Authors: Hannah Pole
Fate is calling…
After a strange encounter in a dark alley, journalist Tamriel’s life is turned upside down. She’s missing days, developing odd new abilities, and being followed by the mysterious Leyth.
Dark, dangerous –
and too gorgeous for his own good
– Leyth’s determined to teach Tamriel about her new life as a werewolf. And just as intent on keeping their relationship strictly business.
But as their simmering bond grows, Tamriel and Leyth face a bigger challenge; Tam may be their kind’s strongest weapon against the Circle; a deadly group of paranormal creatures gone rogue. That is, if she’s ready to give in to her destiny and put up the fight of her life…
I am a born and bred wild child. (I like to think so anyway!)
I moved to sunny Folkestone to escape and find my feet as, well, whatever I was destined to be. But, alas, my short attention span made finding my destiny a little difficult. One day I came across an old diary entry that made me laugh so hard I actually fell off my chair. (Yes, this really can happen!)
I decided that the entry was so funny, it needed to be shared with the world. So I started writing, and attempted to turn it into a novel. Though to this day that novel remains unfinished, it will always be the novel that got me started, and showed me what I was passionate about. I have aspired to be everything from a private investigator to a zoo keeper; my interests change so quickly that I could never stick to one. Writing gives me the freedom to choose; I can be a cold-hearted assassin in love with a poet one day and the secret lesbian lover of a politician the next!
All my life, I have had a strong, unwavering passion for anything supernatural, spiritual and slightly unexplainable, I love the idea that there can be something completely fantastical lurking beneath the confines of normality. So of course, mythical creatures of all shapes and sizes dominate most of my work
In a nutshell, I am a creative, crazy bean, living with my lovely husband and a house full of too many animals. I’ve always secretly wished I were a werewolf of some description, but have come to realise that I will have to settle for writing about them instead! I’m happiest in the sun with my head in a good book! All I can say from here is, I hope you like what you read!
Firstly, thank you to Daniel Pole, my lovely man. Thank you for supporting me through my literary dreams. I realise the long hours I’ve put into these books have left you wifeless and fending for yourself most of the time. I am truly grateful that you still put up with me after all this time.
And to Anna, my editor, thank you for your patience and keen eye for detail. Without your help, I can honestly say this book would not be even remotely as strong as it is today. Your guidance and passion has made me a better writer than I could ever have hoped to be.
I would also like to thank Vicky Castle, for getting me started. Georgia Lycett, Liza, Mike and William Townsend for all your love and support. And to Fiona Dixon and Adam Stewart for keeping me going through the hard parts.
Thank you to everyone who has put up with my constant rambling; it is greatly appreciated and, without you, I wouldn’t have made it this far.
Swirling her now cold coffee around in her mug, Tamriel sat staring at the screen at the only two words she’d written all day. As if it was taunting her, the screen saver flashed up again, notifying her that she’d not done a thing for the last twenty minutes. With a sigh, she moved the mouse to bring the screen back up, checked her email for the hundredth time, and finally logged out.
Picking up her jumper, she headed for the door.
Two weeks and not
good story. TWO WEEKS!
She’d become a junior reporter for
because she loved the excitement of a good story; she loved the chase of the unknown. What she’d found, however, was a whole lot of nothing. Wow, yesterday, a cat had managed to get stuck in a tree… Like that’s
Breaking news! I’m stuck in a dead end job, going nowhere.
Waving goodbye to the few people she actually spoke to in the office, and passing Harlan the creepy janitor, she stepped out into the cold night. The cold wind hit her face like an icy slap, urging her feet forward. The night was clear; the streets empty, except for the odd drunk stumbling towards the next pub. The only sound, echoing through the cold night, was the bass of nightclubs filling the air with a dull thumping in the distance.
As she strode home, Tamriel found herself wishing for a better job, for a more interesting life. Once she’d been happy, when her father was still around. He was the only person she’d ever felt understood her.
When she was a child, he’d always told her to love the person she was, to embrace the life she had. They had spent their days sparring; unlike most fathers who taught their children to read, he taught her to fight. She’d learnt everything she knew about self-defence and tracking from him. It was those years of knowledge that had led her to be the writer she was, hunting out a good story and knowing how to defend herself if the situation got nasty. But no one wanted her to do what she was truly good at; the sexist pig she had for a boss thought women should be interviewing old ladies and children, writing about gossip and fashion. Not hunting down rapists, helping the police solve murders and writing hard-hitting news. No, any leads she got hold of were instantly shifted over to one of her boss’s lackeys and she was shoved straight back to doing admin. She cursed herself for her lack of backbone and wished for the thousandth time that she had the balls to just up and leave. Lord only knew what was keeping her in this little town.
Turning the corner onto her road, Tam stopped, then whipped round, every sense screaming at her. She was being followed, she was sure of it. Her skin crawled with the feeling that eyes were on her, but who? Where? The streets were as empty as the sky itself; not a person or cloud in sight.
She crouched, inspecting the ground underneath the cars lining the road, scanned the surrounding ‘decorative’ trees, nothing.
Though the light of day had long gone, and the only illumination came from the dim, flickering street lights, Tam was certain there was nothing to be found; hell, her night vision was nigh-on perfect, and even when that failed her, her other senses were abnormally accurate. Sure, she was currently stamping along the pavement like a pissed- off child, but generally she kept herself silent; she could move fluidly through almost any environment without making a sound. Her hearing had always been so advanced she’d been called a freak because of it in her school days; though usually whispered from across the classroom, she’d always heard it. Heard it and hated it.
Feeling like a paranoid loon, she continued, listening intently for the sound of footsteps, watching for someone hidden in the darkness. Something was off. Way off.
The reporter in her wanted to search the area, stalk the streets until she found what was there; she loved tracking what little evidence there might be until she found the hidden story. Maybe that was it? Maybe she was so desperate for anything interesting to write about that she was inventing problems? Were the hairs on the back of her neck rising to tell her something was amiss, or was it actually just because it was a cold winter night? Was the tight ball curling its way through her gut instinct telling her to be aware of her surroundings? She had always trusted her instincts; they’d never led her astray before.
‘Get off me!’ The scream was piercing, deafening to Tamriel’s ears.
Without thinking, Tam broke into a sprint towards the sound echoing through the darkness. She had never been cautious, had always been prepared to jump head first into danger; her father had told her that would be her downfall. He’d always told her to take a step back to assess the situation first, but seriously? When someone is screaming up ahead, possibly hurt and in desperate need of help? How could you
run to help?
The safe route never led to anything interesting anyway.
Plus, it could lead to a damn good story. The reporter in her did a little happy dance at the thought of a possible front-page news situation. She ran through one street, then another, the screaming ricocheting through her eardrums: ‘Don’t touch me! Please!
Adrenaline surged even as a slither of fear shot through her, she pushed it away.
A well-trained reporter acted first, worried later. A good story never found you if you hid within the confines of normality.
‘Help me!’ The shrill sound continued to reverberate through the air.
‘No one’s coming to help you,’ came a deep grumble of response.
As Tam reached the alleyway where the noise seemed to be coming from, she slowed down. She inched along the wall, keeping out of sight, then crouched, listening intently for any sign that whoever it was had heard her coming. Nothing. Just silence.
It was as if the entire world was holding its breath just for a second and, in that moment, she could have sworn that even her own heart stopped beating.
‘Please…’ came a whisper from the alleyway.
The sound made Tam practically jump out of her skin. Fear rushed through her, overcoming her for just a moment.
STOP! she mentally shouted, getting a grip and pulling herself together.
A good reporter acts first and worries later.
Suddenly her nose twitched, the coppery stench of blood hitting her like a brick. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, sharpening her senses. Lord did that stuff stink!
Snapping back to reality, Tam reached into her T-shirt and pulled out the small flick knife she always wore clipped to the side of her bra. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing.
Taking a deep, somewhat shuddery breath, she pushed any lingering fear back into the depths of her mind, to be released once this was over, and took one silent step forward.
She peered round the corner of the wall, looking down the alleyway. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness; the alley was empty, though from what she could see it led into a space behind the building she was standing in front of.
Slowly, quietly, she stepped into the small space.
Falling into a defensive crouch, she listened. Harsh breathing was all that met her ears, and the scent of blood was growing stronger by the second. She crept forward, ears tuned to the breathing coming from up ahead. Her footfalls made little noise as she carefully moved forward, thanking the gods that she was wearing her woolly boots today rather than heels.
Picking her way through the mess of bins and rubbish, she reached the end of the alleyway. Leaning against the wall, Tam braced herself, bringing the small knife up in front of her out of habit, careful not to let the slither of light coming from the dim street lamp hit it.
The art of surprise was her only other weapon here.
Tam peered around the edge of the wall; the darkness of the small space she was looking into seemed to seep around her, the shadows enveloping her body as that irritating stab of fear crept up her spine once more. She hastily shoved it away, watching the blackness intently. Out of the corner of her eye she saw one of the shadows move, only slightly, but it made her pulse accelerate nonetheless. The shadow morphed into a dark figure which flinched as if something had hit him. Its arm then flew out and slapped whatever was in front of him. The noise of the contact thundered through the streets, bouncing off the walls around her.
Tam felt rather than saw a girl fall to the floor, her limp body hitting the concrete with a crack. The man raised his arm again and this time something glinted in his palm, a knife. A
Tam didn’t allow herself time to think. She sprinted towards the man, towards the knife, roaring as she went. She lashed out with a foot, kicking him in the gut and sending him flying into the wall behind them as surprise rippled across his pale face, the knife clattering out of reach.
Spinning around, Tam positioned herself in a crouch over the fallen woman.
‘Don’t touch her,’ she hissed, bringing her own knife up and using her entire body as a shield.
‘What the HELL?!’ the man spat, swiping at the blood on his face. ‘Where the hell did
Tam didn’t bother responding. Instead, she concentrated on his posture; he was bracing himself against the wall as he hefted his body off the floor, using his left leg to shift his weight rather than his right. He’d been hurt, but not enough.
Shaking himself off, the beast-like man lunged at her, faster than she’d expected. Tam barely had time to dart out of the way before he was in the space she’d been standing in. He ignored the unconscious girl and went for Tam instead, swinging out with his foot and only just missing her.
Getting with the programme, she sent her knife back at him, clipping his arm but not enough; it cut through his heavy black jacket but didn’t reach skin.
Suddenly he was on her again, lashing out, striking her with blow after blow; she barely had time to block what he was throwing at her, let alone try to fight back. He threw his fist at her, sweeping upwards towards her face. Tam leant backwards, but not fast enough. Her jaw cracked and her head snapped into the wall with a smack she felt right through to her core.
Out of pure instinct, her arm shot forward, clipping him in the gut with her knife. For a split second he groaned and curled over to protect his injured stomach.
A second was all she needed to find her feet and force her rattled brain into action. Tam sent her knee upwards, cracking the beast in the face and using the force of the impact to stamp her foot onto his.
The guy howled, but swung out with a fist. Tam caught his hand and pulled him forward, bringing his shoulders down far enough that she could grab at his head. Using the momentum to her benefit, she yanked him down by his ear; the bastard had no hair to grab onto!
She swung her arm into the air, bringing her elbow down on the back of his neck. The man went down like a sack of bricks, hitting the floor with a thud.
Catching her breath, Tam looked around, searching for any sign of life. Nothing.
Pulling herself together, she staggered over to the beast’s victim, who was sprawled out on the floor, unconscious. Moving the girl’s blonde waves out of the way, Tam checked for a pulse. It was there, slow but steady. The woman was breathing in short, sharp breaths, but at least she was alive.
She pulled out her phone and punched in 999.
The investigator in her wanted to be sure she had a good reason for staying with the blonde woman; she needed to make sure she could take a statement to back her story up if it went to print. The other half of her couldn’t believe that was the first thing that crossed her mind in a situation like this.
‘Emergency Services, please state your emerg—’ The voice was cut off as something grabbed at Tam, smashing her mobile on the floor, heavy hands pulling her up by her hair. Her scream was cut off by thick fingers clasping themselves around her throat as he shoved her against the wall, his brute strength lifting her off her feet so she was left dangling in mid-air, choking against his big palm. Crap. She couldn’t die today, she just couldn’t.
Tam cursed herself for not checking that the guy was down and out before she left him. Rookie. Her father would turn in his grave if he ever found out she’d forgotten one of the most important rules of self-defence; he sure as hell taught her better than that!
Forcing shallow gulps of air into her lungs, Tam tried to focus. As she tried to clear her blurry vision, her attacker’s bald head came into view, along with his black eyes. Horrific eyes that showed no trace of emotion at all.
His lifeless stare seemed to lock onto her, even though his scarred face showed no expression, no hatred, no anger, nothing whatsoever.
Suppressing a shudder and sucking in another harsh breath, Tam lashed out with her feet, kicking the guy in the knee. Even with terror rushing through her, she was determined to fight with all that she had. It was just blind luck that she managed to hit the leg that was injured. The brute gritted his teeth against the pain but otherwise didn’t react; his stare didn’t waver and he didn’t seem remotely fazed by what was happening to his body. And they called
a freak! What about this guy?
Drawing together all her reserves, Tam lashed out again at the same knee. There was a sickening crack. The guy toppled as his leg gave way, his grip loosening, but his eyes didn’t leave hers, not for a second. Even as he went down and his torso hit the floor, those black eyes stayed locked onto her. Assessing her, memorising her.
Tam went into a freefall, her body cascading downwards and hitting the floor with a thud. She didn’t even have time to catch her breath before a shooting pain sliced its way through her. Her body was suddenly engulfed with a roaring heat that seemed to seep out of her chest, melting her skin as it went. What the hell was going on?
Blinding pain swept through her again, quickly becoming all that she could feel, all that she was, and all that she knew until the blackness overtook her, claiming her.
Leyth hid in the shadows, pressed against the wall as he watched Tamriel Chambers leave the office. It was 9 p.m. by the time she’d switched off her computer and walked out. He watched her stride past him like she was on a mission, and slowly followed, keeping to the shadows as he went. He was practically invisible in the dark, especially given that he, like most of his race, had the ability to sink into the darkness, allowing the shadows to engulf him so completely that even the keenest eye couldn’t detect him. Not even a vampire would be able to spot him at night. But hell, the infection was coming on strong; it was growing every day now. Silently sprinting through the streets behind her, he kept to the walls, hidden in the darkest shadows of the night. Tam looked mighty angry, thundering along the path as she was, her brows drawn tight as she made her way back to the apartment. Her long black hair was streaming out behind her in the wind, head down as she focused on the pavement ahead.