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Katerina Martinez Ultra eBook Bundle (12 eBooks)

Katerina Martinez Ultra eBook Bundle (12 eBooks)

😈💕 Fae, Shifters & Slow Burn Romance for 50% off!

Regular price $34.99 USD
Regular price $69.99 USD Sale price $34.99 USD
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This is the ONLY PLACE you can get this bundle from USA TODAY Bestselling author Katerina Martinez.

12 sizzling URBAN FANTASY ROMANCE novels packed into one AWESOME deal!

Over HALF-A-MILLION READERS have enjoyed  Katerina's books.

✔ Enemies-to-lovers
✔ Slow burn
✔ Forced proximity
✔ Connected Universe
✔ Meaningful spice
✔ Heart-pounding action
✔ Heart warming romance

****

“Why isn’t she collared?” the mystery man asked.

A nervous pause filled the room like an ill wind. “It—it looked weak,” Howes said, “It only had those eyes… no magic, no memories. It barely even put up a fight.” 

“*She* should have been properly processed before being brought for interrogation, or have we already forgotten what happened the last time your people didn’t follow procedures?”

Another pause. It was like they were worried to even speak in front of this man. “We… we haven’t forgotten, boss. But this isn’t like last time. No one’s coming to break it out of here.”

“Give me another minute with that fiend,” Brickmore said, “I’ll get it squawking.”

“The arrogance of man never ceases to amaze me. You’re both pathetic,” the mystery man said. “Get out of my sight, both of you. If I have to so much as look at you tonight again—”

He didn’t finish the threat, but he didn’t have to. Brickmore and Howes tried to leave the room so fast, they were stumbling into each other at the door to get out. Eventually, they did, and the door slammed shut, leaving me alone with the man who had done… this to me. Whatever this was. 

An excerpt from: Night Hunter, by Katerina Martinez (included in the set!)

This set includes the following books, all part of the same shared world: 

The Obsidian Order series 
- Wings of Light
- Wings of Night
- Wings of Shadow
- Wings of Fire

The Wardbreaker Series
- Heart of the Thief
- Soul of the Storm
- Crown of the Queen
- Heir to the Throne

The Devil of Harrowgate Series
- Night Hunter
- Dusk Stalker
- Dawn Strider
- Day Breaker

For the best experience, it's best if these books are read in the above order.

What readers say about Katerina's books: 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "This book is awesome and I cannot wait to see where Six’s journey takes us next!" - Amazon Reviewer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "The Wardbreaker is a fast paced "thrill ride" of literature!" - Amazon Reviewer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "This is the first book I've ever read by K. Martinez, but definitely not the last!!" - Amazon Reviewer

Synopsis

Wings of Light:

Reclaim my memories. Pass my trials. Stay Alive

As long as I can keep my supernatural origins hidden, my life is simple. It’s just my best friend and me against the world, eating dried Ramen and peas, watching reality TV, and laying low in the city that never sleeps.

That is until Draven, a dangerously attractive hunter, tracks me down and kidnaps me. He’s with the Obsidian Order, and he gives me a choice: join their ranks or die. All I have to do is pass a series of deadly trials at their Academy, competing against a bunch of supernaturals who want me dead. Sounds easy, right?

There’s one problem with that; I have no memories of my past, which means I don’t have the skills to compete. Whatever magic I have inside of me better come out fast, because I’ve been promised my best friend will die if I fail, and if we both die, the secret we’re carrying could fall into the wrong hands.

Then it’s all over.

***

Heart of the Thief:

When you have an exceptional talent, you're gonna attract the wrong people.

First of all, I don't consider myself a thief. I'm a finder. I find things people have lost, things people have had stolen from them. The only problem is, some people don't appreciate the distinction; especially once I've broken past their protective wards and... stolen from them.

Enter, Asmodius.

I may have stolen from him recently, and he may have found out it was me. When his henchmen catch up to me and bring me before him, he gives me a choice. I can face the consequences of having stolen from one of the most powerful magical families in New York City, or I can work for him.

It turns out I have a gift he's pretty keen on exploiting, and as long as I play ball, I get to keep my head. But there's another problem with that: this guy is a legit crime boss, and what he wants me to do for him is suicide at best. The worst part? He puts his infuriatingly attractive son on babysitting duty to make sure I'm keeping up my end of the deal.

Despite the arrogant, controlling shadow hanging over me, I have to put together a team to help me pull off the most dangerous heist in history.

Either way, I'm probably dead, so I may as well have a little fun while I'm at it.

***

Night Hunter:

They tell me I've killed someone, they point at the blood on my hands, but I don't remember doing it.

At Harrowgate Prison, the only sentence is life. There are no parole boards, no getting out. My only hope lies in the hands of a man they call the Horseman of Devil Falls.

He's a warrior, a monster, a slayer of Outsiders like me, but a soon as I lay eyes on him, something inside of me ignites. Lust? Rage? Maybe both. I hate him, I want to kill him for what he is, but the attraction is magnetic, and confusing.

He wants me to help him track down a group of dangerous killers because I'm the only one who knows how they hunt. There's no getting out of Harrowgate, but he has the power to make my stay more comfortable if I agree to work with him. I don't see another choice.

He's confident we'll be able to deal with the threat. Arrogant. But not even the mighty Horseman is ready for the storm bearing down on Devil Falls.

***

Sample

Wings of Light

Chapter 1

The last thing I wanted to do tonight was fight a balding Naga in some dingy apartment in the middle of Brooklyn, but it looked like that was on the agenda. It was bad enough that I’d had to spend most of the last 10 years dodging Fiends, recruiters from different Orders, and hostile native supernaturals, but having to also fight creatures from my own world was a real pain in the balls.

I spun around in time to watch a ball of black magic curl toward me and strike me in the chest. The impact sucked the air out of my lungs, and the force of the explosion tossed me through a door and across someone’s living room like I was weightless, but I hit the floor like a rock. I was sure I’d heard something crack—I’d feel that in the morning, assuming I lived through this—but I was alive for now, at least. 

Debris and shattered glass crunched underneath me as I rolled onto my back and stared up at the cracked ceiling and moldy walls, wondering why in the hell it had to be tonight.  

“Sssssseline,” came a voice from the shifting dark, the S in my name drawn out like a hiss. “Why do you always run from me?” 

I turned to my side and blinked hard, trying to stand. “New phone,” I called out, groaning the words as I hoisted myself upright, “Who ‘dis?” He’d gotten stronger since the last time we’d crossed paths, but I liked pissing him off by pretending I didn’t know who he was.

Dust and glittering motes of magic residue billowed, whirling around the figure advancing slowly toward me. “You think you’re really funny,” he said, his serpentine voice lingering in the air, “We’ll see how funny you are when I’ve ripped that tongue out of your pretty little mouth.” 

“Sheesh, take a girl to dinner, first.” 

“Enough talk,” he said, swiping his hand through the air, “We had a deal, and now it’s time for you to live up to your end.” 

I took a step back as a man emerged from the dust and shimmering magic. On earth we all looked like humans, the glamor made sure of that. But some of us outsiders couldn’t totally hide our otherness; like this poor bastard, for example. Short, bristly black hair desperately clung to his scalp. He was wearing cowboy boots, acid-wash jeans, and a white wife-beater underneath a New York Yankees letter jacket that looked like it was wearing him. To the casual observer, and assuming no one paid him much attention, he’d fit right in with the rest of humanity.

Get a little closer to him, though, and you’d notice that not only were his eyes spaced a little too far apart, they had an almost reflective, amber sheen to them which made them look entirely wrong. He also couldn’t help but flick the air with his ridiculously long, forked tongue from time to time, which made me feel things I probably shouldn’t be feeling at a time like this and in his presence, especially considering he looked every bit like the wiry, gaunt reptile that he was. 

His name was Abvat, he was one of the Naga—serpent-kin—and judging by the look on his face, he’d very much like to kill me and wear my skin. Nothing new there. Abvat and I went back a bit.

“Are those my only options?” I asked. “Give you what you want or die?”

Abvat’s scowl twisted into a confused frown. He angled his head to the side. “Yes,” he said, slowly shaking his head like I’d just asked the world’s stupidest question. “They are. I thought I made it pretty clear when I said—just shut up and give it to me.”

I patted my leather jacket down and shook the dust out of my white-blond hair, then I sighed. “C’mon, man, can’t we do this another time? I’m in a hurry and in a really good mood tonight.” 

His expression hardened again, and he reached into his jacket. “No!” he snapped, “The time for… waiting… is over. You will give me what I want, or I will end your life.” 

It was at this point that the person who lived in the apartment we’d mostly destroyed started to scream. She was wrapped in a pink towel, her hair was soaking wet, and she was holding a lead pipe in her hand—the kind you keep in every room in the house when you live in a shithole apartment like this one. I hadn’t realized there was someone in here until now, and neither had Abvat. 

With the same rapid motion, he drew a revolver from his pocket and aimed it at the woman. I, meanwhile, grabbed a skull-shaped ash tray filled with cigarette butts and hurled it at him. The skull sailed through the air, collided with his arm, and the gun went off, but the bullet sailed wide of the screaming woman, taking a bite out of the plasterboard wall instead. 

I took the opening and hurled myself at him, wrestling him for control of the gun which went off again, and again, and again, making my ears ring. A swift elbow to the stomach made him keel over and allowed me to rip the gun from his hand, which I aimed at him, victoriously. 

“Aha!” I yelled, backing up a few paces, but Abvat didn’t seem fazed by the fact that I was holding the gun. 

He lunged at me, his eyes gleaming, his hands bristling with magic—the very same magic he’d used to propel me through the front door of this apartment which wasn’t there anymore. I pulled the trigger, but the gun only clicked. Empty. “Oh, come on!” I said, despairing.

Abvat charged into me with all the power of a line-backer, picking me up and carrying me across the room, then shoving me through the window on the other side. The glass smashed behind me, but I was able to hold my hands out against the frame to keep from falling to the cold, Brooklyn streets below me. 

In my mind I begged myself not to turn my head, but I couldn’t keep my own advice and as soon as I turned my eyes down, vertigo set in and made the entire world start spinning. On the street below there were the tops of yellow cabs, black umbrellas, and the lights from many storefronts. On the gantry next to me I noticed a cat, a silver tabby, curiously staring at me, not really fazed by what was going on.

Abvat wrapped one of his hands around the collar of my leather jacket and pulled me closer to him. The other hand he wound back behind his head like he was about to toss one hell of a curve-ball, only the ball cupped in his hand was made of shifting blackness filled with crackling, crimson lightning—that was some dark, Naga magic right there, and I didn’t want to be anywhere near it.

“Where is it, Seline!” Abvat hissed, “No more games!” 

“I don’t know where it is!” I yelled, “Don’t you think I’d give it to you if I had it?” 

“No, I don’t, obviously.” 

“Fair point… I probably wouldn’t. But I really don’t have it, I swear.”

“What is your word worth?” he snarled, “What is your life worth? You have no kin in this world, no memories of your own world, and no power. You are trash. Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you anyway and be done with you.” 

For an instant the entire world came to a standstill. I watched him, saw the weathered—almost scaly—lines on his gaunt, olive-skinned face, then I saw myself reflected in his eyes. This pale, skinny woman with hair so white it almost glittered on sunny days like it was made of ice, eyes the color of the sky on a clear, bright, winter’s day, and a look on her face that couldn’t hide the truth in everything she’d just heard. I wasn’t from this world, and while I knew about the world I came from, I didn’t know anything about who I was, who my family was, or even what I was. I’d reach for my memories, only to find them gone.

I was a nobody in a Ramone’s t-shirt. Trash.

“I…” I didn’t have a comeback for that. No witty retort, no repartee. I just stared at him, doe-eyed.

Then something hit him across the back of the head so hard his eyes widened and crossed each other before tilting into his skull. His grip on my collar loosened, then slackened entirely. The ball of magic in his hand faded to flecks of black ash that dissipated into the wind, and Abvat collapsed to the floor, unconscious. 

Behind him stood the woman, the owner of the apartment, tightly clasping the towel around her chest with one hand, and the lead pipe with which she’d felled Abvat with the other. She was shaking, probably form the cold, probably from adrenaline—likely from both. I pulled my upper half through the window, then gave myself a moment to relax once my feet were firmly on solid ground.

“Asshole almost tossed me out,” I muttered to myself, shaking the vertigo off. 

She brought the lead pipe up again, ready to swing it at me. “Stay back!” she warned, “I’m calling the cops!” 

I glanced around her at the destruction mine and Abvat’s visit had caused in her apartment. I regretted having ducked into an apartment building to begin with, but I’d thought it was the best way to be rid of the little snake. He was skinny and not very smart, but I had a tendency to underestimate him, and he’d gotten the better of me. Now this woman’s apartment was… unlivable.

I sighed and put my hands up. “I’m sorry about your place,” I said.

The woman stared at me, her pipe-arm shaking from the weight of it. “Who are you?” she asked, stammering her words. 

“My name is Seline,” I said, “And this… thing… isn’t my friend. He’s been chasing me.” 

“Why—why’d you come here?” 

I shook my head. “Just the luck of the draw, lady. Could’ve been anyone’s apartment.” I went to reach into my jacket, but she looked like she was about to hit me with the pipe, so I stopped. “I’m just gonna get something from my pocket,” I said, “It was meant to be for me… I was gonna surprise my roommate with it. Mind if I…?” 

Her eyes moved from mine, to my hand, to the unconscious Naga on the floor of her place, then back to my eyes. By the time her stare had locked onto me again, I’d retrieved what I’d wanted to get. 

“Wh—what is that?” she asked.

I looked at the little strip held between my fingers. “It’s a lottery ticket,” I said, “My roommate and I play it every week, same two numbers. Tonight, ours came up, I was hurrying home to tell her.” 

Her expression hardened into something uncertain, distrustful.

I shut my eyes and extended my hand with the ticket in it. “Take it,” I said, “It’s good for three grand… go someplace else tonight, tell your landlord your place got broken into.” 

Fate and I could’ve used the money we’d just won. It wasn’t much, but when you were being paid under the table like I was, and you had to pay rent, bills, and eat on that income, three thousand dollars could make a world of difference. Fate and I, at least, had a working front door and windows we could close to keep the cold out. This woman didn’t.

A few moments passed, and the ticket hadn’t been plucked from my hand. “Please take it,” I insisted, “This guy’s gonna wake up soon, and we want to be out of here before he does.” 

The woman tentatively took the slip, and while my chest filled with warmth at having done the right thing, I couldn’t help but feel the acid reflux of disappointment burn my throat. Lucky for me, I had Abvat I could take that disappointment out on. I opened my eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled. 

“You should get changed,” I said, “Take all your valuables with you.” 

The woman scoffed. “I’m a thirty-six-year-old single woman renting a shitty apartment in Brooklyn. What valuables?” 

I nodded and started edging across the room. “Yep, true… well, I’m gonna take off…” 

“Hey, wait a second—what about him?” 

“Don’t worry about him. Just grab your stuff and go, by the time he wakes up we’ll be gone.” 

She looked at me, puzzled, then winced like she’d just been hit with a migraine. That’s Abvat’s magic at work—even unconscious he can still hurt people. “But he’ll… he’s gonna… won’t he…?” she asked, confusion already clouding her speech.

“Just go!” I yelled.

The woman stared at me as clarity regained control of her mind, then she did as I asked, disappearing into the bedroom and reappearing less than five minutes later, fully clothed and with a bag of stuff, ready to go. I’d decided to wait at the other end of the hall and watch her leave, making sure she got away without any trouble, and she did. Nobody had called the cops yet, no landlord had shown up, not even the neighbors were getting involved, despite the ruckus.

That’s Brooklyn for you.

I walked across the apartment’s front door and looked inside. There was Abvat, still unconscious. The thought of killing him had crossed my mind, but I wasn’t a murderer, and killing him while he couldn’t defend himself would’ve been murder. There was nothing in my code of ethics, though, that kept me from taking the contents of his wallet. 

I’d buy Chinese takeout for Fate and I with the money I found inside, for my trouble. That’d just be another thing for him to be pissed about the next time we meet, but whatever, he could tack it onto the mountain of other things he already didn’t like me for. I straightened up, breathed deep, and took a curious glance through the broken window next to me. 

That’s when I saw it. It was little more than a shadow, though in the city that never sleeps, shadows that didn’t belong were dark and deep, and this one had caught my eye even when I hadn’t been looking directly at it. I moved to the window and stared across the street, at the roof of the building directly opposite. There was nothing there, now; only clothes lines with sheets fluttering in the wind.  But a moment ago, I was as sure as I could possibly be, there had been a man there, and he’d been watching me.

Heart of the Thief

Chapter 1

The red door in front of me had a warning sign on it, but I picked the lock anyway. Soft pulses of anxious energy crawled along my arms as my fingers worked, exciting the hairs all the way up the nape of my neck. I wanted to look over my shoulder for signs I’d been spotted, but instead I kept focused on what I was doing. 

Pretty sure there’d have been spells flying at me by now if I’d tripped a silent alarm I didn’t know about.

I was crouching by the door to a Demonologist’s inner sanctum, the place where he kept his most prized possessions. To get here, I’d had to slip past his magical defenses as well as his mundane security system. Neither of them had been up to the challenge of keeping me out, but there were few security systems I’d encountered that could. That was why I’d been given this job, and not someone else.

A knot grew inside of my stomach, tightening as the seconds passed. I wasn’t afraid of getting caught and having to slide out of this place on the back of a whisper. I also wasn’t afraid of having to fight my way out, if it came down to it. I was starting to feel something like fear, though. Not toward the door, but toward what it was guarding. 

I glanced up at the warning sign again. 

“Abandon all hope all ye who enter here,” I said under my breath, reading the red lettering slapped on the door. Those were the words written on the doorway to Hell, if you believed the story. Super original, right? And yet, I couldn’t help but feel a little unnerved.

Shaking my head, I kept picking at the lock with my tools until it finally clicked open. That was the thing about mages. Most of them were so up their own asses they thought they could put a couple of spells up to protect their treasures and that’d keep the whole world out. But spells could be tricked, and once the spells had been bypassed, the rest was a walk in the park.

Careful not to make a sound, I pushed the door open, but it had other plans. It croaked like a chorus of toads; a constant snapping sound that set my nerves alight. A cold breath of rancid air flowed out through the slowly opening gap, assaulting my nostrils and making them sting. It was Sulphur, a smell like rotting eggs left out on a hot day. But it was also more than that. It was another warning that, beyond this red door, lay the Demonic.

Taking one last breath of fresh air, I slid past the red door and into the Demonologist’s inner sanctum; a place most mages wouldn’t dare to tread for fear of what could be lurking inside.

I fumbled around near the door with my fingers, searching for a light switch, but I couldn’t find one. There were no windows in here, no natural light; only a thick, almost unnatural darkness. Now that I was through the room’s protective spells, I figured I could probably use some of my own magic without worrying about setting off alarms. 

I flicked my wrist, and a soft ball of silvery light rolled into the palm of my hand. It floated up at my command and moved deeper into the sanctum, its luminescence bouncing off of the shiniest surfaces it touched. I heard something move, a sound like a chair scraping across the floor, and my nerves started to sing again.

The sound rooted me to the spot. Was there someone else in here with me? I scanned the darkness, watching for signs of movement, but the next few anxiety ridden seconds passed silently. Then I remembered. 

“Right…” I said to myself, “I’m in a room full of Demon… stuff.” 

I definitely wasn’t alone, but whatever company I had probably wasn’t human. It also probably wasn’t a threat so long as I didn’t touch anything. Easy. Just don’t touch anything, Izzy. Play it cool, be calm, and everything will be fine. I shrugged the anxiety away, took a step off to the right, and immediately bumped into a glass cabinet. It was only by some miracle that I’d managed to grab it on both sides and hold it in place, but that was close. 

I suddenly found myself staring at the creepiest, most screwed up looking doll I’d ever seen in my life. It was mostly burned, its little dress charred black, its face almost ruined. But its eyes… it was like they were staring right at me. Superimposed onto the glass panel between me and the doll was my face, stark wide and terrified; my ragged breathing fogging the image up. 

“Holy shit,” I said, “Holy shit, holy shit…” 

All the blood had drained from my already pale face, but my heart was pounding all the same. Wild strands of blue hair fell around my eyes and cheeks like they’d been yanked out of the ponytail I’d very carefully tied my hair into before entering the house. As the light from the orb moved behind me, it was like the doll’s strange, amber eyes had replaced my misty grey ones. 

Gingerly I pulled the cabinet back into position until it was resting again. So much for don’t touch anything. Good going. 

With the cabinet back in its place, I took another deep breath and got back to searching the room for what I’d come here to find. 

The Demonologist—Becket Redwood—was a collector of old items. One table was covered in chalices, some that sparkled like new, others that looked hundreds of years old and were probably thousands of times more expensive than the new looking ones. On another table sat a radio that looked older than my mother would’ve been now, if she were still alive. That was to say nothing of the books lying around. 

Most of them were so old, the writing on their leather covers and spines had faded.

They begged me to open them, to touch them, to learn the secrets they held inside. It wasn’t like they were speaking to me; more like they were drawing me toward them. I could feel it, this pull where my head met my spine. It was as if invisible fingers caressed my skin, urging me to tilt toward the books, inching me ever closer to them. 

I shook loose their hold on me and returned to my mission. I’d come here to find a key. I heard a click, and then a slow, snapping sound of an old cabinet croaking open; the same sound the door had made. With a lump of dread wedged in my throat I thought back to the creepy doll. I imagined the glass case door opening by itself, and the burned doll sliding out with a knife in its hand. 

When my muscles relaxed enough that I could move again, I bid the ball of light to shoot over to the doll. It hadn’t left its spot, and its glass case hadn’t started to open. What had opened was a wooden cabinet hanging on a nearby wall. I moved the light over, guiding it with my hand, and there I found what I’d come looking for. 

The old, brown cabinet was filled with keys, maybe fifty of them, each hanging off hooks set into the back. Behind the keys, a design had been etched into the wood; a series of sharp symbols I recognized as magical, but ancient. Mages used runes and symbols all the time; on their clothes, in their magic, on things, places, and even people. 

It was like a language, the language of magic. But just like you could tell the difference between modern English and Shakespearean English, I could tell the writing on the back of that cabinet was old. How old, I didn’t know. It was clear enough, though, that the symbols were a warning. Whoever had drawn them into the cabinet had wanted to keep mages from touching its contents. 

I scanned the keys hanging on the hooks for the one I needed until I found it. They were all old keys, most of them obnoxiously large, or twisted and rusted with age. Many of the copper keys had oxidized and turned green, while others looked like they’d been hit with hammers until they almost didn’t look like keys anymore. 

The one I needed was a simple brass key, dull and clunky but still holding its shape, its handle a four-leafed clover. It sat at the heart of the cabinet, one of the only keys that wasn’t completely messed up. I couldn’t just take it, though. The warning was clear, even if it was about five hundred years old.

Good thing I’d come prepared. 

A friend of mine had given me a spell to use, something that would let me touch the key without pissing off the dark magic aura this thing was wearing like a robe. I mean, not only had the cabinet shown me where it was, it had opened for me, and it had placed the key I needed front and center. This thing wanted me to stick my hand inside it. It was goading me, and the last thing I wanted to do was to invite a bunch of Demonic crap into my life. 

I produced a little test tube from my pocket and opened the cap. Despite the darkness, the powder sitting inside of it glittered and glimmered with soft, amber light. My magic, I could conjure in an instant. It was a thing as easy as breathing. Unfortunately, I’m an Elemancer. My realm is fire, and storms, and lightning. 

Your typical, vengeful, Greek God kind of stuff.

None of that was going to help me when presented with a puzzle that required a little Demonology to solve. Enter my friend, the only purveyor of black-market spells on the whole East Coast—that I knew of. She had the ability to siphon off another mage’s magic and turn it into a powder, or a liquid, that just any old mage could use in a pinch. 

I knew I’d need something like this tonight, so I’d bought one. The right tool for the right job. 

I stared at the powder as it poured into my hand, and then I blew into it, sending it forward in a puff of amber dust and glimmering light. The cabinet suddenly started to wobble and shake, bouncing on its supports like it was… well, possessed. 

It jerked and rocked, smacking against the wall and making all kinds of noise, until the key loosened from its hook and fell. I caught it before it hit the floor, and then started breathing a little more easily.

Phew

It was a good thing the owner of the house I’d broken into wasn’t home. He’d have heard that kind of a ruckus for sure. I stuffed the key into my jacket pocket and went to turn around, but my sixth sense tingled, and instead of turning, I wrapped my fingers around the dagger I kept strapped to my waist. 

Izzy Warden,” came a raspy voice from the door to the inner sanctum. “Long time no see.” 

I shut my eyes, and sighed. “Dammit. Not you assholes.

Night Hunter

Chapter 1

Someone’s blood was caked into my hands, but I had no idea who’s. I stared at them like they were alien objects; totally foreign things that didn’t belong to me. A hand came down hard on the grey, metal table I was sitting at, rattling the chains cuffed to my wrists—and my teeth. 

I turned my eyes up and found two men staring at me, one of them more pissed off than the other. They wore black uniforms, their shirts tucked into their combat pants and buttoned up to their necks. From their belts hung a set of handcuffs, keys, and holsters with guns in them.

Embroidered nametags on their chests identified one of them as Brickmore, and the other one as Howes. Brickmore, the man who’d slammed the desk, glared at me, the veins on his neck and bald head popping, his teeth gnashed together. 

“For the last time,” he growled, “What is your fucking name?” 

I stared at him, my heart beating a ragged rhythm inside of my chest. “I don’t—”

He jabbed a finger at me. “—don’t you pull that I don’t know bullshit again. It’s not gonna work, and it’s not gonna get you out of this place. Tell me the truth, or I’m gonna have to start pulling your teeth out one by one.” 

Howes laid a hand on his colleague’s shoulder. “Maybe it doesn’t know who it is,” he said. “You know what they say about these creatures, right?” He pointed at his head and made a swirling gesture with his finger.

It? Creature? Hearing them talk that way made me grind my teeth. I swallowed hard, pushing down some of the anger rising rapidly into my chest. I didn’t know where I was, what I was doing here, or even who I was, but I knew I deeply disliked the stink of these two men.

It wasn’t just what they were saying, or even the fact that I was chained to a desk in a dull, grey room made of what looked like solid concrete. There was something about them that made me feel like someone was dragging nails down the back of my brain. Every time I tried to concentrate on what I was doing here, on remembering, that sensation only got worse and made it harder to think.

“I’m gonna ask you one last time,” Brickmore said, “Do you know who you are? Do you know what you’ve done?” 

He’d said it like he was accusing me of something. I looked down at my hands. Of killing someone. “I didn’t kill anybody,” I said, finally connecting some of the dots.

“You deny it? Look at you! You’re covered in his blood.” 

He was right. There was more of it; on my hands, up my arms, across my legs and chest. Not only was I covered in drying, brown blood, I looked like I’d been chewed up by a wolf the size of a school bus and spat back out. My jeans were tattered and torn, and my shirt was ripped, exposing more of my skin than I liked. 

But I didn’t have a scratch on me; not as far as I could tell, anyway.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, “I-I don’t know where I am.” 

He slammed the desk again and reached for my face, but stopped himself short, his fingers twitching. Instead, he pointed at me again. “He was a good person,” he snarled, “A good man. One of the best. I’m gonna make sure you never see the light of day again, you understand?” 

My mind reeled. I saw myself standing in a room, the walls painted with blood. I could smell it in the air, feel the heat of it against my skin. I shut my eyes and turned my head to the side, trying to fight the vision, to will it away. I didn’t do that. That wasn’t me. 

“Isn’t it supposed to have wings?” Howes asked. “Where are its wings?” 

Wings?

“They’re probably broken,” Brickmore said, “These Outsiders are always broken.” 

But I wasn’t broken. They were there, under my skin. Hidden. Waiting. I could feel them now, even if I hadn’t before. The muscles, the bones, they were strong, and they made me feel stronger for having them. 

I stared at him, scowling. “Let me go,” I said, my voice a low rumble in my throat. A warning. A threat.

“Let you go? I already told you. We’re locking you up and throwing away the God-damned key, fiend bitch.”

The word bounced around inside of my chest like it had its own echo. Fiend. No, that wasn’t who I was, or what I was. I didn’t exactly know the answers to those questions, but I knew, deep in my gut, that I hated the word more than I hated them. 

“Maybe you’ll confess after a few years in this place; if you survive that long,” Howes added.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” I said, “You have the wrong person.” 

“Tell that to the Horseman,” Brickmore growled, the spittle from his mouth spraying against my face. 

Staring at him now, studying the hint of silver in his blue eyes, something started coming back to me. Not a memory, exactly, but a feeling. The chains around my wrists. I wasn’t new to them, I wasn’t a stranger to chains, or tight walls, or even darkness. There was something else, too. I could hear his pulse, the excited beating of his heart.

He was enjoying this, despite the accusation that I’d killed a good man; possibly even a colleague. 

That was when I saw my moment. The room was small, barely large enough to fit four people, and the chains around my wrists—while slack—weren’t loose enough for me to grab him, but they hadn’t bound my feet, only my wrists. 

Instinct took over, muscle memory blazing into action.

Twisting my torso to one side gave me enough leverage to bring one of my feet up and smash it into the side of Brickmore’s head. Blood spurted out of his mouth and he groaned, recoiling, his hands flying up to stem the crimson flow. Howes, alarmed, reached for his gun. 

There was no way I’d have been able to punch or kick him from where I was, but I didn’t have to do either of those, because I had wings. Still running on instinct, I whipped around my chains and made my wings rapidly expand. They were huge, dark, leathery things but they moved like whips. I knocked the gun out of his hand and sent it clattering against a wall and to the floor.  

“Oh shit!” Howes shrieked, his eyes wide and filled with grotesque horror. I slammed one of my wings into his face. The moment of contact was exquisite. Howes cried out again, only this time out of pain instead of shock. He staggered and fell into the corner of the room, clutching the side of his mouth, which was now also bleeding.

“You broke my mouth!” he yelled. 

“Should’ve been paying attention,” I said.

With both men now injured, I turned my attention to the chains keeping me tied to the table. They were simple manacles; rigidly built, made of solid iron, and designed to keep someone from moving around freely. Something about them, though, felt familiar. Too familiar. My fingers were already starting to work on the linchpin that made them work the way they were supposed to, but without a tool, it was slow going.

A flash of light filled the room, and my whole body seized up, as if every single one of my nerve endings had decided to suddenly clench like a fist. I fell flat on the table, limp, my cheek hitting the metal hard. I couldn’t move. My whole body was numb, but I wasn’t unconscious. Not yet, anyway.

“You didn’t need to do that,” Howes said, through his swollen mouth. 

“I thought you said you could handle her,” came a smooth voice. It was calm, low, and dangerous, like a panther’s purr. A third man was in the room with us. Had he been here the entire time? Why hadn’t I seen him, or smelled him?

“I have it under control,” Brickmore barked. I could hear the blood pooling in his mouth. By the sound of his voice, he wanted to do more than just control me.

“Why isn’t she collared?” the mystery man asked.

A nervous pause filled the room like an ill wind. “It—it looked weak,” Howes said, “It only had those eyes… no magic, no memories. It barely even put up a fight.” 

She should have been properly processed before being brought for interrogation, or have we already forgotten what happened the last time your people didn’t follow procedures?”

Another pause. It was like they were worried to even speak in front of this man. “We… we haven’t forgotten, boss. But this isn’t like last time. No one’s coming to break it out of here.”  

“Give me another minute with that fiend bitch,” Brickmore said, “I’ll get it squawking.”

“The arrogance of man never ceases to amaze me. You’re both pathetic,” the mystery man said. “Get out of my sight, both of you. If I have to so much as look at you tonight again—” 

He didn’t finish the threat, but he didn’t have to. Brickmore and Howes tried to leave the room so fast, they were stumbling into each other at the door to get out. Eventually, they did, and the door slammed shut, leaving me alone with the man who had done… this to me. Whatever this was. 

Had he stunned me? 

I wanted to move my hands, my legs. I wanted to get up and fight, or at least speak, but I couldn’t do any of those things. I could only think, and even that was difficult. The man I’d been left alone with started to approach, sending my heartbeat into a frenzy. While it was good to know my heart was still working, the fact that I couldn’t see his face—only his muscular abdomen, his belt, his pants—was too much for me.

He was doing something to me, though I couldn’t be sure exactly what. I couldn’t feel anything. Nothing. All I could do was wait, and seethe, and fantasize about killing all three of these men with my bare hands. 

Finally, I felt something. A single touch of his hand against one of my wings. His hand was warm, his touch soft, and a moment later, a kind of strange heat moved through me, coursing through my body and relaxing my tightened nerves. Slowly, I flexed my fingers, curled my toes, licked my lips. I could move again.

“Sit down,” he said, stepping away from me.

I thought about attacking him, I wanted to attack him, but he’d manipulated my body in a way I wasn’t used to, and I didn’t want that to happen again. I needed to bide my time, so I did as he asked, crawling over the table until I could sit down again. Then I realized what he’d done. He’d pinned my wings together with iron manacles.

I tried rolling my shoulders, but they wouldn’t move. 

“Uncomfortable?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” I snapped, looking up at him. 

He was tall, broad shouldered, with a barreled chest that was almost too muscular to fit into the black uniform he was wearing. A mane of black hair hung about his shoulders, framing a strangely beautiful face, with a set of light brown eyes flecked with gold and green. It wasn’t at all the kind of face I’d expected to see on a man who struck such fear into other men.

It made me lose my breath.

He scanned me with his eyes, then touched his lower lip with a black gloved thumb. “You truly don’t know who you are?” he asked. 

“I don’t,” I said, searching for a nametag on him but finding none. “I don’t know who I am, who you are, why I’m here, or where here even is.” 

“Do you remember how we found you?” 

“No.” 

His eyes narrowed like he was trying to peer into me to find the lies in my words. “We found you with a dead man at your feet, his blood all over you.” He was so soft spoken, so quiet, but there was power in his voice. Hiding, lurking underneath it like a wild animal. “You were arrested and brought here, where you’ll spend the rest of your days for murdering a citizen of the Coalition on the streets of Devil Falls.” 

“Devil Falls? I’ve never heard of that place.” 

“You deny coming here?” 

“I deny everything,” I hissed, “You can’t accuse me of a crime I didn’t commit, and you can’t imprison me for it.” 

“We can. And we have. Confessing to the crime will help you live with a clean conscience, but if a clean conscience isn’t important to you, feel free to keep your silence. It isn’t important to us, either. Regardless, you’ll spend the rest of your days here.” 

I still didn’t know where in the world here was.

My mind continued to race, my heart now slamming against my chest. I wanted to tear this man’s throat open with my teeth. The urge to kill him was just as strong as it had been with the other two, if not stronger, despite the fact he’d treated me with more dignity than the others had. But remembering how easily he’d stunned me, and how easily he’d fixed me, gave me a reason to hold back, to wait, to think. 

This couldn’t be right. I didn’t belong here. How could I have killed someone and then have no memory of it? And where had my memories even gone? I was being set up, but hell if I knew by who, or even why. I needed to figure it out, but one thing at a time, I supposed.

“You’re not keeping me here,” I said.

He studied me carefully, his eyes roaming, exploring, and pausing just below my neck. “No?” 

I folded my arms across my chest. “No, and I’d appreciate it if you could talk to me without staring at my tits.” 

Half a smile crossed his lips. He walked around the table, took hold of the shackles binding me to it, and undid them with a thought. The chains fell to the table with a metal clang, but before I could even think about striking at him with my newly freed hands, he had a new set of cuffs slapped against my wrists. 

He was fast and strong—impossibly so. His scent wrapped itself around me as he moved me from the desk to the door. Oakwood in the spring, with a hint of something primal, animal, and wild. That scent struck a chord somewhere deep inside of me. It wasn’t quite a memory, or a feeling. I wasn’t sure what it was. Then again, I wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind to analyze it. 

He opened a door that led into a well-lit, dull-looking corridor and handed me over to a fresh-faced guard who had been waiting for us outside. 

“Get her to processing, then instruct the guard to send her to the hole,” he said, his voice distant and disinterested. “One night spent in there should teach her not to attack the guards at Harrowgate Prison.” 

“Yes, Horseman,” the guard said, offering a quick salute and grabbing me by the manacles. “Move, fiend,” he barked, the word like a final nail in the coffin. 

Those nails had been getting hammered in all night. 

Fiend. 

Murder. 

Prison.

Horseman?

It was real. This was real. I had no idea who I was, who I’d killed, or what this place was, but I was here, and as I was marched down the corridor, I was starting to feel like I really never would see the light of day again.

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