With: Cole Gibsen
Fans of Vampire Diaries and Twilight will be thirsting for this latest vampire addiction…
My aunt has been kidnapped by vampires, and it’s up to me to save her. Only…I had no idea vampires existed. None. Nada. I’m more of a reader than a fighter, and even though I’d been wishing to escape my boring existence in the middle of nowhere, I’d give anything to have it back now if it meant my aunt was safe.
Then there’s the vampire Sebastian, who seems slightly nicer than most of the bloodsuckers I’ve run into so far. Yes, he’s the hottest being I’ve ever come across, but there’s no way I can trust him. He swears he’s helping me get answers, but there’s more to his story. Now I’m a key pawn in a raging vampire war, and I need to pick the right ally.
But my chances of surviving this war are slim at best, when the side I choose might be the one that wants me dead the most.
Excerpt from Risen:
“You think Aunt Rachel is really my mother?”
His silence is my answer.
All the questions and feelings swirling through my brain become too heavy to bear. I let my head fall into my hands. “I don’t believe it. She would have told me.”
Sebastian tucks the photo inside his shirt pocket. “Not if she thought she was protecting you—because of who your father is.”
I look up. “My father is dead.”
“Your father is undead. His name is Matteo, and he is king of the Anima Clan.”
I burst out laughing, which only makes Sebastian frown. “Of all the things I have heard and seen these last twenty-four hours, that is the most insane.”
“Sometimes the truth isn’t what you expect.”
I stand. “My father can’t be a vampire. That’s crazy. What would that even mean for me? I’m human, aren’t I?” I hold my arms in front of me, as if I could somehow peer through my skin into the blood beneath.
“It would make you a dhampir,” he replies. “It’s nothing to worry about. Dhampirs are rarely gifted with anything more than heightened sight and smell.” He cocks his head. “Though I’ve never heard of a dhampir doing what you did to me last night.”
“I didn’t do anything.” Venom laces my voice.
“Denying it won’t make it untrue.”
Swallowing hard, I stare at my hands, as if I can somehow shrug out of my own skin. For the first time in my life, I feel like I don’t belong inside of it. “Even if what you say is true—and it isn’t—why does your queen care about me or Aunt Rachel?”
“Because of who your father is. War is brewing, Charlie, and you both are leverage in a very deadly game.”
“What does that mean?”
He sighs. “It means, she is going to use your aunt as bait to lure Matteo into an unfair fight. She will do the same to you if she knows your connection.”
My throat turns to ash and it takes me several tries before I’m able to swallow. “What do I do?”
“You?” He gives a small laugh. “Nothing. When I return to the Queen I will tell her I found nothing and killed you to save her the trouble.”
“Then what? I just sit here in the cabin and pray your freaky buddies don’t kill Aunt Rachel?”
He makes a face. “No. You can’t stay here, it’s not safe. If my freaky buddies found you, others can, too.”
I fold my arms. “Maybe I should take my chances with the others.”
His face darkens. “You called my kind monsters. There are others that make us look like kittens.”
I fight to ignore the chill racing down my vertebrae. “You got a better idea? It’s not exactly as if I’m flooded with options.”
“I told you I would take you to someone.” He’s quiet for several heartbeats. “Matteo. He can protect you. And he’s the only one who might be able to rescue Rachel.” He walks to the open doorway and peers out into the darkness. “The Anima Clan would kill me on sight, but I can get you as close as I can. Grab your things. We have to leave before others arrive.”
“Are you kidding? Your entire plan is to drop me off with another vampire? As in, another one of the monsters that eats people? What could possible go wrong?”
He looks at me, silver eyes unblinking. “Like you said, you don’t have a lot of choices. You want to call the police and explain all of this to them? You go right ahead and see how fast they place you in a mental institution. I offered you a solution that will save your life—and possibly your aunt’s. It’s the best I can do, so if you’re going with me, you need to hurry.”
Something about the urgency in his voice jolts me to action. I snatch my backpack off my desk and shove an extra pair of jeans, a sweater, and my phone charger into the bag. In the kitchen, I open the cookie jar and remove Aunt Rachel’s stash of emergency cash—a whopping fifty-three dollars. Next, I snatch her special oil—the one the monsters aren’t supposed to like—and tuck it in my pocket.
Sebastian raises an eyebrow. “I already told you that stuff won’t actually keep me from biting you.”
Shrugging, I zip everything in place and hoist the bag over my shoulder. “It doesn’t matter. I would smother myself in garlic if I thought it would piss you off.”
He shakes his head. “While that would be amusing, we’re running out of night. Are you ready to go?”
I lick my lips. There’s a question keeping my feet rooted to the ground. “Why are you helping me?”
He appears startled for a moment, as if he’s been wondering the same thing. I hate that he’s not the ugliest monster in the world—that my eyes are drawn to the crease above his nose when his brow furrows. “I don’t want you to think what I’m doing is some sort of noble undertaking. I need you alive, Charlie, for selfish reasons only. That thing you did in the woods—I need you to do it again. This gap in my memory, it’s haunted me my entire existence. Not knowing is its own type of prison. And I think you might be the one to set me free.”