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Friday, May 26, 2017

Newest Release - BLOOD BETRAYAL (Available Everywhere on June 5th, 2017)

CHECK OUT THE LATEST RELEASE (AND UPCOMING RELEASE) 
FROM TESSA DAWN
DARK FANTASY & GOTHIC ROMANCE
For those who like their vampires (and dragons) to bite! 

Blood Betrayal
Book #9 in the Blood Curse Series
Available on June 5th

Amazon (eBook) Amazon (paperback)
Apple/iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
(Audible.com ~ coming this summer) 

eBook, paperback, audio book

~~~

Join the Blood Betrayal Release Day Party 
30 guests will win a *free* 
Blood Betrayal Prize Package
(1) set of BB sticky notes
(3) BB post cards
(1) magnetic BB Bag Clip






CLICK HERE 
TO RSVP TO - OR JOIN - THE PARTY
July 5th 10 AM - 8 PM (MST)


~~~
Also coming this year!
Christmas in Dark Moon Vale
October 23, 2017

Learn more & read an excerpt on the website

AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER

Apple/iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

(The Amazon/Kindle pre-order is coming in October)

~~~

What's Next In Line???
Dragons Reign
Book #2 in the Dragons Realm Saga
(Release Date to be announced)
~~~

Blood Betrayal Back Blurb

Saxson Olaru is one of the select, the few, the elite...

As a ruthless sentinel sworn to protect the ancient Vampyr king and the house of Jadon, he has “HOJ” literally inscribed on his heart: a heart that was tragically broken centuries earlier, when human hunters slayed his mother and Dark Ones murdered his father. Having survived the unthinkable, he never dreamed he would come this close to another human predator, let alone a female pretending to be his destiny.
Kiera and Kyla Sparrow are twin sisters: humans, living very different lives. While Kiera is selfless, clever, and talented, Kyla is dark, duplicitous, and damaged—she belongs to a secret society of vampire-hunters, and she has sworn to destroy as many as she can. 

When Saxson’s Blood Moon appears in a February sky, and the matching constellation, Cetus the Sea Monster, appears on Kiera’s wrist, Kyla knows exactly what it means: The celestial gods have chosen her beautiful sister to be the eternal mate of an immortal vampire—she just doesn’t know which one.

And it really doesn’t matter.

If Kyla can recreate the sacred emblem on her own inner wrist, she can take Kiera’s place and commit the ultimate Blood Betrayal. 

When duty, obedience, and honor clash with a deep, gnawing intuition, an honor-bound warrior will be forced to choose between allegiance to the house he loves and the quiet voice within, whispering: “Warning!”  

One wrong move.

One wrong choice.

And all will be lost forever.  

BLOOD BETRAYAL, Book #9 in the Blood Curse Series



Blood Betrayal Prologue

Saxson Olaru sidled up to the bar in Denver’s infamous LoDo, a native, urban term for lower downtown, and he tried to make himself as inconspicuous as possible.
It was a losing proposition.
At six-foot two, he had soft hazel-eyes, the color of swirling caramel, and light-ash hair that was neat on the sides, wavy and wispy at the front, tapering softly down a strong, masculine neck. The eye immediate caught a strong, angled jaw and chin, beneath a perfectly-groomed, silken goatee and features so pristine, so precisely sculpted, that his high-cheekbones looked as if they’d been carved out of marble: In other words, Saxson Olaru usually caught every eye in the room. He dripped sensuality, oozed masculinity, and practically radiated primal confidence. He was the muscular epitome of power, lethality, and grace; and women were drawn to him like moths to a flame. As for men? Well, they felt his presence like a blast of virility and a whirlwind of dominance, sweeping through the room like a twister, devastating everything in its wake.
Intimidating was a mild word for Saxson.
But yeah, his goal was to remain inconspicuous.
Good luck with that.
He ordered a second shot of Elijah Craig, Single Barrel Whiskey from the female bartender, gave her a gentle-but-effective mental command to go about her business—since she happened to be staring at him like a dolt with her mouth hanging open and drool rapidly pooling along the corners of her mouth, about to leak onto her chin—and turned to glance at the seemingly average business man, wearing an overly-expensive tie with an extremely cheap suit, in the farthest, corner-booth of the bar.
Anthony Beckman.
Kate Beckman’s ex-husband.
The one who had broken her jaw and was this close to molesting their three-year old daughter, during one of his court-approved visits.
What the hell…
Saxson repressed a growl: Anthony was one of the human males on Rebecca Johnston Lacusta’s hit list, and he was only too happy to take him out.
Okay, so it wasn’t supposed to be a hit list.
At least not necessarily…
But try explaining that to Nathaniel Silivasi. The Ancient Master Warrior had already removed Ely Thomas’ fingers for breaking Nancy’s arms; dismembered Rollo Jones, for causing Sheila to have two miscarriages—and yeah, Rollo didn’t live through the ordeal—and gouged out Hugo Gonzales’ eyes for refusing to leave Teresa alone. Apparently, Nathaniel figured that would put a dent in Hugo’s stalking.
The “list” was supposed to be at least somewhat benign: The warriors were supposed to scrub their brains, implant new suggestions on how to live a kinder life, insure that these miscreants would never threaten a woman again, and Saxson supposed that Nathaniel had met that criteria…in his own, creative way.
After all, three down; two to go.
As it stood, Nathaniel was off stalking Julius Schaffer, Patricia Sykes’ one-time, one-date, NFL player, and Saxson was hunting in LoDo, handling Anthony Beckman, or at least he was about to…
Problem was: Saxson had already searched Anthony’s soul, and it was nothing but black, murky, sludge. The man was as evil as evil came and as sociopathic as a serial-killer. He possessed zero capacity for remorse or empathy, and he would never, ever stop terrorizing Kate. It was stamped all over his demented brain, and that meant only one thing—
This one had to be put down.
For good.
Saxson tossed back the second shot of Whiskey, slammed the glass on the bar, and made his way toward the back of the room, trying to saunter past the booth as seamlessly as possible. There was no need to create a scene. No need to grab the bully by the scruff of the collar and drag him out of the establishment in order to…handle the business…in a dark, secluded alley. The way Saxson saw it, he could simply snap the idiot’s neck in the space of a heartbeat, leave him propped up like a drunkard, still sitting in the booth, and close his eyelids, if necessary, with the sweep of his hand, make it look like he’d simply passed out.
It might be an hour or more before anyone noticed.
Then again, it might only be five minutes.
Saxson grimaced.
Damn, he hated to cause that kind of drama for the employees or the establishment, but when he weighed their angst against the threat to Kate Beckman’s daughter, it just didn’t seem that bad. Besides, humans could deal with their own affairs. After all, they had created the laws that allowed such injustice to continue in the lives of so many women; they had devalued their females and their children, in spite of what they claimed, in every penal code they wrote; and they still viewed outright violence, assault, and terror as domestic disturbances in nature—whatever the hell that meant—by slapping perpetrators on the wrist, releasing pedophiles from prison, and viewing rape in the context of sex…as if that had anything to do with it.
Violence was violence.
Assault was assault.
And crime was crime.
And a society that wielded a harsher penalty for stealing money than destroying virtue deserved a little mess in an otherwise pristine booth.
It was what it was.
As Saxson sidled by Anthony’s table, he met the human’s gaze with a nod, and then he felt his own eyes turn feral—he knew they were glowing red—it was simply a natural instinct. The human’s jaw dropped open, as if he were about to scream, and Saxson squelched the sound in an instant, turning it off with a simple, mental command. A sweet, primal moment, laced with terror and imbued with fear, the knowledge that something horrific was about to take place, flashed in Anthony’s pupils, but it never had a chance to reach his twisted brain.
Saxson grazed the human’s cheek with his thumb, anchored his jaw with his palm, and placed the opposite hand on the opposite cheek as if in a lover’s embrace. With a sharp, swift rotation, both wrists working in tandem, he twisted to the right, then back to the left, listening for the tell-tale pop that indicated the broken vertebrae.
It was swift.
It was effective.
And it was finished.
Anthony Beckman was dead.
Saxson pressed the human’s heavy body back against the seat, using one hand to steady his torso, the other to secure his balance. As the man’s head fell forward, suspended above his chest, he allowed him to slump into a resting position, and then he closed his eyes.
Smoothing his right hand through his hair, Saxson swaggered past the booth and instantly muted his appearance as he turned on his heel and headed in the opposite direction, toward the establishment’s front door—he wasn’t completely invisible, and he wasn’t crystal clear. His presence was like an impression, a ghost or a breeze—others would feel him, they would know he was there, but they would not be able to see, touch, or discern his presence in a way they could actually place. He wouldn’t seem real or tangible.
As he stepped outside into the crisp night air, he drew in a deep, cleansing breath, rolled his shoulders, and stretched his neck, before deciding to take a stroll around the block: Nathaniel was hunting on the opposite end of town, taking care of Mr. Sykes—it might be another fifteen or twenty minutes before they could head back to Dark Moon Vale. 
           Might as well see the sights.

********

Kyla Sparrow stood behind her identical twin sister in the tiny, one-room bathroom at the back of the LoDo bar, watching as Kiera reapplied her liquid eyeliner in the murky mirror, creating a perfect, symmetrical line; and she pretended to listen as Kiera talked.
Blah, blah…blah, blah, blah.
It wasn’t that Kiera wasn’t funny, interesting, and smart—or even beautiful—she was, inside and out. But that, and a nickel, would buy Kyla a gumball, something she didn’t need.
Kyla Sparrow had much bigger concerns on her mind.
She had much bigger fish to fry than petty, every-day, monotonous affairs.
And because of that, she and her twin sister really didn’t vibe.
In fact, they hadn’t vibed for years.
Ever since their freshman year in high-school, Kyla had known she was different: While Kiera had been a straight-A student and a practical virtuoso with her violin, impressing classmates and teachers alike with her vibrant, intelligent personality, Kyla had been morosely withdrawn. Not only had she shown very little interest in making friends, pleasing her teachers, or pursuing some extravagant talent, she had become more-and-more distrustful, increasingly pessimistic, and decidedly different as each new day dawned.
And it wasn’t just a matter of extrovert-versus-introvert or social-versus-anti-social, it went a whole lot deeper than that. Kyla had harbored an internal rage: She was prone to fits of violence; often envious, resentful, or just plain combative; and to most of the people around her, she was an oddity, a rebel, and even a threat. Sure, she shared her identical twin’s genes, good-looks, and even her uncanny intelligence, but it manifested in a completely different way.
Kyla needed to know why.
Why were people to stupid and unteachable?
Why did nations let their enemies win?
Why didn’t leaders employ any means necessary to achieve their individual goals, establish collective dominance, and create a hierarchy where the strongest would always survive?
Why did they make so many excuses for the sick, the defective, and the simple among them?
Why didn’t anyone else see that they were all just a bunch of dumb, mindless goldfish, swimming around in a bowl, waiting for someone to feed them, take care of them, direct them as to where to go, what to say, and how to live, repeating the same tiresome routine, day after day, year after year, life after meaningless life? And that’s when she had met Owen Green, the handsome, charismatic leader of the Denver Militia, a secret society of vampire-hunters, engaged in a much grander cause.
At first, Kyla had thought Owen was full of malarkey, with all his fanciful tales of fanged creatures who stalked the night, Dark Ones and Light Ones, opposing houses, and moons that turned the color of blood. But Owen had made her a believer, over time, over a lot of shocking, revealing, and illuminating time. And more than that, he had shown her things—photos, diaries, gravestones—as he had increasingly gained her trust, all of which left little room for doubt that vampires were definitely real.
Now, thirteen years later, Kyla was more than a believer: She was a full-fledged initiate in the metropolitan area’s secret cell. She was honor-bound and one-hundred-percent obedient to a Head Hunter she had never met, a regional leader by the name of Xavier Matista, the male who had recruited Owen. In fact, not only had she gone through all the secret trainings, attended all the late-night briefings, and followed the societies’ every clandestine move, she had committed herself fully on December 1st of her twenty-fifth year by submitting to a full, irreversible hysterectomy in order to become eligible for field work.
The society paid very well.
And they took excellent care of their own.
They were all that was standing between humanity and the monsters, and she was ready to make her first kill.
Knowing that any creature she hunted could very well be a Dark One, a powerful and dangerous aberration, from what they called the house of Jaegar, the hysterectomy had been a must: No pain, no gain. No risk, no reward. Kyla wasn’t playing a child’s game, and she understood that on a deep, intrinsic level. Keeping up with her old life, pretending to be an active member of her family, meeting with her twin from time to time to engage in the mundane was all part of a necessary front. She had to pretend to be functioning member of society, as a whole, even as she knew she was the race’s defender.
Slowly, and over time, Kyla, and others like her, would help to usher in a new age, a purer society, where the strong ruled the weak, and the mighty inherited the earth. Their goal was simple: First, cleanse the earth of the Vampyr; next, claim dominance over unworthy humans.
“So what do you think of this color eyeliner?” Kiera asked, in her usual, welcoming tone. “It’s kind of a blue-green…maybe aqua. I’m not sure if it goes with my eyes.”
Kyla plastered an insincere smile on her face, and glanced at Keira’s makeup. “I think it looks gorgeous on you.” What else could she say? Her identical twin was a stunning beauty, just as Kyla was. In the end, what did any of that triviality matter?
She was just about to suggest that they leave the bar, perhaps try to find a good movie—at least, then, they wouldn’t have to talk through a show—when she noticed something both curious and intriguing on Kiera’s left arm.
Kyla stepped closer to the mirror and stared into the glass.
The gentle hand that held up the eyeliner-pencil was softly rotated outward, and as inexplicable—impossible—as it seemed, Kiera’s inner wrist was changing, metamorphosing, right before Kyla’s eyes. She reached out to grasp Kiera’s wrist. “Let me see that,” she whispered, suddenly feigning interest in the pencil, even as she secretly shielded and surveyed her sister’s arm.
Wow.
Whoa!
This could not be happening!
Etched into Kiera’s flesh, and becoming more-and-more distinct as each second passed, was a series of enigmatic lines and cryptic dots, all of them intersecting to create a clear, discernable pattern, a celestial constellation: Cetus, the sea monster.
Kyla swallowed a gasp and tried to remain calm.
She knew exactly what she was staring at: After all, she and her other vampire-hunting cohorts had learned all of the celestial constellations—correction, they had learned all of the celestial gods, those who ruled over the lighter vampires—and they had committed the pantheon to memory.
Ever since the end of June, of the previous year, the society had begun a new, intensive series of trainings, after their formerly-indifferent, regional Head Hunter had suddenly stepped things up…with a vengeance. No longer content to keep the lower echelons in the dark, Xavier had flooded the militias with information about the race they were hunting, about the history of the Vampyr, about their culture, their practices, and their religions. Kyla hadn’t understood it at the time—if the higher-ups possessed all this knowledge, why had they kept it to themselves for so long? Why had they been so content to simply order the militias around, while they, themselves, remained in the shadows, and led from afar?
Why hadn’t they shared all this history and culture, decades ago?
While part of that equation remained true—Kyla had never met their region’s Head Hunter, and she doubted that she ever would—the most important part had definitely changed: The militias were now armed with more information and a deeper understanding of the enemy than they had ever possessed before.
Careful not to alert Kiera, Kyla sauntered to the bathroom door and double-checked the lock—yep, the door was securely fastened.
No one would walk in.
But that wasn’t going to hold for long.
Somewhere out there, either close-by, in the bar, or within a few city blocks, was a vampire, gazing at the moon. And he would be feral, desperate, and determined—searching like a lion, intent on protecting its pride—to find the unsuspecting female who was standing in this cubicle.
And he would not be denied.
And maybe, just maybe, if Kyla could pull it off, she could somehow switch places with Kiera before the monster found them—wouldn’t that just be the deception of a lifetime?
The greatest advantage the militia had ever had?
Knowing that the moon would not be visible to her human eyes, Kyla immediately switched her tack: She hurried to the small, rectangular window on the far side of the lavatory and pointed at the sky. “Kiera, come here! Quick! Look at this? Do you see what I see?” Her voice was thick with wonder and awe.
Kiera tucked her pencil into her purse, still unaware of her arm, and paced to the back of the bathroom. She glanced out the window and her jaw dropped open. “Holy moly!” she exclaimed.
Yep, there it was…
Confirmation!
“The moon is the color of…blood. And the stars? What the heck is that? I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Kyla didn’t bother to respond.
She didn’t have time.
She reached into her purse, retrieved her cellphone, and pecked out an urgent text:
Owen! It’s Kyla. Still at the bar with Kiera, and you’re not going to believe this—she has the mark of a destiny on her left arm! Does Travis still own his tattoo parlor? If so, you need to get him and his tools down to LoDo, NOW! There’s a door in the bathroom that leads to an alley (it’s behind the bar). Kiera and I will be waiting for you. I don’t have to tell you what all of this means. If we can pull this off, I can take out this vampire. Hell, we can infiltrate their lair!!!

GET HERE RIGHT AWAY!



###

Friday, April 7, 2017

Enter the "Blood Betrayal Oracle Contest" for a chance to win a **FREE** Autographed Copy of my upcoming book: Blood Betrayal ~ coming June 5, 2017!



HERE'S HOW THE 
"BLOOD BETRAYAL ORACLE CONTEST" WORKS

1. Read the epilogue in Blood Ecstasy (book #8 in the Blood Curse Series) ~ this will introduce the characters and "plot" for Blood Betrayal (it will show you what's coming next).

2. Put on your oracle hat (or get out your crystal ball), and make a wild guess as to what will happen in the upcoming novel!

Specifically, come up with at least three predictions. These may be events, outcomes, plot twists, or wild-guesses: the more the merrier, and the more-detailed, the better!

For example: 

"There's going to be a Blood Moon" is probably not going to be a winning "prediction," or set you apart from other entrants -- it's fairly obvious and far too general.

"Character A will kill character B, right before s/he drives an ATV off a seventy-foot cliff, shape shifts into a bald eagle, and flies away to the Bahamas" would be much more specific and, thus, more likely to win the contest (assuming such bizarre, random events had anything whatsoever to do with the series -- which they don't -- but it's great example of being specific). :-)

The point is, come up with three specific things, and just have fun with it!

3. Post your predictions (or "wild guesses") right here on this blog -- I'm trying to avoid having to search all over Twitter and Facebook for various entries, and this will leave a clear, unambiguous time-stamp with a date. :-)

4. The contest will close on release day -- June 5, 2017 -- and I will wait one-full-month to notify the winner directly (if I have your email), and also ON THIS BLOG.

Why am I waiting to announce a winner?
I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, including the contest winner, by confirming or denying any predictions.

Why must we post on this blog, instead of Facebook or Twitter? 
Again, to keep entries all in one place and to avoid involving readers who would rather not see any "prediction-posts." :-)  Rest assured, there will be zero spoilers - the contests is safe. :-)

What if someone has the same answer as me? 
"Oh, no! S/he plagiarized my answer!" -- Rolling on the floor laughing. :-)
Odds are, he or she did not -- folks often come up with the same ideas. However, should there be two or more "winning" posts that are exactly the same (and that's where adding a detail might help you ;-)), then I'll check the time-stamps, and the person who posted it first will win. 



*** A QUICK WORD ABOUT SPOILERS ***
DO NOT WORRY - THERE WILL NOT BE ANY! 

I will not respond to any predictions in any way, other than to say, "Thank you for entering ~ good luck!" However, feel free to respond to each other -- no one knows anything about the upcoming book. :-)  



                                                           *** A QUICK WORD ABOUT PRE-ORDERS ***

Blood Betrayal will be available for pre-order as soon as possible; however, each vendor has their own requirements and restrictions. Therefore, the eBook will appear at different times -- and on different dates -- depending upon the vendors. I am not sure whether or not the print-book will be available early. And the audio book will follow in July/August.

Please check my website for updated information -- you can always go straight to the BUY A BOOK PAGE and click on your vendor of choice (if the buy link works, it's available); if it does not click through, it's still coming to that store...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finally, for those who need to "revisit" the story in order to make a prediction, I will post the upcoming Blood Betrayal back blurb, and the previous, Blood Ecstasy Epilogue (same thing) below! 

GOOD LUCK & HAVE FUN! 

Tessa


Blood Betrayal Back Blurb

Saxson Olaru is one of the select, the few, the elite...

As a ruthless sentinel sworn to protect the ancient Vampyr king and the house of Jadon, he has “HOJ” literally inscribed on his heart: a heart that was tragically broken centuries earlier, when human hunters slayed his mother and Dark Ones murdered his father. Having survived the unthinkable, he never dreamed he would come this close to another human predator, let alone a female pretending to be his destiny.
 
Kiera and Kyla Sparrow are twin sisters: humans, living very different lives. While Kiera is selfless, clever, and talented, Kyla is dark, duplicitous, and damaged—she belongs to a secret society of vampire-hunters, and she has sworn to destroy as many as she can. 

When Saxson’s Blood Moon appears in a February sky, and the matching constellation, Cetus the Sea Monster, appears on Kiera’s wrist, Kyla knows exactly what it means: The celestial gods have chosen her beautiful sister to be the eternal mate of an immortal vampire—she just doesn’t know which one.

And it really doesn’t matter.

If Kyla can recreate the sacred emblem on her own inner wrist, she can take Kiera’s place and commit the ultimate Blood Betrayal. 

When duty, obedience, and honor clash with a deep, gnawing intuition, an honor-bound warrior will be forced to choose between allegiance to the house he loves and the quiet voice within, whispering: “Warning!”  

One wrong move.

One wrong choice.

And all will be lost forever.  

BLOOD BETRAYAL, Book #9 in the Blood Curse Series



Blood Ecstasy Epilogue/Blood Betrayal Prologue

Saxson Olaru sidled up to the bar in Denver’s infamous LoDo, a native, urban term for lower downtown, and he tried to make himself as inconspicuous as possible.
It was a losing proposition.
At six-foot two, he had soft hazel-eyes, the color of swirling caramel, and light-ash hair that was neat on the sides, wavy and wispy at the front, tapering softly down a strong, masculine neck. The eye immediate caught a strong, angled jaw and chin, beneath a perfectly-groomed, silken goatee and features so pristine, so precisely sculpted, that his high-cheekbones looked as if they’d been carved out of marble: In other words, Saxson Olaru usually caught every eye in the room. He dripped sensuality, oozed masculinity, and practically radiated primal confidence. He was the muscular epitome of power, lethality, and grace; and women were drawn to him like moths to a flame. As for men? Well, they felt his presence like a blast of virility and a whirlwind of dominance, sweeping through the room like a twister, devastating everything in its wake.
Intimidating was a mild word for Saxson.
But yeah, his goal was to remain inconspicuous.
Good luck with that.
He ordered a second shot of Elijah Craig, Single Barrel Whiskey from the female bartender, gave her a gentle-but-effective mental command to go about her business—since she happened to be staring at him like a dolt with her mouth hanging open and drool rapidly pooling along the corners of her mouth, about to leak onto her chin—and turned to glance at the seemingly average business man, wearing an overly-expensive tie with an extremely cheap suit, in the farthest, corner-booth of the bar.
Anthony Beckman.
Kate Beckman’s ex-husband.
The one who had broken her jaw and was this close to molesting their three-year old daughter, during one of his court-approved visits.
What the hell…
Saxson repressed a growl: Anthony was one of the human males on Rebecca Johnston Lacusta’s hit list, and he was only too happy to take him out.
Okay, so it wasn’t supposed to be a hit list.
At least not necessarily…
But try explaining that to Nathaniel Silivasi. The Ancient Master Warrior had already removed Ely Thomas’ fingers for breaking Nancy’s arms; dismembered Rollo Jones, for causing Sheila to have two miscarriages—and yeah, Rollo didn’t live through the ordeal—and gouged out Hugo Gonzales’ eyes for refusing to leave Teresa alone. Apparently, Nathaniel figured that would put a dent in Hugo’s stalking.
The “list” was supposed to be at least somewhat benign: The warriors were supposed to scrub their brains, implant new suggestions on how to live a kinder life, insure that these miscreants would never threaten a woman again, and Saxson supposed that Nathaniel had met that criteria…in his own, creative way.
After all, three down; two to go.
As it stood, Nathaniel was off stalking Julius Schaffer, Patricia Sykes’ one-time, one-date, NFL player, and Saxson was hunting in LoDo, handling Anthony Beckman, or at least he was about to…
Problem was: Saxson had already searched Anthony’s soul, and it was nothing but black, murky, sludge. The man was as evil as evil came and as sociopathic as a serial-killer. He possessed zero capacity for remorse or empathy, and he would never, ever stop terrorizing Kate. It was stamped all over his demented brain, and that meant only one thing—
This one had to be put down.
For good.
Saxson tossed back the second shot of Whiskey, slammed the glass on the bar, and made his way toward the back of the room, trying to saunter past the booth as seamlessly as possible. There was no need to create a scene. No need to grab the bully by the scruff of the collar and drag him out of the establishment in order to…handle the business…in a dark, secluded alley. The way Saxson saw it, he could simply snap the idiot’s neck in the space of a heartbeat, leave him propped up like a drunkard, still sitting in the booth, and close his eyelids, if necessary, with the sweep of his hand, make it look like he’d simply passed out.
It might be an hour or more before anyone noticed.
Then again, it might only be five minutes.
Saxson grimaced.
Damn, he hated to cause that kind of drama for the employees or the establishment, but when he weighed their angst against the threat to Kate Beckman’s daughter, it just didn’t seem that bad. Besides, humans could deal with their own affairs. After all, they had created the laws that allowed such injustice to continue in the lives of so many women; they had devalued their females and their children, in spite of what they claimed, in every penal code they wrote; and they still viewed outright violence, assault, and terror as domestic disturbances in nature—whatever the hell that meant—by slapping perpetrators on the wrist, releasing pedophiles from prison, and viewing rape in the context of sex…as if that had anything to do with it.
Violence was violence.
Assault was assault.
And crime was crime.
And a society that wielded a harsher penalty for stealing money than destroying virtue deserved a little mess in an otherwise pristine booth.
It was what it was.
As Saxson sidled by Anthony’s table, he met the human’s gaze with a nod, and then he felt his own eyes turn feral—he knew they were glowing red—it was simply a natural instinct. The human’s jaw dropped open, as if he were about to scream, and Saxson squelched the sound in an instant, turning it off with a simple, mental command. A sweet, primal moment, laced with terror and imbued with fear, the knowledge that something horrific was about to take place, flashed in Anthony’s pupils, but it never had a chance to reach his twisted brain.
Saxson grazed the human’s cheek with his thumb, anchored his jaw with his palm, and placed the opposite hand on the opposite cheek as if in a lover’s embrace. With a sharp, swift rotation, both wrists working in tandem, he twisted to the right, then back to the left, listening for the tell-tale pop that indicated the broken vertebrae.
It was swift.
It was effective.
And it was finished.
Anthony Beckman was dead.
Saxson pressed the human’s heavy body back against the seat, using one hand to steady his torso, the other to secure his balance. As the man’s head fell forward, suspended above his chest, he allowed him to slump into a resting position, and then he closed his eyes.
Smoothing his right hand through his hair, Saxson swaggered past the booth and instantly muted his appearance as he turned on his heel and headed in the opposite direction, toward the establishment’s front door—he wasn’t completely invisible, and he wasn’t crystal clear. His presence was like an impression, a ghost or a breeze—others would feel him, they would know he was there, but they would not be able to see, touch, or discern his presence in a way they could actually place. He wouldn’t seem real or tangible.
As he stepped outside into the crisp night air, he drew in a deep, cleansing breath, rolled his shoulders, and stretched his neck, before deciding to take a stroll around the block: Nathaniel was hunting on the opposite end of town, taking care of Mr. Sykes—it might be another fifteen or twenty minutes before they could head back to Dark Moon Vale. 
           Might as well see the sights.

********

Kyla Sparrow stood behind her identical twin sister in the tiny, one-room bathroom at the back of the LoDo bar, watching as Kiera reapplied her liquid eyeliner in the murky mirror, creating a perfect, symmetrical line; and she pretended to listen as Kiera talked.
Blah, blah…blah, blah, blah.
It wasn’t that Kiera wasn’t funny, interesting, and smart—or even beautiful—she was, inside and out. But that, and a nickel, would buy Kyla a gumball, something she didn’t need.
Kyla Sparrow had much bigger concerns on her mind.
She had much bigger fish to fry than petty, every-day, monotonous affairs.
And because of that, she and her twin sister really didn’t vibe.
In fact, they hadn’t vibed for years.
Ever since their freshman year in high-school, Kyla had known she was different: While Kiera had been a straight-A student and a practical virtuoso with her violin, impressing classmates and teachers alike with her vibrant, intelligent personality, Kyla had been morosely withdrawn. Not only had she shown very little interest in making friends, pleasing her teachers, or pursuing some extravagant talent, she had become more-and-more distrustful, increasingly pessimistic, and decidedly different as each new day dawned.
And it wasn’t just a matter of extrovert-versus-introvert or social-versus-anti-social, it went a whole lot deeper than that. Kyla had harbored an internal rage: She was prone to fits of violence; often envious, resentful, or just plain combative; and to most of the people around her, she was an oddity, a rebel, and even a threat. Sure, she shared her identical twin’s genes, good-looks, and even her uncanny intelligence, but it manifested in a completely different way.
Kyla needed to know why.
Why were people to stupid and unteachable?
Why did nations let their enemies win?
Why didn’t leaders employ any means necessary to achieve their individual goals, establish collective dominance, and create a hierarchy where the strongest would always survive?
Why did they make so many excuses for the sick, the defective, and the simple among them?
Why didn’t anyone else see that they were all just a bunch of dumb, mindless goldfish, swimming around in a bowl, waiting for someone to feed them, take care of them, direct them as to where to go, what to say, and how to live, repeating the same tiresome routine, day after day, year after year, life after meaningless life? And that’s when she had met Owen Green, the handsome, charismatic leader of the Denver Militia, a secret society of vampire-hunters, engaged in a much grander cause.
At first, Kyla had thought Owen was full of malarkey, with all his fanciful tales of fanged creatures who stalked the night, Dark Ones and Light Ones, opposing houses, and moons that turned the color of blood. But Owen had made her a believer, over time, over a lot of shocking, revealing, and illuminating time. And more than that, he had shown her things—photos, diaries, gravestones—as he had increasingly gained her trust, all of which left little room for doubt that vampires were definitely real.
Now, thirteen years later, Kyla was more than a believer: She was a full-fledged initiate in the metropolitan area’s secret cell. She was honor-bound and one-hundred-percent obedient to a Head Hunter she had never met, a regional leader by the name of Xavier Matista, the male who had recruited Owen. In fact, not only had she gone through all the secret trainings, attended all the late-night briefings, and followed the societies’ every clandestine move, she had committed herself fully on December 1st of her twenty-fifth year by submitting to a full, irreversible hysterectomy in order to become eligible for field work.
The society paid very well.
And they took excellent care of their own.
They were all that was standing between humanity and the monsters, and she was ready to make her first kill.
Knowing that any creature she hunted could very well be a Dark One, a powerful and dangerous aberration, from what they called the house of Jaegar, the hysterectomy had been a must: No pain, no gain. No risk, no reward. Kyla wasn’t playing a child’s game, and she understood that on a deep, intrinsic level. Keeping up with her old life, pretending to be an active member of her family, meeting with her twin from time to time to engage in the mundane was all part of a necessary front. She had to pretend to be functioning member of society, as a whole, even as she knew she was the race’s defender.
Slowly, and over time, Kyla, and others like her, would help to usher in a new age, a purer society, where the strong ruled the weak, and the mighty inherited the earth. Their goal was simple: First, cleanse the earth of the Vampyr; next, claim dominance over unworthy humans.
“So what do you think of this color eyeliner?” Kiera asked, in her usual, welcoming tone. “It’s kind of a blue-green…maybe aqua. I’m not sure if it goes with my eyes.”
Kyla plastered an insincere smile on her face, and glanced at Keira’s makeup. “I think it looks gorgeous on you.” What else could she say? Her identical twin was a stunning beauty, just as Kyla was. In the end, what did any of that triviality matter?
She was just about to suggest that they leave the bar, perhaps try to find a good movie—at least, then, they wouldn’t have to talk through a show—when she noticed something both curious and intriguing on Kiera’s left arm.
Kyla stepped closer to the mirror and stared into the glass.
The gentle hand that held up the eyeliner-pencil was softly rotated outward, and as inexplicable—impossible—as it seemed, Kiera’s inner wrist was changing, metamorphosing, right before Kyla’s eyes. She reached out to grasp Kiera’s wrist. “Let me see that,” she whispered, suddenly feigning interest in the pencil, even as she secretly shielded and surveyed her sister’s arm.
Wow.
Whoa!
This could not be happening!
Etched into Kiera’s flesh, and becoming more-and-more distinct as each second passed, was a series of enigmatic lines and cryptic dots, all of them intersecting to create a clear, discernable pattern, a celestial constellation: Cetus, the sea monster.
Kyla swallowed a gasp and tried to remain calm.
She knew exactly what she was staring at: After all, she and her other vampire-hunting cohorts had learned all of the celestial constellations—correction, they had learned all of the celestial gods, those who ruled over the lighter vampires—and they had committed the pantheon to memory.
Ever since the end of June, of the previous year, the society had begun a new, intensive series of trainings, after their formerly-indifferent, regional Head Hunter had suddenly stepped things up…with a vengeance. No longer content to keep the lower echelons in the dark, Xavier had flooded the militias with information about the race they were hunting, about the history of the Vampyr, about their culture, their practices, and their religions. Kyla hadn’t understood it at the time—if the higher-ups possessed all this knowledge, why had they kept it to themselves for so long? Why had they been so content to simply order the militias around, while they, themselves, remained in the shadows, and led from afar?
Why hadn’t they shared all this history and culture, decades ago?
While part of that equation remained true—Kyla had never met their region’s Head Hunter, and she doubted that she ever would—the most important part had definitely changed: The militias were now armed with more information and a deeper understanding of the enemy than they had ever possessed before.
Careful not to alert Kiera, Kyla sauntered to the bathroom door and double-checked the lock—yep, the door was securely fastened.
No one would walk in.
But that wasn’t going to hold for long.
Somewhere out there, either close-by, in the bar, or within a few city blocks, was a vampire, gazing at the moon. And he would be feral, desperate, and determined—searching like a lion, intent on protecting its pride—to find the unsuspecting female who was standing in this cubicle.
And he would not be denied.
And maybe, just maybe, if Kyla could pull it off, she could somehow switch places with Kiera before the monster found them—wouldn’t that just be the deception of a lifetime?
The greatest advantage the militia had ever had?
Knowing that the moon would not be visible to her human eyes, Kyla immediately switched her tack: She hurried to the small, rectangular window on the far side of the lavatory and pointed at the sky. “Kiera, come here! Quick! Look at this? Do you see what I see?” Her voice was thick with wonder and awe.
Kiera tucked her pencil into her purse, still unaware of her arm, and paced to the back of the bathroom. She glanced out the window and her jaw dropped open. “Holy moly!” she exclaimed.
Yep, there it was…
Confirmation!
“The moon is the color of…blood. And the stars? What the heck is that? I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Kyla didn’t bother to respond.
She didn’t have time.
She reached into her purse, retrieved her cellphone, and pecked out an urgent text:
Owen! It’s Kyla. Still at the bar with Kiera, and you’re not going to believe this—she has the mark of a destiny on her left arm! Does Travis still own his tattoo parlor? If so, you need to get him and his tools down to LoDo, NOW! There’s a door in the bathroom that leads to an alley (it’s behind the bar). Kiera and I will be waiting for you. I don’t have to tell you what all of this means. If we can pull this off, I can take out this vampire. Hell, we can infiltrate their lair!!!

GET HERE RIGHT AWAY!


###

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Disclaimer 
By entering this contest, I attest to the following: The fully-finished manuscript, Blood Betrayal by Tessa Dawn, was submitted to editorial on April 1, 2017 with all creative content (plots, characters, and story outcomes) fully complete. Any resemblance between contest predictions and the finished novel's is purely coincidental, and no such prediction(s) shall influence the manuscript in any way.