LET THE HUNT BEGIN.
When Jamie Hayes left home in a heartbroken rage, she had no plan, no money, and nowhere to go. Meeting Marcel Cross, a werewolf alpha, and Kade Walker, the head of a vampire coven, changed all of that. Now she’s got a new life, complete with a job as the first Executioner in the New York chapter of the Executioners Guild. Her mission is to take out as many demons as she can and keep the supernatural bad seeds in line while she’s at it.
The police are searching for a serial rapist in the area, one with a penchant for beautiful young blondes and a habit of leaving no survivors. When a female vamp from the Walker coven disappears, the Guild gets involved, and Jamie’s first assignment is to track Jacqueline down and bring her home safe before she ends up like the others.
The hunt is on. If Jamie’s not careful, she could wind up becoming the next prey.
KEEP READING TO SEE THE COVER AND AN EXCERPT!
About the Book
by Jena Gregoire
Executioner Book One (A Hellfire World Spin-Off Series)
To Be Announced
Copyright © 2019 by Jena Gregoire. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. Disclaimer: This excerpt has yet to be seen by my editor and I’m sure she’s probably going to twitch a little as she reads through it. As you read, please keep in mind that this is very rough and may not be the final version shown at publication.
“I don’t get it.” I eyed Kade suspiciously as a quiet laugh rumbled in his chest.
“What don’t you get?”
“Um, all of it.”
“Jamie, I’ve been telling you since the night we met that you have potential to be something great. The right opportunity just needed to come along. Well, this is it, darlin’.”
One word. That’s all it took. I know I shouldn’t be thinking dirty thoughts about my boss, but how am I expected to keep my cool when he does shit like call me darlin’ in that velvety-smooth voice of his? He does it all the time, and the moment that one tiny word dances off his tongue, my brain goes to mush and I find myself picturing him naked. I can’t help but wonder if he has any idea what it does to me. I suspect as much but he does it anyway. Taking a deep breath, I try to refocus my mind on the conversation and what he just told me.
“There has to be a catch. If I’ve learned anything from life, it’s that nothing good comes that easily.”
“There’s no catch. It’s a job. You’ll head up the New York chapter of the Executioners Guild. The house is yours. You will have a staff to help you coordinate where you need to be, and most of your time will be spent patrolling the city or on the road hunting demons. If you need a break, just check in. You can come home for a few weeks to unwind and hit the mental reset button.”
Hard as I may try, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Me, the head of, well, anything. I don’t mean to sound like I don’t have self-confidence. I do. Plenty, in fact. I can kick ass with the best of them, but the whole idea of being anyone’s boss had my anxiety in high gear. Plus, if I had a bank account, it would be a sad state of affairs. I didn’t have enough cash saved up to cover one night in a hotel, nevermind months on the road, and I didn’t even own a car so add bus fare to that tab. I stopped myself from fidgeting, a habit I picked up somewhere along the way, one I genuinely hated because it makes me feel simple.
“Kade, I really appreciate the vote of confidence, but I don’t have the money or the credit to pull off something like this. I might have enough to get one bus ticket and that’s only if I’m really lucky and they’re running a sale.” It takes everything I have to cop to my less-than-stellar financial situation but Kade doesn’t even blink.
“Everything is paid in full by the High Council.”
“What does that mean?” I’m not a witch or vampire. I was sure that pretty much axed me from any coven benefits.
“It’s part of the job. There are a lot of details, all of which we’ll go over later, but basically, you get a car of your choosing, plastic to cover any expenses, and you’ll be kept fully armed at all times.”
“I get a car? Like, a new car? You can’t play with my emotions on this.” I’d never had my own car before. When I turned sixteen, my dad had given me a beat up old pick up truck but it spent more time as a broke down lawn ornament than it did on the road. Plus, I looked like a little kid when I drove it. I hated that truck.
“Yep. You just need to let me know what you want and I’ll make it happen.”
“Am I going to be alone?”
“That’s up to you. You can pick a partner, a tac team, or you can work alone. I’d rather you pick a team or at least a partner. What you’re going to be doing is something held with high regard and you’ll have the power to tailor-fit the job to your liking, but I also want you to be safe.”
“Who are the options?”
“There are a few guys in the coven I feel would be a good fit. All vampires, of course. Marcel might have someone that would be a good fit, but that would be something we’d have to clear with Dez first. Ultimately, it’s up to her and Michael because we’d be bringing in an outsider.” Marcel Cross was the alpha of the Manhattan werewolf pack. He seemed like a decent guy, same with his second and third, but I’d also just put one of theirs in the hospital. I had no idea where I stood with them anymore.
“Yeah, I don’t know if the wolves would want to work with me anymore. I may have burned that bridge to the ground.” I couldn’t very well count on them as back up if they wanted me dead.
“You could be right but I sincerely doubt it. I’ve seen Marcel, Aidan, and Max a few times since that night and they’ve all asked about you. They seemed fine.” Dimly lit houses and street lamps passed by my window. The crisp night air had pedestrians bundled up in heavy coats, pulling their collars up close around their chins to fight the cutting autumn wind. A few even had thick scarves nestled around their necks, a sure sign that winter was well on its way. My mind wandered to my impending change of lifestyle and a sudden thought brought my quiet reflection to a screeching halt.
“Will the team or partner or whoever live in the house, too?”
“That will be up to you guys to figure out. Now that the construction is finished, there are six bedrooms━one for you, one for the Station Chief, and four rooms that each have two beds a piece. There is more than enough space for six adults to live comfortably, ten if the double rooms are shared. But the coven owns plenty of other properties in the city, including the Walker coven’s building here in Manhattan. We can always set your partner or team up in one of them.” I shake my head at the absurdity of the thought. Me, living in a house big enough for almost a dozen people, all by myself?
“That’s not necessary. I mean, if whoever I end up being paired with decides they want to live somewhere else, by all means, but I’m fine with them being there.” I pictured my little one-bedroom shoebox. I hadn’t been there long but when I left that morning, I had noticed it was starting to feel cluttered. Since I started working for Kade, I’d been making decent money for the first time in my life. My tiny little closet was finally filled with clothes, including the old ratty ones I couldn’t bring myself to part with and the new collection I’d been amassing. I had just started furnishing the place so there were a couple of bookcases, a few random wooden tables, and a great, big cushy couch. The couch alone takes up most of the space, but I couldn’t pass it up when I saw it in the secondhand store. The black, deep-seated cushions and gigantic throw pillows are perfect for sinking into when you want to curl up with an oversized mug of coffee and a good book. That couch was my favorite place in the world to be. Oh god. I’m going to have to move. Moving blows.
“How quickly do I have to get packed up?”
“Is that a yes?”
“That depends on whether or not I get to keep my couch.”
“Really? You’re hanging a life decision on a piece of furniture?”
“Hey. I love that couch.” Kade’s sudden burst of laughter made me smile. I caught myself, forcing the corners of my mouth down. I didn’t want him getting the crazy idea that I was kidding about the couch.
“You can keep the couch. The two master bedrooms, for lack of a better term, are big enough, you could bring four of those couches in and still have room to walk. The only thing is the twin bed you have now won’t be necessary. Each of the rooms comes with a bed. A nice one, actually. You’ll be moving tomorrow. Well, you won’t, but some coven people and a team of movers will. All you’ll have to do is unpack when we’re done tomorrow.”
“What’s tomorrow?” I wondered if he caught on to the fact that I still hadn’t accepted.
“Tomorrow, we’ll start the morning off by meeting the guys I have tapped as potentials for your team. Dez and Michael want you on patrol in a few weeks, a month tops. It’ll be slow at first as the Guild works to get everyone in place, but I think it’ll all run like a well-oiled machine once the whole network is in place.”
“You mentioned a Station Chief. You know I don’t really like being told what to do. Who exactly am I going to be reporting to?”
“You won’t be reporting to anyone but the Guild Council,” he replied. “You’re like the boss in this scenario. The Station Chief is there to act as your support and to make sure you have everything you need to do your job effectively. The Station Chief job has been offered to Tessa but she hasn’t accepted yet. She’s a sweet girl with exceptional talents where computers are concerned. And like you, she’s somewhat of an orphan. I’ll be working closely with her until everything in is place.”
“Aren’t you going to be busy with coven stuff?”
“This is coven stuff, darlin’.” There it is again. Naughty thoughts aside, this could really work. The freedom of being on the road if I want to with an actual home to come back to. The chance to see the country, maybe the world. Living in a nice house where I don’t have to pay rent. All I have to do is put a twenty-two slug in the occasional demon and I’m square.
“Okay.” It seemed like it should have been more than a one word answer given my path in life just took an abrupt one hundred and eighty degree turn.
“Okay? So, you’re in?”
“I’m in,” I replied, nodding my head.
“Good. I think you’re really going to slide into your new role with no problem.”
“You still haven’t said where we’re going?” The car slowed and he pulled the large Mercedes sedan to the side of the road.
“We’re here.” I looked around. We’d parked directly across the street from an impressive house with several black vans sitting at the curb. The van doors were all open and a steady stream of people carried various boxes and travel cases inside.
“Where is here?” I asked.
“This is it. This is going to be the first Executioner Station House, your house.”
“Get the fuck out. Are you serious?” The large, dark brown house sitting before me had a warm feeling about it. I half expected it to be something sterile looking with neighbors crammed close on either side. Instead, the house had a decent patch of front yard considering the area it was in, and I couldn’t even see the back yard because the full evergreen hedges surrounding it were blocking the view completely, guaranteeing a little privacy.
“Come on,” he said, smiling at me as he watched my face. Self-consciousness flooded me and I could feel my cheeks heating up. It was probably a good thing I was going to be spending some time away from him. My body’s involuntary reaction to him was so going to land me in hot water.
He climbed out and I quickly did the same. Following him into the house, I watched as several of the worker bees offered words or a simple nod in greeting to Kade. We stepped through the open doorway into a common room. The cherry red wood floors stretched out into a monstrous living room to the right and what looked like a hacker’s lair off to the left. Directly in front of us was one of those kitchen doors that swung in both directions. I gazed appreciatively at the living room and its floor-to-ceiling bookcases loaded with more titles than I could count. Plush coffee brown couches surrounded a picturesque fireplace, which served as the focal point of the room.
“This place is unreal,” I whispered. My eyes were wide as I stared around taking the whole room in. The sections of wall not covered with bookshelves were the same rich brown as the outside of the house, giving the whole place a real warm, lived in feeling. I half expected to smell fresh baked sugar cookies and hot cocoa.
Kade was talking to one of the guys wearing a gray uniform about where to run cables. While I waited for them to finish, another man with a cumbersome aluminum travel case came up behind me and I quickly stepped aside, excusing myself.
“Once they’re finished setting up, there will be a total staff of eight people in addition to you and Tessa.” Kade turned to me and gestured to the hacker den where most of the hustle and bustle was happening. They’d set up tables, book cases, and and big, beautiful wooden desks effectively creating an office without actually building walls. Whoever would be sitting at those desks wouldn’t be closed off from the rest of the house but their area of operations was clear. “They’ll work in pairs in six-hour shifts. That puts people here twenty-four hours a day so you and Tessa don’t have to be.” There were two guys unpacking computer components and two guys piecing them together. Three huge computer workstations began to take shape right before my eyes. “Each of these desktops will be monitoring police reports and news feeds from across the country. Any suspicious deaths or trails of missing persons will be investigated. Then we’ll coordinate where you need to be with the other houses around the United States.” He lightly placed his hand on the small of my back and my heart skipped a beat before kicking into high gear.
“This way.” He said the words with a small smile at the edges of his mouth and I remembered he could actually hear it every time my heart began to race around him. That’s mildly embarrassing.
We ascended a beautiful staircase with an intricately decorated cherry wood handrail. Below my fingertips, the wood felt smooth and well-worn. We reached the top and I found myself gaping at the second floor common room. It wasn’t much different than the space below it. Instead of being wide open, there were two large couches and several small ones forming two sitting areas. At the far end of the room was a bathroom. Surrounding the room were eight doorways, four on each side. The doors were open on all of them, affording a view of the spacious bedroom inside each.
“The two end doors closest to the bathroom go into a room on each side━one for you, one for Tessa. They’ve both got a sizeable closet, a smaller private bathroom, and enough space to have your own living room area if you want one. Pick one. Whichever one you want, it’s yours.”
I peeked in the end room on the right. There was a lavish four-poster bed with a wooden canopy-style top tucked against the wall opposite the door. Apart from the behemoth piece and a flat panel TV hanging on the wall, the room contained no furnishings. The two windows were covered in thick, light-blocking curtains.
I thought about the small collection of furniture I had in my cluttered apartment and thought it would fill one of these rooms nicely, including my beloved couch. Perfect.
“This is amazing, and I think I have almost everything I’ll need for furniture. I might get a few more book cases.”
“Not a problem. There are quite a few great furniture places to choose from in Manhattan. While we’re out tomorrow, we’ll swing by a few of them and you can pick out whatever you need. And what did I tell you? Plenty of room to have your couch in here.“
“Can’t forget the couch,” I grinned.
“We can get you a computer desk while we’re out, too.”
“I don’t own a computer.”
“You will. It’ll be here, all set up, tomorrow when you get home.” He turned to me, a triumphant smile spread across his face. “So? What do you think?” I paced around the room, staring in awe. This is mine. This is where I live now.
“I think—“ I searched for the words but couldn’t manage to find any to do the feeling justice. I gave him a toothy grin and finally replied. “I think I could get used to this.” He smiled in return, then looked down at his watch.
“Do you want to go grab a drink?”
“Um, sure.” My voice came out a little broken and it sounded much more like a question than a response. Am I about to go out on a date with my boss? Is that what this is? I was suddenly very aware of my hands, and wasn’t sure what to do with them. So, naturally, I started to fidget and had to stuff my hands in my pockets to stop.
“We’ll go to Onyx. It’ll give you a chance to get to know Dez and Michael.”
“Okay.” Not a date. Phew. I followed him back down the stairs and out to the car. Once we were back on the road, Kade was the one who broke the silence.
“There’s one last thing I have to go over with you. Your role as the head of the Executioners Guild here in New York means you’re going to be semi-permanently tied to the coven. Your featly is to the coven and you’ll be protected by the coven. You know what that means, right?”
“Yeah, I mean, you’re not going to catch me using flowery words like fealty but I get it. I spend the rest of my life working for the coven, and in return, the coven has my back.”
“You’re not a vampire or a witch. You don’t have to take all of this on.”
“And do what else, exactly? Go back to my glamorous life of bar fights, bus stations, and arrest warrants? No fucking thank you.” From everything I’d seen, I would have been stupid to turn the offer down. It was like being handed a turn-key dream life. Yes, it would be rough and bloody at times but that wasn’t much different than how I would have described my life up until that point. This way, I wouldn’t be alone, I’d be doing something good for the world, and I wouldn’t be broke. That would be a wonderful change of pace and maybe I’d even be able to carve out a nice little life for myself. The bottom line was I was going nowhere fast when Kade found me and he hadn’t steered me wrong yet.
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