Hey all! I know. It’s been too long since I was on here last. Bad writer. Bad.
Now that I’ve been amply reprimanded I’ll give you an update on Craven. Maybe I should drop the n and just call it Crave because that’s the type of book it’s turning out to be. Anyway, I’m oh so close to finishing it (if those episodes of The Vampire Diaries on Netflix would stop calling my name). I will absolutely have the first draft finished by this weekend so I’m setting the release date for August 19th. That gives me plenty of time to do what I need to as far as getting it ready for publication. I’ve added the first chapter for your viewing pleasure although I will warn those that haven’t read the Avery Tywella Series. This has spoilers in it! It’s because of the events in Deceived that force the events in Craven’s book to happen. Also, because of that I’m going to be listing Craven as part of the Avery Tywella Series even though he is in both her series and the Forged by Magic Trilogy. And because there are characters in Craven from FbMT I’m going to include Ange Noir with Craven’s book as an added bonus when it goes on sale. Both books are companion novels and for those that haven’t read the FbMT but have read Avery’s books it will keep them from being lost when someone like say Dorian is introduced into the picture.
Also, before I get to the excerpt I wanted to tell everyone again about Sexyways of Reading’s 5000 like bash. There is an amazing amount of books and gift cards being given away so make sure you enter. Here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/SOR5000LikeBash
Now, on to the excerpt.
904 by the Gods’ Time
Why, oh why didn’t he let Dorian name him as prince? Stubbornness, that’s why. And look where it’s gotten him. Running for his damned, bloody life. Craven jumped a fallen log and continued through the forest as fast as any of his kind could. The problem was that he couldn’t keep up this pace forever and it didn’t look like his pursuers were giving up anytime soon.
He had just crossed a small stream and reentered the woods when an attacker jumped out from behind a tree and tackled him to the ground. Craven managed to stab the other Vampire with his blade but the attacker sliced his shoulder deeply. Craven looked at the gash but had no more time to give to it. He could hear footprints splashing through the water. The stream was only thirty feet behind him and he knew there was nowhere to hide. A Vampire would be able to smell his blood a mile away.
Craven was forced to continue running. If he could make it to Benevento he had a chance of alluding his attackers. Unfortunately he was bleeding out and there was no way he would make it the ten miles to town. He diverted his course while taking off his shirt. He stopped long enough to hide it behind a small embankment of rocks then quickly climbed the cypress that hung over the small rock formation.
It only took a few seconds for the first of his pursuer to stop and approach the rocks. Craven could hear him stiffing like a dog. Soon another joined him and Craven recognized him as one of Pasteur Gaillard’s generals. Craven tried to breath as quietly as possible knowing they would be able to hear the slightest nuance. He listened himself to try to hear any other hunters. He heard nothing so decided it was now or never. Given the amount of blood he had already lost he didn’t have much fight left in him.
He jumped from his position in the tree just as one of the Vampire had lifted his shirt from its hiding place. As he fell onto the first pursuer he placed his hands on either side of his head and twisted while pulling. The head came free and Craven used it to throw at the other Vampire. Gaillard’s general swatted the head aside and smiled at Craven.
“Well, if it isn’t Dorian’s little General. Tossed into the gutter after winning the crown for his master.”
Craven didn’t bother to reply. Partly because he didn’t want to waste the energy and partly because it mattered not what this bastard thought. He would be dead soon enough.
The Vampire attacked at full force and Craven waited until the last instant to drop into a crouch lifting his blade in time to run down the front of his torso. Blood spewed onto him and he relished it. There was no blood sweeter than that of his foe.
It was as he smiled at his victory that he finally lost the battle with consciousness. If he could have just held on a little longer, he could have fed and been able to heal himself but, alas, it was not written in his fates to feed from that Vampire.
The last thing he saw as he battled his eyelids was the most beautiful face he had ever seen. Had the Angels come to collect? Surely not. Only Demon came for those like him.
Gods, the most splendid nectar was rushing into his mouth and he eagerly drank it down. The source of this nourishment was pulled away momentarily but Craven clung to it, holding on for dear life. Not only was it reviving him. It was by far the best taste his had ever had the glory of touching his tongue and he couldn’t get enough. This sweet blood was all that he wanted. All he could ever want. All he would need for an eternity and there would never be anything else.
Craven finally managed to claw his way out of the blood lust that had him in its grasp and pulled away from the donor. She fell to the floor limp and Craven looked down on the angel he had seen before.
“No. No,no,no,no,no.” He knelt beside her and felt for a pulse. There was one but it was weak. He realized she wasn’t Human either. No, there was magic inside of her. It felt woodsy and crisp. Her blood reminded him of a steam winding through a forest collecting segments of all that it passed. Craven realized he had closed his eyes while savoring the feeling of her blood inside of him but he needed to do something. This woman would not last if he did not. But, what could he do? He looked around the small cabin he was currently in. It was obviously her home and he hoped there was someone or something that could change this fate. There was no one here to heal her. He certainly didn’t have that capability unless…No, he wouldn’t turn her. There would be repercussions. There were always repercussions when creating one of his kind. If only there were another way. Anything. Craven eagerly wracked his brain trying to think of any way to save this beautiful woman lying broken before him but nothing would come. There was no way. He would be forced to live with his mistake for the rest of his days. Not one would pass that he would not feel the burden of what he did on this day. His rescuer and he murdered her for her kindness.
No, he couldn’t live with this on his conscience. He had enough plaguing him already without adding this murder to it. But what if he created a monster? He has never made one of his kind before. Being born Vampire instead of being made caused him to be stronger than most and he knew that strength would pass on to any he created but he this wasn’t a Human. Judging by the woodsy magic he would guess a Nymph of some kind. Those and Werewolves were the only Others he could think of that spent the majority of their time in the woods which resulted in their magic taking on a forestry feel. She didn’t have the feel of a Were so tree Nymph was his best guess.
Could he turn a Nymph into a Vampire? To his knowledge it had never been done before. Craven shrugged. It mattered not. She would die or she would become a Vampire. She was going to die anyway. At least this way she had a chance to survive. If he thought his guilt would be swaged, he was wrong. He was sure she would hate him for this depravity. She wouldn’t be the only one to hate him though. No one could despise him more for this injustice than he would.
“So what is it this time Butch?”
“I got an inside man at this estate. He brought me inside. Gods the thing this guy has. A real collector, ya know.”
“And I’m sure you took pictures of the things you wish to steal?”
Butch smiled and reached inside his pocket. Producing several photos and tossing them on Craven’s desk. Craven took a brief look at each one before lowering them.
“The cost will be fifty percent of the sells for the reproductions. If you need me to find a seller the cost goes up to seventy.”
“Seventy percent? Of something I stole?”
Craven shrugged. “Or do the heist without my assistance. Even if the security system doesn’t go off, the owner will surely know his most prize possessions are missing and the cops will be on your trail before you have the chance to even think about off-loading the merch. I offer you something you otherwise will not have. Time. I make the copies. You replace the stolen ones with the fakes. The owner is none the wiser until the magic runs out.”
“And how long is that?”
Again, Craven shrugged. “A few days. A week at most.”
“So you’re saying I’ll only have a few days to find someone interested in these rare artwork and sculptures? There’s no way I can get rid of them that fast.”
Craven smiled. “That is why it would be in your best interest to allow me to sell them for you. I’ll line up the buyers before the items are retrieved therefore there will be no wait period.”
“How much will my cut be?”
“That depends on how much the buyers are willing to pay?”
“I’m not doing this for less than a hundred k.”
Craven looked at the pictures again. “I’m sure that can be arranged. I will need to do a little background work on the items before I can give you any guarantee though. Give me a couple of days and I will get back with you when I know more.”
“How do I know you’re not just going to go steal them yourself?”
Craven narrowed his eyes at the imp sitting across from him. “If I wanted to get into the business of thievery, I wouldn’t waste my time meeting with people like you.”
Butch shot Craven a nasty look but realizing he needed Craven so he shelved his anger. “Alright. I’ll wait for your call. Make it quick though. I want to do this as soon as possible.”
Craven raised his brow. “I will contact you as soon as I know something definitive and not a moment before. Good day Butch.”
Butch huffed before getting up from the chair and leaving the room.
There was no honor among thieves anymore. Used to be one would give his word and that was enough. Now even with a pristine record of getting the job accomplished like Craven had, his word was still questioned every time. There was a knock on his door and a moment later April walked in. She was the receptionist that ran the front of his tattoo parlor, Bloody Ink.
“Hey boss, are you busy?”
“No April come on in.” She came in and sat in the same chair Butch had just vacated. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, I know you haven’t been seeing that Angel girl that much recently but I thought you might be interested to know she’s missing.”
Craven’s brows rose. There was only one female Angel Craven had ever met in his very long life.
“Avery is missing? How?”
She shrugged. “I’ve been seeing her friend Temmy and she said she’s gone. Vanished. Her boss gave her some time off after her grandmother died so it’s possible she went on a vaca or something but Temmy insists she would never leave without telling her. She wanted me to ask you if you could put out some feelers to find out where she might be.”
“Has her friend contacted her partner?”
“That’s the thing. According to what Avery told Temmy before she disappeared, Jared left her and returned to the Kingdom. I don’t think she would go after him without telling anyone.”
“It’s possible she wasn’t given a choice. I have heard at least one Angel has tried to bring her home before. Perhaps that is what happened. I will check with the other Fallen to find out if that is what happened.”
“Alright, Craven. Thanks man. I owe you one.”
“It is no problem April. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to my Angel.”
She smiled at him before getting up and leaving the room.
Craven pulled out his cell and looked up the number for Luke, one of the Fallen of Atlanta. He had texted Craven some important files not too long ago and Craven had saved the number. You never know when you might need to be in contact with the Fallen. He never thought he would be calling them looking for Avery though. How could she go missing without anyone knowing where she is? The last time he had seen her she was looking for the whereabouts of Olivia Renault. Now the dark Witch has disappeared too, Aurora with her. He couldn’t think about that Dryad right now. He needed to locate his Angel. Something in the pit of his stomach told him she wasn’t taking a vacation in the Kingdom. He only hoped she wasn’t visiting her father. That could get messy real fast.
“Luke, this is Craven. I’m looking for Avery. Do you know where she might be?”
“No, I’ve been calling her for days but she’s not answering. I thought she was just avoiding me because she’s upset about Jared but since you’re looking for her too maybe that’s not the case. When was the last time you saw her?”
“Several weeks ago. She and Jared come to me for some information.”
“And you required the information on the Blood stone in return. You haven’t seen her since then?”
“No, apparently neither has her friend Temmy or anyone else for that matter. Are you sure she is not with Jared in the Kingdom?”
“No, only Gabriella accompanied him.”
Craven’s temper rose. “And why would the First Lord’s daughter be accompanying him?”
“There was some miscommunication. She wanted Jared to bond with her and return to the Kingdom.”
“And he went with her?!! That bastard calls Avery Caryad and he abandons her for the opportunity to return to his homeland?!”
“No, it wasn’t like that. He’s coming back.”
“He Gods be damned better not or I will be ripping him to bits! If I find out Avery was taken against her will while he was supposed to be protecting her, I am going to kill that bleeding poor excuse for an Angel.”
“Craven, calm down. We don’t even know if Avery was taken. She could be on vacation or something.”
Craven laughed without humor. “Keep telling yourself that. I am going to find out what happened to her and Jared had better hope I don’t find out it was his fault.”
He hung up. Gods damn that asshole. Female Angels were rare. Really rare. Not many males find their Caryad and that fucker found his then left her to follow another piece of tail to the Kingdom. Craven would drain him dry.
He grabbed his coat and started for his office door before turning back and grabbing a couple of things he might need for the task ahead.
“I’m going to step out for a minute, April love. You know the drill.”
“Got it boss. Call me if you need backup.”
Craven just looked at her with a brow raise and she held up her hands in surrender.
“Fine. Gods forbid the great Craven should need assistance.”
He smiled and winked at her before leaving the shop. He pulled his keys from his pocket and the lights flashed as the doors unlock on the sleekest nineteen sixty-seven Camaro. Of course it had been upgraded with modern conveniences. In that way it was much like the Vampire that drove it. Old but adapted.
There was no answer at Avery’s door, not that he expected there to be, so he pulled out ole-reliable, his lock picking set. Once the tumblers disengaged he opened the door and let himself in. He could feel the ward on the door as he passed the threshold. A look on the frame showed a small mark embedded in the wood. It was obviously an Angel mark and his only guess could be that it was Avery’s. He had never saw her sign and since she was raised on earth instead of in the Kingdom it wasn’t any surprise she didn’t use it like most Angels. Many carry the emblem on chains around their necks while others have it embroidered on practically everything they own. Some even have it tattooed on their skin. Craven has done more than one such tattoo. Since it represents their unique name in Angelic it is no wonder they represented it.
Craven reached out and touched the emblem on the door. It was very intricate. Similar to the woman it belonged to. Craven shook off his memories of the Angel and walked into the living room of her home. Nothing looked out of place. He walked around the island into the main kitchen and opened the fridge. It was low on food but the milk was still within expiration. Perhaps she just wasn’t answering her phone because she wanted to be left alone.
Craven turned just in time to keep the meat cleaver from severing his head. He dodged left then grabbed the being’s arm and twisting it around behind her. He pushed her face against the island and held it there.
“Release the weapon or I will bleed you.”
The cleaver fell to the floor and Craven kicked it away before releasing her. He took a step back and looked at the creature. She was short. Probably about three and a half to four feet tall with a pointed nose, chin and ears. She was also a green color close to baby vomit but was dressed in typical woman’s clothing consisting of skinny jeans and a peasant top.
Craven pulled out a blade and pointed it in the creature’s direction. “You will tell me what you have done with the Angel or things are about to get mighty unpleasant for you.”
He eyes widened. “Please. I would never harm my mistress. I am lost without her.”
“Your Mistress? When did Avery become mistress to some…I’m sorry, what are you?”
“The common name is Goblin. I am Mauve. I was sent by king Abaddon to help my mistress get her affairs in order.”
Craven’s eyes narrowed. “So you turned her over to him. Is that it?”
“No! My mistress told me she did not want to go to Hell. To force her would be to cause her harm and I would never.”
“Then why are you here and she’s not?”
A tear fell from her eye. “The Angel took her. I wanted to stop him but the Dryad wouldn’t let me. He took her there. She did not wish to go but he took her.”
“Whoa. Hold up. You’re going to have to start over on that one. An Angel took her? To the Kingdom?”
Craven dared to feel a little relief. Perhaps her Caryad wasn’t a total douche after all.
“No. To Hell. He opened a portal and pulled her through.”
“An Angel took her to Hell?”
“It was Daniel. I heard him tell her so before he took her.”
“So this Angel, named Daniel, showed up out of the blue and pulled Avery through a portal?”
“He was brought here by the Dryad. The witch had cursed him into a shrunken head. The Dryad said something about my mistress promising to release them both. Once the Angel was free he pulled her through the portal.”
“What about the Dryad?”
“I do not understand? She did not go with them.”
“Where did she go? Did she say anything?”
“I tried to jump through the portal after them but the Dryad, she intercepted. She said Avery was going home and I would not interfere.”
“Home?” Lucifer. He must have sent the Angel to bring Avery to him. Craven sighed in relief at least he would protect her. Now he could stop worrying about Avery but he has a new worry to replace it. “What about the Dryad? Where is she?”
“I do not know. She told me she was to return home herself. She needed to do one last thing.”
No. No, no, no. Craven started for the door.
“Sir. Please. You must help my mistress.”
Craven turned back to look at her. “There is nothing I can do for her. Her father will protect her.”
“I have heard. My mistress was with her father but is no more.”
“What?! Where is she?”
“My master has her now.”
No! Gods damn it! There was nothing Craven could do. He couldn’t go to Hell and stage a rescue. He had no dominion over that plane and he would be dead before he took his first breath.
“Please Sir. If you would tell Master Jared. He could save her. He would never allow his Caryad to be mistreated.”
Craven tried his best not to roll his eyes and failed miserably. “The problem with that is Jared is in the Kingdom chasing a piece of Angel tail. If I see him I will be sure to pass on a message though.” One that fucker would never forget.
As much as Craven wanted to help Avery there was nothing he could do other than notify the Fallen and hope they manage to save her. He had another debt to pay though and he was running out of time.