Hello, everyone. Please give a warm welcome to Jeaniene Frost who brings you goodies. She is too modest to mention it but when the ARCs of this book went up on Netgalley, people grabbed them so fast, our agency had to put an emergency stop to it.
Thanks so much to House Andrews for helping me celebrate THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE‘s release on Tuesday, and hi, BDH! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the author of the Night Huntress series (Cat and Bones), the Night Prince series (Vlad and Leila) the Night Rebel series (Ian and Veritas), and the Broken Destiny series (Ivy and Adrian.) I’ve been lucky enough to hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller list several times, and to have my works published in over twenty countries.
That’s the boring stuff. The fun stuff is that I come bearing a big chunk of free reading from THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE, plus free books and e-gift cards, so let’s get right to it!
I’ve said before that some of my favorite things are books and money (and dogs, but I can hardly give those away online, right?). So, I chose books and money for my giveaway. Here’s what’s up for grabs.
6 winners will receive a copy of THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE in print or ebook. This part of the giveaway is open to both US and International readers.
- US readers will have a choice of an ebook or a print book. The books will be unsigned due to COVID; however, US readers can request a bookplate (a sticker with an autograph,) which will be mailed to them.
- International readers will receive a paperback via the Book Depository.
1 winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon or B&N egift card, winner’s choice which. This part of the contest is open to US residents only.
1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon or B&N egift card, winner’s choice which. This part of the contest is open to US residents only.
How to enter:
THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE features several paranormal creatures such as vampires, ghosts, ghouls, and a half-vampire. To enter, comment on this post and tell us which paranormal creature you would be, if you had to be one, and why? The paranormal creatures do not have to be limited to Night Huntress universe. You can choose any creature from any mythology or fictional world.
One comment per person. Winners will be chosen randomly. If you do not put the country of residence in your comment, your entry will not count.
You must enter by Wednesday, April 27th at 12pm Central.
No entries after that deadline will be accepted.
All winners will be notified by email and on the blog within 24 hours. If we do not hear back from you by Saturday, April 30th, 2022 at 12:00 pm Central, we will chose different winner, so please keep an eye on the blog and your inbox.
And now, to the book itself
There are two sides to every story–and the sizzling British alpha vampire, Bones, has a lot to say…
Ever wondered what Bones was thinking and feeling when he and half vampire Cat Crawfield first met? Or how their story might differ if he were the one telling it? Now, relive the beginning of Cat and Bones’ bestselling love story through Bones’ point of view, which reveals a darker, sexier take on their early days, as well as a deeper dive into Bones’ past, the vampire world, and other things that Cat didn’t see when their story was told only through her eyes in Halfway to the Grave. Cat had her say. It’s Bones’ turn.
“Even if you’ve never read any of the other books in Frost’s sexy, action-packed series (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Anne Rice fans), this darker, even sexier reboot is a perfect starting point.” Apple Books on THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE. Voted one of the “Best Books of April” by Apple editors!
Order in ebook at: Amazon, B&N, Apple Books, Kobo, or your favorite retailer.
Order in print at: Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, Bookshop, or your favorite retailer.
Order in audio at: Audible.com (other audio retailer sites will go live on April 26th)
(Hi, Ilona here: I’ve read this book and you can read it as a stand alone. It actually makes a great jumping in point to the series. )
Since I’m a huge fan of “try before you buy,” below you can read the first 12 chapters for free to see if this is your cup of tea. Enjoy!
THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE
copyright Jeaniene Frost, all rights reserved.
Tonight, Bones hunted.
Devon was his prey. According to Bones’s sources, Devon ran the books for an undead cabal that operated from Mexico all the way to this poor imitation of a high-end nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. Devon was supposed to be here tonight, hence Bones sitting in the frayed, fake-velvet booths of the club’s VIP area. The music was atrocious, and so loud that the humans had to shout in order to hear each other. With a vampire’s heightened senses, the annoying beat felt as if it were being pumped directly into Bones’s skull.
He was, as the cliché went, getting too old for this. At least when it came to frequenting human nightclubs. When it came to hunting, Bones’s two-centuries-plus was to his advantage. The same held true for his other pursuits.
One example of those pursuits flashed a smile at him as she came nearer. She was attractive enough, if he ignored the heavy chemical scent of perfume she’d doused herself with. But he couldn’t ignore the way her eyes were dilated from something other than feminine interest.
“Hi,” she purred, leaning over his table to better display her décolleté. “What do you say to buying me a drink, sexy?”
Shagging might be his favorite pastime, but Bones never touched a woman under the influence of drugs. She was also now blocking his view of the club’s entrance. If Devon slipped in, Bones wouldn’t know it. Normally, he’d let her down gently, but lives were on the line.
“I’d say lay off whatever drugs made your pupils larger than olives,” he replied with a rudeness meant to send her away.
She huffed and straightened, clearing his line of sight to the door. “Bastard,” she snapped before stalking off.
Bones hefted his glass in salute. “Right you are.”
Two more women and a man made similar advances over the next hour. He sent them away as well. He’d just rebuffed his latest admirer when a glimpse of almost luminescent skin caught his eye.
Vampire, was Bones’s first thought as he studied the woman entering the club. Her hair was a crimson splash that hid her face as she waited while the bouncer checked her identification. Must be a young-looking vampire, for the bouncer to double-check her license. After a moment, she was allowed to pass.
Bones only caught glimpses of her as she threaded her way through the crowd. She wore oversized denim trousers with construction-style pockets, long black gloves, and a nondescript white top with elbow-length sleeves. If not for its scooped neckline, he wouldn’t have caught sight of her distinctive skin, especially since her long red tresses shielded most of her face.
Push your hair back, Bones thought. Show me your face…
Wait, who cared what the vampire looked like, if she was even a vampire at all? He had his doubts now. Yes, her skin held that faint tinge of incandescence that usually meant “vampire,” but she moved like a human, and she also had too much flush in her skin for a vampire’s stationary pulse.
Must be a human with unusually lovely skin, nothing more. Bones finished his whisky and left cash for his bill. A tour of the club was now in order. Devon could’ve slipped in when he was distracted by the redhead. That wouldn’t do.
An hour later, Bones was back in the booths with their elevated view of the entrance. Devon hadn’t shown up yet, and it was approaching midnight. If this were a vampire club, the evening would just be starting, but this was a human establishment so it would only be open another two hours.
Perhaps his intelligence on Devon had been wrong. Vampires had been known to lie to stop the pain when a silver knife was shoved into their sternum-
Ash blond hair caught Bones’s eye as a man walked into the club. He moved with distinct, purposeful grace, and his skin held the same faint tinge of luminescence as Bones’s own.
The redhead he’d admired earlier suddenly came toward Bones with an unsteady gait. Before Bones could send her away, she dropped into the seat across the table from him.
“Hello handsome,” she said, a faint slur turning a poor impression of a seductive voice into a terrible one.
“Not now,” he replied shortly.
She blinked as if she’d never been rejected before. With her beauty, she probably hadn’t. Dark red brows arched over storm-cloud gray eyes while very little makeup graced her high cheekbones, elegant nose, and luscious, full lips. No perfume masked her scent, either, allowing him to catch a subtle mix of sweet cream, vanilla, and…cherries.
“Excuse me?” she said.
He could no longer see Devon now. Lovely or no, he wouldn’t let her cost him years of hunting.
“I’m busy, so off you go.”
She touched his hand. Her warmth erased any doubt as to her humanity, as did the heartbeat he could now hear from her nearness. She stammered out something he ignored until she finished it with “Want to fuck?”
As soon as she said it, a horrified look crossed her features. Her hand also paused midway to her mouth as if she’d been about to physically attempt stuffing the words back.
His lips curled. Not afraid to say what she wanted even if it embarrassed her, was she? Under other circumstances, he’d make her forget that embarrassment in the nearest, darkest corner, but now wasn’t the time.
“Bad timing, luv. Be a good bird and fly away. I’ll find you later.”
At that, she got up and walked away, shaking her head. Bones didn’t spare her another look. His gaze was all for the blond vampire moving through the crowd with the arrogance of an apex predator surrounded by prey.
Bones flew up to the ceiling. His all-black attire plus the darkness around the booths meant that no one noticed. Once there, he went behind the network of lights. Anyone who looked up would only see the constant flash of strobes or the roving beams of spotlights. Not the dark figure behind them.
His perch gave him a clear view of Devon. The other vampire paused by several women during his slow sweep of the club, leaning in to catch their scent, brush their skin, or run his fingers through their hair. Devon made it seem subtle, almost accidental, but shoppers in a grocery store tested their produce in much the same way.
Devon was picking out his next meal.
Bones’s jaw tightened when he saw Devon catch a glimpse of the redhead. He’d hoped she’d leave the club after his refusal, but she’d done a circle of the place as if looking for him, and then sat at the bar. When Devon saw her, he stopped talking to the petite blond he’d been conversing with and stared.
Distractingly lovely, isn’t she? Bones thought, feeling an odd twinge of anger. Yes, vampires were territorial over their possessions or their people, but the redhead was neither to him. Still, that twinge grew when Devon left the blonde and went straight over to her.
He couldn’t hear what Devon said over the pulsating music. He could only watch as Devon leaned behind the redhead and spoke. She turned around, annoyance clear on her features.
Good. Send him on his way!
A bright smile wreathed her face, turning up the dial on her already irresistible beauty. Whatever she said had Devon sitting next to her and signaling the bartender for a drink.
Anger surged again. Bones told himself it was fueled by sympathy, not more irrational jealousy.
Bad choice, pet. He intends to eat you in an entirely different way than I did.
Her choices soon worsened. Within half an hour, the redhead was following Devon out the door. Bones slid across the ceiling to a corner, and then jumped down and left the club. Once outside, he flew high to avoid being spotted and kept his aura tamped down so that Devon couldn’t detect it.
The redhead could barely walk as she followed Devon to his car. Clearly, she’d had too much to drink. Devon didn’t care. He smirked as he helped her into the passenger seat, and then climbed into the driver’s side and pulled away.
Bones stayed high as he followed the Volkswagen. No surprise, Devon drove to a deserted, wooded area. Bones dropped lower, tensing when the car stopped. Almost immediately, the passenger door opened, and the redhead stumbled out.
Bones was low enough to hear Devon laugh when she staggered away, screaming. Drunk as she was, she only made it a few meters before she tripped and fell. Not that she would have been able to escape Devon even if she’d been sober. No human could outrun a vampire.
Bones dropped even lower as Devon walked over to the girl. His back was to Bones, but from the new green glow bathing the redhead’s features, he’d released the inhuman light in his gaze. Seeing it, she whimpered and crawled backward faster.
Don’t fret, luv, Bones thought grimly. I’m coming. Just need to catch him unawares so you don’t get hurt in the process.
“Don’t hurt me!” she cried out when Devon knelt next to her and grabbed her by the back of the neck.
“It will only hurt for a moment,” Devon hissed.
Bones braced against the nearest tree trunk, about to springboard off it to maximize his speed to knock Devon away-
The redhead’s hand whipped out, ramming something into Devon’s chest. Before Bones could react, she gave it a vicious twist, and Devon collapsed on top of her. She kept twisting until Devon shriveled into a vampire’s true state of death.
Bones was too stunned to do anything other than stare.
What the bloody hell was this?
“You were right,” she said in a tone that no longer bore a hint of a drunken slur. “It only hurt for a moment.”
Bones’s disbelief gave way to anger. All the answers he’d sought for the past several years, gone. All because of a lovely, murdering redhead who’d fooled both him and Devon, though only one of them had lived to regret it.
She shoved Devon’s body aside. No hysterics, no remorse, and she’d shown no hesitation before stabbing Devon, either. If she had, Bones could have stopped her. But no, she’d been swift and merciless. This wasn’t her first kill, especially with how brisk and businesslike she was as she opened the trunk and hefted Devon’s body into it.
Little chit must be a professional. He’d be sure to use that to his advantage when he met her again. He’d been her first intended victim, after all.
I promised to find you. I’ll keep that promise.
She whistled as she closed the trunk and got back into Devon’s car. Bones flew high and followed her. He had no idea who she was, but he was going to find out.
The redhead drove back to the club, where she parked Devon’s car next to an old Ford truck at the far side of the club’s parking lot. She got out and quickly transferred Devon’s body from the trunk to the truck bed and covered him with black plastic sheeting. Then, she left Devon’s car and drove off in her truck. Smart. Now, Devon’s car wouldn’t be traced back to her murder scene, and anyone looking for Devon would assume he’d left his vehicle at the club himself after catching a ride.
She drove for about an hour, until she reached a cherry orchard in a small, rural town. Once there, she chopped Devon’s head off and buried him on the far edge of the orchard. Then, she went inside the lone house on the property and slept so soundly Bones could hear her snores from his nearby tree perch.
He didn’t sleep. He spent the rest of the early morning hours looking up everything he could find on the mysterious redhead. Thanks to the orchard’s name painted on a faded sign in front of the property, it was easy.
Catherine Kathleen Crawfield appeared to be a normal college girl whose only oddity was her utter lack of social media presence. The only online images Bones could find of her were yearbook pictures and an old family photo on the Crawfield Cherry Orchard’s official website. The orchard was owned by Catherine’s grandparents, who were as boring a couple as Bones had ever researched. Nothing interesting popped up regarding Catherine’s mum, either, and her father was unknown. On paper, the Crawfields were no more than a family of cherry farmers going back five generations.
Yet Catherine was a vampire killer. If he hadn’t seen it himself, let alone smelled evidence of other kills buried in the family orchard, he wouldn’t believe it, but there it was. How did Devon fit in? Catherine had only focused on him after Bones had rebuffed her. Had Bones been Catherine’s intended target all along? Or had Devon? Bones’s brown hair was currently dyed blond, and Devon was a blond, so Catherine could have confused one of them for the other.
Or had Catherine been after both of them? The head of the cabal Bones was investigating could have found out that Bones was after Devon. Perhaps he’d decided to get rid of the pair of them as a precaution? If so, a human woman seemed a poor choice of assassins, though Devon would doubtless disagree.
Well, if the lady wanted to kill him, he’d let her try.
Catherine went to the same club the next night. As soon as she entered, she did what Bones realized was a sweep of the premises. When she didn’t find what she was looking for, she sat at the bar. Bones was behind her before she could order a drink.
“I’m ready to fuck now.”
A line offensive enough to send all except a person with ulterior motives running. Last chance to show you’re a lamb instead of a wolf, Catherine.
“What?” she gasped out, spinning around. Then, the outrage in her expression died as she recognized him. Oddly, she flushed as if embarrassed by remembering what she’d said. Then her chin lifted and determination filled her gaze.
“Yes, well…drink first?”
“Don’t bother,” he said, waving away the bartender she’d started to hail. “Let’s go.”
“Now?” She looked startled.
When she hesitated, he said, “Changed your mind?” and turned as if to leave.
She grabbed her purse and practically lunged toward him. Not a lamb at all, then.
“No, no. Lead the way,” she said.
As if he’d turn his back on her even once tonight. His arm swept out. “Ladies first.”
She glanced over her shoulder at him so much, he was surprised she didn’t trip on her way from the club to the parking lot. Once they were outside, she opened her mouth as if to speak, but Bones beat her to it.
“Well? Get your ride, and let’s be off.”
“My ride?” she all but stammered. “I don’t have a ride. Where’s your car?”
“I drove a bike here,” he lied. “Fancy a ride on it?”
“A motorcycle?” she said with such obvious consternation, he stifled a laugh. Was she imaging how difficult it would be to transport his body on one of those? “Um, we should take my vehicle instead. It’s over there.”
She began to walk toward the old Ford, staggering after a few steps as if remembering that she was supposed to act drunk.
“Thought you didn’t have a ride?” Bones called out.
She turned around, her expression saying “Oh shit” louder than words. Sweet bleedin’ hell, she was terrible at this.
“I forgot it was here, is all,” she said in a too-bright tone. Then, she started to slur her words again. “Think I drank too much. You want to drive?”
“No thanks,” he said at once.
Anger flashed across her features before she covered it with a smile. “Really, I think you should drive. I’d hate to wrap us around a tree.”
And be distracted while she launched a new attempt to murder him? “If you want to beg off until another night…” he said, turning away again.
“No!” she replied with such obvious desperation, he almost laughed. She must have realized she’d revealed too much because at once she tried to backtrack.
“I mean, you’re so good-looking and”–her brow furrowed as she quickly tried to think up more flattery–“I really want to get it on.”
This time, he couldn’t stifle his laughter. She blanched, and he almost pitied her, except for how she’d twist silver into his heart the first chance she got.
His tongue traced the inside of his lip as he stared at her until she flinched. But he only said, “Right, then, let’s be off.” Relief filled her face until he added, “You’re driving.”
With that, Bones climbed into the passenger seat of her pickup truck. Your move.
She shifted on her feet for a few moments. Then, decision made, she got into the truck.
Bones didn’t take his eyes off her as she drove. She must have felt it, but she didn’t look at him. Instead, her breathing hitched, her heart rate sped up, and her scent wavered between fear and resolve. Didn’t she know vampires could scent emotions? She should have worn perfume. The harsh chemical odor would’ve helped mask her true feelings.
Ten minutes into the silent standoff, she said “What’s your name?” in a sharp, tense tone.
Trying to verify your target? “Does it matter?”
She finally looked his way. Uncertainty filled her features before determination tightened her jaw.
“I just wanted to know. Mine’s Cat,” she said as she left the freeway for a gravel road.
“Cat, hmm?” he mocked. “From where I sit, you look more like a Kitten.”
She shot him an irritated glance. “It’s Cat. Cat Raven.”
“Whatever you say, Kitten Tweety,” Bones drawled.
She slammed on the brakes. “You got a problem, mister?”
I don’t, but you do. Temper, temper. “No problem, pet. Have we stopped here for good? Is this where you want to shag?”
She flushed again before looking away. Perhaps this part wasn’t an act. His would-be murderess was a prude? Priceless.
“Um, no,” she said. “Further up. It’s prettier there.”
And well off the main road so no one could stumble across them. Prude or no, she was still doing her level best to kill him. Pity he’d have to disappoint her.
“I just bet it is, luv,” Bones said with a chuckle.
After a few minutes, she stopped at the edge of a lake. Bones didn’t move. He only watched with more amusement as she fidgeted and kept glancing at the pocket on her right thigh. Even though her trousers were oversized, Bones could still see the outline of her weapon. She couldn’t pull it out without being obvious, and without the element of surprise, he could snatch it from her before she could raise it to stab him.
She had to know that. How would she attempt to distract him? She couldn’t play the helpless victim if she wasn’t being attacked, and Bones wasn’t moving a muscle. Frustration nearly boiled off her as the minutes ticked by.
Bones hid his smile. She had no idea what to do now, did she?
“Don’t you want to go outside and…shag?” she said at last.
Bones didn’t attempt to conceal his grin. “Oh, no. Right here. Love to do it in a truck.”
He could hear her teeth grind as she said “Well…” while doubtless searching for an excuse to leave his sight long enough to pull her weapon. “There’s not much room in here,” she settled on, and began to open her door.
“Plenty of room, Kitten,” Bones replied. “I’ll stay here.”
“Don’t call me Kitten,” she said, anger sharpening both her tone and her scent.
Lucifer’s bouncing balls, she had to be the worst faux-seductress ever! Devon should be spinning in his grave over letting her slay him.
“Take off your clothes,” Bones said while raking her with a gaze. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Now the red in her cheeks was from rage. “Excuse me?”
“You weren’t going to shag me with your clothes on, were you, Kitten?” he taunted her. “Guess all you’ll need is your knickers off, then. Come on. Don’t take all bloody night.”
She shot him a look of pure hatred before her expression turned crafty. “You first.”
She thought modesty would be his downfall? Bones grinned.
“Shy bird, are you? Didn’t peg you for it, what with walking up to me and practically begging for a shag. How about this? We’ll take our clothes off at the same time.”
Her expression mottled with more fury, but either she gave up on her attempt to kill him, or she continued with the seductress charade. She chose the charade and began to unbutton her trousers. When Bones undid his and pulled up his shirt, her fingers actually shook.
Once again, he almost pitied her. Then he saw her hand slip to the weapon in her pocket. As soon as she touched it, her trembling eased. She wanted him dead so much that the prospect calmed her.
She’d made her move. My turn.
“Look here, luv, see what I have for you,” Bones said, pulling his cock out.
Her cheeks flamed and she looked away. It was all the distraction he needed.
His fist shot out and connected with her head. She slumped into his arms, her right hand still curled around the weapon she’d tried so hard to murder him with.
Bones pulled it out. A wooden stake? That wouldn’t kill any vampire…wait. It was heavier than it should be.
Bones broke off a piece of the wood…and smiled.
“Well,” he said to his unconscious companion. “Aren’t you full of surprises, Kitten?”
Hours later, she regained consciousness and immediately threw up. The unshaded lamp between them meant she didn’t see his wince. Concussions were nasty things. Good thing he’d chained her in a standing position instead of flat on her back. Otherwise, her vomit might have gone back down her throat.
Bones waited until she stopped heaving before he came into the bright circle of light. “I thawt I thaw a putty tat.” A sarcastic Tweety Bird impression was the least she deserved after trying to kill him. “I did, I did thee a putty tat!”
Anger flashed across her features. Good. The concussion wasn’t addling her wits, then. Time to get answers. “Now, luv, let’s get down to business. Who do you work for?”
She had the nerve to look surprised. Then, disappointingly, she lied. “I don’t work for anyone.”
“Bollocks,” he said, and came nearer.
Her heart rate increased as she glanced down at herself. He’d stripped her of her weapons and outer garments while she was unconscious, leaving her only in her bra and knickers. Sadly, her clothing had revealed nothing except an extra silver weapon shaped like a cross, of all things, and her mobile only had texts and phone calls to and from her mother.
But someone had taught her how to kill vampires. Someone had sent her after him and Devon. If it was who Bones thought it was, she was protecting the same mass murderer he’d chased across two different countries.
He couldn’t allow that, but he’d ask her nicely one more time. “Who do you work for?”
“No one,” she lied again.
The hard way, then. He slapped her, hiding his distaste for it behind a deep scowl.
She glared at him and snapped, “Go to hell!”
Why wouldn’t she tell him who her boss was? Was she in love with the sod? Or was she so greedy that she didn’t care how many people suffered, as long as she received whatever reward she’d been promised?
If she were a man, Bones would ask again with his knife, but he couldn’t bring himself to torture a woman, even one that had tried to kill him. Still, she was a murderer at best and a conspirator in a cartel that had murdered hundreds at worst. He gave her a firmer slap.
“Once again, who do you work for?”
She spat out the blood he’d drawn onto his feet. “No one, ass munch!”
Laughter burst from him. He hadn’t been called such a creatively vile name in decades. It merited giving her another chance to talk without more unpleasantness. Still, she couldn’t think he’d gone soft. That’s why he let her see his fangs before he leaned in very close.
“I know you’re lying,” he said, brushing those fangs near her neck. Her whole body went rigid and her pulse tripled in speed. “Because last night, I went looking for a bloke,” Bones whispered against her skin. “When I spotted him, I saw the same lovely red-haired girl who’d been rubbing on me leaving with him. I followed, thinking I’d sneak up on him while he was occupied. Instead, I watched you plug a stake into his heart, and what a stake!”
He held up her impressive weapon between them. Her eyes widened when she saw it.
“Wood on the outside, silver on the inside,” Bones said, tapping the stake. “Poof, down goes Devon, yet it didn’t stop there. You transported him to your truck, drove home, chopped his head off, and buried him in pieces, all while whistling a merry tune. How in the bloody hell could you do that, hmm?”
With every word, her expression became more stricken. His tone hardened.
“You don’t work for anyone? Then why, when I take a deep whiff here,” he inhaled near her neck, “do I smell something other than human? Faint, but unmistakable. Vampire.”
She flinched at the word. Bones pounced. She needed to know there was no point lying to him anymore.
“You’ve got a boss, you do. Feeds you some of his blood, right? Makes you stronger and faster, but still only human. Us poor vamps never see it coming. All we see is”–he pressed on the vibrating pulse in her neck–“food. Now, for the last time before I forget my manners, tell me who your boss is.”
Anger and hatred soured her scent, but her gaze burned into his with a defiant sort of despair. “I don’t have a boss.” Idiot, her tone added. “You want to know why I smell like a human and a vampire? Because that’s what I am. Years ago, my mother went on a date with what she thought was a nice guy. He turned out to be a vampire, and he raped her. Five months later there was me, premature but fully developed, with a whole slew of funky abilities.”
Ah, Bones thought. She’s unhinged.
Poor lass. Someone should tell her that while modern fiction might have half-breeds aplenty, in reality, the only one that Bones knew of had died nearly six hundred years ago.
“When she finally told me about my father,” Cat went on. “I promised her I’d kill every vampire I found to ensure no one else suffers the way she did. She’s been afraid to leave our home ever since! I hunt for her,” her voice rose to a scream, “and the only thing I regret about dying now is that I didn’t take more of you bloodsuckers with me!”
With that, she closed her eyes and braced.
Bones’s brows rose. Did she think he was about to rip her throat out? As if he’d murder someone barking mad…or was there more to it than that?
Her voice had held the distinct ring of truth. Could a vampire have compelled her to believe such an impossible story? A simple “kill these blokes” order would’ve been easier, but some vampires tended toward the dramatic.
After a few moments, her eyelids peeked open. “Well?” she demanded. “Kill me already, you pathetic suck-neck!”
Bones stifled a laugh. “Ass-munch. Suck-neck. You kiss your mum with that mouth?”
She puffed up in outrage. “Don’t you talk about my mother, murderer! Your kind isn’t fit to speak of her!”
“I’ve seen you do murder,” Bones reminded her, then couldn’t resist adding, “And if what you’re telling me is true, you’re the same kind I am.”
She shook her head so hard, her hair flew. “I am nothing like your kind! You’re all monsters, preying on innocent people and caring nothing about the lives you wreck. The vampires I killed all attacked me. It was just their bad luck that I was ready for them. I might have some of this cursed blood in my veins, but at least I was using it to–”
“Oh, stick a sock in it already.” Bigoted little bird, wasn’t she? “You always ramble on so? No wonder your dates went right for your throat. Can’t say as I blame them.”
Her jaw dropped, and he almost laughed at the look on her face. The Queen couldn’t be more offended if someone had farted on her crumpets. Still, the brief silence was welcome as he continued to weigh whether she was mental or under vampiric compulsion. Now, he gave either possibility fifty-fifty odds.
“I hate to interrupt your sympathy sessions over the other dead vampires,” she said in a scathing tone. “But are you going to be killing me soon or what?”
Mental without a doubt, he thought until he put his mouth near the pounding pulse in her throat. Then, her scent changed his mind. Few humans knew that courage and cowardice smelled the same: like fear. The only difference between the courageous and cowards was whether or not they overcame that fear.
Even with the creature she despised most at her throat, Cat didn’t grovel or try to offer someone else’s life in exchange for her own. She only stiffened as his fangs grazed her skin.
Bravery like that deserved another chance before he drank the answers he needed out of her. He leaned back. She sagged in relief, but he pretended not to notice.
“In a hurry to die, are you?” he asked in a casual way. If she didn’t believe her life was in danger, she’d have no incentive to tell him the truth. “Not before you answer a few more questions.”
Her mouth turned down. “What makes you think I will?”
He had to fight not to smile. She couldn’t know how much he admired her courage. Little chit would only use it against him.
“Believe me, you’ll like it much more if you do,” he said in a suitably menacing tone.
She gulped but said, “What do you want to know? Maybe I’ll tell you.”
This time, he couldn’t stop his smile. It was also getting harder to ignore how her plain cotton knickers hugged her shapely hips, or how her bra had slipped during her struggle.
Before, he hadn’t given her near nakedness a thought beyond ensuring that she had no more weapons. Now that she likely wasn’t a willing participant in the cartel he was hunting, her charms were becoming distracting. He fancied many things about women, but courage outweighed them all, and she had courage to spare.
“Brave little Kitten, I’ll give you that,” he said, tracing his tongue along the inside of his lip. “Right, then. Suppose I believe you’re the offspring of a human and a vampire. Almost unheard of, but we’ll get back to that. Then let’s say I believe you troll clubs hunting us evil deads to avenge your mum. How did you know what to use to kill us?”
Someone had to tell her. If she revealed who, he’d know the vampire who’d compelled her into believing such nonsense.
“It’s not an open secret,” Bones went on. “Most humans think good ol’ wood will do it. But not you. You’re telling me you’ve never dealt with vampires before, except to kill them?” Impossible, his tone stressed.
“You got anything to drink around here?” was her surprising response. “Nothing with clots in it, I mean, or that can be classified as O-negative or B-positive. Hmm?”
Once again, he had to bite back his laughter. He’d been asked–or begged–for many things during an interrogation, but never before had someone dared to request a booze break.
Courage to spare, indeed.
“Thirsty, luv? What a coincidence. So am I.”
The implied threat made her blanch. Bones pulled out a flask and held it to her mouth. As soon as it brushed her lips, she bit the rim, tilted her head back, and emptied all of his good whisky down her throat. She even sighed with regret when she released her bite and the flask dropped back into his hand.
Bones held the bottle upside down. No, not a drop remained. She was a brash, brave, foul-mouthed, murdering drunk, and God help him, he hadn’t found anyone this enticing in centuries.
“If I’d have known you were such a lush, I’d have given you the cheap stuff.” Then, lest she sense the effect she had on him, he added, “Going to go out with a bang, are you?”
Instead of quailing, she managed to shrug. “What’s the matter? Did I ruin my flavor for you? I’m sure I’ll be turning over in my grave worrying that you didn’t like how I tasted. I hope you choke on my blood, you jerk.”
Laughter spilled out of him. If he were in her position, he’d give his interrogator nothing but scathing sarcasm, too.
“Good form, Kitten! But enough stalling. How did you know what to use if no vampire told you?”
She looked away. “I didn’t. Oh, I’d read a hundred books or more about our…your kind after hearing about my father. Some said crosses, sunlight, wood, or silver. It was pure luck, really.” Her tone darkened. “One night, a vampire approached me at a club and then took me for a drive. Of course, he couldn’t have been nicer, right up until he tried to eat me alive. I made up my mind that I was going to kill him or die trying, and the big silver cross dagger was all I had on me. It worked, though it took a bit of doing. So presto, I knew about silver.”
Bones listened, expressionless, but inside, he tipped his hat. Well done, you.
“Later, I found out that wood didn’t work at all. Got a nice scar on the thigh to prove it. The vamp laughed when he saw my stake, too, so clearly, he wasn’t afraid of wood. Then, when I was making caramel apples it occurred to me to hide the silver in something a vampire would think was harmless.” She gave him a baleful look. “Though most of you are so busy eyeing my neck, you don’t even see me pull out my pointy friend.”
He’d started shaking his head at the caramel apples part. By the time she finished, he was almost agog. “You’re telling me caramel apples and books taught you how to kill vampires?”
At her nod, he started to pace. Could she…could she be telling the truth? No vampire in his right mind would make up such a ridiculous story simply to compel a human to kill.
“Then it’s a damn good thing most of the recent generations disklike reading, or we’d all be in serious trouble,” he finished with a sharp laugh. “But how did you know he was a vampire when you saw him?” What were the facts amidst the fiction that another vampire must have implemented in her mind? “Did you not find out until he tried to have an artery party?”
She flinched at how close he’d come. Bones backed up, but only a step. She was too brave to be allowed to feel truly comfortable. That could cause her to think lying was an option.
“I don’t know how I knew. I just did. For starters, your kind looks different. Your skin looks…ethereal, almost. You move differently, more purposeful. And when I’m near you, I feel it in the air, like static electricity.”
He’d been surprised at her perceptiveness about a vampire’s skin and movements. Most humans didn’t notice such things. But when she said she could feel vampires, he was shocked. Only vampires could feel another vampire’s aura.
“Happy now?” she suddenly demanded, her voice cracking a bit. “Heard what you wanted?”
“Almost. How many vampires have you killed? Don’t lie to me, or I’ll know it.”
She paused as if silently counting. Then, “Sixteen, including your friend from last night.”
“Sixteen?” How? She’d failed utterly at being a seductress, and her only other act was being a marginally-believable drunk. “Sixteen vampires you took out yourself with nothing but a stake and your cleavage? Makes me ashamed of my kind, it does.”
Her chin lifted. “I would have killed more if I hadn’t been too young to get into bars, since they’re vampire trolling grounds, not to mention all the times I had to take off when my grandfather got sick.”
A mechanical “ping” came from the other side of the cave, indicating a new text. Bones left to read it. He’d uploaded Cat’s SIM card from her mobile and sent it to his hacker friend, Ted. If there was deleted information on there from Cat’s vampire boss, Ted would find it.
Nothing, Ted’s text read, dashing Bones’s hopes. Most boring phone I’ve ever cracked. U owe me.
Bones’s jaw tightened. Yes, he did, but it left him no closer to answers. Only Catherine had those.
Chains clanged and he heard her grunt. Bones came back to her section of the cave to see her bent forward, straining as she tried to wrest her chains from the wall. He switched the light off to disorient her and chuckled as she cursed him.
“Oh, sorry about that,” he mocked. “Those chains won’t budge. They’re not going anywhere, and neither are you. Good of you to try, though. Hate to think your spirit’s broken already.”
“I hate you,” she said, out of breath from her efforts.
More truth, but not enough. Still, he had another path. A vampire compulsion could be broken by a stronger vampire, and Bones was strong. All it would take was drinking her blood.
“Time’s up, luv,” he said softly.
Her heart hammered when he smoothed her hair back from her neck. His lips thinned. He hated terrifying her, but drinking her blood was the only way to break the hold the other vampire had on her. Who knew what else Cat had been forced to do?
She thought he was about to kill her, but in reality, he was freeing her. If he thought she’d believe him, he’d tell her that. But in case he was wrong about her being under vampiric compulsion and this had been her best acting job yet…
“Last chance, Kitten. Who do you work for? Tell me the truth, and I’ll let you live.”
“I told you the truth,” she gasped out, her pulse vibrating against his lips.
He rested his fangs over it. “I don’t believe you,” he murmured, glancing up to give her one more chance to confess–
Holy Mother of Christ, her eyes.
“Bloody hell, look at your eyes,” Bones breathed out, staggering back.
She said nothing. Just stared at him with eyes that, impossibly, were now the same glowing emerald green as his own.
Bones lunged forward and gripped her head. “Look at your bloody eyes!” he thundered, stunned into repetition.
Her expression was half terror, half annoyance. “Don’t need to look at them, I’ve seen them. They change from gray to green when I’m upset. Happy now? Going to enjoy your meal more?”
He let her go before shock made him forget to check his strength and he accidentally hurt her. Then he began to pace.
“Bugger, you’re telling the truth.” No vampire was compelling her or controlling her. Somehow, she was the offspring of a human and a vampire. “You have to be,” he went on, as if some part of him still needed convincing. “You have a pulse, but only vampires have eyes that glow green. This is unbelievable!”
“Glad you’re excited,” she said in a suddenly weary voice.
He stopped pacing to stare at her. Her hair tangled around her shoulders and her gaze lost some of its glowing intensity now that his fangs were nowhere near her throat. Did she have fangs, too? No, he only saw flat teeth when she nibbled on her bottom lip, and if she was upset enough for her eyes to transform, her canines would have, too, if they could.
Vampire eyes, human teeth. It shouldn’t be possible. She shouldn’t be possible, yet here she was. Half human and half vampire…and pathological in her hatred of the latter.
That hatred would get her killed. She had no idea what was happening in Ohio now, but if she kept throwing herself in vampires’ paths, she’d find out. The mass grave he’d uncovered two weeks ago flashed in his mind. If she kept on this path, she’d be one of those skeletons, tossed away like rubbish after the most hellish of existences…
Rage suffused him, followed by a stronger swell of determination. It didn’t matter that she’d tried to kill him. Didn’t matter that she wasn’t one of his people. Also didn’t matter that his near-pathological need to protect her made no bloody sense. He wouldn’t let her become one of the lost.
She wanted to kill vampires? He could work with that.
“This is perfect,” he said as if he’d been looking his entire life for a half breed. “In fact, it could come in right handy.”
“What could come in handy?” she asked in an irate tone. “Either kill me, or let me go already. I’m tired.”
He turned the light back on. She blinked under its brightness before scowling at him. He grinned. Oh yes, she’d stake him right and proper if she could. Now, to give her a compelling reason not to.
“How would you like to put your money where your mouth is?”
“What?” she asked with open suspicion.
“I can kill you, or let you live.” His tone was bland, as if either option meant nothing to him. “But living comes with conditions. Your choice, your pick. Can’t let you go without conditions; you just try to stake me.”
“Aren’t you the smart one?” she muttered.
He stifled his laugh. “You see, we’re in the same boat. You hunt vampires. I hunt vampires. Both of us have our reasons, and we both have our problems. Other vampires can sense me whenever I’m close, so that makes it difficult for me to stake them without them expecting the try and running. You, on the other hand, put them at ease with that juicy jugular of yours, but you aren’t strong enough to bring down the really big fish.”
She stiffened in offense.
Bones continued as if he hadn’t noticed. “Oh, you may have beaten some green ones, probably no older than twenty years undead, tops. Barely out of their nappies, as it were. But a Master vampire, like me?” He let scorn drip from his tone. “You couldn’t bring me down with both weapons blazing. I’d be picking you out of my teeth in minutes. Therefore, I propose a deal. You continue doing what you love most–killing vampires–but you only hunt the ones I’m looking for. No exceptions,” he stressed when she opened her mouth. “You’re the bait. I’m the hook.”
She stared at him as if he’d taken leave of his senses. Perhaps he had. Recruiting the half dead to kill the undead was a bit unorthodox, but he needed to keep her safe, and she needed to kill vampires. At least for now.
I hunt for her, she’d said of her mother. To ensure no one else suffers the way she did…
Except every time she risked her life hunting vampires, Cat was punishing herself for merely existing. That sort of self-destructive imperative couldn’t easily be remedied. He knew that from experience. He hadn’t become a bounty hunter of people even his kind was afraid of by accident. Once, like Cat, he’d thought it was all he deserved, too.
With time, Cat would realize there was more to life. Until then, he’d keep her safe, and trained to handle the monsters she thought she needed to kill. Until then…
Bones tapped his foot. “Don’t have all night. The longer you wait, the hungrier I get. Might change my mind in a few minutes.”
“I’ll do it,” she said quickly. Then she added, “But I have a condition of my own.”
He chuckled. “You’re hardly in a position to demand conditions.”
Her chin jutted out. “Just challenging you to put your money where your mouth is. You said I wouldn’t last against you even with both my weapons. I disagree. Unchain me, give me my stuff, and let’s go. Winner takes all.”
Damn good thing he wasn’t in profile, or she’d notice that he’d just turned rock hard.
“And what you do you want if you win?” he asked while sending his blood to a less distracting place in his body.
First seething courage, now brutal honesty. She was just trying to switch him on, wasn’t she?
“If I can beat you, I don’t need you,” she continued. “And as you put it, if I just let you walk, you’d come after me. But if you win”–a shrug–“I play by your rules.”
Every bit of him felt like it was waking up. He’d think it was more lust, except it didn’t stop there. No, it grew until it penetrated parts of him he hadn’t realized existed.
He’d heard poets talk about things like this. They gave it fanciful names like “love at first sight” or “destiny.” He’d always dismissed such claims as nonsense. Now, he wasn’t so certain.
“You know, pet,” he said to cover those new, startling emotions. “With you chained there, I could have a nice long drink out of your neck and go about my business as usual. You’re pushing your luck quite a bit saying this to me.”
“You don’t seem the type that likes a boring drink out of a chained-up jugular,” she countered.
Right you are.
“You seem like the type who likes danger. Why else would a vampire hunt vampires? Well? Are you in, or am I out?”
She held her breath after throwing down the gauntlet. He came nearer, his gaze raking her while those inexplicable sensations kept growing until they felt as if they’d breach his skin and boil over onto the ground between them. Her breathing hitched and her heartbeat sped up, but her gaze remained hard, desperate…and fixed on him with deadly intent.
He almost laughed. Here he was, feeling as if Cupid’s arrow had pierced his heart, and the source of his affection wanted nothing more than to see him dead. But first, she’d demanded a demonstration of his abilities.
Very well. As she’d soon learn, he was always happy to fulfill a lady’s request.
Bones unlocked her manacles. “Let’s see what you’ve got,” he said, and meant it this time.
“Give me my clothes back,” were her first words once she was free.
“You are trying to kill me, right?” Bones asked, chuckling. “Those trousers will cost you fluidity.”
And wearing them will ensure I’m not distracted by your lovely form, he didn’t add, though she should have known that, and she also should’ve used it to her advantage.
“Fluidity or not, I refuse to fight you in my underwear,” she said between gritted teeth.
Worst. Murderess. Ever.
But if these were her terms… “Very well. Wait here.”
Bones left her alone, not fretting about her running away. What this cave lacked in conveniences, it made up for in security. It’s why he’d chosen to stay here instead of more comfortable surroundings. No one would think to look for him in a cavernous hole in the ground.
Unlike Hollywood’s common portrayal of vampires in ramshackle castles or dark crypts, most of his kind wouldn’t be caught dead in such hovels when there were modern–and luxurious–conveniences available. Vampires hadn’t survived millenniums without detection because they’d failed to evolve. No, most vampires were very versatile, and they enjoyed their comforts as much as any human.
Bones did, too, especially since he’d had more than his share of poverty as a lad. But growing up destitute had taught him never to value anything more than he could afford to lose. He might not like staying in a cave, but he didn’t value his comfort more than his advantage over his enemies. He’d return to his normal, posh lifestyle once this was over.
The echoing factor in the cave also gave Bones an acoustical image of everything Cat did. From the sounds, she didn’t stray far from where he’d left her. Smart. The light bulb only illuminated a small section of that area, and there were several steep drops and crevasses beyond her sight. More natural security, all for the price of temporarily sleeping rough.
He went to the flatter, large section he used as his living quarters to fetch her things. When he returned, he tossed them at her. “Here.”
She caught them with reflexes far faster than an average human. What other vampire traits did she have?
She gave him a pointed look before she pulled on her trousers. “You could pretend to be polite and turn your back.”
He snorted. “With you armed? Shall I put a big red X over my heart for you as well, Kitten?”
“Don’t call me that,” she snapped.
Oh, it was her name forever now. “Whatever you say, luv.”
That earned him another death glare. He only grinned, still basking in the unfamiliar yet wondrous sensations she brought out in him. Yes, she was fantasizing about ripping both of her weapons through his heart while he was feeling things he’d only heard of before, but who said romance was perfect?
“Are we doing this here?” she asked in an abrupt tone when she finished dressing.
Where she could barely see and the uneven terrain could fell her with one wrong step? She had so much to learn.
“Start walking straight ahead. Soon, you’ll see lights.”
She gave him several wary glances when she passed him, but then she moved with surer steps once she was several paces ahead. He followed, brows raised when she went well beyond the lamp’s glow without a pause in her stride.
Can see in the dark, he added to her list of preternatural attributes.
She stopped when she reached the large antechamber he’d recently renovated. It now had lights strung up in several spots plus a desk and a chair. He’d intended to add other items now that he knew his stay here would be extended, but his delay in getting those meant they had plenty of room for their duel.
He cracked his knuckles and rolled his head around his shoulders; a prefight ritual dating back to his humanity. Then he steeled himself against his repugnance at the thought of hurting her. She’d demanded this duel. He’d give her the respect she was due by honoring that demand.
“All right, Kitten. Because I’m a gentleman, I’ll let you have the first try. Come on. Let’s do this.”
She charged at him with impressive speed for a human, but too slow to be effective against him. She also seemed to have no strategy beyond pointing her weapons in his direction and lunging. He didn’t bother criticizing her. He just whirled and let her sail past him.
“Going jogging, pet?”
She glared at him before attacking again from his right. He blocked her overhead stab, but–good on her!–she simultaneously scored a slash in his abdomen with her other weapon. Before she could dig it deeper, he gave her a light kick in the midsection.
She sprawled onto the cave floor.
“I liked this shirt,” he muttered, examining the new rip. “Now you’ve gone and ripped it.”
And for what? His heart wasn’t in his stomach, as she very well knew.
She stayed doubled over for a few seconds, breathing raggedly. Insufficient abdominal muscles, he added to his list. How would her reflexes hold up, now that she’d been winded?
He moved at half speed, raising his arm to telegraph his intentions. Her eyes widened, and she ducked, but too slow, and she didn’t let go of her midsection to block his strike. He gave her a glancing blow to the side of her head in reprimand.
Next time, stop clutching your belly and block me!
She staggered and almost fell. Then she attacked him with impressive enthusiasm. For several minutes, he let her, dialing down his strength, speed, and skill until he fought with no more force than an average young vampire.
Under these conditions, could she win?
No, he realized after several minutes. She kept getting up, though, proving her will was as formidable as her rage. But her reflexes, strength, and speed were still too human.
When he’d learned what he needed to know, he flung her off. She landed on the floor with a thud, groaning. Then, she opened bloodshot eyes. They were glowing green, her gaze a mixture of rage, pain, and desperation.
He’d seen that same desperation earlier. Why did she feel it now? Did she think he’d go back on his word not to kill her? Or was there something else behind that look–
Silver flashed in her hand. In the next instant, agony flared, and he looked down to see the hilt of her cross dagger embedded only a few centimeters above his heart. That’s what he got for allowing his concern for her to distract him!
He snatched it out, snarling “Bloody hell, woman, that hurts!”
Though excellent throwing skills, he silently added.
She got back on her feet, but from her slow, careful movements, it took a great deal of effort.
“Had enough?” he asked, inhaling to see if her scent indicated worse injuries than he could see.
That desperate look leapt back into her gaze. “Not yet.”
She couldn’t win. She had to know that, but she refused to concede. If he was any other vampire, her need to continue this fight would be the last thing she ever did. The thought of that made him feel…bloody hell, more than he could handle right now.
He steeled himself against it, and against his near-overwhelming urge to call off this duel and heal her. If he didn’t collect on her agreement to let him train her, her need to kill vampires combined with her human weaknesses would get her killed, and if she had even an inkling of knowledge about what he felt for her, she’d use it to slaughter him.
But if she thought she needed him to accomplish her goals… he could use her vampire-slaying compulsion to save her.
Bones resumed their fight, now showing her with crisp, ruthless efficiency that she was outmatched in every way. When she fell to the ground and didn’t get back up, he knelt next to her.
One swollen eye slit open to glare at him. Her lips moved, but no sound came out. Still, Bones could make out what she mouthed at him.
Then she passed out.
Admiration and those deeper, mystifying emotions swelled in him as he bit his wrist and held the bloody gash to her mouth. Even unconscious, she swallowed, at first weakly, and then stronger as his blood healed her bruises, cuts, and fractures.
She didn’t stir as he picked her up and carried her to the bedroom he’d made from a cozy alcove in the cave. He set her on the bed, and then sealed them both in by blocking the entranceway with a heavy stone slab. Now he could sleep without fretting about anything–or anyone–disturbing them.
Dawn was upon them, and his brave, ferocious Kitten wasn’t the only one who could use some rest.
Bones let the first several tugs go despite their revealing more of his body to the cave’s chilly air. But when she yanked the last of his blankets off him, he ceased being a gentleman.
“If you’re going to take all the covers, you can sleep on the floor!”
Cat’s eyes opened, then widened when she saw him next to her in bed. Horror suffused her features, and she jumped up with such alarm, she banged her head on the room’s low ceiling.
“Owww,” she moaned while her gaze darted around, looking for a way to escape. When she realized the small room was sealed, she backed into the corner. Then she glanced down at herself, relief suffusing her expression when she saw that she was still fully clothed.
He suppressed a scoff. She thought he’d assault her while she was unconscious? She had so much to learn.
“Why am I not in a hospital?” she asked with more alarm than relief.
Bones sat up, moving slowly so he didn’t startle her. “I healed you.”
She blanched, fingers flying to her throat. As if she could wake up as a vampire and not realize it at once.
“How?” she demanded. “How did you do that?”
He leaned back. “Blood, of course.”
She paled even more, if possible. Then her voice elevated to a shriek. “Tell me what you did to me!”
He hid his urge to comfort her behind an eye roll.
She tracked his every movement, her body coiled to fight while her heart rate tripled. To show he had no interest in harming her, he fluffed his pillow and pulled it nearer.
“Gave you a few drops of my blood,” he said in a neutral tone. “Figured you wouldn’t need much, what with you being a half-breed. You probably heal fast naturally, but then you were banged up a bit. Your own fault, of course, having suggested that stupid match,” he added just to rile her.
He could stand her anger, but her fear hit him places he had no defense against yet. They were too new.
“Now, if you don’t mind, it’s daylight and I’m knackered. Didn’t even get a meal out of all this,” he said as further ammunition for her ire.
She barely seemed to hear that last part. “Vampire blood heals?” she asked in a shocked tone.
He closed his eyes. “You didn’t know? Blimey, but you’re ignorant about your own kind.”
“Your kind is not my kind,” she said at once.
Neither was humanity. Eventually, she’d have to reckon with that. But he only replied, “Whatever you say, Kitten.”
She was quiet for a moment. He resisted the urge to open his eyes because if he did, he might stare at her sleep-tousled crimson hair. Or her eyes, dark as an approaching storm. Or the elegant curve of her throat, the soft swell of her breasts, and the round arse she’d unwittingly snuggled against him earlier…
“Would too much blood turn me?”
The question interrupted his thoughts. Good thing, too, or he might have tented the sheets over his hips.
“How much is too much?” she went on.
He opened one eye. It was all he dared, considering where his previous thoughts had taken him.
“Look, school’s out now,” he replied in a gruff tone. “I’m going to sleep. You’re going to shut up. Later, when I’m awake, we’ll go over all these niceties and more. Until then, let a fellow get some rest.”
She drew herself up with a huff. “Show me the way out, and you can sleep all you want.”
He snorted. “Sure. Shall I fetch your weapons for you as well, and close my eyes while you plug holes into my heart?”
She glanced away.
He stifled another snort. She’d been thinking that exact thing. Time to give her something else to think about.
“Not likely,” he said, tone hardening. “You’re in until I let you out. Don’t bother trying to escape, you’d never make it. Now, I suggest you let me get some rest, because if you keep me awake much longer, I’m going to want breakfast.”
To punctuate his point, he shut his eyes, yet heard her suck in an appalled breath.
“I’m not sleeping with you.”
Not yet, Kitten, but if I have my way, you will soon.
He yanked the blanket off and threw it in her general direction. A peek through his lashes revealed that she let it hit her in the face.
Bloody hell, the woman needed to learn how to duck.
“Sleep on the floor, then. You’re a cover hog, anyhow.”
For the next half hour, he listened to her move around as if searching for a softer spot. She wouldn’t find one. The cave floor was hard limestone, not mud. Would she swallow her pride– and hatred–enough to share the king-sized mattress with him?
She didn’t. Eventually, she settled down in one spot and her breathing became regular and deep. Then snores filled the room.
Bones’s lips twitched. Somehow, despite avoiding this feeling for nearly two hundred and fifty years, he was now head-over-heels for a prissy, murdering half-breed who hated the sight of him and snored. If this wasn’t repayment for his many sins, he didn’t know what was.
Wait until he told Charles. His best mate would hurt himself from laughing too hard.
But before he told anyone, he had to show her there was far more to vampires than what she believed. Yes, it meant upending his life, but the feelings she elicited left him no choice. No wonder songwriters droned on and on about such things. Shockingly, Bones wanted to tell everyone, too, including the snoring redhead who’d go right for her stakes if she had any inkling of what he felt for her.
No, he’d tell her none of it. Instead, he’d be a stern taskmaster while he trained her to survive against odds that would kill her with her current, under-developed abilities. The rest would have to wait until she looked at him and saw a man instead of a monster…and looked at herself and saw a woman instead of a sin to atone for.
In the meantime, he’d be reacquainting himself with something he was very unfamiliar with–celibacy.
He gave his right hand a wry glance. You and I are about to become a lot closer, mate.
With how long it would probably take for his Kitten to warm up to him, he might well become the first vampire to ever develop calluses.
Six hours later, Bones stood over her. She didn’t stir. No sense of being watched, he added to his list of things she’d need to improve upon. Then he bent and shook her shoulder.
“Rise and shine, we have work to do.”
She rolled over with a groan, then gave him an accusing look as her joints creaked when she sat up.
He only grinned. “Serves you right for trying to kill me. Last bloke who did that ended up with much more than a stiff neck. You’re right lucky you’re useful, or you’d be nothing more than a flush in my cheeks by now.”
“Yeah, that’s me,” she muttered. “Lucky.”
Bones wagged a finger at her. “Don’t be glum. You’re about to get a first-class education in nosferatu. Believe me, not many humans get to learn this stuff. Then again, you’re not really human.”
She flinched. “Stop saying that. I’m more human than I am…thing.”
She seemed oblivious to the fact that every time she insulted vampires, she also reviled herself. “Yes, well, we’ll find out just how much shortly,” was all he said. “Move away from the wall.”
She seemed glad for an excuse to get as far away from him as the small room allowed. He’d expected that, but he was surprised that it still stung. Then he chided himself for a fool. Was she supposed to forget everything she’d seen and been taught simply because he hadn’t murdered her in her sleep? She was right not to trust him until he gave her a reason.
Time to start giving her one.
Bones hefted the stone boulder up and moved it aside. “Come along,” he said.
She didn’t move.
She came out of the room, and then glanced around at the antechamber they’d fought in with an embarrassed sort of dismay.
“I don’t suppose…is there a bathroom in here?”
Bones stopped mid-step. Right. He should have anticipated she’d have that need–
“One of us still has functioning kidneys,” she added, with a look of distaste in his direction.
Another “dead monster” crack, was it? Very well, he’d treat her with the same rudeness. “Think this is a bloomin’ hotel? What, next you’ll be wanting a bidet?”
She flushed, and then ground out, “Unless you like it messy, I suggest you show me an alternative, and fast.”
He sighed as if exasperated. “Follow me. Don’t trip or twist anything, damned if I’ll carry you. Let’s see what we can come up with. Sodding woman,” he added. If she was angry, she would no longer be embarrassed about her normal bodily functions.
She muttered under her breath as she followed him. He didn’t catch all of it, but the words “stake” and “heart” were clear. He hid his smile. Not embarrassed at all now, was she?
“There,” he said after leading her to the underground river that cut through the cave. “That water runs downstream. You can climb on those rocks and do your business.”
She ran over, her lips edging up in a smile that was too triumphant to only be anticipated bladder relief.
“By the way, if you’re thinking you’ll just jump off and swim out of here, it’s a bad idea,” he called out. “That water’s about forty degrees and snakes over two miles before it exits these caves. Not a nice way to be, hypothermic and lost in the dark. You’d also have broken our agreement, so when I found you, I would be really, really displeased.”
Her shoulders stiffened, but she had the grace not to deny any of it. Progress.
“See you in a bit,” he said, walking far enough away to give her the illusion of privacy.
“I suppose toilet paper’s out of the question?” she called out a few moments later.
He snorted in amusement. “I’ll put it on my shopping list, Kitten.”
“Stop calling me that. My name is Cat.”
Not to me, he thought, hearing her come closer. When he could feel her warmth in the air and smell the creamy, vanilla-and-cherries scent that clung to her, he closed his eyes. She hit his senses with the impact of a sledgehammer, making his need to touch her almost painful.
He forced that back, surprised by how difficult it was. He’d never lacked self-control before. Granted, his looks ensured that women seldom rebuffed his attentions, so he supposed he was out of practice when it came to this form of discipline.
“What’s your name, by the way?” she asked, a thread of hesitation running through her tone. “You never told me.”
She hadn’t truly wanted to know before. He’d been nothing more than a target to be eliminated to her.
“If we’re going to be working together, at least I should know what to call you,” she went on, as if rationalizing to herself why she’d asked him this. “Unless you simply prefer answering to profanity, of course,” she finished in a clear attempt to further distance herself from the question.
Too late, he thought, a grin playing about his lip as he turned around. I caught you treating me–however briefly–like a person instead of a monster.
“My name is Bones.”
“First things first,” Bones said, settling himself onto a boulder as if it were a chair. “If you’re going to be truly good at killing vampires, you need to know more about them.”
After a moment, Cat sat on the boulder opposite him. He’d picked this spot because it was toward the entrance of the cave, where light filtered in through cracks in the rocky ceiling. She might be able to see well in the dark, but he didn’t have to keep her limited to darkness.
“Sunlight doesn’t do anything but give us a sunburn if we expose our skin to it for too long,” he began with.
Interest flicked on her face, as if he’d answered a question she’d long wondered about.
“But we won’t explode into flames in the sun like we do in the movies,” he continued. “However, we do like to sleep in the day because we are most powerful at night. During the day we are slower, weaker, and less alert, especially at dawn.”
Brand new vampires couldn’t even stay conscious for the first few weeks at dawn, but he left that part out. No need to whet her appetite for a kill that would never happen.
“By dawn, you’ll find most vampires tucked into whatever they call a bed, which, as you could tell from last night, doesn’t mean a coffin,” he went on. “Oh, some of the old-fashioned ones only sleep in coffins, but most of us sleep in whatever’s comfortable. In fact, some vamps will have coffins staged in their lair so some Van Helsing wannabe will go there first while the vampire sneaks up on them. Done that trick a time or two myself. So, if you think throwing up the blinds and letting the sun stream in will do the trick, forget it.”
Her expression was rapt. If she still had her mobile, he expected she would’ve started taking electronic notes. Inwardly, Bones smiled. She might be listening in anticipation of turning herself into a better killer, but she was still learning more about the other half of her nature than she had before. Nothing chipped at blind bigotry more effectively than knowledge.
“Crosses. Unless they’re rigged up like yours, they’ll only make us laugh before we eat you. Wood, as you are aware, can give us splinters, but it won’t stop us from ripping your throat out. Holy water…well.” Bones gave a dismissive grunt. “I’ve had more damage done by someone throwing dirt in my face. The whole religious thing is bunk when it comes to hurting our kind, got it?” No god worshipped has a problem with us, he didn’t add, but hoped she realized from the subtext. “Your only advantage is that when a vampire sees that special stake of yours, they won’t be put off by it.”
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll use this information against you?” she asked.
Bones leaned forward. At once, she leaned back. The single gesture reinforced how much she despised all things vampire, including him. Before he could change that, she was right; he couldn’t have her using this information to plot his demise.
Time for the stick.
“You and I are going to have to trust one another to accomplish our objectives, so I’ll make this very, very simple: If you so much as look cross-eyes at me and I even wonder if you’re thinking about betraying me, I’ll kill you. Now, that might not scare you, being the big brave girl that you are, but remember this: I followed you home the other night. Got anyone you care about in that barn of a house?”
He let the sentence dangle.
She gulped, paling a shade whiter than death. He could practically hear her mind filling in terrible threats he’d never be evil enough to utter. In this, her revulsion of vampires would be to his benefit.
Stick, accomplished. Now, the carrot.
“Besides,” he said in a more cheerful tone. “I can give you what you want.”
Her expression couldn’t be more doubtful. “What could you possibly know about what I want?”
“You want what every abandoned child wants. You want to find your father.”
Her heart skipped a beat before accelerating into a loud staccato.
“But you don’t want a happy reunion,” Bones went on, his tone deepening. “You want to kill him.”
Her gaze fixed on him as if he’d used his power to mesmerize her. “You can help me find my father? How?”
Bones shrugged as if he didn’t know firsthand the kind of hatred a person could harbor against someone who’d hurt and abandoned their mother. “For starters, I know a great many undead types, so without me, you’re looking for a needle in a fangstack. Even if I don’t personally know him, I already know more about him than you do.”
“What? How?” she sputtered.
“His age, for example.” When her confusion didn’t abate, he sighed. She knew nothing about the species she’d committed her young life to killing. “You’re what, twenty-one?”
“Twenty-two,” she corrected in a whisper. “Last month.”
“Indeed? Then you have the wrong age as well as the wrong address on that fake license of yours.”
Her chin lifted. “How do you know it’s a fake?”
He snorted. “Didn’t we just cover this? I know your real address, and it’s not the one on that license.”
Though it was clever of her to have false identification on her when she hunted. If Bones hadn’t followed her home, he would have been chasing down information on the wrong person.
“Come to think of it, you are a liar, possessor of false identification, and a murderer,” he said, enjoying the little huff she made when she was indignant.
“Not to mention a tease,” he went on. “Foulmouthed as well. Yep, you and I will get along famously.”
She gave him a withering look. “Bollocks.”
Bones grinned. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But back to the subject. You said your mum carried you for what? Five months?”
At once, her expression changed, going back to the haunted one that no one her age should wear. “Yes, why?”
He leaned forward. This time, she didn’t lean back.
“When you’re changed into a vampire, it takes a few days for some of the human functions to stop completely. Oh, the heartbeat stops right off and the breathing does as well, but tears still look normal for the first day or so before you cry only pink due to the blood-to-water ratio in our bodies. You might even piss once or twice to get it out of your system. But the main point is, you father still had swimmers in his sacks.”
“Excuse me?” she said in her prissiest tone.
“You know, luv. Sperm. Your father still had living sperm in his juice. Now, that could only be possible if he’d been newly changed. Within a week at most, I’d wager. Right off, then, you can pinpoint almost exactly how old he is, in vampire years. Add that to any recent deaths around that time and place matching his description, and bingo! There’s your da.”
Shock suffused her features as she processed this. Bones waited, saying nothing. When she finally looked back at him, that shock had been replaced by flintlike determination.
She’d worn the same look all those times she’d gotten back up after he knocked her down during their fight. Nothing would stop her from seeing their arrangement through now. But, of course, she was still suspicious.
“Why do you want to help me find my father? In fact, why do you kill other vampires at all? They’re your own kind.”
Yours too, Bones didn’t say, but it was true despite her denial. “I’ll help you find your father because you hate him more than me, so it’ll keep you motivated to do what I say.”
She gave a nod she didn’t even seem to be aware of.
“As for why I hunt vampires…you don’t need to bother about that now.” She wouldn’t believe him even if he told her. “Suffice it to say that some people just need killing, and that goes for vampires as well as humans.”
She didn’t argue, which meant she must’ve met some evil sods with heartbeats, too. God knew the world had no shortage.
“Back to the subject,” he said. “Guns don’t work on us, either, with only two exceptions. One, if the bloke is lucky enough to shoot our necks in two. Decapitation does work; not many things can live without a head, and a head is the only part on a vampire that won’t grow back if you cut it off. Two, if the gun has silver bullets and enough are fired into the heart to destroy it. That’s not as easy as it sounds,” he warned. “No vampire will stand still and pose for you. Likely, he’ll rip you apart before any real damage is done. But those silver bullets hurt, so you can use them to slow a vamp down and then stake him, though you’d better be quick with that silver because you’ll have a very brassed-off vampire on your hands.”
She nodded, giving him that laser-like attention again. Staring into her dark gray eyes was like starting into the heart of a storm. Even dirty and blood-streaked, she was ridiculously beautiful, and so earnest it broke his heart.
She shouldn’t be concerned with the best way to murder anyone, especially vampires. But somehow, she was convinced that she didn’t deserve more to life than this.
I’ll change that, he swore. But for now, he’d hold up his end of their bargain.
“Strangulation, drowning, none of that does anything. Vampires only breathe about once an hour for preference, and we can go indefinitely without oxygen. Our version of hyperventilating is to breathe once every few minutes. That’s one way to tell a vamp is tiring; he’ll start to breathe a bit to perk up. Electrocution, poisonous gas, ingestible poisons, drugs…none of those work.”
“Sure we can’t test some of those on you?” she muttered.
He wagged his finger in mock rebuke. “None of that, now. You and I are partners, remember? If you start to forget that, maybe you’d remember the things I mentioned would work really well on you.”
“It was a joke,” she said with no conviction.
Such a terrible liar. “The bottom line is that we are very hard to put down. How you managed to plant sixteen of us in the ground is beyond me, but then the world never lacks for fools.”
She huffed. “I would have had you in pieces if you hadn’t made me drive and then sucker-punched me when I wasn’t looking.”
He laughed. She stared at him before quickly looking away as if something she’d seen had rattled her.
“Kitten, why do you think I made you drive?” he said, still chuckling. “I had you pegged five seconds after speaking with you. You were a novice, green to the gills, and once off your routine, helpless as a babe. Of course, I ‘sucker-punched’ you. There is only one way to fight, and that’s dirty. Clean, gentlemanly fighting will get you nowhere but dead, and fast. Take every cheap shot, every low blow, absolutely kick someone when they’re down, and then maybe you’ll be the one who walks away.” He’d learned that at great cost during his youth. The memory made his laughter fade. “Remember, this isn’t a boxing match. You can’t win by scoring the most points.”
“I get it,” she said in grim tone.
She probably did. She’d killed over a dozen vampires, and any one of them would have murdered her for the attempt, had they been lucky enough to survive it. She’d known that. Must be why she carried false identification so her family wouldn’t be harmed in retaliation, if one of her targets rifled through her things after murdering her. Many people could be brave in the heat of battle, but for years, she’d prepared for her own death with the kind of ice-cold courage that few had.
Yet another thing to admire, but she had to think this was a business arrangement he cared little about.
“Now we’re off topic,” he said. “We’ve covered our weaknesses. Onto our strengths, and we have many. We can scent you long before we see you, and we can hear your heartbeat from nearly a mile away. In addition to that, a vampire can suck a pint of your blood and seconds later, you won’t even remember seeing one. Our fangs secrete a substance that, when combined with the power in our gaze, makes humans easy to hypnotize. So, for example, you wouldn’t know that a vampire just sucked a meal out of your neck. Instead, all you’d remember is that you met a bloke, had a chat, and now you’re sleepy.”
And Master vampires like him didn’t even need the narcotic-like property in their venom in order to control humans’ minds. The power in their gaze alone was enough.
“That’s how most of us feed,” he stressed in case she didn’t connect the dots herself. “If every vampire killed to eat, we’d have been outed from our closet centuries ago–”
“You can control my mind?” she interrupted, horrified.
Doubtful, but no need to wonder when he could be sure. His eyes flared green as he let his power out.
“Come to me.”
Any regular human would be on their feet and moving toward him. She recoiled and hissed, “No fucking way.”
He grinned and let his eyes return to their normal dark brown shade. “Appears not. Good on you. Can’t have you getting all weak-minded and forgetting your goals, can we? Must be your bloodline. It doesn’t work on other vampires, either.” She bristled and he clarified, “Or other humans who imbibe of vampire blood. Some humans are immune to it, but only a small percentage. Have to have extraordinary mind control or natural resistance not to let us meddle about in your heads. Video games have solved that as far as most of humanity goes. That, and telly.”
“Telly?” she repeated in confusion.
Americans. “Television. Don’t you speak English?”
“You sure don’t,” she mumbled.
Please. He’d spent so little time in England recently, he probably sounded more like a Yank than a Brit.
“Daylight’s burning, and we still have a lot to cover. We’ve gone through the senses and the mind control, but don’t forget our strength. Or our teeth. Master vampires are strong enough to break you in half and carry the pieces with a finger. We can throw your car at you if we want to, and we’ll rip you apart with our teeth. The question is, how many of our strengths do you have in you?”
Her head lowered, and she hunched as if about to reveal damning secrets. “Darkness doesn’t affect me. I can see as well at night as in the day. I’m faster than any human I know,” she added, now giving him a glance through her lashes. “I can hear things from far away, maybe not as far as you can. But sometimes in my room at night, I could hear my grandparent’s downstairs whispering to each other about me–”
She paused at his raised brow. He schooled his expression to show nothing, but anger burned. Her whole bloody family had ostracized her when she couldn’t help how she’d been born?
“I don’t think I can control anyone’s mind,” she went on. “I mean, I’ve never tried it, but I think if I could, people would have treated me differently…anyway,” she continued in a brisker tone. “I know I’m stronger than the average person. When I was fourteen, I beat up three boys, and they were all bigger than me.” Bitterness crept into her tone. “That was when I couldn’t hide anymore from the fact that something was very wrong with me. You’ve seen my eyes.”
She said it as if they were the most hideous of deformities. He couldn’t disagree more. Her glowing green eyes were a miracle, as was she.
“I have to control them when I’m upset so other people don’t see them glow. My teeth are normal, I guess. They’ve never poked out funny, anyhow.”
Her voice trailed off and she kept glancing at him as if expecting him to rain insults upon her. She spoke of her dazzling uniqueness with more shame than he’d heard genocidal murderers speak of mass atrocities.
“Let me get this straight,” he said in a carefully controlled tone. “You said at fourteen you truly realized your uniqueness. You didn’t know what you were before then? What did your mum tell you about your father when you were growing up?”
Pain filled her gaze. “She never mentioned my father. If I’d ask, as I did when I was little, she’d change the subject or get angry. But the other children let me know. They called me a bastard from the time they could speak.”
She closed her eyes. Briefly, Bones did too.
Oh, how well I know that pain, Kitten…
“Like I said, when I hit puberty I started to feel even more different,” she said, opening her eyes. “It got harder to hide my weirdness like my mom told me to. I liked the night most.” For a moment, her tone softened. “I’d wander for hours in the orchard. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even sleep until dawn…”
Of all the things she’d spoken of, this was the only memory that didn’t seem strafed with pain. He almost smiled at the image of a young Cat playing in the orchard all night. Then her tone hardened and tightness filled her features.
“But it wasn’t until those boys cornered me that I knew how bad it was.”
“What did they do?” he asked softly.
She closed her eyes again. “They were pushing me, calling me names, the usual stuff. That didn’t set me off; it happened almost every day.”
It was a damn good thing she couldn’t see his expression or she’d leap back in fear. All I need are names, he thought coldly. Never too late for bullies to pay for their crimes.
“But then one of them called my mother a slut, and I lost it. I threw a rock at him and busted his teeth out. The others jumped me, and I beat them.”
She opened her eyes. His expression was schooled back into blankness. If she saw his pride in her, she’d be suspicious.
“They never told anyone what happened.”
Bet they didn’t, the sniveling little shits.
“Finally, on my sixteenth birthday, my mother decided I was old enough to know the truth about my father. I didn’t want to believe her, but deep down, I knew it was true. That was the first night I saw my eyes glow. She held a mirror up to my face after stabbing me in the leg-”
She did what? His horror must’ve pierced his controlled mask because at once, she began to defend her mum.
“She wasn’t being mean. She needed me really upset so I could see what my eyes did. About six months after that, I killed my first vampire.”
Her words excused her mum’s actions, but her eyes filled with tears that she tried to blink away. Those tears kept Bones from pointing out that even after she’d tried to kill him, he–a “cursed” vampire!–hadn’t been cruel enough to stab her, and he’d thought she might be working for a murdering slaver.
No wonder her gaze held such desperation. Her own mum had broken her, and she’d done it when Cat had been at her most vulnerable.
Yet Cat hadn’t stayed broken. Somehow, she’d picked up the pieces and molded herself into an avenger of the very woman who’d shattered her. Now, with every vampire she slew, Cat was trying to murder the parts of herself her mum had caused her to despise…and also to buy back her mother’s love.
She shouldn’t have had to be that strong. No one should.
Suddenly, she stood. “Speaking of my mother, I have to call her. She’ll be worried sick. I’ve come home late before, but I’ve never been out this long. She’ll think one of you bloodsuckers finally killed me.”
That smashed through his control. “Your mum knows you’ve been hunting vampires? And she allows you do to do this?”
Blimey, she didn’t have to hunt for monsters. She lived with one!
“I thought you were joking when you said your mum knew you were putting a dent in our population. If you were my child, I’d have you nailed inside your room at night to keep you from doing this.”
Her face went red from rage, but once again, her eyes stopped him. She hadn’t looked this hurt when she thought he was going to kill her. Deep down, she must know how wrong her mum’s actions were. She just couldn’t bring herself to admit it.
“Don’t speak about her that way! She knows I’m doing the right thing! Why wouldn’t she support that?”
Because she should love you more than she hates the species of the sod who raped her.
He didn’t say it. The only reason she’d agreed to partner with him was so she could learn to be a better vampire killer. If he pointed out that no amount of superior slaying skills would make her mum love her if she didn’t love her already, he’d never see her again.
So, he forced himself to shrug. “Whatever you say.”
Then he stood in front of her.
She blinked, startled by his speed. If she knew all his abilities, she might faint, so for now, he’d only show her what was necessary.
“You’ve got good aim when you throw things. Found that out when you chucked your cross at me. Just think, a few centimeters lower, and you’d be planting daisies over my head by now. We’ll work to improve your speed and accuracy. You’ll be safer if you can kill from a distance. You’re too vulnerable up close.”
To emphasize that, he grasped her upper arms. She tried to pull away and couldn’t.
His brow arched. Exactly.
“Your strength leaves much to be desired. You’re stronger than a human man, but as weak as the weakest vampire. Also, your flexibility is shit, and you don’t use your legs at all when you fight. They’re valuable weapons and should be treated as such. As for your speed…that might be hopeless. But,” his tone brightened, “we’ll give it a go. The way I figure it, we have five weeks of hard training, and one week to work on your looks before we can get you out in the field.”
“My looks?” she repeated, her cheeks filling up with a lovely, angry shade of red. “What’s wrong with them?”
Bones gave her his most patronizing smile. “Oh, nothing horrible, but still, something that needs fixing.”
His needling had her forgetting all about the pain of her mum’s rejection. Indeed, if her face got any redder, it would soon match her hair. “How dare you–”
“After all, we’re going after some big fish,” he interrupted her. “Baggy jeans and plain tee-shirts won’t cut it. You wouldn’t know sexy if it bit you in the arse.”
Green flashed in her eyes. “By God, I am going to–”
“Quit blathering,” he cut her off again, now fighting to hold in his laughter. It wasn’t all lies. She was stunning, but she didn’t present herself that way. Maybe she didn’t even realize it. By the time he was through, she would, as would everyone who set eyes on her.
Besides, it would help with hunting vampires. A beautiful woman in a tight, tiny dress would be irresistible to them…and Bones couldn’t wait to see her in one himself.
“Didn’t you want to call your mum?” he tempted her. “Come with me. My mobile’s in the back.”
Once again, he heard her mutter threats under her breath, this time involving silver-studded barb wire and his nether regions. But once again, she also followed him.
It took two weeks for her to stop smelling of fear. Granted, she wore rage and resentment as if they were designer perfumes, but he could hardly blame her. He trained her with the same ruthlessness that the poverty-ridden streets of London had trained him, but instead of the chronic hunger he’d endured, he strapped boulders to her back while she climbed up the steep terrain in the cave. Instead of running from the law after he’d stolen food to survive, he ran her through the woods until she vomited. And instead of the endless times he was beaten and robbed by older lads, she got hand-to-hand combat with him.
Each day, he wondered if she would quit. Part of him hoped she would. That hope increased the first week, when she threw off the boulders he’d strapped onto her and said, “Enough!”
“That so?” Bones replied mildly. “If you no longer want to hunt vampires, then by all means, quit.”
“I’m not quitting that,” she snapped. “I’m quitting this. I hunted vampires just fine before your back-breaking techniques. If I’d known what you intended with that stupid bargain, I would have gladly chosen death!”
She would be choosing death, if she kept hunting vampires without his training. She might have survived on sheer luck plus the element of surprise before, but those were unreliable. Skill wasn’t, and he’d make damn sure she had it even if she didn’t think she needed it.
That’s why he smiled wide enough to show his fangs. “You’d rather die? Come here and prove it.”
She stared at him.
He stared back, knowing her prejudice made her believe he’d really drain the life from her without a second thought.
After a long moment, she began strapping the boulders back onto the harness he’d fashioned for her, and then resumed her trek up the cave’s steep incline.
He’d never been so proud of her…or so irritated by her low opinion of him.
By the second week, she’d made remarkable gains, so much that she stopped losing consciousness during their bouts. She looked rightfully pleased with herself over that, until she realized she would now be awake when he gave her his blood to heal her.
“I won’t do it,” she said in her most obstinate tone.
“Two of your ribs are broken, your arm’s dislocated, and your eyes are so black, you could double as a raccoon,” Bones countered, thrusting his bitten finger toward her. “Going to return home to your family that way?”
Her jaw clenched. “I’ll tell them I was in a car crash.”
“You’d also be breaking our bargain because you wouldn’t be able to continue your training for weeks,” he said, now wagging his blood-smeared finger at her. “That’s not an option, so quit complaining, open your mouth, and swallow.”
“Don’t you sound like every other guy?” she muttered, but finally popped his bloody finger into her mouth.
With anyone else, he would have found the quip amusing. With her, jealousy hit him so hard that he was briefly robbed of rational thought. Her mouth was so warm, so inviting…and how many other blokes had thought the same under much more erotic circumstances?
“Disgusting,” she garbled as she swallowed his blood. “How can you things live off that?”
Things. His patience stretched to the breaking point.
“Necessity is the mother of all appetites,” he said in a curt tone.
“All this blood better not turn me into a vampire,” she muttered, and almost spat his finger out. Then she looked at the moistened digit, at him, and blushed as if thinking of something other than his finger sliding between her lips.
Lust strafed the unexpected jealousy that still gripped him. Never before had she looked at him that way. Finally, she saw him as a man, and judging from that blush, a man she was having naughty thoughts about.
It took all his control to wipe his finger as if nothing had occurred. She wasn’t ready to act on the thought. From her expression, it was already gone, but it had been there.
“Trust me, luv, this won’t turn you into a vampire,” he said. “Since you keep fretting about it, however, I’ll tell you how it works. First, I’d have to drain you to the very point of death. Then, I’d open a vein, and let you drink from me until you were stuffed full of my blood. Only that would trigger the change. These measly drops aren’t doing more than healing your injuries. They’re probably not even enhancing your strength, so stop fretting every time you have to lick a few bits off my pieces.”
Her face turned scarlet, and not from any lustful twinges this time. She simply couldn’t handle even unintended innuendo.
“That’s another thing you have to stop,” he said, addressing it head-on. “You can’t turn red as a sunset while pretending to be a confident, horny woman. No bloke’s going to believe that act if he says ‘cock’ and you faint. Your virginity’s going to get you killed.”
“I’m not a virgin,” she countered.
Insane jealousy slammed him, until he couldn’t think past the need to kill any man who’d touched her. Right then, he was every inch the monster she’d repeatedly accused him of being.
“…change the subject,” she was saying. “We’re not friends. I don’t want to discuss this with you.”
Entirely reasonable. Her sexual history was her business, not his. But when he opened his mouth, none of those logical statements came out. Only his maddened jealousy did, inflamed by his feelings for her and the seething territoriality that all vampires had.
“Well, well, well. Kitten’s catted around, has she?”
Shut it, fool! the sane part of him urged. Shut it now!
But he didn’t. “Chap must be quite a lad. Is he waiting for you to finish your training? Or did you tire of him? Didn’t peg you for the promiscuous type, but then you did offer me a taste when we first met. I wonder–did you plan on staking me before or after you got your itch scratched? What about the other vampires? Did they die with smiles on their faces–”
She slapped him.
He’d never deserved it more. He only caught her wrist when she tried it again because her violence fed the beast that he was now using all his strength to contain.
She whipped her free hand at his cheek. He caught that, too. Then, her expression tore through his insanity. If anyone else had caused her that level of hurt, he’d rip them to pieces.
“Don’t talk to me that way, scum.” Her voice shook. “I’ve heard enough of it. Just because my mother had me out of wedlock, our stupid neighbors thought she was a slut, and me, too, by default. Not that it’s your business, but I’ve only been with one guy, and he dropped me right afterward, so no, I didn’t duplicate the sexual escapades of my peers. Now, I mean it, we are never talking about this again!”
Rage and humiliation had her panting, and her pulse lashed him with its rapid beat. He barely even registered the ”scum” insult. He was too gutted for causing her such pain.
“Kitten, I apologize.”
It wasn’t nearly enough, but how could he explain the reason behind his sudden, unhinged attack? Besides, his lack of control was his problem, not hers. So, he went with the logic that had failed him before.
“I had no right to say that to you. No one does. But just because your ignorant neighbors took their bigotry out on you and your mum, or some pimply teenager pulled a one-nighter–”
“Stop it,” she interrupted, tears brightening her eyes. “Just stop. I can do the job, I can fake sexy, horny, whatever. But we are not discussing this.”
As if he cared about the bloody job! “Look, luv–”
“Bite me,” she spat, and stalked off.
Bones stayed where he was until the last echoes from her footsteps dissipated. Stalactites on the antechamber’s ceiling caught the additional lights he’d set up for her, scattering them over the ground like discarded stars. He’d also gotten a couch for her to sit on, a table so she had something to set her belongings on, a telly to watch if she ever stayed past her training schedule–she hadn’t, but one day, she might–and space heaters so she would no longer shiver in the cave’s naturally chilly temperature. Now, every item mocked him with her absence, and when the extended silence confirmed that she was truly gone, he felt more alone than he had in decades.
Everything that mattered most to him had just left.
Bones took another few minutes to feel every bit of the blame, regret, and loneliness that his actions had wrought. Then, he resolved to fix what he’d broken between them.
Advice would help. He was hardly the first vampire to fall victim to preternaturally psychotic possessiveness. They’d found a way to function through it. He could, too.
Bones pulled out his mobile, scrolled, and hit “call” on his best mate’s name. Charles answered on the second ring.
“Crispin! How goes it? Still in New Orleans?”
“I’m in Ohio now,” Bones replied, used to Charles calling him by his birth name. Bones did the same despite Charles long ago renaming himself Spade–the tool he’d been assigned back when they were both prisoners at the New South Wales penal colonies in the late seventeen hundreds.
“’Fraid this isn’t a social call, Charles. I’m in over my head with a particular situation.”
Charles let out an indulgent laugh. “What are the lovely lasses’ names? Or are there too many for you to remember?”
A grim smile stretched Bones’s lips. “It’s only one lass, and I’m more than a little in love with her.”
A car horn blared through the line. Charles muttered something, then said, “Sorry, mate. I’m on my way to London, and traffic is murder. You were saying something about her being little in size and you loving it?”
“That’s not what I said.” Now Bones made sure to enunciate each word. “I said I’m more than a little in love with her.”
Charles’s screech made Bones hold his mobile further away from his ear. Still, he heard the rest clearly.
“Who is she? And why didn’t you tell me this before now? We spoke only four weeks ago!”
“I hadn’t met her four weeks ago.”
“Crispin.” Charles’s tone changed from loud shock to the softer, calm one he normally reserved for people teetering on the edge of sanity. “You’re telling me you’ve fallen for a woman you’ve known less than a month?”
“What did you tell me back when I said something similar to you about Giselda?” Bones replied. “You said, ‘you never have to wonder if you’re in love. When you are, you’ll know it.’ I know it, Charles. The length of time doesn’t matter.”
Silence. Bones didn’t know if it was more doubt on Charles’ part, or because he’d mentioned Giselda. Even over a century later, Charles hadn’t gotten over her death. Bones used to think that such an amount of grief was excessive. Now, he understood.
“Then I couldn’t be happier for you,” his best mate finally replied. “Tell me about her. I want to know everything.”
Bones closed his eyes. “Her name is Cat, and she’s an exceptionally strong, brave woman who’s two hundred years too young for me, hates all things vampire, has already tried to murder me twice, and loathes the very ground I walk on.”
He heard a screech of brakes, several horn blasts, and then finally, Charles’s laughter.
“Sorry, mate, I accidentally ran the car off the road. Now that I’m safely parked in a ditch, do repeat yourself because you didn’t just say the object of your devotion hates you.”
“You heard me,” Bones said dryly. “I haven’t even gotten to the best part. She’s also half-vampire.”
Silence stretched even longer this time. Bones broke it with a sharp laugh.
“I know. Impossible, right? If I hadn’t seen the proof of it myself, I wouldn’t believe it, either. But she is, and she’s been taught to hate our kind–and herself-–because of it.”
“Oh, Crispin,” Charles eventually said with a sigh. “Leave it to you to take the hardest road possible yet again.”
“Someone has to walk it,” Bones said, knowing Charles meant more than his new love interest. His best mate had long fretted that Bones’s line of work would one day kill him, but someone had to stop the worst among their kind, and vampire law only afforded one loophole.
Kill a vampire from a powerful Master vampire’s line for moral reasons, and you invited war between your people and theirs. But kill a vampire because you took a contract that someone had put on the sod’s life, and that was simply the cost of doing business in a free market society.
So, when Bones could strike a blow for the better, he did. Getting paid afterward was merely the icing on the cake.
“We’re not having that old argument,” Bones said. “I need to know what you did to stop yourself from going barking mad whenever jealousy hit you. Just now, I berated her for not being a virgin. Can you believe I, of all people, did that?”
“Crickey,” Charles muttered.
“Exactly,” Bones said with more dryness.
Charles sighed again. “You can’t learn to feel the jealousy any less. At least, I didn’t. But you can learn not to take it out on her. When it strikes, force yourself to walk away while remembering that what you’re feeling is a chemical surge turbo-charged by our supernatural natures. Or force yourself to walk away while making the phrase ‘bite your tongue’ a reality. Or walk away while punching yourself very hard in the face. In short, walk away while doing anything except giving voice to those out-of-control emotions.”
Sound advice, indeed. “Thanks, mate. I owe you.”
“No, you don’t.” Sadness edged Charles’s tone now. Bones could almost picture him running a hand through his spiked black hair. “I’m still in your debt, and ever will be. But enough of that. When do I get to meet this wonder of biology and thief of previously-untouchable hearts?”
“When she won’t kill you on sight,” Bones replied, his mouth curling at Charles’s instant laugh. “I’m not joking. She might look harmless, but her fighting skills are quite impressive. Soon, she’ll be equal to a strong vampire.”
“She wants you dead, and you’re training her to be better equipped to carry out that objective?” Charles snorted. “You’re going about this ‘love’ thing all wrong, mate.”
“On the contrary,” Bones replied in a light one. “I have a solid plan. But until she stops seeing all vampires as the enemy, you can’t meet her, and for obvious reasons, don’t tell anyone about her.”
Charles grunted. “If the past is prologue, when other vampires learn what she is, half will want to claim her for their own lines, and the other half will want to kill her.”
Bones’s fangs shot out, and he nearly crushed his mobile from his fist instinctively clenching.
None would hurt her. He’d slaughter the lot of them first!
Time to practice the techniques Charles had just suggested. Bones bit his tongue until the taste of blood calmed him.
“Another reason why it’s important that she learn to be at her fighting best,” he replied in a very controlled tone.
“You, too,” Charles said softly. “When Ian hears of her–”
“I’ll be free from Ian’s line by then,” Bones said, his tone hardening. “And I’ll take all who are mine with me.”
Charles grunted. “And if Ian objects?”
Bones’s jaw tightened until Charles should have heard the cartilage crack. “Doesn’t matter. If Ian refuses to grant me my freedom, I’ll challenge him and take it.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing, Crispin.”
Never more so.
“Thanks, mate. Until again.”
He hung up before Charles could say anything else. There was no need for more warnings. Bones knew the risks. They didn’t matter.
But first, he’d have to repair the hurt he’d caused her, and also resume hunting the cartel he’d been chasing. If they’d set up their new base in Ohio, as Bones suspected, he had to take them down before they endangered other innocent women.
Confirming their presence meant finding the dead, and following the money; the same formula he’d used many times. It worked, though normally, he had to find the dead by scouting out various sites according to rumors and whispers, and then start digging until he hit graves.
But Cat’s lineage straddled both sides of the grave, so this time, Bones might have a short cut.
“We’re going on a field trip,” Bones announced.
Cat gave him a startled look. “Now?”
“Yes. I know you’re tired from training, but this won’t be taxing, promise.” And it had to be done late at night, though he kept that part to himself. “Come on, moonlight’s burning. The longer you delay, the longer this will take.”
“Fine,” she said with a sigh.
Her reluctance was an improvement compared to the first week after their fight. Then, she’d treated him only with icy anger. The second week, it had been irritation tinged with grudging respect. Now, at week four, she treated him like an over-demanding boss while also showing pride at her progress.
He couldn’t decide which pleased him more; her increased comfort in the same abilities she’d previously been ashamed of, or how she was now so at ease with him, she thought nothing of brushing his arm when she bent to retrieve her bag.
Four weeks ago, she would’ve jumped as if scalded. Now, she hefted her bag onto her shoulder and said, “Please tell me we’re not taking your Ducati.”
Her dislike of his motorcycle wasn’t news to him. That’s why he said, “We’re not. You’re driving.”
They walked the two miles from the cave to where she’d parked her old pickup truck. His bike could’ve handled the overgrown, wooded terrain, but she had to park that far away because her truck would’ve stalled on the first heavy bit of brush. Still, she enjoyed driving it, so he didn’t point that out, or the fact that they’d arrive at their destination much faster if they took his bike.
She was mostly silent for the first hour into their drive, responding only to the directions he gave her. Then, when the city lights faded and nothing except lonely country road stretched in front of them, nervousness tinged her scent.
Bones glanced around, seeking the cause. No, nothing but bleak, barren scenery and their single-lane, unpaved road.
“Turn left here,” Bones said when he spotted the sign for Peach Tree Road.
She gave him a dubious look, probably because he was steering her deeper into the woods, not out of them.
“You know, partner,” she said, emphasizing the word. “You’re being very secretive. What’s this field trip about? I take it you didn’t just get a sudden urge to go cow tipping.”
Just to see the look on her face, he should tell her that he had. “No,” Bones said, the truth winning out. “I need some information from a man who lives out here.”
She stiffened. “I refuse to be a part of killing any humans, so if you think you’re going to interrogate this guy and then bury him, you’re wrong.”
Any other time, he’d be offended. Right now, he laughed.
“I’m serious!” she snapped, pumping the brakes.
He didn’t laugh again, but it was close. “You’ll get the joke soon enough. To set your mind at ease, I promise not to touch the fellow. You’re the one who’ll be talking to him.”
She gave him a surprised look, as if she couldn’t believe he trusted her enough to do this.
He waited. When she didn’t take her foot off the brake, his brow arched. “Will we be driving again anytime soon?”
“Oh,” she said self-consciously, and hit the gas hard enough to lurch them forward. “Do I get any more details than that? Like, some background, and what you want to know?”
“Winston Gallagher was a railway worker back in the sixties. He also had a side business of making moonshine. One day, a fellow bought Winston’s product and died the next day. Winston might’ve mistaken the alcohol content for the batch, or the sot drank too much. Either way, Winston was found guilty of murder and condemned to die.”
“That’s outrageous!” she said with all the shock of someone who’d lived a modern, privileged life. “They had no proof, no motive, and no malice aforethought.”
“’Fraid the judge, John Simms, wasn’t big on innocent until proven guilty. He also doubled as the executioner. Right before Simms hanged him, Winston swore he’d never let Simms have another night’s peace. And since that day, he hasn’t.”
She stared at him, her lips parted from shock. “He hung the man you want me to speak to?”
“Pull over at that ‘no trespassing’ sign, Kitten,” he told her. She did, still glancing at him in disbelief. “Winston won’t speak to me since our kinds don’t get along,” Bones explained. “He’ll talk to you, though, but I warn you, he’s about as cheerful as you currently are.”
“What part of this am I not understanding?” she asked with his aforementioned crossness. “Did that judge hang him or not?”
“Swung him right from the tree jutting over that cliff,” Bones said. “You can still see rope marks in it. Many people lost their lives there, but don’t bother speaking to any of them. They’re residual. Winston’s not.”
“Are you telling me Winston’s…a ghost?”
His lips twitched at her tone. Had it never occurred to her that if vampires existed, other supernatural species did, too?
“Ghost, specter, phantom, take your pick. What’s most important is he’s sentient, and that’s rare. Most ghosts are only replays doing the same things over and over, like a record stuck on a turntable. Blimey, I’m dating myself; no one uses records anymore,” he reflected. “Point is, Winston was so mad when he died, his consciousness stayed on. It’s also due to location. Ohio has a thinner membrane for separating the natural from the supernatural, so it’s easier for a soul to stay behind here. This particular area’s like a homing beacon, too, with its five cemeteries forming a pentagram.” He shook his head. “That’s like a road map for spirits. Thanks to your bloodline, you should be able to see ghosts. You might also be able to feel them. Their energy’s like a twinge of voltage in the air.”
Her brows drew together, and then wonder flicked across her features. So, she could feel ghosts. Her humanity truly was the smaller half of her.
“What kind of information could a vampire possibly want from a ghost?” she asked him.
“Have Winston tell you all the names of young girls that have recently died around these parts. Don’t let him tell you he doesn’t know, either, and I’m only interested in deaths by unnatural causes. No car accidents or diseases.”
She was giving him that look again. The one that said she couldn’t tell if he was in earnest or merely pulling her leg. “You seriously want me to go into a cemetery and ask a ghost about dead girls?”
His lips curled. “Come, now, Kitten, you’re half vampire. I wouldn’t think ghosts would be such a stretch of your imagination.”
“Guess not,” she said after a pause. “And ghosts don’t like vampires, so I shouldn’t mention my mixed lineage. Do I get to know why ghosts don’t like vampires?”
“They’re jealous. We’re as dead as they are, but we can do as we please while they’re stuck as hazy apparitions. Makes them right cranky, which reminds me.” He pulled out the bottle he’d acquired before she came over for training. “You’ll need this.”
She held it up and shook it. Bubbles briefly appeared in the clear liquid, indicating the high alcohol content. “What is it? Holy water?”
He laughed. “For Winston it is. That’s white lightning. Pure moonshine, luv,” he added when it was clear she wasn’t familiar with the term. “Simms Cemetery is right past that line of trees. Make sure to bang about a bit to get Winston’s attention. Ghosts tend to nap a lot, but once you’ve got him up, show Winston that bottle. He’ll tell you whatever you want.”
“You really want me to go stomping through a graveyard brandishing a bottle of booze to rouse an unrestful spirit so I can interrogate him?” she muttered under her breath. “Perfect.”
“Don’t forget this,” Bones added, sliding a pad and pen at her. “Make sure to write down the names and ages of every girl Winston tells you about. If he can include how they died as well, so much the better.”
“I should refuse because interrogating a ghost was not part of our agreement,” she said, but an unmistakable spark of interest lit her eyes. She might deny it to him–and especially herself–but she was more than intrigued by the prospect.
“If I’m right, this information will lead to a group of vampires who need killing,” Bones tempted her. “Hunting vampires is part of our agreement, isn’t it?”
She shook her head, but held out her hand. He gave her the pen, notepad, and bottle of illegal liquor, and then pretended not to notice the spring in her step as she left the truck.
Bones stayed on the far edge of Simms Cemetery, watching as Cat slowly walked up to the old headstones. If you didn’t know the cemetery was here, it was easy to miss, hence the human rumors that it was so haunted, it could move to change its location. When tree trunks obscured his view of her, he flew up to see over them. She didn’t know he could fly, so she wouldn’t think to look up to spot him, and his all-black attire made him nearly invisible against the night sky.
His new, higher vantage point let him see her again, though the trees were so close together, their bare limbs formed a spider web of branches between them. She was halfway through the cemetery when she whirled and whipped out her knife.
“All right, luv?” Bones called out.
“Yeah,” she said after a second, sounding slightly embarrassed. “It was nothing.”
He followed the direction of her gaze. John Simms’ shade rose from his grave and crossed the length of the cemetery. Then, he flung himself off the same cliff the hanging tree protruded over. After a few moments, his shade rose from his grave and repeated the process.
Bones didn’t know how Winston had managed to curse the judge who’d sentenced him, but the moonshine maker had done it. John Simms’ spirit hadn’t rested a single night since Winston’s death. Bones wished he could say the same about the judge who’d sentenced him to the penal colonies over two hundred years ago. He’d been a nasty sod, too.
Cat paused when another ghost materialized over an age-crumbled headstone. The Weeping Woman had appeared there so often, even humans had heard of her. But she, like Simms, wasn’t sentient. She was only a remnant of the energy the woman had left behind. Cat must’ve realized that, too, because after a sympathetic look, Cat ignored her and continued searching the cemetery.
After a moment, she stopped and knelt by another weathered headstone. “Winston Gallagher,” Cat said, knocking on it as if it were a door. “Come on out!”
Winston would hear her even if that wasn’t his headstone. Per Bones’s instructions, she was being loud.
“Knock, knock, who’s there?” Cat said next.
Bones smiled at her whimsy, and then he felt a surge of supernatural energy before a shadow formed at the nearby tree line. Cat looked in that direction, proving she felt it, too.
“Oh, Winston,” she said, drawing out the last syllable of his name as if it were an incantation. “I have something for you!”
“Insolent warm baggage,” the ghost muttered, materializing enough to show his stout midsection, bushy brown hair, and thick whiskers. “Let’s see how fast she can run.”
Winston let out an eerie wail worthy of a B-grade horror movie, and then the leaves at his feet burst outward as if kicked by a solid object. An impressive trick for a ghost.
Cat merely stood up and said, “Winston Gallagher?”
The ghost looked over his shoulder, as if expecting to find someone else behind him. That’s how shocked he was that Cat could see him. Bones stifled his laugh and flew higher. Cat wouldn’t know to look up, but Winston might, and Bones didn’t want the ghost seeing him.
“Well?” he heard Cat say impatiently.
The ghost muttered something too low for Bones to hear.
“The hell I can’t,” Cat replied. “If that’s your headstone, then tonight’s your lucky night.”
“You can see me?” Winston asked, louder now.
“Yeah, I see dead people,” Cat said in an amused tone. “Who knew? Now, let’s talk. I’m looking for some newly deceaseds, and I heard you could help.”
Bones couldn’t see Winston’s scowl, but it was clear in the ghost’s new, belligerent tone. “Get out of here, lest the grave swallow you whole, and you never leave!”
“I’m not afraid of the grave. I was born half in it,” was Cat’s calm reply. “If you want me gone, fine, but that means I’ll have to throw this in the nearest trash can.”
Bones knew the moment Winston saw the bottle.
“What’s that you’ve got there, mistress?” he crooned. Nothing like an insatiable alcohol craving to make the ghost remember his manners.
“Moonshine, my friend,” Cat replied in a tempting tone.
“Please, mistress!” Winston shouted. “Please, drink it!”
“Me?” Cat said in confusion. “I don’t want any.”
“Let me taste it through you, please!” Winston begged.
Cat began muttering under her breath. Bones grinned. No, he hadn’t mentioned this part, but now she’d learn another important lesson when it came to dealing with supernaturals: expect the unexpected. Would Cat be flexible enough to accomplish her objectives? Or would her hostility toward non-humans cause her to abandon the job?
“Fine,” Cat said after a pause. “But then you’re going to give me the names of young girls who’ve died around here. No car accidents or diseases, either. Murders only.”
One month ago, she’d thought all vampires were rabid killers. Now, she was bargaining with a ghost on behalf of her vampire partner. She had such strength. It had taken Bones years to stop hating himself for what Ian had forced him to become.
“Read the paper, mistress, you don’t need me for that,” Winston snapped. “Now, drink the ‘shine!”
The ghost was trying to bully her? Bones almost pitied him.
“I’ve caught you on a bad night,” Cat said in an icily pleasant tone. “I’ll just be on my way–”
“Samantha King, seventeen years old, passed last night after being bled to death!” Winston screeched.
Bled to death.
Bones’s jaw tightened. Contrary to what Cat believed, vampires rarely killed when they fed. Even if the vampire had no moral qualms, leaving bodies behind was a messy, attention-getting waste. Why feed and kill when a living human could provide many meals? The few humans in the know about vampires usually flocked to them, seeking the protection and care vampires gave the human members of their lines, all for the low cost of silence about their species plus a little blood.
“Mother of God,” Cat said, gagging after her first swallow of moonshine. It wasn’t Bones’s preferred liquor, either.
“That tastes like kerosene!” she went on with a gasp.
“The sweetness,” Winston moaned. “Give me more!”
Bones’s mobile vibrated with an incoming call. One glance at the number, and he knew he’d have to take this. He flew higher, until neither Cat nor the ghost could hear him.
“Ted,” Bones answered. “What did you find out?”
“Not as much as I’d like,” his friend replied, a Southern accent coating each word. “I flagged every wire or transfer above ten g’s, and you’re right. Lots of money coming in and out of areas in Ohio that aren’t experiencing an economic boom. Lots of new shell corporations here, too.”
Bones had seen this before. “Let me guess; the money’s being sent to shell corporations that can’t be easily traced?”
“Give the fanged man a cigar,” Ted drawled.
“Is Flat Creek Incorporated one of the shell companies?”
“Yes.” Ted sounded surprised. “Was going to tell you that’s the top receiver of all the wires, but you beat me to it.”
Then Bones was right about who was running this cabal, and that wasn’t good news. Hennessey was an old, powerful, well-connected Master vampire known for his expensive tastes, unbridled avarice, and absolute lack of a conscience.
“Are any of Flat Creek Inc’s clients sloppy?”
There was usually at least one. Arrogance bred contempt for playing it safe.
“Sergio Ricci,” Ted replied, rolling his r’s. “He’s been the biggest spender this past year. Probably why he’s the easiest to trace. Hard to completely hide that kind of money.”
Sergio. Not nearly as powerful or connected as Hennessey, but just as morally bankrupt. Killing him would be a pleasure.
“Thanks, mate. I’ll need our usual arrangement soon, so don’t go anywhere. In the meantime, keep your ear to the ground. Let me know if anything new comes up.”
“Will do, bud,” Ted replied.
Bones hung up and floated back down. He was near the tree tops when he heard Cat yell, “I hope worms shit on your corpse!”
She sounded more angry than endangered, but he hastened to the ground anyway. “What happened, Kitten?”
“You,” she slurred, taking several seconds to spot him even though he was now striding right toward her. “You tricked me! I never want to see you or that bottle of liquid arsenic again!”
She hurled the bottle moonshine bottle at him with none of her usual skill. It missed him by several meters.
Bones retrieved it, shocked to see it was now empty.
“You drank the whole bloody thing? You were only supposed to have a few sips!”
“Did you say that?” she accused as she staggered and fell.
Bones caught her before she hit the ground.
“I’ve got those names, so that’s all that matters, but you men are all alike.” Cat paused to let out a loud hiccup. “Alive, dead, undead, you’re all perverts. I had a drunken pervert in my pants! Do you know how unsanitary that is?”
“What are you saying?” Had someone else shown up in the cemetery while he was too high up to see? He’d kill them–
“Winston poltergeisted my panties, that’s what!” she said with another impressive hiccup.
“Why, you scurvy, lecherous spook!” Bones thundered, swinging around to face the cemetery. “If my pipes still worked, I’d go right back there and piss on your grave!”
Ghostly laughter danced on the wind before fading away.
That was it. Bones didn’t know how to kill a ghost, but finding out would become his new pastime.
Cat plucked at his jacket. She was so drunk, even that slight movement nearly felled her. Without his arm around her, she wouldn’t be able to remain on her feet.
“Who were those girls?” she slurred. “You were right, most of them had been killed by vampires.”
“I suspected as much.” And hated for her to know it, but giving them justice was more important than him fretting about her having another reason to hate their kind.
“Do you know who did it? Winston didn’t.” Cat widened her eyes, as if having difficulty focusing on him despite him being right there. “He just knew who they were and how they died.”
“Don’t ask me more about it,” Bones said, soft but stern. “I won’t tell you, and before you even wonder, no, I had nothing to do with it.”
She stared at him, her expression somber but not accusing. She believed him. It struck him with more force than he was prepared to process. He looked away so she didn’t read the emotion in his gaze. Was she finally starting to trust him?
All at once, she began to laugh. “You know what? You’re pretty. You’re so pretty.”
He looked back at her, fighting not to laugh himself now. “You’ll hate yourself in the morning for saying that. You must be absolutely pissed.”
Another cascade of giggles escaped her. “Not anymore.”
“Right,” he said, picking her up.
She didn’t even protest. Drunk beyond belief.
“If you weren’t half dead, what you just drank would kill you,” he muttered before saying, “Come on. Let’s get you home.”
She snuggled deeper into his arms. At once, his body reacted despite him knowing that this was the drink, not her. Still, she felt so right in his arms, and when she brushed her mouth on his neck and inhaled his scent…it took all his willpower to keep himself from kissing her.
“Do you think I’m pretty?” she asked in a breathy tone.
“No, I don’t think you’re pretty.” His voice was hoarse as he fought to control himself. “I think you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”
She smiled, and then her expression clouded. “Liar. He wouldn’t have done that if I was beautiful.”
“Who?” Bones asked at once.
“Maybe he knew,” she said as if she hadn’t heard him. “Maybe on some deep level, he sensed that I was evil. I wish I hadn’t been born this way. I wish I hadn’t been born at all–”
“You listen to me, Kitten,” he interrupted. “I don’t know who you’re talking about”–aside from the world’s biggest fool–“but you are not evil. Not one single cell of you. There is nothing wrong with you, and sod anyone who can’t see that.”
Her head fell back as if it were too heavy for her to hold up any longer. He shifted, cradling her closer.
A smile flitted over her lips. Then, with the quixotic mood fluctuation of someone drunk, she began to laugh again.
“Winston liked me. As long as I have moonshine, I’ve always got a date with a ghost!”
Did his feelings for her make him irrational enough to be jealous of a ghost? Yes, yes they did.
“Hate to inform you, but you and Winston do not have a future together.”
“Says who?” she asked with another laugh.
He shouldn’t. He shouldn’t. He shouldn’t…
He lifted her head, waiting until her gaze settled on his face. Then he leaned down so there was no chance that she could look away.
She stared at him, her breath hitching. Her heart rate sped up, too, and not from fear. No, another emotion entirely lit his senses on fire as he caught the new, intoxicating change to her scent. His whole body tightened in response, but he didn’t close the space between their mouths. He’d waited too long to kiss her to do it now, when alcohol motivated her as well as desire.
“I’m drunk, aren’t I?” she asked in an unsteady tone.
He snorted. “Impressively so.”
She smiled as if glad he’d confirmed that. Then her gaze flicked to his mouth. “Don’t you dare try to bite me.”
“Don’t fret. That was the furthest thing from my mind,” he replied with the absolute truth.
She smiled again. A pang hit him when he realized this was the most he’d seen her smile. He carried her to the Ford and opened it one-handed. Then, he set her down and fastened her seat belt around her hips. There was no accompanying shoulder strap. This truck was so old, that hadn’t been invented when it was manufactured. Then he took the notepad from her and put it in the glove box. She barely seemed to notice.
She slumped against the truck’s door as soon as he shut it, but when Bones drove off, the bumpy, unpaved road roused her. Between the lack of shock absorbs and the thin, worn seats, she had no hope of resting. She needed a new vehicle. If he thought she’d accept it, he’d buy her one tomorrow.
“Here,” Bones said when he could stand her restlessness no longer, and tugged her so she could lay her head on his leg.
“Pig!” she shouted, banging her head on the steering wheel from how fast–and clumsily–she recoiled.
“Isn’t your mind in the gutter?” he said with a chuckle. “I only had the most honorable of intentions, I assure you.”
Cat gave his lap a wary look, as if assessing its potential dangerousness. Bones’s lips twitched, but he didn’t laugh again.
Oh, you won’t have to wonder when that’ll be dangerous. I promise you, you’ll know at once.
Then, she looked at the cold, unforgiving metal that made up most of the interior to her truck before she flopped down and rested her head on his leg.
“Wake me when we get to my house.”
A week later, Cat stood in front of the new, full-length mirror and stared at her reflection with horror.
“There is no way I’m going out in public like this!”
Bones leaned back in his chair, not bothering to hide his grin. “You look so smashing, I can hardly stop myself from ripping your clothes off.”
If she knew how true that was, she’d do more than glare at him. Most women enjoyed a makeover plus bags of new clothes, but not his Kitten. The results were worth it, though. Her makeover didn’t heighten her beauty as much as demand attention for it, as did her low-cut, short-hemmed dress. If not for the boots that reached her knees, she’d be more naked than clothed, and from her scandalized expression, she was well aware of that.
“You think this is funny, don’t you?” she retorted. “This is all a big, bloody chuckle-fest to you!”
He jumped up and faced her. She was so used to his speed now that she didn’t blink at how he went from a seated position across the room to staring down at her in less than a second.
“This isn’t a joke, but it is a game, and winner takes all. If some poor undead fellow is busy looking at these”–he tugged at her bodice, earning a slap to his hand–“then he won’t be looking for this,” he finished, holding his latest gift against her stomach.
If she hadn’t been so focused on barring another inch of her bosoms from his view, she would have paid more attention to what he was doing with his other hand. After all, her cleavage was meant to distract her targets, not herself.
She grabbed the gift he held out and straightened. “Is that a stake, Bones, or are you very happy with my new dress?”
She was just daring him now, wasn’t she?
“In this case, it’s a stake. You could always feel around for something more, though,” he couldn’t resist adding. “See what comes up.”
She gave him one of her I’m-acting-more-angry-than-I-am looks. “That better be part of our upcoming dirty-talk training, or we’re going to give this new stake a go.”
Oh, he was going to enjoy this next part of her training, and for far more than its practical purposes. She might look like a seductress in her new togs, but she also needed to sound like one. Fortunately for her, he was a world-class libertine who’d spent weeks fantasizing about her. When he was done, she’d be able to handle anything her targets said.
“Now, that’s hardly a romantic rejoinder,” he said, as if this were only part of her lesson. “Concentrate! You look great, by the way. That bra perfectly showcases your cleavage.”
“Slime,” she said, but he caught her quick glance down to see if he was right. Then she quickly looked away, as if embarrassed at being caught admiring herself.
She should admire herself. She’d been berated into being ashamed for too long, but that was a subject for another day. For now, he had another surprise.
“Put the stake in your boot, Kitten. You’ll find there’s a loop for it.”
She did, smiling at how her weapon was now concealed, yet still within easy reach.
“Put your other one away as well,” he said, knowing she always carried her homemade silver-and-wood stake on her, too.
“That was a great idea, Bones,” she said when she was done putting her weapons away. Then, her expression clouded.
Poor lass. Whenever she let her guard down enough to enjoy her time with him, she had a knee-jerk reaction of punishing herself. He hadn’t been able to stop that self-destructive cycle yet, but today, he could distract her from it. Thoroughly.
“Done that myself a time or two, but something’s still not right,” he said while walking around her. “Something’s missing.” He pretended to muse a moment longer before saying, “I’ve got it!” with a snap of his fingers. “Take your knickers off.”
She gaped at him. “What?”
“Your knickers,” he repeated, using all his control to keep a straight face. “You know: panties, muff-huggers, nasty nets–”
“Are you out of your mind?” she interrupted him. “What does my underwear have to do with anything? I’m not flashing my…my crotch at someone, no matter what you say!”
Her color was up, but she hadn’t blushed yet. He’d soon fix that.
“You don’t have to flash anyone anything. Believe me, a vampire will know without you showing him that your box is unwrapped.”
“How?” she snapped. “No panty lines?”
“The scent, pet.” Ah, there was his blush! And such a lovely shade of red, too.
“No vamp in the world could mistake that,” Bones went on, his lips twitching so much that he could barely speak. Good thing she was too incensed to notice. “Like dangling catnip in front of a bloomin’ kitty. Bloke gets a good whiff of–”
“Will you stop?” she all but screeched. “I get the picture, okay? Stop drawing it! God, but you are…profane!”
He’d started this to distract her–and yes, because she was even lovelier when she blushed–but she really did need to get past her overactive sense of modesty. Her first hunt was this weekend, and she would be ready.
“Besides, I hardly see how that’s necessary,” she added, collecting herself with visible effort. “You’ve got me all dolled up in these screw-me clothes, and I’m going to burn their ears off with dirty talk. If that isn’t enough to get our targets to take me for a ride, then it’s hopeless.”
“It’s like this, luv,” he replied. “You look right fetching, but suppose a fellow prefers blondes? Or brunettes? Or likes ‘em with a little more meat on the arse? These aren’t greenhorns; these are vampires with discriminating tastes. We might need something to tip the scales, as it were. Think of it as…advertising. Besides, with a vampire’s sense of smell, it’s not like he can’t sniff you out in the first place.” And if she hadn’t realized that before, she would now. “For example, I can tell right off when you’ve got your monthlies, knickers or no knickers. Some things you just–”
“I get your point!” Now her face was fire-engine red, but to her credit, she took in a few breaths, and then met his eyes squarely. “Fine, I’ll do it, when we go out on Friday for the hunt. Not before. I’m not negotiating on this one.”
“Whatever you say, Kitten,” he replied, ignoring her glare. “Now, to our next lesson: the nasty speak. You know the rules. For every blush and recoil you give me, you owe me ten miles running through the woods. So, which are you going to be by the end of this? A triumphant seductress? Or a tired jogger?”
“Triumphant seductress,” she said with admirable confidence for someone whose cheeks were still stained from a prior blush.
He gestured to the table he’d set up. “Let’s find out.”
Cat sat down, giving a dismayed glance at how that made her short hemline hitch up even higher. Bones saw it and snorted.
“Going to lose our wager before I’ve even started?”
With a defiant arch of her brow, she yanked her hemline up another notch, and then glared at him for admiring the view.
“Are you?” she countered. “If I don’t blush or pull away, you lose. I wonder what punishment I’ll think up for you?”
“Think away,” he replied with a grin. “It’ll never happen.” Then he sat down and held out his hands. “Game on, luv.”
After a moment’s pause, she slipped her hands into his. As soon as she did, Bones told her what he was really thinking.
“You look luscious, pet, and I’m not talking about your new dress. The only thing that could make your mouth more beautiful is if it were wrapped around my cock. I wager the sight of that could start my heart again. I can’t wait to see what you look like beneath me, bent over against me, and on top of me. I want to hear how loud you can scream when you come. I bet you like it rough, too. So do I, and I’ll tear into you until you’re too tired to keep begging me for more–”
“My, my, someone hasn’t been laid in a while,” she interrupted him.
Her tone was cool, but she was already using sarcasm as a shield, and her eyes had dilated with more than embarrassment. Forbidden interest sparked there now, too, and tiny muscles twitched in her hands, as if she wanted to tighten her grip on him, but wasn’t allowing herself to.
Bones rolled his thumbs over the pressure points in her palms, teasing them with light strokes. Beneath the table, her legs clenched as if she were feeling his touch somewhere else, and her eyes widened in surprise.
That’s right, Kitten, Bones thought, letting her see past the mask he always wore around her. I can make you feel things you can’t even imagine. Soon, I’ll do everything I’m telling you now, and that’s not counting what I can do with my fangs that I won’t talk about yet…
“I’ll take your breasts into my mouth, licking your nipples until they turn dark red. They’ll do that,” he confirmed as her brow briefly furrowed. “The more I lick and the more I nibble, the darker they’ll get. You won’t want me to stop even after I’ve completely exhausted you, and I don’t tire easily. Let me inform you of a secret about vampires–we direct where the blood goes in our bodies, for as long as we want it to be there, so I can come again and again while still not stopping…”
Her breathing hitched, and when he stroked the pulse points on her wrists, he felt as well as heard her heartbeat speed up.
“I can’t wait to find out how you taste,” he continued, voice deepening while his tongue traced his lower lip. “I’ll lick you until you think you’re on fire, and after I suck all your juices out of you…I’ll drink your blood.”
“Huh?” she said before comprehension dawned, and she looked at his mouth with a flash of erotic expectation. Almost at once, a flush painted her cheeks from ear to ear, and she stood up so fast that her chair upended.
Triumph surged that had nothing to do with his winning their bet. She wasn’t blushing from her usual prudery now. Oh, no. Her scent, pulse, and the look in her eyes showed that she was blushing because part of her wanted him to do everything he’d said…and the rest of her had just realized that.
He inhaled the heady scent of her arousal while making her a silent promise. Soon, Kitten. Very soon.
But not now. She wasn’t ready to admit her attraction, let alone act on it. So, he’d continue on as if both of them weren’t aware of the new tension between them.
He let out a low laugh. “Oh, Kitten, you were doing so well! Guess you couldn’t pass up a nice stroll in the woods. Beautiful night for it, too. I smell a storm coming.”
She muttered under her breath as she paced. Not her usual curses at him this time; these sounded more directed at herself.
“No wonder I had you pegged as an innocent,” he went on. “I’ve met nuns who were more promiscuous. Knew it would be the oral stuff that did you in. I would’ve bet my life on it.”
“You don’t have a life; you’re dead,” she muttered.
Keep telling yourself that, luv. Even you don’t believe it anymore.
“On the contrary, if you judge by senses and reflexes, I’m more alive than any human. Just have a few more upgrades.”
“Upgrades?” She swung to face him. “You’re not a computer, Bones. You’re a killer.”
Once again, she seemed more desperate to convince herself of that than anything else. He’d pity that inner struggle if she wasn’t wrong about vampires in general, him in particular, and most importantly, about herself.
So, he only leaned back, tilting the chair until it balanced on two legs. All the while, her gaze kept flicking over him as if she couldn’t help herself. He didn’t want her to. That’s why his shirts had gotten much more form fitting. This new gray one was tight enough to accentuate all the muscles he’d honed from working under a pitiless overseer when he was human. Back then, his lean, hard body had been a sign of his poverty. Now, ironically, it was fashionable.
“You’re a killer, too, or did you forget?” he finally said in an easygoing tone. “You know, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and all that rot. Really, Kitten, why so shy on our former topic? Don’t tell me the sod who shagged you neglected foreplay.”
A new darkness in her voice made him stiffen. He tried to read her eyes but they were now shuttered, and her scent soured while her pacing became jerky with rage and remembered pain. This wasn’t a normal reaction to a previous one-night stand. No, something else had happened. Something far worse.
Ice cold rage replaced his desire. Whoever the sod was that had done this to her, his days were now numbered.
“Not unless you count him taking his clothes off as foreplay,” she went on in a brittle tone. “Can we not talk about that? It hardly puts me in the proper mood.”
“Don’t fret over him, pet,” he told her, making sure his voice held none of the violence surging through him. “If I meet him, I’ll snap him in half for you.”
And I will meet him. I promise you that.
“We won’t speak of him any longer,” he continued. “Ready to go back to the table now?”
With that, he waggled his brows in an exaggerated way. To his relief, annoyance replaced the pain in her expression. Good. He never wanted to see that look on her face again.
“Or do you need a few more minutes to cool off?” he said in his most insinuating tone to further take her mind off the past.
She stopped pacing. “I’m ready. I just wasn’t prepared before, but I am now.”
She sat back down, and he stretched out his hands. This time, she took them without hesitation.
“Go on,” she said in the same tone he’d heard soldiers use while preparing for battle. “Give it your best shot.”
A slow smile stretched his lips. “Love to give it my best shot. Let me tell you just how I’d do it…”
Before the hour was through, she owed him forty miles.
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Anita Klaboe says
I’m from the US. I’d be a vampire. They seem like they’d be strong enough to take care of themselves.
Not an entry. Question is not answered, and country is not indicated. 🙂
That’s OK. I wasn’t trying to enter the giveaway. Just appreciating the post. 🙂
I would be a werewolf. I seem to always identify with them in book. I’m from the USA.
Alyssa Koo says
“To those of you who don’t know me”!!! Lol. Very modest, because does any of the BDH not know of you?!
I would be a fire-breathingdragon shapeshifter, because – dragons!!! They’re badass and awesome. And fierce. At least, I would be!
Moderator R says
April Villone says
I would be a Fae because they are so diverse and can have so many different ki ds of powers.
Moderator R says
Country is needed for an entry, please ????
Because i would still be able to blend in with humans
Dawn in the US – from your universe – definitely a Vampire 🙂
Kimberly @Caffeinated Reviewer says
Thanks for sharing the chapters with us. I would need to be a vampire. It’s the only way to ensure I can read all the books.
Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer says
US. Sorry about that.
Tess S says
So grateful for this opportunity from both Jeanine Frost and House Andrews! Thank you.
I would choose to be a sphinx, but with an alternate human form so I could still pass in modern society. Flying, riddling, and lore- what more could one want?
-from BC, Canada
Country, please. 🙂
Cindy A says
I’m from Washington state (USA) and I’d be a vampire. Due to the fact I’m already a late night person for years. I’m not to sure about drinking blood, but could I drink ice tea instead????
Moderator R says
We could offer as far as tomato juice but appearances must be kept ????♀️
Kelsey C says
US here! I’ve been thinking about it, and maybe an elf? Across canons they pretty much always have good hair (as a person with curly that I do love, having easy hair is a tempting thought ????) also they usually have gorgeous tree houses, are athletic/graceful, and maybe some cool magic powers thrown in. Not a lot of downsides here for me ????????♀️
I’m excited to check out a new book as always, yay! I’ve been reading contemporary romance book fluff lately as a break and it was about time for a switch again anyway ????
I would want to be a wizard- I’d go do my magic in a cottage in the forest and quit dealing with this every day nonsense lol.
-Lex from the US
Ailsa Richardson says
I think vampire for sure though there are some other tempting options! I have always been a fan of the vampire lores and legends so I feel like I would be hire prepared. I can’t wait to read this one, I’m in the UK ????
Megan H says
I would be a vampire (up all night and a picky eater). I’m from Canada
I’m also from Canada and believe I would be a vampire for the same reasons. People also misjudge my age regularly.
Sandy Bequette says
I would like to be a Walker like Mercy in Patricia Briggs stories. I’m from Nebraska USA
Mercedes Prizmonte says
Monica Hall says
I would be a ghost for two reasons. First, I could listen to everyone’s conversations and get all the tea. Second, if I met an obviously not very nice person, I could do all kinds of stuff to freak them out.
Moderator R says
Country of residence please ????
Moderator R says
Your country of residence is required in your comment in order to entry in the giveaway ????
Julia F says
I would be a psy, ala the ones from Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. I’d prefer to have some sort of telepathy, but would also love TK or teleportation!
I’m in the United States.
Mystical were-tigress like Dali I reckon. I’m in the UK.
Jezzie Hughes says
I’m having a hard time picking between a vampire and a werewolf – so I think I would be a vampire who is a shifter 🙂
I’m in the US and love your books and of course House Andrews
Elizabeth Anderson says
Vampire from the innkeeper series. Out of all the different versions of vampires those are my favorite right now.
Ashley Kemp says
I would be a vampire!
I am territorial of both places and my people. I would totally stalk my husband around. (He would be a werewolf. His spirit animal is a golden retriever.) And he would be my favorite food source. (Yay for no cooking!)
Candice Rehorn says
Oooh. I want MAGIC! So witch, sorceress, or similar. Thanks for the opportunities
Candice Rehorn says
USA since I was so excited I forgot that part! ????
Vianne Higgins says
I am from the U.S. I’d love to be a half vampire, because I’d have the advantage of being underestimated!
Absolutely LOVE this series!
Cat and Bones were one of the first PNR/UF series I scooped up (back in the day) and I simply devoured the whole lot as fast as I could.
If I had to choose just one paranormal type to be I’m thinking a bird of prey shifter.
I’m in the US.
Ditto Jeanine’s was first series I bought as a digital book on iBooks before I found kobo and then eventually kindle where I buy most days now. I loved Leila but also the way demons are Denise in particular! She can change into any badass thing she wants so demon but without the pesky restrictions that are in many pols books around their manifesting. I’d probably turn myself into a Pegasus unicorn for much of my existence hehe!! Thanks for the preview I missed this world but also adored Ian and Veritas…I feel a reread coming before the 26th…
Niki PA, USA
Kathy Z says
I’m from the US. I’d be a null. Just try your magic on me.
I’d love to be a shapeshifter although I can’t decide which species! Excited about the new book.
I’d love to have healing-magic like Hugh or to be able to cast spells that heal. (Hopefully I’d find a place safe enough to heal people, without being enslaved).
I’m from Germany.
I am in the US, in NC.
I would want to be a were creature maybe cat or wolf or something that can fly.
I cant wait for this book. Bones is my favorite male character.
Amy McDonald says
I would be a vampire, as I would love to be immortal, and look young forever ????!! By the way I love the Night Huntresses series, I’ve been a fan for years now!! I can’t wait to read this book!! thank you for the chance at this awesome giveaway!! I’m in the U.S.A.
I think I would want to be a half-vampire. There are too many things I would probably have to give up if I went full vampire (like comfort foods associated with my grandfather ????), but the idea of a tiny boost in strength and longevity has it’s appeal. ????
Miranda McGarity says
I would probably be a fae. Vicious with a pretty coating. Tells the truth but in a confusing way. I’m from the US
I would be a fairy since I’ve always been fascinated with them. I’m from the United States. Thank you!
Cat and bones are some of my favorite characters. I love this series and was so happy to get the latest book. If anyone’s is not familiar,but you love funny complex characters, who are also smoking hot, please give it a go. You won’t regret it.
If I could be any magic creature I’d be a fairy. I would have really pretty wings, fly anywhere I want, and my magic would be amazing. Oh and my fairy wand would leave glitter that automatically disappears after 15 seconds. USA is my country.
Monica Taylor says
Hi, from the US.
My answer would be vampire, because I’m up all night and consider food to be optional.
Anna L says
Tiger shapeshifter, from USA, because im already a nightowl and who doesnt want to prawl
I would be a Pegasus. I could fly away after giving a good kicking to anyone annoying me. Plus, I would really love to fly.
Tracy Wickman says
I think I would like to be a half-vampire because I love food to much! ???? In US.
Tiger Lily says
I am from USA. I would be a shape shifter that turns into some kind of wolf or wild cat.
I love your books. Cat and Bones are one of my favorite couples. I would love to be a fly on the wall at a party where Kate, Curran, Cat and Bones are attending.
In fantsayland, I will be a dragon shifter. Because…well, dragons and my version of them are these cool people.
Jennifer Whitney says
I would be a ghost so I could disappear whenever I want and pester prople I don’t like!! I live in Columbus, OH USA.
It would have to be fae of some kind for me. I want to live in a mountainous forest somewhere, probably a fjord with a deep connection to nature ????
I’m from the UK
I am from the US.
In most of the paranormal literature, you don’t get a choice. Either birth or another’s choice determines what you are. If I got to choose, shape-shifting. I would not like to give up the sunshine.
Gina Ilas Preveau says
Rhode Island,US ????????.
I’ve always had a fascination with hybrids, I’ve recently read the I Married a Birdman by Regine Abel, and it was a human hybrid male. I think I would want to be that. He was quite fascinating!!
Rhonda Marshall says
shapeshifter from Canada
Hayley Fountain says
From the US. Dragons are pretty cool. They can fly and breathe fire. Plus they hoard gold and jewels.
Mermaid because I think shells are a great look.
I’m from the US.
Lisa Thompson says
A witch who controls all the elements because powerful and awesome. Maryland, USA
Cathy Saldin says
I would be a United States Dragon ???? because I was born in the year of the dragon and I love to hoard books as well as being from a horde of readers who love your books.
Oh my! That was amazing. Does one need to read the Ian series to understand the Cat and Bones series?
If I could be any paranormal I would choose the Sphinx, because they have the answers to riddles! I like knowing the answers.
I am in the US.
Moderator R says
Other fans can give you more in depth answers, but in brief, no, you can totally read them on their own ????
Thank you Mod R!
Samantha perrone says
I’m from us, that’s a hard choice I would have say werewolf cause I would love to shift into Wolf and run through the forest and for there strength or dragon shifter and be able to fly through the mountains
US. I think I might like to try out shapeshifting. The concept of different perceptions of reality would be really, really interesting.
Christi Hubbard says
Honestly I love both your books and hers. I resonate with fairies and were animals. I read books to escape my reality. I can’t wait for the next book in both authors series. I’m in Florida. USA.
Patti (@thelovejunkee) says
I would want to be a vampire if it’s in Cat and Bones’ world becausethey’resexy, strong, and get to be a part of history. I would definitely NOT want to be a vamp in Kate and Curran’s world 🙂
I think I’d like to be either a selkie or a mermaid – Living so close to the Pacific ocean in the USA it would be interesting to see the coast from another POV. I;d love to explore the deep sea trenches and I am sure there are plenty of sunken ships to explore.
I’m from Newfoundland Canada. I would like to be like Cat’s friend Denise. I don’t want to say more as not to spoil the book First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost. Love Jeaniene Frost books. I highly recommend them!
Crossbreed/mix breed/half-breed of almost any two(or more)
I’d be a shapeshifter. Mostly because I’m afraid of heights and if I could shapeshift into something with wings, I could fly—so no more reason to be afraid of heights.
Hello from California!
If I could be any creature, I’d choose to be a Valkyrie. I like how fiercely independent, brave and uncompromising they are and the myths and folklore about them.
Looking forward to reading the rest of the story from Bones’ POV.
I’d like to have Denise’s powers (although without having to go through the pain of receiving them). The ability to eat whatever I want AND turn into a dragon? Yes, please!
I’m from the United States.
I’m in the UK. I’d be a telekinetic. I could tidy the house without moving from my chair!
Phantom wannabe here ;). How cool is it to turn corporeal and incorporeal at will? Plus phantoms don’t need food, drink, sleep or transport.
Kristen Grispino says
I would choose dragon, because according to the fantasy of my choice????, I’d be able to fly, heal, and do magic.
I’m from the USA.
I choose dwarf. They’re tough, they get left alone if they want to be, & they build things that last. A dwarf hard drive wouldn’t fail, dwarf server wouldn’t go down, dwarf phone screen wouldn’t crack. We need some dwarfs around here!
I’d be a vampire! That way I’d have all the time in the world to finish reading my infinite TBR pile ????
Fairies are pretty cool….. I like to channel my inner Tinkerbell
Esther Granger says
I’m from Ireland and for me i think I would have to choose to be a Selkie
Susan DeeWaard says
I would like to meet a shifter, preferably a dragon shifter. I am in the US.
My family thinks I’m a vampire just because I dislike turning on lights. I think I’d rather be fae with a unique look and disturbing powers.
Jennifer Holton says
Chris HB says
The Squee is probably the most powerful creature in paranormal romance. 😉
Honestly? Crafting beautiful things and being able to help people feel happy or relaxed when they walk into a room sounds nice right now. So I guess I’d be a harmonizer. Not my usual pick, but tonight, it sounds like an underappreciated ability.
Jennifer Holton says
Shifter I think Squee!
Shifter! I am a cat lover, so it would be pretty cool to be able to shift into something like a cougar, although I have always been fascinated by werewolves. And even turning into a normal cat would be fun. Just think of the shenanigans you could pull off! Anyway, thanks for offering the giveaway.
From U.S. I would try being a siren, live on the coastline with a great (If sinister) voice.
Katy S. says
I’d like to be werewolf/shapeshifter of the Mercy Thompson Universe or KDU variety. They’re strong, fast, long-lived, and prize self control. Also, that metabolism lets them eat all the things! United States resident here.
I’d be some sort of healer or shifter who can take on any form. I would love to be able to heal and help people.
Marsha Sensel says
I think a mage/wolf shifter hybrid. USA
Dana Siegel says
I would be a shapeshifter, preferably feline, bobcat or cougar
Jennifer Connors says
What a fun idea!! I would love to become a witch w earth, air, water & fire powers. And the ability to move around the world at will. Woo-hoo! Summerland, BC, Canada ????????
lone. shifter . I want to prowl around without being bossed around by a alphahole lol
Natasha Johnson says
Night Court Fae because I’m a night owl and and I love reading Fae stories. USA
Emily N. says
Hmm I would probably be a were-cat (maybe a mountain lion). They are part of a group/family, but also cool being kind of solitary. The whole COVID lockdown didn’t really change my lifestyle much haha. I’ve also never read anything about an out-of-shape shapeshifter, but more importantly… you can still eat ALL THE FOOD!!
In the USA
Hmm tough question.
I would be a wizard! And maybe receive a certain letter on my 11th birthday….
Country of origin: Greece !
I would love to be a Demon. I’m from the US. Jeaniene, so excited about this newest addition to the night huntress world! Yours were the first books to really get me into PNR/UF and I’ve always thought it so cool that my two favorite authors are besties.
Stacie McClellan says
I would be an domana caste Wind Clan elf in Wen Spencer’s Elfhome. Since I would be an elf, I’d be immortal and have magic.
And since I’d be a wind clan elf, I could live in Pittsburgh and have access to modern conveniences and the internet and be able to have my Kindle and buy books and ebooks by my favorite authors while simultaneously living on Elfhome and having a new magical world to enjoy.
I’m a resident of the US.
I would be a half vampire half witch.speed healing powers and magic. Great chapters! I love the book so far. U.S.A country of origin.
Italian girl here! I’ve always imagined myself as a vampire, one because they’re sexy and mysterious, and also because they’re just as anti-social and night creatures as I am.
Beth Szabo says
I think I would be a Ravengard. I love shiny things.
I am a USA citizen
Hi from Australia.
Much as I’d like to be a sylph like elf or nymph, personality and shape wise I think I’m pretty close to a werebadger already. Specifically, from the KD world. Cheers All
I want to be a Sphinx. I want to ask a ridiculous question or pose a riddle to stump others. When the person can’t answer, I can rip them to shreds.
Just think in an office setting. I’ll look like everyone else. Then “Who took my yogurt out of the frig?” When no one can answer or will answer they will all suffer .
Oh my goodness. Maybe I already am this being. Lol.
Watching too much Moon Knight lately.
Also a us citizen
USA, the lovely Great Lakes area!!
A selkie intrigues me – I’m very much a water baby, since childhood.
I dream about dragons, mostly Celtic folklore variety.
(Also a Gemini, so it’s hard to make a choice….)
Victoria Snyder says
Book lover in the US who would want to be an Antistasi Prime.
Hi ya…I would have said a vampire especially after reading the Night Huntress series ( Chapter 32!!!!) But after having a Norwegian Forest cat, it’d say a werecat… They are nimble, mysterious, sleek & self-cleaning. Mini hunters..
Jim was all those..well, I don’t know about the cleanliness.
I live in USA ..thanks!
Wendy Morrey says
I am living in the USA but that does not mean I want to be an American paranormal creature. I love all things warmth and beauty. I would be a Phoenix shapeshifter.
Lorie York says
I would want to be the kind of vampire that Emma is.
I’m from Bali, Indonesia.
Not sure if I want to be any specific magical creature, but I (for sure!!!) would want to have magic in my blood like Nevada Baylor hehe. I mean, that would be genuinely convenient in daily basis, don’t you think? ><
Plus imagine I get to meet my own Mad Rogan? Gosh darn it.
Tricia P says
How fun! Thank you so much! I’m in the US (central FL). I would be an innkeeper or someone with magical capabilities (witch, wizard, etc). Housework would be a breeze! In other news, my dishwasher broke this week. ????
I would be a ghost–there’s days when disappearing sounds really good. From the US, Washington State.
Meaghan G. says
I would be a werewolf but not one that could only change at the full moon. I am drawn to the idea of the pack along with the strength and ability to experience the world in another form. From Canada.
Dragon cause I already hoard my treasures might as well be a mighty and majestic being as well that can fry my enemies too ????
Pheonix because of the magical ability to heal, rebirth and pretty feathers. Love from Canada!
You guys have coordinated the most fun contest!
If I were a character in Jeaniene Frost’s world, I’d choose half-vampire so that I could have a mostly typical life where I could take care of my autistic daughter and insure her a long beautiful life.
If I were a character in an Ilona Andrews world, I’d like to be an Innkeeper like Dina. We’d be able to visit Baha-char and learn about many of the wonders of the universe through the stories our guests share.
Penni Ellington says
From the US and I’ve been begging for this book for years.
I’d be a half vampire. Sure, I may not have all the psychic powers, strength and full immortality, but I could also eat food and run around in the sun all I like.
I’m in the US and I would love to be a Maven, human or vampire!
Jessi G says
I’m in the US and I’d want to be a unicorn. Gentle, healing, and getting to hang out in lovely flowered meadows seems pretty awesome.
Gryffin or Phoenix…they’re both pretty awesome 😉 US
I’d be a magic-user of some sort. USA.
I think I would like to be a witch or a shape shifter. I love animals and would love to either be a part of their community or able to engage with them on a different level
Hello from Canada: I think more because I just re-read the Harry Potter series I would want magic and of course with a wand!
Very much looking forward to reading Bones’ POV!!
I’d like to have magical powers, like a witch or sorcerer, but just that inherited bone deep ability.
I’m from new Zealand.
I love your books, your vampires are so interesting.
Vampire seems to be the theme here, but… you know, the fact that they can’t really appreciate human food takes them from the possible list to me, no matter how many times author writes how delicious is the blood… I’m sorry that is unnegotiable… So, I always thought I would be a hobbit – you know, true appreciation of the food and quite life without unnecessary adventures ????(Though I secretly definitely want to be a dragon.)
I’m from Czech republic
Janine Döbelin says
Daywalking vampire. I’m a late night person but still love the sun.
I’d be a phoenix shifter or a big cat. A Griffin would be awesome too!
Anna Lynn Sandfield says
Oooh! I think I would like to be a hobgoblin. I love working with metal!
I am in the US.
Lenne Adams says
A shifter, panther. I like the idea of a long life span.
Country is US
Maria Schneider says
I’d be a witch who could shapeshift into an owl. USA
What a great giveaway and LOTS of chapters! Thanks for the opportunity to read more books!
Deb C says
Likely a wizard, just because of all the cool things you can do
I would like to be a teleport capable telekinetic (Nalini Singh Psy/Changeling universe) cause then I could visit lots of places and in addition I could be super lazy using my powers to fetch stuff for me lol.
I guess I would like to be vampire for the immortal part.
Dawn page says
I would be a witch, a healer. From the US.
Linda Cooper says
I would be a Fate, the crone. Mostly so I can get away with being grumpy! Sending lots of cackles from England whilst waving my life thread snipping scissors
Anna Idziaszczyk says
England (UK); I’d go for elf due to speed, grace, pointy ears and elegant dress sense…as I lack all 4 ????
(Loved the siren suggestion by Cass, though it might be tad lonely)
Andrea Liguori says
I’m from Brazil and I would be an Iara, a character from Brazilian folklore. Iara is a kind of mermaid, being part woman and part fish, who lives within a river and possesses great physical beauty and a beautiful voice. I love to swim and I would love to be able to sing.
Nancy Clements says
I would be a walker like Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs. I am in the USA. Thank you.
I would be a shape shifter so I could disappear into nature whenever the mood struck. Australia
USA resident, and I gotta say banshee.
Heather Luce says
Love Greek mythology- so would be an Oceanid (variant of nymph). US
Thank you for doing this, I would be a dragon because of the flying and fire.
I’d be a tiger shifter, fighting for peace, who can also shift into a house cat for a relaxing time.
Country: United States
Shir Ts says
I’m Shir and I’m from Israel, and I have read every chapter of The Other Half of the Grave that was published online before so can’t wait to read the rest!
If I was a methodological creature I would like to be a witch- I would fly on my broom, have spells to manipulate the elements and be a source of inspiration and admiration but also fear (for my enemies). ????♀️????
I’d be a witch and live in the middle of the woods somewhere. US
Kim Schommer says
I love this series! Cat and Bones are my favorite couple and cannot wait for this book! I would love to be a large cat shifter! The eyesight, speed and beauty!
Amy Thames says
I would love to be a dragon ( I love shiny things )???? I horde my gold like a dragon! Lol
I live in the U.S.A
Christina Romero says
From USA. I would be a vampire. Need to have time to read all the books!
I’m from the US! Hands down would be a vampire especially from Jeaniene’s world imagine the sexy venom bites you can do ????????????
Kimberly au Telemanus says
Hi from the US ????
I would ???? want to be an Innkeeper. The idea of having a such a spectacular home, that you can change at will, and the access to so many different worlds and cultures…not to mention, my baby son would grow up around all of it, and have such a magical childhood. My dream ???? ????
Nakajima Mei says
I’ve always been fascinated by vampires and I must admit that I’ve gotten a few dreams about being one so I think I prefer that above others. Eternal youth and liquid diet is just cool to me.
Picking one is so hard! Since the books that made me fall in love with fantasy books as a child involved dragons, I’m going to go with being a dragon ???? that’s a shapeshifter, so I could also act like a human. I’m from the United States. Thank you for your generosity! ????
I’m very excited for this book. I would definitely be a vampire fighting for good!
Amanda, United States
Roxanne Montgomery says
Banshee because mourning seems to be a thing I must do often. And I remember those I mourn. Always.
I would be a half vampire like Cat. In fact I identified with Cat in many ways, in red hair, personality and flaws but also my husband calls me Kitten too! I am a US resident.
Kathleen Eddy says
I’d like to be an elementalist, either water or earth! USA
Antara Chowdhury says
I’d choose to be a half-vampire because I’d still like to retain some human qualities, yet gain the extra strength and benefits of being a vampire (plus, the coolness factor).
I’m from the U.S.!
thanks for the lovely free stuff. I’m way behind on this series but reading from Bones point of view should be fun. Well if I had to pick just one paranormal supernatural critter. I would pick a leopard Changeling from Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling books. No curses, undead, or required human shaped food. I enjoy eating to much to pick vampires. This would be easier if I could pick 5 critters. USA.
A Valkyrie. Able to live and pass in the human world, but able to handle the supernatural one.
In the US.
G’day from WA (Western Australia)!! ????????????
I would be an angel for a practical god, because I’m egotistical enough to think I could improve the world … better give my new role an end point in 10 years, in case I go crazy with power ????
Thanks for your books Jeaniene!! They are unputdownable! ????????
Yay!! I love this series!! If I was to be any preternatural creature I would want to be a wereleopard .. of all the creatures I have read about they are the ones that I best resonate with… I am from Australia
Valerie in CA says
I think I’d like to be Cat. Half human half vampire. And then evolving.
I liked her growth. From the first to the last she grew. She evolved into not a hateful creature, but one to be admired. Her life was about saving the world and getting some happiness and live along the way.
Who wouldn’t want that?
I would be an engkanto ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Philippine_mythological_creatures).
They look human, can be good or bad, send off “not human!” vibes.
From Portugal. I’d be a witch, because they can do spells and brew potions and I think that are awesome.
I live in the US and I would like to be a dragon that can shift into human form.
Krystine Watson says
I guess I would choose to be either a witch or a rare breed shapeshifter, even better if I could be a hybrid of the two ????. I like the idea of being able to work with magic – healing and all that good stuff, but shape shifting comes with all those amazing physical benefits, and he wouldn’t love increased healing, durability, and exceptional everything lol.
From California, USA
I’d be a werewolf. I like the idea of heading into the wilderness without having to pack any camping gear! In Canada ????!
I would choose to be a kick ass master vampire – longevity, ability to fly, read minds, strength… the list goes on! Heehee!! I’m from the US.
Christine Robinett says
Is a unicorn considered a paranormal creature? Because that could be cool. Maybe a bloodthirsty unicorn…
In the USA.
Kristy Johnson says
I would be the kind of shifter that Denise is. I could literally turn into anything or anyone I desired.
I would love to be a dragon because: flying, jewels, fire-breathing, perhaps a poisonous tail. Oh yeah. paula from the USA.
Bahjat Jan says
I’m from US. I’d be a vampire.
I’m turning 30 this year and not growing old seems pretty good right about now also speed and strength definitely a plus ????.
Kimberly Quick says
Demon marked human with my demon dead. ???? isa
Kimberly Quick says
USA, stupid auto correct
Miss Oversharing 1950 says
USA residence. A multi species were. Switching between human, baking treats and magic, horse magic running, wolf,pack comfort yummy meat.
FYI when I first read series I over related to Cat, her crazy mother’s actions. It called up memories.
Reading Bones views here was very comforting! This brings out the Magic of actual decent actions. They healed each other.
Thanks for sharing.
Deanna Staub says
I think I’d like to be a dragon. I can not wait for the book to come out!!! Love to see Bone’s side.
I would be a ghoul. Ghouls get a bad rap in many stories but I find them very interesting. This is Monica from the US.
I would like to be a dragon, and my hoard would most likely be books.
From the U.S.
I’d be a phoenix. You can do any death-defying activity you want because it’s really hard to die, and more importantly, you never get cold. 😉
I would be a shapeshifting witch able to cast spells. From USA
Perth Australia 🙂
I would like to be a shifter – in particular a wolf because werves are the best. Actually maybe a unicorn … I think it would be fun to fart rainbows (am I allowed to say fart on here?)
Moderator R says
With our attachment to fart guns? Of course you can ????
Carolyn Jasiulewicz says
From the US! Can’t wait to read it!! Would be a Fae love the glamour and cool powers!
Make Kay says
I’m so excited to read Bones’ POV!!
I’m from the USA.
And I’d be a shifter- maybe a cat?
Moderator R says
I’ve condensed your comments into one, for the sake of the count ????
I would be a dragon. Or maybe a griffin. Definitely something that has wings. I’m in the US.
Pristine Xia says
From Indonesia with lots of love for urban fantasy stories♡
I want to be an awakened person who can control light element and specialize in creating shield that can neutralize any physical and mental attack.
I like vampire and shifter too, but don’t want to be one of them because with my fear of injection needles, imagining the sharp teeth/fangs of those two creatures already make me shudder!
Definitely a witch, would love to do some magic. USA
That would be amazing! I have all of Cats side of the story. Would love to own bones as well.
Could I be a wizard? Would that count. If not, then a half vampire. It’s the best of both worlds!
I’m in the US.
Ooh, witch or shapeshifter? I guess it depends on the world and abilities, but probably shapeshifter
Ayoola hutchinson says
Love the night huntress series
Mandy Mattos says
I love this series! It’s so nostalgic, it was one of the firsts series in the genre for me. Thank you so much for the chapters!
Well if I could I would be a Yaguareté-abá, which simplifying it means a native magical shifter (wereshifter jaguar).
Specifically yaguareté means onça-pintada or Jaguar and “abá” or “avá” means man (in guarani which is a native language from the tupi-guarani), so I would have the magic from the land/blood heritage to change to a werejaguar.
I’m from Brazil.
Rebecca Justus says
Would be a Phoenix. I’m always cold. ???? Ohio, US.
Kathryn Townsend says
I’m not sure this would qualify as a supernatural creature, but I’ve always wanted to be a hedgewitch. I’d want enough herblore to be useful, enough common sense to be wise, and enough magic to discourage fools from bothering me. I’m in the USA.
Darlene Brown says
I think I’d prefer to be a vampire, but not the Nosferatu type or the type in the Kate Daniels series. (No offense to Ilona and Gordon!) I want to be the beautiful, elegant, suave, and of course rich kind. Plus I get to sleep all day. Win! I’m from the US.
Shannon S says
I’m im canada. I’d be a werewolf, I just think it would be so cool!
Stevie Friesen says
I would be a dragon. But with all of the awesome options: able to speak and understand all languages, shape shifting, long life, massive pool of magic, the ability to sleep through boring parts for world history, no one is surprised when you bite the head some one who is irritating, curves are expected, fire, large pile of treasure (which could include books and scrolls), etc.
Ooh, nice! I’d have to go with dragon. No one can tell you exactly what their limitations are, and they’re fascinating! *fingers crossed*
Lara S. says
USA and something shapeshifting I think. I would enjoy aspects of being a vampire but I realllllly like the sun and not sure I could give that up if that was part of being a vampire. Now if I was totally world building I’d make the vampires/no sun thing part of a myth and then I’d love being a vampire 🙂
Pamela Sue Y. Fukada says
I am from Hawaii, USA. And I’d want to be a merchant like Nuan Cee. Cute, intelligent & deadly.
USA. I’d love to be a dragon of some kind. Intelligent, fierce, and sexy.
I’m looking forward to the book! Thanks so much for sharing.
I’d be a mermaid. I love the the water and would love to explore and swim without worrying about silly things like running out of air underwater. And I could be friends with dolphins and whales!
Leigh Rathbone says
I like the idea of having magic so witch/wizard/warlock whichever term you want to use. I mean the housework would be a breeze and finding lost items…. Yeah would make my life soooo much easier.
Lucinda Lo says
USA resident and I’d want to be a were-phoenix. Too hard to completely give up humanoid form but having more than one form would be awesome! Thank-you for the give away!
Hi, from the USA. I would be a Battle Blue Fairy. The ranks of fairies range from Butterfly, Sparkle, Earthy, Librarian, Battle. The highest level is Blue and I would have a tragic secret (of course). I have been selected to go on a quest that the Leader finds me useless. I enjoyed Bone’s version, Clever!
Helene Ziegler says
I ‘ d be a witch! Austria
I would be a wolf shifter because I’ve always loved wolves. I’m in the US.
Hi there from the UK- London.
I would like to be a phoenix shifter because of both the rebirth in fire aspect but also so that when I want to open a jar etc.- I’d be able to shift back into a person with opposable thumbs 🙂
Shapeshifter, not a were because I like options. I’m from the United States.
Hi, I’m from the US. I would like to be a witch. They’re into herbs and plants, have cool pets, and can fly. Plus they don’t take any crap from men. 🙂
I would be a witch – with all the powers – I could be whoever else I want to be. I’m from Poland. Thank you for making this contest open internationally!!!
KayLa Weaver says
I’m from the US. I think I would be a witch, it would be amazing to be able to just snap your fingers to get things done.
I’m thinking I’d choose to be a witch/healer. That seems like a gift that would be useful and needed in any world.
Liz S says
I think I would like to be a dragon. You can fly, have Magic and breathe fire. I live in the USA. Can’t wait for Bones’ story! Thanks for the giveaway.
Fiona T says
Living in Japan and I would be a Selkie. Whenever either world got too much for me I could just take off/put on my skin and live a different life for a while.
I would love to be a dragon shifter that can fly everywhere and horde all the riches! I’m from Taiwan.
Witch or being that can teleport
I’m from the US. And paranormal?
I’d be an Innkeeper. I’d get to be a home body with a magic house and have the entire galaxy coming to me! Plus robes and magic brooms and alien bazaars.
Sydney Girl says
Got to be a wee free man – cause they’re blue, stinky, and love to steal stuff!!!
Also I love the idea of this world being the after life.
Hands down a witch.
I would be a wolf or cat shape-shifter…sexy and dangerous…..
I am from the US. I would be a Broom riding spell casting witch. That would be awesome!
Arcadian Shifter from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books I think. Tiger maybe? Shifter abilities and super cool magic…. Win!
I would have to say a dragon because I like to hoard stuff…..(quiet from the peanut gallery)! I am from the USA
Jacob K says
U.S here. Of the traditional supernaturals I’d have to choose vampire, speed, strength and lots of time to acquire knowledge is too hard to pass up.
On the more mythical side I’d love to a shifter that could fly, ideally something like a drake or wyvern.
Terrie C says
I would prefer to be a half-vampire. Have the speed and strength of a vampire, while still enjoying the pleasures of being human, like food and sleep. Or the daughter of a Godlike figure able to use power words like a pro. (Sigh, I am not, because the power words did not work.) USA
Hmmmm…. I’d be a shapeshifter able to communicate with my various pets.
Michelle D says
California, USA here
Given my druthers, today I’m in the mood for a beastie from the Shetlands called the Wulver
This is a form of werewolf that stalks the lands of Shetland but unlike the common myth, this creature was never human. It has the body of a human but the head of a wolf, and is not seen as aggressive if left to its own devices. The wulver will occasionally leave fish on the windowsills of the poor to ensure that people don’t starve too.
I would like to have Catalina’s powers and her amazing wings, including the black ones she has when she’s in a bad mood or wants to scare someone into complying. And I love the way she can put the Victoria Termaine face to conceal her kindness and shyness.
I wouldn’t mind to be a dragon, also, the ones that are both humans and dragons form the Earthsea world, like Tehanu. The dragons’ native language is the true language of the making, the one the wizards of Earthsea spend their entire lives trying to learn. And they can lie in it, too.
I’m from Portugal.
Kimberly Adams says
I’d be a dryad.
Pamela Bombardier says
I’d be a dog shifter so I could run with my pack of 3 dogs.
I would be a telekinetic (Nalini’s Psy)with the ability to performed micro surgery or Hugh’s healing ability. From USA
Carrie, USA says
As I’ve always been partial to wolves, I would absolutely be a werewolf. Granted, these books have put vamps right up there as a very strong number 2. I’d have no problem with any of these characters turning me. ????
Tanya Davis says
US resident here. I want to be a valkyrie.
Michaela Black says
I’m from the US. I’d be a vampire! I’ve always been obsessed with them and devour any media with them in it, so it seems like the obvious choice.
Lizz D. says
I would be a shape-shifter. I think it would be so cool to have extra senses, and in some paranormal universes, be able to shift whenever I wanted to my other self. I’m from the USA, and if I won a copy of the book, I’d love a physical copy with an autographed book plate. I’ve been reading Cat and Bones for MANY years, and I’m SO excited to finish Other Half of the Grave! 😀
Ahh, so many things to choose from! Hmm, I guess one of the fae? Or maybe a dryad? Anyways much love from the United States!
I would wish to be a dragon. I consider them to be the essences of freedom and magic. I’ve been fascinated by their mythology since I was a child. I’m from the USA.
Witch from Atlanta, GA, USA
Hi I’m Teia and I’m from the US. I think I would want to be some type of crossbreed. Like a witch/mage mixed with a teleporting vampire with the ability to go anywhere I wanted. But they would have some sort of benefit or flaw depending on how you looked at it. Like maybe sometimes the teleportation would misfire and you would go somewhere else or if silver is normally a weakness it doesn’t affect you. The reason I would want to be able to teleport is for two reasons. My husband was in the military for 21 years and it would have been nice to have that ability to visit family and friends. The second reason is I have a teenager who unfortunately takes after me and doesn’t like to wake up in the morning. So I would just teleport her to school while she’s in her pj’s lol. Thank you for this opportunity! Thank you Ilona, Gordon, and Jeaniene for the amazing worlds and characters you write. I can’t imagine a world with out your books!
I am from US (CT) and I’d be a witch because I want to have magical powers : )
“I’m just a gigolo and everywhere I go
People know the part I’m playin’ I pay for every dance, sellin’ each romance
Ooh, what they’re sayin? There will come a day when youth will pass away
What’ll they say about me?
When the end comes I know I was just a gigolo
And life goes on without me”
Bones Theme Song
Tess Sz says
Thank you for the opportunity Jeanine Frost and House Andrews!
I would choose to be a sphinx with an alternate human form so I could pass in modern society. Flying, riddles and a walking library? What more could I ask for.
-from BC Canada ????????
Dani Paradise says
I’m in the U.S. If anything is up for grabs, gotta go with being a hobbit. Finally an excuse to observe elevenses and never leave my cozy burrow.
I want to be a shifter like Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson (and be friends and mentored by her).
I am in the US.
Anne M. says
I would like to be a shifter, a lion, a First like Curran. Or a werewolf with the alpha strain.
I’m from Kenya.
Thank you for the opportunity.
I would be a druid.
I’m from the US (GA).
Susan Rosenau says
Hi Jeanine, love your books! Excited about the new release! I would be a shifter, probably a wolf. Susan Rosenau USA
From the UK I’d be a Bookwyrm – a dragon whose hoard is Books rather than Gold! (preferably one who can assume human form in order to be able to go to bookshops & libraries and purchase the books). Of course I’d have to be long lived enough to outlive all my favourite authors – so that I don’t miss the end of any series!
Good luck with the Book release!
I think if I were a paranormal creature, I’d be a vampire from the NH world…a witch from the KD world, or whatever Nell Ingram is in faith Hunter’s series. I live in Maryland, USA
Maria S says
I’d be a vampire…they always seem so badass and get so many different shall we call them talents!
Thanks so much – I’m from the US
BT Newman says
I’ve always thought of being a Witch, not elemental, but one who chanel’s energy. However, I am also enchanted by the idea of being a changeling/were – a cat. A mountain lion perhaps?
Can I be both?
I live in Virginia in the U.S.
Either a Bear or Gargoyle.
Anna F says
I would definitely be a vampire (immortality please so I have time to see all the amazing things in this world).
I’m in Canada
Sophia Rose says
I can’t wait to read this. I would like to be a dragon though I’ve always thought the Night Huntress Ghouls were kinda cool. US resident
Beth Lowrey says
Id be a werecreature. I’m undecided as to which one. Leopard? Eagle? Panther? Wolf?
I’d be a vampire: flying, always healthy, glowing eyes and maybe other talents…
Good luck with the book release! I am looking so forward to this book!
Michelle Francis says
I think I would like to be a ghost. It would be fun to go places and see everything and know what is going on (because i am just nosey enough, lol). I am a US resident.
Beth Lowrey says
I’d be a werecreature. I’m undecided as to which one. Leopard? Eagle? Panther? Wolf? Dragon? See? Can’t decide
I live in the US
Hi I’m from India and I would love to be the best version of my own human self… Maybe an innkeeper..
And I thank you very much for sharing such fantastic word worlds with us. Sincerely thank you Ms.Frost and House Andrews.
Blessings on you and yours and may your imagination and your pen never dry.. amen.????
BT Newman says
To the Andrews household: So sorry about Kitty! Hadn’t a clue about snow globes. Hope she does well.
Maybe you could make a little lemonade from this and work it into one of your Universes?
I’d love Magic so that I could channel my inner Ivy Wilde.
(Helen Harper’s “The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic)
Not sure I’d really want to know what my pets think though 🙂
From Ireland’s East Coast.
I like the idea of being a shape shifter, but not one tied to the moon’s cycle. Specifically, I’d like to be a panther.
From the US.
I am in the USA and I would be a Hobbit. To be specific – one of the hobbits that still lives in a nice hobbit hole. Not a freestanding house or a poor hole with dirt walls. I would want a cozy place with round doors and windows, a lovely garden and plenty of room to put up food and house children and lots of books. My kids and I are reading the Fellowship right now – it is their first time through the series 🙂
Laura Leiter says
I would love to be a vampire! I have so much joy in all the interpretations of limitations and powers for vampires! I especially love the Christine Feehan outlook on Carpathin vs. Vampire. And I also like Anne Rice’s vampires, too.
I live in the USA
Caryl Moulder says
Hi, I’m from the USA and love both Jeannie Frost books and IA. I want to be an innkeeper. Daily visit followed by nerve racking challenges
USA – I would be an empath. I already have this slightly but I feel this would be heightened if I had powers, lol. An empath or a telepath maybe a bit of both. Now if I got turned into a vampire, I don’t think I’d complain.
Sara T says
Vampire from House Krahr for sure!
I’m in the United States and one creature I would like to be is a shifter that can change into anything I wanted to and have magic besides.
I want to be a vampire in the Night Huntress world!! I’ve given a lot of thought to this and I want to be in Bones and Mencheres’ line and be friends with Cat and Denise, it’s going to be great :D. I think Ian and Cat said the benefits best — fangs, no more periods, no counting calories. I think I’ll stay far away from Marie though.
I’ve just read all your books for the first and second time and I’m so excited for this!
In the United States
First: “lucky enough to hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller list several times”?? That ain’t LUCK, honey, THAT’S talent!
Second: Giveaway entry
I’d be a potion-making, wand-waving, broom-wielding witch, complete with talkative black cat with attitude. A manx…very smart.
Tied to earth, water, & flora… long life, slow conversations, roots that go into the caves of trolls & other underground Magic’s, while the branches and leaves communicate with the fairies & wind sprites. Yes, there would be a downside of not being able to travel. But longevity, and being part of and interacting with so many times & communities would be a plus. So too would be walking from my tree to get a cuppa and return to the loving embrace of my tree.
May Pau says
Maybe a vampire? With super strong powers..
I’m from the US. I would like to be a witch/shifter (werewolf) hybrid. Witches, while powerful, sometimes come across as weak and fodder so I think the werewolf part would balance it out.
I would be fae and I live in Montana USA
Jean-ann Stump says
I would like to be a Half Vampire like Cat or a shifter. I love food and I would not want to give it up, but I would also like to be super strong and fast.
Dawn Black says
I would be a mermaid or a selky. I am drawn to water, I love to swim, I love the ocean it calls to me. Also, the thought of being a predator luring pirate to their death at sea sounds intriguing. Being a selky though and being able to live in both worlds would be lovely.
United States of America
Monica M says
I used to be outraged at the lack of attention given to chickens by were-writing authors, but now House Andrews has in a way addressed that imbalance, so my new choice would be : were-flamingo. I would stand around one-legged looking all pink and harmless so my enemies would underestimate me and that WHAM! They’d never see it coming.
I am from Canada
Its really hard to decide. I think being an immortal from the Argeneau would be pretty cool. In the USA.
Sandy Avery says
I’m from Maryland, USA, and it is so beautiful out today. I’m not sure which supernatural I would need to be to control the weather. That’s what I would be.
Andrea Smith says
I’m from USA. I’d like to Sorceress. Knowledge is power!
Canada, witch cause then I can do all kinds of different things.
I’ve always wanted to be a dragon! I was born the year of the dragon so tbh it’s in my destiny. Now my only problem is if I wanted to be a Chinese dragon or a western dragon. And I really can’t pickkkkk while a Chinese dragon would be majestic and colorful and elemental based, a western one would look bad ass. So I think I’d just toss a coin up for which kind of dragon!
I FORGOT MY STATE! USA and i said “ I’ve always wanted to be a dragon! I was born the year of the dragon so tbh it’s in my destiny. Now my only problem is if I wanted to be a Chinese dragon or a western dragon. And I really can’t pickkkkk while a Chinese dragon would be majestic and colorful and elemental based, a western one would look bad ass. So I think I’d just toss a coin up for which kind of dragon!”
I was always intrigued by marmaid. So I would be curious to be one. (France)
oh man I just ignored everything to read this excerpt. Loooove the revisit through Bones. Thank You! -vampire (because that is what’s currently in my brain)
Anna Wittmann says
Vampire! I’ve always been obsessed with them. Imagine the history you could experience! USA
Jeanine Lesperance says
US. I would be a were of some kind. I am going to pick a Tiger.
Thanks for the chance
This was fun. I haven’t read Jeaniene Frost before, mostly because I don’t find vampires to be relatable protagonists, but this drew me in. I’ll give this series a go. You’re a clever friend, Ilona. So clever.
United States. I can see myself as a siren. Ah, the power!
Elissa Carroll says
Oooo! Well, always fun to find a new series !! 😀
I would want to be a griffin with the power to be invisible. I could live in so many different biomes, fly, and do magic.
Located in Florida in the United States
I’m from the UK. I’d be a dragon shifter both because I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon and I’ve always felt an affinity for dragons, that’s what originally drew me into this genre of fiction. Thanks for both the opportunity and sharing the first 12 chapters I’ll definitely enjoy them with a cuppa????
I’d be a dragon shifter, if I could pick. Mostly just because dragons are awesome lol.
Cat shifter from the USA.
Can’t resist trying the life of luxury of my cats. Cat shifter. US.
Daria Thomas says
I’d love to be a wizard, as long as it meant I could fly in some way. Really, anything that can fly. 🙂 From USA.
Shapeshifter, from the USA
Kind of strange, but I’d be a lady leprechaun. A little sly, a little mischievous, and the life of the party. Loves the color green with an unholy passion. More likely to be the antagonist than the protagonist. This is nothing like my actual personality, but would be fun to try. I’m from the US.
I would be a dragon b/c dragons are awesome + flying + fire. From the USA.
Bobbi Jo Storfa Gies says
I can’t decide between vampires were animal or witch. Billings Montana
Kat in FL says
Hello and thanks for doing this giveaway!
I’m in the US. I would be a changeling, specifically a BlackSea changeling from Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, because I love Nalini’s depiction of them as both loners and family. I’m introverted and love to just chill but I also am working to build a community/family that can depend on each other and understands each other’s idiosyncrasies. Plus being able to change into a turtle and chill on a secluded island seems amazing.
I’m from the US and I would love to be an innkeeper. Enormous amounts of power, being able to interact with all kinds of alien beings, and the ability to create an awesome living space. The chance to relax on the patio, drink tea, and read a book is a great perk, too.
Hi from Italy, I would like to be a witch, to solve the day to day petty problems with my magic and dedicate my time to whom trully matters.
Dragon shape-shifter – been a fan of dragons a long time. Am from the UK. Been re-reading Cat & Bones series in preparation for receiving my preordained next week! Can’t wait.
I’d absolutely have to be a vampire. I’m already a creature of the night when I can be, and honestly very little love lost if I couldn’t enjoy the sun anymore. I’d prefer to be the kind of vampire who can eat and sleep if they so choose though. That said, if there’s a supernatural creature than can give their pet dogs a long lifespan, I wouldn’t knock that one either!
P.S. I’m from the US and absolute INHALED the Night Rebels series just now ❤️
From the U.S. I’d be a Dragon Shifter. So looking forward to this book! And thoroughly enjoying the Innkeeper Serial! Something to look forward to almost every friday ;).
If I had to pick one, I would love to be a vampire. The ability to fly would be so phenomenal!
I’m from the USofA.
I’d say some kind of shapeshifter, probably? It would be neat to see the world from such a different perspective.
I’m from the US~
Karen Burleski says
I’m in the USA. I would love to be a vampire, but I would want Bones’ identical twin brother with me!
Thank you for the opportunity and looking forward to Bones book. Been following the chapters on your Blog and loved the switch in perspective-like the Curran POVs it makes for a fascinating reading.
Love the combined Jeaniene Frost and House Andrews take on Vampires, Cat+Bones are seriously cool and so is the concept of the Holy Anocracy and my favourite House Krahr. I also like the KD vampires because they are so very different.
Having to choose a paranormal creature I’d love to be a druid- attuned to nature but still wielding magic.
Hello+Thanks from Germany
I’d be a shapeshifter – a dragon, lion or tiger! *From the US
I’d love to win. Magic I think. I want something that would give me great healing, long life, so maybe shifter? hard to say. I’m in the US.
I would be the Loch Ness Monster (or anyone of the “cousins”). And why – what a sense of humor 🙂 Teasing everyone with glimpses and hints and leading folks on a merry chase – what a fantastic approach to life! Plus – a chance to swim all day & explore parts of the world not well-traveled. I live in the United States.
I’d be a shape shifter. Horse? Hawk? Something to run/fly fast. Arizona, US. Loved the Cat and Bones series – listened to the audiobooks. Tavia Gilbert was amazing!
Charlotte Dunnavant says
I would like to be a dragon witch hybrid. My kids always said if they had to wake me up it was like waking a dragon and I’m told I must use magic in my cooking.
I live in Houston, TX. and we miss you all at Murder By The Books
Some sort of magic user world be my preference because then I can still eat, enjoy the sunshine, and not have to change shapes. ???? I’m from the US. Thanks for the opportunity!
I prefer the werewolf myself. I like being out and about around the clock with the greater speed, strength and senses. I live in the United States – California, no less.
I’m from Canada! I think I would have to be a shifter of some kind, considering the amount of wilderness where I live!
Lara Bailey says
Dang that was a scroll! Lol. I would want to be a shapeshifting griffin. Cause I want to fly but also be a lazy cat. 😉 Texas… I mean US
Cathy MacDonald says
Fabulous storyline, love these two.
Like to be a witch. Fighting evil with magic and power, that gets stronger every time you use it, but allows you to stay hidden in the human world.
I’d want to be a shifter because it sounds like a lot of fun, and they always have a big close community to be part of.
I’m in Australia
Adrianne Seymour says
Adrianne – U.S.
A Phoenix, though one that could take human form.
Cyndi – California US!
Half witch / half shifter! Love the strength and community. I would want to be strong like a werewolf but also able to fly! Ha!!!
You are all great authors I am so grateful to know your works!!
I would have to choose half vampire (or shifter) because I like to eat dessert and would really miss it!
I live in the USA.
I would be a gryphon – love the idea of flying and still being large enough to be a predator but not as unwieldy or bad-tempered as a dragon.
A female mostly human warrior with kick ass fighting and weapons skills and regenerative healing powers. I always loved Wolverine’s ability to heal from life’s most threatening wounds and illnesses, with the added plus of longevity
Sue Sattler says
I think I would be a vampire, cause hot flashes suck and I hate having to think about what to make for dinner every night 😀 I’m from the US
Love the series! Thank you for the 12 chapters.
Definitely a werewolf now that I’ve hit menopause. The women on my mother’s side have hot flashes at dawn and dusk and get the angries, which I have inherited, and don’t get me started on the additional unwanted body hair…
I find werewolves now relatable, so I would love the added strength and healing abilities please!
Oh Canada, home and native land, currently Toronto.
Angela GB says
YAY BONES POV!!!! *girlish squees* I always wondered what he thought when he met Cat! I’m from the USA, and I would be a Shape Shifter Phoenix. I love the thought of being able to fly as an embodiment of flame and when one life is done I could be reborn from the ashes. At the same time I could walk among the humans with them being non the wiser.
I think identify most with being a witch. Still human but with some extra.
Christine C. says
I’m from the US and being a dhampir would provide the best blend of vampire strength, speed etc but still allow for a stroll in the sunlight.
Looking forward to reading more of your books Jeannine!
I would be a vampire, but more like from Patricia Briggs’ universe. I like the idea that I could potentially help people with terminal illnesses. Certainly not from Kate Daniels universe ????
Jeaniene and HA,
Thanks for this opportunity and also opening to international readers, that’s the best!!!
I’d be the Beast of Cologne, of course 🙂 Having the possibility of morphing into a huge beast, be a complete bad ass and reassuming human form, completely zen after blowing off some steam… What’s not to love?!
I would want to be Fae or Half-Fae from the Crescent City World. They all have some kind of super-power. ????
I live in the USA.
Hi. From USA. Would want to be a dragon shifter or a Phoenix. Thanks so much for the giveaway. Cant wait to read new book.
US – Dragon the book hoarder
I am from the USA. I would be a large cat shifter. Maybe a jaguar!
Hi, USA resident here.
I would love to be a shape shifter, one that is not limited to only one “other” shape, but can choose to change into anything they want to, because sometimes a gal feels like a tabby cat and sometimes a dragon!
USA based, and I think I’d be a fae: they’ve got a great chaotic neutral energy going, and I need more of that in my day to day life.
Caroline Boyd says
I would want to be a kraken because then I would get to see how maritime science evolved over the centuries. And I’m from the United States. 🙂
Olivia Colson says
Awesome! I think I would want to be a shifter, but what kind is always changing! My favorite right now is leaning toward tiger, but dragon could be a close second. I love the freedom that shifters are always depicted as having and I think transforming into a big predator creature would be great fun.
USA and thank you for having this giveaway!
From Georgia, USA
I would be a mage but so hard to choose between animal mage like Cornelius or herbamagos like Edward or Brian Sherwood. So a mage – either of those two.
Love the story from Bones’ POV. Thanks for the contest!
I’m from the US and I would be a vampire so I would have all the time to read all the books I want!
First, thank you so, so much for this insight into Bones. A wonderful “tease” of a read.
I would be a Dragon / Human Shape Shifter, because I “hoard” and treasure books, learning, shiny objects and am intensely loyal to those who earn it and protective of those who need it. Being a Dragon / Human Shapeshifter would allow me to better protect those in need. Plus — Dragons can fly and that is just awesome! And when sleeping, few would dare to wake me…hehehe.
United States — Texas
Dragon shifter 🙂
I’m in the US.
I’d want to be an avian shape-shifter, like an eagle, because I would love to fly!
I’m from the USA. Thanks for the contest!
I like the idea of being a fae who can, among other things, teleport – I’d probably never be late again (although I expect I’d find a way regardless…)
A Bookwyrm (A dragon whose hoard is a library) USA.
Diana Le says
From USA! I think I would be a kitsune so I can tell you what the fox says!
I would be a hawk shapeshifter because flying. I’m in the US.
Thanks for the fun giveaway!
Janie McGaugh says
I’d probably be a witch. I’d like to be able to help people heal. I’m in the U.S.
Ancient history is full of mythical flying cats, and they’ve intrigued me since I was a little girl. I’d love a good modern urban fantasy featuring a shifter version of them. That’s my ideal paranormal self at the moment (adorable, deadly, and possibly a smidge insane) and I’m always happy to live vicariously through fictional characters. ????
I think I would like to be fae. Wild magic with light and dark magic. USA (Iowa)
For good or for ill, I’d probably be a cross between a post-singularity electronic consciousness a la Android’s Dream by John Scalzi and ART from Murderbot Diaries.
A synthetic intelligence coordinating academic scientific work and just being an asshole … maybe with some light religion creation thrown-in.
I’m realistic about myself.
I’m in the USA
I would like to be a dragon shifter because they have the best of soo many things, an animal and human form, FLY! and can do magic, plus they run warm, and I’m sure my kitty’s would think I’m still great for a cuddle. Michigan, USA
Vampire, runs a bakery and is a secrete hacker, from Ian lineage!
susan reynolds says
I would be a shifter, preferably a honey badger like Doolittle from the Kate Daniels universe, because he is my hero for being a great doctor and a cranky patient at the same time; I would also like to be a healer of some sort, though not so high powered as Hugh. I am mundanely a doctor in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.
Caitlynne Spykerman says
I’m so excited for this book!! I can’t wait for it to come out.
It’s so hard to choose one! There’s so many good ones… I’d have to choose vampire because not only long life, most likely, but I could turn the people that I want to be around for the next couple hundred years or so. The only other one I can think of that lets you do that is werewolf but shape-shifting sounds painful and I don’t do pain well. So I’ll go with vampire.
I’m in Canada
Meaghan Spykerman says
Fairy of darkness so I can confuse people
I always wanted to be a witch like Samantha on Bewitched, and then I started reading about shape shifters and wanted to be one (either a tiger or a dragon). So maybe a shape shifting witch.
Jane N says
I would like to be a witch so I can perform all sorts of magic and be able to do pretty much whatever I want. I can even give myself Vampire abilities w/o the limitations.
Melissa Boley says
I’d have to be a dragon I think. Flying, shape-shifting, aquisitive, fire breathing, yep dragon! (US)
Sandra Youthed says
Hi there, thanks for the chance to win, I am in New Zealand. If I could be a mythical creature I think I would like to be a dragon so I could hoard books. OH wait I already do that, well maybe a bear shifter so I could swat people who annoy me.
Hi to another kiwi! And we both picked dragons. How cool is that.
What a great question, thank you for thinking of it! and congratulations! From the US… I would choose to be a psychic healer, who can replenish strength naturally, so that I could help people in need and always be welcome.
Michelle Ray says
Wolf shifter. I love the concept of pack! (US)
I live in New Zealand
I’d love to be a dragon. To be able to fly, breath fire and I’d be from Anne McCaffrey’s pern so I could be telepathic and bond with someone.
Ooh, nice choice!
Would be a dragon, that way I’d have a legitimate reason for hoarding books! ???? USA.
Cathy R says
I’m from the US. I would be a mage with powers used only for the good…or to defeat evil creatures.
Gautam Mukherjee says
Polymorph with wizard-warrior powers ☺️. From India.
Oh, this was lovely! And I was not meaning to stay up an extra hour and a half now reading it… Oh, well, it was worth it.
Hard to say what I would want to be; there are so many options. Part of me figures being a (sentient) ghost would be cool because you wouldn’t have to be stopped by solid objects, but there’s so much you miss out on, too. I think I’m going to say I’d like to be a shapeshifter along the lines of the Kate Daniels world because while there are significant downsides, like risk of going loupe, they still have a lot of freedom and some very cool abilities. Dali serves as a clear example that consuming meat is not required.
I live in the US.
Kelly Rosenthal says
I’d LIKE to be an animal mage because I’ve always had a love for animals, but I’m more likely to be a squirrel shifter, hoarding books instead of nuts, and sitting in the oak trees in the local park, throwing the acorns at people I don’t like—especially the litterers!
Oh, what a fun image! I would love to read about squirrel shifter you XP
Thanks for sharing the first chapters ☺️
I’m from France, and I want to be a thestral 🙂 they are cute in their own way, and not everyone can see them so they have peace and quiet 🙂
Depending on the lore, I would like to be a mermaid or some kind of werecat. I’m in the US.
Anne H says
I’m from Canada. I’d be a dragon shapeshifter – intelligent, able to fly and able to breathe fire! Of course, I might have to find some fireproof books…
Amy Colgan says
Oooh exciting! Definitely a god of good times or something. Loads of powers, immortality and it’s your job to help people have fun..what’s not to love! I’m from Ireland.
I would be a werewolf because I’ve always admired their ability to stick together in a pack and fight for each other. I also like how majestic and “free” they are, especially in their four-legged form. 🙂
I’m from CA, USA!
Hmm an interesting question, there are a lot of options. My conditions for candidates would be: Still able to have relatively normal social interactions. Able to read books and use a computer. Ideally no limiting weaknesses (like vampires and sunlight) or unpleasant mental compulsions. Gives some kind of advantage: Long live and magic are top advantages, flight too. Survivability and abilities that are useful in daily live are nice too.
Honestly I would probably pick one of the human+ options (unless creature means it have to be on the “monster” side of things) Elves are an solid option. Eternal youth, better than human physical abilities, often some degree of magic. (Depending on setting of course) On the more monstrous side human like fae are similar and often more magical, but I don’t want to have to deal with fae bullshit. From the death gate cycle Sartan (or Patryns but I am not into having my whole body tattoed) are a good choice for having a lot of magic. Or one of the kinds of gods that can be called a species.^^
For something less human Martha Well Books of the Raksura has the Raksura, essentially dragon shifter with a lizard man and a dragon form. Flight and powerful second form are a nice mix.
For something farther away from being a fantasy race/species and more something on the supernatural side of things in their setting, hmm. I know there are top tier picks if I took time remembering or searching for them but for what I can remember currently: The boring choice would be some kind of shifter as long as it is from a setting where they have control of their animal form and don’t run around murdering. Or there are some nice dryad or nymph variants in some settings where they are essentially powerful nature spirits, possibly a bit lonely though. There are some japanese ones that might be okay (when taken from the right setting) but can’t remember a specific one currently. Dragon would be cool but limiting.
From the ones named probably a half vampire, highest ability for a somewhat normal life.
Ah yes, Germany.
Shapeshifter in the Kate Daniels universe. Canada
Dragon shifter, because who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon???? I may be slightly obsessed… ???? (in the USA). Thank you for the awesome chapters to read, I love this series ❤️
Arathi T says
I would choose a witch who can perform magic even without spells ????.
I’m from israel. defently will be a vampire. They can servive almost anything, and move fast. Big advantage ????????
Soyla Reveles says
I think probably a witch, great magic new learning material, I could use magic to shape-shift or fly and stuff. But I also really like dragons, so maybe half dragon witch combo?(is that a thing?) Or maybe just a witch with a pet mini dragon?
I think I would like to be like Vlad, vampire, and as fierce as he is too. However, not a vamp like Ghastek lol.
Sending love from Australia 🙂
I would be an omnipotent “Q” from the Q Continuum. I am from the US.
They are sometimes good sometimes evil shapeshifting foxes that are always up to mischief and can live for centuries. I could fully sate my inner troublemaker with my mastery of illusions. For those intrigued there is a new series I have been enjoying where all kinds of Japanese mythics make an appearance. Amaranthine saga by Forthright. https://www.fantasticfiction.com/f/forthright/
I’m from the USA
Less paranormal and more meta-human for me – but I would like to be Kryptonian and thus be less affected by the cold up here in Canada.
Christelle Li says
I love swimming and free-diving so being a mermaid would be amazing! Imagine all the cool places you could go and explore.
PS. It must be a shapeshifting mermaid because I still like food, hiking and my dogs too much to give all that up????
Jessie West says
I am in the US. I would like to be a witch! I would love to have magical powers.
Congrats on the book release!
Danielle Ziegler says
I think I’d like to be a vampire–I love the extra talents that your vampires have.
Danielle from the USA
Maria Kneipple says
I’m in Florida,technically part of the US, but I think the rest of the US often wonders if that was a mistake (insert favorite Florida man story here). If I could be a magical creature, I think I would choose a were animal of some sort, probably a tiger or panther. The heightened senses would be a draw, plus I love animals.
I’m from the Czech Republic and I would like to be a witch. Instead of cleaning all day, I’d just snap my fingers. I would love to invent new spells.
Thank you foe this giveaway opportunity. I love vampires and demons when it comes to supernatural creatures in my books. So maybe a combo of both. I live in USA. Have a good weekend!
I’d want to be like Denise in the Night Huntress world. Nearly impossible to kill and able to shape shift. USA
Kathi Kramer says
Hi! I’m from Germany!
I would love to be a witch. I like the special kind of magic they have, and the connection with nature.
Thanks for the cool give away!
Tori C says
From the USA!
I’ve always been fascinated with Sprites. They’re adorable because they’re small fairies, but they’re tricky like the little sibling you begged your parents to return to the hospital (ha ha) it always reminds me of a cabbage patch kid and when I come across them in books it’s interesting to read the authors perception of them as well.
I am in Belgium, I would like to be an Aes Sedai from The Wheel of Time, both for the longevity and so I could use the One Power to weave threads of Air, Water, Spirit, Fire and Earth.
I always wanted some kind of magic skills, and the way they weave forces that they can feel and see, rather than drawing and reciting formulas… That’s it!
Thanks for the contest, it’s fun!
I think I’d like to channel my D&D character: magic user (wizard) / thief, with invisibility, open magic doors and chests and cool spells. currently living in the USA, but love to travel and would love visit all your other fans around the world!
Mary C. says
I would be a fae because they are usually long lived, mysterious, powerful, and strikingly beautiful.
Country of residence: USA
Janet C. says
I’d have to say a feline shifter of some type – the larger the better! For some reason, a panther seems appealing! 🙂 I’m a nurse, so I’d like to have healing capabilities too.
Thanks so much for this opportunity, Bones and Cat are two of my favorites!
I’d love to be a witch, to be able to cast useful spells, and because I adore Luther, the wizard in Kate Daniel’s world ????
I’m from Italy!
Jeanine is a new acquaintance of mine me but I have really enjoyed getting to know Bones and Cat. Three books in now!
I would like to be a dragon. Not an ordinary large dragon that breathes fire. No, more like a human during the day, working as a librarian (you know, because of hoarding books) and during night change to a human sized dragon that hunts other things that goes bump in the night and makes sure the human population stays safe of those who doesn’t stick to the rules. Of course there would be other magic and supernatural beings helping out as well.
Because, who doesn’t want to save the world and have some fun while doing it! 🙂
I’m resident in Sweden
Nicole Reardon says
Excited for the other side of the story. USA.
Leslie Sexton says
I’m from the US. I would like to be a magical healer.
Prayers for your cat. We had a dog emergency this week also…sigh. All is well.
half-vampire – have the best of both worlds. From New Zealand
Phyllis Stabbe says
I’d like to be a shapeshifter. I could fit in anywhere, be anyone, never age. If I didn’t like one look on me, I could try another. However, I would would like to be the type of shapeshifter who could just magically change how they look and not have to commit violence to someone to steal their body. I’m in the US.
USA. Claws down, dragon. They have shiny pretty scales that come in a variety of brilliant jewel tones, have claws, wings, breath fire, collect shiny pretty things, are stunning tacticians, and if the village next door gives any trouble, you can burn it to a crisp. The only downside is picking wool out of your teeth after a sheep buffet. The faster they run, the greater the fun!
Socorro Villa says
Ok, Ilona, each time you invite a talented friend over the blog to share their work I end up buying a whole new collection of books, which is bad for my wallet but very good for my library-not to mention my ageing neurons. So, in fact, I’m not complaining.
This is my first contact with Janine’s writing and now I’m hooked. I pre-ordered this one and now will have to go hunting for the original ones, from Cat’s viewpoint.
I’m these chapters Janine showed a fine balance between deep psychological insights into the personality of the characters and the funniest lines (Lucifer’s bouncing balls had me rocking with laughter).
So far, Crispín Bones is on his way to become my favourite vampire yet…
I’m from the USA… I’d be a witch
with Truthseeker and healing abilities. We’ve never needed a healer more in this country, and how can you heal when you don’t know the truth?
Not sure about my life expectancy though.. I might need to find me a Sean (werewolf) for protection..
Socorro Villa says
What kind of supernatural creature would I be… A witch with the ability to time-walk and visit other times in history would be really nice.
I am in Miami, Florida which is a place very close to the US (as the new Archbishop said a few years back when he came into the position).
Teresa Bergan says
I would be a witch! I live in Salem Oregon(hahahaha, really!) United States. I loved Bewitch growing up and always wished I could wrinkle my nose and things would happen.
US. I would pick being a Bear from Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series because they seem to be so close and have so much fun together.
I would want to be a wizard (in the sense of Tolkein: LoTR or LeGuin: Earthsea).
The ability to bend the forces of nature to my will has always seemed to me to be the most wonderful gift of all. The thing about Tolkein & LeGuin is that their wizards understood the consequences of their actions (or at least that there would be consequences). So I guess it’s more the fascination with that level of understanding of “how things work”. (Of course, I would use my power to heal the environmental damage to our planet and bring an end to war & strife.)
I’m in South Carolina, USA
Jillian – USA
I’d be a mage with magic/powers to do the mundane like clean the house ala Merryweather in sleeping beauty, and the more exciting like teleporting to visit family.
Thanks for sharing the chapters!!
I would be a witch, because wicked powers and a human body is the ultimate combo. I’m from Brazil. 🙂
Billie Dee Jelin says
United States here. I think I’d want to be a vampire. With all their extra powers and extended lifespan and they can fly! I just have to get past the blood drinking part. Jeaniene Frost! This teaser is absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to read the book!
Stacey Skoff says
Shape-shifting Phoenix, from United States
Robert Seay says
I’m from the USA. I would be a powerful warlock shape shifting day walking vampire whose mission was to protect humanity from evil.
Ummm…truthfully? Beast master. I couldn’t be a vampire or zombie (I like eating food too much), werewolves are fun- very primal- but, I’d hate being at the whim of the moon myself. I mean, I already have to battle the womanly scourge once a month- anything on top of that is just cruel! Psychics are cool, but…a little mystery in life is good. As much as I love my husband, the reality of knowing every little thought would drive me batty! And phenomenal colossal power sounds awesome, but if I had to memorize spells, there’d be some interesting unintended last minute word substitutions that could get me in trouble. So, beast master would be cool- I’ve always wondered what my dog is thinking, and just think of all the stuff they hear! Ooh! Shapeshifter might be fun, as long as I could morph into any being of my choice. This is probably all tmi, but hey! There you go. I am a U.S. of A midwesterner.
Aditi Agrawal says
I am India and I want to be a fae because they always answer in truths though they always hide deeper meaning behind those. I love their pointy ears too. And I love their magical forests❤️. I can decribe many many things about them but i’ll surely run out of space soon.
Steph H says
I would be an innkeeper or a vampire and I really don’t know if I could choose between them. From the USA here. 🙂
Gwyn Arnold says
A ghoul so I could still eat regular food. US
USA resident- Can I be Conlan’s sister? Combo magic powers (witches are my fave paranormal) + shapeshifter (my friends all agree if I were an animal, I would definitely be feline with my moods and sleep habits). Congrats on the book! 🙂
Well, in the context of this my first thought was a half-vampire such as Cat was before she changed all the way. In the Night Huntress Universe I think that would be a great choice. But when considering some other worlds and how being a dampher had some possible shall we say side effects maybe not. I have always been intrigued by magic use even way before the HP books as I was already an adult. So, if I could not be a half-vampire without too many negatives I would choose a kind of magic user, but as with the other that also brings up a lot of additional questions as to what belief system, or authors world so I will just stick with the basic and not try to narrow it down more.
Excited to read from Bones perspective.
Opps sorry forgot to say CA, USA
I’m from the U.S. I would be a wind elemental. To have the ability to go anywhere and get into anything, just pure mischief would be so much fun!
Hi, I’m from the United States. The closest being I could find for what/who I’d like to be would be Brigid the healer, supposedly one part of the triple goddess Brigid, with a specific focus on all those suffering moderate to severe chronic pain. I would, however, like the healing gift coupled with the gift to transfer all the pain the patient was feeling into the body of those who treated the patient with a sneering, demeaning, gross lack of respect and belief, whether they be medical professionals, family members, (former) friends, etc. I wouldn’t want the transferred pain to be permanent–just long enough for the disbeliever to learn compassion for those that are suffering.
Sally Carpenter says
Half vamp for sure, best of both worlds!
Robert Seay says
Wow! Great story! I’m hooked…
Robert Seay says
This is a comment! I have already entered the drawing
USA. Thank you for the amazing 12 – 12!- chapters.I’d like to be a shape shifter – but any kind of animal form. I could shift into whatever form would be the most useful and communicate with them all ????
USA – I think I would like the half-vampire, because it is the best of both worlds 😉
Sarn Dem says
I would be a white tiger shifter. I’ve always loved white tigers, they are powerful and majestic. I love the idea of being able to turn into an animal and experience the world that way. I’m from the United States.
Patti Ruocco says
I think it would be awesome to be a firebird shifter!
Neelam Kukreja says
Well I don’t know what to call the paranormal creature I want to be. I would like to have the power of shifting into any earth/ mythological creature and share my experiences through telepathy.
I am from India
Amy Schram says
Wolf to protect myself and family.
Cassandra Mariano says
Hi! I’m from the US (New York). I’d want to be shifter- specifically a Caladrius shifter. The Caladrius was a mythological bird that was supposed to heal people. The bird would absorb the sickness & fly away with it, then heal itself. As I’m going through medical tests, my focus is always on healing – for myself and others! Plus, it would be amazing to fly and observe the world from above.
Here is a picture of my cat Amelia Peabody for your enjoyment lol.
Mage with an extensive library. Mostly for the ability to reheat my coffee. I’m in the US.
Ruby's Mom says
Dragon shifter so I could fly and bask in the sun.
From US . So awesome can’t wait
And for my paranormal thing. I would be a shape shifter. So I could change shape accelerated healing but I won’t have to live forever
Chaos pixie! It’s what my husband calls me and I love it! It fits. ????
I’m from the US
Germany here. In all the pen&paper or online roleplaying games I mostly choose to be a magical user of sorts. So I would like to be an inkeeper. Having your own magical bonded “Base“ with magical (or technological advanced) guests from all over the galaxy would be awsome. Not to mention all the things you could do with that “broom“
From the US. I would pick some sort of fae or an innkeeper. Can’t decide if I want to cause problems or fix them.
Eve Khoo says
Hello from Canada!
I think I’d want to be fae (1. they’re always gorgeous 2. they sometimes come with elemental powers therefore strong 3. long lifespan to spend with loved ones?)
I am from New Zealand. I would be a vampire: they can sleep in late in the morning and stay up late in the evening: perfect life style!
I would chose to be a vampire. I think because of long life and potential powers like flying. I’m in the U.S.A.
Love this series, have it all and have read it several times!
I’m from the USA. I have to choose vampire because everyone calls me one anyway. I’m allergic to garlic and sunlight, heal much faster than average, and look much younger than I am. I’ have two different genetic disorders that cause this. Porphyria (variegated specifically) a genetic blood disorder believed to be the origin of the vampire legends and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome a genetic connective tissue disorder. I didn’t get diagnosed until age 40 so vampire was the only explanation.
USA, Minnesota. I would be a honey badger shifter because Honey Badgers don’t care. I love their fiesty, tough approach to life.
Debby R. says
I’d be a Seraphim
“ Seraphim, you understand? Not frilly angels with blousy pink wings and haloes like wedding rings. These ones had wheels full of eyes and voices like the noise of the deep.” — Catherynne M Valente
M L says
I would be a Water Dragon like the one in Six Crimson Cranes. CA, USA
Laura Romero says
Valkyrie cause they are bad asses. I’m from the USA
K Darlington says
Hello! I’m from the US. I love your books! (Just as much as the Ilona Andrews’ series.) ????
It’s hard because what I might aspire to be and what I think is accurately who I am don’t necessarily coincide.
That being said, I think I’d choose a vampire, mostly because your female vampire characters are so strong, independent, and witty. The vampire powers add to their bad a$$-ery, but don’t singularly define them.
Perrine Schaller says
I think I would like to be a shape shifter like Jane Yellowrock from Faith Hunter’s series.
Because why only be able to shift into one kind of animal ?
I am currently in Canada and loving this new perspective on Cat and Bones’ story. ????
Cecilia Rose says
I live in the United States.
I would want to be a teleporter. Hopping quickly from one kids’ sporting event to the next and then home to for dinner would be so awesome!!
Charissa Eichman says
I would be a dragon shifter (book wyrm) and my hoard would be books. I live in the US, so sometimes this could cause problems. I would need to be a shifter because reading books in dragon form might be difficult, especially since they tend to be flammable.
First off, I’m so excited for this book!
I think I would like to be sprite, would love to be able to fly around and scare people who might confuse me for some kind of insect. But I would mostly like the flying part.
From the USA and I’d be a werewolf.
I think I would choose shapeshifter. I like the possibility of having more than one shape and therefor different abilities at different times, based on what I need. And if I’m limited to one shape, I would choose something with wings because I definitely would love to be able to fly.
Oh, and I’m in Norway, forgot to add that 😀
Hi, I love your books ! (both of you ^_^ !!!)
If I had to choose it would be a witch because they have a wide range of abilities and are kicka**
and I live in France
Nicole Sakowitz says
High fae, with flight and magic, because, well, flight and magic. And the time to experience so much more of the world and read so many more books… I’m from the USA.
Chakshu Jyanni says
Hey thank you for the opportunity and love your books(both of you 🙂 )! I’m from India and i would just love to experience the paranormal universe while still being human but with special powers though. I think I’d love being the oracle. I’ll (hopefully) know everything that’s going to happen and I get to be all mysterious.
The Cassandra Sangue from Anne Bishop’s books would work too!
Martina D. says
Thanks a lot for the offer House Andrews and Jeaniene Frost.
I´m from Germany.
I would prefer to be a Gryphon. The power to fly would be amazing.
Jeaniene Frost says
Just wanted to say that I’ve been reading everyone’s replies, and wow, you guys have amazing imaginations! I’m picking up story ideas from some of your reasons why you chose X creature! Lol.
Thanks for giving me such a warm welcome, and once again, best of luck to you in the contest!
Anne Macdermott says
I’m from the UK. I too would like to be a vampire. At the moment I am disabled and I would like to be fit and strong and move fast.
I’d be a ghost because I’d know all the answers about what comes next and would be able to watch over the ones I love and left behind.
I’m from the U.S. It was awesome getting the early look at Bones’ book!
I would like to be a white witch that could magically clean the house, dishes and make dinner. 😉 Thank you for the giveaway! Pre-ordered and can’t wait to read/listen!
I forgot! I’m in the US! Thanks!
I would have to go with an Amazon or, if that doesn’t count, a Valkyrie. I’m a sucker for badass female warriors and the sisterhood. I would, however, prefer to keep my left boob if at all possible. 🙂 I’m from the US!
Apologies, it is in fact the right boob they cut off ????
Arianna Pajtash says
Hmmm, tough question. There are a lot of good ones out there. Since there’s limited time, though, I think I’d choose vampire. Vampires were always my favorite growing up and to this day, well into adulthood at this point, they still hold a strong sway over my interest, both reading and writing-wise.
I’m in the US.
I cannot wait for this to come out. I might not sleep tonight! XD
Cheryl Trahan says
I think I would like to be a fairy! Light and airy and I can fly! I am in Houston, Texas, USA.