This is the very first time the world has seen anything from this long-awaited third book!
But before I show it to you, I just want to say that Nathan Squiers is an awesome author. He is very interested in his readers and loves to chat on Facebook. You will get at least a few laughs from the stuff he posts daily, so if you aren't following him yet, make sure that you do!
Are you ready?
Are you sure?
Okay, I'll give you a second. Get excited!
Finger on the scroll button?
Eyes glued to the screen?
Here it is!!!
Love You to Death
Shooting from her seat she headed for the exit, gritting her teeth and cursing the café’s open mike night. A barista, delivering two steaming cups of coffee to a couple at a nearby table, tried to side-step out of her path but wound up bumping her hip with her own. Estella stumbled, hearing the girl’s heartbeat hasten and sending excited torrents of life through her veins.
The roar of the music faded.
There was no sound at all…
Nothing but the rhythmic thumping of the barista’s pounding heart—the only song her body cared to hear at that moment—and the blood coursing like a river just under her skin.
Her fangs extended further and it felt as though they would finally tear through her mouth in an effort to escape her starvation…
Her gums were on fire!
The barista backed up, nervously. “Oh, I’m sorry. I—”
“IT’S FINE!” Estella screamed to hear herself over the girl’s heartbeat. Everybody turned to stare. She blushed and stepped back; away from the girl, whose blood was still calling to her. Her eyes darted about, seeing that everyone was staring at her and she felt a deep, gravel-thick growl crawl up her throat. “WHAT?” she roared at the staring crowd.
The band stopped in mid chorus and any who weren’t staring before were now.
And all their heartbeats beat like the damn bass-drum in her head.
She covered her ears and ran, knocking the barista over on her way to the exit. Tears formed in her eyes—burning hot and blurring her vision—and she wished she could cast a spell, any kind of spell, to make it all go away.
But she didn’t have the materials.
Or the focus.
The door crashed outward before she’d even reached it—reacting to her chaotic magical energies—and began to tear it from the hinges, sending the small bell fastened over the frame into a rattling frenzy that sounded like a series of gongs in her head. Behind her the crowd gasped and cried out in surprise.
So many heartbeats…
So much blood…
What was just one bite going to hurt?
“NO!” Estella slapped her palms against her temples, trying to jar the temptation from her thoughts.
The hinges finally lost their battle with Estella’s wayward spell, throwing the door from its twisted frame and into the street where it crashed into a passing cab and lodged itself in the passenger-side door. Estella found enough control of her new abilities to jump into what Xander had referred to in the past as “overdrive”, the sangsuigan ability that allowed them to move faster than the human eye could register. She moved down the road in a powerful-yet-energy-draining sprint, ducking and weaving between the seemingly time-frozen crowds. Her effort to distance herself from them, however, took its toll on her starved body. Unable to fuel the process any further, her exhaustion grew more intense, and though she fought to stay in overdrive—fought to get as far away as possible—the people around her appeared to move more quickly as her speed began to wane.
With her body drained, she fell out of overdrive and crashed to the sidewalk in the middle of a crowd. Startled by the spectacle of a young lady falling out of nowhere, the onlookers gawked while several who proved more kind than astonished closed in around her to help her up.
“Oh my god! Are you alright?”
“Did you break anything?”
“I think she’s bleeding!”
“Should we call an ambulance?”
Estella’s mind reeled as she scrambled away from one person only to collide with another; her fangs throbbing with the promise of blood. Her mind roared as the hunger pushed her to cross the unspeakable threshold. They were all around her! Potential prey! They were coming to her! There was no need to even hunt!
Estella thrashed to try and clear her mind as well as the people around her. Still dizzy, she pulled herself up and looked for a gap in the crowd to break through, holding her murderous instincts at bay despite every fiber of her being pushing her to remedy her pain and exhaustion.
She sensed somebody approaching her from behind and she spun, pushing them away. Miscalculating the act and her superhuman strength, the large man was thrown off his feet and sailed into the street. An SUV leaned on its horn and screeched to a stop a short distance from him. The shocked onlookers let out a collective sigh of relief when they saw that their fellow Samaritan hadn’t been run over, but his survival was not yet insured.
He’d scraped his palms…
Estella groaned and keeled over, throwing up all over the pavement before turning and scampering off, away from the gasping and yelling crowd.
“What the hell’s the matter with her?”
“She almost killed him!”
“Hey! Get back—”
But she didn’t go back, didn’t even look back. Instead she ran, clutching her burning stomach and pushing through anything that was in her way. By some strange miracle she made it to the bridge and the dank crate beneath it where she’d been sleeping in for the past few nights.
Nobody ever came there; it was swampy and cold and dark.
The perfect place for a monster.
The perfect place for her.
She’d been there for barely half a minute before a passing rat fell victim to her hunger and she tore into its heaving belly, ignoring the sharp little teeth that felt like a minor itch as they bore into her hand. The bites stopped quickly as she drained the creature, and as it uttered its final, pained squeaks she heaved forward, dropping it and coughing what little blood remained in her mouth all over the ground. The rodent’s small body still twitched with lingering spasms, and Estella felt the first wells of scalding tears grow in her eyes at the sight of its suffering.
“Sorry…” she sobbed, “I’m so sorry…”
The display of pain and death was soon over, but the memory carried on in her mind. Over and over she saw it and all others like it that her monstrous desires had destroyed. So much pain and suffering and death. All at her own hands. All to keep herself alive.
Just to have another day and another chance to ruin another life.
But, for the time being, the pain was gone, and her fangs receded back into the hollow shafts in her gums where her canines had once been.
Waiting for when they could torture her next.
Finally able to rest, she crawled—unable to get to her feet—to the entrance of the wooden shipping crate and wrapped the ripped and dirty blanket that she had found in nearby motel’s dumpster around her to keep the rising sun from touching her. Once protected from the outside world, she clenched her eyes and tried to block out the roar of the growing morning traffic overhead. Behind her eyelids, the welling tears that had blurred the blood-filled world continued to spill and she wrapped her arm around her face to stifle herself.
“Xander…” she sobbed, choking on the name “… how could you let this happen?” Her body shook with her growing rage, “GOD DAMN YOU, XANDER!”
Her vampiric strength coupled with her magic took its toll on the crate, which finally burst into fragments and left her exposed. She lay there for a long moment, trying to decide if it was worth it to finally let the sun take her. However, as tempting as the notion of freedom was, the fear of what lay beyond was too powerful to humor it for long, and she rose to her feet, pulling the blanket over her head like a shawl.
With no destination in mind, she cast her sights towards the West—away from the source of the impending morning light—and started off for her next shelter.
Wherever that may be…
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