Book One Demon Be Mine released in June. Here is a blurb and excerpt from the first book in the series!
After dying at the hands of Ryland Durand, Eli Peckard is thrust into a different universe, one that is familiar to his home of New Orleans, but scary all the same. Battered and bruised from his rough travels, he is accosted, and then rescued by Anasa, an official in The Realm.
Zylen has lived his days in Nouvelle Terre as a Keeper for new fledglings. Being the child of a fallen and a vamp, Zylen still beholds emotions of remorse and empathy for the mentally fragile soul, Eli Peckard, and those feelings transform into something more.
Eli’s insecurities and Zylen’s anxieties over crossing the line of teacher and apprentice might be an obstacle in their budding union. More importantly, Zylen’s instruction for Eli must include lessons that teach the newest souled demon how to survive the final challenge while fighting his own lusty emotions.
WARNING: Potential triggers. Mentions of child abuse and rape. Graphic violence
Excerpt: Eli finds out where he is and meets Anasa
“Wh — where am I? Am I in hell?” As I spoke, my voice cracked, my mouth parched from lack of liquids. A shiver ran down my spine thinking about what had occurred that final night in my apartment.
As the devil Valios, had instructed, I’d gone home to meet with the demon known as Kajika. I’d been following this dancer, who I’d thought to be mortal. Now, however, I knew the truth, which ultimately became my undoing. After he seduced me, I lusted after him and attempted to hurt Kajika. Instead, he bit me as a vampire would, virtually ending my life.
The only reason I’d agreed, or actually, the Beast agreed, to meet with Kajika was to get the gift to satisfy my cravings to hurt women as I’d long desired. With that, I’d be invincible and not caught. Though it hadn’t deterred me from killing, I still feared being imprisoned, much like I was when living with my grandmother.
Feeling the pain of gravel under my flesh, I grimaced when I rolled my body to the right. I slowly lifted one eyelid and noticed the black sky above me. Not a single star could be seen.
“Where am I, Beast? Where?”
When I tried connecting with my other self, there was no answer.
With a lot of effort, I forced the other eye open and slowly turned my head. The dimly lit cobblestone streets, broken in several places, looked oddly familiar. Like the ones in the Garden District or the French Quarter. I’d loved going there as an adult and a child. However, my most recent memories reminded me of my failure to kill my final victim.
Her name was Ophelia Dunham. I’d met her at a club and we’d gotten close over a three-day span, but in haste, my other self botched our opportunity and she got away. I’ll never forgive Beast for that because if it weren’t for his lust, we might still do what we love.
Killing and enjoying it.
I’d known no other pleasure more fulfilling.
Now, I’m dead with no clue of where I am. I don’t know if I’m in hell or caught somewhere else because the Most High may not have a place for me. Nevertheless, I must try to find the strength to stand and figure out my current existence.
Still befuddled, I tried my best to home in on my surroundings. Again, the place appeared to be a carbon copy of the area I’d once called home. Historical buildings that showed a lot of wear and tear with doors and numbers — noting the addresses, I supposed. There were no names on the signs, only directions. From the looks of it, I was now on a northern street with an eastern cross street.
“My dear boy, do you need attention from a local Keeper?”
A voice disturbed my train of thought and I had no idea who it was.
In moments, a grimy face with black eyes met mine. “Ah, you’re a new one. Probably cast here by Valios, eh?”
“Valios. Yes, I… he said he’d make me a … some kind of demon so I could be …”
Immediately the man roared and shook his head. “That ol’ Valios is up to his old tricks again. Did he tell you he’d make you a soul sucker?”
“I …” I only stared at the man, because I couldn’t recall exactly what the demon had said.
“By the confusion on your face, he did just that. Listen up son, I’ll help ya’ get to a Keeper … but for a price. You’re looking mighty worse for wear. No clothes and all.”
“I’m not wearing anything?” I struggled to lift my head to look at my body. My naked flesh had turned orange, almost matching my hair. I raised my arm and noted my hands looked larger than before, with black talons on the ends.
“No, son. You’re naked as the day you were born,” he laughed. “Welcome to Nouvelle Terre, my boy.”
“Nouvelle Terre. Is this hell or another place close to it?”
The man chuckled again and grabbed my arm so I could sit up straight. I glanced at my surroundings. Creatures that resembled animals or aliens walked about, acting as if they didn’t see a naked man in the middle of the street.
“It isn’t close to hell. This is purgatory, son. Now, like I said, I can get you to a Keeper if you’ve got money. How’s about a hundred dollars?” The grimy man, with dirty clothing to match his face, flashed a toothless smile at me.
“How can I pay you?” I spat. “I have no money. I don’t even have clothes!”
“I meant when you get squared away, son. You —”
“Leave him be, Achtumus!”
Another male’s voice boomed from the left and I heard footsteps on the gravel.
“Uh, damn. Well, good luck, kid. Here comes the head of the Keepers.” The man called Achtumus scampered in the other direction.
When I shifted around to see where he went, I noticed a bolt of fire catch him in the back and make him fall to the ground. I heard him moaning in the distance, then I saw him roll onto his side. Right then, I shuddered and my eyes stayed transfixed as that fire consumed his body. I surmised that the individual who’d warned him off me burned him.
“Are you all right?” The man’s deep voice shook me to my core.
Still shocked by the turn of events, I could not meet the other person’s eyes.
“No. The man there… you killed him.” I gulped hard and took a shallow breath.
“He’s not dead. You’re in Nouvelle Terre, Eli Peckard. You cannot die here unless your soul is taken away by one of the higher demons.”
“Oh.” Despite the man’s reassurance, I still couldn’t meet his gaze. “So I am in purgatory.”
“Yes, caught between heaven, earth, and hell. It is where my master deposited you,” the man said.
“Yes. He had mercy on your soul, for he sees you could become valuable to him if we go to war.”
When the man made that comment, I finally shifted to meet his eyes. They were a clear sky blue, so much so I could see my reflection in them. Besides that, this man or witch, whatever he was, had looks that stirred my arousal beyond my comprehension. Tall gentleman with a clear peach skin tone, wearing all black clothing, including a trench coat similar to the one the would-be swindling bum had worn. He had short brown hair, long full lashes, and a chiseled face with little stubble. In truth, I’d never considered myself gay because my grandmother had warned me against it, but I knew both genders intrigued me. I’d always loved attractive people and this man fit that bill.
Apparently amused by my staring, the man laughed and placed his hand on my shoulder. I glanced at it. He wore silver rings on every finger. At the end of those were long talons, as I had.
“You can stop gawking at me now — unless you still have a little human in you, which is entirely possible. And to answer the question you were just thinking of, I am no witch. I am a Soul Catcher demon, like Valios. Only not as strong. My name is Anasa. I am Valios’s right hand, leader of the Keepers. I will take you to my most reliable Keeper.”
“Keeper?” I asked in confusion.
“Yes. You’ll learn all the terms in due time, Eli. No rush. You’ve taken quite a trip from earth, to heaven, then back here.” Anasa then pulled me close to his body, lifting me from the ground. As if I were a baby, Anasa cradled me, then he walked across the street.
Although I was a naked man being carried by a clothed one, nobody bothered to look at us. They were too busy doing their own thing to concern themselves with the spectacle they saw before them.
“Eli, everyone here has seen a new demon fall into purgatory many times. It is no big deal.” Anasa spoke as if he were reading my mind.
“You know what I’m thinking about?”
“Of course. Soon you will have the same ability.” Anasa laughed and continued on his way until he arrived on another block reading North East 6. After making a turn, he stopped at one building, right next to what appeared to be some kind of store. It had the address 6N7E. I had no clue as to what that meant. Perhaps that’s how they found a place.
“Yes, that’s correct. The numbers with letters denote location.” Anasa admonished me with a smile. “Like I said, don’t process it all now. Your Keeper will tell you everything and take care of you.”
I only nodded, still taking pleasure in Anasa’s soft features. Hard to believe he was a demon with such an angelic face.
“Ah Eli, we all have humanlike features to cover up our true selves. Some prefer to walk around in demon like form, but others like me, enjoy looking at the handsome gent in the mirror,” he chuckled. “We’re here. I believe you’ll like your Keeper a lot. He, like you, had contact with Ryland the vampire.”
“Who is Ryland?”
“Oh. No one told you about the demon Kajika’s true identity.”
“What? No… I … Kajika is a demon, isn’t he?”
Anasa only smiled. “No.”
Completely confused, I gawked at Anasa to finish talking about Kajika. However, he seemed very tight-lipped about this topic. When he arrived at a large green building, he proceeded inside without knocking or putting in a key. The long pathway he’d started on led to another place of the same color with the numbers North East 6 ½. Small shrubs lay on either side of the building. The courtyard we stood in was covered in green grass and a large tree stood in the center.
“Impressed by my Keeper’s home, I see?” Anasa eyed me, curious.
“It is beautiful. How could something so lovely be in purgatory? In fact, a lot here is.”
“Of course. Why wouldn’t it be? You were expecting all dark and dim in caverns? Soul demons like gorgeous scenery as humans do. Also, we have sunup and sundown here in Nouvelle Terre. The dark represents hell taking over the skies while the light says earth is near. As I told you, the Keeper will tell you everything.”
“Why can’t you be my Keeper? You rescued me from that foul demon who tried to trick me.”
“Achtumus does that to everyone. Unfortunately, he likes taking advantage of our new and most vulnerable demons. It’s how he makes a living, I’m afraid. He doesn’t believe in holding onto a real job,” Anasa snickered. “Oh, and as much as I’d love to take care of you, I don’t have the time. Being Valios’s right hand keeps me very busy. Besides, the soul sucker demon, the last of its kind, will be perfect for you. Perhaps the two of you will become more than friends.” Anasa grinned at me, flashing fangs much like Kajika’s.
I shuddered in his arms and he quickly closed his mouth.
“I’m sorry, Eli. I didn’t mean to frighten you. All soul demons here have fangs, some longer than others. When you look in the mirror, you’ll notice yours. Zylen? Zylen, come to the door to receive our newest recruit. I told you to be ready.”
“I’m ready, my lord.”
Another voice boomed from the other direction and my eyes met green orbs resembling emeralds. They belonged to another handsome face, almost as beautiful as Anasa’s.
“Ah, Eli. You are indeed a card. I will keep your thought to myself. That’s if Zylen hasn’t already caught it. Zylen, Eli. Eli, Zylen.” Anasa carried me through the house, passing by the one called Zylen. He walked quickly through the corridor, laying me on a plush black couch. Although I sensed the exhaustion setting in, I noticed this room, lit with only candles on wall sconces. It was filled with furniture and a large bookcase, resembling a library in those old television shows or movies my grandmother watched. All pristine and rich, something belonging to a businessman or doctor.
“How bad are his injuries, my lord?” the one called Zylen asked.
“Mostly scratches, perhaps some head trauma. Valios… well, you know what he has done. I wouldn’t want to scare the man. Take good care of him, as I know you will. Once he rests, he can learn how to be one of us.”
“Yes, of course. Thank you, sir. I will do what I can.”
As they talked and exchanged niceties, I continued to observe Zylen’s home. The massive window on the left held a lovely view of the street. He had no curtains or blinds to hide anything. A big change for me, considering my grandmother and I liked to hide ourselves as well as everything inside our dwellings.
Anasa leaned down and ran his hand over my cheek. His palm sent electric shocks through my body and I hissed in pleasure, trying to keep my self-control. I had no strength, but right now in my aroused state, I could probably grab him and bring him close as I desired.
“You rest, Eli. Zylen will take good care of you and give you what you need.”
I only nodded, because although the other demon named Zylen was just as attractive, my body and heart desired Anasa, wanted him to teach me everything about being an immortal and to heal me in every way possible.