Please enjoy a deleted scene from my paranormal thriller, Birth of a Vixen, book 1 in the Shadow Faith series
Tracking werewolves under a harvest moon through a soy field was not my idea of good time. It was a job. It put fuel in the Winnebago. But a dark suspicion threatened in my gut as if to say, ‘Angela, you need to stop. Now.’ There was no need for a premonition. I knew how much of a shitstorm we walked into. I felt it in my bones.
Guillermo stalked tracks a few feet ahead of me towards a red barn. His black pants brushed the crops and kicked up a fresh earthy aroma. He had rolled the cuff of his white button down up his forearm, revealing silver-plated vambrace. His slicked-back black hair reminded me of men’s fashion in the fifties. The armor and double barrel, over-under shotgun marred the old-fashioned family-man demeanor.
Kaelanna walked beside him. Her fiery red curls bobbed in a high ponytail as she double-checked her six. “You good?” She squared her shoulders, as if it were necessary. She wore a stiff jean jacket. It came with square shoulders. “Cause if you ain’t, I’m taking back my gun until Thais comes out.”
My vision tunneled at the mere mention of my sire’s name. I shook back my haunt. This was my first mission in six months. It was normal for Thais to take control and go crazy on whatever creature we were hired to hunt. But Guillermo, the fearless leader of El Diablo Cebo, insisted I learn to track. “No. I’m cool. Just lost my train of thought.”
“Well, keep it together.”
I lowered my Smith and Weston 9mm and gave her a limp salute. “Yes ma’am.”
She grabbed the base of my blond ponytail and cranked my neck back. She bore fangs and hissed. This close my fearful childlike face reflected in her amber eyes. No, not mine. I took solace in remembering the feelings were mine but not the face.
A howl cut through the autumn air. It silenced crickets and field mice. The hair on my arms rose when a second and a third howl joined the ensemble cast. A pair of eyes, lost in a silhouette so large a lion would have been jealous by the head size, refracted light from a lamppost attached to a large, shabby barn. A snarl made me dare a glance behind us. In the full light of the moon a female werewolf’s brown coat stood on end. Beside her was an even bigger male werewolf with a black coat.
“Kae?” I whispered.
“You have my full support.”
“That’s more like it.” She sprayed the coupled hounds with silver tipped bullets from her sub-machine gun. They dodged and weaved through the field. The bitch yelped before she stumbled in the dirt. The magazine clicked empty.
The black beast charged for Kaelanna. Fortunate for her I was in the way. I aimed the 9mm. The shot went wide. I next shot hit the werewolf’s shoulder, but it didn’t stop him. He leapt into the air.
The co-founder of El Diablo Cebo pushed down the back of my neck, she forced me to duck with her. The wolf landed between us and Guillermo. It snarled and snapped. A metallic scent caught an updraft. Acting tough only got him so far, but the scent of his fresh blood gave away the extent of the injury.
Guillermo pulled off a shotgun blast at the bitch. The buckshot kicked up a dirt cloud. “Stay.”
The black werewolf favored his right leg as he circled back. I followed each step down the barrel of my gun. Saliva dripped from his jowls.
“Good puppy. We won’t hurt you.” Guillermo said.
“A little late. Wouldn’t you agree?” A man with a deep commanding voice riddled a French accent exited the barn door.
“Lord Thromdin?” Out the corner of my eye I saw my leader lower his shotgun.
He made a proud open armed gesture. He had straight, shoulder length hair. It was a dark brown that almost appeared black if not for highlights. Big hazel eyes studied us over high, smiling cheekbones and full lips. A hawk nose cast a shadow across the right side of wide face. His hunter green button down shirt and blue jeans were pressed. Lord Thromdin’s shoulders were wide for a man of his short stature. “The one and only.”
I pointed the gun at the ground. My target staggered towards the barn. Once at his Master’s feet the werewolf sat on his hind legs.
Kaelanna cursed under her breath. She got down on one knee. A thwap to my shin instructed me to follow suit. I couldn’t stare at the ground for more than a second. How often did a young vampire meet a Chancellor of the High Council for the Cabal Ministry and under good terms? Almost never.
Guillermo went to one knee, and laid the shotgun before him. “Your Majesty, I apologize. We were…”
“Ordered to hunt down my pets. I know. Who do you think put out the hit?”
“May I be so bold to ask why a lord hired a team of assassins to hunt his pets?” Guillermo lowered his head.
“Like all things in life this was a test.” He stroked the werewolf’s head. “I’m looking for experts in your profession for a special assignment. I am glad to say you passed where others have failed.”
“Thank you, my lord.” Guillermo nodded his head as he bowed farther.
Thromdin tilted his head to one side. His smile faltered. “Thais?”
“No, my lord, my name is Angela Vista of the Vadimas House.”
He squinted his large eyes and sniffed the air. He nodded to himself. Our gazes locked. “Come here, neophyte.”
The command in his voice called to my blood. My muscles tensed. I rocked against the magnetic pull of his power. I would have walked on my own but the force of his will made me hesitate. It reminded me too much of Thais. Which I learned a long time ago to stay the fuck away from.
“Interesting.” He pocketed his hands.
Kaelanna glared at me from the corner of her eye like a mother would do to an abstinent teen. “What are you doing?”
“You’re doin’ something. Whatever it is, stop it and get your ass over there.”
“No way.” Which meant I was doing something. Though I had no idea how.
Thromdin dropped his hands to his side. “You dare dishonor a member on the Cabal Ministry’s High Court.”
I bowed my head. “No, my lord. Please forgive my paranoia.” And for having the audacity to shrug off a command by a vampire as powerful as you, which I was glad I didn’t say out loud.
“Paranoia can be a good, but it’s only justified if someone truly wants to kill you.” He snapped his fingers. The uninjured werewolf trotted to his side. A smirk wormed up one side of his face. “Fetch.”
“That won’t be necessary.”
The wolf’s paws pounded the ground with each energized step. I was amazed by how her salt and pepper coat shimmered until she barreled me over. My gun flew off somewhere.
I brought my arms up to protect my face. She snapped and pawed me. Deep scratches and spittle ran down my exposed forearms. I didn’t dare fight back. Her jowls were bigger than my head. Then wolfy snagged the collar of my yellow tank top and dragged me face down to the Chancellor.
“Next time you do this to somebody could you at least eat a doggy treat first. Your breath stinks.” She shook me like a chew toy. A cry almost squeaked out.
She plopped me in front of Thromdin. Dirt stained my face and outfit. I wanted to look halfway presentable, but that wasn’t the point. I bet he wanted me embarrassed after what I did.
He grabbed my chin, forced me to look him in the eye. “Angela Vista of the Vadimas House you will come the next time I order it, yes.”
“Yes, my lord.”
He rocked back on his heels. “You look exactly like her, from the bright blue eyes to the dimpled chin. Artyoms never cease to amaze me. You turned your precious new plaything into Thais’ doppelganger. And your work…” He shook his head. “Flawless. I swear the craftsman ship of House Artyom could beat any plastic surgeon’s skills.”
“Thank you, my lord.” They said in unison.
“If I didn’t know any better I’d swear you were Thais. But I know she’s dead.” He dropped my chin. “I can see the appeal of recreating a dead Primus, but why Thais?”
My leader remembered he was supposed to be fearless and stood up. “Because she lives on within her.”
A pit of dread coiled in my gut. Thromdin’s brow furrowed. Guillermo sold me up like a super-secret gadget to one of the most powerful vampires in the United States. He might as well have put me on display, ‘Ladies and gentleman tonight’s special is the Swiss Army Angela, complete with Thais cubby.’
“Really?” The High Lord knelt in front of me. “Thais, are really you in there?”
A surge of power coursed throughout my body. I imagined what it did to my eyes, a glow or a spark. Either way it answered his question well enough for him.
“You sick, sadistic bitch. I can’t believe it.” He placed a hand on my shoulder. “My sincere condolences for you, sweet neophyte. How do you cope with such a burden?”
Did he really want an answer? Did he want me to tell him how much I despised the reflection in the mirror? Or how every night, if I thought God listened, I’d pray to find some way to exorcise the person who ruined my life back to the hell she belonged? No, he didn’t want to hear any of that. “Its frustrating.”
“I’m sure it is. How about I give you something to focus some of that frustration on?”
My lips spread into a twisted smile that didn’t meet my eyes. I wasn’t a violent person by nature, but he offered work. I could tell when he watched that fake smile that hate was what he wanted from me. He wanted to hire us before he knew about Thais anyway. This made him sign the check that much faster. So, I asked the question. “Who do we have to kill?”