Long time no update, but I’m back with goodies! First, are you a member of Amazon Prime? If so, then you can read SHADES OF WICKED, the first Night Rebel novel, for FREE on Prime for a limited time. Important note: you MUST be logged into your Prime account to read it for free. If you’re not logged in, you won’t see “Prime: free,” you’ll only see the $5.99 price point. Also, this seems to be for US Prime members only, so my apologies, international readers. But, if you’re a US resident and a Prime member, read Ian and Veritas’s first book for free here: #Ad Amazon
And now, to chapter one of WICKED ALL NIGHT, Night Rebel book three. Series timeline-wise, it picks up about ten days after the end of WICKED BITE, so warning: if you read the below, you will be massively spoiled on major events, including the ending, from WICKED BITE. Also, because this chapter ends on a bit of a cliffhanger (and so does the next one) I’m going to post Chapter Two next Friday, and Chapter Three the Friday after that. So, you won’t have to wait long to get a taste of what’s next for Ian and Veritas in WICKED ALL NIGHT. HOWEVER, if you’re on my newsletter, then you get ALL THREE CHAPTERS TONIGHT as a thank-you for being a newsletter subscriber. So, if you’re already on the newsletter, check your inbox tonight for the three chapters! If you’re not on my newsletter yet, and you want early access to the chapters plus other exclusive treats, sign up HERE or at the link below this post:
All disclaimers aside, happy reading!
Copyright, Jeaniene Frost
A week ago, a demon teleporting into my room would’ve sent me running for the nearest weapon. Now, I barely looked up when the bedroom’s shadows suddenly formed into a tall, handsome man with midnight-brown eyes, closely cropped black curls, and skin the rich, dark brown color of smoky quartz.
“Did you bring more blood?” I asked him.
Ashael slid a briefcase across the floor to me. I opened it, relieved to see several blood bags inside.
“Thank you.” I hoisted the nearest bag onto the IV pole beside me. This was the last ingredient I needed for my spell. Everything else was in place.
Then, I watched as a thin stream of crimson streaked down the IV line toward the unconscious vampire on the bed. Please, I thought, fighting to hold back tears. Please let this spell work!
Magic flared the instant the blood hit Ian’s veins as the spell activated. My nails dug into my palms. Please, please, please . . .
A choked sound escaped me when Ian’s half-shriveled arm began to change, transforming from a near-skeletal state into his normal, muscled limb. Very slowly, his body began to follow suit, losing the shocking gauntness he’d had for the past ten days to expand back to his healthy, brawny physique.
“Yes!” I shouted, so relieved my knees felt weak.
We’d finally defeated our worst enemy, but Dagon had had one last, evil trick in store for us. At first I thought everything was great. Dagon was dead, Ian had summoned me away from the vampire council, preventing them from executing me, and we were safe at Mencheres’s house in the Hamptons. Sure, Ian was badly injured from Dagon’s trap, but Ian was a vampire, and vampires healed from everything except decapitation or silver destroying their heart.
Or so I’d thought.
Turned out, there was one more injury that vampires couldn’t heal from: whatever dark magic Dagon had infused in his fucking trap. Ian had borne the worst of its effects since he’d been the one to break us out of it. Or my other nature had protected me from the trap’s lingering, deadly magic. Either way, I was fine, but Ian fell unconscious the same day that he rescued me.
He hadn’t woken up since, and he hadn’t healed from his horrific injuries no matter what spell I used to try to counter the lethal magic. Instead, Ian had only grown worse.
“It’s working.” My voice vibrated from the joy rocketing through me. “Thank all the gods, it’s working!”
I’d put all my knowledge, every last one of my magic-infused gems, all my power, and more than a few stolen artifacts into this latest spell. Those last ingredients had netted me some new enemies, but I didn’t care. Ian’s magic-ravaged body was finally healing. Oh, I couldn’t wait until he opened his eyes again! I also couldn’t wait to hear his voice, to see his smile, listen to his laugh . . . wait. What was happening?
Ian’s body suddenly began to shrink back into itself.
“No!” I grabbed his arm, as if I could physically prevent him from degenerating again.
That meant I felt as well as saw Ian’s formerly healed body reduce itself back to little more than tendon-covered bones. His pearlescent skin now also had a grayish undertone, and his thick auburn hair looked faded and brittle, like discarded straw. If anyone saw him, they’d think they were looking at a corpse.
“No!” I screamed, dropping Ian’s arm. If I held it any longer, I would break it from how frail it was.
And Ian wasn’t frail. He was the strongest, cleverest, bravest, sexiest, most stubborn man I’d ever met. He’d defeated every challenge anyone had thrown at him, every time. He’d even defeated death once, so he couldn’t end up destroyed by Dagon’s spell, after everything he’d overcome. He just couldn’t!
Ashael let out a deep sigh. “I am so sorry, my sister.”
Only then did I realize I was crying, the kind of deep, hiccupping sobs that no one wanted to cry, let alone with an audience. I couldn’t seem to stop, either. I, widely known as the vampire world’s coldest, most unfeeling Law Guardian, couldn’t even slow my heaving sobs.
I’d put everything I had into this spell, and it hadn’t been enough. Even from the grave, Dagon would win. He’d already made me watch Ian die once. Now, Dagon would force me to watch him die again, unless I somehow found another way to stop the magic that was inexorably killing him.
I would, I swore, swiping at my tears. I’d find another way, or I’d make another way.
Ashael patted my back in a soothing way. As a demon, he probably wasn’t used to offering comfort, but despite his lack of practice, he was pretty good at it.
“I’m okay,” I said once I’d shoved my pain down enough to speak instead of sob. Then, I changed the subject because if I focused anymore on how this spell had failed, I’d lose it again. “Have you had any luck finding our father?”
It still felt strange to say “our” father. For thousands of years, I thought I had no siblings. Then, a month ago, I found out that Ashael was my half brother, though Ashael’s other half came from the demon race, while I was half vampire.
“No. He hasn’t responded to any of my summonings.”
“How can he ignore both of us?” I asked. “No, really, how? If you draw the right symbols in my blood and called me using my true name, I have to come, and I inherited that from dear old Dad. So, how can he ignore both of us repeatedly blood-ritual summoning him?”
Ashael shrugged. “He is the epitome of the river separating life and death. Who knows what he is capable of?”
“Exactly, which is why we need to find him. Our father might be the only person strong enough to heal Ian.”
Everything Ashael and I had tried might have failed, but our father was a netherworld god. He’d raised Ian from the dead before, so healing him should be well within his purview.
“I will find him,” Ashael said. Then his dark eyes grew more sympathetic. “But I have no idea how long it will take. If Ian does not survive until then—”
“He will,” I interrupted, fighting back a new surge of tears.
Crying didn’t help Ian. It only took away the energy I’d need to save him. Ian had never let impossible odds stop him from saving me. I wouldn’t fail him now.
Ashael didn’t argue. He only inclined his head. “As you say. However, Ian’s condition puts you at a disadvantage, since many enemies are after you. The vampire council wants you dead now that they know what you are, and you refused my offer to slaughter them—”
“I still do,” I said, though I patted his hand.
A human brother might bring me a bouquet of flowers to brighten my day. My demon brother wanted to bring me a bouquet of my enemies’ body parts. Gruesome, yes, but his motivation was sweet, even if his method of showing affection was . . . less so.
“Very well, no slaughtering the council,” Ashael said, sounding disappointed. “Their death sentence on you aside, you also have Dagon’s allies seeking revenge against you, and you have that other concern.”
Other concern. That was one way to describe an unwanted celestial fiancé. But that was also the topic I least wanted to talk about.
“I’ll deal with that after Ian is well.”
Ashael frowned. “Then you cannot attract Phanes’s notice by piercing a hole into the underworld again.”
Really? There went my after-dinner plans.
I didn’t say it out loud. Ashael didn’t deserve my sarcasm.
“Thank you,” I said. That, Ashael deserved.
A small smile curved his mouth. “Anything for my sister.”
It still felt odd hearing it. But also, it felt a little wonderful, and that was the emotion I’d try to dwell on.
“Are you off again?”
Ashael never stayed long. The salt water in the air from the nearby surf burned him. If Ashael wasn’t only half demon, he wouldn’t be able to stand it at all. That’s why we were still at Ian’s sire’s house in the Hamptons. Its beachside location made it demon-proof, and none of the Law Guardians looking for me would assume I’d choose a ritzy vacation home for my hideout.
Ashael nodded. “I’m meeting an acquaintance that might have information on our father. I should be back before dawn.”
I nodded. Ashael hesitated, and then touched my shoulder.
“I’m worried about you, Veritas. You’re so busy caring for him, you’re neglecting yourself, and Ian wouldn’t want you hovering over him until you wasted away. He’d tell you to sleep, to feed, to take a walk, take a drive, or do something other than stare at him every moment as he sleeps. You know I’m right.”
He probably was. But when I slept, I woke up screaming from nightmares where Ian degenerated into dust right before my eyes. Plus, every drop of blood I consumed was one less drop that might help Ian regain his strength to fight Dagon’s spell. I knew that, even unconscious, Ian was still fighting. I could feel it in his power, simmering beneath the dark magic that was trying to destroy him. Some days, feeling the faint pulse of his power was the only thing that kept me from going insane.
I couldn’t say any of that to Ashael without worrying him more, so I said, “I’ll walk on the beach for a bit after you leave. I did that the other night, too, so I’m not only spending my time hovering over Ian.”
He smiled. “Good. I’ll see you when I return.”
I forced a smile in return. “Be safe, and I’ll see you then.”
He teleported away. My false smile dissolved the next instant.
Still, a few hours later, I went outside to fulfill my promise to him. The nearby ocean called to my celestial-born nature anyway. Waves grabbed at my ankles like frigid fingers when I reached the surf. I didn’t mind. The cold combined with the late hour meant that I was alone on the beach. The Hamptons’ other residents were either gone for the winter or safely inside their expensive beachfront homes.
When the next wave rushed over my ankles, I used my power to break it into spirals that twirled around me like mini water spouts. Then, when the waves departed back into the ocean, I sent the spirals chasing after them. My ability to control water was more second nature than a learned skill. Very second nature, considering that it came from my other half.
When I was in my mid-twenties, Tenoch, my beloved sire, had turned me into a vampire, but I wasn’t human before that. I hadn’t known, of course. I’d been enslaved by Dagon since I was too young to remember anything except my first death. Dagon told me he raised me from that death, and from the hundreds—thousands?—of deaths after it. I believed him because Dagon was a powerful demon who could do many incredible things. I only found out decades later that Dagon had nothing to do with my resurrections. My biological father, the Warden of the Gateway to the Netherworld, was the one who’d repeatedly brought me back from the dead. The Warden was also the source of my powers, some of which had scared my sire, Tenoch, so much, I’d suppressed them to the point of forming an entirely separate identity.
For over four thousand years, no one except Tenoch had known what I really was, since being a mixed-species vampire was so illegal that it was punishable by death. No one even knew what I really looked like. I’d concealed my celestial side beneath my rigid, vampire Law Guardian persona, and I’d hidden my true, god-resembling appearance beneath glamour that showed a thin, blonde, young woman to anyone who looked at me. Both disguises had allowed me to lead a safe, solitary life . . . until Ian.
Somehow, Ian had sensed the real me even before we spoke a single word. Later, when circumstances forced me to show Ian what I was, he hadn’t been frightened or appalled like everyone else. He’d been intrigued, aroused, and then unstoppable in his pursuit of me. I’d done everything to guard my heart, but I’d failed. By then, I hadn’t cared. Falling for Ian might have ripped me in two—literally, considering the emergence of my other side—but it had also been the highlight of my very long life. I’d never known it was possible to be so happy, and now I couldn’t bear to lose him. Not again, and . . . what was wrong with the sand?
Seconds ago, it had been grayish. Now, it was every shade of gold. The air filled with golden beams, too, as if the brightest sun were shining instead of the wan streaks from the crescent moon. In the next instant, lights were suspended in the air like multitudes of tiny stars.
It was stunning, but I all I could think was Oh, shit!
I’d seen this before, and it had heralded the arrival of the very last person I wanted to see.
I flew toward the cottage, only to smack into a muscled chest before I’d made it two meters. Suddenly, I was held aloft by two burly arms framed by huge golden wings.
“My bride!” said my unwanted celestial fiancé.
Hope you enjoyed Chapter One! Remember, Chapter Two will post next Friday, October 16th, with Chapter Three following on Friday October 23rd. You can also pre-order WICKED ALL NIGHT from (#Ad) Amazon, B&N, Apple Books, Kobo, BooksAMillion, IndieBound, or your favorite retailer.