After almost three centuries of running from my past, I should be used to loneliness. Being a mythological monster isn’t compatible with relationships. But the craving for company grows stronger every day, turning routine into an endless nightmare and making me wish for an end to my immortality.
The explosive encounter with a beautiful, lethal fae who knows what I am and how to destroy me reminded me of that proverb: be careful what you wish for.
I thought fate could not surprise me after almost six hundred years. And then there she is—the echo of the brave young woman I’ve heard legends about. Only she isn’t human anymore, but a vampire, the greatest enemy of my species. After a fight that could have killed us both, and an uneasy truce, I am left with burning curiosity and so is she.
But will curiosity be enough to quench her thirst for my blood and my impulse to kill her before she strikes?
HUNTRESS PREY, the first novel in the Bonded by Blood and Magic series by urban fantasy and paranormal romance author Selene Kallan.
Huntress Prey by Selene Kallan
SERIES Bonded by Blood and Magic | GENRE Adult Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance
PUBLISHER Independent | PUBLICATION DATE October 30, 2021
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A Bonded by Blood and Magic Novel
© 2021 Selene Kallan
Hello, my name is Selene, and I am obsessed with vampires and the enemies-to-friends-to-lovers trope. So when I saw this post the other day, I was like “That’s so Axel and Valentine!” They’re the MCs of Huntress Prey, my latest book.
Something very similar happens in chapters 4 and 5 of Huntress Prey. Here’s an excerpt, I call it:
HOW NOT TO STALK A VAMPIRESS
I went around the block as the vampiress entered the parking lot of an almost new apartment complex. It looked so normal, suburban, and peaceful. Its inhabitants were completely unaware of the monster dwelling within their community, I was certain. I left my car parked half a block away and entered the tree line, waiting to see the lights turning on through the windows.
After a few minutes, a dim, soft yellow light came from an apartment on the fourth floor, overlooking the park. With a muttered spell, I renewed the layer of invisibility and got as close as I dared, trying to see the occupant.
Two minutes later, the window opened. The sill was barren, with no pots of plants, as in most of the other apartments. More soft light came from inside just as the vampiress approached the window, brow tense as she gazed towards the clear, star freckled sky.
She was holding a cat.
A chubby tricolor Maine Coon with large yellow eyes. The cat nuzzled her cheek, and she nuzzled back into the crook of his neck. The scene was… bizarre, at the very least. I was certainly not expecting to see the vampiress talking to her cat when I followed her. My mind had conjured something far more sinister. She cradled the big, fluffy animal carefully in lithe arms that could hold several tons of weight and caressed him with pale, elegant hands that could pulverize bones with minimum effort.
Most animals were wary of vampire presence. Great predators didn’t fear them but treated them with a grudging sort of respect. Small pets and prey animals bolted as if the devil were chasing. Usually.
To be honest, I wasn’t all that surprised that cats broke the norm. I’d never met a cat that wasn’t at least a bit insane.
The vampiress took a deep breath. Her forehead creased with concern and what I could only identify as fear.
A ruse, and one I wasn’t willing to fall for.
She said something to the cat and bent to place him on the floor. Then opened the window further.
I moved as fast as possible just as she dropped from the window and landed on the stretch of grass before the iron gate. By instinct, I summoned my favorite weapon for neutralizing vampires. A stake made of an alloy of diamond and quartz with a sapphire as a channeling stone. A Light Weapon capable of focusing my power. One stab would sear her heart beyond immediate repair and buy me time to cut her head off and set her on fire.
She crouched, and with minimum impulse jumped the iron fence, landing on the road.
We were less than fifteen yards away.
I held my breath, watching her look at each side of the road and towards the forest and then straighten, and walk with nonchalance towards the lantern-marked path.
She was going for a stroll?
I stayed still. Waiting for her to turn back and tensing for the inevitable battle.
After a couple of minutes, I decided to take advantage of her absence, while simultaneously wondering if I wasn’t playing right into her game. I banished the stake with a flash of iridescent magic, sending it back to one of my several dimensional pockets, and went around to enter the building. The thin sheen of glamour kept me out of sight from the reception manager and the few people entering the elevators. The walls were bone-colored and the decor minimalist, clean and modern. I used the stairs to reach the fourth floor, carefully listening for activity in the nearest apartments and calculating which was the right one.
The door of the vampiress’ apartment was made of steel.
I cursed under my breath. While steel didn’t hinder my magic as much as pure iron did, it wasn’t easy to get it to bow to my will either. It would heat the metal and leave a trace she would notice.
But I needed to know who she truly was.
I placed my palm against the cold metal and sent a mix of mental force and magic with a murmured spell. The heavy bolts clicked open.
I pushed the door, closing it behind me quickly. The apartment was tidy and as impersonal as a hotel room. Decorated in a mix of deep green and white, with a plush sofa and a 40-inch flat-screen TV on a mahogany shelf, bracketed by two other shelves containing books. A quick browse placed most of the titles in the science fiction and informatics genres.
I looked down at the vampiress’ tricolor, fuzzy cat. He was walking towards me, eyes narrowed in suspicion.
I arched a brow. “Are you going to attack me?”
The cat sat down and flicked his bushy tail.
“I’ll take that as a maybe,” I muttered, heading towards the immaculate, near-sterile kitchen and opening the stainless steel fridge. Glass bottles with water, a couple of bottles of wine, and six bags of A+. Curiously, there were also eggs. I saw from the corner of my eye how the cat jumped to the counter.
“Are those for you?” I inquired.
I walked to the bedroom, the door slightly creaked when I opened it. Strange, considering the borderline obsessive neatness. The bed was made with a pine green duvet; a genetics book on one of the nightstands and two small lamps. I turned one on. The bulb gave the same soft, buttery light as the one in the living room. Vampires have hypersensitive, eagle-like eyes that suffer under fluorescent lights and sunlight.
I opened one drawer, spotting something I was certain she didn’t want a stranger to see, but nothing that said anything about who she was. The dresser was the same story, neatly folded clothes, and clean shoes.
The cat—who had followed me into the room—also entered the bathroom. With a jolt of surprise, I noticed she used the same brand of organic products we did. The company was run by fae. Behind the mirror, in the cabinet, she had little bottles of mouthwash, rubbing alcohol, and hand sanitizer.
There was hardwood across the entire place, except for the bathroom. She could very well have a stash of valuable information somewhere. I went back to the bedroom and crouched near the bed, deciding that was a good place to start.
The sound of a key tinkling and a muffled curse made me stand.
“What the Hell?” came the feminine voice.
The cat, now sitting on the bed, gave me a smug look.
The bedroom window was too small, so I bolted for the one in the living room. The same she had jumped through before. I caught sight of the vampiress, of her wide teal-sky eyes and ruffled long, dark hair just before crawling through the open window and jumping with more force than intended, which sent me several yards ahead—beyond the corridor of grass and the iron fence of the apartment complex several stories down—before falling. I turned in the air to break the fall, landing on a half-crouch on the road and seeing the bright lights of a large truck a second too late.
Something, no, someone, collided with me with enough force to steal my breath, getting me out of the way of the bright lights and sending me back to the ground a few yards from the road, into the border of the tree line.
The vampiress was standing a few feet away, gaze wide and breathing hard as she looked back towards the road, where the massive truck loaded with logs passed by faster than it should have. The crash wouldn’t have killed me, but the recovery wouldn’t have been pretty either.
I stood, facing her, keeping my eyes on her as I slid my hand to my back and summoned my stake to my hand from one of my many inter-dimensional pockets. The vampiress didn’t notice the slight flash of green magic. I closed my fingers securely around the stake.
“You could have died,” she said, her melodic voice showing surprise. She pressed her lips and frowned. “Which is what you deserved for breaking and entering and damaging my lock.”
“You’re exaggerating a tad, don’t you think?” I asked, holding the stake tighter.
She narrowed her eyes. “Who are you, really?”
“Is your memory that bad? I am your genetics professor,” I retorted.
Her fists clenched. “I didn’t know sneaking inside a student’s apartment was part of the duties of a college professor.”
I gave her a faux smile. “It depends on the student.”
I could practically see smoke coming out of her slightly pointed ears.
She inhaled, stared. “You’re not human.”
“Neither are you,” I shot back.
She took a step closer; I backed down, measuring the space, pondering whether to use my power or see if I could take her down without it.
Her pale eyes—bright in the darkness—widened. “Did—did he send you?”
Whoever he was, evoked a shiver of fear so strong in her I could sense it as if it were mine.
“Funny, I was about to ask the same,” I admitted.
She clenched her teeth, stepping closer. “I’m done with your little game. Tell me who you are and what you want from me, now.”
A wave of invisible power slammed against my forehead and curled around the nape of my neck. Her hypnosis was strong, ridiculously so. Only once before in my near six centuries of life had I felt something like that.
“No, I don’t think I will,” I said, pretending nonchalance even as my spine tingled and my heart raced. “I’m a gentleman, you see, so ladies first.”
She growled and moved to grab me by the neck.
I swung the stake and missed slicing her neck by half an inch. She was fast, more so than I had imagined. Still, I didn’t stop, but launched an attack. Her eyes widened, and she dodged each attempt, looking over my shoulder and hers, seeming tempted to run away instead of fighting.
Her defense faltered, and my stake sank in her right shoulder.
“Ouuch!” She cried out, surprise and indignation in her voice.
She hit me, open hand against my chest so fast I barely saw it and I flew back, stopping as my back hit a tree. With a low growl, she tore the stake off her shoulder and tossed it aside. Moving fast enough to be a blur even to my eyes, she grabbed me by the neck.
Her strength was colossal.
Many human hunters had assumed female vampires were weaker than the males, by the logic of their biology. They’d soon discovered they were sorely mistaken. Female vampires have a small edge in strength and twice the viciousness of their male counterparts.
Her eyes changed from teal-sky to silver-azure, pupils enlarged and vertical, like a cat’s. Her hand tightened around my neck as she curled her lip, exposing pearly, almost-inch-long fangs.
“You can tell me what you want with me or I can drain you dry and figure it out on my own, which is it?” she snarled, an inch away from my face.
“How about neither?” I managed to say, hitting her solar plexus with my knee.
Her hand loosened slightly, and it was enough. I twisted her right arm to her back, eliciting another scream, and tried to break her neck. She tossed me over her shoulder with a snarl. I rolled to break the fall and summoned the stake back to my right hand. She hissed, face transformed into a mask of anger and pain, and launched herself at me. Instead of just dodging like before, she fought back, each blocked and landed blow reverberating in my bones. Her strength nearly doubled mine.
It wouldn’t be the case if I let out the hot power stirring in my core, demanding an out.
A blast of light power could stop her enough if the stake was not an option, and it was looking like it wasn’t at all. But if she managed to dodge me, if others were watching, using Light power would be a terrible idea.
If her vampire allies found out about me, about my true power, and what kind of fae I really was, they would torture me until I confessed my family’s whereabouts. And I couldn’t jeopardize Alanna or the others.
I needed to know if she’d been sent by that vampire beast.
I had to read her, and since her mind was armored, in such a way I had no hope of breaching her shields easily, I’d have to use my empathy. But the rage and despair—the fear and wariness coming from her were revealing nothing. I’d have to touch her to properly gauge her intentions.
My survival instinct blared in alarm, but I fought against it. I slowed my moves just enough, allowed her to breach my defenses in a way that wasn’t obvious, but put her closer, even as every cell in my body screamed in protest.
She kicked out the stake from my hand and tackled me. Her legs came around my waist and her hands clenched my wrists in an iron grip that threatened to break my bones.
She let out a tiger-like growl just as I breathed in. To my surprise, her breath didn’t stink. A swathe of her long mahogany hair fell over her shoulder and tickled my neck.
“Who the Hell are you, you pointy-eared psycho?!” The vampiress demanded.
I blinked. The glamour wasn’t working with her?
She sniffed, her eyes moving to my forehead. Just then, I felt the slight sting of an open wound. It would be closed in half a minute, but it had been enough. She made a choked sound and shook her head, pinning me harder.
My power core stirred, hot and demanding an exit as a reflex of the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I reined it in, wary of letting her know the kind of fae that she had in her clutches. But I could summon my stake and drive it right through her heart if need be.
“What are you?” She asked, her voice holding more wonder than rage.
I snorted. “As if you didn’t know already, as if that’s not the reason you took my class.”
She blinked. “Excuse me? I was in that class before you showed up. And I’d not be asking if I did know.”
“I don’t believe you,” I snapped, carefully sliding my empathy towards her, taking advantage of her unexpected questioning.
Her upper lip flickered in a miniature sneer. Her eyes slid to my neck. My heart hammered, a curling, cold sensation wrapping around my chest. I honed my power into an invisible blade and summoned my stake.
SELENE KALLAN is a fantasy author who daydreams about her imaginary worlds most of the time. Her obsession with vampires, and all things supernatural, has made her an avid reader. She loves writing, discovering new metal bands, and watching superhero movies. She is also feeling a little crazy while writing about herself in third person, but apparently, this is the way to go.