Cloak of Deceit will be FREE from January 23-26th, 2016!
This is your last chance to read the first book for free
before I start posting the serialized second novel.
To whet your appetite, here is an exclusive excerpt…
The fact that my life still hung in the balance came crashing down on me anew. I was trapped. A tremble of panic ran through my body. I hated not having a choice. Too much of my life had been spent doing what other people wanted me to do. Now I had all these new abilities and with them came a whole new set of restrictions.
How could I put my trust in someone who was only taking orders? Who had no vested interest in my survival? Julian said I deserved a fighting chance, that the Grigori didn’t scare him, but what about the Cloak? He’d as much as admitted he would hand me over to them as soon as they came for me. He would probably be glad to see me go so he could get back to his neat, orderly life of enforcing. I was just a temporary hiccup.
“Maybe I don’t want your protection.” I stormed out of the garage before he could answer. I didn’t have a plan, I just needed to do something. I left the back door to the house swinging, but Julian caught it and closed it gently before following me into the kitchen. I spotted the phone and lunged for it.
He beat me there and held it behind his back.
“Give me the phone!” I shouted in his face, my breath coming fast and hard.
Julian absorbed the brunt of my anger, his expression impassive, his voice calm and way too reasonable. “Tell me who you’re going to call, and I’ll consider it.”
“My mother,” I said through bared teeth. Despite my attempts to look threatening, tears sprang into my eyes at the thought of my mom. He’d done a good job distracting me, but the harsh truth of my death and what it meant carved into my chest like a cold, jagged knife. I needed something familiar to ground and comfort me. I needed my mom.
What would she say if I explained everything that had happened, if she knew my life as I’d known it was over? I shook my head and gave Julian a disgusted look. His brows were furrowed in sympathy, which only made it worse. I didn’t want him to see how weak I really was.
I clenched my jaw, and when I was assured my voice would be calmer, said, “She’ll be worried about me. I just disappeared. She’ll call the cops if I don’t check-in soon.”
He looked abashed as he nodded and handed me the receiver. “It’s a secure line. You can call her. But you can’t tell her anything, Alex.”
I scoffed when he didn’t move away, and dialed the number with him looking over my shoulder. I waited for my mom to pick up with Julian listening by my ear. No answer. I got her voicemail instead. My eyes watered when I heard her familiar message leaving her pager number for emergencies. I decided while waiting for the beep that a lie would best for now, regardless of what it said in Julian’s stupid rule book. If people wanted to kill me, I didn’t want her involved.
“Hi, it’s me…Just calling to let you know I went camping for the weekend with some friends. There’s no cell phone service and I didn’t want you to worry. I’ll call you next week.” I paused and swallowed, careful my voice didn’t quiver when I added, “I love you.”
I hung up and handed the phone over, refusing to look at Julian. I crossed my arms over my stomach, silently cursing Cody, Julian, and every other Undead I had yet to meet. I didn’t want to be there anymore — not just in Julian’s keeping, but in the whole fucked-up situation.
It had been a hell of a ride — mostly suckage, with a few upsides — but I was ready to get off. No matter how Julian wanted to word it, I was stuck there. Trapped. I wanted my final exams, and soccer practice, and my mom setting me up on boring dates with her co-workers’ sons, my flannel PJs and UGG slippers, my iPod, and a bra, dammit! This was not supposed to be my life.
I could handle it all when I thought of myself as Julian’s guest, maybe friend, or even his pitiful rescue project. When I thought of Julian as a nice guy doing me a favor, maybe because he liked me. But in reality, he was just the same as a cop, and I was under house arrest. He was my warden, not my friend. After everything else, that realization was just enough to push me over the edge. I really was on my own, and people who didn’t even know me were going to decide my future while I rotted in a cage. Or, my other choice was to leave and get killed. Again.
I might have been over-dramatizing, but I felt entitled.
Julian’s hand lighted on my shoulder. I sniffed, shrugging him away.
“It is possible to lead a somewhat normal life as an Undead.” He didn’t sound like he really believed it. “The Cloak has classes, programs, networks. You can have a house, a job, a…companion.”
“Maybe.” I brushed past him to stare out the window. Maybe for someone like Julian, or Cody, that would be possible. “But it’s different for me.”
Other Undead weren’t psychics too. There was no book to help me figure out where I fit in. There was no liaison. There was a hunting party on one side and a judge and jury on the other. The distrust in Julian’s eyes every time I reminded him of my powers was enough to convince me I would never find a comfortable place in his world. If it bothered him so much, the other members of the Cloak could only be worse.
“You will be okay, Alex.”
I let out a sharp, humorless laugh. It was either that or keep crying, and I didn’t want to lose all of the respect I’d earned. He thought I was tough, which might have been all I had going for me in his eyes.
“I always wanted to break the mold. To prove I was one of a kind.” I spoke to Julian’s reflection in the dark glass as he stood behind me. “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’d give just about anything to be boring right now.”
“I don’t think you could be boring if you tried.” The tenderness in his gaze almost shoved me over that edge and into the fit of sobbing I deserved. Was it genuine? I couldn’t reconcile the Knight and the man, despite how badly I wanted to believe him.