Book one in the Aurora series.
If Genesis is the catalyst for a new beginning, then what has to end?
She is called Genesis.
After nearly dying, Tristan wakes with enhanced senses and abilities, beginning her evolution into something more than human. Tristan’s once normal life becomes chaotic, frightening, and complicated by Audley Morgan. Audley exudes ominous intensity that warns of violence and destruction. Though Tristan can sense how dangerous he is, she can’t deny his compelling charisma.
He is called Cleric.
Even though killing was Audley’s gift, he thought he was done with bloodshed and body counts until Tristan Glass comes into his life. Tristan is intelligent, alluring, and the only human carrier of an ancient genetic legacy, which makes his attraction to her annoyingly problematic.
Time for judgment has come.
With Tristan’s awakening, an archaic war between to factions fighting for control of humanity has begun anew with her at its epicenter. What fate is in store for mankind? A choice between mercy and annihilation must be made, and that choice is Tristan’s alone.
Blood dripped from Tristan’s head and chest, pooling in a puddle of warmth around her that left her cold. She was certain she was dying. The streetlights above her had dimmed to small orbs. Her heartbeat thrummed loudly in her ears, and it was steadily slowing. A heaviness seized her body, making the simplest movement impossible. She didn’t care. She didn’t wonder at how she got there. She wasn’t afraid. None of her life passed before her eyes. She could barely take her next breath, because it all felt so good. Death was exquisite.
“Miss, can you hear me?” a muffled male voice asked from beyond the haze of her mind.
“Dying isn’t supposed to feel good,” she thought and heard her voice echo the sentiment between breaths. She was vaguely aware people surrounded her, moving her limbs as they talked to her. It was too much of an annoyance to try and understand them or what had happened because pulses of marvelous intensity surged through her body. Wave after wave of tingling current electrified her nerve endings, absorbing the pain she knew she should be feeling. When the world started going dark, she wasn’t afraid of the oblivion she knew would follow.
Then she was on fire.
A sharp bite was followed by burning that snaked up her right arm, to her heart, then spread through her entire body. She screamed, but no sound came through her lips. The scream reverberated in her mind and stayed confined there. She started to pant and shake with the effort it took to breathe. Each gasp for air caused a cascading event of agony, and it ripped through her heart, stabbed through her limbs, and turned her blood into glass shards.
Again and again, she tried to scream, to tell someone it hurt, but no sound escaped her lips. She remained immobilized, trapped inside herself. After a time, there was nothing but a loud static of shrieks and pain. Her only real conscious thought was that no one could hear her, and her reason turned desperate. In the loud shrills that echoed inside her mind, she begged for the pain to stop. It didn’t. She pleaded for mercy. There was none. She yearned to die. Death didn’t claim her. The pain did.
❀ ✾ ❀
Someone was there. Audley knew it without question. There wasn’t a specific sight, sound or scent that alerted him he was no longer alone. It was his ability to know. The same instant he felt that presence was the same instant he could identify the most efficient and quickest way to kill it. That was something else he was sure of because killing was his sixth sense.
The gun holstered at the small of his back was in his hand and sighted on the figure before it fully emerged from the shadows. “You are not stupid enough to have a bullet chambered,” the dark-clad man said with a hint of conceit.
“You’re not stupid enough to think that one isn’t.” Audley never took his eyes off the monitor of the laptop in front of him. Instead, he used his free hand to navigate through a website.
“Sounds like a challenge I have heard before.” Aesop, his half-brother, stepped out of the doorway of the small shop and into the dim light. Spiced musk scented the air. It wasn’t aftershave. That was what Aesop smelled like, honorable and clean.
No one would ever suspect them of being brothers related by blood. Audley had mussed brown hair, high broad cheekbones, and a square chin. His clothes were usually stained or torn, and his skin was dotted with a myriad of tattoos. Aesop had symmetrical Asian features, crisp seamed suits, and no tattoo would ever mar his slightly darker skin. They had nothing in common except their father and dark blue eye color.
“If you think I won’t put a bullet in your ass, I will. And, you’re already starting to piss me off.”
Aesop walked into the center of the room, ignoring the gun trained on him. “Your shop looks nice.” He strolled along the counter running his hand over the dark hardwood before he stopped at the handmade display shelves full of merchandise. “It looks like a lot of work went into building this place.” He stepped into the middle of the room. Looking down, he kicked at the light hardwood floor before he looked up. His low whistle echoed into the exposed loft roof. “It is impressive, what you can build.” There was honest appreciation in his voice. “Who knew a smoker’s shop would be so lucrative.”
“It’s not. Which is why I have a side job to do tomorrow. So, get to the point,” Audley stated flatly.
“We have not seen each other in five years. You do not want to know…”
“No. I don’t. If you actually wanted to see me, you’d have come sooner.”
“And yet, you have never invited me.”
“Cut the crap. You didn’t come to see me. You came because you have ulterior motives. Right now, you’re trying to buy yourself some time, so you can figure out the best way to manipulate me into doing something I don’t want to do. You’ve got three seconds.” His patience was at its end.
“Leelah thinks she has found a latent.”
Audley pulled the hammer of his .45 back with his thumb, and the solid metal click made the silence oppressive. He met the gaze of his brother. At that range, the bullet would fracture his skull, tear through his brain, and would splatter them both with gore. If his brother were merely human, the shot would kill him. For a long minute, he considered pulling the trigger. Then he released the hammer with another solid click, and the tension broke. Lifting his hand, he scratched the back of his head with the butt of his gun before stowing it away. “No.”
“You are still a Prospect,” Aesop reasoned.
“It is not something you can walk away from.”
“I can, I did, and I am not going back.” Audley went back to his computer. “You can see yourself out. Next time you walk through my door in the middle of the night, it better be because you want a beer and a cigarette or I will put a bullet in your ass.”
Aesop took the stool directly across the bar from Audley. “I would ask for a beer, but I do not drink cheap dog piss. And, I have never had a taste for cigarettes.” He paused and rested his elbow on the counter. “I am authorized to pay you.”
“I have a job.” Audley opened a drawer beneath the counter, pulled out a pencil and paper, and scribbled out names of supplies he needed for the remodeling job he was supposed to start the next day.
“I need your help.”
“I am not a licensed psychologist, but I’ll give you some good advice. Leave me alone.”
“Jonas asked for you specifically.”
Audley threw down the pencil, rested his hands on his hips, and slit his eyes at his brother. “You want to get shot.” He took a long breath and tried to ignore the instinct screaming to snap his brother’s neck. “No! I don’t take orders from him, you or the whole fucked up lot. Looking for a latent female is like looking for a unicorn, neither exists.”
“What if you are wrong?”
“Yeah, sure, unicorns could exist, but latent females don’t.”
“Fifty thousand and you will be back before dawn,” Aesop offered.
“No.” Audley reached out and grabbed the beer that sat on the counter beside him. He took a long drink. “Hell no.”
“The police report said she stepped into the middle of a domestic dispute and got nearly beaten to death by both parties.”
“Isn’t that how it usually is? So, you’re here because you want me to catch them?”
“No, they are already in custody. We want you to get the woman. The assault was so severe that she required surgery to repair damaged organs and stop internal bleeding. You and I both know what that would do to a latent. And there is another surgery planned for early in the morning when the neurosurgeon arrives.” Aesop was manipulating him, and they both knew it. His tactics were working. If they had indeed found a latent, then modern medicine would be equivalent to the worst kind of torture. He still doubted, but a small part of him wondered. “If she hasn’t been incited and we take her out of the hospital, it would be murder.”
“Or, her injuries incited her, and we are killing her by doing nothing.”
“Get Leelah to do it. Hospitals are her territory.”
“She cannot. If she gets caught interfering again, she is going to be noticed, and that would be bad for all of us.” Aesop stopped. His face brightened, and a smile touched his lips. “The Prospects have been looking for a female latent for millennia. Think about what that means. Seventy-five thousand.”
The tiny part of Audley that was curious about whether they’d found a latent female or not had been silenced by the prospect of money. His smoke shop, The General Store, barely paid its own bills and some months it didn’t. Most weeks, between side work and the shop, he worked eighty hours or more. Having a break from it would be nice. “One hundred and fifty. And, it’s your responsibility when she turns out to be a dead human.”
He took another sip of his beer, finished it, and dropped the empty can in the trash behind the counter. “Up front.”
Aesop pulled out a cell phone. There were several electronic clicks as he manipulated the device. When he looked up, a grin spread across his face. “Already in your account.” He put away the phone. “Go medicate. We do not need a body count, so no guns.”
“I already medicated. This is as calm as you’ll get.” He picked up the dull orange shirt that lay across a nearby bar stool and pulled it on. “Do you really want me going unarmed, or did you forget what happened last time I tried that?”
Aesop stared at him for a moment then his brows furrowed. “No body-count.” He shrugged. “But bring the gun if it makes you feel better.”
Audley reached under the counter, grabbed a silencer and a second clip for the FNP .45 he carried. He had the feeling he was about to get involved in something he was going to regret. The Prospects never told the whole truth, that made things complicated. The fact that his brother was sent to hire him meant that this was serious. Whatever Aesop wasn’t telling him had to be bad. The Prospects didn’t call in one of the most violent of latents unless they planned on a massacre.
When he stood back up Aesop had a smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth. “I was authorized to pay you triple what you asked for.”
“I figured,” Audley smirked in return, “but I didn’t say I wouldn’t shoot you.”
Available on Amazon.