Brave new world or the same old crap?
Warlock Milo Velazquez has always dreamed of a day when “monsters” like him don’t have to hide in the shadows. Now, on a planet far from Earth, he’s hoping the old prejudices have been left behind. Though from what he’s seen so far—not a chance.
Their new leader could make life a living hell for Milo and the other immortals illegally transported across the galaxy. Under cover, he scopes out the threat, but he never expected to find a beautiful woman locked in a cell underground. He should ignore her and focus on his mission, but instead he sets her free.
Milo has met all kinds, paranormal creatures and humans, in his centuries of life, but Destiny is like nothing he’s ever encountered before. She’s flawless, and strangely naïve, though she can spout off facts like a walking encyclopedia. He isn’t sure who—or what—she is, or why someone so innocent would be a prisoner.
All he knows is Destiny is different…and finding out why could be their only hope for survival.
Each book in the Dark Desires Origins series is a complete standalone novel.
KEEP READING TO SEE AN EXCERPT & ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
About the Book
by Nina Croft
Dark Desires Origins
November 23, 2020
A Dark Desires Origins Novel
© 2020 Nina Croft
“Live, for a day will come when you will be happy and bless life.”
—Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
Milo blinked his eyes open and frowned.
For a moment, he wasn’t sure where he was except in a small, enclosed space that felt like a fucking coffin. He tried to move, but bands held him tight around his chest and head, and every muscle in his body tensed.
He slowed his breathing and forced himself to think. What was the last thing he remembered?
Walking out on a meeting with Rico. After turning down his offer of a place on the fleet leaving a dying Earth and heading for “a new and better world.”
Ha—he’d believe that when he saw it. He was guessing more of the same old shit. No way. He’d rather stay on Earth and take his chances.
He’d been leaving the building and then…damned if he could remember.
The light was dim, but he could make out movement through the opaque roof of his tiny prison. Something was happening. A door opened above him, and the restraints pinged and released their hold.
As soon as he could move, his right hand reached out for his wand—never far away—and found…nothing.
“You looking for this?”
The voice was familiar, low, with a hint of amusement, and Milo swore again. Aloud this time. He tried to sit up, but something was stuck to his chest—some sort of monitor. He swiped it off, then sat up and swung his legs over the side of the box he’d been lying in. Scrubbing a hand through his short hair, he blinked a few times to clear his vision. He was naked except for a pair of black boxers.
A man—though he used the word loosely—stood in front of him, with Milo’s wand in his hand. Tall, olive skin, black hair, eyes so dark brown they were almost black, and a smirk on his face. Ricardo Sanchez. Vampire and—Milo supposed—savior of the supernatural world. He was also Milo’s uncle, though no blood relative. A long time ago, and in a faraway place, Rico had been married to Milo’s mother’s sister. Until she’d been burned at the stake as a witch.
Rico, having spectacularly failed to save his wife’s life, had once promised Milo’s mother that he would look out for his nephew. Milo had been six years old at the time. He’d never seen his mother again. But centuries later, and against all the odds, Milo was still alive. So he supposed he should be grateful.
He pressed a finger to his eyes. “Where the hell am I?”
Rico grinned. “Guess.”
God, he could be annoying. Milo looked around him. They were in what appeared to be a storage facility. In the low light, he could just make out rows and rows of containers similar to the one he’d woken in. Thousands of them. Cryotubes… He’d seen pictures on the newsfeeds.
The lids were closed, and a green light glowed on each one. Milo was getting a bad feeling about this.
He concentrated. There was no sense of movement, but all the same he couldn’t shift that feeling that everything was about to go to shit.
He’d told Rico “no.” He didn’t want to go into space. He wanted to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Flying was not his favorite thing—in fact, he hated flying. Why the hell would he voluntarily step foot on a spaceship? Besides, he had things to do on Earth.
The vampire wouldn’t have ignored his express wishes. Would he?
Stupid fucking question. “I’m on a spaceship, aren’t I?”
“Welcome to the Trakis Two.”
Milo blew out his breath. Maybe there was still time to get off. “Tell me we haven’t left Earth yet.”
“I’d love to, but…”
This was just getting better and better. “Why?”
“I promised your mother I would look after you.”
“That was five hundred fucking years ago.”
“A thousand, actually.”
He went still. He’d been asleep for five hundred years? His mind didn’t want to process that information.
When he remained silent, Rico raised Milo’s wand. “Abracadabra,” he said, waving it between them. Luckily, nothing happened. “Piece of crap.”
Milo held out his hand, and for a brief moment he thought Rico was actually going to return the wand. But it seemed his luck had run out. At the last moment, Rico snatched it back.
“On second thought, I’m going to keep this for a while. Never know when it might come in useful.” He tucked it down his boot, and Milo gritted his teeth. The wand was a part of him, an extension of his very being. He snarled.
“Who’s a grumpy warlock?” Rico teased.
Milo studied him for a moment, trying to decide whether he could take the vampire. Nothing fatal, just one good punch on the nose might make him feel better. Rico watched him, that small smile playing about his lips as though taunting him. The tip of one white fang showed. Milo tensed his muscles.
Then a growl rumbled behind him and he glanced over his shoulder. Two men—and, again, he used the word loosely—stood shoulder to shoulder. He recognized the taller of the two—Dylan, alpha werewolf and an asshole. The second he didn’t know, but he was clearly another wolf. Crap. No way could he take a vampire and two werewolves. At least not without his wand. He turned back to Rico.
“I don’t suppose there’s a way to get me home?” Except his home was gone. Even if the Earth had survived, it would have changed beyond imagination after five centuries.
“Not a chance.” Rico gave a casual shrug. “Besides, you have a new home now. You’ll be pleased to know we have landed on our brave new world.”
Would it be any better than the old one? He doubted it.
“And,” Rico continued, “as much as I’m enjoying this little family reunion, right now we have more important things to do. Get dressed—there’s a bag under the tube—we have a meeting in five minutes. On the bridge.” And he was gone.
On the bridge? Hell, this was like something out of Star Trek.
Maybe it was all some elaborate practical joke and they were really back on Earth. But Rico wasn’t one for practical jokes. Which meant…
He was trying to wrap his head around the fact that Rico had somehow got the jump on him, knocked him out, and he’d been asleep for…five hundred fucking years. And Earth was far, far away. Or maybe didn’t exist anymore.
He jumped to his feet. For a second, he thought his legs were going to give way beneath him. He steadied himself with a hand on the cryotube as he heard one of the wolves give a snigger.
Two werewolves he could definitely take. Even without a wand. But then what? Where was he supposed to go?
And he had to admit that he was curious. So he ignored them, bent down, reached beneath the cryotube, and tugged out a bag. Inside, he found the clothes he’d been wearing for that last meeting. He pulled on a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, socks, and boots, and he was ready to go.
“All human wisdom is contained in these two words—“‘Wait and Hope.’”
—Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
Destiny blinked her eyes open, and a grin curved her lips.
She was awake. That could only mean one thing…
The thought filled her with a mingled sense of excitement and dread. In all her twenty-six years before she was put into cryo, she’d never stepped foot outside the laboratory. Now, hopefully, there was a whole world to explore. People to meet.
She lay on her back, and above her, through the opaque canopy, she could vaguely see someone moving. Doctor Yang.
Pushing down her impatience, she ran a calming mantra through her mind. Things would happen when the time was right—that’s what Dr. Yang always said. Destiny forced her muscles to relax, her heart rate and breathing to slow. Metal bands around her head and chest held her firmly in place, so until the tube opened, she wasn’t going anywhere.
After what seemed an age, the door lifted from the outside and the restraints clicked open. Destiny reached up and peeled the monitors from her chest. Taking a deep breath, she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the cryotube.
Dr. Yang came to stand in front of her, and Destiny automatically held out her arm then sat quietly while the doctor took a blood sample and checked her vitals. She was used to this, and she knew that until it was done, she wouldn’t get any answers.
Finally, the doctor nodded. “You’re good.”
“I feel great.” Destiny pushed to her feet but swayed a little, and Dr. Yang extended a hand to steady her, then stepped back, her hand dropping to her side. Dr. Yang had always said she needed to be strong, so Destiny straightened her shoulders and took stock. “Everything is working fine,” she said. And it was true, already she was feeling steadier.
She wanted to ask if they had arrived but was scared to, in case they hadn’t actually gotten anywhere and maybe the ship was dying, or they were lost somewhere in space, or had broken down. There was so much that could go wrong.
She cleared her throat. “How long?”
Dr. Yang handed her a glass full of a pink protein shake and she took a sip—it tasted of nothing—and swallowed.
“Three hundred and twenty-two years.”
She forced the next question out. “Are we home?”
Dr. Yang gave one of her rare smiles. “We are. We landed on Trakis Four a week ago.”
A week? They’d been here a whole week and she was only just being woken. She bit back her disappointment.
Dr. Yang wore a white lab coat over her ship’s uniform of black pants and a red fitted shirt. It was the same thing she always wore when Destiny saw her. She was smaller than Destiny and only came up to her chin, and she had brown skin and golden eyes, slightly slanted in her round face. She’d once told Destiny that her appearance came from the combination of her Jamaican father and Chinese mother.
From the geography books she’d read, Destiny knew that Jamaica had been an island in the Caribbean Sea and China a huge country in East Asia. Both were gone now.
Destiny had no clue who her mother and father had been. All she knew was she had pale skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. But according to Dr. Yang, it wasn’t important where you came from—that world no longer existed. What mattered was only what you did with your life. From now on, everyone left alive would have a role to perform.
She stretched her arms above her head—her strength was returning—and looked around. Nothing had changed. The lab was a small, crowded space, about twenty feet across and circular with silver walls. This was the extent of her world. The only existence she’d ever known. She’d never set foot on Earth or seen the sky or breathed fresh air.
Her heart rate kicked up again. “Can I go outside?”
“Not just yet.”
A flicker of anger awoke inside her and she stamped it out as fast as it had arisen. Anger would get her nowhere; she’d learned that at a very early age. Learned to bury her fury deep inside until she’d almost convinced herself it was nothing but a bad memory.
“We need time to determine whether the planet is safe,” Dr. Yang continued.
“I could help.”
Dr. Yang gave another smile, but a small, tight one this time, and the last of Destiny’s hope shriveled and died. “You’re far too important to risk, Destiny. Be patient. When the time is right.”
Everyone on the ships had been chosen to ensure that humanity reached a new world and that they would thrive. Everyone had a part to play, and in an uncertain future, they all had to stick to those parts.
Apparently, Destiny herself had been born to play an important role in the survival of humanity. According to Dr. Yang, she should be proud. And she was. Really, she was, just sometimes—okay most of the time—she wished she knew what that role was. But if she ever asked, then the doctor would get angry and closed off and Destiny wouldn’t see her for a long, long time. And then she’d be alone, and she hated to be alone. Dr. Yang was the only person who ever came to the lab.
She sighed. While she would do her duty, and do it with pride, was it so much to ask that she could just live a little first? Breathe the fresh air, feel the wind on her face, the sun on her skin. Was it warm or cold on the new planet? Did it rain? She’d never felt rain or the sun or swum in the sea. Was there even a sea? Or animals? Birds in the sky? The questions were building inside her, yearning to get out.
Dr. Yang turned to go, and Destiny couldn’t help herself, she reached out and touched the doctor’s arm. “Please. Let me come with you.”
Dr. Yang flinched and glared, and Destiny dropped her hand to her side. She held herself very still, but then the tension went out of the other woman.
“Not yet, Destiny. You must be patient.”
I don’t want to be patient.
Who knew how much time she had? While she had no clue what her role was, she suspected it must be dangerous. Otherwise why not tell her?
“It’s just to keep you safe,” Dr. Yang said. “You know how important you are. How special. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. But as soon as we’re sure there’s no danger, then you can leave the ship.”
She turned away, crossed the room, and pressed her hand to the panel and the door opened.
Destiny’s eyes pricked, but she stared straight ahead as Dr. Yang stepped out. The door slid shut, and Destiny was left alone. Sinking to the floor, she hugged her knees to her chest and stared at the closed door. She didn’t need to try it to know it was locked.
She had a role to play. She was special. Important.
She wasn’t a prisoner. They were just keeping her safe.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of DECEPTION by Nina Croft, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Malfunction, the first standalone novel in the Dark Desires Origins series!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Malfunction by Nina Croft. This giveaway is administered by BookMojo on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 12/31/2020 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About the Author
NINA CROFT grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of nine-to-five work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance, often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.