Even though this month is (for me) the month of zombies, I decided to change it up just a little bit for this week’s excerpt of the week. Instead of pulling from one of my zombie apocalypse books, I decided that I would pull a snippet from my newest book release, Hellforged, which came out on November 26th! You can pick up your copy for $4.99 (or read for FREE with your Kindle Unlimited subscription), and the first book in the series, The Unnaturals, is still available at only $2.99 for a limited time!
Hit the link below to read a bit from the book and pick up yours today!
The scene for this week’s excerpt takes place in chapter six of Hellforged, in which one of the main characters, an on-the-run government agent named Riley Walker, is confronted by someone–or, rather, something–that very much wants her dead.
With a sinking feeling, Riley immediately realized who “he” was, and she tried to duck underneath Sam’s arm to put some distance between them. She could have taken him down; she knew that. All it would take were a few well-placed kicks and punches. But she was reluctant to do so; it would make too much noise, and it might draw unwanted attention to her. Besides, he wasn’t a field agent and had minimal training; it’d be like smacking a kid around.
Sam wrapped an arm around her waist and neck and dragged her backward, smashing her against him. “Nope, not going to happen, Riley,” he said, his voice low and hot against her ear. The hand on her waist slid lower, and he added, “I suppose, since you’re about to die, that there’s no reason we can’t have a little fun now, is there?”
Oh, that’s just not going to happen, Riley thought with a grimace. She struck out behind her with her foot. The heel of her shoe impacted with Sam’s shin, and she followed it with an elbow aimed at his gut. Unfortunately, he was unfazed by the kick to his shin, and her elbow completely missed his stomach. He slammed her face-first against the windows, grasped her shoulders, and turned her to face him. “I guess that’s a no, then,” he said. Then his hands closed around her throat and squeezed.
His grip immediately cut off Riley’s air, and she thrashed, struggling to breathe, clawing at his hands as, for a split second, her training fled and her instincts took over. Then her training rushed back to her. She shifted her hands to his wrists and squeezed them with all her strength, at the same time bringing her knee up and slamming it into his groin. He grunted and stumbled back, releasing her throat enough to give her a gasp of precious air. Barely stopping to catch her breath, Riley used the extra space to her advantage, driving her knee into his stomach and shifting her grip to the back of his neck, forcibly bringing his face down and her knee up until the two had an intimate encounter. He fell back, clutching his face with both hands as blood poured from his nose.
Riley yanked her pistol from underneath her t-shirt and pointed it at his head. “Damn it, Sam, why’d it have to be you?” she asked miserably.
“You’re a murderer,” Sam said. The hand that cupped his nose and mouth muffled his words. Blood dripped past his fingers onto the cream-colored carpet. “You killed all those people, and you deserve whatever’s coming to you.” He straightened and lifted a pistol of his own, pointing it at her shakily. She adjusted her aim to his center mass. She didn’t want to shoot him. She would if she had to, but she didn’t want to. He was being manipulated and lied to, and that wasn’t his fault.
Hoping to get him to listen to her and voluntarily back off, Riley said hoarsely, “Sam, don’t do it. You’re being lied to. Whatever he told you isn’t true.”
Sam ignored her pleas and dug into his pocket, pulling out what looked like some sort of medallion that was a bit bigger than a half-dollar coin. The edges of the medallion were ragged, sharp enough to cut, and there was a design stamped on it, though she didn’t get a good look at it before he closed his hand around it. Then he squeezed, and the medallion’s rough edges cut into his palm and fingers, drawing blood, the red liquid oozing between his fingers. He tossed the medallion onto the floor, and it landed with a thud that made it sound much heavier than it looked.
“What did you do?” Riley asked, her voice shaking. Her throat suddenly felt too tight, like he was squeezing it again. When he didn’t answer, she demanded, more firmly, “Sam, what did you do?”
Something black and as dark as pitch was on his hand, tarry and shiny, clinging to his lacerated palm. As they stared at it, the black goo oozed across his palm, sinking into the cuts on his hand. “What the hell?” she murmured.
Sam gave her a sudden, panicked look, like he hadn’t expected this. The blackness crawled rapidly up his hand, small spikes stabbing out through his skin like spines and covering every square inch as it crept up his arm. The spikes folded down into pitch-black scales, inching faster and faster upward until the blackness disappeared underneath the hem of his t-shirt’s sleeve. Sam dropped his pistol and clawed at his arm, like he was trying to scratch the scales off. Then he froze, and his face went still, serene, like he was in a trance. Seconds later, the blackness emerged from underneath his shirt’s collar and raced toward his face; at the same time, it rippled down his other arm. His eyes drifted closed, and the blackness completed its journey. Then he stood before her, all of his visible skin covered in jet-black scales.
When he opened his eyes, they were as black as the rest of him, a bottomless night that froze her in place and made her feel like she was tumbling into an endless pit from which she’d never be able to crawl. He took a step toward her, opening his mouth to bare razor-sharp fangs identical to those of the vampires Riley had tangled with days before.
And that was when all hell broke loose.
A tingling sensation began in the palms of her hands, centering on the spiral scars on them, buzzing more frantically the closer he got to her. The buzzing scrambled up her arms to her shoulders and slid down her collarbones to rest in the center of her chest. She backed up a step out of reflex, pressing against the glass behind her, and raised her hands as if to ward off a blow.
A blast of pure white light burst from her body, like a lightning strike captured between her hands, the thunder that was the shockwave riding close on its heels, followed by a wave of heat that made the room feel like a hot, humid summer day. The glass behind her blew outward to rain down on the street below, and every object in the room was thrown against the walls. Sam was caught in the blast, but unlike the vampires from the night before, he didn’t disintegrate; instead, he was flung across the room, where he crashed partly through the sheetrock wall in a shower of chalk and dust.
When the dust settled, the scaled creature that had once been Sam was crawling out of the rubble of the wall. Riley wavered on her feet as the energy drained away from her, leaving her weak-kneed and woozy, her palms burning like they were on fire. She blinked rapidly to clear the afterimages from her eyes and maintained her footing so she didn’t topple backwards out the window—only just.
The fire alarm was blaring, a high-pitched shriek that wailed out into the air, accompanied by a flashing white strobe light, as if the noise alone wouldn’t have been enough to wake the dead. Her pistol was gone; she thought it might have tumbled out the window when it blew out. Wind flooded through the empty space, the thick, heavy curtains whipping her on the back; her hair slapped her in the face. She stumbled forward on shaking legs, her mind on a singular goal: to get out of the room and run for it before Sam recovered. Linus the backpack was on the floor to her right, bunched against the wall where it’d been tossed. She couldn’t conceive of leaving it behind, so as Sam crawled out of the wall and regained his feet, she dove for the bag, dragging it to her and slinging it onto one shoulder before running for the door.
As she passed within arm’s reach of him, Sam grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him, asking in a deep, guttural voice, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Out of here,” Riley snarled. The skin on her arm brightened as if lit from within, going incandescent. Sam roared with pain and let her go, his hand smoking and charred. Now that she was free, she bolted to the door, threw it open, and raced into the hallway.
Curious about what happens next? Then pick up your copy of Hellforged today!