and then to Roman, Drakon, and Tim, who were all three still in their transitional state.

“We’re fine,” Roman said in a guttural voice. Then, he pointed to the lifeless creature as it began to transform. It was if the impending changes took on a will of its own. In a matter of seconds, its furry hide started to shrink and disappear. It wasn’t long before human features took the hairy beast’s place.

Detective Sanchez knelt next to the body of a young man. He was now completely naked, his throat cut so deep, it nearly severed his head.

“Damn shame,” the detective said, releasing a sigh. “He doesn’t even look old enough to be of age.” And then he looked up at Tessa with his brows furrowed. “Why isn’t he healing?”

“I don’t know, Detective,” Tessa replied. “It’s obvious he’s not a Breedline, so whatever he’s been mutated with, must not have healing abilities.”

“How in the hell did all this happen?” Jace asked.

“The minute Detective Perkins and I entered the institute,” Detective Sanchez started to explain, “we heard screams coming from inside. Immediately, we rushed in and followed where it was coming from. As soon as we made it to the lower level, we found some of the staff. They’d been torn to pieces. Before we could manage to look to see if there were any survivors,” he paused and glanced at the dead man’s body, “it came after us. Fortunately, we were able to get away. We barricaded ourselves in what looked to be some sort of lab. That’s when we called for backup. I thought we were goners. It wouldn’t have been long before that thing broke down the door. For some damn reason it stopped.” He looked to Drakon and Tim’s wolfish creatures, and then up at Roman’s humongous stature. “I guess it sensed you guys when you shifted into your…” He shrugged, thinking of the right words to describe their supernatural forms. “Well… you know what I’m trying to say.”

“I’m just glad everyone is okay,” Tessa said. “We did find a few staff members as we came in. They were huddled against the wall terrified. I told them we were here to help and to stay put.”

“We saw them too,” Roman said. “But when we heard screams and gunfire, we didn’t take the time to ask questions.”

Detective Sanchez looked to Drakon’s rogue wolf and said, “If it hadn’t been for Drakon digging up all that stuff on the institute, that thing would have escaped and who knows how many other casualties we would have had.”

In response, Drakon raised his wolfish head and snorted.  
     
“Wait a minute,” Jace interrupted, his eyes focused on the detective. “Where’s your partner?”

“We split up,” he responded. “Frank’s looking for Judge Weaver’s granddaughter.”

“Who’s—”

Detective Sanchez held up his hand, silencing Jace as Frank’s voice suddenly came over the com he had in his ear. He covered his earpiece so he could hear more clearly and said, “Frank… can you repeat that?”

After a few moments, the detective’s eyes rounded. “Stay put, partner. I’m headed your way.”

“What’s going on?” Roman spoke out in a gravel voice. “Did Frank find the missing girl?”

Detective Sanchez nodded. “Yah, and it doesn’t sound good. Frank said she’s incoherent like she’s been drugged. He’s also apprehended one of the institute’s physicians. We’re going to have to call this one in. Thanks to you guys, I think we’ve got this covered from here on.”

“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” Tessa said. “Maybe one of us should stick around until your backup arrives. Jace and I could stay while Roman, Drakon, and Tim make their way back to the Covenant.”

“Thanks Tessa,” the detective said. “I appreciate your offer, but I think it’s best if you’re not involved. When my Captain arrives, he’ll want to know why you guys are here.”

Tessa nodded in agreement. “Let us know if you run into any trouble.”

At the sound of approaching sirens, Roman shifted back to his human form and retrieved Drakon and Tim’s clothes. After a quick transformation, they got dressed and exited the institute with Tessa and Jace following close behind.

As soon as Detective Sanchez made it down to the institute’s lower level in search of his partner, his heart nearly plummeted when he pushed his way through a door. It led into what was supposedly a laboratory, but it looked more like a torture chamber. Lying next to a stainless-steel table where various types of surgical instruments with sharp pointed ends.

In the far corner of the room, sitting in a chair, was a young woman with long, brown hair and skin pale as death. Her vacant eyes were fixated on the wall, staring pointedly at nothing. By the bruised coloring under her lids and her boney cheeks, she appeared half-starved. But still, he recognized her. It was Judge Weaver’s granddaughter.

“According to what I got out of Dr. SeGovia,” Detective Frank Perkins said quietly from where he stood a few feet from the girl. “Miss Hill has been drugged for days. She has no idea I’m even here. And she’s not the only one like this. I found the rest of the patients. They’re all locked up down here. This whole lower level is like a dungeon from hell. I’ve got an ambulance on the way.”

“Son of a—” Detective Manuel Sanchez grumbled under his breath. “Where’s the rest of the staff?”

“Most of them were killed in the attack,” Frank said. “Somehow, that thing that went after us got loose and wreaked havoc on its captors. Please tell me our backup took care of it.”

Manuel nodded. “Yah, it’s taken care of alright. Roman took it out.”

Frank heaved a deep breath. “Well, I guess we didn’t need Jace’s beast after all. Is everyone in one piece?”

“They’re fine. I told them to take off before the cavalry arrives. So, where’s this physician you were talking about?”

“I’ve got him handcuffed to a chair in the other room,” Frank said. “He says he’s ready to make a deal.”

“What deal?”

“He said he’d give up the name of the pharmaceutical who’s paying them to do the research if we put in a good word for him. He’s aware he’ll lose his license over this, but he’s hoping for a reduced sentence if he talks.”

“He’s not getting off that easily, besides we already know it’s A&E pharmaceuticals.”

“Yah,” Frank smirked. “But Dr. SeGovia doesn’t know that.”

“What about the other private facility that’s been paying them? You know… the one Drakon mentioned that was outside Berkeley?”

“I’ve already questioned him about that,” Frank said. “He claims he doesn’t know. But another physician here does. I believe his name is Dr. Leonard Manos. Apparently today is his day off.”   
 
“Is that so?” Manuel cocked a brow. “Well then, I think it’s time we go visit Dr. Manos and bring him in for questioning.”

“What about Dr. SeGovia?”

“Wait till Captain gets here,” Manuel said. “We’ll let him deal with the good ol’ doc.” 
       
To be continued. . .
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

THE BEAST - It is the second-born son of the Chiang-Shih demon. When provoked into a rage, he will shift into the Beast instead of the Breedline wolf. The Beast is also known as the Great White due to his white fur and enormous, two-footed stature. One bite from the Beast has enough venom to kill the Chiang-Shih demon, leaving the soul of the person the demon possessed unharmed.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with super-strength, they can move from one place to another in supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for Valkin Steele-a billionaire funding a group of unethical scientist's research-he later learns of Steele's underground sex-trafficking and illegal drug and weapons trade and informs the Breedline Covenant. He also forms a team of Breedline soldiers who work for a private Special Ops group contracted by the military for missions that no one else can or will do to help put an end to Valkin Steele's corrupt organization. He resides in the California Breedline Covenant along with team members, Lawrence, Bull, Justice, and Lena.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.


Chapter 48
Saving Amy/Part Three

By scongrove

Jena watched from the bedroom doorway as Amy sat on the floor packing the clothes her mother had made for her doll. Her brow was creased in concentration, and she nibbled at her bottom lip as she carefully placed the tiny scraps of material one by one inside a plastic bag.

Then, out of nowhere, a strange feeling came over Jena. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and goosebumps trailed down her arms. It was like a warning of some kind. Seconds later, an odor invaded her nostrils. As she drew it in deeper, it became all too familiar. It was an overwhelming stench of evil.

And when she heard voices, they seemed like whispers from far away. As she listened more carefully, they grew louder, seemingly closer, but she was unable to recognize them. She looked back at the others inside the apartment and listened. But all she could hear were chatter and meaningless words as Helen and the guys helped Martha gather her things.

Suddenly, her fingernails began to tingle. When she brought her hand up to her face, it was covered in tiny, black hairs and her nails were longer. For one second, she felt an uncontrollable desire to shift. No, she thought. It cannot be. She covered her mouth with her hairy hand. Why is this happening now?   

Jena was so overcome with panic she could barely draw in a breath. She simply stood froze in place, unable to move, fearing the worst. Was someone in danger?

Without warning, she felt the weight of a hand on her shoulder. She immediately flinched and spun around.

“I’m sorry…” Nicolas said as he looked into Jena’s rounded eyes, noticing the sheer-panic in them. “Is something wrong, Jena?”

“I-I think…” she choked out, “…something bad is going to happen.” Her voice was a little guttural, roughened. “I can sense—”

“I’m ready,” Amy announced, rousing Jena and Nicolas’s attention.

When they turned around, Amy was standing before them with a satisfied smile on her face. She had a little bag in one hand and a flimsy doll in the other.

“I’ve got all Maisie’s clothes packed,” Amy continued to say, looking between Jena and Nicolas. “I’m ready to go to your house, Mr. Policeman.”

Nicolas quickly knelt in front of Amy and said, “Very good.” He held out his hand. “Let me take those so you go wrangle up your kitty cat. You wouldn’t want to forget her.”

“Okay,” Amy said, handing over the plastic bag and the doll to Nicolas.

As Amy went to gather up her cat, Nicolas silently waved at Jem and Alexander, motioning them over. By the grim expression on his face, they knew something was wrong.

Jena frowned and looked to the apartment door. The chain to the lock was unattached and the deadbolt was in the unlocked position. Then, a pungent, nauseating smell hit her like a ton of bricks. The powerful odor of evil overrode her senses until it was almost suffocating.

“Oh… God, no,” she said silently.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. The door instantly flew open. At that very moment Amy came running across the room, her cat tucked securely in her arms, her long pigtails flowing behind her. “I found Alley Cat!” 

“No!” Jena screamed.    

The sequence played out in a series of only a few seconds that seemed to last an eternity: Nicolas looking at Jena as she darted forward with her arms outstretched, shouting a warning. Amy running in their direction, her face lit up with joy. Two men charging through the front door with guns drawn.

The blast of a gun echoed like the crack of lightning. The sound sent the cat fleeing from Amy’s arms with a high-pitched screech. Jena lunged for Amy, trying to shield her tiny body with hers, but sadly, she didn’t make it in time. Amy was hit in the back. The bullet came out the other side, bursting through her chest. Jena caught her as she fell, her own heart screaming in agony.

As Jena dropped to her knees with Amy’s limp body cradled in her arms, Nicolas suddenly vanished in thin air.

It was like magic. When Nicolas reappeared, he stood behind the shooters. A bone-cracking sound came next. The guy wearing a black hoodie dropped to the floor with his neck twisted in an unnatural angle.

The other guy with a Yankee’s ballcap barely registered Nicolas’s movement. In the speed of a blur, he shoved his fist straight through the guy’s backside. For a moment, he went stiff, looking down at the hand protruding from his chest. With his mouth agape, he fell forward, dropping to the floor like a stone.

As everyone gathered around Jena, time seemed to shift back into full speed. Although, everything to Jena still moved at the pace of a snail: Martha kneeling in front of her, reaching for Amy, her eyes drenched in tears. Her mouth was moving, but Jena couldn’t hear what she was saying. Helen looking at her, trying to tell her something, but whatever it was, it didn’t register in Jena’s brain. It was as if the volume in her ears had been turned all the way down. She felt powerless, completely incoherent, holding little Amy in her arms. Then suddenly, Helen’s voice rang loud and clear. It was like someone had cranked up the volume, snapping her back to focus.

“Jena…” Helen put her hand on the side of Jena’s face. “Did you hear what I said?”

She flinched. “What?”

Helen raised her voice. “Put Amy down so I can look at her injury.”

Instantly, Jena obeyed Helen’s orders and gently lowered Amy onto the floor.

“No…” Martha cried out, caressing Amy’s hair. “Please God… not my baby!”

The buttons on Amy’s pajama top scattered across the floor as Helen ripped it open down the middle. There was so much blood. Helen tried to stop it, but it was too late. The bullet severed a main artery in Amy’s heart.

Helen shook her head. “I can’t save her,” she said in broken voice, lifting her eyes to meet Jem’s. “But you can.”

His eyes grew weary and before he could utter a single word, Helen went on to say, “You can do this, Jem. You’ve done this before, and you can do it again.”

“W-What?” Martha said, sobbing. “Y-You can save my little girl?”

Jem averted his eyes from Helen and looked to Martha. He could see the sorrow and desperation etched into every groove of her face. His eyes softened with compassion. Then he focused back on Helen.

“But… she’s human,” he said, confusion stamped all over his face. “What if—” 

“It doesn’t matter,” Helen interjected. “You have to try. It’s the only way.”

“Do it, Jem,” Jena spoke out, releasing a strangled breath. “Please…”

Alexander placed his hand on Jem’s shoulder. “Have faith, son. I know you can save her.”

“He’s right, Jem,” Nicolas chimed in as he knelt next to Martha. “Use the gift God gave you.”

Martha reached out to Jem and grasped his hand. “I don’t know what you are or how you can do this,” she said with tears streaming down her cheeks. “But I’m begging you… please… please help my daughter. She’s too young to go.”

Jem lightly squeezed her hand and nodded. “I promise, I’ll do everything I can to save her.”

Martha released his hand and covered her mouth. “Oh, thank God,” she said, weeping into the palm of her hand.

Jem gently lifted Amy off the floor, cradled her close, and rose to his feet. She looked so small, so fragile in his arms. He took a shuddering breath as he peered into her freckled face. Her eyes were closed, and her skin was already pale.

He closed his eyes and blocked out everything around him: the loud music echoing from the apartment upstairs, the sound of his own heartbeat ringing in his ears, and even Amy’s cat gathered by his feet.

As death closed in, Jem knew he had not a moment to spare. With all the strength, and perseverance he could muster, he concentrated on a pathway of healing.

And then, to everyone’s surprise, Jem’s body began to glow. The brilliance of the light surrounding him swept over Amy, completely enveloping her like a blanket.

“Listen to my voice, Amy,” he softly said. “Let it guide you back to the light.”

In the silence, he waited, praying she would hear him.

Suddenly, her long eyelashes started to flutter.

“That’s it, Amy,” he spoke a little louder, holding her tighter. “You can do it. Open your eyes, sweetheart.”

Everyone quickly gathered and hovered in ready silence, waiting for Amy to open her eyes.

When her lids slowly opened, the light sheathing her body dissipated. She looked up at Jem and smiled. Although her vision blurred a little, she could still make out the image looking down at her. She could see he had tears in his eyes and his body shimmered with sparkles of light.

Martha stood there, staring at her daughter, shock and disbelief evident in her gaze.

“Welcome back, sweetheart,” Jem softly said. 
 
“Are you…” Amy muttered, her eyes big on her small face, “…an Angel?”

“No, Amy,” Jem said with a smile. “I’m not an Angel. Besides, Angels have wings.”

Her eyes curiously roamed over his shoulders until she finally realized there were no wings attached to his backside. Then, she reached out and placed her hand on the side of his face. “Did you know you’re covered in pixie dust?”

“Pixie dust?” He raised an inquisitive brow. “I wonder how that happened?”

“It was Tinker Bell, of course,” she simply said.

“Tinker Bell?” 

Amy’s brows pinched together. “Don’t you know who Tinker Bell is?”

“Um…” Jem thought for a moment. “Isn’t that Peter Pan’s friend?”

When she bobbed her head up and down, his smile broadened.

A few seconds later, Amy lifted her head and called out, “Mama?”

“Shhh, it’s okay, baby,” Martha said in a tear-laced voice, looking over Amy, amazed by the miracle staring back at her. There were no words to explain what she’d just witnessed. It was as though she’d imagined everything. A few minutes ago, her daughter was fighting for her life, and now, somehow, she’d been magically healed.

“Don’t cry, Mama,” Amy said, bringing Martha back to focus.

Her daughter’s sweet, concerned voice nearly broke her heart. She reached out and gently tucked a loose strand of Amy’s hair behind her ear. “These are happy tears, honey.”

“I love you, Mama.”

Martha reached tentatively for Amy, taking her from Jem. “Oh, darling,” she choked out. “I love you too.”

Amy’s arms went around her mother’s neck, hugging her tightly. When she pulled back, she said, “Where’s Alley Cat?” 

“She’s right here,” Jena spoke out as she bent down to pick up the cat. A few moments later, she held up the furry feline for Amy to see. “She’s safe and sound.”

Amy’s eyes brightened as though nothing bad had happened. “There you are,” she said, giggling. “You silly cat.”

With Amy secure in her slender arms, Martha looked up at Jem and silently mouthed, “Thank you.”

He dipped his head and whispered, “You’re welcome.”

To be continued. . .

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.

Martha Dunlap - Her and her daughter were kidnapped by a serial rapist. Before they were harmed, Jena's creature saved them and killed their kidnapper.

Amy Dunlap - She is Martha's five-year-old daughter.

Alexander Crest - He is a Breedline species, Jace and Jem's biological father. He is bonded to Dr. Helen Carrington.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.


Chapter 49
More Bark than Bite

By scongrove

When Joseph pulled into the New Hope Foundation parking lot, he parked beside Carrie’s Volkswagen Beetle. After he turned off the ignition, he reached for his seat belt . . .

 And froze with his hand on the clip, fixating his eyes on something outside, seemingly far off into the distance.

“Which one will it be, Joseph?” the Shadow’s words echoed into his subconscious. “Sweet Carrie or her bitchy boss? Make a decision before I do it for you.” 

Carrie turned toward him, noticing he was in some sort of trance. “Joseph?”

He closed his eyes, drowning out his surroundings. God, he’d give anything to be normal. To make his own decisions, to live his life by his own rules, to think for himself.

“Without me,” the Shadow callously remarked, “you are weak and pitiful. I give you strength and courage to survive in this cruel world. You are nothing without me, Joseph.”   

“Joseph…” Carrie raised her voice. “Is something wrong?”

He rubbed his eyes and finally said, “It’s nothing.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yah.” He shrugged it off and faked a smile. “I was just thinking.”

“About what?”

“Nothing really.” He unfastened his seat belt and reached for the door handle. “Just work stuff, that’s all.”

He went around the front of the Jeep and opened her door. She smiled the moment he held out his hand, waiting for her to take hold.

As she put her hand in his and stepped out of the vehicle, her body instantly came up against his. Instead of moving out of her way, he stood there, looking down at her. He knew he should take a step back, but he felt he couldn’t. Something about her kept him there. It was like she held him under a spell of some kind.

Unexpectedly, his hands went to the base of her neck. He lowered his head and hovered close to her lips.

“Don’t do it, Joseph,” the Shadow urged. “You’re letting your emotions take control.”   
   
Ignoring the voice in his head, he was bound and determined to kiss her, even if it killed him to do so.

Carrie stared up into Joseph’s blue eyes, anticipating his touch. Good lord, she was lost in his hypnotizing gaze.

Unable to stop himself, he closed the distance between them and gently pressed his lips to hers. As his tongue invaded her mouth, she grabbed his shoulders and pulled him closer. Then he changed the kiss, going in deep, exploring every inch of her mouth.

“Carrie…” A sharp voice called out.

Instantly, Joseph flinched and pulled away. He looked up while Carrie took a moment to catch her breath. 

Finally, she exhaled a deep breath and turned around. “Veronica—”

Veronica stared at them with a hateful glare. “Carrie, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I—Uh…” Carrie muttered, profoundly tongue-tied.

“What’s your problem?” Joseph gritted out. “For crying-out-loud, we’re just kissing good-bye.”

“I say we pick the bitchy boss,” the Shadow said in a seething tone. “She’s had it coming for way too long.”  

Veronica came forward and stood with her hands on her hips. “Well, well, well…” she said with a smug look on her face. “That’s one hell of a smart mouth you got there, Mr. Parker. You might want to be mindful of how you use your words. I mean… you wouldn’t want to piss off the wrong person.”

“I’m going to enjoy killing this one,” the Shadow hissed. “Slow and very painful.”    

“Excuse me?” Joseph said, furrowing his brows. “Did you just threaten me?”

Carrie took hold of Joseph’s hand and lightly tugged. “Please…” she said in a hushed voice. “It’s not worth it. Just let it go.”

“Speak up, Carrie,” Veronica said, flipping her long hair back. “I didn’t quite catch that.”

Carrie quickly let go of Joseph’s hand and focused her eyes on Veronica. “I-It’s just that…” she managed to stammer around the knot in her throat. “I don’t want anyone getting worked up over nothing.”

Veronica cocked a brow. “Is that so?”

“I know public displays of affection are against company policy,” Carrie went on to say, “but it was just a simple kiss. And it’s not like it happened in the office.”

“A simple kiss my ass,” Veronica snapped. “He practically had his entire tongue crammed down the back of your throat.”

“I promise,” Carrie said. “I won’t let it happen again.”

“You can bet your ass it won’t,” Veronica huffed. “Mr. Parker will no longer be permitted on the company’s premises.”

“Are you serious?” Joseph said, looking completely baffled by Veronica’s outburst.

“Oh, believe me, Mr. Parker. I’m dead serious.”

“You’ll be dead alright,” the Shadow said. “Sooner than you think.”
       
“By whose authority?” Joseph shrugged. “You don’t own this company.”

 “Let me ask you this, Mr. Parker. Do you like your job at the Chronicle?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It means…” Veronica smirked. “I can have you terminated with one phone call.”

“You’re deranged.” He snarled his upper lip. “And that’s a polite way of describing someone like you.”

“Oh really?” She pursed her lips. “We’ll just see about that, now won’t we.”

“Go ahead,” Joseph said, brushing it off like it was nothing. “If it makes you feel better, get me fired. I could give a shit.”

Veronica’s mouth fell open, but Joseph ignored her reaction and looked down at Carrie as she took hold of his hand again. 

“I’m so sorry, Joseph,” she said, her voice trembling. “This is all my fault.”

“Carrie, this is not your fault.” He squeezed her hand. “None of it is. And I’m not going to stand by while this woman, who doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as you, much less have you as an employee, continues to treat you like a doormat. Do you understand?”

Carrie nodded as tears gathered in her eyes.

Before Joseph had the chance to tell Carrie’s boss exactly what he thought of her, the sound of tires squealing took him by surprise. When he turned to look, he saw the back of Veronica’s Mercedes as it tore out of the parking lot.  

“The nerve of that woman,” Joseph said, shaking his head.

Carrie sighed. “What about your job? Do you really think she’ll try to get you fired?”

Joseph wrapped his arm around her waist. “Come on.” He pulled her close. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure she’s more bark than she is bite.”

“You really think so?”

“Look at this face,” he said, grinning ear-to-ear. “Does it look like I’m worried?”

“Oh, Joseph.” A smile curved her lips. “What am I going to do with you?” 

He leaned over a little and puckered his lips. “How ‘bout another kiss?”

Carrie rose on her tiptoes and lightly pressed her lips to his.

“I’ll call you later tonight,” he said, opening her car door.

Moments later, as Carrie got in her car and drove away, Joseph hung back in the parking lot. As he sat behind the wheel, he pondered on the situation with Carrie’s boss.

“You’re overthinking this Joseph,” the Shadow spoke out. “You know what to do.”    

To be continued. . .   
 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters used in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.

Veronica Hernandez - Carrie's boss.


Chapter 50
A Father's Love

By scongrove

When Jem arrived back to the Covenant, Mia welcomed him home with one arm wrapped around his waist and the other anchored to their daughter.

“It’s my favorite girls,” Jem said, pressing his lips to Mia’s and then to his daughter’s chubby cheek.

Evie cracked a little smile and settled back against her mother’s chest.

“Come to daddy, sweet pea,” Jem said with his arms outstretched, inviting Evie to take hold.

The second she reached for him, Mia made the exchange, gently depositing her in Jem’s arms. He tightened his hold, securing her more firmly to his chest and planted a kiss on top of her blonde curly head.

Evie stared up at him from underneath her long, dark lashes with the biggest grin on her face.

When he tickled her belly, she squirmed in his arms and giggled.

“So, how’s Martha and her daughter Amy doing?” Mia asked.

Jem averted his eyes from Evie and looked to Mia with a weary expression.

“Let’s sit down,” he said, releasing a sigh. Then he motioned to the dining area and went on to say, “There’s some good news and some not so good news.”

Mia shook her head. “Oh dear.”

They moved toward a sofa, Jem leading the way holding Evie while Mia followed alongside them. As soon as they sat down, Jem told Mia about Martha’s condition and what had happened with Amy.

Mia listened to his every word in stunned silence. When he got to the part where he used his gift to heal Amy, Mia’s distressed features shifted to one of relief.

“Thank god they’re okay,” she finally said. “You did a wonderful thing, honey.”

“If I hadn’t been there—”

“But you were,” Mia said, reaching out to Jem as his voice trailed off.

Jem nodded in silence and lightly squeezed her hand.

“What about those men who broke into Martha’s apartment?” Mia asked. “Did they get away?”

“Nicolas took care of them,” Jem simply said.

“You mean… he arrested them?”

He shook his head adamantly. “They were carted off in body bags.”

“Oh…” Her eyes rounded. “Point taken.”

“So, where are Martha and Amy going to stay?”
           
“We gave Martha the choice to stay with either Helen or Nicolas,” Jem replied. “But since Nicolas has a place in the country and a big backyard, she thought it would be better suited for Amy.”

“I’m glad they’re at a safe place,” Mia said. Then, she looked at Jem with a clear question stamped on her face. "Are you going to try and heal Martha's cancer?"

“When Tessa and the others get back, we’re going to discuss our options.”

“Hopefully Tessa will agree to it,” Mia said in a concerned tone. Granted, she knew Tessa had a big heart when it came to helping others, but the thought of Martha dying and leaving Amy behind bothered her. It bothered her a lot.

“Don’t worry, honey,” he said in a soothing voice. “No one is going to let Martha die. Besides, between Steven and I, surely one of us can heal her.”

Mia nodded, some of worry easing from her mind.

Suddenly, Evie let out a squeal of delight and then stretched her little arms outward as Jace and Tessa walked into the room.

“Come here, you little rascal,” Jace said, rushing over to Evie.

As Jem hoisted her up, he said, “What is it about you, Brother?” He looked up at Jace with his brows furrowed. “Every time you come into a room where there’s kiddos, they all seem to flock to you.”

Jace’s face split into a goofy, idiotic grin. “What can I say?” he said, scooping Evie into his arms, squeezing her gently. “I’m a fun guy to be around.”

Jem rolled his eyes and Mia said, “She adores you, Jace.”

“It’s the tickle monster she loves,” Jace playfully growled, tickling her bare feet.

She instantly broke out into laughter and excitedly kicked her feet. 

Finally, as Jace sat down across from Jem and Mia, Evie quietly nestled against his chest.

“Aw,” Jace murmured, noticing Evie rubbing her eyes. “You sleepy, baby girl?”

She yawned broadly, burrowing more deeply into his lap.

He secured her in his arms and then focused his attention on Tessa as she sat down beside him.

“Looks like someone is ready for a nap,” Tessa said in a quiet voice.

“You want me to take her?” Mia asked.

“Nah,” Jace said in a hushed voice. “She’s perfectly fine.”

Mia nodded and then asked, “So, is everyone okay?” She looked between Tessa and Jace. “I mean, I heard there was an incident at the institute and you two went to help.”

“Fortunately, they didn’t need our help after all,” Tessa said. “Tim and the others had everything under control. And of course, both Detective Sanchez and Perkins are fine. But there were some casualties. One of the institute’s experiments got loose and killed some of the staff.”

“That’s awful,” Mia commented. “What was it?”

“It looked like some kind of mutated hybrid wolf,” Jace chimed in. “Although, when it confronted Roman after he shifted into his Adalwolf, the thing didn’t last long.”

“What about the missing girl?” Jem spoke out. “Did the detectives find her?”

“Yes,” Tessa replied. “They found Judge Weaver’s granddaughter. We don’t know all the details yet, but going by what Detective Sanchez said, it appears she’d been drugged for several days. And they did locate the other patients along with one of the physicians.”

Jem shook his head, completely baffled by what Tessa had told them. “Did the detectives manage to get any information on Joseph Harris?”

“As soon as we pulled up to the Covenant,” Tessa went on to explain, “I got a call from Detective Sanchez. He said the physician they apprehended was willing to give them all the information he had. Not about Joseph Harris, but regarding another physician who knows some information on the other facility that’s been funding the institute’s research. They’re hoping this physician might also have files on this Harris guy.”

“Yah,” Jace chimed in. “If we’re lucky. So far, that guy seems to be turning into a mysterious phantom.”

“At least they managed to shut down the institute,” Mia said. Then, her brows creased. “Where’s Drakon, Tim, and Roman?”

“They’re upstairs getting cleaned up,” Jace said. “Things got a little bloody. If you catch my meaning.”

“Oh,” Mia muttered, crinkling her nose. “You don’t have to go into details. I get it.”

Tessa focused her eyes on Jem. “How are you doing, Jem?” Her voice sounded concerned. “I talked to Helen as soon as I got off the phone with Detective Sanchez. She told me about what happened with Amy.”

“Oh, I’m fine.” His lips formed a half-smile. “Just glad I was there.”

“So am I,” she said, smiling back. “You did a good thing saving that little girl. And if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today.”

“Well, don’t thank me,” Jem said. “Thank the big guy upstairs.”

Tessa nodded in agreement. “I thank God every day for all his blessings.”

“Speaking of blessings,” Mia said, changing the subject a little. “Are you going to agree to let Jem heal Martha’s cancer?”

“Of course,” Tessa quickly replied. “Jace and I are planning to leave here in a few minutes to drive out to Nicolas’s place. We wanted to stop here first to check on the boys. We’re meeting Helen there to discuss the situation. After we talk to Martha, I’m sure she won’t dismiss our offer.”

“If Jem can’t heal Martha’s cancer,” Mia hesitantly said, “will you ask your brother for help?”

“I’m sure Steven will be more than willing to help out in any way he can.”

“Thank you, Tessa,” Mia said. “The thought of that little girl being left without a mother breaks my heart. I know firsthand how that feels.”

“I promise to do everything I can to keep that from happening,” Tessa solemnly said as she rose to her feet. “I guess we should head that way.” She turned to Jace. “You ready to go?”

Jace nodded and as he looked down at Evie, his eyes instantly softened. She was sound asleep, cuddled into his lap with one hand on his chest and her thumb tucked between her lips.

“Aw, man…” Jace quietly moaned, lifting his gaze to meet the others. “I hate to move her. She looks so peaceful.”

“Then let her be,” Jem suggested. “I can go with Tessa.”

Jace shrugged. “You sure?”

“Yah,” Jem replied. “Besides, I’d like to check on Amy and talk to Martha. I mean…” He looked up at Tessa. “Only if it’s okay with you.”

“It’s fine with me.”

Jem leaned forward and then lightly bumped knuckles with Jace. “Thanks, Brother,” he said in a low voice. “Take care of my girls.”

“No problem,” Jace said. “You take care of my girl.”

They were words echoed from a year ago when Jem had used his gift to save Tessa after she’d been kidnapped and subjected to lab experiments that nearly took her life. 

“Will do,” Jem said. Then he leaned over and kissed Mia. “I’ll be back soon, honey.”

Before Jem left with Tessa, he took one more glance into the room, taking pride in the sight of his twin brother holding his little girl. The image brought a smile to his face.  
 

To be continued. . . 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters used in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Mia Blackwood Chamberlain - She is a half-breed and Jem's bonded mate. Abandoned at birth and raised in human foster care, she later finds her identical twin sister, Eve.

Eva Alexandria (Evie) - She is Jem and Mia's daughter.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Steven Pasquale (a.k.a. Steven Craven) - He inherited the genes of a Breedline and an Adalwolf. He is Tessa Fairchild's fraternal twin and is Abigail Winthrop's bonded mate.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.

Martha Dunlap - Her and her daughter were kidnapped by a serial rapist. Before they were harmed, Jena's creature saved them and killed their kidnapper.

Amy Dunlap - She is Martha's five-year-old daughter.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.


Chapter 51
Body Snatchers

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Joseph remained in the vacant parking lot of Carrie’s place of work, staring out into the far distance. Through the dark tinted windows of his Jeep, he watched as the sky grew dreary and gray. And his mind was as dismal and gloomy as the clouds above: A complete whirlwind, filled with dread and turmoil. But it was also full of emotions he hadn’t felt in years: Empathy, compassion, and… love.  

He’d thought, prayed, that after he avenged his mother’s death, he would start to feel normal again, but that wasn’t the case, was it? He had evil inside of him. An evil derived from the deepest pits of hell.

The voice in his head continued to taunt him, to control him, and to use him to do its evil bidding. The Shadow’s continuous urges to kill was taking a toll, not only on his body, but his mental state as well. He couldn’t help but wonder if his life would finally come to some sort of normalcy, or was he doomed to live the remainder like a puppet on a string? And was he truly at fault for all the killings he was forced into? The horrifying thought rolled around in his mind, sickening him to the core.

He squeezed his eyes closed. No, he feverishly thought. It’s not my fault.   
         
“Stop whining, Joseph,” the Shadow said in a nagging, irritating voice. “And get moving! My patience is wearing thin.” 
    

Joseph’s lids flipped open. “Please…” he said, lifting his gaze toward the rearview mirror. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

The Shadow laughed. “You wouldn’t last a day without me. You can’t even make it through the morning without my help. How else do you think you’re able to get out of bed? Without me, you’d be a pathetic loser… a detrimental on society… nothing but an empty vessel, aimlessly wandering around in a brainless meatsuit.
Can you honestly imagine what your life would be? Think Joseph.
Who do you think encouraged you to pull that trigger after your father murdered your mother? You were but a mere frightened child with no one to protect you. I gave you that power. And who gave you the strength to survive and overcome all those years in the mental institute? I provided you with those cunning skills. You’d still be in there if it wasn’t for me, you idiot.”


Joseph frowned and looked away, gripping the steering wheel until his knuckles went white. The inner core of him couldn’t bear how weak and powerless the Shadow’s words made him feel. Then, out of nowhere, something inside of him took over. All at once, a tremendous emotion boiled in his gut and grew until he felt he was going to explode. It was a rage he’d never felt before. With a sudden surge, he curled up a fist and punched out the driver’s windshield.

Just as his anger was getting away from him, the Shadow’s voice whispered into his subconscious, “Look at me, Joseph.”

As Joseph stared out of the broken window, continuing to ignore the Shadow, he braced himself for the repercussions of his actions.

After a few moments of silence, the Shadow raised his voice. “I said… look at me, Joseph.”

He swallowed back the pain burning in his hand and slowly turned toward the rearview mirror. He froze as he looked at the repulsive reflection staring back at him and heard himself wince. He rubbed his eyes, not sure if what he was looking at was real or just a figment of his imagination. The skin covering his face had shifted until he was completely unrecognizable, his handsome features replaced by something evil and demonic. His eyes were two dark pits and his mouth displayed rows and rows of sharp, jagged teeth.   
  
“My god…” Joseph gasped, his voice no longer the same, a mixture of his natural voice and a seething tone that was chillingly familiar.  
     
His first thought was to get out and run, but instead, he opened his mouth and choked out, “What’s happening to me?”

“Take a closer look in the mirror,” the Shadow said, his taunting voice echoing in Joseph’s mind.

Joseph kept his eyes forward although he wanted nothing more than to look away from the horror staring back at him.

“Tell me, Joseph. Do you like what you see?”

“Please…” Tears raced to his eyes. “No more. I’m begging you.”  

“The girl is changing you, Joseph. She’s making you weak. We need to get rid of her.”

“No,” Joseph pleaded, shaking his head. “Carrie has nothing to do with—”

“What the hell are you still doing here?”

Joseph flinched and as he turned to meet Carrie’s boss, her eyes instantly bulged in horror.

“Kill her, Joseph,” the Shadow demanded.

The second Veronica opened her mouth to scream, Joseph’s only thought was to save Carrie. And then, painful memories flashed before his eyes like random images in a photobook. He thought of the brutal death of his mother at the hands of his father. Pictured the years of abuse and deterioration etched into every groove of her face. Recalled the last words she’d spoken. Remembered the loneliness and isolation that consumed him. And in the center of all his recollections, he felt a dark presence taking form and inhabiting his body, using him for the sole purpose of evil.

“If you want Carrie to live…” the Shadow gritted out, “…do it now!” 
  
He snapped back to focus as Veronica’s scream blared into his ears like the sound of a trumpet. And her wide, horrified eyes were locked on his mouth that was chock-full of sharp pointed teeth.

The moment she turned and took off at a dead run, he went after her. As she got to her car and reached for the door, he grabbed a fist full of her hair.

When she started to scream, he yanked her head back and clamped his free hand over her mouth. Although his strength overrode her ability to get away, she squirmed against his hold and screamed into the palm of his hand.  

“Yesss…” the Shadow hissed. “Now finish her off, Joseph.”

As Joseph stood there with his hand over Veronica’s mouth, a part of him wanted to end her life, to shut her up for good. Besides, what choice did he have? His hand was being forced to pick between two lives: A woman with a spiteful heart or the woman he loved. Even though he did not want to kill again, Carrie was worth the sacrifice.

But when Veronica started to sob, something inside of him shifted. His pulse throbbed and his heart raced, fluttering like the wings of a butterfly. It was rather strange and mystifying. Then, a chill came over him, tingling all over the surface of his skin. Joseph was bewildered, lost suddenly, and unable to choose between life or death. It was as though he was stuck in limbo. And then he thought of his mother again. He pictured how she looked right before her death. The painful expression on her tear-stained face swirled together with the woman’s he was about to kill.

“What are you waiting for?” the Shadow groaned. “End her rotten life!”  

“I cannot,” Joseph said under his breath.

“I can force you, Joseph. My blood courses through your veins.”

“So. Does. Mine,” Joseph said through gritted teeth.

Without saying another word, Joseph released Veronica’s hair and placed a firm hand on her shoulder. After a few seconds that seemed to last forever, he finally said, “If I remove my other hand, promise me you won’t scream.”

She quickly nodded against his hand.

While he silently waited for her to collect herself, it wasn’t long before her sobs diminished to soft puffs of air. Then slowly, he lowered his hand and took hold of her arm. Right way, her shoulders tensed when he turned her around to face him. But to her relief, the horrid image of what she’d witnessed only moments ago were no longer present.

Her legs shook uncontrollably until her knees threatened to give out. The second they started to buckle, Joseph tightened his grip and held her steady.

“It’s okay,” he said in a gentle voice. “I’m not going to hurt you.” 

Veronica closed her eyes and bit at her bottom lip, holding her tears at bay. With all the strength she could muster, she lifted her lids. And to her surprise, Joseph’s eyes were wet with tears.

Out of nowhere, an unexplainable emotion came over her as she peered into the tortured depths of his blue eyes. It was so overwhelming, a pain of a different kind, like having part of your soul ripped out.

“Oh my god…” she gasped. “What’s happened to you?”

Shame instantly crowded into his eyes. “I-It’s…” He lowered his head. “It’s hard to explain.”

She reached out and cupped his chin. “Please… look at me, Joseph.”

Tears streaked down his cheeks as he lifted his eyes to meet her gaze. He could feel her staring holes through him as if trying to figure out what he was. If he was a threat. But it was obvious he was harmless by the sadness in his eyes and the despair that hovered over him like the darkest cloud.  
 
“I’m sorry,” she murmured.

His jaw dropped. “W-What?”

“I just want you to know I’m sorry for what I said to you earlier,” she went on to say. “And I’m sorry for how I treated Carrie.”

Chill bumps prickled his skin. What the heck? For some odd reason, the science fiction horror film Invasion of the Body Snatchers suddenly came to Joseph’s mind. It was like Veronica had somehow magically transformed into someone nice. And she seemed a little forgetful. The previous incident between them appeared completely removed from her memory. But how can it be?    
 
As he opened his mouth to speak, she held up a halting hand. “I promise, first thing in the morning, I’m going to apologize to Carrie. You have my word. From now on, things are going to be different.”

“Oh, you can count on that,” the Shadow abruptly spoke into Joseph’s mind. “And there will be suffering.”  

The Shadow started to laugh, lightly at first, then louder, until Joseph's ears hurt from the pitch of the sinister, murderous glee.

To be continued. . .
      

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Joseph Parker - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Veronica Hernandez - Carrie's horrible boss.


Chapter 52
A Time for Healing

By scongrove

As soon as Jem and Tessa arrived at their destination, they got out of the vehicle and walked toward Nicolas’s house, a cozy two-story cabin that butted against a lake. The place was breathtaking, and apparently well kept. It had a rustic look with an exterior made from cedar, stone, and brick cladding. Going by the size of the thing, it had to be at least three thousand square-feet if not bigger.

The cabin was surrounded by acres of trees that stretched across a grassland as far as the eye could see. It was already getting hot, but the cool breeze from the lake was refreshing and made it tolerable to be outside.  

Before they left the Covenant, Tessa decided to bring along her and Jace’s twin boys, Jax and little Jem. She thought it would be good for them to take an adventure and experience what nature had to offer. And hopefully, Amy would enjoy having playmates for the day.

With Jax tucked securely in his arms, Jem looked in Tessa’s direction and said, “Man… this place is spectacular.” He inhaled deeply, taking in the distinctive smell of fresh country air. “I’d love to have a place like this.”

“You and me both,” she replied, readjusting little Jem over her hip. “The boys would love it here, especially the lake.”

Jem nodded. “I’ll have to bring Evie for a visit. She loves the water.”

A few moments later, they were greeted at the door by Nicolas. He motioned them inside. “Please, come on in,” he said with slight southern drawl. “Everyone is gathered on the back patio.”

“Thank you, Nicolas,” Tessa said as she came inside with Jem following in behind her. “I hope you don’t mind me bringing the boys along.”

“Of course not.” He smiled. “I’m glad you brought them. Amy will be thrilled to have someone to play with.”

Tessa smiled and Jem said, “This place is like a slice of heaven.” He looked up at the cathedral ceiling, noticing the chandelier made of deer antlers and then back to Nicolas. “How long have you had this place?”

“Believe it or not,” Nicolas said, cocking a brow, “I’ve owned this property for more than a century. There’s about seven hundred acres here. It wasn’t until the early thirties that I decided to build this cabin. Of course, I’ve made a few upgrades since then.”

“You’re giving away your age, Nicolas,” Tessa said. “Although, you don’t look a day over twenty.”

He chuckled. “That’s about the only good thing immortality has to offer.”  
   
As Nicolas led them to a sliding glass door, the second they stepped onto the patio, Amy rushed forward.

“Hi, my name is Amy,” she said, looking between the twin boys and then focusing on Jem. “Can they play with me?”  

“You betcha, sweetheart,” Jem said, smiling down at Amy. “This is Jax.” Then he looked over at Tessa and said, “And that’s his twin brother, little Jem and their mama, Tessa."

Amy looked up at the toddler in Tessa’s arms and then back to Jem with a puzzled look on her face. “How come that baby has the same name as you?”

“His daddy is my twin brother,” Jem explained. “He named him after me.”

She grinned, appearing satisfied with his explanation.

When Jem lowered Jax down, he watched in fascination as Amy got on her knees and wrapped her arms around the toddler. The second Amy released Jax, he reached out and tugged at one of her long pigtails, slightly pulling at it.

“I’m sorry, Amy,” Tessa said as she knelt next to Jax and placed his brother beside him. “He doesn’t mean you any harm. He’s just very curious.”

Little Jem frowned at his brother and muttered, “No-no.”

“It’s okay,” Amy said, smiling at little Jem. “He didn’t hurt me.”

“Amy, do you like chocolate chip cookies?” Tessa asked.

Her eyes brightened. “I love chocolate chip cookies!”

What little kid didn’t? Tessa thought. And then she thought of what Amy had gone through when her and her mother had been kidnapped by a serial killer. It nearly gutted her. No child should be subjected to such evil. It made Tessa want to weep, but she couldn’t show it. At least not in front of Amy.
      
“But first,” Tessa finally said, focusing back on Amy, “we better ask your mommy if it’s okay.”

“’Kay,” Amy bashfully said, her thumb automatically going to her mouth.

It had been a habit she’d recently adapted. Most likely, due to the traumatic incident she’d experienced.
 
Amy quickly looked up when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes lit up when she saw it was her mother.

“Yes, honey,” Martha said. “You can have one cookie.”

Amy lowered her thumb from her mouth and offered her mother a tentative smile and then glanced over at Tessa. “She said it’s okay.”

“One chocolate chip cookie coming right up,” Tessa said as she reached into the bag that was strapped over her shoulder. When she brought her hand out, she had a plastic baggie full of cookies the size of saucers.

Amy’s eyes rounded and Jax and little Jem instantaneously started to clap.

Martha stood back and watched in wonder as Amy took to Tessa and the others so easily. It all seemed too good to be true, but she was grateful to have met such good, caring people.

“Mind if I steal your Mama for a moment?” Jem said, his eyes focused on Amy as she shoved a piece of cookie in her mouth.

She looked up at Jem with her cheeks stuffed full and smiled.

He chuckled. “Enjoy your cookie, sweetheart.” He lightly patted her on top of the head. “And save one for me.”

Jem nodded at Martha and then guided her away from Amy to a comfortable seating area on the other side of the covered patio.

“I’m glad you came,” Martha said as she sat across from Jem. “I don’t think I thanked you enough for saving my daughter. If you hadn’t been there—”

“Please…” Jem held up a halting hand. “It’s okay, Martha. I’m just glad she’s okay and that’s all that matters.”

“What you did was a miracle,” Martha said in a tear-laced voice. “Amy is everything to me. She’s all I have.”

Jem scooted his chair close to Martha’s and leaned forward. “I came by to see how Amy was doing, but I also wanted to talk to you about something private.”

“Oh…” Martha said, her voice sounding curious. “Is there something wrong?”

“No, no,” Jem quickly said. “It’s about you.” He hesitated for a moment. “Helen told me about your condition, and I’d like to help.”

“You mean…” Her eyes rounded. “You want to help with my cancer?”

“Yes, Martha. I think I can heal you, or at least I’d like to try. But you have to know…” he hesitated for a moment and released a deep breath. “My gift is new to me. There’s a chance it could be dangerous. It’s up to you.”

Suddenly, tears streamed down Martha’s cheeks. And before she managed to utter a single word, he reached out and took hold of her hand.

Although they only sat there for a few minutes, it felt like time stood still. Martha sat in silence, trying her best to comprehend the offer Jem had presented to her. Finally, she said, “I would like more than anything to try. But… how is this possible? I mean… how can you…”

“Heal people,” Jem said as Martha’s voice trailed off. When she nodded, he went on to say, “It’s hard to explain and I know you’re confused considering everything you’ve been through. Especially all the bizarre things you’ve witnessed in the last few days. But all I can tell you is… this gift I have… it’s something I was born with. Can you except that answer?”

Martha smiled. “Absolutely.”   

Jem lightly squeezed her hand. “Thank you, Martha.”

As Martha started to pull her hand away, Jem tightened his hold. “Wait,” he whispered with a smile curving his lips. “Let’s do this now.”

She looked at him surprised. “Really?”

“Why not?” Jem replied, shrugging his shoulders. “Aren’t you ready to rid yourself of all the pain and finally start living?”  

“More than anything.” She blinked more tears. “What do I need to do?”

“Just close your eyes, Martha. Let me do all the rest.”

As soon as she closed her eyes, he shut his and focused on nothing but healing. It wasn’t long before a warm sensation crept through his body and surrounded hers like a ray of sunshine.

At once, the effects of Jem’s healing energy poured into Martha. Slowly, the pain magically lifted from her body. It was like something she’d only hoped to imagine. She felt renewed and somehow free.

The moment Jem sensed strength in Martha that hadn’t been there before, he breathed a sigh of relief and released her hand.

“You can open your eyes, Martha.”

When she lifted her lids, she stared at him with an open mouth. She closed it and reopened it several times but not a word came out. Then her expression softened, and her eyes glistened with tears.

“T-Thank you,” she said. “I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me and my daughter.”

“It was my pleasure.”

Jem’s focus was so great on Martha that he hadn’t realized someone was standing next to him until a small voice said, “Did you take away Mama’s sickness?”

His brows lifted when he turned to see Amy standing next to him with an inquisitive look on her face that was smeared with chocolate.

“Yes, sweetheart. Your Mama is much better now.”

“Look,” Amy said, extending her hand, offering him a cookie. “I saved you the biggest one.”

“Why thank you,” Jem said with a smile in his voice. “That is the biggest cookie I’ve ever seen.”

When Jem took the cookie, Amy patted his cheeks with her sticky hands and said, “You and Jena are my bestest friends.”

“Well then,” Jem said, surprised by her statement. “I consider that a real honor. What did I do to deserve that?”

“You saved us, silly,” she said with a giggle, and then looked toward her mother. “Isn’t that right, Mama?”

More tears gathered in Martha’s eyes. For a moment she remained silent, clearly overwhelmed by what Amy had said. She should have realized her daughter was more observant than she gave her credit for. After all, Amy was brighter than the average five-year-old.

Amy looked worried when her mother didn’t answer right away. She hurried over and climbed into her lap, putting her little hand to her mother’s cheek.

“Don’t cry, Mama,” she said, gently wiping away the tears as they ran down Martha’s face. “It’ll be okay.” Amy focused her eyes toward Jem. “Won’t it, Jem?”

“Most definitely, sweetheart,” Jem replied, looking between Amy and Martha with a genuine expression on his face.

Slowly, he reached out for Martha’s hand and then he reached for Amy’s, linking them all together. “You can count on me and everyone here. We’re your family now.”

Martha smiled and Amy launched herself from her mother's lap and into Jem's. His heart melted as she wrapped her arms around him, squeezing tightly. If he hadn't already been solidly attached to this little girl, that would have sealed the deal. 

To be continued. . . 

 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have superstrength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE TWINS - They have a strong, unbreakable bond from birth. Born with telepathic abilities, they have the power to sense their twin's emotions or injuries. In some cases, the bond between twins is so strong they cannot live without the other.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

SUCCUBUS (a.k.a. Creepers) - A succubus feeds off the blood of a Breedline species. They are skilled with hypnotic abilities and capable of using their beautiful features to influence the thoughts of the Breedline species and humans.

HALF-BREED - A species born with the genes from both a Breedline and a succubus. They can bond with either species. Although they cannot shift into a wolf, they need blood from a Breedline to survive.

Jem Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Chosen Son) - He is a Breedline species and Jace's identical twin brother. He carries the gene of the Chiang-Shih demon, which gives him the power to create a portal and a force of electrical energy used as a weapon and other powers he discovers later. His bonded mate is Mia Blackwood. He's an IT engineer and the drummer in the band Chaos.

Tessa Fairchild (the Breedline queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an aspiring artist.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.

Martha Dunlap - Her and her daughter were kidnapped by a serial rapist. Before they were harmed, Jena's creature saved them and killed their kidnapper.

Amy Dunlap - She is Martha's five-year-old daughter.

Jax and little Jem Chamberlain - They are Breedline and Jace and Tessa's twin sons.

Evie Chamberlain - She is a half-breed and Jem and Mia's daughter.


Chapter 53
Kill for Me

By scongrove

 
Later that night, after a quick shower, Joseph was ready to call it a night. He flopped down on his bed and propped himself against a mountain of pillows. As he stared at the ceiling, he couldn’t shut his eyes without thinking of the incident with Carrie’s boss. He was worried. Did Veronica really forget what had happened earlier or was she faking it? He feared her unexplained loss of memory and her odd behavior was just an attempt to mislead him so she could escape. If so, would she expose his secret? The thought was almost too much to bear.

He turned to look when his phone on the nightstand vibrated. He grabbed it and instantly saw it was Carrie calling. And then he noticed the time. Shit! It was already after ten o’clock. He’d let the day slip by, forgetting to call her.

He quickly swiped to answer. “Hello, Carrie.”

“Hi, Joseph. I hope I’m not calling too late.”

“No, no,” he said. “I’m still up. And I’m so sorry. I completely forgot to call—”

“It’s okay. You don’t have to apologize. I was just getting worried, that’s all.”

“You were… worried?”

“Of course,” she said, concern brimming in her voice. “I mean… after what happened with my boss today, I figured maybe… you were ready to throw in the towel.”

There was an awkward silence.

“What are you talking about?” he finally said.

“I thought you might not want to see me anymore.”

“Are you kidding me?” He lightly chuckled. “It’s going to take more than a little feud with your boss to chase me off.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely.”

“So, you’re still coming to my birthday party this Saturday, right?”

“Heck yeah. I’m looking forward to it.”

“Oh, good.” She sighed into the phone. “It wouldn’t be the same without you.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“You’re already in bed, aren’t you?”

“How’d you know?”

“It’s your voice,” she said. “You sound… exhausted.”

“Sorry.” He fought back a yawn. “I guess I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately.”

“Why’s that?” 

“Maybe it’s because I’ve had a certain person on my mind.”

“Oh…”

“Yeah.” He smiled against the phone. “And her name rhymes with Harry.”

“Well then…” She laughed. “Maybe this Harry person should stop calling you so late.”

“For crying out loud…” the Shadow abruptly said, his distorted voice thundering in Joseph’s head. “Tell her good-bye already.”

Joseph closed his eyes and forced the Shadow’s voice out of his mind.

After a few moments of silence, Carrie said, “Joseph… are you still there?”   
  
“Sorry.” His eyes popped open. “I was just thinking. You want to have lunch one day this week?”

“Sure. I’d like that.”

“Great. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. And Carrie…”

“Yes…”

“I’m glad you called.”

“Get some sleep, Joseph.”

“Good night, Carrie.”

When he ended the call, he closed his eyes with Carrie on his mind and didn’t sleep at all.    

The following morning, Joseph filled a travel mug with coffee, preparing to meet his therapist before he started his day at the Chronicle. Although his mind was focused on Carrie’s boss, worried she’d remember their little incident from yesterday, he was still able to go through his everyday rituals like clockwork: wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and go to work.

The minute he climbed into his Jeep and fastened his seatbelt, his thoughts took him to a different place. It was something he didn’t want to think about.

“You can’t ignore the inevitable for long, Joseph,” the Shadow spoke out. “Soon… you will kill for me.”

“I can’t…”  Joseph swallowed a gasp. “I won’t do this anymore.” 

“You have no choice, Joseph.”
 

As Joseph grappled with the Shadow’s demands, a quick moment of conscious awareness took hold. And that’s when he decided what he had to do. He had no other choice but to stop seeing Carrie. The decision to break it off with her brought on a painful feeling in the center of his chest. He felt like his heart was splintering in half, but it was the right thing to do. It was the only way to keep Carrie and everyone around her safe.

“You’re too weak, Joseph,” the Shadow said. “You’ll never go through with it. The girl has you wrapped around her little finger. You cannot resist her.” 
   

“No… no…” Joseph shook his head slowly. “I can do this.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” the Shadow said with a clear smirk in his voice. “I accept.”   
      

Joseph calmed himself by rubbing his face. Dammit. He hadn’t expected things to come down to that. But if it was a challenge the Shadow wanted, that’s what he’d get.

A half hour later, Joseph stared at the floor with his mind focused on Carrie, waiting to be escorted inside the room where he had an appointment to meet with his therapist. 

When he didn’t look up the moment the nurse opened the door, she said, “Mr. Parker? Dr. Mendoza is waiting to see you now.”

Joseph lifted his chin and smiled when Dr. Mendoza greeted him with her hand outstretched. 
 
“It’s good to see you again, Joseph.”

He took hold of her hand. “Thank you, Dr. Mendoza.”

As soon as Dr. Mendoza released his hand, she motioned him inside and said, “Shall we get started?”

Joseph nodded. As he stepped into the spacious room, a familiar scent invaded his senses. He shut his eyes and inhaled the smell of French vanilla deep into his nostrils. Instantly, it soothed some of the anxiety that had been weighing on his shoulders. The second he reopened his lids, he spotted the artwork that hung on the dusty blue wall above Dr. Mendoza’s desk. It was a painting of the beach with a breathtaking view of the ocean. Somehow it comforted him in a way he could not explain. It was as if he could hear the waves rolling onto the sandy beach and peacefully fading away.  
    
He averted his eyes from the painting and looked toward Dr. Mendoza when she said, “Please…” She gestured toward a chair. “Make yourself comfortable.”

As he sat down in an oversized chair, she settled in behind her desk and placed a small recorder in front of her.

“Joseph…” There was a pause. “Do you mind if I ask you something concerning our last recorded session?”

When he nodded, she went on to say, “Remember when I asked if you still heard the voices… the one’s you heard as a child?”

“Yes,” he said, swallowing hard.

“Were you being honest when you said you no longer heard them?”
  
“I told you she didn’t believe you,” the Shadow grumbled inside Joseph’s head. “You should have been more convincing.”    

“Yes, Dr. Mendoza.” Joseph furrowed his brows. “Why would you think otherwise?”

“After our last session, I reviewed the recording and discovered something rather strange.”

Joseph nervously shifted in his chair. “What do you mean by strange?”

“I heard another voice mixed into our conversation.”

“Impossible,” the Shadow hissed.

“But… how can that be?” Joseph looked puzzled. “We were the only ones in the room.”

“We’ve got to get rid of Dr. Mendoza,” the Shadow gritted out. “She’s asking too many questions.”

“I know this all sounds a bit bizarre,” she went on to explain. “Believe me, I thought I was hearing things at first. But after reviewing it closer, I’m positive there’s a third person on the recording. And what it said was unsettling.” She released a deep breath. “Please Joseph, I’d like you to listen for yourself.”

“If she shares this with anyone…” the Shadow cursed under his breath. “…they’ll put you back in the looney bin, Joseph.” 

Out of nowhere, an uncontrollable fear came over him, so powerful, his hands started to shake, and his forehead beaded with sweat. He leaned forward and placed his face into the palms of his hands.   

“Joseph?” Dr. Mendoza cleared her throat. “Is something wrong?”

Her voice suddenly snapped him out of his trance. Numbly, he looked up, his sapphire eyes shifting to hers. “Uh… okay.” His reply was barely audible. “I mean…” He raised his voice. “Yeah, I’ll listen to it.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Her eyes roamed over his pale face. “You don’t look so well.”

He just stared at her. He felt his mouth go wide, working as if he were trying to say something, but the words would not come out.

She rose from her chair. “Joseph…”

He exhaled a deep breath and shook himself back to focus. “C-Can we do this another time?” His voice cracked. “I’m suddenly not feeling well.”

“Of course. Is there anything I can do?”

“No. I’ll be fine.” He stood up. “I-I just need some rest. Haven’t been sleeping well, that’s all.”

“But Joseph—”
 
He headed for the door. “Thank you, Dr. Mendoza. I’ll see you later—I’ll reschedule.”

After rushing out, Joseph hurried down the hallway and as he shot past the receptionist, he heard her say, “Mr. Parker… don’t forget to make—”

Her voice trailed off as he pushed through the door and made his way outside. A few seconds later, he found himself in the parking lot, bent over, retching up his entire breakfast.   

To be continued. . .   
 
                       
 
 
 
 
 

   
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Veronica Hernandez - She is Carrie's boss.


Chapter 54
Blood Money

By scongrove

 
Manuel groaned when his alarm went off with the most annoying sound. He stretched over toward the nightstand and quickly silenced it. His head felt like he’d been on a bender from hell. And not because he’d been drinking. He’d been up most the night, along with his partner, working a homicide case.
 
A few hours after Detectives’ Manuel Sanchez and Frank Perkins discovered the Summit Behavioral Institute’s connection with an illegal research operation—along with the Breedline Covenant’s help—they apprehended most of the staff who were involved. That is… the ones they found alive. And fortunately, during the raid, they recovered the patients, along with Judge Weaver’s granddaughter, who had been abducted and used as guinea pigs, mixing their DNA with animals for the sole purpose of science.

While the detectives interrogated a physician at the institute, he willingly gave up one of his colleagues, Dr. Leonard Manos, who was hired by A&E pharmaceuticals and another unknown facility outside of Berkeley to do the unethical research. But before the detectives got the opportunity to arrest Dr. Manos and haul his ass into the precinct for questioning, a body was discovered in a burning vehicle that was parked outside a nightclub, registered in the physician’s name.  

 
By the time they arrived at the crime scene, the area was surrounded by police cruisers and blocked off with yellow tape. Finally, when the fire was extinguished and the scene was safe to enter, the Coroner went in and did her thing. Soon after, the victim’s charred remains were taken to the crime lab for identification. Although evidence was destroyed in the fire, it was undeniably a hired hit. Apparently, someone was afraid Dr. Manos would divulge discriminating evidence against the unknown facility that was involved with A&E pharmaceuticals and the Summit Behavioral Institute. 
    
During his time as a homicide detective, Manuel found that investigating murders was nothing out of the ordinary. It was just part of the job. And he’d seen his share of dead bodies over the last thirty years. Some of them gruesome and in unimaginable conditions. But this… this kind of death was overkill. The bastard who was responsible was nothing but a spineless coward, hiding behind a big corporation with a disposable income... Blood-money.   

As Manuel pulled himself upright, he hung his legs off the bed. Before he got to his feet, the smell of smoke and burned metal invaded his senses. He sniffed at the t-shirt he’d wore underneath the button-down collar from last night and instantly recoiled in reaction to the unpleasant smell. With one swift motion, he grabbed the hem of his shirt, yanked it over his head and tossed it to the floor. It landed on top of his miniature French bulldog, who was sleeping on a padded crate next to his bed. When the dog let out a yelp, he said, “Opps… sorry ol’ girl.” 

Finally, as he pushed himself upright, the room tilted a little. He closed his eyes until he felt steady on his feet. As soon as he lifted his lids, his phone went off.   
 
“For crying out loud,” he grumbled. “What now.”

He retrieved his phone off the nightstand and instantly recognized the number on the caller ID. Then, he exhaled a breath and swiped to answer. “This better be important.”

“Well… good morning to you too, Detective,” Frank said on the other end. “Sounds like you’re in a mood.”

“Hell, Perkins,” Manuel barked into the phone. “I’ve been up half the damn night.” He glanced at the alarm clock. “I’m going on two hours of sleep.”

“I hear ya, partner. I’m already on my second cup of coffee.”

“So, what’s the urgency?” Manuel said around a yawn.   

“I may have a lead on this Joseph Harris guy.”

Manuel straightened his shoulders. “What kind of lead?”

“I did some digging into the department’s crime reports. There was an arrest record on a Joe Harris back in 2001. He was sentenced to twenty years for beating his wife to death. And according to the file, they had a five-year-old son named Joseph.”

“You think this is our guy?”

“I know it is,” Frank said. “He was placed in foster care and then landed in the Summit Behavioral Institute just like Roman said.”

“We already know all this, so how is it going to help us track him down?”

 “Hold up, Detective,” Frank said. “I’m getting to that part. You remember Officer Katie Mendoza?”

“Yeah.” Manuel nodded against the phone. “She was one helluva police officer. Too bad she left the precinct. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t she go off to study psychology or something?”

“Yep. And… she was the first officer at the crime scene when Mr. Harris killed his wife.”

“You think Katie might have some useful information?”

“It’s worth a try,” Frank said. “What do we have to lose?”

“I’m guessing you already know where Katie is, am I right?”

“She’s a therapist at the Jones Therapy Clinic, right here in Berkeley.”
 
“After I get my shit together,” Manuel said, “I’ll meet you at the precinct in an hour.”

Before Frank got a word out, Manuel abruptly went on to say, “On second thought. Make that two. It’ll take me a while to wash off all the crud from last night. My lungs are probably corroded from all the smoke. And then I’ll need time to consume large amounts of coffee.”

Frank laughed. “Don’t take too long. Remember, we’re supposed to meet up with the Captain later this morning to go over the details he got out of Dr. SeGovia on A&E pharmaceuticals. And going by what information he discovered, along with what Drakon dug up, we’ve got enough evidence to get a search warrant.”

“Yeah,” Manuel said. “And hopefully, we won’t run into what we encountered at the Summit Behavioral Institute. Captain will have a damn stroke if we come up against anything supernatural. The last situation we dealt with ‘bout done him in.” 

“You’re right,” Frank said. “Not to mention all the freakin’ reporters. Can you imagine if this gets leaked out to the press?”

“I don’t even want to think about it.”

“You and me both,” Frank reluctantly said.

“I’ll shoot you a text before I head out.” 

“Sounds good. I’ll see you later, partner.” 
            
When Manuel ended the call, he briefly shut his eyes. If only I had a few more hours of sleep, then I might feel like a human again.

As soon as he started a fresh pot of coffee, he grabbed a quick shower and shaved. A half hour later, he was dressed and ready for a shitload of caffeine.

In the middle of his second cup, he heard a knock at the door. Ira went into full-blown bark mode and rushed toward the door, her nails clipping across the hardwood floor.

“Who in the hell…”  He groaned as he walked over to the door and put his eye up to the peephole. When he saw the person standing outside his apartment, a smile stretched across his face. Quickly, he flipped the locks and through open the door. Ira barreled between his legs only to melt into a puddle of wagging tail and excited whimpers.  

“Kathryn…” Manuel’s smile broadened. “What a surprise.”

Kathryn bent down and reached out to pet the dog. “Well, hello Ira,” she said, looking up at Manuel with a smile. After a few moments of petting Ira, she stood straight and held out a covered Styrofoam cup. “I heard about the fire.” Her expression grew sympathetic. “I thought maybe you could use a little caffeine to start off your day.”

He eyeballed the cup in her hand. “You mean, you came all the way here just to bring me coffee?”

“Sure.” She shrugged. “Why not?”   
       
“Wow…” He reached for the coffee and motioned her in. “I feel pretty damn special.”

She laughed a little. “You are special. Isn’t that right, Ira.”

The dog jumped up and down as Kathryn made her way inside.

“Please…” He gestured toward the tiny kitchen. “Make yourself comfortable. I just made a fresh pot if you’d like to join me before I head to the precinct.”
  
“Thanks. I’d love to.”

While she settled in a chair, he poured her a cup and said, “Would you like cream or sugar?”

She nodded. “Both please.”

It wasn’t long before they fell into conversation, starting with his grueling night and then to her long shift in the ER.

Kathryn was employed at the Bates Hospital, where they’d met for the first time. She’d been the nurse on duty the last time he’d been rushed to the hospital for a gunshot wound. Fortunately for him, it turned out to be just a graze. Although the attraction between them was instantaneously, it was Helen Carrington who had officially hooked them up.

Six months had passed since their first date, but with their busy schedules, it was hard to find free time to spend together. And it didn’t help with Manuel’s standoffish personality. He wasn’t the type to easily share his feelings.

When an awkward silence cropped up between them, Kathryn finally built up the courage to say, “Manuel… how come you’ve never tried to kiss me?”

Manuel’s jaw nearly hit the floor. “Um… I—” His voice cut off and he stiffened in his seat.

“Don’t you find me attractive?”

He finally got his mouth to work and said, “Of course I do. It’s just that… well… I don’t know.” He shrugged. “Would you like me to kiss you?”

“Yes, I would.” Her eyes softened. “I’d like that very much.”

He cocked a brow and said, “Right now?”

“Now is as good a time as any, don’t you think?”

Without as much as a single word, he shot out of his chair like a torpedo. In the blink of an eye, he was upon her. It all happened so fast. It was as though an alien had temporarily taken over his body. When he took her by the arm, pulled her up and against his body, the element of surprise shocked her into complete surrender. Overwhelmed by his boldness, she gasped as he dug his hand into the long strands of her blonde hair and crushed his lips against hers.

He kissed her long and passionate, his tongue going in, so teasing… so demanding.  She shivered at the feel of his warm palm as it slowly traveled down the back of her neck and to the small of her back.

What seemed like an eternity, his kiss ended in a matter of a few minutes when he finally pulled from their embrace and said, “Well… how was that?”

The smile she gave him was radiant. “That was unexpected, but wonderful all the same.” 
  
He smiled back. “Good, because there’s more where that came from.” 

“Mmm…” She purred. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”  

To be continued. . .
                       
          
                
 
 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with super-strength, they can move from one place to another in supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Captain James Hodge - Unaware of the Breedline species, he is Detectives' Manuel Sanchez and Detective Frank Perkins superior at the San Francisco, California Police Department.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.

Katie Mendoza - She is Joseph's therapist.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Dr. Helen Carrington - She is a Breedline species and a physician at the California Bates Hospital for both Breedlines and humans. She later bonds to Alexander Crest.


Chapter 55
Snatched

By scongrove

While Nicolas stayed back at the cabin, making sure Martha and Amy were settled in, Jena was up and dressed bright and early, preparing for a long morning run. Before she headed out, she packed a few essentials in a fanny pack with a water bottle holder and strapped it around her waist.    

Slipping out the front door before anyone inside the Covenant was up and about, she was off pounding down the driveway toward the security building. After she checked in with the guards, they gave her clearance and opened the gates.

As she started off, loving the feel of the fresh air and the morning breeze against her skin, it wasn’t long before she fell into a fast stride. She felt so carefree… so invincible.

In fact, her legs never felt stronger. She’d always been a fast runner, but now that she was immortal, everything about her transition gave her an overwhelming amount of strength, along with heightened senses and impermeable to any illness or disease. It was as though she was indestructible.

Ten miles later, she found herself close to Stinson Beach. The ocean breeze and the sounds of the waves rolling onto the sand and fading away drew her onward. A few miles later, she jogged past vacation rentals, shops, restaurants, and small crowds of people as they mingled about. As she approached a nearby café, she decided to stop for brunch and relax on the outdoor patio it had to offer.

After she finished eating, she merely sat back and observed all the people as they gathered underneath the covered patio. The atmosphere was soothing and calming with acoustic music playing in the background. There were smiling faces and cheerful conversations everywhere she turned. Why couldn’t life always be this easy, she thought.

Then, two men came in and sat down at the table across from hers. They looked out of place. Instantly, as the hairs on her arms stood on end, she sensed danger.

One of them had on a black ball cap. He wore it low on his forehead, making it difficult to see his face. He was tall and lanky. The other guy was bald and large boned. He wore dark sunglasses and his brows were drawn tight, appearing angry. There was something suspicious and decidedly off about them, the way they kept glancing in her direction and then back at one another. It was as though they were plotting something malicious. And they reeked of pure evil. The stench created an uneasy feeling deep down in her gut.

On instinct, the creature within her stirred. She felt a sudden prickling on the surface of her skin. Jena’s eyes rounded when she peered down at her hands. They were covered in tiny black hairs and she could feel them spreading.

Please, God… She closed her eyes, squeezing them tightly. Don’t let me shift in front of all these people.
 

Then, the moment she lifted her lids, the tiny hairs were gone. It was as though they magically willed themselves back into her pores all on their own.

Jena breathed out a sigh of relief. Thank you, God.  

Focusing back on her stalkers, she calmly watched as a waitress came up to their table and took their order. As soon as she sauntered off, the bald guy got up and left. His buddy continued to periodically look over at her.

They were obviously up to no good, Jena thought. And by the way they kept staring, it had something to do with her. But what?

A few minutes later, the bald guy came back to the table and sat down across from his buddy. Jena kept her eyes peeled for the slightest move.

It wasn’t long before the waitress brought the two guys their food. That’s when Jena decided to leave.

If those thugs have a lick of sense, she thought to herself as she made her way through the exit, they’ll choose their next course of action wisely. Following me will lead them down a path they’d wished they hadn’t taken.

As Jena moved through the crowd of people, a familiar scent of evil stopped her in her tracks. The second she inhaled the intrusive odor into her nasal cavity, it thickened and surrounded her like a veil of fog. Her muscles quickly tensed, and her heart raced. She stood there caught by the unpleasant smell, but utterly unable to define where it was coming from. 

Finally, she realized someone was closing in from behind. When she turned to look, she expected to see the two men from the café, but to her surprise, it was two women. And they looked identical. For a moment, Jena thought she was seeing double. Their hair was the color of fire and their eyes were as black as a crow’s. They were tall, taller than Jena and had a body builder’s physique. By the harsh expression on their faces, they looked to do her harm.

Well… according to Jena, they could try. Fortunately, nothing could kill her. And by what she’d learned, her only kryptonite was her own species. One bite was all it took. But as far as she knew, she was the last of her kind.

Jena squared her shoulders when one of the women took a few steps closer. Her twin was right on her heels.

“I don’t know what the hell you two want,” Jena said, standing her ground. “But take my advice, ladies. You don’t want no part of me.”

The closest redhead placed her open hand, that was the size of a catcher’s mitt, on Jena’s chest and tried to shove her backwards, but Jena didn’t budge.

A few onlookers gathered around them, whispering among themselves and pointing.

“I’m only going tell you once more,” Jena warned, raising her voice. “Turn around and leave.”

Both women eyeballed Jena with a menacing glare. The time it took the brave redhead to draw back her fist, Jena struck her square in the face before she even registered her movement.

The other woman looked between Jena and her doppelganger—who was lying on the ground unconscious and bleeding—with bewilderment stamped all over her face. Then, she came at Jena in a snarling rage. Before she knew what hit her, Jena used all her strength and head-butted her right in the face. Jena’s attacker recoiled in pain and reached for her bloody nose.

“I warned you,” Jena said, anticipating the woman’s next move. “Had enough?”

The redheaded attacker curled her upper lip and wiped at her nose with the back of her hand. “Is that all you got?” she said in a deep-seated voice.

“Well… what are you waiting for,” Jena said with a clear smirk in her voice. “Come and get some.”

As soon as the woman charged forward, Jena landed a round kick to her jaw. The impact knocked her out cold. In a split second, she crumbled to the ground and the small crowd of people cheered.

One side of Jena’s mouth curved up into a half-smile, and when she turned to leave, a blinding pain caught her from behind. In a matter of seconds, it was as though her entire body was lit on fire. Realizing she’d been hit with a tranquilizer, she reached for the back of her neck.

No, she feverishly thought, refusing to give up.  

She gritted her teeth and quickly removed the dart. As soon as she started forward, she was hit again. This time, her vision clouded, and her body weakened. She immediately felt disorientated, her surroundings dizzying. Instantaneously, panic set in. Then, she heard faint voices around her and the sounds of people fleeing to get away. With the last bit of her strength, she fought to remain conscious.

As she swayed on her feet, a strong arm snaked around her to prevent her fall.

“Sorry, Ms. McCain,” a male’s voice whispered in her ear. “But I can’t have you shifting into your creature.”

Despite her blurry vision, she could still see the face of the person staring down at her. It was the angry looking bald guy from the café.

“I have to say…” he finally said, smiling in amusement. “You put up one helluva fight, Ms. McCain. You took out two of my best girls.”

“W-What do you…” Jena released a strangled breath. “…want with me?”
   
“It’s not me who wants you. My associates and I were just hired to capture you.”

“Then who?”

“If you cooperate, all your questions will be answered in due time. But if you give me trouble…” His smile faded. “I can promise you, Ms. McCain. Things will get very unpleasant.”

His promising words sent chills through her body.

“Do we have an understanding?”

She forced back the obnoxious reply that hovered on her lips and slowly nodded.

He smirked. “Smart decision, Ms. McCain.”

Seconds later, Jena’s sight began to fade. Although she was too drugged to make out her surroundings, her hearing seemed to be working.

“We’re running out of time.” Jena heard another man say. “It won’t be long before someone calls the cops. You get the girl out of here while I take care of the twins.”

“You sure you can handle the both of them?”

“Yeah,” the other man said, slightly chuckling. “They definitely had their asses handed to them, but they seem to be coming around.”  

“All right,” the bald guy said. “I’ll meet you back at the lab. Dr. Michaels is expecting us to deliver Ms. McCain within the hour.”

As Jena went limp in the bald guy’s arms, he lifted her off her feet and carried her away.

To be continued. . .
 
 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.

Martha Dunlap - Her and her daughter were kidnapped by a serial rapist. Before they were harmed, Jena's creature saved them and killed their kidnapper.

Amy Dunlap - She is Martha's five-year-old daughter.


Chapter 56
Kill for Me/Part Two

By scongrove

When Joseph checked his watch and saw he had only a few hours until lunch, he scribbled his last edit on a piece about a car fire near a high-end nightclub on Durant Avenue.

A tip came in early this morning that the incident was thought to be a hired hit. Although the victim had been burned beyond recognition and the police remained tight lipped, word still traveled. According to the club’s owner and the registration on the vehicle, the unidentified victim was thought to be the head physician at the Summit Behavioral Institute. And that wasn’t the only angle he had to go on. His informant had more pressing information on the institute. Apparently, it had been recently shut down due to an illegal research operation with a big pharmaceutical company. Going by his source’s details, the institute was getting paid to experiment on their own patients. But there were two missing pieces of the story: the name of the pharmaceutical company and the type of experiments the institute was doing.   
       
With all the violent crimes, drug trafficking, and prostitution in the city, there was plenty of news to keep him busy. Although, he’d been holding out for the perfect article that would lead to a promotion. So far, he was just a beat reporter, but he had dreams of becoming more and this story might just get him there.   
  
Finally, Joseph put the article aside and focused on his computer screen. He pulled up a file he’d been researching on demonic possession. His fingers flew over the keyboard, typing a rash of words in hopes it would lead him in the right direction. He was desperate to find something… anything that would free him from the unruly and insufferable voice inside his head. 

“Hard at work, Parker?”

Joseph quickly changed screens and looked up. “Hey, boss.” He faked a grin. “Just finishing up some proofreading.”

“I heard you got a big lead on that car fire.”

“Yeah,” Joseph replied. “I got lucky. I happen to know a guy who is kin to the club owner.”

“It never hurts to know the right people.”

Joseph nodded in agreement. “It sure doesn’t.”

“Keep this up, Parker, and it might just get you promoted.”

“Thanks, Mr. Johnson.” He smiled for real this time. “Will do.”

As soon as his boss walked away, Joseph heard his phone ding. He reached for it and noticed he had a text from Carrie. His eyes widened the second he unlocked his phone and read her message.


We need to talk ASAP. Are you free for lunch?

Shit! He wondered if Carrie had talked to her boss. If so, did Veronica tell her about their confrontation and what she’d saw? Unfortunately, there was only one way to find out.

Sure. He texted back, adding a smiley emoji. Where would you like to eat?

How ‘bout Zach’s?

Sounds great. Want me to pick you up?

I’ll meet you there.

Uh-oh, he thought. Does she know? Desperate to dig for answers, he texted her back: Carrie, are you okay?

Can’t talk. Boss nearby. See you at noon.

He texted back a thumbs up emoji and sank back into his chair. Seconds later, his phone started to ring. He almost answered it, thinking it was Carrie, but when he looked at the caller ID, he saw it was his therapist. Dammit. He ignored the call and let it go to voice mail. Besides, he had a pretty good idea why Dr. Mendoza was calling. He’d left this morning’s session in such a hurry, he’d forgot to reschedule his next appointment. The thought of going back made him sick to his stomach. Whatever was on that recording she had, he didn’t want to face it, much less talk about it. He’d rather pretend it didn’t exist and deal with his problems on his own.   
 
“Kill the doctor,” the Shadow abruptly said. “Then your problem will be solved.”

Joseph ignored the voice inside his head and brought up the file he’d been working on. He clicked on the search engine and typed: Names of demons. Instantly, he deleted it, thinking of a better word. Instead, he typed: Shadow demon.

God, he cringed at the image that popped up. It was hideous. A cross between the devil and the grim reaper. And then a horrid thought came to him. Is this what’s inside of me?

“Hey Parker… got plans for lunch?”  

Joseph flinched. “Jeez…” He heaved out a deep breath the second he looked up and saw his coworker leaning over his desk. “Stewart… you’re one sneaky bastard.”

“Sorry, man,” Stewart said, holding up his hands in defeat. “Didn’t mean to startle you. What’s got you all jumpy? Too much caffeine?”

Joseph shut off his computer screen and rose from his chair. “Yeah, I guess,” he said. “Between that and not getting enough sleep.”

“You too, huh?” Stewart arched a brow. “I think everyone around here is on edge, stressed over that new position that’s up for grabs.”

“You mean the lead reporter position?”

“Yeah,” Steward said. “Don’t tell me you’re not interested.”

“Eh…” Joseph shrugged. “I’m not getting my hopes up. But I can’t say I’d hate the thought of landing that gig. That job comes with a lot of opportunities.”

“Well, good luck, Parker. I don’t know anyone at the Chronicle who deserves it more than you.”

“Thanks Stewart. You too.”

“So, you got plans for lunch? I thought we’d check out that new café on Montclair Boulevard.”

Joseph brought his wrist up and when he saw what time it was, he groaned. “Ah, crap. It’s almost noon. Sorry, buddy.” He dug in his pocket for his keys. “I’ve got to get going. I made a lunch date with Carrie.” He started off down the hall. “Maybe next time. My treat,” he hollered on his way out of the newsroom, waving over his shoulder.

Stewart waved back. “I’ll take you up on that.”

Shortly after, as Joseph arrived at Zach’s, he noticed Carrie’s Volkswagen Beetle parked in front. Fortunately, it wasn’t too packed and there was an opening next to hers. He wheeled into the vacant parking space, put it in park and hustled to get inside.

The moment he spotted her sitting at a table in the back, she looked up from the menu and waved him over. As he approached her, his nerves were on pins and needles. But before he could get a word out, she said, “Hurry, sit down. I can’t wait to tell you what happened at work today.”

Joseph sat down, holding his breath.

“Veronica actually apologized to me this morning,” she blurted. “She said I deserved more respect and a big raise.”

His mouth opened with the longest sigh. Thank God. Then, he reached across the table and placed his hand over hers. “That’s wonderful.” His eyes softened. “Congratulations, Carrie.”

“Thanks Joseph.” She intertwined her fingers with his. “But I have to wonder what caused her to have such a change of heart. I mean… you should have heard her. She was practically on her hands and knees begging for forgiveness. Do you think it has anything to do with you?”

His eyes rounded for a moment. “W-What makes you think that?”

“Well…” Carrie shrugged. “You’re probably the first person who’s ever stood up to her. Maybe it had some weird effect on her. You know… opened her eyes to her own bad behavior.”

“Who knows. But whatever the case, I’m just glad you’re finally getting treated the way you deserve. And now you can look forward to going to work instead of dreading it.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” She smiled and squeezed his hand a little. “I think this is the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time aside from meeting you.”

Her kind and sentimental words warmed his heart. How in the hell was he going to find the courage to let her go? The mere thought nearly tore him into a million pieces.

“You’re pathetic,” the Shadow whispered into Joseph’s mind. “I knew you didn’t have the balls to go through with it.”  
                                  

Joseph shut out the voice and simply smiled at Carrie. “Come now,” he said, changing the subject. “What do you say we order some food?” He released his hand from hers and reached for the menu. “I’m starving.”  

To be continued. . . 
 
 
  
   

Author Notes Photos by: google/Facebook

A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.

Veronica Hernandez - Carrie's boss.


Chapter 57
Blood Money/Part Two

By scongrove

Detective Manuel Sanchez left his apartment in a good mood. As he got behind the wheel of his unmarked car, he couldn’t seem to take his mind off Kathryn, especially after what they’d just shared. He was on cloud nine, feeling like a teenager all over again. Today was officially their first kiss.

Before he switched on the ignition, he closed his eyes and pictured her face. Without a doubt, Kathryn Hobbs was flat-out gorgeous. She had long, silky blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, skin that smelled like blooming roses, lips deliciously soft, not to mention a figure to die for. It all seemed too good to be true. He almost felt like pinching himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

The males at the hospital she worked at, and some females for that matter, were all goo-goo eyes for her, and Manuel had to give her props: She never mixed business with pleasure. She took her job serious and kept everything professional. He’d witnessed her expertise firsthand. Kathryn was a damn good nurse. Besides, by now, everyone at the hospital realized she was hands off. Occasionally, during lunch, he’d pop-in for a visit. And by the way he looked at her, it was clear to all the guys and gals, she was taken. Plus, he had a pretty good idea his badge and gun had something to do with it. To some, a shield and a weapon looked intimidating.

A half-hour later, he pulled into the precinct and parked his car near the front entrance. As soon as he set foot in the building, he noticed his partner standing outside their captain’s office, waving him over. Frank was dressed in his normal attire: tan slacks, dress shirt, and a matching tie. And along with his neatly pressed and tidy outfit, he wore a classic crew cut. Frank was the type who everyone got along with. It took a lot to get under his skin, but when he got mad, you’d be the first to know. On occasion, he’d bend the rules a bit, especially if it came to helping others. He would give the shirt off his back for just about anyone. But in most cases, he done things by the book. And no matter what, he was willing to do whatever it took to bring justice to those who deserved it. 

Manuel, on the other hand, sported more of a rugged look. Nothing fancy, just blue jeans, a button-down shirt, and a pair of worn out cowboy boots. On chilly mornings and late-night, outdoor crime investigations, he always wore the same old leather jacket he’d had for years. It leant well with his temperament: slow-to-warm-up to, difficult, hot-headed and a smart mouth to go along with it. Although he resembled the handsome Spanish actor, Antonio Banderas, his hairdo favored James Dean’s. He kept it cut short in the back with longer lengths on top, styled in a sweep back. When it came to getting things done, he made no bones about it. Manuel was old-school. And he’d fight dirty if that’s what it took. Although he was in his fifties, he could still give a young man a run for his money. During his years boxing, he developed an iron-jaw and one helluva mean left hook. Aside from his tough exterior, Manuel always fought for the people he cared about, the innocence, and justice.

As Manuel strode up to where to his partner was waiting, he held up a halting hand and said, “I know, I know. I’m late. You don’t have to ride my ass.”

“What the hell took you so long?” Frank said with a hint of frustration in his voice. “You were supposed to be here an hour ago. The captain’s ‘bout ready to tear you a new one… if you catch my meaning.”

“Cut me some slack. I have a good excuse.”

“Yeah?” Frank cocked a brow, his eyes roaming over Manuel’s face. “Does it have anything to do with that lipstick stain?”

“Huh?” Manuel looked at Frank puzzled. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the red lipstick you’re wearing,” Frank said around a light chuckle. “I have to say, that color really suits you. It goes great with your outfit.”

“Shit,” Manuel grumbled and quickly wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. “Thanks smart-ass.”

Frank’s lips curved up. “Sounds like someone finally got the nerve to make a move. I didn’t think you had it in you, Detective.”

“Ah, shut your pie-hole, already,” Manuel shot back. “And stop busting my balls.”

“Come on, partner,” Frank said, motioning towards Captain Hodge’s door. “Ladies first.”

Manuel rolled his eyes and reached for the door. The second he opened it, a booming voice from the inside said, “It’s about damn time.”

“Sorry, Cap,” Manuel said, slumping his shoulders. “Got caught in traffic.”

“Traffic my ass,” Hodge gritted out. “Cut the shit, Detective. You know I don’t have the patience for lame excuses or tardiness. We’ve got a ton of work to do on this case. Are you ready or not?”

Frank stood beside Manuel wide-eyed as though he was anticipating an ass chewing next.

“I’m all eyes and ears, Cap,” Manuel quickly replied. 

“Listen, we’ve all been up half the damn night,” Hodge went on to say. “I know you’re exhausted. Hell, I’ve already went through a whole pot of coffee. And neither of us are exactly spring chickens, now are we? But crime never stops, and we’ve got to stay on top of this. If we sit around on our asses, something’s liable to get overlooked. We can’t let that happen. We owe justice to those innocent people who were taken against their will, especially Judge Weaver’s granddaughter. That poor young girl will probably never be the same. What was done to her and the others goes beyond unethical.” He looked between the two detectives with a stern but wholeheartedly expression. “So, are we ready to find the bastards who are responsible and put them where they belong?”

Manuel and Frank answered in unison. “Yes, Captain.”

“All right then, Detectives. Let’s get cracking. Right before you two decided to stroll in, I received a call from the Coroner.”

Abruptly, there was a knock at the door. When they turned to look, the door cracked open.

“Captain…” Detective Palmer said as he stuck his face inside the opening. “We’ve got a report on a kidnapping in broad daylight right outside Parkside Café, located at Stinson Beach.”

Captain Hodge rose from his chair and cursed under his breath. “All right,” he said, motioning the detective inside. “Give us the rundown.” 

As Detective Palmer pushed through the door, he said, “Young woman in her twenties, blonde, about five-nine. Witnesses said she had an altercation with two other women. Apparently after she knocked them unconscious, two men intervened and took the girl against her will.”

“Do we have an ID on the girl?” Hodge asked.

Detective Palmer shook his head. “As far as we know, she was alone. Witnesses said she and the two men dined at the Parkside Café right before the incident. There’s a good chance we might be able to get a visual from the café’s video footage.”  
 
Hodge averted his eyes from Detective Palmer and focused on Manuel and Frank. “I want you two on this. But as soon as you’re done, haul your asses back. The Coroner got a positive ID on the victim from the car fire. Turns out it was that physician from the Summit Behavioral Institute.”

“Dr. Leonard Manos?” Manuel queried.

When Hodge nodded, Frank said, “Damn. There goes our lead suspect.”

“Tell me about it,” Hodge said. “Although, there’s a positive side to all this madness. Judge Weaver came through on that search warrant for A&E Pharmaceuticals.”

“Sorry, Cap,” Manuel said. “But if you’ve got a search warrant, shouldn’t that be our top priority? I mean, there’s plenty of qualified guys here in the precinct you can send to investigate that kidnapping.”

“I said Judge Weaver approved it,” Hodge replied. “I didn’t say I had it in my hands just yet. Besides, we’re not dealing with your average criminals here. A&E is a multi-billion-dollar industry. You can bet your asses they’ll be prepared for a search warrant. This is going to take some time and planning. And we’re not going in unprepared. So be ready, Detectives. The feds are helping us with this one. They should arrive this afternoon.”

“Great,” Manuel groaned. “That’s just what we need. Someone to tell us how to do our jobs.”

“Sorry, guys,” Hodge hesitantly said. “But you know how it goes. This investigation went up the ladder and now my hands are tied. We have no choice but to work together on this one.”

Before Manuel got the chance to reply, Frank cut in and said, “Don’t worry, Captain. We’ve got this.”

Hodge nodded at Frank, and then looked toward Manuel. “All right, Detectives. That’s all for now. We’ll catch up as soon as you return.”

Without a word, Manuel walked out of the captain’s office and started down the hall in a fast pace. Frank quickly caught up to him and walked alongside him. “Come on, partner. It’s not the captain’s fault. You know if it was up to him, he’d let us handle this case on our own.”

Manuel heaved out a deep breath. “I know. But still… I hate dealing with the Bureau. You know they’re not going to let us do things our way. Solving this case with all their red tape bullshit will take forever.”

“I hear you, buddy,” Frank said, releasing a sigh. “When you think about it, what really matters is we give justice to those innocent people. How we get it done is the least of our problems.”

Manuel stopped as they reached the exit. He turned toward Frank and said, “You’re right. And come hell or high water, we’re not only going to solve that case, we’re going to find that missing girl.”

Frank clapped a hand over Manuel’s shoulder. “Now that’s the partner I know.”

A half-hour later, the detectives pulled into the parking lot of the Parkside Café and parked next to a police cruiser. As soon as they got out, two of Berkley’s finest greeted them. After gathering all the details, the detectives decided to question the manager at the café and check out the video footage. If they were lucky, they just might get a visual on the young woman who had been taken and better yet, the perpetrators involved.  

It wasn’t long before the manager pulled up the video recording from earlier. The second the image of the young woman came into view, he said, “That’s her.” He paused the video and pointed toward the two men sitting across from her. “And those are the two men who took her.”

Manuel and Frank instantly recognized the woman. Their jaws nearly hit the floor. Instantaneously, they faced one another wide-eyed.

Shit, Manuel silently mouthed.

“I was coming in for the day when I spotted one of them carrying her away,” the manager went on to say. “The young woman looked unconscious, so I decided to call the police.”

Manuel averted his eyes from Frank and focused on the manager. “What about the two women that were said to be involved?” he asked. “Did you get a look at them?” 

“Yeah,” the manager said. “I saw them leave with the other guy. Both women looked identical, like they were twins or something. They were tall and muscular. And they had long, red hair. It wasn’t a natural color. More like a dyed job.”

Frank chimed in and said, “Did you see what kind of vehicle they left in?”

“The bald guy who took the girl got in a white box truck,” the manager replied. “The other three drove off in a black panel van.”

“You didn’t happen to catch the license on either of those, did you?” Manuel asked.

“Sorry Detectives.” The manager shook his head. “I wish I had more information, but that’s all I have.”

“You’ve been very helpful,” Frank said. “Do you think you could identify those two women if you saw them again?”

“Are you kidding? Those two stuck out like a sore thumb. They looked like a couple of female wrestlers.”

“We’re going to need you to come down to the station to make a statement and look at some mugshots,” Frank said. “It’s possible you might be able to identify those two women if you come across their photos.”

“Of course,” the manager said. “I’ll do whatever I can to help.”

“And we’re going to need that video recording as evidence,” Manuel added.

“Yeah, sure,” the manager quickly replied. “Like I said… whatever I can do to help.”

The minute the detectives got what they needed and made it back to the vehicle, Manuel took Frank aside. “Something tells me this has something to do with A&E Pharmaceuticals. Why else would someone drug Jena and take her against her will?”

Frank dragged a hand over his short-trimmed hair. “If you’re right on this, we’ve got to inform the Breedline Covenant. And God… when Nicolas finds out.”

“Yeah.” Manuel blew out a deep breath. “Things are about to get personal. And bloody.”

To be continued. . . 
 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Captain James Hodge - Unaware of the Breedline species, he is Detective Manuel Sanchez and Detective Frank Perkins' superior at the San Francisco, California Police Department.


Chapter 58
Snatched/Part Two

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Jena was desperate to open her eyes. As much as she fought to open them, she found it useless. It was as though her lids were glued shut. Was she dreaming… or dying? She’d never expected death to feel like this. So quiet… so lonely. “Nicolas,” she moaned. “I’m so sorry, Nicolas.”

She was struggling against the silence, fighting to overcome the darkness that was fast closing in. It wasn’t long before she slipped into a dream.

Underneath the light of a full moon, surrounded by a thick layer of fog, she ran so fast that her feet barely touched the ground. With long strides, she continued to make her way toward an old cemetery. It seemed so familiar somehow, but she couldn’t understand why.

As she approached the entrance, the wrought-iron gates were wide open as if they were inviting her to enter. She jogged past row after row of graves with cracked and withered headstones. Some of the stones were simple rectangles, others had rounded shoulders, and a few had flowers arranged over the tops. And that’s when she heard a noise. It was the sound of twigs snapping under foot. With her heart stuck in her throat, she instantly stopped in her tracks. She could hear the rhythm of heavy breathing coming from behind. She could almost feel the warm breaths on the back of her neck.

The moment she spun around, she was caught by surprise and knocked to the ground. She closed her eyes as terror and pain exploded within her. Lying there on her back in the wet, soggy grass, among all the dead bodies buried deep below, she suddenly felt trapped. When she lifted her lids, a shadowy figure stared down at her. It was so dark, she couldn’t tell if it was a man, or a woman, but by the weight pinning her down, it was surely a man. She immediately feared for her life. When she opened her mouth to scream, a large hand silenced her.   
        

A man stood above Jena and watched her. By the rolling of her eyes underneath her closed lids, and the whimper that escaped her lips, he realized she was dreaming. Although, it sounded more like a nightmare. And he wondered who Nicolas was?

Out of nowhere, Jena caught an overwhelming scent. It was a stench of evil. The perforating odor hit her nostrils and nearly made her sick. Within seconds, her skin crawled with a wild sensation. She felt a tickling of tiny hairs as they erupted from every pore. And her fingernails expanded with long, sharp claws. She could even feel her gums throbbing with a raw sense of power until her teeth lengthened, forming into sharp points.

In the blink of an eye, as she tore at her attacker’s jugular, his mouth opened with a wet, gargling gasp. Before he took his last breath, she stared into his horrified gaze and said, “When I finish my run, I’m coming back…” She arrogantly grinned, her fangs shining like ivory pins. “…to eat you.”   
        

“Ms. McCain…”

Then, she heard an unfamiliar voice from somewhere. Was she still dreaming? It was calling out to her as though it was coming from a faraway distance.

When Jena finally regained consciousness and opened her eyes, an image of a man suddenly came into view. He was looming over her with an enthusiastic expression in his steely blue eyes. The surgical mask he had on kept his features hidden, but she could tell he was older by the creases on his forehead and wrinkles etched in the corners of his eyes.

She struggled to move her arms and legs, but unfortunately, they wouldn’t budge. She’d been secured to some sort of platform with metal clamps. Even her head was bound to the unholy contraption. The only thing she could move was her mouth. And it was as dry as sandpaper. So dry, her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She was so damn angry, she wanted to slap that look off his face.

Finally, she couldn’t stand the weight of his stare and managed to get her tongue to work. “W-Who…” Her words slurred. “…are you?”

The moment he tore off his mask, his expression changed. The lines on his forehead deepened and he looked over her face with a clinical eye. It made her uncomfortable, like she was being put under a microscope. She noticed his features had a slightly Latin American cast and he appeared to be in his late fifties or perhaps early sixties. His hair was coal-black with flakes of gray. It was clear he was a physician of some kind by the white coat he wore and the stethoscope he had draped around his neck.    

“I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced,” he said. “My name is Doctor Henry Michaels.”

“What the hell do you want with me?”

“Calm down, Ms. McCain,” he said, holding up a halting hand. “I’m not going to harm you. I just want to learn about what you are.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

“Oh, come now, Ms. McCain.” His lips curved up. “You can drop the act. I already know all about the Breedline species and your little secret.”

She snarled her upper lip. “You have no idea what you’re dealing with.”

“On the contrary,” he said, cocking a brow. “I know quite a bit. The only thing that has me stumped is how you bring on your creature. Are you able to shift at your own free will or does the full moon bring forth the change?”

She kept silent and fixed her eyes on his calculating glare, swearing to God Almighty, she’d take her secret to the grave. 

“Stop with all the bullshit,” she finally said. “I want to know the truth.” Her voice grew insistent. “Tell me the real reason why you’ve brought me here.”

The physician’s eyes grew shadowed and suddenly he looked angered by her demanding words. And there was also a coldness to his expression. The look of a madman. Then, he released a deep breath and lightly patted her on the shoulder. “I’ll leave you to think about your next choice of words, Ms. McCain.” As he turned to leave, he paused and added, “There’s one more thing you need to know. My patience only goes so far.” He heavily emphasized the word patience. “When I return, I’ll expect an answer to my question.” 
 
At the sound of the door closing, Jena shut her eyes and squeezed them tight. She was so pissed. And what was more irritating, she couldn’t shift. Whatever they’d given her must be affecting her ability to sense evil and malice. It was the only explanation she could come up with. She couldn’t even smell it. Surely by now she would have picked up the scent. The physician should have reeked of it, but there had been nothing.
If only she knew where she was. Focus, Jena. You’ve got to focus, dammit.  
           
So if they didn’t intend to do her harm, and had no intention of killing her, what did they ultimately want? Where they going to experiment on her… use her as a guinea pig? That was Jena’s worse fear. And how did the physician find out about her and the Breedline? Someone had to have leaked out the information. And it had to be someone close to the Covenant. Maybe whoever gave them up was being threatened in some way.

Jena pondered for several moments until she couldn’t think no more and blanked out her mind. She took a deep breath and tried to shake off the effects of the drugs those assholes had given her. She prayed it would pass soon. Her creature was the only chance she had if she ever planned on getting out of here. Wherever here was.   
 
She opened her eyes as panic quickly set in. What if this was permanent? What if she lost her ability to shift? No, she thought. That can’t happen. She’d been cursed. And to her knowledge, nothing could lift the curse once you had a taste of human blood. Although her fate had been sealed, and her life had been completely turned upside down, she would continue to fulfill her promise. God had tasked her with an important purpose: To protect innocent people and destroy evil. That was her destiny.   
 
Anger and then determination coursed through her veins. Jena sucked in air through her nose and slowly released it. Calm down, Jena. You’ve got to come up with a plan. Somehow, you’ve got to find a way out of this place.  
 

Her adrenaline suddenly kicked in when she heard the creak of a door opening. She swallowed and remained quiet, straining to hear even the slightest noise. As soon as she heard footsteps creeping along the floor, fear gripped her throat until she could barely draw in a breath.

They were getting closer and closer. In anticipation, her eyes frantically moved side-to-side. She was desperate to catch a glimpse before they came up on her. And then, a face appeared.

Instantly, Jena flinched and let out a surprised gasp.

It was a woman. An older woman with gray hair. She had it pulled back tight and arranged in a bun on top of her head. Although her eyes were as black as midnight, they had a kindness to them. She reminded Jena of her grandmother who had passed years ago. The thought eased her in a strange way. 

“Shhh…” the gray-haired woman whispered, holding a finger to her lips. “Don’t be afraid.” Her voice was soft and as caring as her eyes. “My name is Fiona. And I’m here to help you.” 

“Who are these people?” Jena asked in a hushed voice. “And what do they want with me?”

“I don’t have time to explain,” Fiona whispered as she started working at the restraints that bound Jena’s arms. “But trust me, they are not good people. They will never let you go.”

As soon as Fiona freed Jena’s arms and legs, she went to work on the metal clamp strapped over her forehead. The moment Jena felt completely free of the restricting device, she raised her head so that her gaze met Fiona’s.

“Thank you,” Jena murmured as she slowly pulled herself upright. 

The old woman’s features quickly brightened and then shifted into seriousness. “There’s not much time. Quickly…” She offered Jena a small handgun and motioned toward the door. “You must hurry.”

Jena looked down at the gun in her hand and then back up at Fiona. “But… what about you. Aren’t you coming with me?”

“There are others,” Fiona said, her eyes filled with regret. “I cannot leave them behind.”

“I promise…” Jena hurried to her feet and scurried to the door. “If I manage to get out of here, I will come back for you. And I’ll bring help.” 
   
Fiona nodded in silent understanding and said, “I’ve sent the guard posted outside your door for a nurse. You’ve got at least eight to ten minutes before he returns. As you step out the door, take a left. Keep going until you come to an exit. That door will lead you to a stairwell. When you get to the bottom, there’s a manhole. Once you open it, there’s a secret underground passageway that will lead you to safety.”

“Do you know where this passageway ends up?”

“It will take you an hour to get there,” Fiona went on to explain. “But eventually, it will lead you through a canyon and into the Berkeley Fire Trails. You’re going to need a flashlight to guide you through the tunnels and provisions for the journey. As you climb down into the manhole, you’ll find a small rucksack with those things. It’s the best I could do in such short notice.”

Jena opened the door and before she rushed out, she glanced back at Fiona and smiled. Seconds later, she followed Fiona’s instructions, realizing she only had moments before it was discovered she’d escaped. Finally, as she made it to the exit, her pulse suddenly leapt into her throat at the sound of footsteps coming from behind. And then a voice called out, “Stop!”

On instinct, Jena spun around and aimed the gun.

Dr. Michaels quickly raised his hands and took a few steps back. “I promise, Ms. McCain, there’s no way out of here so put the gun down.”

She shook her head. “No way, asshole. Either you stay back, or I swear… I’ll shoot you.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “Come now…” He took a step forward. “Let’s talk about this.”

“I’m warning you.” Jena raised her voice. “Stay back!”

He lowered his arms and then took another step. Jena squeezed the trigger, sending him to his knees with his hand over his left arm.

He looked up at her completely shocked. “Y-You shot me.”

“Well…” she shrugged. “I warned you.” Dumbass.

When she turned and fled through the exit, the physician yelled, “Nooo…”

To be continued. . .

P.S. Jena's dream was actually a dream of my own a few months ago. I know... sounds crazy, right? I thought it was strange but very fitting to add in my story.

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.


Chapter 59
In Search of Jena

By scongrove

As Nicolas gathered firewood outside his cabin, an unsettling feeling suddenly came over him. It left him light-headed and somewhat sick to his stomach. The second he became unsteady on his feet, he dropped the plank of wood in his hand, and propped himself against a tree. He lowered his head, trying to regain his bearings, and took a long, shuddering breath. And then it hit him. Something was wrong. He quickly lifted his chin and stared blankly at his surroundings. Rage and confusion suddenly swirled inside his head, clouding his thinking. Oh God… Jena…

Everything inside screamed at him that she was in danger. In a panic, he turned in a rapid circle. When he came to a stop, he gathered himself and instantly reached into the back pocket of his pants and retrieved his phone. As soon as he brought up his caller ID and found Jena’s number, he quickly hit send. The second it started to ring, he said a silent prayer. Please God… I’m begging you... Please let her answer.   

He let it ring, until finally, it went to her voicemail. After the beep, he left a message. “Please Jena. Call me as soon as you get this. Something doesn’t feel right.” He let out a ragged breath. “I just need to know that you’re all right. Anyway… call me, sweetheart. I love you.”

It wasn’t but a few seconds after he ended the call, his phone went off. Thinking it was Jena, a sense of relief quickly took hold. But when he looked at the caller ID and saw that instead, it was Tim Ross calling, his heart sank.

Nicolas swiped to answer. “Tim…” His voice sounded desperate. “Have you seen Jena?”

There was a brief period of silence on the other end. Finally, Tim reluctantly said, “Nicolas, there’s something I need to tell you.”

Oh God. “It’s about Jena, isn’t it?”

He held his breath and waited for Tim’s answer, praying he was wrong, and Jena was okay.

“I’m sorry, Nicolas. She’s been taken.”

“Taken?” Nicolas blurted. “B-but how? Who…?”

“I just got off the phone with Detective Sanchez,” Tim replied. “They have a witness at the Parkside Café at Stinson Beach who stated she was approached by two women. Soon after, they had a physical confrontation. Jena was successful at taking them down, but then two men tranquilized her and abducted her. Both Detective Manuel Sanchez and Frank Perkins have a pretty good idea A&E Pharmaceuticals are involved.” 
 
“Dammit, I’m two hours away,” Nicolas shot back. “I’m heading there right now. And I swear… if anyone even lays a hand on her—”

“Trust me, buddy,” Tim said as Nicolas’s voice trailed off. “I completely understand. As we speak, Detective Sanchez and his partner are working on this. By the time you arrive, they should be here, and hopefully they’ll have a lead on Jena’s abductors. And I promise, as God as my witness, we’re going to get her back.”

It wasn’t long after Detectives’ Sanchez and Perkins arrived at the Breedline Covenant when Nicolas burst into the room where they were gathered with Tim, Drakon, and Roman.

“What did you find out?” Nicolas demanded, his eyes roaming over the group of men.

Manuel stepped forward and said, “The manager at the Parkside Café who witnessed Jena being taken identified the women that were involved.”

“And?”

“Karina and Kian Adams,” Manuel continued. “They’re identical twins. Thirty-four years of age. I searched their names through the database and found out they were picked up and brought in on battery charges a few years ago. Going by the details in their file, they roughed up a guy in a bar. Apparently, they beat ‘em pretty bad. The guy nearly died. Got six months in county for it. At the time, they were working as bounty hunters for Bad Boy Bails.”

“How’s that going to help us locate Jena?” Nicolas asked.

“Well, according to what we found on Bad Boy Bails,” Manuel said, “it’s owned by a guy named Sam Michaels. He’s the brother of a Dr. Henry Michaels who happens to be employed at A&E Pharmaceuticals.”

Nicolas frowned. “You think this is somehow all connected to the Summit Behavioral Institute and what they were getting paid to do to their patients?”

Manuel nodded and Frank chimed in for the first time and said, “Unfortunately, we do. Somehow, they found out about Jena.”

Nicolas looked like he’d just swallowed a rock. Drakon and Roman exchanged what-the-hell looks. And Tim remained quiet, but the shocked look on his face said without words what he was thinking. 
  
“But how is that possible?” Nicolas said, looking at the detectives in disbelief. “Someone in the Covenant had to have leaked it out. There’s no one else that knows about her curse.”

“I hate to admit it,” Frank said. “But I think you’re right. Someone inside the Covenant must be selling out information.”

“Or they’re being threatened,” Manuel spoke out.  
 
“We’ll deal with that situation in due time,” Tim said. “Right now, our main concern is Jena. What about the two men that were involved? Did you discover their identity?”

“We got a visual off the video footage at the café,” Manuel replied. “We didn’t find them in our database, but we managed to identify them through facial recognition.”

Nicolas’s eyes narrowed. “Who are they?”

“Adrian Garcia and Maximum Pierce,” Manuel said, focusing on Nicolas. “And they’re both Ex military. They were given a dishonorable discharge for manslaughter. They served ten years in a military prison. As soon as they were released, they relocated here. I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I’d put my money on Dr. Michaels. My gut instincts tell me all four that were involved with Jena’s kidnapping were hired by this SOB through his brother’s connections.”

Nicolas looked at Tim and then quickly back at Manuel and said, “So why in the hell are we still standing around? If these guys were hired by this damn physician, shouldn’t we be looking for Jena at A&E?”

“It’s not going to be that easy,” Manuel said. “The FBI are now involved. And not only with the Summit Behavioral Institute, but A&E as well.”

“I don’t give a shit about the feds,” Nicolas shot back. “If you think I’m going to wait around while God knows what those bastards are doing to Jena, you can think again.”

Tim moved next to Nicolas and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “I promise, Nicolas. We’re not going to take the backseat on this. But let’s take a minute to think this through.” Then, he averted his eyes from Nicolas and looked between the two detectives. “What are our options. Surely you don’t suggest we wait around for the FBI to make a move, do you? I mean, if we’re dealing with what we came up against at the institute, not even the pros are equipped to handle something of this magnitude.”

“You’re right about that.” Manuel let out a breathy sigh. “There’s no way our guys or the Bureau for that matter can handle this kind of situation. Like it or not, we’ve got no alternative. Somehow we’ll have to come up with one helluva plan.”

“I suggest we start with Bad Boy Bails,” Frank said.

“You know if the owner is involved,” Drakon piped in, “he’s not going to willingly give up information that may implicate himself or his brother.”

“That’s why you always come prepared,” Manuel commented, arching a brow. “Before we left the precinct, we did some checking up on Mr. Sam Michaels and his so-called bail bond company. We got a tip that he has two illegals helping his bondsmen apprehend defendants who skip out on their bail. According to the courts and the state of California, that’s a definite no-no. All bondsmen must be a U.S. citizen. If our findings are true, the companies license can be suspended or revoked. And without a license, Bad Boy Bails won’t be doing any more business.”

“How are you going to get this Sam guy to come clean?” Nicolas asked. “It’s not likely he’ll admit to breaking the law.”

“We never come empty handed,” Manuel went on to explain. “Let’s just say our tipster came with a video which has some incriminating footage that won’t look good if it’s brought before a judge.” 

“I get it,” Roman pointed out. “You guys are going to use this as leverage, am I right?”

Manuel’s lips curved up. “You’re learning fast, kid.”  
   
“While you guys are out grilling this guy,” Nicolas said with a hint of frustration. “What are we supposed to do in the meantime?”

Frank moved closer to Nicolas and said, “Look, we’re all concerned for Jena. And I promise, we’re going to do everything we can to get her back. Let us get some information and then we’ll go from there. But I have a feeling Jena can take care of herself. She’s about the bravest person I know.”

“Yeah.” Roman nodded in agreement. “And I bet right about now, she’s kicking ass and taking names.”

“They’re right, Nicolas,” Drakon said. “Your girl is a force to be reckoned with.”

“I do have to say,” Nicolas said, smiling a little. “Jena is one little badass.”

“And that’s before she shifts into the creature,” Manuel said around a light chuckle. “I’m sure by now, whoever’s working for A&E, has already had their asses handed to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone there is still breathing. She’s probably on her way back as we speak.”

Nicolas sighed. “God, I hope so.”     

To be continued. . .                
  
 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

ROGUE WOLF - A Breedline wolf who has killed with the intent of evil. They can never shift back into their human form.

ADALWOLF - A species that has the power to shift from their human form into a beautiful creature, twice the size, resembling half man and half wolf. Born with super-strength, they can move from one place to another in supernatural speed. Their eyes take on the appearance of two shimmering diamonds. With the power to regenerate their own cells, an Adalwolf will stop aging at thirty. The moon has no power over them, and they are immune to silver. They can bond with any species.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Artwork by: Mirela A


Chapter 60
Jena's Escape

By scongrove

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

The second Jena made it down the stairwell, the sound of alarms going off caught her by surprise and panic instantly set in. “Shit!”

I’ve got to hurry, she fretted anxiously. Soon, they’ll send guards. Or perhaps something far worse. And then ghastly images flashed before her. It was of the unholy experiments she’d heard about from some of the members of the Breedline. What they’d discovered at the Summit Behavioral Institute a few weeks ago sent shivers up her spine. Is the institute and Dr. Michaels somehow connected? She shuddered at the thought.

Jena quickly cleared her mind and approached the manhole, which looked to be cast iron, weighing at least a hundred pounds or more. Oh great, she thought as she knelt in front of the round cover that led to her freedom. This is going to take a miracle to get open.

She looked up and searched over the small space, hoping to find a crowbar or an object with the capability to pry open the lid. Going by the small, circular keyholes on each side, it was obviously the proper way to get it open. If only she could find something small but sturdy enough to fit inside.

Finally, her eyes pinpointed a metal bar lying on the floor alongside the wall. It appeared to be a hook of some kind. Wa-Lah! It might just work!

As she rushed over and went to pick it up, she paused and looked over her shoulder when she heard the pounding of several heavy footsteps. They seemed to be coming from above and moving in her direction. With no time to spare, she grabbed hold of the hook and quickly made her way back to the manhole. Keeping her back straight, she slightly bent her knees and inserted the hook, using it as a lever to pop open the lid. Pushing down with all her strength, she managed to pry it up and maneuver the thing off to the side.

“Thank you, Jesus,” she said, releasing a ragged breath.

It wasn’t long before she made her way inside the dark opening and climbed down the narrow, rusting ladder. As soon as her feet touched the ground, she felt a sense of relief. Before she took off through the dark and dreary passageway, she picked up the small rucksack lying at the bottom of the step Fiona had stashed for her. Quickly, she unzipped it and dug her hand inside. Her lips curved up the minute she identified the contents. Not only did Fiona pack a flashlight and a bottle of water, she left Jena an extra clip for the Ruger 9 mm she’d given her and a silver dagger. 

After Jena tucked the blade into a side pocket of the rucksack, she hurriedly passed her arms through the two straps and positioned it over her back. With one hand gripping the weapon, she extended the other and used the flashlight to brighten the path ahead. There was a musky, farmyard odor in the air. As she began her journey through the humid underground chamber, it was like a hidden cave beneath the world, stretching on for miles into the darkness.

As she traveled onward, about a mile into the tunnel, distant noises, more like nails clawing, came out of nowhere, echoing off the concreted walls. She stopped to listen in ready silence with her trigger finger positioned alongside the barrel. Nerves on edge, she slowly turned around, raised the gun, and waited.

Suddenly, an ominous growl came from behind, raising the hairs on the back of her neck. Shit! She instantly recognized that sound, realizing what it was. As the growling grew louder, pounding footsteps, like the sound of an onrushing bull, started closing in. On instinct, she spun around with the flashlight facing forward and aimed the gun. She gasped at what she saw and prayed like hell the bullets were tipped with real silver.

A massive creature, covered in dark matted hair and glowing eyes, charged at her so fast, she barely had time to discharge her weapon. As soon as the blast made contact, striking the hairy beast between the eyes, blood sprayed and coated the back wall. It immediately skidded to a halt and collapsed to the ground. Within seconds, the hairs covering its hideous form began to dissipate as though the pores were somehow magically willing them back inside. As the transformation continued, it wasn’t long before its beastly features reshaped into the form of a man. His complexion was dark, and he looked to be no older than seventeen or eighteen. At once, she felt somewhat of a pang of regret. Staring into his dead glassy eyes, she noticed he had a steel collar around his neck and wondered how this stranger came to be. Was he some sort of research project, forced into captivity, or was it by choice?  
        
At last, Jena sagged her shoulders and released the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. She inhaled deep, filling her lungs, and before she had the chance to exhale, something big and immense rammed into her backside. Instantaneously, the force of the impact compelled both the flashlight and the gun from her hands. Thinking fast, she threw her arms out to brace herself against the fall. It seemed like an eternity she fell, until finally, she hit the hard surface below, knocking the breath out of her.

As Jena struggled to regain her bearings, an unpleasant odor, like the smell of rotting meat, instantly assailed her senses. The moment she looked from the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of a hideous monster. It hovered above her, baring its sharp-pointed teeth. Foam dripped from its black, wolfish lips in anticipation of her raw, human flesh. When the ghastly thing opened its jaws, Jena quickly sprang into action. In one fluid motion, she reached for the rucksack and snatched the dagger from the outside pocket. Gripping it firmly, she rolled onto her side and drew back her arm. As she plunged the blade deep into the creature’s skull, it let out a whimper and instantly toppled over. In the wake of its death, Jena watched as it started to revert into a human form. And to her surprise, it took the shape of a woman. With long black hair and ghostly pale skin, she wore the same type of collar and appeared as young as the man.

Jena regarded the dead girl with sympathy as she retrieved the blade and then rose to her feet. With the bloody dagger in her trembling hand, she wondered how many more of these things were down here. Shifting back to focus, she tucked away the blade and gathered her weapon and the only light source she had. As she shined the flashlight ahead, she advanced cautiously down the tunnel.

It wasn’t but a few minutes later, she heard footsteps again. They were moving toward her, and going by the sequence, it was more than one person. Then, the red-headed twins she’d encountered earlier at the beach stepped from the shadows like two lionesses stalking their prey. Their eyes glowed in the darkness as they came at her looking to wreak havoc and vengeance. Although they were clearly unarmed, Jena’s odds were still outnumbered, and she did not underestimate her approaching enemies. Instead of taking the easy road and shooting them outright, she took out the first attacker with the butt of the gun, then delivered a side kick to her doppelganger. The unexpected blunt force knocked the woman off balance and sent her tumbling backward.

Jena moved next to the redhead, who was still conscious, and trained the gun at her head. “I want some answers,” she gritted out. “And I want them now. What is this place and who hired you?”

The woman smirked at Jena from behind her gun. “You don’t scare me.”

“I guess we’re going to have to work on that, now aren’t we?” Jena said, shifting the gun toward the other woman, who lay unconscious with her arms and legs sprawled out and blood trickling down her temple.

The woman’s frosty gaze fell upon her sister and then she looked back at Jena nervously.

“Don’t worry,” Jena remarked dryly. “Your sister will live. But if you don’t give me answers, I can change that in a heartbeat.”

“Adam and Eve Pharmaceuticals,” the woman finally said. “My sister and I were hired by the head physician here.”

Jena slightly tilted her head in question. “You mean, Dr. Michaels?”

When the woman nodded, Jena said, “And what about the two men at the beach? How are they involved?”

“We were all hired by Dr. Michaels.”

“Why did he hire you?” Jena continued to grill the woman. “What does he want with me?”

“We’re bounty hunters.” The woman glared at Jena. “Besides, isn’t it obvious why? You saw those two hideous things. They’re Dr. Michaels test projects. And for some reason, he wanted your DNA.”

“Why?” Jena shrugged. “To use me for research?” She swung the gun back in her direction. “There’s more you’re not telling me. What do you know?”

The woman ignored Jena’s implied threat and pushed herself upright. “I was paid a lot of money to bring you in alive. And the more I think about it, it would’ve been easier just to kill you instead.” A seedy grin stretched across her face. “Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s all I know.”

Jena scowled at the red-head’s mockery and squeezed the trigger. The bullet struck the ground next to the woman’s hand, wiping the grin off her face. She flinched and instantly recoiled in shock. “Son of a b—” She looked up at Jena wide-eyed. “Are you insane?”

“If you don’t tell me everything you know,” Jena warned, “the next one goes between your eyes.”

“All right, already.” She held her hands up in defeat. “We were told you had some kind of supernatural abilities and that we were to sedate you so you couldn’t use them to get away.”

“Yeah,” Jena said, waving the gun. “I’m listening.”
 
“These people who work here,” the woman went on to say. “They’re getting paid to seek out individuals like you to create a new species. I heard them talking about something called the Breedline… a secret group of people who are born with the power to shift into wolves.”

“Who is paying Dr. Michaels?”

“I don’t know.” She shook her head. “I’m guessing it’s the government.”

“What else did you hear about the Breedline?” Jena asked. “How’d they discover them?”

“You’re… one of them.” The woman cringed in fear. “Aren’t you?”

“I’m asking the questions here,” Jena said bitterly. “Keep talking.”

“That’s all I know. I swear.”

“The tranquilizer you and your associates used,” Jena began. “What kind of side effects does it have?”

“Dr. Michaels supplied it. He said it would keep your abilities, whatever they are…” She paused to roll her eyes. “…contained for at least a day.”

Thank God, Jena thought. It wasn’t permanent. “Get up,” she then demanded, keeping the gun poised at the woman. “Let’s go. On your feet. Now.”

As the redhead slowly got to her feet, she said, “Where are you taking me?”

“You’re going to lead me out of here. And if you try anything stupid, I won’t hesitate to put a bullet in the back of your head.”

“What about my sister?”

“She’ll be fine right where she’s at,” Jena said. “I’m sure she’ll come around eventually. Come on.” She pointed the gun in the direction ahead. “Get moving. Time is ticking.”

To be continued. . . 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters used in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Fiona - a mysterious older woman who helped Jena, who is held captive at Adam & Eve Pharmaceuticals, escape.


Chapter 61
Bad Boy Bails

By scongrove

The moment Detectives Manuel Sanchez and Frank Perkins arrived at Bad Boy Bails, they didn’t waste time as they hurried inside and asked the receptionist to speak with the owner. 

She gestured toward the seating area and said, “Make yourselves comfortable, Detectives. He’s with a client, but I’ll let him know you’re here.”

Frank gave her a polite smile and nodded. When he sat down, he reached toward the stack of magazines lying on the table next to his chair. Manuel, on the other hand, remained on his feet with his arms crossed and a frown marring his face.

When the receptionist returned, she sat behind her desk and purposely met Frank’s eyes with a half-lidded, smoky desire so he’d know what she was thinking about. Or rather who. Hell, she was practically undressing him with her eyes.

Frank was an old-fashioned guy, and he wasn't used to another woman’s attention besides his wife's, so it didn't take long for his face turn three shades of red. In response to the receptionist's obvious flirtation, he quickly looked down at the magazine he had in his hand and started flipping through the pages.

Manuel was oblivious to what had transpired, too pissed over having to wait. Patience was not one of his strongest characteristics. Not even on his best day. 
    
Thirty minutes later, they were still waiting. Frank glanced up at his partner, lifting one eyebrow as he checked his watch. Manuel shook his head, appearing as though he was a breath away from barging into the owner’s office and choking the life right out of the SOB.  

Every now and then, Frank caught his partner’s eye—who was steaming at this point, looking as though he’d swallowed a lemon—and gave him a shake of his head and mouthed “Patience,” praying Manuel would cool down before he took matters into his own hands.

Just as Manuel opened his mouth, preparing to say something to the receptionist—a smartass remark, no doubt—a tall man with a dark goatee came into the waiting area and greeted them. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Detectives. Welcome to Bad Boy Bails.” He extended his hand to Manuel. “What can I help you with?”

Manuel ignored the guy’s outstretched hand and cut to the chase. “Are you Sam Michaels?”
  
The guy smirked and lowered his hand. “Yes. I’m the owner. Is there some kind of problem?”

Before Manuel got the chance to reply, Frank shot over and extended his hand. “I’m Detective Perkins and this is my partner, Detective Sanchez.”

When Sam took hold of his hand, Frank went on to say, “Is there some place private where we can talk, Mr. Michaels?”  

“Uh, sure.” Sam pulled his hand away and directed them toward his office. “Please… right this way, Detectives.”

As soon as Sam ushered them inside, he motioned toward the empty chairs across from his desk. “Please, make yourselves comfortable. Would either of you care for a cup of coffee?”

Manuel waved it off with a shake of his head, refusing his offer and Frank said, “I’m good. Thank you.”

“Suit yourselves,” Sam replied as he poured himself a cup and then plopped down in his oversized chair. After he took a slow, careful sip, he leaned forward and rested his elbows on top of his desk. “So, tell me, gentlemen.” He cocked a brow. “What brings you two here? Got someone you need tracked down? I’ll assure you. We’re good at what we do.”

“I’m sure you are,” Manuel commented. “We’re here to ask you a few questions. And of course, this is off the record.”

“Okay,” Sam muttered, his expression suddenly appearing curious. “What’s this about?”

“Your former employees, Karina and Kian Adams,” Manuel continued. “Can you tell me the last time you had contact with either one?”

“Uh…” Sam visibly swallowed. “It’s been a few years. Why?”

“They’re both connected to a kidnapping which occurred late this morning,” Manuel said. “We’ve got a witness who identified them. They confronted the female victim outside Parkside Café. You know, the one at Stinson Beach.”

When Sam nodded, Manuel went to say, “Well, it soon escalated into a physical confrontation. And believe it or not, the victim rendered both women unconscious. Soon after, two men, who we later discovered as Adrian Garcia and Maximum Pierce, sedated the young woman and took her by force.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Sam said, stiffening in his chair. “But… like I said, I haven’t seen the Adam twins in a few years. I had to let them go after they got into some trouble and lost their license.”

“What about the two guys,” Frank chimed in. “Have you ever heard of them?”

“Can’t say I have.” Sam shrugged. “I wish I could be more helpful.”

“Oh, I think you can,” Manuel said in a smug tone.

“How so?” 
 
“Have you heard of a pharmaceutical company called Adam & Eve?”

“Yeah, why?”  

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Manuel went on. “Your brother, Henry… he’s the head physician there, right?”

“So?” Sam looked at Manuel frustrated. “What’s my brother have to do with anything?”

“Adam & Eve Pharmaceuticals is under an investigation. We have reason to believe they’re linked to a mental institute who has been recently shut down for performing illegal experimentations on their patients along with kidnapping charges. One of the physicians there gave us some incriminating information that connects the research to A&E. Going by the files we found, they were paying the institute.” 

“Are you saying my brother is involved with all this?”

Manuel rose to his feet. “Cut the innocent act, Mr. Michaels. We know you’re somehow linked to those Adam twins and the kidnapping. I’m thinking you gave your brother their contact information so he could hire them to track down the victim.”

“You don’t have jack shit on me,” Sam said, glaring at Manuel.

“Maybe not with the kidnapping,” Frank interjected. “But we do have some interesting footage of some of your so-called bondsmen.”

Sam shot out of his chair. “What the hell is this… some kind of threat?”

“Calm down, Mr. Michaels.” Frank held up a halting hand. “We’re just trying to find a missing woman. And time is of the essence. But remember… this is all off the record. You coorperate with us, and I’m sure we can come up with a solution before your business gets shut down.”

“What do you mean shut down?” Sam demanded, pointing at what looked to be a flash drive in Frank’s hand. “What the hell is on that?”

“We know about your illegal employees, dumbass,” Manuel blurted. “And I know a judge that would love nothing more than to shut this shit down. You feel me?”

Sam huffed. “All right, all right. But I had nothing to do with that woman getting kidnapped. All I did was give my brother Karina and Kian’s last known contact info. Henry told me he was trying to track down a former colleague of his. He said the guy owed him money. When I offered him my help, he flat out refused, saying he preferred the Adam twins. I told him they didn’t work for me anymore, and hadn’t in over two years, but he insisted, so I gave him the information in the files I kept on them. I had no idea they were even still living here. Hell… last I heard, those two fled the country.”

“Are you sure that’s all you know?” Manuel pinned Sam with an inquisitive stare. “Something tells me you’re not giving us everything.”

“I swear. That’s all I know.” 

“Okay.” Manuel slowly nodded. “But if we find out you’re holding back anything that could be crucial in finding our missing girl, I’ll personally deliver that flash drive to Judge Weaver myself. And just so you know, solving this case is high on her list. Besides, in your type of business, I’m sure you know her reputation quite well. She’s not the type of judge that shows much leniency when it comes to criminals or illegal immigrants.”

“Yeah,” Sam reluctantly said. “I get your meaning.” 

Before the two detectives walked out the door, Manuel turned to say, “From here on, make sure your business stays on the up-and-up. If I find out you’re still breaking the law, you’ll be in the hot seat with Judge Weaver. Do I make myself clear?”

“I hear you, Detective.” Sam narrowed his eyes. “Loud and clear.”

Manuel dipped his head and Frank said, “Good day, Mr. Michaels.” 

To be continued. . .
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.



Chapter 62
Jena's Escape/Part Two

By scongrove

As Jena and the redheaded woman made their way through the tunnel, furious barking, coming from a distance, startled them. In unison, they stopped in their tracks and turned to look. 

“How much further?” Jena asked, keeping her voice low and the weapon trained on the woman.

“There’s an exit port not far from here,” she replied. “We should be there in less than twenty minutes.”

“Hey,” Jena said, snapping to attention. “You wouldn’t happen to have a cell phone, would you?”

“It won’t do you any good. There’s no service down here.”

“All right.” Jena waved the flashlight ahead. “Let’s keep moving. And as soon as we get to the surface, I’ll be using that cell of yours.”

“Whatever.”

“Oh, by the way…” Jena added. “What’s your name?”

The woman briefly turned and fixed her dark eyes on Jena. “What do you care?”

“I don’t. But humor me anyway.”

“It’s Kian,” she roughly said to Jena. “Kian Adams.”

“And your sister?”

“What does her name matter to you?”

Jena furrowed her brow. “You know, you have a bit of an attitude problem. Remember who has the gun. Just answer the question.”

“Fine,” Kian grumbled. “Her name is Karina.”

“Ah,” Jena said, arching a brow. “That figures.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because…” Jena said with a slight chuckle. “Parents who have twins always come up with matching names.”

“So? What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing,” Jena remarked. “Just makes me appreciate being an only child.” 

“You know if they catch you,” Kian said with a clear smirk in her voice. “They’ll most likely kill you.”

“Well, they better bring on their A-game then.”

“Aren’t you afraid?” Kian queried.

Jena tilted her head a little. “Of what?”

“Dying.”

“That’s impossible for me,” Jena explained. “Seeing that I’m immortal and all.”

“But…” Kian came to a halt and looked over her shoulder with an inquisitive stare. “How is that possible?”

The sound of dogs barking grew closer.

“Come on,” Jena urged. “We don’t have time for chitchat. Let’s pick up the pace.”

When they finally came to a dead end, Jena trained the flashlight toward a ladder that led to an opening above.

“Well, this is it,” Kian said. “If you climb to the top, it should lead you to your freedom.”

“You first,” Jena said, directing Kian toward the narrow, rusting ladder. “Get climbing.”

“Oh hell, no. You’re not taking me with you.”

“I said…” Jena raised her voice. “Get climbing.”

Kian rolled her eyes and groaned as she made her way to the ladder. The second she climbed onto the first step, she looked back at Jena and said, “If you let me go, I’ll give you the names of some very important people.”

Jena looked up at Kian in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

“There are people in higher positions,” Kian went on to explain. “People in charge of Dr. Michaels research.”

“I thought you said you didn’t know anything else.”

“You don’t understand,” Kian said. “These people will stop at nothing to get what they want. My sister and I took this job because we were desperate for the cash. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. When they find out you escaped and took me with you, they’ll think I talked. And before they can get to me… they’ll kill my sister.”

“You know I can’t just let you go.”

“Please…” Kian’s voice took on a pleading tone as she craftily tried to trick Jena into letting her go. “Karina is the only family I have.”

Right, Jena thought. She didn’t believe a word of it.

“Dr. Michaels hired bounty hunters to bring me in, and I don’t believe for one minute he gave you or the others the names of the masterminds behind all this.” Jena pointed the Ruger 9mm in Kian’s direction. “So, get your ass in gear before I pump you full of lead.” 
 
Kian angrily shifted around, cursing under her breath, and began to climb her way up to the opening. When her pace slowed, Jena tapped on the railing from a few steps below and hollered, “Pick it up.”

Kian cursed again and climbed faster, until finally, she managed to get to the top. The minute she pushed her way through the opening, she instantly brought her hand up to shield her eyes from the sun.

As Jena maneuvered herself to the top and rose to her feet, the warmth from the golden rays felt good against her face. The time it took her to survey their surroundings, she finally breathed a sigh of relief, realizing where they were.

“I take it you know where we are,” Kian said.

Jena nodded and pointed toward the west. “Let’s keep moving in that direction.”

“So, where are we going?”

“To a safe place,” Jena replied, thinking of her beloved Nicolas and everyone at the Breedline Covenant. “Where I belong.”

Before they started off, Jena tucked the flashlight into her rucksack and extended her hand out to Kian. “I’ll be using that cell phone of yours. I’m sure you’ve got service now.” 

With a smirk, Kian reached into her back pocket and retrieved her phone. “Knock yourself out,” she said, placing it into the palm of Jena’s hand.

“And the security code to access it?”

“It’s 0926Karina,” Kian said, snarling her upper lip.

“Thanks,” Jena said as she typed in the code to unlock the phone. “So why 0926? What’s the significance?”

“It’s mine and Karina’s birth date.”

Jena smiled at Kian’s response and quickly dialed Nicolas’s number, praying he’d answer. And to her surprise, he picked up on the first ring. “Hello…” His voice was shaky but there was a thread of hope infused in it.    

She smiled against the phone. “Nicolas… it’s me. Jena.”

“Thank God…” He blew out his breath. “Where are you, sweetheart?”

“I’m at the Berkeley Fire Trails.”

“Are you okay?”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m fine.”

Her words made his shoulders sag with relief. And as much as he wanted to get his hands on her kidnappers, he willed himself to quell the fury that burned within him. For Jena, he would try his best to remain calm.

“Sweetheart…” he briefly hesitated, keeping his tone even. “How did you manage to get away?”

“My Fairy Godmother came to my rescue,” she simply said.
 
“What are you talking about Jena?”

“It’s a long story.” Jena laughed a little. “But if it weren’t for a kind old lady, I wouldn’t be here talking to you now. I’d still be strapped to an operating table and most likely someone’s research project. And now, she needs our help. We have to go save her, Nicolas.”

“I promise, sweetheart. We’ll do everything we can to help her.”

“There’s one more thing,” Jena said. “The phone I’m using belongs to one of my kidnappers. I’ve got her in my custody as we speak.”

 “Her?” Nicolas queried. “Are you talking about one of the Adam twins?”

“How’d you know?”

“Detectives Sanchez and Perkins were called to the crime scene right after you were taken. The manager of the Parkside Café called it in and helped them identify the two women. We know they’re linked to A&E Pharmaceuticals.”

“That’s where I was held captive,” Jena said. “A physician named Henry Michaels is responsible for all this.”

“You keep moving, sweetheart. I’m on my way.”

“I’ll see you soon,” Jena said. “I love you, Nicolas.”

“I love you too,” he choked out.

To be continued. . .
 
    
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.


Chapter 63
Dinner is Served

By scongrove

A few moments after Joseph and Carrie arrived at Corso’s and was escorted to their table, an awkward silence cropped up between them. Joseph seemed miles away as he sat there looking down, staring blankly at his menu.

Carrie reached out and slightly nudged his hand. “You seem quiet tonight.” 

“Are you going to break it off before or after dinner?” The Shadow spoke into Joseph’s mind, distracting him from Carrie. “I’d wait until after. Who knows? Maybe if you play your cards right, things may end up at her place. Lord knows when the last time you were laid.”   

When Joseph didn’t respond, Carrie raised her voice a little. “Joseph… is something wrong?”

Joseph ignored the voice in his head and looked up. “I’m sorry, Carrie. Did you say something?”

Carrie smiled. “I was just asking why you seem so quiet this evening. It seems like you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

“Oh, it’s nothing really.” He smiled back at her. “Just a work thing, that’s all.”

“You want to talk about it?”
   
He chuckled. “I’d bore you to tears.”

“Oh, come on,” Carrie said as she lightly patted his hand. “Nothing you could say would bore me. Besides, you’ve heard all about my job, not to mention all the drama with my boss. Heaven knows you’ve experienced Veronica’s bad behavior more than anyone should. So, it’s only fair you get to unload on me. And I’d love to hear more about what you do.” 

“You sure?”

Her smile broadened. “Absolutely.”

“Okay,” he said, shrugging one of his shoulders. “There’s a new position for the lead reporter coming up soon and I’m thinking of applying for it. I mean, I’m not getting my hopes up or anything, but still, I think I have a good chance as any.”

“That’s wonderful, Joseph.” Carrie’s eyes brightened. “I think you should definitely go for it.”

“Really?”

“Of course. Don’t you think you deserve it?”

The Shadow cackled. “A straitjacket, maybe, but not lead reporter. Unless… we kill all the other applicants.”

Joseph shut out the Shadow’s crude remark and said, “Well, there is this article I’ve been working on. And so far, my boss seems to be really impressed with it. He even mentioned that it could lead to a promotion.”

“That’s very exciting, Joseph. Sounds to me like you already landed the position.”
  
“Well, I wouldn’t put money on it, but at least I’ve got a shot at it.”

“So, tell me,” she said, leaning in closer. “I’m dying to know. What’s this article about?”

“Technically,” he hesitantly said, arching a brow. “I’m not supposed to say anything. It’s kind of classified.”

“Oh please…” Carrie pleaded. “At least give me something.”

“We’ll give you something, all right,” the Shadow mocked. “And I promise… dying will be at the top of the list.”

“I don’t know,” he said playfully. “This is top secret stuff. I’m not so sure if you can be trusted. If this gets leaked out—”

Joseph’s voice trailed off as Carrie poked at his shoulder. “Come on,” she groaned. “Stop joking around. You know I wouldn’t tell a soul.”

He had a grin on his face like a Cheshire Cat. “Okay,” he finally said. “But only if you promise to keep it a secret.”

“I promise,” Carrie said as she put her thumb and forefinger together and moved them along her closed lips, making a show of zipping them tight. “My lips are sealed.”

“Remember that car fire a few days ago? You know, the one outside that nightclub on Durant Avenue.”

“You mean Gemini Gentlemen’s Club?”

Joseph nodded and went on to say, “Well, I’m working that story.”

Carrie’s eyes rounded. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” he said, leaning in closer, keeping his voice low. “And I happen to know a guy who is kin to the club owner. What’s even better, this guy is one of my informants and he’s giving me all the details. Of course, he’s practically charging me an arm and a leg, but it’s top secret information that only the police have and they’re keeping all this tight lipped.”

“Do you think this is enough to get you promoted?”

“There’s still a few details I’m lacking,” Joseph said. “But even if I don’t get those, I think what I have could make the Chronicle’s front page.”

“Wow,” Carrie remarked with an astonished look on her face. “This must be some juicy stuff. So, did you discover who was in that car fire?”

“You can’t say a word, but according to my guy, it was the head physician at the Summit Behavioral Institute.”

“Oh my gosh,” Carrie gasped. “Are you saying it was Dr. Leonard Manos?”

“Yeah, why?” Joseph queried. “Did you know him?”

She nodded. “We refer some of our patients to Dr. Manos. He’s one of the leading psychiatrists in the nation. Who would do such a thing?”

“He may have been the leading psychiatrist, but apparently he wasn’t what you’d call ethical. Dr. Manos, along with the institute he worked for, was getting paid to do some sort of illegal research on their patients.”

“What?” Carrie furrowed her brows. “I can’t believe it. Are you sure?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m pretty positive. The institute was shut down a few days ago.”

“That’s horrible,” Carrie said, shaking her head. “Do you know who was paying them?”

Joseph sighed. “That’s the part I’m still trying to find out, along with the type of research the institute was getting paid to do.”

“Maybe I can do some digging of my own,” Carrie suggested.

“What do you mean?”

“My Uncle Frank is a detective,” she said. “I could ask him.”

“No,” Joseph quickly said. “I don’t want you getting involved. Plus, your uncle is not going to give you any information. He could lose his badge over that.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Carrie said. “And I wouldn’t want him to jeopardize his job.”

Joseph reached for Carrie’s hand and lightly gave it a squeeze. “Thanks for the offer, though.”

When she smiled, he pulled his hand back and said, “Hey, let’s change the subject and enjoy our evening. Remember, we're supposed to be celebrating your promotion.”

At that moment, a female waitress approached the table. Before she said a word, she stared down at Joseph in stunned disbelief. She was practically drooling over him. Her jaw dropped like she was lost for words. Finally, she got her mouth to work and said, “Oh my gosh.” She flipped her long hair back and kicked out her hip. “Has anyone ever said you look like that actor—”

“Keanu Reeves,” Carrie interjected before the waitress could get the words out.

The waitress took her eyes off Joseph and looked toward Carrie. “Yeah…” She bobbed her head up and down. “Doesn’t he, though?”  
 
“Come on now,” Joseph said with a chuckle, drawing Carrie and the waitress’s attention. “Don’t you think you’re over exaggerating just a bit there?”

“No way,” the waitress said. “You could be his twin when he played in the Matrix, except for your hair.”

Joseph’s eyebrows drew together. “What about my hair?”

“Oh nothing.” The waitress shook her head. “It’s just… yours is longer. More like Keanu’s hair when he starred in the John Wick sequels.”

Okaaay…” Joseph muttered, rolling his eyes.

“Listen to you,” the waitress pointed out. “You even sound like him. It’s like I’m actually meeting the real celebrity.”

“Well, in that case,” Joseph said in a quick-witted tone. “Is it possible to get our food order in?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” the waitress said around a giggle. “I guess I got carried away. It’s just that I’m such a big fan of Mr. Reeves. So, what can I get you, or do you need a few more minutes to decide?”

Joseph looked pointedly at Carrie. “You ready, or do you need more time?”

“No, I’m ready to order,” she replied. “I’ll have the Shrimp Verde with a glass of Pinot Grigio.”

“Fantastic,” the waitress said. Then she turned to Joseph. “And for you, Sir?”

“How ‘bout your beating heart?” the Shadow said, his voice laced with an upper-class British accent. “Served with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”  

“I’ll have the Creamy Pesto Shrimp,” Joseph said. “And make that two glasses of Pinot Grigio, please.”

The waitress beamed. “Coming right up.”

When she sauntered off, Joseph said, “Tell me the truth, Carrie. Are you just dating me because I look like a movie star?”

She laughed. “Just when I thought my secret was safe.”

“Really, Carrie.” Joseph’s expression drew serious. “Why are you dating me?” 

“You don’t seriously think I’m dating you because of your looks, do you?”

“No. I’ve seen myself in the mirror.” He smiled. “But I would like to know why such a beautiful, talented, and intelligent woman finds me appealing.”

“Don’t you see, silly,” she said, reaching for his hand. “You make me smile. You make me laugh.” She intertwined her fingers with his. “And more importantly, you make me… happy.”

At that moment, Joseph caught his breath. God, he’d never expected to hear that word from anyone, especially someone like Carrie. Happy. He made her happy. 
 
“Joseph… did I say something wrong?”

He swallowed the knot that had formed in the back of his throat and said, “Absolutely not.” His voice dropped until it was almost a purr. “You say everything right, Carrie. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t have said anything more perfect. And you…” He swallowed again. “You bring me happiness.”

“Loser,” the Shadow gritted out. “I knew you wouldn’t go through with it. Admit it. You’re completely whipped, Joseph.” 

To be continued. . .
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Author Notes A reference for terms, and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.


Chapter 64
Dinner is Served/Part Two

By scongrove

After a relaxing evening, Joseph and Carrie exited the restaurant and headed toward the parking lot holding hands. Before they made it to Carrie’s Volkswagen Beetle, she tugged his arm. “Wait…” she said, nervously gazing into his blue eyes. “I know it’s a workday tomorrow, but would you care for some coffee?”

“Say yes, Joseph,” the Shadow urged.

“Are you sure it’s not too late?” Joseph said, checking his watch. “I mean, it’s almost eight o’clock.”

“It’s not too late for me,” Carrie replied. “But I completely understand if it is for you.”

“Do it,” the Shadow continued to encourage Joseph. “You know you can’t resist her.” 

“Uh, sure,” Joseph said. “I’d love to. I’ve heard of this little café that’s open twenty-four hours. It’s not far from here, and my co-workers are always raving about the coffee.”

“Oh,” Carrie said, her voice sounding conflicted. “I was thinking of my place, but if you’d rather go there—”

“No,” Joseph quickly replied. “Your place sounds fine. But are you sure your roommate won’t mind? I wouldn’t want to intrude on a work night.”

“Oh, don’t worry about Jessica.” Carrie waved it off like it was nothing. “She’s been staying at Ryan’s place lately. And besides, she never goes to bed before two in the morning. Not even on weekdays. I don’t know how she does it. That girl can survive on just a few hours of sleep.”

“That’s crazy.” Joseph chuckled. “I’d never be able to get through the next day. Sounds like Jessica is one tough cookie.”

“Yeah,” Carrie replied with a smirk. “Jess is something all right. And tough has nothing to do with it. She’s been like that since we were kids. I think it’s just in her nature. I’ve never met anyone with so much energy. Back in high school, she’d try to keep me up at all hours just talking. Although, I never made it past midnight. But that didn’t stop her. She just kept on going. She’s like the pink Energizer Bunny. You know… the one on that old Duracell battery commercial?”

Joseph laughed again. “I can sense that about her. She’s seems like an energetic person, but also a great friend to you.”

“She’s the best,” Carrie simply said. 

“Well then,” Joseph said, smiling. “So, I guess I’ll meet you back at your place?”

“Sounds great.” Carrie’s eyes brightened. Then she released his hand and said, “I’ll see you soon.”

As Carrie reached out to open her car door, she halted her hand and quickly looked up when she heard the degrading sounds of a man’s catcalls. They were coming from somewhere in her proximity. Her eyes darted around, searching the shadows of the parking lot and then to the front entrance of the restaurant. But there were too many people to make out where it was coming from. And then, it immediately took her back to the incident of when she was attacked by those two men. As the horrifying memories flashed through her mind, pungent odors—a combination of cigarette smoke and dirty armpits—suddenly invaded her senses. In sheer panic, her eyes rounded, and she began to shake uncontrollably. Instantaneously, her body flooded with fear and her heart pounded as though it was going to beat straight out of her chest. 

“Carrie…” Joseph called out to her, noticing her odd behavior. “Is everything okay?”

When she didn’t answer, he moved next to her. The moment he placed his hand on her shoulder, she flinched and let out a yelp.

As soon as she spun around, Joseph pulled his hand back and said, “I’m sorry, Carrie. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“Oh, Joseph, I’m—” She helplessly shook her head. “I’m so embarrassed. I haven’t felt so terrified since—” She covered her mouth with her hand, holding back the sobs that lingered in the back of her throat.  

“It’s okay,” he said, taking her against his body. “I promise…” he murmured close to her ear. “There’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about.”

No matter how hard she tried to hold still, her body trembled in his embrace.

“My God… you’re shaking.” He lightly squeezed her. “Carrie, did something happen?”

His question brought her to tears. While she cried, he held her against his chest, cradling her in his arms.

When she finally stopped weeping, he pulled back and gently wiped at her tears. “Please, Carrie.” The cadence in his voice was kind and comforting. “Talk to me.”

“Something terrible happened,” she finally choked out. “Before I met you.”

His eyebrows drew together. “Do you want to talk about it?”

When she nodded, more tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Let’s go,” he said. “I’m driving you home.”

“But Joseph—”

He held up a halting hand. “It’s fine, Carrie. Don’t worry. I’ll pick you up in the morning before work and bring you back to your car.”

She smiled up at him. “Are you sure?”

“Of course.” He smiled back. “I’d do anything for you, Carrie. And whatever this is, no matter what, I want you to know, I’m here for you.”

“Thank you, Joseph. That means everything.”

“Come on.” He took hold of her hand. “Let’s get you home.”

As Joseph held the passenger door open for Carrie, she took one more look around the parking lot before she got inside his car. Everything seemed quiet, except for the pounding of her heart. It was beating so fast, she could hear the rhythm inside her eardrums. 

On his way around to the driver’s side, Carrie settled in, buckled her seatbelt, and leaned back against the seat. As soon as Joseph got behind the wheel, he reached out and stroked her cheek with his thumb. “Everything is going to be all right, Carrie,” he murmured. “You’re safe with me.”

“You’re getting good at this, Joseph,” the Shadow said. “I think she’s starting to trust you.”  
 

“You make me feel safe, Joseph,” Carrie replied, looking at him with soft eyes.

He forced the voice from his mind and thought about what he had to do to keep her safe. The thought of continuing to put her in danger literally turned his stomach. He hated lying to her. And Carrie deserved more than what he could give her. She deserved someone normal. Someone who wouldn’t hurt her.

The drive to Carrie’s place didn’t take long. It almost seemed to go by in a flash. As Joseph brought the Jeep to a stop in front of her apartment building, she yawned and unbuckled her seatbelt. The second she reached for the door, he put his hand on her arm and said, “You wait right here. Let me get that for you.”

She smiled at him and nodded in silence.  

It’s wasn’t long before they made it to her apartment door. She seemed nervous as she unlocked it and stepped inside. Joseph followed in behind her and waited as she secured the lock on the door. Then she flipped on a lamp that was setting on top of an end table next to the sofa. 

She faced him and said, “You still want some coffee, don’t you?”

“How about you sit down while I make the coffee,” he said, patting the cushion on the sofa. “Remember…” He winked. “I’m a man that knows his way around a kitchen.”

“But you made it last time.”

“I don’t mind, Carrie.” He placed his hand on her arm. “Besides, I enjoy making you coffee.”

“You’re so sweet, Joseph,” she said, smoothing her hand over his. “Thank you.”  

“You’re welcome.” He forced his hand from hers, letting it fall to his side. “One cup of coffee with sugar and cream coming right up.”  

While they sipped on coffee, Joseph listened to Carrie—although he already knew—as she confided in him about the two men who attacked her. Even though he didn’t know her at the time, and he’d witnessed the attack, it was painful to hear her tell her side of the story. He felt so damn guilty. He cursed to himself, thinking she should slap him for what he’d done. That same night Carrie was assaulted, she’d also been a target for the Shadow. What was worse, he’d planned on killing her. If it weren’t for the wolfish creature interfering and killing those men, god knows what might have happened to Carrie.

All this time, he’d been lying to her. And if she knew half the things he’d done… she’d be mortified. Now, here he was, pretending to be someone he wasn’t. He wanted to tell her the truth, he really did. But he couldn’t bear the thought. Because the truth would terrify her. And she would hate him.

Almost an hour later, they managed to polish off the entire pot of coffee. When she finished telling him about her horrific incident, there was an awkward silence in the room.

“I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable, did I?” she blurted. “I just wanted to… you know, tell you what happened.”

Joseph frowned. “No, Carrie. Nothing you could say would make me feel uncomfortable. I’m glad you told me. It’s just that I’m…” He nervously swallowed. “I’m angry with myself.”  
 
“But…” she muttered, shaking her head. “Why would you be angry with yourself?”

“Because.” He sucked in a breath. “I didn’t help you.”

“Oh, Joseph.” Her eyes grew sympathetic. “Don’t feel bad. You weren’t even there.”

Without saying a word, he got up and sat down next to her. “I’m so sorry, Carrie,” he said, shifting her body so she was nestled in the croak of his arm. “Please forgive me.”

The pain in his voice cut through her like a knife. “Joseph…” She tilted her head and looked up at him, her expression confused. “I don’t understand. Why would I need to forgive you?”

There was a pause like what she’d asked him didn’t register.

“Joseph…” Her hand shook just a little as she reached out and placed it on the side of his face. “What’s wrong?”

“Carrie, I won’t ever hurt you. I promise.”

“I know you would never hurt me.” She pegged him with a hard stare. “But why in the world would you say such a thing?”

“What are you doing, Joseph?” the Shadow groaned. “You had her eating out of the palm of your hand.”   

“Close your eyes for me, Carrie.”

His words surprised her. “What?”

“Please,” he said, his voice pleading.

In anticipation, she lowered her lids for him.

Then Joseph tilted his head to one side and gently put his lips to hers. When Carrie’s mouth opened with a gasp, his tongue slipped inside and stroked against hers.

Her heart soared, sensing his arousal the moment he let out a low purr. It wasn’t long before the passion between them grew and thickened.

As his kiss deepened, images swam in her head. Images of him undressing her, touching her, caressing her.

“Please…” she murmured against his lips, her mind imagining the feel of his weight on top of her. “I want—” Her voice trailed off the moment his lips moved to the crevice of her neck. The warmth and softness of his breath against her skin created a needy sensation deep down in her core.

“Joseph, I—”

“Say it, Carrie,” he whispered, his voice ending in a soft purr.

“I-I want you, Joseph,” she finally said, releasing a breathy sigh.

Carrie couldn’t believe how fast he moved. One second he was holding her in his arms, trailing kisses down her slender neck. The next he had her on the floor, underneath him. When he lowered his weight on top of her, she could feel his arousal probing through the fly of his jeans.

Carrie’s breath heaved out of her lungs in a heated rush.

“Do it, Joseph,” the Shadow demanded. “Kill her.”   

Without a warning, Joseph’s skin began to tingle all over, itching so badly he could barely stay still. He could almost feel the Shadow scratching from within, trying to claw its way out.

Oh, God, he couldn’t let it take control. If the Shadow took over…

Concern for Carrie’s life sent his heart into overdrive that only made the situation worse. He quickly turned away from her. When he inhaled a deep breath and released it, the sound of his breathing changed. It was as though there were two sets of lungs breathing inside of his body. And that’s when the shaking started. It began in his arms and worked its way down his spine.

“Joseph…,” Carrie said, noticing his strange breathing and the way his body trembled like he was on the verge of having a seizure. “Are you okay?”

When he turned back to face her, she screamed.

To be continued. . .
            
      
     
 

Author Notes A reference for terms and cast of characters mentioned in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.

Jessica Phillips - Carrie's best friend and roommate. Ryan is Jessica's boyfriend.


Chapter 65
Dinner is Served/Part Three

By scongrove

Shielding his face, Joseph jumped to his feet, but stumbled backward until he hit the wall.

Carrie shot upright and scooted back against the couch. “What… are you?” she choked out. 

Joseph wished there was some way of taking the fear from her, taking it into himself.

“Fear is power,” the Shadow hissed. “And it’s so much more appetizing.”   

“Please…” Joseph said in a raspy, distorted voice. “Forgive me, Carrie. I-I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“No more secrets,” she demanded. “Tell me. I want to know the truth.”

“What are you waiting for?” the Shadow roared inside Joseph’s head. “Kill her now!”

“I promise,” Joseph said, peeking between his fingers. “You don’t want to know. I can’t—”

“What?” Carrie slowly rose to her feet. “You think I can’t handle the truth, Joseph? You have no idea what I can and cannot handle. My god…” She swallowed back tears. “I’ve seen things that would tip the ordinary person to the brink of insanity.”

He shook his head. “No, Carrie. I just can’t.”

“Why?” She took a few steps forward. “What are you afraid of? I know you, Joseph. You would never hurt me.”

“Do it, Joseph,” the Shadow ordered.

“Please don’t come any closer,” he said, keeping his face hidden.

“Joseph, talk to me… please.”

Using his free hand, he pointed toward the lamp. “Could you please shut that light off?”
               
Carrie kept her eyes locked on Joseph as she moved toward the lamp. The second she reached up and switched it off, the room instantly darkened. Thank god she’d thought to light a candle earlier. Otherwise, they’d be standing in total darkness.
 
Suddenly, Joseph gasped in pain and cradled his face into both of his hands.

Carrie couldn’t make sense of what he was, but going by his sudden surge of agony, she knew he was suffering. And there was no way she was going to let him go through this, whatever it was, all alone.  
 
“What’s wrong, Joseph?” She extended her hand out to him. “Is there something I can do?”

When he shook his head, she lowered her hand and took a step back.

After a few moments of silence, he dropped his hands and revealed his face. To her relief, his eyes were no longer black. Although they were wary, somehow the blue color had been magically restored, along with his handsome features, no longer a demonic mask of horror.  

“Are you… okay?” Carrie hesitantly asked.

Joseph’s body appeared tense, as if he were prepared to bolt at any minute, but he kept his feet planted where he stood.

“Listen, Carrie… I really should go.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Why?”

“Because, you’re not safe with me here.”

“I don’t believe that, Joseph. Not even for a minute. If you were going to hurt me, you would’ve already done so.”

Ah, hell. She was too good for him. She really was.

“You have to believe it, Carrie. Don’t you see? I’m no good for you.” 

“Yes, you are,” she shot back. “Regardless of what you think, I know you’re a good person, Joseph. Please…” Her eyes pleaded. “Let me help you.”

He fell against the wall, shaking his head. Here was this beautiful woman, who was so fearless, who’d just seen something so terrifying, and now she was offering to help him.

“Joseph?” She came over and offered her hand again. “Will you let me help you?”   

Before he could think, he took hold of her hand and placed it over his heart. “Thank you, Carrie. But I can’t let you do that. It’s too risky.”

“What are you saying, Joseph?”

“I-I can’t…” He cleared his throat. “…see you anymore. You need to let me go, Carrie. You’re not safe around me.”

“No, Joseph.” She covered his hand with hers and intertwined her fingers with his. “Please… you don’t mean that. Whatever is causing you pain, you can tell me. Together, we can fight this.”

“You can’t help me,” he said, pulling his hand away from hers. “Not with this. No one can.”

“But Joseph—”

“I’ve been lying to you, Carrie,” he blurted.

Her eyes rounded. “What?”

“When I was five years old,” he painfully went on to say, “I watched my father beat my mother to death. I tried to help her…” He swallowed back tears. “And when he was sent to prison, I was placed in foster care. I went from one home to the next. No one wanted me. There’s something wrong… something evil inside my head. A voice. It makes me do horrible things. And I can’t stop it. I’ve been in a mental institute for most of my life. The day I was released, I went to search for my father. I found out he’d done his time and moved back into the house where he murdered my mother. I wanted to make him pay for what he’d done. The voice told me to…”

“Shut up, Joseph,” the Shadow demanded.

“What did you do, Joseph?”

“I-I…” He drew in a deep breath. When he exhaled, he said, “I killed him. Then I burned down the house with my father inside.”

Carrie instantly covered her mouth and stared at Joseph with a stunned look on her face. When she finally lowered her hand, she cautiously said, “Is this voice… Is it telling you to hurt me?”

Joseph slowly nodded. “It wants me to kill you.”

“Traitor,” the Shadow gritted out.

“So, what’s stopping you? Why haven’t you killed me?”

“Because I—”

“Tell me,” she said, raising her voice. “Why, Joseph?”

“Because I love you, Carrie.”  
 
 To be continued. . .
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Author Notes NOTE: A reference of terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.


Chapter 66
Safe and Sound

By scongrove

It was dark when Nicolas pulled into the Covenant’s drive. Jena sat next to him in the passenger seat. Kian was in the backseat alongside Tim with both her wrists and ankles in restraints. As soon as the vehicle came to a stop, Detectives Manuel Sanchez and Frank Perkins parked their unmarked car beside them. 
   
Before Jena got out of the vehicle, Angie came running toward the passenger side with a worried look stamped all over her face. The second Jena stepped out, Angie pulled her into a tight hug. “Damn girl. You had me worried sick. Are you okay?”  

“Well, I’m still in one piece,” Jena said around a light chuckle.   

When Angie pulled from their embrace, she caught a glimpse of Detective Sanchez and his partner. They were guiding someone from out of the backseat. Her brows instantly drew together when a tall redhead stepped out. She was shackled in chains. Her broad shoulders and muscular physique reminded Angie of a female wrestler.

“Who the hell is that?” 

“One of my kidnappers,” Jena told Angie.

“What the f—” Angie said through gritted teeth as she started to go after the redhead.

Jena quickly put her hand on Angie’s shoulder. “Hold on, girl. You’re too late. I already gave her a beat down.”

Angie took her eyes off the redhead and looked Jena square in the eyes. “Are you for real?”

“Yep,” Jena said, grinning ear to ear. “And her twin sister too. Come to mention it, make that two times.”

Angie shrugged. “Two times?”

“Actually,” Jena went on to say, “I knocked them both out the first time around. Then her sister again. But this one…” She nodded her head in Kian’s direction. “I kept her conscious so she could help guide me out of that hell hole. And when I say hell hole, I mean that literally. I had to travel in a filthy underground tunnel for almost an hour. Not to mention all the unexpected surprises I came across.”

Angie cocked a brow. “Surprises?”

“Yeah,” Jena said. “And I don’t mean the good kind. I was attacked by what looked to be an experiment gone wrong. Believe it or not, there’s actually creatures uglier than the one I shift into.”

“I swear, Jena.” Angie shook her head. “You never cease to amaze me. And I think I like this new you. You’re one little badass, girl.”

Jena laughed again.   

Tim came forward and said, “Jena, we need to gather inside. Before we make our next move, you’ll need to give us a rundown on the situation with A&E Pharmaceuticals and this Dr. Henry Michaels. Anything you know will be helpful.”

“Kian will be more beneficial than me,” Jena said. “That is…” She rolled her eyes. “If you can get her to talk. Or tell the truth, for that matter.”

When they stepped inside the Covenant, Tessa greeted them at the door, looking at Jena with a soft expression. “Welcome back, Jena.” She reached out to hug her. “Are you okay?”

“Thank you, Tessa.” Jena hugged her back. “Don’t worry. I’m just fine.”

“Well now that we have you back safe and sound,” Tessa said, pulling away from Jena. “Everyone is waiting in the library to discuss the situation at hand.” Then she looked toward the tall, muscular redhead who was standing between Manuel and Frank. When Tessa moved closer, the woman scowled at her, but Tessa could see the fear behind her haunted eyes and her tough exterior.

“This is Miss Kian Adams,” Manuel spoke out. “Her and her sister Karina were involved with Jena’s abduction.”

“Miss Adams,” Tessa said, pegging Kian with a hard stare. “My name is Tessa Chamberlain. This is my home and my family. And I’m very protective of both. I’ll only tell you this once. If you disrespect either of them, I promise, you’ll not enjoy the grave repercussions of your actions. Do I make myself clear?”

Kian nodded in silence with her lip curled in distaste.

“Good,” Tessa said. “Now that we’re clear, let’s go meet with the others and discuss a few things. And by the way, Detectives,” she tacked on. “You’ll be happy to know we discovered some interesting information regarding this mysterious Shadow. Come to find out, Sebastian and his knowledge of mythology appeared to be quite resourceful after all.”

“That’s good to hear,” Manuel said. “We need all the help we can get. As soon as we deal with this situation, we’ll be ready to get back to solving that mystery. And there’s a possibility my partner and I may have a lead on this Joseph Harris guy.”

Tessa nodded in agreement. “It’ll definitely stay on our list of priorities.”   

To be continued. . .      

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers.

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one-hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Nicolas Ratcliff - He is immortal with the power of invisibility and supernatural speed. He works for the San Francisco Police Department as a detective. He's bonded with Jena McCain.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Angie Hawkridge - She is a Breedline and Jena's best friend.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Tessa Chamberlain - She is the Breedline queen.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.



Chapter 67
Safe and Sound/Part 2

By scongrove

The moment everyone gathered into the library and settled around the table with the rest of the Breedline members, Jena told them everything she knew about Adam and Eve Pharmaceuticals. Which wasn’t much. When she was done, Kian came clean and told them everything she knew about A&E and Dr. Michaels. But not before she tried to make a deal with Detectives Sanchez and Perkins. Although they refused to let her and her twin sister off the hook, they did agree to help get her sister safely out of A&E when they went in to make an arrest. Both women had no other choice but to face punishment for their crimes.

“So, what the hell are we doing here?” Jace spoke out. “What’s our plan? And we still haven’t found out who outed us to that psycho physician at A&E. My gut feeling points to Sebastian.” 

“Yeah,” Roman chimed in. “I was just thinking the same thing.”

“That’s why we’re all here,” Tim said. “And to answer your question regarding the person responsible for revealing our species to Dr. Michaels, well, that still remains a mystery. But I don’t believe Sebastian had anything to do with it.”

“I agree with Tim,” Tessa commented. “Besides, Sebastian has Eve and their children here in the Covenant, and there’s no way he’d risk their safety. It has to be someone who has no close ties here.”

“You mean an outsider?” Roman queried.

Tessa nodded. “It’s definitely someone we’re not close to. Maybe someone from another Covenant.”

“Whoever it is,” Tim remarked, “they’ll eventually get caught and brought before the council. And I promise, there will be no leniency. Now, let’s get back to the topic at hand.” He looked between Manuel and Frank. “What do you suggest, Detectives?”    
 
“We’re going to have to notify our Captain,” Frank said. “We’ve got no other choice. The Feds are involved with this case.”

“Are you sure that’s a wise decision?” Tim said. “Think about it, guys. You heard what Jena came up against at A&E. There’s a good chance there’s more of those creatures. And no amount of police force can deal with something of that magnitude.”

“Tim is right,” Tessa pointed out. “If you get the police involved, they’ll be innocent lives at risk.”

“Are you proposing we handle this ordeal ourselves?” Manuel queried.

“I don’t see the problem,” Drakon commented. “We took care of the situation at the Summit Behavioral Institute, so why not A&E?”

“Okay,” Manuel said, releasing a sigh. “You’ve made your point. Regardless of the Feds, if we turn this information over to our Captain, we’ll be responsible for the lives of our own men. I’m not going to stand back and watch that happen. So, I guess that means you guys are stuck with this too. But that doesn’t mean Detective Perkins and I are sitting this one out. We’re going to do our part.”

“Don’t worry, Detective,” Tessa said. “We’re definitely going to need you two. Besides, I think we all make a great team, don’t you think?”   

Manuel nodded and Frank said, “I completely agree. If it weren’t for the Breedline, humans would be defenseless and probably extinct by now. God created you for a good reason. You all make a difference in this world.”

“Thank you, Frank,” Tessa replied, smiling. “We’re glad we have the ability to make a difference.”

“How are we going to go about all this?” Drakon said, directing the group back to the main topic. “Go in with guns a blazing or do we have a better plan of action?”

“If I were you,” Kian spoke out, drawing everyone’s attention. “I’d use A&E’s underground passageway.”

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Jena said, focusing on Kian. “I mean, think about it. Now that I know about the tunnel, and they have knowledge of the Breedline, don’t you think they’ll be expecting me to bring reinforcements? I’m sure as we speak, Dr. Michaels is preparing his men, and whatever those creatures were—especially after what I did to him—for an attack.”

“Wait a minute,” Kian said, looking at Jena perplexed. “What did you do to Dr. Michaels?”

“I shot him,” Jena simply said.  

“What the—” Manuel’s jaw dropped. “You shot him?”

“Don’t worry,” Jena said. “He was still alive when I left him. Besides, I shot him in the leg. And I did warn him.”

“Atta girl,” Jace blurted, giving Jena a thumbs up. “Serves the sucker right.”

“You go, girl,” Roman said, nodding his approval.

Jena beamed at Jace and Roman’s outburst of praise, but soon her smile turned upside down when Kian went on to say, “Dr. Michaels will definitely be gunning for you now. Especially when he discovers his kids.”

“What kids?” Jena asked.

“Oh, did I forget to mention that part?” Kian said, shrugging her shoulders. “Well… silly me.”

“Stop messing around, Kian.” Jena raised her voice. “Spill it.”

“Okay, okay,” Kian groaned. “Those creatures who attacked you in the tunnel… you know… the ones you killed?”

When Jena nodded, Kian said, “Well, as it happens to be, they were his own flesh and blood.”

“Are you saying—” Jena’s face went pale. “They were Dr. Michaels grown children?”

“Bingo,” Kian mockingly said.

“Ah shit,” Jace grumbled. “That nut job of a doctor is going to be pissed. We better get ready for an all-out war.”

“But that’s insane,” Jena said, keeping her eyes locked on Kian. “Why would he experiment on his own children?”

“You hit the nail on the head,” Kian said. “Dr. Henry Michaels is insane, but very rich. He’s got more than enough money to pay someone to replace his dead kids. Hell, for the right amount of cash, I’d even consider it.”

Angie shot out of her chair, pointing her finger at Kian. “I’ve had about enough of your filthy mouth. Shut it!”

“Okay everyone,” Tim said, taking charge of the room. “Let’s use our brains first, then our fists. Time is getting away from us. And we’ve got to come up with a strategy.”  

“Yeah.” Jace smirked. “And it better be a damn good one too.”  

To be continued. . . 
 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms and characters in this chapter, especially for new readers.

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

THE BREEDLINE QUEEN - A Breedline queen is born once every one-hundred years. Her massive stature, black fur, and red eyes are the queen's trademarks. Her alpha wolf has twice the strength, speed, and size of any Breedline. She rules over all the Breedline Covenants. She is their absolute law.

Jena McCain - She is an inspiring artist with the ability to speak with the dead. Jena was attacked and bitten by an age-old creature and cursed with a lust for human blood. Now that she is to become the creature and hunt humans, instead of killing innocent people, she will only hunt evil.

Tessa Fairchild (a.k.a. the Breedline Queen) - She was born into the human world and later discovers she's a Breedline. Abandoned by her parents, and raised by her aunt and uncle, Tessa has no knowledge of being born a twin. After she meets Jace, they become bonded mates. During her first change into her Breedline wolf, she shifts into the new Breedline queen. She is an inspiring artist.

Jace Chamberlain (a.k.a. the Beast) - He is a Breedline species who later discovers he was born with a curse of the Beast, inherited by the Chiang-Shih demon. His bonded mate is Tessa Fairchild. He's an IT engineer and the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar in the band Chaos.

Tim Ross - He is a Breedline species and the council head of the California Covenant.

Drakon Hexus - He is a Breedline species and bonded to Cassie Chamberlain.

Roman Kincaid - He is an Adalwolf trained in military tactics, hired as a special breed of warriors from Brazil.

Detective Manuel Sanchez - He is a homicide detective at the San Francisco Police Department who late discovers he carries the Breedline genetics. His partner is Detective Frank Perkins. His sister is Lailah.

Detective Frank Perkins - He is Manuel Sanchez's partner and discovers the secret world of the Breedline. Born as a human, Frank pledges his loyalty to the Breedline. Fighting alongside his partner, they take an oath to help the Breedline protect the world from corruption and unknown creatures that prey on the innocent.

Sebastian Crow - He is a half-breed and Eve's bonded mate. He has the power to summon a portal.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

Kian Adams - A human bounty hunter hired by Dr. Henry Michaels to kidnap Jena McCain.

Dr. Henry Michaels - The head physician at Adam & Eve Pharmaceuticals. He has knowledge of the Breedline species and wants to use them and Jena McCain for clinical experimentation against their will.

Angie Hawkridge - She is a Breedline and Jena McCain's best friend.


Chapter 68
Dinner is Served/Part Four

By scongrove

Joseph’s words took Carrie’s breath away, nearly bringing her to her knees. Her breath was rising in her chest, threatening to explode from her throat. As tears gathered in her eyes, she stared at him for what seemed an eternity. It took everything she had to muster the courage to speak. Finally, she opened her mouth and said, “Y-You… love me?”

“Of course, I do,” Joseph replied. “I think I fell in love with you the moment I saw you.”

“Liar,” the Shadow said. “You wanted to kill her.”    

From out of nowhere, an intense pain exploded in Joseph’s head. He instantly dropped to his knees and gasped into the palm of his hands. The throbbing started at his temples, working its way down to the back of his neck and to the base of his spine.

Carrie immediately reached for Joseph, every instinct screaming at her that something was terribly wrong. “My God, Joseph,” she said, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “What’s happening?”

“If it weren’t for that meddling angel,” the Shadow grumbled. “Carrie would have died on that bridge along with her parents years ago.”

Joseph rubbed his hand wearily over his face. “Please…,” he rasped, begging the voice inside his head. “Don’t hurt her.” 

Sick fear welled in Carrie’s stomach as she nervously hovered over Joseph. She felt completely helpless while he suffered in agony.  

Gripping his hands over his head, Joseph concentrated on making the pain go away. With the last bit of strength, he mentally blocked it all out. He pictured Carrie’s lips and how soft they felt against his. The sweet scent of her perfume. The sound of her heart beating wildly inside her chest.

“I love you, Joseph,” Carrie abruptly said. “Did you hear me?” She raised her voice. “I love you, Joseph Parker.”

Her words slammed into him with the force of a freight train. Joseph lowered his hands and hauled himself to his feet. He turned toward Carrie, who wore a look of worry all over her pretty face. And then he simply shook his head as if he couldn’t wrap his brain around the idea that someone like her could love someone like him.

“You can’t,” Joseph said. “You can’t love me, Carrie.”

“The hell I can’t,” she said.  
         
“I’m a monster, Carrie. If only you knew…”

“Knew what, Joseph?”

When he didn’t answer, she said, “Please tell me. I want to know everything.”

“I was there the night you were attacked,” he finally said.

“I don’t understand.” She slowly shook her head. “How can that be?”

“When you left the bar, I followed you.”

“But…” Carrie’s words trailed off as she instantly thought back on that night. She briefly closed her eyes, remembering the details of that horrible incident. Then, images flashed inside her head. Images of those two men dragging her to an abandoned building. Their dirty hands were all over her… tearing at her clothes… threatening to kill her. Then out of nowhere, something came from the shadows. It was a wolfish creature of some kind. It viciously killed her attackers and saved her life. Then she recalled Joseph returning her purse the following morning. She’d lost it the night of the assault. He’d told her he found it alongside the road and got her address from her ID. That’s when the pieces of the puzzle suddenly started to come together. She snapped back with a gasp and opened her eyes. “It was you,” she said, her voice trembling. “You’re the creature, aren’t you? The one who saved me.”

“No, Carrie,” Joseph said, looking at her with a blank stare. “That wasn’t me. I did not save you.”

“But if that wasn’t you,” Carrie went on to say, “then why…”

“Why didn’t I help you?” he abruptly said. “I was going to stop those men, Carrie. I was going to kill them. But not because I wanted to save you.”

“Then why?”

“Because…” He swallowed hard. “I wanted to kill you.”   
   
Carrie backed away from him and wrapped her arms around her stomach. “Joseph, did you want to kill me that night or was it the voice inside your head?”

We wanted to kill you, Carrie. But then after—”

“Joseph…,” the Shadow’s voice was deep, resonant. Threatening. “I’m warning you.” 

In the long pause that followed, Carrie said, “After what?” 

“I don’t know.” Joseph shrugged. “It’s hard to explain. But when I’m around you, I feel different. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. You make me feel…”

“Feel what?”

“Like I have something to look forward to,” he replied. “You give me a reason to… live.”  

She almost smiled. And then she reminded herself that they were alone, and that he’d killed his father. Not to mention the voice inside his head encouraging him to kill her.

“I feel the same about you, Joseph,” she said, silently battling with her emotions and justifying her true feelings, realizing she was in love with a killer. “This is the first time I’ve ever felt this way. And when I said, I love you… I meant it.”   
  
“You won’t after you realize everything I’ve done.”

“Shut up, Joseph,” the Shadow demanded.  

“What do you mean by that?” Carrie hesitantly asked.

“I’m responsible for your ex-boyfriend’s death.”  
  
“What—” She cocked her head to the side, as if she’d heard him wrong.

“I’m sorry, Carrie. I killed Kevin.”

Good lord, he was serious.

“No…” A stream of panic threaded through her body. “That can’t be true.”

“Please believe me, Carrie. That’s why you’re not safe around me.” 

She covered her ears and muttered, “No… Please God, no…”

“Carrie, wait,” he said, moving forward with his hand extended.

She quickly lowered her hands and stepped out of his reach. “I think you should go.” 

“I’m sorry, Carr—”

“Leave,” she cut him off, pointing toward the door. “Please.”

Joseph merely stood there, staring at her with his mouth slightly agape. For a moment it seemed like he was going to say something, but then he nodded and went for the door. He strode outside and jogged toward the parking lot.

On impulse, Carrie shot through the open door, calling after him. When she got to the parking lot, she stopped and looked for his Jeep. It was still there, but Joseph was nowhere in sight. Where could he have gone?

“Joseph?” she called out.

It was a long while before Carrie finally gave up and went back inside.    

To be continued. . . 
 
Artwork by: Dusan Markovic  
 
 
 

Author Notes NOTE: This is not part of the chapter. A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers.

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

BREEDLINE BONDING - The male Breedline spends his life searching for their bonded mate. When two Breedline species experience a bond, they instantly feel a simultaneous, desirable attraction. The bond is for life. It is possible for them to have more than one mate in their lifespan.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.


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