Chapter - 1 | Sample

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Blood was the essence to his madness.

The hunt was on. The adrenaline in his veins kept the creature thrilled. He found no delight in mundane things. What mattered was the chase.

And the kill.

While his initial thought suggested snagging a human for a quick snack, something changed. Though rain hindered his sense of smell by converging everything together, a persistent scent that stood out caught his attention. One that made him falter before taking the life of an earlier prey. The lucky bastard would live tonight thanks to the enriching and enticing aroma that pulled him its way.

Hunting in the enemy's territory was such a turn on, particularly this wannabe victim who smelled like honeysuckle. Boot-clad feet planted in heavy mud as the hungry predator tilted his head back. His nostrils flared as his senses tingled with the need to devour whoever carried the tantalizing sweetness in their blood. A flavor that begged for death. One plea he would gladly fulfill.

Eyes that saw through the night, aligned in the direction his nose led him, bringing him to a dilapidated building made up of brick and mortar. His tongue flicked out and slid over gleaming teeth, careful of the fangs that sharpened with the thought and anticipation of draining the prey.

But as he stepped forth, his head twisted toward an invading pungent smell.

Dogs. And not one that could be shaken off easily.

Chapped lips peeled back and a defensive hiss slipped out with a flash of his fangs. At war with his desire to feed and the need to flee, he looked toward the building, then retreated to the woods and escaped into the darkness.

***

Mia sighed, looking at the papers piled on her table. She had been working on her thesis for the past couple of hours, and she needed a break before she started seeing letters everywhere. Having chronic fatigue syndrome amid finals was not something she wanted.

Her hands reached up and rubbed at strained eyes. They were probably bloodshot given how much they stung. She blinked the clock into focus. Half-past seven and she was nowhere near finished with her assignments.

Great.

On that note, she went back to focusing on the task at hand. Being an honors student meant having a boatload of work.

Her stomach all but roared a few minutes later, reminding her she hadn't eaten in the past six hours. Her kitchen stared back, appearing just as soulless as she felt. She'd forgotten to restock it. Not that she cooked much to begin with, but throwing ramen noodles into a pot sounded a lot better than putting in the extra energy to get dressed and stroll through the streets to hunt down a place of choice.

Her stomach rumbled again, giving a final warning before it cannibalized on itself. "Okay, I'm leaving," she told herself as she headed to get changed.

Mia locked the door behind her as she stepped out, rolling her blonde hair into a sloppy bun. Distant thunder and the moist air promised rain showers. Even more reason for her to remain in. She wasn't looking forward to being wet and cold. Probably explained why her building that housed nearly fifty residents was so quiet. It appeared as if they received the survival notice while it missed her.

Despite how she felt about freezing in near rainfall, she reveled in the smell of crisp clarity after being holed up most of the day. The best part about the rain was the enriching scent it carried––of water and earth––the flourishing scent of life. Who would have thought mud would smell so aromatic?

Pushing her fists deep into the coat pockets before they froze off, she headed toward a local diner nearby. Dim streetlights illuminated the outline of buildings lined on the side of the empty street. Rock music drifted from one of the worn out apartment complexes. One of the lights in front of the nearby apartment flickered. The eerie glow of lights combined with the rolling thunder gave a haunted touch to her surroundings. There weren't many shops in this part of town. Students and bachelors preferred this area for its cheaper rents.

Idly, Mia thought about her father. Where was he? What was he doing? A normal person might just pull out their phone and call him. But that wasn't their relationship. She was used to him not speaking with her often. Occasionally, little signs of his love for her would appear. A note. A sweater. And, books among the others.

Sounded more like a butler than a father. Still, that was all it took to warm her heart.

The only time they ever shared a conversation that lasted longer than a minute was when she graduated from high school. It annoyed her when he gave her a credit card, along with a list of rules to abide by. Guess it was easier to keep an eye on her while she was still under the same roof as him. College was a different story. If it wasn't for her career of choice, her father would have been the hammer and the anvil to leading a robotic lifestyle.

There had been a list of curfews that alternated around daylight savings and seasonal changes. People not to associate herself with—which comprised of the entire student body and then some—and things not to do in her free time. Clubbing, hang-outs, even driving around with anyone that wasn't on public transportation, were serious offenses to her father. The only thing he didn't monitor was her diet.

Overprotective much? To most, perhaps. Paranoid was her answer—

She bumped into something bringing her back into the present.

"Watch it," the person snapped. A big guy from what she saw. Tall with dark hair and definitely the sensitive type based on the way he glared at her.

Seriously? A wrinkle on his shirt bothered him that much?

"Sorry," she said with little meaning. He could've watched himself too. His pal standing behind him seemed the livelier of the duo. Handsome too with his blond hair and spring green eyes. Yeah, she supposed even Mr. Grumpy fit in that category, with his darker features.

And whew, were they tall as heck, towering over her like skyscrapers. She wasn't short to begin with, but their height and aura seemed. . .otherworldly.

Dangerous.

They sidestepped around her, moving on ahead. She continued on, involuntarily following their lead. Her mundane thought process halting as her instinct suddenly woke up. It was a shrieking alarm that forced her to keep her eyes on them. The same sensation you get when walking into the woods and coming across a mountain lion or a wolf. You stand your ground and hold your guard.

Goldilocks turned his head over a shoulder, a glint in his eyes that didn't seem so nice anymore. Her internal alarm dinged off electric signals all over her, and she almost expected them to do something. But they got in their muscle car parked along the sidewalk, the windows tinted so darkly it obscured her view. The warnings still didn't go away, and she doubted if they were watching her. Only when the angry red Mustang came to life and backed out onto the black asphalt did her senses relax.

Something was off. They were wrong. They were all wrong. And she hadn't the faintest idea why or how.

She somehow perceived that.

Her stomach rumbled in the silence of the aftermath. Mia shook her head to clear her concern and schooled her expressions before entering the diner.

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