Swept into the world of the Daylight Coven, Caia trains to control her ever-growing powers. All the while she struggles with her loyalty to the Daylights now that she has gained insight into the hearts of their enemy. And as political powers connive to separate her from Lucien, Caia is pushed further adrift from him and Pack Errante, only to leave her isolated when she uncovers dark secrets at the center of Daylight leadership. Finally believing the prophesy is true, that her very existence heralds a coming end to the war, Caia fears she'll lose the people she loves forever when they discover where her allegiance truly lies.
But if she doesn't start trusting the people closest to her, she's in danger of losing the final battle before it even approaches.
Release date: May 19, 2021
Print pages: 261
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The State of Things
Existing in the shadows of our world are supernatural races; children blessed by the ancient Greek gods with unimaginable gifts, and at present they are fighting a two-thousand-year old war with one another. The Midnight Coven, an alliance of dark magiks, faeries, and daemons born of black magik, believe that the vampyres and lykans are lesser supernaturals and a threat to mankind. They are at war with the Daylight Coven, a confederate of light magiks, faeries, vampyres and lykans who believe in the equality of the races.
Into this war eighteen-year old Caia Ribeiro is born…a lykan with a heritage unlike any other. A consequence of the manipulation of the gods and fate, Caia is unique – a half-lykan, half-water magik. And to make it even more complicated, her mother was the daughter of the Head of the Midnight Coven: Caia is half-Daylight, half-Midnight. No one is quite sure of the extent of Caia’s abilities, not even her mentor Marion, the sister to Marita, the Head of the Daylight Coven. All they know is that after her explosive killing of her uncle Ethan, Caia is the heir apparent, and with it has trace magik - the ability to sense the emotions and whereabouts of every member of the Midnight Coven. The pack, Marita, and all their allies, believe Caia is the key to bringing down the Midnights. But Caia is not so sure. Not only is she an eighteen year old girl trying to come to grips with adulthood, she’s a girl still reeling from the death of her friend, Sebastian; confused by her feelings for the pack’s Alpha, Lucien; excited but terrified by her magikal powers, and frightened by the contradiction of the trace magik.
You see… Caia is beginning to realise that the war isn’t all black and white. There are members of the Midnight Coven who are good people, magiks who have long forgotten why the war began, magiks who don’t view other supernaturals as a threat; Midnights who would just as happily see the war to an end. Is the trace wrong? Is she going insane or just falling to the other side? Because everyone closest to her would believe her to be a traitor if she shared her concerns… wouldn’t they?
And if all that wasn’t enough her best friend, Jaeden, is still missing from the pack, having run off after being rescued from the malevolent clutches of Caia’s uncle Ethan. Caia had seen through Ethan’s eyes the atrocities he committed against Jaeden’s young body and mind, and only she understands Jaeden’s need to be separate from the pack for a while.
However… perhaps it’s best Caia isn’t fully aware of Jaeden’s true situation. It would be just one more major worry to add to her never-ending pile of responsibilities. For not only is Jae out hunting rogue vampyres - a crime against the Coven, as the law constitutes that only a vampyre can hunt a rogue vampyre, and only a lykan can hunt a rogue lykan - she has even bigger problems.
When Ethan had Jae locked in a cage, messing with her body and mind, utilising an enormous amount of fire magik to torture her, something… happened. It had to have had right?
Otherwise, where did her damn telekinesis come from?
“Son of a-” Jaeden launched into a somersault to avoid the bullet whizzing towards her head, and whipped around from her position on the muddy grass in time to propel a blade at the vampyre’s wrist. The vamp girl screamed as it made perfect aim, the gun falling to the ground as she clutched her bleeding artery.
“You bitch!” Blondie screeched, glaring at her as Jaeden stood up and began sauntering towards her with an intimidating lack of fear. The wound caused the vampyre’s eyes to glow with deadly intent.
“Ouch.” Jaeden winced wryly. “Your oh so original comeback is like a veritable stake to the heart.” She smirked, pausing as her fingers brushed the line of steel blades she had strapped to her belt.
Blondie hissed, her incisors lengthening slowly. “My boyfriend is not going to like me coming home wounded.”
Jae chuckled. “Oh honey, you’ve been such a bad little girl, chewing on humans and breaking the Coven laws... your boyfriend is going to be a little bit more concerned with the fact that you won’t be coming home at all.”
The husky laugh that comment provoked was a liiittle eerie. “I’m breaking Coven laws? What about you wolf girl?”
That didn’t even deserve a response. She was breaking Coven laws for the common good. Teeth here was a skanky ho who got off on killing human boys after they gave her a little ‘somethinˈ somethinˈ’. Yeah, she wondered how the bf felt about that.
Sighing, Jaeden opened her leather jacket and pulled out the small axe she kept hidden there. The vampyre’s eyes widened marginally, and then shuttered when she realised Jaeden was watching for her reaction.
“So, Vampyra.” Jae grimaced, hitting the blunt edge of the axe off of the heel of her palm. “You ready to meet your ma-”
The vampyre launched at the gun on the ground cutting off Jaeden’s unoriginal parting quip. With a flick of her wrist, Jaeden pushed with her mind and the gun jumped up from the grass inches from the vamp’s fingers, flying into Jae’s outstretched and waiting hand. Nonchalantly she tucked the gun into the other side of her belt and smirked at the amazed look on the girl’s face.
“I thought you were just a lykan,” she breathed, real panic now swirling in her gaze.
Jae shrugged. “I am.”
“Was that magik?”
Her question received another shrug. Truthfully, Jaeden didn’t know what her telekinetic abilities were. Her greatest fear in fact were those abilities... and whether it meant, as she suspected it did, that some of Ethan’s malevolent energy had transferred to her during her captivity and torture.
“Look.” The vamp giggled a little hysterically. “Why don’t we just forget about this? I’ll go home, you go home, and I’ll never come back to your turf again, OK?”
No. Not OK.
“See that guy.” Jae pointed to the dead teenager that lay slumped against a grave stone. His neck had been ripped open so badly it was a wonder his head was still attached to his body. She concealed a shudder, turning away from the gruesome and tragic sight. “Did he suggest the same thing to you when he first felt the bite of your teeth? Did you listen? Apparently not.”
Blondie spluttered, “He’s just a human!”
She snorted in response. “Yeah, well, weren’t we all once.”
“I have money.” The vamp began to back up as Jaeden drew closer with the axe. “Whatever you want.”
Jeez, when were these chicks ever going to learn?
“This isn’t a negotiation. You kill humans… you pay the price.”
The axe was spinning through the air on its side before she had even finished her sentence. It sliced through wind and then straight into the vampyre’s jugular. Her eyes popped wide, and she made a horrific choking, gurgling sound. Her legs gave out beneath her and the choking got worse as blood started pouring out of her mouth.
Jae didn’t even flinch.
She strode towards the vamp, knelt down beside her and put pressure on either ends of the axe until it cut right through, crunching and squishing until it hit the muddy ground beneath her, her head completely detached from her undead body.
Jae pulled at her axe and then wiped the axe blade clean on the girl’s cashmere jumper, using her own scarf to wipe the blood splatter off her face.
A quick glance at her watch. 5.20am.
The sun would rise in fifteen minutes, burning the body to nothing. No one would ever know she had been there. It was funny that, she mused, standing up straight, turning away from the consequences of her soldiering; a vampyre could walk around in the day no problem. But once their undead bodies were really... well... dead... the sun did a clean-up job. Legend had it this began after Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, had a child, Asclepius, who pissed off Hades by bringing the dead back to life with his healing powers. Since the dead were Hades charge, he went to his brother, Zeus, who had Apollo’s kid killed. In revenge, Apollo killed the Cyclops, enraging Zeus, who caught up with him and threatened to send him to Tartarus. With a little sweet talking from Leto, Apollo’s mama, Zeus lessened his punishment, with the proviso that Apollo help him keep the deadly creatures a secret from humankind by cleaning up their bodies when they died. Apollo gave the job to the sun, and the rest is ancient history.
Jaeden sighed, her eyes settling back on the boy. She hated to leave him like that but she couldn’t be involved in any way. He would just have to be found by a human in the morning. It was a large, central cemetery. It wouldn’t be long. Not that, that made her feel any less like a monster for walking away.
Before she had begun this new life with Reuben she hadn’t known that much about other supernaturals. Pack Errante, being so small, was protective of their kids, and only a few of them really knew much about the world outside of the pack. Learning that for the past few centuries vampyres bodies had evolved because of the goddess Demeter’s little curse of fertility, and had begun to die by the time they reached three, four hundred years old, made her feel somewhat better that they weren’t overpopulating the world, and thus making the job of tracking down rogues even harder. But there were still the few out there whose bodies hadn’t been affected by evolution, and if the legends were true, a rare number who were second generation vampyres: the first to be born, after Hades stole Persephone (Demeter’s daughter) and made her Queen of the Underworld, thus enraging Demeter enough to curse Hades’ vampyres with fertility. The ability to have children gradually changed their natures over time. They became less aggressive, more human. Well… in general. Jaeden shuddered at the thought. If there was still a vamp out there from that time, it was probably a feral killer with the survival skills of a god. She pushed the folklore meant to scare small vamps at campfire out of her mind, and she wandered back to the basement loft she was living in with her head lowered, bumping into some late night revellers once in a while. The closer she grew to the apartment, however, the quieter the city streets became. The sun had risen, and soon those quiet streets would be buzzing with city slickers who had no idea they shared their world, their jobs, and sometimes even their homes, with supernatural beasties such as her. More importantly they had no idea a war was raging, and that if a certain young woman didn’t live up to her prophecy, that war might spill over into their lives.
There would be nothing left of them.
She sighed, entering the building’s dark entrance and quietly jumped down the stone stairwell at the back. She could hear voices coming from the end of this hallway and smiled softly as she approached the sliding steel door. Lily and Adam were fighting over the Wii again. She rapped on the door and it slid back within seconds. Gazing at her, with an annoying crease of concern between his eyebrows, Reuben stepped back to allow her entry.
“Where have you been? You missed all the action.”
Jae shrugged and nodded at the two vampyres playing computer games. Josh and Styx were sleeping in one of the back rooms. She wandered through the apartment, dropping her leather jacket here and her blades there. The axe she placed in safe keeping on a wall mount she had up in the bedroom she used to share with Lily. She could feel Reuben prowling at the back of her.
“Jae, what’s up?” His cool hands slid up her arms and massaged her shoulders.
She shrugged him off and sat on the bed, pulling her boots off as he glared at her from the doorway.
“I hunted a rogue by myself.”
He nodded, biting on his lip ring, a habit she noticed he had when he was thinking over something. “You’ve been doing that a lot lately.”
She knew where he was going with his line of thought and she was just too damn tired. So ignoring him, Jae pulled her t-shirt off and began rifling through her drawer for a clean one.
Reuben hissed, bringing her gaze snapping up to him. His eyes were narrowed on her as they looked her over. “Some people would call that teasing.”
Inwardly she flinched, outwardly it pissed her off. “Is that a warning I detect, Reuben?” She sneered, pulling on a clean shirt.
She blanched at the anger in his voice and sighed. “I’m sorry, OK. I just forget. Lykans are used to the whole undressing in front of each other thing.”
“I know. Just try to remember. I’m not made of stone.”
She flushed involuntarily, an awkward silence falling between them as they both remembered the night he had kissed her and been thoroughly rebuffed.
He cleared his throat and she sensed a now familiar discussion on the horizon. “Why the hunting solo?”
She was right. “I’m tired.”
“I want to talk to you about this. Hunting by yourself? You’ve been doing it since that night in here with Lily.”
Jae winced just thinking about it. “She could have been killed.”
“But she wasn’t,” Reuben replied softly, approaching her tentatively. Slowly he sat down beside her on the bed, seeming afraid she would snap at him like a wounded animal if he got too close. “You’ve been controlling your telekinesis.”
Not that night. Not when she had nightmares. When she was awake and in control she was able to harness whatever energy it was that gave her the ability to move things with her mind, but as soon as her emotions went into overload, there was no stopping the chaos. She had been fine around Reuben and his gang; killing vampyres who preyed on humans; putting all her hate into pounding the living daylight out of them; and feeling nothing more than a tangible connection to these good vamps she worked with; they were colleagues, nothing more. She wouldn’t let them be.
But two weeks ago, she had started having nightmares about her time in the cage. She didn’t know why or how… but they were vivid and horrifying, and kicked her telekinesis into high gear. She had been awoken by Lily’s screams. Six blades were embedded into the walls around them, and her precious axe was embedded above Lily’s head as she cowered in the corner of the room. Books, furniture, clothes... were strewn everywhere, and Lily’s nose was bleeding, a black bruise appearing on her porcelain face. Jaeden had refused to let her sleep in the same room with her – or anyone - since; refused to go out hunting with any of them in case she got them killed.
“Only when my emotions are stable. I can’t take chances, OK.”
For her that was the end of the discussion.
“Do you want to talk about these nightmares?”
“What about that?”
Jae frowned and looked up to see what he was talking about. He was pointing to her axe mounted on the wall. “What about it?”
He shrugged and looked at her, trying to appear calm, but his jaw was clenched tightly. “If you’re saying you can’t control it, why do you have a weapon in here that could kill you in your sleep?”
Because it doesn’t matter.
She didn’t say that. Reuben would kill her himself if she said that. He wanted her to be so happy here with him and the gang, taking out bad guys, living off Lily’s inheritance. But she was miserable. She ached with every part of her body for the pack. She wanted her mother and father, and her little niece Jaela. She wanted to run free with them through the woods behind Lucien’s house, and play and tussle with Sebastian. Her dresser began to shake at the thought of Seb and she quickly threw him out of her mind.
He was gone. She wasn’t ever getting him back.
She could have the pack back if she wanted.
But she didn’t. She wouldn’t.
She wouldn’t live with the people who reminded her of when she was whole and pure and good. She was something else now; something broken and corrupted, and she just couldn’t face that kind of disappointment from the people she loved after everything that had happened to her.
“Well?” Reuben pressed.
“I’ll take it down.” It would be easier than explaining to him about how messed up she was. She guessed he knew it already, though.
“Jae... ” he placed his large cool hand over hers.
Crap, she winced, looking up into his face. She shouldn’t make eye contact with him. His black eyes asked for way more than she could give.
“Don’t.” She snatched her hand back, refusing to meet his gaze.
He snapped up off the bed. “If you would just let me in, I could help you. Just tell me what happened to you.”
No way. No one could ever know how bad it got.
At her silence he heaved a heavy sigh. “Fine. I’ll let you sleep.”
He turned to leave and then looked back at her. “Just so you know we may have to leave the city. The rogues have cottoned on to the fact this is no longer an easy target for breaking Coven law.”
She nodded, not caring where they went.
“I’m going out.”
Again she nodded. Reuben had a tendency to disappear every now and then to goddess knows where. Jae didn’t ask about his mysterious loner ventures. That would imply that she cared.
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